By José Oliveira, Journalist / Photographer – Rock At Night France, Switzerland, Portugal
I was warned that the SCHIZOPHONICS was an explosive band ! However, I would never have guessed that I would go to meet an Extraterrestrial! We are living in a time in which we have lost the right to wonder. By having access to everything, everything becomes common. Fifty years ago, we were in ecstasy, facing a Guitarist/Singer, who would forever mark our minds, discovering the virtuosity of JIM MORRISON at the Woodstock Festival.
Well, as America prepares to celebrate for 3 days next August, the 50 years of this mythical Festival, THE SCHIZOPHONICS is indeed the missing band of the Line Up already announced!! They could cause exactly the same shock as HENDRIX!!!
That night THE SCHIZOPHONICS became my favorite band! After that energy and showmanship, how can this magic be reproduced for the next concerts? ( Mark KNOPFLER and KING CRIMSON) .
Pat BEERS and Lety, his delicious wife and drummer, generously met us Backstage at Woodstock Guitares. The photos of my many encounters with JAMES BROWN surprised them greatly.
PAT BEERS – Guitars, vocals and Acrobatics
LETY BEERS – Drums and vocals
BLAKE LINDQUIST – Bass
Venue: WOODSTOCK GUITARES – ENSISHEIM
RAN – Before you started singing professionally, what is it that you used to do?
Pat Beers – I had a bunch of odd jobs , working in a kitchen, working a long time in the Car museum of SAN DIEGO, music stores, just jobs like that, also worked in a warehouse in SUSANA. Now I actually …do music full time in a way because we make most of our money from gigging and also teach music to kids now, so I feel like everyday I go to work, I’m playing guitar, so I’m Happy!!!
RAN – THE SCHIZOPHONICS. Where does the name come from?
Pat Beers – It started as kind of a Play on Bands. Originally it was a Soul band idea……like the DELFONICS or Bands like that, having Soul names and a PHONIC thing …I thought it was just a kind of stupid plan…In fact I was not in super form with the choice of the name.
Lety Beers – I like it! When we were thinking to have a name, so the hardest thing to do, and we would make lists and lists for weeks and weeks and that was already a name he had used and nothing ever happened with that idea he had, we kept going back to it and there were so may names…That’s the hardest thing, I think, to pick a name…. It was the best we can do!!! I liked how it sounded, we love old soul bands……
RAN – So you met your wife and you decided to make a Band!
Lety Beers – That’s how I learned to play drums. When he needed a drummer!! (laughs). I never played drums before this Band. I used to play some guitar and some bass but never on a professional level. So, in SAN DIEGO, we started playing in this little bar near to where we lived, they would let people go on stage and do open mic, he would go and then they invited him to start a band and that’s where I started to play drums, really badly, very poor… Just keep going and going and it’s getting better over the years.
Pat Beers – That was ten years ago!!!
RAN – Do you know the other great Guitar Player who’s wife is the drummer in the Band?
Pat Beers – Oh! I don’t see it.I thought you were gonna say JACK WHITE.
RAN – CARLOS SANTANA and his wife is CINDY BLACKMAN!!!!
Lety– Oh! Yeah!! She’s so great!!!
Pat Beers – I didn’t know she was his wife. That’s pretty cool! Do you know The Brazilian name SERGIO MENDES? Do you think that the lady who sings on his records, could be his wife?
RAN– I don’t think so. I’ve read something about that. Your reputation is based on an energetic live performance. What were your main influences in that sense?
Pat Beers – JAMES BROWN definitely! He’s one of my favorites……..
Lety– He’s (James Brown) got that… he’s got like a lightning bolt when he’s on stage and the same thing with Little Richard, they turned it on.
Pat Beers– Our music is like, at its core got a lot of 60’s soul element to it, the core progressions and stuff like that, almost rock versions of like something you would hear in a lot of the 60’s soul stuff. Jimmy Hendrix, was the main influence on the guitar style.
RAN – Watching you perform on stage reminds me of Pete TOWNSHEND and James BROWN. How can you manage on stage, singing, jumping and playing guitar?
Pat Beers – A lot of it is, the style of guitar playing, a lot of it is with the left hand , so a lot of times I’m not even strumming with my right hand.
