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Monday, 20 December 2010

Styles of Goth fashion: Gothabilly

Gothabilly, also known as hellbilly, is, essentially, the bastard lovechild of Goth and rockabilly/psychobilly, both musically and visually. You have probably seen Gothabilly dresses in your local alternative fashion shop (assuming, that is, that you have one) due to the look's recent surge of popularity. Just as deathrock came under the wing of the Goth scene after its formation, so did Gothabilly - to begin with, it was simply seen as a spin-off genre of rockabilly, but nowadays both the music and the fashion have been adopted by Goths and are mostly seen within the Goth scene.

Source: Google Images
A little bit of background info - rockabilly is a term combining 'rock'n'roll' and 'hillbilly', musically combining rock'n'roll with influences from country, swing and boogie woogie. Musicians who have been associated with rockabilly include Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Psychobilly adds punk rock influence to rockabilly music, and is one of several rockabilly spin-off genres, alongside thrashabilly and surfabilly, to name a couple. Lyrics often reference horror, sci-fi, violence and sex, though usually in a comic fashion. Most psychobilly bands feature an upright double bass. Bands associated with psychobilly include The Meteors, Guana Batz and Batmobile.

The word 'Gothabilly' was coined by the band The Cramps in the late 70s, as they were looking for a term to describe their music - punk rock with rockabilly influences. The Cramps are most strongly associated with the psychobilly subculture, although they are also relatively popular amongst Goths. The term 'Gothabilly' came into common use amongst the alternative scenes when in the mid-90s record label Skully Records released a series of Gothabilly compilation albums.

Musically, Gothabilly combines aspects of Goth rock (such as jungle drums and jangly Bauhaus-esque guitars) with the country and blues influences of rockabilly and, usually, the upright double bass seen in psychobilly. Many Gothabilly bands use horror themes, often with a twist of black humour and deliberate cheese, although unlike rockabilly and psychobilly, lyrics may also include the romantic and paranormal - including (you guessed it) vampires. Gothabilly music is generally less aggressive than psychobilly music and often has a more melancholic atmosphere. As you have probably noticed, Gothabilly has much in common with deathrock (horror imagery; black humour; ties to punk rock) and actually you can often find Gothabilly bands playing at deathrock events.

Of itself, Gothabilly has spawned several musical subgenres which are often included on compilation CDs - these include 'death surf', 'voodooabilly' and 'death mod'.

Motifs commonly seen in Gothabilly fashion are cherries, dice and playing cards, flames, animal prints, tattoo-inspired designs, polka dots, sugar skulls, swallows, zombies and pin-up girls (or simply zombie pin-up girls) - retro and kitsch with an added dark twist. For men and women tattoos are common, often featuring more pin-up girls, flaming skulls and playing cards. Gothabilly women could be described as 'living dead pin-up princesses' and can often be seen in pencil skirts, heels, red lipstick and seamed fishnet stockings; hair may be styled with victory rolls, quiffs and Bettie bangs - the whole look, for women, could be summed up with 'Morticia Addams meets Bettie Paige'. Gothabilly guys may sport creeper shoes, cowboy boots and hats, mourning coats and dusters. Fashion influences include The Cramps themselves, Fields of the Nephilim (a 1980s Goth band famous for their dusty cowboy gear) and The Gothic Cowboys.

Gothabilly fashion incorporates more colour than many styles of Goth fashion - from brightly-coloured leopard print to red or pink 50s cardigans. It can also be a more masculine look for the guys - as opposed to the frilly shirts of romantigoth or the ripped tights sported in deathrock. As Voltaire points out in What Is Goth?, Gothabilly is a good look for darkly-inclined gentlemen who don't wish to dress like "fruity vampires". Shirts with the sleeves ripped off, black denim, tattoos of buxom women and rockabilly quiffs galore.
Amelia Arsenic (aka Destroy X of the band Angelspit)
Gothabilly interests include hot rods and hearses, horror B-movies and vintage fashion. Gothabilly incorporates that tongue-in-cheek humour found in the music - Auxiliary Magazine says, "Whether it’s putting mini top hats on taxidermy bats or planning a creepy tiki party, it’s all about dark humored fun." The music blaring from a Gothabilly's headphones is likely to include bands such as those named above, as well as Cult of the Psychic Fetus, Vampire Beach Babes, The Horrorpops, The Phantom Cowboys, Zombie Ghost Train, Ghoultown, Dead Sea Surfers, The Coffinshakers, Pink Hearse, and the Surf Sluts.

4 comments:

MissGracie said...

Well now I absolutely must throw a "creepy tiki party" as soon as summer comes back! I am growing my sides out in order to be able to do vintagey hairstyles, but I am going to have no idea how to begin! I have never been very knowledgeable about styling my hair...

Meagan Kyla said...

Hey there!
Great article! Thanks for quoting Auxiliary Magazine, I'm the author of that article *wink* Thanks for having an awesome blog and an awesome voice!

Cheers!
Meagan Kyla

Drew said...

You might also check out, Danger*Cakes. ;)

Dani DeathBiscuit said...

^ and cupcakes.. don't forget the fucking cupcakes ;D


I would def have to say that (since I work in an alt/rockabilly store) I follow this style ... I am a Goth mutt. My style exploded, it's all distorted.

I love Gothabilly :3

Thanks for the post, hun! -I read it a while back but I forgot to comment- xxx

* a lot of gothabilly girls stretch their ears to approx 18mm I have noticed since working in the body jewellery section*

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