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Australian punk legends the Cosmic Psychos bring 40th anniversary tour to the Ivy Room

Australian punk vets the Cosmic Psychos return to the Bay Area for this show at the Ivy Room in Albany with high-octane Seattle-based hardcore reprobates Zeke Friday.

Though their roots were in the early '80s Melbourne art-punk band Spring Plains, by 1985 bassist/singer Ross Knight had joined guitarist Peter "Dirty" Jones and drummer Bill Walsh in the rechristened Cosmic Psychos. Churning out proto-punk Stooges riffs at high-octane tempos with wailing, fuzzed-out guitar and goofy humor from the beginning with their debut EP Down on the Farm, the Psychos became a beloved Aussie institution that gradually made international inroads.

Cosmic Psychos - She's A Lost Cause - Aussie TV 1990 by rockagirl84 on YouTube

The band's second album, 1989's Go the Hack, would see U.S. release via Sub Pop Records, the rising Seattle-based indie label that already was putting out releases of like-minded fuzz merchants including Mudhoney. The Psychos would be embraced and celebrated by other Washington state musicians like Melvins mainstay Buzz Osborne and Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain as an early influence on grunge.  

While Jones would depart the band in 1990, the Cosmic Psychos carried on with new guitarist Robbie "Rocket" Watts. Signing with Amphetamine Reptile Records, the trio tracked their next album Blokes You Can Trust with Nirvana producer Butch Vig that was hailed by some as their finest effort to date. The group continued to tour and record steadily through the decade, scoring more fans with their 1995 disc Self Totalled and gaining more fame when L7's song "Fuel My Fire" (which Donita Sparks had borrowed the chorus from the Psychos' hit "Lost Cause" to finish) was in turn covered by massively popular UK dance act the Prodigy.

The band went through some changes with the departure of Walsh in 2005 -- he was replaced by current member Dean Muller, who played drums in Knight's side project Dung -- and the sudden death of Watts while the trio was touring the following year. Longtime guitarist and singer for the Onyas and fellow Aussie pub punk legend John "Mad Macka" McKeering would fill the void, solidifying the line-up that has remained solid in the 16 years since. The band last toured the States in 2012 when it promoted reissues of several of its classic '80s and '90s albums as well as the release of the acclaimed documentary Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust. Their most recent recording, Mountain of Piss from 2021, was their highest charting release in Australia of their career.

Cosmic Psychos - RIP AND DIG LIve at The Forum 2021 by Cosmic Psychos on YouTube

In addition to playing stadium shows in Australia with Guns n' Roses two years ago, last fall the Psychos returned to the U.S. for their first stateside tour in a decade supporting their spiritual offspring, comically filthy Queensland punk trio the Chats. The Cosmic Psychos appeared at the Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend and are now embarking on a headlining tour to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a band with support from revived Seattle hardcore maniacs Zeke.

Founded in the early 1990s, the colorfully named quartet of guitarists Blind Marky Felchtone and Dizzy Lee Roth, drummer Donny Paycheck and bassist Mark Pierce quickly established itself as one of the most blistering bands on the Northwest punk scene. The band's early singles "West Seattle Acid Party" and "Holly 750" led to the 1995 release of their debut album Super Sound Racing on Scooch Pooch Records that highlighted the band's ferocious attack and obsessions with sex, fast cars and motorcycles, drugs and brawling on tunes that rarely clocked in at over 90 seconds long.

Taking cues from similarly aggressive hardcore forebears the Dwarves with an injection of '70s hard rock (the band has covered songs by Kiss, Ted Nugent, Blue Öyster Cult and Motörhead) that gave Felchtone a chance to show off his impressive chops, Zeke built a national fanbase with relentless touring and riotous live shows that sometimes veered into outright dangerous mayhem. After the release of their sophomore album Flat Tracker and a live EP for San Francisco's Man's Ruin Records, the group moved to Epitaph for their 1998 classic Kicked in the Teeth that further cemented their reputation for delivering blasts of punk rock fury in spades.

Kicked In The Teeth by Zeke - Topic on YouTube

The group released several more singles and albums before moving to Relapse Records to issue 'Til the Livin' End in 2004. While a few more recordings would come out over the next few years, Zeke would go on an extended hiatus broken up by occasional live appearances that lasted a decade. Their studio silence was finally broken with the release of Hellbender in 2018 that proved Felchtone and the line-up featuring early era bassist Kurt Colfelt and newer players Kyle Whitefoot (formerly guitarist with the Hookers) and drummer Dayne Porras had not lost a step or an ounce of rage.

Zeke - Two Lane Blacktop by Radial by The Orchard on YouTube

Felchtone has since reunited with co-founding drummer Donny Paycheck for the current version of the band that features guitarist Jeff Hiatt (who was also a member of Felchtone's shortlived doom-metal band Hellbound For Glory) and bassist Jason Freeman. The group issued a single for German imprint Hound Gawd! Records last year and will have a recently recorded split single with the Cosmic Psychos that finds the bands covering each others' songs. For this show at the Ivy Room Friday night co-presented by the UC Theatre, Oakland outfit Party Force kicks off what will be an intense night of punk mayhem.

Cosmic Psychos with Zeke and Party Force
Friday, May 31, 7 p.m. $25-$28
Ivy Room    

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