Horror has always found a way to weave itself into other threads of our lives outside of movies and literature. My casket maker and I were sitting in a bar (no this isn’t a joke, the jokes will come later and will hopefully be better than any punch line I could dream up here) discussing horror bands from past, present and future. I’ve seen horror in every genre of music including rap and country (see Gravediggaz and Those Poor Bastards).
My first inspiration to horror rock came in the form of a cassette from Kmart when I was in 6th grade. It was Alice Cooper’s Constrictor album. I remember staying up till midnight on Halloween in 1986 to catch his comeback concert “The Nightmare Returns” when it premiered live on MTV. During which he paraded his pet boa constrictor around on stage, lacerated his guitar player’s arm with a sword, and impaled a pesky camera guy with a microphone stand. And that was only the opening song!
When I was a teen, I saw King Diamond play live. His stage was set to look like a sitting room inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion. During the encore King took his bow, shook a couple of hands, thanked his family and friends for the support, picked up the roses that were tossed on stage and exited.
No wait that was the Michael McDonald concert I was forced to watch in the doctor’s waiting room the other day. This was King Fuckin’ Diamond we’re talking about here! He lay down in a coffin at center stage while the stagehands, dressed as executioners, nailed and chained it shut as they proceeded to light it on fire! After the flames engulf the casket in its entirety, the sides collapsed and low and behold, there is no one inside. The King had defied death.
Seemed easy enough. Now I knew what I wanted to do with my life. So my shock rock career began as my friends and I began working on the build of my coffin the next day. Seriously, how hard could this have been? I saw how it worked the night before and I can assure you it would’ve worked too if my damn neighbors would’ve kept their freaking mouths shut and stayed out of my damn business! Pricks!
Hitting up the school battle of the bands was another stop block in path of becoming a shock rock god. With everything I learned from the Coop, the King, and Black Lawless I was ready to rock my high school and star as the villain in the next big horror film! We set up the amps, drums, refrigerator box coffins, and the makeshift guillotine. The guillotine was actually a road block sawhorse that we stole, nailed a couple of vertical 2x4s to it and painted it black. The “blade” was cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil. Hey, it was going to be dark and if you squinted a little…We then introduced ourselves. So apparently Mrs. Jacoby, the 10th grade Spanish teacher, somehow took offence to our name, “Venom Enema” for some unknown bullshit reason that she wouldn’t give. (Alright, quick band huddle.) Then she didn’t like our alternative choice “Hātefűk”. She taught Spanish for God’s sake, what the hell does she know about good music? (Another quick band huddle.) So they agreed to accept our third choice; “The Whistling Dixie Cowboy Monkey Band”. But it was hard to announce that was our name with a straight face as we were wearing in black denim, Slayer t-shirts and corpse paint. At this point I thought we just might as well do some weird Frank Zappa covers because none of this was starting to make sense.
The audition lasted about 30 seconds into our first aria, “Whose Bed Has Your Blood Been Under” until our bass player got dizzy from headbanging, tripped on one of the “coffins” and knocked the guillotine off the stage, breaking it on the floor. I have to say I was a little surprised because of the near Amish carpentry work that went into making it in the parking lot.
I felt like Marty McFly’s when his band was trying out in Back to the Future. Only we weren’t cut for being too loud, we were cut for being “Too bad”. And then they didn’t apologize for cutting us, but I did see Coach Sydlik high five Mrs. Jacoby. Some people just don’t understand art.
By that time our drummer started crying and it made the grease paint from his corpse makeup run. “There’s no crying in death metal!” He said he wasn’t crying but rather it was the grease paint burning his eyes. I heard a few years later he was singing in a boy band. I guess he is the sensitive one in the group.
I made a couple of bucks off of selling our song rights to Shania Twain. She changed the blood reference to “boots” but I got my $10 royalty check so I didn’t care.
Going back to the late 1700’s, classical musician, Niccolo Paganini could have been the world’s first shock rock star. At only five feet tall with long black hair, he played violin while dancing madly to his music which led to rumors of him being possessed by the devil. In 1968 Arthur Brown introduced what we know as corpse paint to the music world while his head was on fire (you’re welcome Rammstein). Screamin’ Jay Hawkins would put a spell on you as he came onstage in a coffin (I should’ve tried that and probably the neighbors wouldn’t have meddled). The Misfits want your skull, while King Diamond wants your soul…please. Marilyn Manson (even before he was the asexual nazi dope fiend that we know and love today) scared us and our parents, as well as bands such as Rob Zombie, Cradle of Filth, Type O Negative, Cannibal Corpse, Wednesday 13, the Bronx Casket Company all sang about Halloween and the love for all things dead.
I’m thinking of putting the band back together and going out on a Venom Enema/Hātefűk reunion tour. I’ve even got a good name; The “Enema Fuk Tour”. Oh, imagine the concert shirt art!
This week check out an oldie but a goodie movie, “Session 9”, and “Life After Sundown“ by Ghoultown.
Until next time, rest in pieces.