It‘s kinda a technic I pretty much stole from Jimmy Hendrix which is , you know have a fuzz pedal on, lots of feedback, so I can pretty much play the guitar with my left hand with hammer on’s and pull off on the guitar and that allows me to grab the microphone with my right hand, to spin around, to really take a lot of focus off of the playing element, I try to get into a state where I’m not thinking whatsoever, I can just kinda be in the moment.
RAN – Do you enjoy performing more than recording?
Pat Beers– Yes, I hate recording.
Lety Beers– Recording is so stressful!
Pat Beers– Yea, I don’t like recording at all, I do not enjoy it but I love performing live!
RAN – How about in the recording studio, how do you work out what you’re gonna do?
Pat Beers– So Blake our bass player, has been playing with us for about a year now, we’ve had multiple bass players over the years so right now its just me and Lety as far as the recording goes. But Blake has been an awesome bass player on these tours. So most of the time me and Lety write the music together, I usually come up with the songs and Lety’s quality control.
Lety Beers– He’ll come up with almost everything and I help with the rhythm or the tempos, and then I have the last word. If I really don’t like it, I’m like we‘ve gotta change this sound.
Pat Beers– Which happened a few weeks ago, we just recorded a bunch of songs and I‘m glad she spoke up.
Lety Beers– We wrote a great song out of that.
RAN– What about audiences? Do you find them very different here then in the United States?
Pat Beers– Not really, I think it’s about the same everywhere in my opinion, I mean, some countries, Spain is a little bit, you know France is pretty fun…. Some audiences are a little difficult.
Lety Beers– As far as attendance goes, more people go to see live shows here than they do in the US. Unless you‘re huge, unless your Queens of the Stoneage, cause we’re nowhere near this big level, and a lot of our audiences here are way bigger than they would be back in the United States.
RAN– Do you agree people here come to concerts in the middle of the week?
Lety Beers – Yes! Every day this week there’s been a really good audience and back in the US anytime we tour Mondays, Tuesdays Wednesdays are horrible Sundays cause people got to work on Monday, Thursdays same thing!
RAN– JOHN LENNON said that one of the positive things about Woodstock was the fact that so many people were there in one place on earth and weren’t there to kill!! Fifty years after, what does represent to you WOODSTOCK?
Pat Beers– Yea, I guess we’re at Woodstock guitars right! So yea!
What would that be in this day and age as far as bringing…..I don’t know… Ah that’s a good question.
I think that there’s sort of a….you know what, one thing I really like to see is that every city you go to there’s sort of this community, depending on what kind of band you are, we’re in this kinda garage rock music genre, every town we go to there is a niche there‘s that kinda crowd there, you end up, you know, making friends all over the world, and all over the US, you end up seeing these people and keeping in touch via the internet now and it seems like there’s sorta this small world, small community now of people that are into the same type of stuff.
I think nowadays people are a lot able to be more interconnected because of the internet and they are able to find people that are into the same type of thing. So this small niche, you can actually like make a record and sell it all around the world and connect with people everywhere.
RAN– Woodstock was a movement against wars and for freedom and nowadays in America with this Trump shit……
Pat Beers – Well one thing I’ve noticed, I was about to say but I didn’t want to bring it up, that guy…..obviously we hate Trump!!!
Lety Beers– We don’t say his name! He loves it. He loves seeing his name written, weather it’s good or bad, he loves being talked about. He hates being laughed at so we try to laugh at him as much as we can. But one thing that’s happened is that its caused this sort of counter reaction……I mean it’s a terrible thing…….you know, he’s done things that are going to set the country back for years, the supreme court and everything like that but at the same time its caused a lot of people to wake up and realize that…all this messed up stuff like racism, it hasn’t gone away and it’s ……
Lety Beers– With him being so angry, him being the way he is, it caused a lot of people to react, and lately in San Diego where we’re from, I noticed a lot of the protests have gotten bigger and a lot of people are being more proactive, going to the streets and uniting and coming together a lot more than they used to.
When we had Bernie Sanders in town, how many people came, like 30 thousand people came, people couldn’t even get in to see him, and, just seeing people come together that way is something I haven’t seen, I think, ever. Until now we have something to fight against.
Pat Beers– Yea, we ended up playing at a Bernie Sanders rally during the mid-term elections a few months ago, and, the attendance they said, for a mid-term election rally, nobody ever goes to those rally’s, and this one was just packed, in this big auditorium, there was all these local politicians running that said “ I’d never even thought about running before now I’m involved” so it was pretty cool to see that…so of all the bad stuff that’s coming out, at least it’s causing a reaction and hopefully something good will come out of it.
