Psycho shtick 

Metal act Psychostick always has made it a priority to give each tour a theme by which to remember it. There was the “Terrible Shirt Tour,” then the “Pay Off the Van Tour” (it did, in fact). This go-round is no different: With the “Unleash the Dumb Tour,” crowds are encouraged to dress “as dumb as they can.”

By that standard, it’s been a smashing success.

“It adds so much to the show. This makes it an event, and it’s been totally working,” drummer Alex Dontre said. “There was some dude the other day dressed up as Quailman from ‘Doug.’ Then we had a mosh with Santa Claus, a gorilla and a guy in a banana suit.”

Seeing and being a part of something like that is the definition of success for the Arizona four-piece that describes its brand of thrash metal as “humorcore.” Unlike most metal bands, eliciting pain and anger ranks low on Psychostick’s priorities.

“We just want music to be fun. We see so many people taking music and life so seriously ... it’s supposed to be fun,” Dontre said. “Growing up with punk bands, watching them play, you could tell it was a good experience for the crowd and them. People can tell; kids are smart. They can tell when you are doing something real and genuinely enjoyable.”

That means shows are equal parts heavy-metal concert and stand-up comedy. The band members substitute their instruments for “Guitar Hero” controllers, rubber chickens are a mainstay, and one crowd favorite sees the group sing the alphabet over a metal riff.

Song titles like “You’ve Got Mail Enhancement” and “Orgasm = Love” only further cement the fact that the only thing the band is serious about is being anything but.

“We take being funny seriously, a lot like a comedian would. It’s a weird conundrum, but we do the exact same thing,” Dontre said. “We are all proficient at our instruments, and that comes across in our live show, but that’s not the focus. We want to make people laugh without being a joke ourselves.”

So far, the routine has panned out well. This is Psychostick’s 12th national tour in 11 years, playing alongside more serious acts like Three Days Grace and Smile Empty Soul, and its third studio album, “Space Vampires VS Zombie Dinosaurs in 3D,” streets later this summer.

There have been times — especially early on — that saw the group tempted to play a more serious style of metal, but so far it’s stayed steadfast in playing it silly.

“We heard from tons of people saying that said once we started writing serious lyrics, then we’d start to really go somewhere,” Dontre said. “Many many people, and we ignored them all, and I’m glad we did. Sometimes, it’s tough to get on bills because we aren’t singing about death all the time, but once we actually get in ... that usually convinces them.”

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Joshua Boydston

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