Gothabilly is a portmanteau expression which refers to the fusion of rockabilly music and the Goth culture. Gothabilly bands' lyrics include various "dark" themes sometimes including, but not limited to: horror, the supernatural or paranormal, the occult, vampires, ghosts and so on; plus the standard rock fare of "dark" love songs, with themes of sadness, violence, etc. Vocal styles are similar to those used in classic rockabilly. Gothabilly also often draws visual and stylistic influences from camp 1960s "monster" themes, such as the television show The Munsters.
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"Gothabilly" differs from "Psychobilly" in that Gothabilly music tends to be slower and more atmosphere-oriented than Psychobilly. Whereas most Psychobilly songs have rockabilly chord progressions played in a punk style, Gothabilly adds gothic influence, such as jangly guitars, organs, and often, acoustic instrumentation.
In the late 1970s, The Cramps helped to create a proto-gothabilly subgenre. However, the term "gothabilly" was not popularized until the mid 1990s when Salon Betty frontwoman, Betty X. used the term in an interview with The Rocket newspaper. The terms "death lounge" and "deathabilly" may also be associated with Betty X.
It should be noted, however, that bands such as the Cramps were more influential to the Gothabilly genre as visual icons and stylistic archetypes, than they were musically in many cases.
The Cramps' musical style is/was closer in formula to the Surf rock sound of the early 1960s combined with the traditional "12-bar blues" format than to 1950s rockabilly rhythms or vocal styles. Occasionally, they have been associated with Gothic Rock primarily because of their use of fetish clothing and outlandish makeup, including heavy, dark eyeliner on both male and female members of the group in their photos and live concerts, which is also popular in the Gothic subculture.
The Cramps are also considered to be influential in the same sense to the Psychobilly genre.