RAN – Your posters, announcing your concerts remind us the beautiful Concert Posters and badges from the Hippie Time. Are you such a nostalgic from this period?
Lety Beers– He makes most of the posters! He does a lot of the album art, the lettering, he does a lot of the graphic design.
Pat Beers– I like that type of lettering where it’s all kinda morphed together. I love all things mid-century, you know, like furniture, architecture, the art, the movies, the music, but especially I love the posters, those are fun to look at.
RAN – What’s about the SAN DIEGO Rock Scene?
Lety Beers– We have a great rock scene in San Diego, we have John Reis from Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes… When we first moved to town he had a radio show, so every Saturday night he used to play music. The local rock and roll channels, every Fridays or Sundays, they’d play some of the local bands they noticed that are out there playing constantly so the radio does a lot to help, you get some exposure. There’s a club and the guy who runs the club and books it, he owns it, he does a really good job of paying attention to what’s going on in town, and he’s helped us open for bigger bands……like we got to meet The Dammed and now we’ve played with The Dammed, the Electric Six, Bob Log. I think the people in town that are running the venues pay a lot of attention and will help. They’re like “I saw this band and I think they’d go good with this band” you know, it’s a community. And the same with us, like there’s so many other bands, that’s how we make our friends and so it’s like our little family. For us we’re not competitive at all and I just like making friends, and if I like them and I see them working hard it’s like I want to help them. It’s the same feeling I get from the other bands, a lot of the other bookers and promoters.
RAN– There is a very good sharing between the bands
Pat Beers– Yea! A lot of other people play in other people’s bands.
Lety Beers– I just got a call from my friend, I’m going to play drums at a show in a few weeks
Blake Lindquist– What’s cool about San Diego is that everybody is so interconnected so you can just hang out with some people and just Jam and they’re from other bands and so sometimes it sticks and you just keep on …
Pat Beers– San Diego is not really like a cultural center, I mean places like New York and LA still is for film but, I feel like those places are getting so expensive to live now, there’s not as much art being created in big cities now.
Lety Beers– Yea, it’s so hard for an artist to live in Manhattan that I heard they’re trying to build art residences where it’s only for artists and it’s going to be low income.
Peter Beers: Nowadays you could live anywhere and make records and tour and have that as your home base and the only problem is there’s not a lot of places you can play regularly.
Lety Beers– Some people think we’re a Los Angeles band because we so play up there often.
Pat Beers– There‘s a certain sleepiness….but on top of that I almost feel that’s why bands in San Diego put on such a show because, and that’s why we’ve developed such a crazy live show, because it takes a lot to get people out and to get people to look up….
And so when I think about acts like Creepy Creeps and Rocket…there are all these bands that have like this really big visual element to their show and almost like a comedy element. I’ve noticed with all these bands, their stage banter is so funny, it’s almost like as entertaining as the show, what they’re going to say between songs.
I used to be afraid to talk to the audience and I’m still bad at it, especially here where I don’t speak French, but I had to start developing like sort of a stage stick, because I was playing with all of these bands who were so good at it, so I was like …Oh I gotta start upping my game, you know. You play with a band like the loons and we have to be high energy you’re playing with this other band that’s so great on stage
RAN– Have a nice trip to the next European venues!
Thank you very much José! Nice to meet you!
RAN– Many thanks to receive us so kindly. Great pleasure to meet you Guys!!
NB- I would like to thank the Woodstock Team, my colleague Rosine Alleva for editing and publishing and ….last but not least many thanks to Maggie Mullan.
I was born in Portugal and lived the Sixties exploring the great UK Rock magazines: "The New Musical Express" and "Melody Maker". Ray Charles and Pat Boone were my father’s fav. I became “The Great Pretender”. Cliff Richard was our Elvis Presley. As a beach boy, with my first guitar, I met a beautiful French girl on the beach! It was the Summer of 69!! We got married and rock music was our dowry. In France, I became a Wine Genetic Research Scientist. One of my works contributed to the decoding of the genome of the vine! As a rock journalist, I’ve worked twenty years for the Portuguese and Brazilian Rock Press. I ‘ve interviewed so many great artists. Then, one day I met FRANK ZAPPA! I got into trouble for introducing my wife to "Uncle Meat"!