Road Rage

No one will ever accuse Danish trio HorrorPops of being a conventional band. But to say they have no use for convention is a gross understatement. HorrorPops abhor the norm. They stomp it with vigor and spit in its eye. And the band's Bettie Page-esque lead singer/bassist, Patricia Day, certainly isn't tight-lipped about it — or anything else, for that matter.

"We didn't start HorrorPops because we wanted to be a signed band or all these things," she says recently by phone from L.A. "We did it because we wanted to just play whatever the hell we felt like without any limitations or anything to live up to."

Part of breaking away from those limitations was switching from the guitar, the instrument she played in previous bands, for an upright bass. In turn, her original partner in HorrorPops crime, Kim Nekroman (of the Nekromantix), swapped her own upright bass skills for the ax. Each taught the other to play. "It's a huge instrument," Day says of the bass, "so no matter how much weight I gain, I can always hide my ass behind it." She then belts out what I quickly come to recognize as her trademark hearty laugh.

Day and Nekroman decided to round their budding band out to a trio by adding drummer Henrik Niedermeier. Together, the three excel at bending genres, crossing more boundaries than a Mexican in a border town. They drift from new wave to punk to ska to surf, back to implement rockabilly, psychobilly, goth, and even metal. "Whenever the three of us get together, it's just whatever comes out," says Day. "Sometimes we're like, 'Fuck, let's play a jazz number,' and we'll do that for a while."

Playing around the world in support of their first two records, Hell Yeah and Bring It On!, earned the HorrorPops a cult following. But the band's latest release, Kiss Kiss Kill Kill, displays a clear refining of its approach. The album was intended, according to Day, as a return to more new wave stylings, but only insofar as HorrorPops can intend anything. The black-and-white, 1950s-movie-poster-style album cover, along with tracks called "Hitchcock Starlet," "Highway 55," and "Horrorbeach Pt. II," lend to the idea that there was a distinct concept behind the album. But Day quickly corrects those ideas: "We didn't give it any thought whatsoever. We decided the theme fit afterward, but the three of us didn't sit down to think these things over and make a plan of what we were going to do. We're not that into sitting and picking our own navels."

Rather than the drawing board or the recording studio, you see, where the band really shines — and where the musicians prefer to be — is on the road. It's part of the reason HorrorPops' cult has grown so since their wildly successful appearance on the Warped Tour a few years back. They're known for attacking the stage with a frenzy of energy and theatrics, with a few go-go dancers thrown in for good measure. But I'll leave it at that. Asking Day for a description of what to expect, I'm met with what amounts to Fight Club's first rule.

"When you've been to a HorrorPops show, you know that you can't really describe it. You just have to experience it," Day says, then adds: "But you also know it's a great loss going to our show, because any other show you go to after, you'll be like, 'Errr! I like the HorrorPops show better!' " She laughs. "A HorrorPops show is a HorrorPops show. You just gotta fuckin' be there." And fuckin' be there, I shall.