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The Joysticks

The Joysticks at MIT

L-R: Richard, Joe, Gregg

The Joysticks, formerly Battling the Clip-On Expressway to your Skull, have now waged a new war against the Scan Feed Relay to your Skull. These Joysticks are the leading noise force behind OOBS Records. The trio of teenage sound terrorists behind this operation also run the entire OOBS Records Organization. With an unbelievable lineup of keyboards, synthesizers, noise gadgets, and other home-altered electronics, The Joysticks Joysticks in practice modecreate a barrage of noise unparalleled by any other. They “sound like velociraptors tearing apart metal structures,” says Chris Walker, and made Matt Dorn want to punch through his computer monitor after 5 minutes because he couldn’t take it. With descriptions such as these it’s no surprise that The Joysticks have become infamous throughout the Pittsburgh area for their unique brand of noise, pyrotechnics, destruction, and bizarre behavior.
The Joysticks began as a two-man sound team with Joe Scalise and Gregg Gillis. Lacking necessary equipment and inspiration to record new material for their band, Static Probe Pioneers, Joe and Gregg decided to do some experimental noise recordings one evening in early 1997. By the end of the night, they put together an entire 60 minute cassette. This first “release” included the infamous “How to Make Your Ears Bleed II,” which was 20 minutes of the “synthesizing” tone on the Casio SK-1 Sampling Keyboard. Gregg and Joe decided that they wanted to send this cassette to the local radio station WRCT to see if it could earn air time on one of the many experimental music shows. Basically, The Joysticks were created as an experiment, to see if a cassette they produced in one evening could get played on the radio. This experiment later proved to be a failure.

The Joysticks, who were battling the Clip-On Expressway to Your Skull at the time, did some random recordings over the next few months but didn’t really progress. The project was almost like a joke, just created for that one radio experiment. In October of 1997, however, Gregg and Joe were looking to put on a show to celebrate their back-to-back birthdays, and since Static Probe Pioneers were not prepared at this time toJoysticks at ORICON perform at another show, they decided to revive The Joysticks’ and perform an improv-noise set on Gregg’s roof. They were also looking to recruit another member for the sound team because as a duo, their live sound was lacking. The new member would also make it clear that The Joysticks were not Static Probe Pioneers, and provide a solution to the public’s prior questioning, “Why do the same two people have two different band names?”

After some brief field tests and laboratory work, Richard Saporito was selected as the final member. The first live show of The Joysticks was a complete success. They truly developed their trademark sound and found their love for alienation of an audience through this monumental event. Richard, Joe, and Gregg continued creating sound as a trio, and The Joysticks became the primary musical focus of each member of the sound team.

By the summer of 1998, they decided it was their time to invade the Pittsburgh electronic and noise scene. Richard and Gregg put together an audio cassette that consisted of 3 tracks and gave it to Pittsburgh scenester and venue owner Manny Theiner. These 3 tracks later spawned their first release, “TRACKS.” This release was more calm than recent works. Most of it was recorded live, and contains excellent sampling from the classic Weird Al Yankovic movie “UHF.” Their latest release, “The Only Way to Synthetically Prepare Sound,” is a much better representation of the overall Joysticks’ sound. Each composition is extremely varied in style, featuring hardcore, harsh noise to The Joysticks’ #1 dance hit, “Wannabe (An Astronaut).” With these two releases under their belt, The Joysticks easily became superstars within the Pittsburgh music underground and played with artists such as Solex, Operation Re-Information, Lockweld, Bob Marinelli, and Evolution Control Committee.

Joysticks FUIt was not just these recordings that popularized The Joysticks; their theatrics in performance contributed greatly, as well. They have been known to smash machines and electronics such as computers, televisions, VCRs, printers, clock radios, boomboxes, and Nintendos during their live show. They have also thrown fireworks into the crowd, got kicked out of their high school’s talent show for lighting the stage on fire with fireworks, contacted neighbors telephonically and projected the call throughout the neighborhood using a makeshift PA system, and put on a 3.2 minute performance in which they solely used handheld tape recorders. The Joysticks are also known for an intense cover of Salt N’ Pepa’s “Push It.” Back in June of '98, the Joysticks Battle the Scan Feed Relay to Your Skull were unknowns around town, even in their own school, but now they're legends throughout universe.

Contact The Joysticks:
Gregg Gillis
Richard Saporito
Joe Scalise

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