Interview with vocalist and keyboardist Uncle Death
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: April 18, 2020
The air feels odd and thick, there are lurking zombies crawling out from the deepest shadows. The cemetery is full of decaying corpses and haunted and tormented souls are whispering your name, freezing the blood in your body. You could not feel more alone after entering ground that's unholy, abandoned and forbidden. Welcome to the grim and scary realm of Creepshow, one of Chicago's best-kept secrets...
Luxi: How's life in the Corona-ridden streets of Chicago these days? Hope you are doing well...
Uncle Death: Unfortunately, we are on full quarantine and the streets are pretty empty. Venues are closed as well so the scene has been hit pretty hard, we would assume. It sucks because we aren't really able to jam, write music efficiently and jobs are a little scarce but we're hopeful that it will end soon. We're quite dead, but it would suck for our friends to get sick, so stay safe.
WELCOME TO THE GLORIOUS TIMES OF HORROR AND METAL
Luxi: Creepshow were formed in 2015. What made you decide to form a band that combines horror movies and Metal music in one package? Obviously, the legendary horror comic Creepshow isn't completely unfamiliar to you guys? ;o)
Uncle Death: Formed in 2015 is a very, very loose term. Uncle Death developed the general idea and a couple of concepts for what would become Creepshow, but the full lineup would not meet until maybe 2017-2018.
While it is true Creepshow's logos/artwork and spiritual birth (as it were) occurred in 2015, it took a very long time to find the right musicians with the correct mindset and sound to land in Creepshow. The band was originally formed out of a love for atmospheric Metal tracks such as "Into the Catacombs" by Ghoul or "Arrival" by King Diamond and, well the list can go on and on. Classic '70s and '80s horror such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and hundreds of obscure titles we'll mention further down the line also played a huge role.
As for Creepshow as a movie/comic, I can assure you most of us are FIENDS for the original Creepshow and most things related (Creepshow 3 never happened folks, sorry). In the end, the true Creepshow as you see it now is a recently formed band and the idea of Creepshow went under tons of changes before we could call ourselves a band. Before this glorious lineup, it was just Uncle Death and a few song ideas.
Plus, have you ever tried digging four whole corpses out of the ground with no muscle tissue? It's back-breaking work.
Luxi: Speaking of classic horror movies, could you name some of the films in particular that have been a huge inspiration for the band? What about some of your own personal favorites from the horror movie genre?
Uncle Death: Night of the Demons, Re-Animator, Pumpkinhead, Halloween, and Nosferatu have all crawled their way into our debut EP and many more will make their way into any future music as we pull inspiration from thousands of places. We love watching them again and again in our spare time.
You're asking us to choose our favorite children (not to eat) so we'll try to narrow it down. To avoid giving a bible's worth of answers, Creepshow's Top 5 would have to be Chopping Mall, Creepshow, Friday the 13th Part 2, Return of the Living Dead, and The Thing.
Luxi: Musically, one can hear many influences in your stuff especially from the classic eighties Metal era, such acts as King Diamond, Necrophagia, Slayer, etc. Could you tell me how eighties Metal has been there for you guys as a main source of inspiration and how important was it to bring your own twist of humor into the whole package?
Uncle Death: We think it's extremely important to pay tribute to the '80s as a whole, because it was a golden age for horror and Metal in general. When you look at the past, it's a little simpler to know what works and what doesn't and for us that makes it easy to develop an artistic roadmap.
We wanted to include synths and a wide variety of other things and we feel Creepshow is a perfect outlet to bridge what we love in the old and what we might achieve with the new. Evil has no year.
THERE CAN ALSO BE A SENSE OF HUMOR IN METAL
Luxi: Do you think too many Metal bands take playing Metal too seriously, having forgotten it does not harm anyone if you add a sense of humor? Humor is good for peoples' psyches, especially during the dark times we are going through at the moment.
Uncle Death: Yes absolutely, and to an extent we believe that humor has its place in Metal. Serious bands are not the worst, but you need some humor to balance it out. Mainly Creepshow goes for a Tales from the Crypt mentality where it's okay to be serious as long as you can admit the plot is ridiculously dumb and that allows us to have fun with everything we do.
