The Xenophobes are not a psychobilly band. Nor are they rockabilly.
“We’re definitely not either of those,” says drummer Fil Corbitt. “And that’s the main problem—we usually get pigeonholed into psychobilly or rockabilly.”
To avoid any further confusion, the Gardnerville-based band has listed their preferred genre beneath their name on their new album, Let the Bears Starve: “psycorebilly.”
“Because we have a bunch of hardcore influences,” says upright-bass player Christopher Stehman.
Those influences come through. Many listeners might be motivated to avoid any and all punk rock involving an upright-bass. Most bands under this heading merely wish to emulate the eternally dreadful Tiger Army.
The Xenophobes, however, distinctly howl from a cave of hardcore punk, and Let the Bears Starve is their stampeding mission statement, thick with fury and vigor. Songs like “Go” tap reserves of endless energy on which the whole record thrives.
The trio recorded the album in Berkeley, Calif., at Ex’pression College.
The majority of the Let the Bears Starve was recorded live. The bass parts were re-recorded due to issues with tone, and the vocals were recorded separately.
The band had previously attempted recording multiple isolated tracks.
“We tried recording in Carson City with this guy, and he had it all split up, and it just didn’t work,” says Corbitt. “I don’t know if it was the isolation but with everything mixed together, we sounded really boring. We sounded like a rockabilly band that plays bars, which we aren’t at all.”
“It was polished but crappy,” Barnett says. “I don’t know how he managed to do that. It was everything that isn’t us.”
In the past, The Xenophobes have sold their records at their house, the basement of which doubles as a practice space and a venue for shows.
“People email us, and we’re like, ‘Oh, send us a check or something with money, and we will send it back to you,’ ” Stehman says.
The band has larger designs for Let the Bears Starve. They initially plan to distribute the record at Discology and Mad About Music, and eventually they intend to put it on iTunes.
“We’re going to sell them in bulk on eBay too,” jokes Barnett. “$5 for 10.”
All three of The Xenophobes grew up in Gardnerville. Corbitt and Barnett began playing music in 2003 when the former was in seventh grade and the latter was in eighth.
“One day I said, ‘Hey I bought a drum set because I was bored,’ ” Corbitt says. “And [Barnett] was like, ‘Hey I bought a guitar because I was bored—let’s start a band!’ ”
“We said that about a month after we bought those items,” says Barnett.
A year later, Stehman joined and the group played coffee houses and garages around Gardnerville. They started playing in Reno around 2006.
The Xenophobes also grew up near the members of local band Buster Blue.
“Fuck those guys,” jokes Stehman. “Buster Boo!”
All lived within three miles of each other in the Gardnerville Ranchos.
“I was on the soccer team with Bryan [Jones] and Andy Martin [of Buster Blue],” Stehman says.
“I was also on the soccer team,” says Barnett. “We were undefeated. We were the Slimenators.”
Eventually the “fake” rivalry between the bands built up to a show meant to determine the “King of the Ranchos.”
“I think they kind of won,” says Corbitt. “But we still made it a draw anyway.”
“Because we’re assholes and we don’t like to lose,” adds Barnett.