Santa Cruz psychobilly veterans The Chop Tops are in the midst of an insane 10,000 mile tour—35 shows across 20 states, in just five weeks. Having survived the East Coast earthquake, the band now finds itself driving into the keister of one of the biggest hurricanes in recent memory, Irene. Putting the “psycho” in rockabilly is nothing new for these road warriors who eschew the corporate model of rock and roll and live every day grateful for the opportunity to be independent working musicians. Stand-up guy and drummer (a la Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats) Sinner started the band 16 years ago and is currently enjoying his eleventh U.S. tour. Totally organized and supported in a grassroots style, The Chop Tops began touring nationwide in 1998. “A lot of bands go to Europe to get established and get a bigger name—we decided to do it here, work here and make a name for ourselves in the U.S.,” says Sinner, from on the road in Florida. “We went full-time about six years ago—and it’s been a blessing. No more day jobs.” Guitarist Shelby happened to meet Sinner in the parking lot of The Catalyst and eventually joined the band along with bassist Brett Black. With equity among members being central to the band’s philosophy, The Chop Tops live and breathe a DIY lifestyle. Even their sponsors, like Murray’s Pomade, help the band bring roots authenticity (and slick hair) to the stage. “Although our sponsors are large companies, they are very grassroots, just like ourselves—we’re very grateful,” Sinner adds. The hometown-minded band says it’s proud to represent Santa Cruz while traveling around the nation, and is eagerly anticipating its triumphant return to where it all began—The Catalyst—on Sept. 11, alongside The Strikers and The Rocketz.
INFO: 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $13/door. 423-1338.
Photo Credit: Blake Hatchet