Interview with vocalist Richy Verdugo | By Janelle Jones
Fun is the key word whilst speaking with Batshit Crazy frontman Richy Verdugo. The word is used multiple times to describe what the listener gleans upon hearing the band’s self-titled debut LP for Basement Records, Bat$hit!crazy., and also the term the vocalist uses when describing the project as a whole.
Even the California band’s genesis was very organic and came out of a cool, relaxed atmosphere. Basement Records head and band mastermind and guitarist Chuck Dietrich had a collection of songs he’d been working on. “I’ve known Chuck forever,” Verdugo relates. “We were hanging out one day, and he let me listen to the songs, and I [thought they] were really cool.”
Verdugo says this was around the end of 2016. Dietrich didn’t really know what he was going to do with the tunes, and Verdugo let him know he’d be up for doing vocals. He ended up working on the songs, and then, they collaborated together. “It just kind of evolved over time,” the frontman says. “We came up with these songs and both dug ’em, and we put out a record, and that’s pretty much it.”
To round out the band, they added drummer Mike M. and bassist Jason V., and Verdugo says that overall “it’s just been a lot of fun.” The batch of songs that resulted were first put out as a series of four EPs in 2017 and 2018, then later released in February as the Bat$hit!crazy. full-length.
A couple of aspects set Batshit Crazy apart from other bands. First, they can’t be sonically pigeonholed; they have an obvious punk and hardcore vibe but also get a little poppy. “Yeah, that’s the thing,” Verdugo agrees, “it kind of varies, and to do it that way as well, if you’re a certain type of band, all your songs have to fit into one little category, but with these, if I have a cool backup idea, like harmony, [Dietrich] was totally, ‘Yeah, put it in. It sounds cool.’” Giving examples, he says that “They Live We Sleep” is “a shouty, anthemic-type song” and “Bats in the Belfry” is “a poppy, Ramones kind of song.”
“They’re totally different,” he confirms. “We could approach each song differently. We weren’t constrained to, ‘The vocals need to be aggressive here,’ so it was fun and freeing.” He insists there was “free rein.”
The other interesting—and fun—aspect of the band is their subject matter. Batshit Crazy are all about horror movies, with song titles such as the aforementioned “They Live We Sleep,” as well as “The Man Who Was Death” and “The Babysitter Murders.” It’s evident this part of the band is right up Verdugo’s alley. Once horror comes up, the vocalist noticeably perks up and gets straight into his love of the genre. “Oh yeah, let’s talk about that,” he exclaims. “Let’s go way back to when I was, like, 7.” He enthusiastically relays memories of being young and his mom letting him rent any movie he wanted in order to, hilariously, “keep him quiet.” He namechecks the original “Child’s Play” as especially affecting at that age before delving into sequels and precursors to certain horror movies. “We gotta dive deeper,” he says.
Long story short, Verdugo is passionate about horror and punk, and Batshit Crazy are an amazingly fun outlet to sing about something different than your garden variety topics. “You’ve been playing music long enough and run out of shit to sing about,” he explains, “so you gotta keep it entertaining, and I think [we have], at least for us as a band.”