The HorrorPops are to die for
By Naughty Mickie
Photos by Jason Mills

I'll admit it. From the first time I saw Patricia Day take the stage with her upright bass and heard her sing out in her strong alto voice I was hooked. I am a HorrorPops fan. Needless to say, I was more than thrilled to snag a few moments on the telephone with, who I think, is one of the best musicians around today.

The HorrorPops formed in Denmark in 1996, shortly after Day's group, Peanut Pump Gun, opened for the Nekromantix. Then guitarist Day met bassist and vocalist Kim Nekroman and they decided to form a band with no particular style and began writing together. To add interest and change the sound from their other projects, they switched instruments. The result was the HorrorPops, a psychobilly group that grabs from pop, punk, new wave, surf, disco and other genres.

The band played Denmark and Europe, building a following, and had their first US tour in 2003, which they headlined. They have played with Rancid, Tiger Army, Offspring and more. The HorrorPops quickly garnering a large following, which continues to grow and the trio, Day, Nekroman and drummer Henrik Niedermeier, often adds two go-go dancers to their stage show, which makes them even more fun.

Easy to laugh, smart and sassy, Day controls the band, from musical decisions to wardrobe and the stage show. She takes the stage with confidence and doesn't resort to using sex, language or any other gimmicks to sell her music. Their latest effort, "Kiss Kiss Kill Kill" (Hellcat Records), was released February 5 and is inspired by vintage films and classic soundtracks and crosses musical genres with ease.

Day, who spoke to me from her Los Angeles home, is originally from Denmark.

"I grew up in family of musicians. It's always been a part of my life, always," Day begins. "As a kid I wanted to be a studio engineer. My step-father had a studio that I was in all the time and I liked playing around with all these different things. When I was 10 or so, he took me to a Prince show and Sheila E. got up and played a drum solo and I was like, 'Oooo, oooo, it's cool. I want to be a drummer.' I scrubbed that though, I can't coordinate four limbs at one time, it's just not possible for me. I don't get how people do it.

"Then I chose the guitar and for my many first bands I was always the guitar player." Day continues, "When Nekroman and I decided to start a band, we decided to swap instruments, so I taught him to play the guitar and he taught me to play the bass. That was so we could write music differently than we had in our previous bands. Again, to avoid being labeled one specific style. Nekroman, of course, being big in psychobilly and me in that time being sort of big in the punk and indie scene.

"We wanted to do something where we had a band that did all styles of music and I think we accomplished that. Actually, our fan base is very diverse. We had the long-haired metal freaks out there, we have the girls with the Gucci bags and we have the tattooed zombies," Day laughs. "I think we cross over well and whatever band we've toured with, whether it be Offspring or Dropkick Murphys, we've been able to pull it off."

I ask Day about her schooling and learn that it may have influenced her vintage look.

"I have an education as a costume designer. My education is more towards, I could go two ways, either work at a museum restoring old wardrobes or explain why they look that way. The other way I could go would be working at theaters. I was more into the museum part of it," Day says.

The band is her main duty now, but in the past she worked a range of jobs, including a stint at a body piercing parlor.

"I've always been in bands, so I've had a lot of jobs sporadically when I've needed the money," Day chuckles. "My career has always been with music, it's always been my prime focus, but not until the last four years have I only been living off the music."

I'm curious as to what Day likes to do in her free time.

Day responds with a laugh and then, "I live off of my hobby and I'm very privileged in that sense, it's awesome. But as far as not being on tour, it's hard to say or not play music because we tour 10-11 months out of the year. I guess when I am home I like to mess around with cars, that's my main hobby."

I comment that I know Nekroman, who is married to Day, also likes building cars and I wonder if they work on them together.

"It's the thing we do together," Day admits. "We can't really figure out how to not do anything together."

Returning to band business, I ask Day how they write.

"Music first and then the music speaks the mood- this is a mad song, an angry feeling, this song has a love song feeling. The music speaks, then the words come with however it fits the melody line." Day says and goes on about her inspiration, "It could be I watch a movie then I'm in a certain mood and I feel like that mood. But most of it, we're in the rehearsal room and the chemistry there is when the three of us get together automatically something comes out."

"Just jamming around?" I venture.

"Henrik will do an awesome drum beat or Nekroman will do a guitar things and it's 'Ooo, ooo, ooo, what was that? What was that?' Or I'll come up with some crazy melody and we'll just work from there." Day adds, "This band is different. Everything is done differently that I've done in my other bands."

We discuss "Kiss Kiss Kill Kill."

"It's an album that reaches further than we had on a previous album," Day states. "It's an album where you can find every kind of mood there is and you can basically find every kind of music style there is. There's classic surf in there, there's '80s new wave, there's hard rock. Whatever mood you're in, you'll find a cut on this album that goes with it."

"You had some fun," I remark, "Did you set out to do whatever you want?"

