San Diego psychobilly outfit Deadbolt doesn’t tour as much as it used to—but the band continues to put on great live shows. See for yourself when Deadbolt stops by Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, Dec. 4.
As is the case with many veteran bands, Deadbolt has had members come and go; the two most consistent members are guitarist/vocalist Harley Davidson and bassist Gary Burns. While Davidson was an original member of Deadbolt, which was formed in 1988, Burns didn’t come on board until the band had been around for about five years.
“Harley (Davidson), R.A. MacLean, and Les Vegas started the band,” Burns said during a recent phone interview. “They started it in Pacific Beach around San Diego. They were fed up with seeing bands and being bored out of their minds, and there wasn’t anything going on that was too exciting. They had an idea of starting their own band and wanted to see some things on the live stage that weren’t happening.”
Deadbolt’s onstage antics have earned the band the moniker “Scariest Band in the World.” Many of the things the members do onstage are unique—and quite entertaining. What are some of those things?
“Bench grinder, skill saw, karate demonstrations and snake-dancing,” Burns said with a laugh. “‘The Scariest Band in the World’ is sort of a self-imposed title. I guess back in the day, Harley thought every band should have a title. ‘Scariest Band in the World’ just happened to fit Deadbolt at the time.”
The Scariest Band in the World has slowed down in recent years. Burns, who recently had heart-bypass surgery, said that’s a result of getting older.
“Currently, we’re not touring extensively,” he said. “We do some one-off shows every once in a while; at least once a month, we’ll be somewhere. We’re lucky enough to where some people will fly us out during a weekend somewhere, and we’ll knock out a show or two, and then we head back home to reality. Back in the old days, we’d tour quite a bit and would be out on the road for three to five weeks at a time. We’ve been to Europe half a dozen times, and it’s been a lot of fun, but we’re getting older and slowing down. We’ve had some issues.”
While he’s originally from Orange County, Burns knows the Coachella Valley well: He grew up in Indian Wells.
“I moved here with my parents from Orange County in 1975. My dad managed a couple of packing houses in Indio,” he said. “It was kind of a culture shock coming from Orange County to the desert back then. Palm Desert had a Sambo’s, a Texaco and the Red Barn. The Red Barn looks exactly the same now as it did back in 1975.”
One thing Deadbolt has never done is play at Pappy and Harriet’s. Burns said the band members are looking forward to their date in Pioneertown.
“It’s us and the Schitzophonics, who are a great San Diego band. They’re a really up-and-coming popular band,” Burns said. “I’ve always wanted to play at Pappy and Harriet’s; it’s always been a dream of mine, and the opportunity is now available, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We get to live out our high-plains drifter fantasies and paint the town red for the night. The next morning, people will be going, ‘Who were those guys?’”
Burns said attendees can expect all of the things that made Deadbolt famous.
“Lots of sparks and smoke onstage,” he said. “It’s a good time. We tell stories, and it’s voodoobilly—the darker side of the rockabilly family.”
Deadbolt with perform with Schitzophonics and Creature and the Woods at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 4, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission to the all-ages show is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.