Sometimes when a band finds a formula that works for them, they hesitate to take risks and stretch their limits by trying something new. This is not the case with Testosteroso.
The Lancaster band’s new album, Into the Sun, breaks away from the comedy-metal sound they have been identified with for years. Testosteroso has abandoned the safety net and evolved, as a band should.
“Doing the same thing for too long gets boring and the new songs are more challenging to play,” says Skot Shaub, lead singer and guitarist for the band.
Along with Shaub, the band includes Tom Rodriguez on bass, Ryan Sherk on guitar and Tom Wierzbicky on drums.
Shaub started the band in 2003, before he was even out of high school. Since then, there have been many changes in the lineup. Rodriguez has been in the band for four years and Sherk and Wierzbicky for just a little over one year.
Testosteroso is a band that has never failed to push the envelope of good taste as far as possible. Shaub’s lyrics are humorous (some might say sophomoric), and, combined with a rock/metal style, give audiences exactly what they’re looking for when they go to a Testosteroso show. The band has experimented with other kinds of music, straying from the metal edge to create irreverent songs like the faux love ballad “Mail Order Bride” and the country tune “Brown Paper Bag.”
Testosteroso Theme (Warning NSFW)
The comedic aspect of Testosteroso’s sound mostly comes from media they grew up experiencing. Shaub says he was influenced by listening to Frank Zappa and Cheech and Chong records. For Rodriguez, it was zany cartoon television shows, or as he puts it, “Saturday morning cinema.”
Each member brings his own musical inspiration to the band, as well – from Shaub’s love of Frank Zappa and The Vandals; to Sherk’s fondness for shred-metal like Megadeth, Testament and Dream Theater; to Wierzbicky’s father’s record collection, packed with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Black Sabbath. Finally, Rodriguez drew inspiration from the scene around the former Yip-Roc record store in Lancaster, where various punk bands would play.
Coming five years after Four Fathers – Testosteroso’s debut record – new album Into the Sun aims to give fans a different flavor of rock n’ roll without changing the band’s hard edge.
Four Fathers drew mainly on metal and pop-punk, with unrelated genres sprinkled in here and there, but Into the Sun – which was released in August – is much more akin to classic rock. It’s also a more cohesive effort – as opposed to throwing a mixture of styles into one pot and hoping they stick together.
The lyrics are more serious this time around, too, showing Testosteroso’s maturity and growth through the years.
“It’s still comedic,” says Shaub “but it’s not over-the-top silly. It’s a little bit more serious and intricate.”
On their last album, they used offensive humor in order to shock the listener into paying attention. This time, they wrote what came naturally and let humor spring forth on its own.
Into the Sun is darker and heavier than the band’s previous release, but the last track, “Out of the Sun,” is an over the top epic, even topping the hard-edged but campy Testosteroso theme song from Four Fathers.
It features a vocal monologue, sounding much like a dark war god from some ’90s adventure show.
“A thousand dead soldiers lay dead on the ground/Alone, the lone warrior stood alone.” It’s enough to make anyone laugh out loud.
Into the Sun – Live at The Depot
Live, Testosteroso has always been about having fun and rocking hard. That’s not going to change in any upcoming shows – but they’re also determined to bring their fans something more than youthful jokes and punk riffs. They have polished their sound – and it’s obvious they have matured as songwriters and musicians.
Expect to hear a heartfelt tribute to classic rock and refined metal – and more of an effort to connect with the audience. While some concertgoers may have found Testosteroso’s off-color humor abrasive and off-putting, the band is now reaching out in the hopes of connecting with people on a different level by making emotion and passion the primary focal point and humor secondary.
Aside from killer live shows, Testosteroso has also been known for elaborate music videos characterized by epic Land of the Lost– and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-inspired theatrics, handmade puppets and grindhouse cinema. The next batch of videos promises to be a little different while still maintaining a sense of being just plain fun – and packed with deliberately cheesy green-screen special effects.
The video for “Frat Boy Frankenstein” will be reminiscent of old black-and-white horror movies, Boris Karloff style. “Into the Sun” embraces the amusing charm of ‘60s science fiction films featuring spaceships, asteroids and pretty girls resembling vintage airline stewardesses.
The band experiments with stop-motion for “Counterfeit Bitch,” in which they use Barbie dolls to illustrate the unfortunate product of a superficial society that values women achieving stereotypical beauty while sacrificing real human substance. The video for “Out of the Sun” is an epic heavy metal video not unlike the fan favorite for the Testosteroso theme song – but it takes the mix of hard rock and silliness to a higher level.
If Testosteroso’s fans keep an open mind they may find they like the new refined sound – and other listeners who found the humor hard to swallow before might be surprised if they give Testosteroso a second chance.
“I think the new songs are a little bit more interesting,” Shaub says. “It doesn’t jump around with styles as much. It’s all rock n’ roll but each song is its own kind of rock n’ roll. I hope it will be able to relate to people more.”