Formerly known as Canobliss (until April 2012) and nominated for three San Diego Music Awards, hard rock band Psychothermia includes former Canobliss members Johan Maldonado (vocals), Jon Russo (guitar), Mike Russo (drums), and Chenzo Vidalez (bass).
“Samson Pedroza packed his bags in the middle of a tour and decided to leave the band,” recalls Russo, who says he and three other members of the O.B.-based hard-rock band were forced by their former guitarist to change their name. “Samson claimed that...since he was a founder, he still owned a portion of the name, despite no longer performing with the group. He took control of the band’s website, threatened copyright violations over our emblem and logo, and even filed a personal lawsuit.”
Canobliss was cofounded in the late ’90s by UCSD alumni Samson Pedroza and bassist Chenzo Vidalez. The new band, Psychothermia, includes four former Canobliss members: Vidalez, guitarist Jon Russo, drummer Mike Russo (both joined in 2004), and singer Johan Maldonado (since 2006). “Rather than continue on with the old name and risk never-ending disputes and probable income-sharing,” says Mike Russo, “we decided our best move was to start fresh.”
“Fresh” doesn’t discount leftovers: “Psychothermia” is the title track of a 2008 Canobliss album. “That song is about controlling your mental temperature and responding firmly in the face of adversity,” says Russo. “Well, with months of legal battles over the band name, our mental temperature and dedication was tested to the max. Plus, [the new name] helps connect the dots from the old project.”
The foursome now called Psychothermia played their final show as Canobliss (minus Pedroza) March 24, 2012, at House of Blues. Their performance debut under the new name happened on April 22.
A subsequent full length called Slash and Burn was mixed and co-produced by Fred Archambault (Avenged Sevenfold). A video for its first single, “Crazy X,” features the band being set on fire, as coordinated by Hollywood stuntman Lane Leavitt (Terminator 2, Fright Night, etc.).
Says Russo, “Legal expenses were taking away from the money we needed to create our art.”
Samson Pedroza recruited new players to be in Canobliss, telling the Reader that the split came about due to “Melissa X McColloch’s passing in December of 2009 while we were in the middle of recording our 2010 release. She suffered from breast cancer and, as my significant other for eight years, she required my attention and time above and beyond the band’s needs. Instead of rescheduling some shows and pushing the album date a bit, band members committed us to none-paying shows where extensive travel was required, placing the band further in debt.”
“I am the original founding member, anyone that knows the band personally knows, I did 99% of the work from the get go, I acquired all the musicians to assemble the group, I wrote most of the early music and handle ALL of the business relations until Melissa became [ill] and have to this day maintained all my rights and ownership due to me under U.S. copyright and trademark laws.”
In February 2013, Psychothermia released their 12-song full-length Fall to the Rising Sun, recorded at Jon Russo's Control Volume Studios and mastered by Tom Baker at Precision Mastering.