"That's always what HorrorPops has been about," Day answers. "We do have backgrounds in bands, all three of us, that are very limited. In a punk band, you can only play punk, in a ska band you always play ska and so on. When we started HorrorPops it was a playground. The fact that we've gone this far with it is amazing because it was never our intention."

As a musician myself, I'm curious as to how Day feels being a woman in rock.

"First of all, I can't say, I've never had a penis," Day says. "But as far as being a woman doing what I do in my world, when I pick up my instrument, I'm a person and not a gender. Of course we meet people who have a Neanderthal way of looking at the world and whenever we do, I just do what I do and people can either walk away with a lesson learned or think I'm a complete bitch, it doesn't matter in my world. It really doesn't. I do what I do, I am what I am. Definitely I don't want to change anything.

"If I inspire other females, great." Day goes on, "It's not something that I set out to do, but I'm glad that some people see it that way, that they're like, 'Oh, there's a girl actually pulling this off without having her tits hanging out and playing on her sexuality.' I think that's great that some people see that and I'm glad if some people choose to walk in the same direction."

I return that I think she's an inspiration as a good mix of being a strong woman, but not too tough.

"I think it's also a Danish thing." Day explains, "We're the first ones to have the female vote. It's always been there, there's never been a question of females not voting in Denmark. We're a very liberal country with our equal rights and there's a lot that's very different and little things, how can I say? Oh, here's a tradition, an American tradition, when you get engaged the man gives the female a ring, a diamond. I think a lot of Danish women would be offended by that simply because, 'What? Are you buying me? What is this?' In Denmark, if you choose to give rings when you get engaged, it's for both parties. The woman buys the man a ring. That's just a thing in our culture that there's no difference.

"It's not hard for me to be in America and go out with a guy friend and he's opening the doors and pulling out the chairs and opening the car doors and all this crap and I'm like, 'What? You don't think I can do this myself? Why are you treating me like that?' I talk to my guy friends about it and 'It's how we're brought up, that's how you're supposed to treat women.' I'm like, 'Why are you supposed to treat women differently than men?' But it's just a cultural thing, Danish women are very broad-backed, strong women, I guess."

So what is it like to work with your husband?

"This is the question that I always try to avoid because I don't like to talk about our marriage simply for the fact that again, as a female, it is important for me to be known for me and not as someone's wife," Day says.

I switch tack and ask her to impart some advice on the subject instead.

"You know what I mean when I say let's compare something to a lot of married couples in music, be it Ike and Tina Turner or be it Brody and Tim Armstrong?" Day replies. "Brody and Tim Armstrong are a good example, as soon as they get divorced what happens to Distillers? Her whole identity, by the press, is based on the fact that she is married to a certain man. That's why I don't like to discuss my marriage, because it's not a part of my identity. I am married, yes, but it's not what brings me to where I'm at. That's a very important thing for me to keep out there.

"But I understand your question and, as far as that goes, Kim and I are bandmates, we're friends." Day continues, "Falling in love was something that came later. Getting married was something that came way later. But it's always our strongest thing is that we are friends, there's nothing that we don't talk about, there's nothing that's a secret, we're very open. We're also very open to the position we're both in with having fans and, in some cases, groupies. I can say, 'Oh did you check out that guy checking me out all night?' without Nekroman going, 'Oh please.' We want the best for each other always."

The HorrorPops love being on the road.

"The future for me is all about touring, which is awesome. All it's about for me is being on the road with my two best friends, Kim and Henrik," Day tells me.

The band will be touring for the rest of the year. After the current United States' tour, then they will head for Europe. The group is also confirmed for the main stage on the "Vans Warped Tour." They are hoping to go to Japan too and have even received an offer from Hawaii.

"Can you imagine getting paid to fly to Hawaii and play?" Day laughs.

They'll end the year with yet more touring in Europe.

With this hectic schedule, I have to ask if they will be writing while on tour.

"For me personally, making albums, doing interviews, press pictures, blah, blah, blah, it's all means to get us on the road," replies Day. "As long as I don't have to think about all that stuff and I can just be on the road, then I'm happy. It's always a question of somebody saying, 'Hey, you need to record a new album.' 'Oh, OK, I'll guess we'll go into that mood,' but for now, I just want to go on the road.

"It's a hard life and you've got to love it, but Kim and Henrik are army boys, Kim served eight years in a submarine, and I'm just brought up in a musicians' family, which means traveling a lot." Day goes on, "So being with other people in small quarters in hardship and good times is what we thrive on. That's our life, that's what we like to do. That's what makes us a good touring band is that we want to be stuck together in a small room."

Before parting ways, I ask Day if she has any words for her fans.

"Get out there and go to our fucking shows, buy some tickets," Day laughs. "Go buy the new album, it will be fun, it will be good."

And it is!

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