A big thing for us is giving listeners more than evil, boo scary, blah blah blah. In songs like "Moshferatu" we love to bring out the campy side of us and show people it's a skeleton party with us, not just a séance in a graveyard. Yes, that was an invitation, join us in the catacombs for some disco and synth.
Luxi: The cover of Bump in the Night reminds me of a little bit of Slayer's Live Undead cover, with the ugly zombies on it. Was Live Undead's cover the main source of inspiration to make your cover as eye-catching as possible with a spooky scene of a cemetery and creepy zombies?
Uncle Death: Definitely Live Undead meets Abigail with some of that humor like the beer can jammed in one of the zombie heads. We wanted something Victorian but old-school '80s Metal that wasn't too serious. The old horror movie poster style was something we were very interested in and the artwork will have a special place in our bony ribcages. We're very excited to get artwork for our full-length ready.
Luxi: Why did it take five years to get Bump in the Night released?
Uncle Death: The short answer is, it didn't. It's confusing some people which sucks but the general reason for Creepshow having 2015 attached to it is that originally it was supposed to be a solo-project akin to early Toxic Holocaust and GosT.
While that idea went on, logos and artwork were made but the sound just wasn't quite there, and it remained an idea with a few riffs for a long time. The current lineup appeared over time and Uncle Death slowly began recruiting and the EP was finally fleshed out. Old riffs became new songs, new riffs became old songs. It was a very exciting experience and Creepshow is much better for it.
Having abandoned the previous mindset of a single person writing, we were able to expand our sound and branch out in a natural way.
Unfortunately, the Facebook page was made a long time ago and to avoid duplicates we just used it without thinking too much about the 2015 label. We probably should remove 2015, it's not representative of what Creepshow is and for all intents and purposes we are a very new band. Hey, we don't have eyeballs, stop yelling at me.
ABOUT MENTAL MAINTENANCE AND STUFF
Luxi: How do you kill time in isolation? Do you have any useful tips for people that are trying desperately to find their way through these very restricted times?
Uncle Death: Horror movies. Lots and lots of horror movies. Here in Creepshow we're all friends, we hang out often (well we used to before the apocalypse) and right now our best source for talking and watching movies together is Discord. Get a Discord if you have a small circle of ghouls and a phone. It has killed hours of boredom to watch Nosferatu on YouTube and anything else you can stream; it can also kill brain cells depending on your undead friends.
Luxi: There's usually some sort of hierarchy in each band and they are all different when it comes down to both lyric and songwriting. Is everyone in Creepshow able to contribute or does a dictatorship reign, so to speak?
Uncle Death: As a band we like to do everything after an unholy meeting by Satan's water-cooler. There are certain members who are more "active" than other members and that does play a role in who writes more material but generally everyone has a chance to shine in Creepshow. We have a bass solo in "Moshferatu", a friggin' bass solo!
Maybe in certain areas Uncle Death is the tiebreaker but those situations are few and far between and Creepshow doesn't really struggle in that way. It also helps that we like a lot of similar things so there's a natural understanding of what we're doing.
Luxi: What's the most challenging part of keeping everyone happy and satisfied in this band, from your point of view? Would you say there are five like-minded individuals in Creepshow who are all very aware of what this band should be all about?
Uncle Death: There honestly isn't a lot of mental maintenance in Creepshow. For the most part we are identical, interest-wise. I, Uncle Death, can confirm that the band is basically cloned in a tube deep underground.
We all know what time it is when we get to the studio and its never a dull moment with us. There really is no conflict of creativity and it's a very cohesive lineup right now.
Luxi: Whenever there's an argument between band members about anything to do with the band's image, style or whatever really, how do you usually solve these situations?
Uncle Death: I don't think we've ever reached that point yet, but we're not opposed to discussing it. In the end, it's a matter of what sounds good and if we need to get an outside perspective, we ask certain people to listen to A or B and tell us which they prefer, and we take that into account. As far as image or theme goes, Uncle Death handles most of that but will more than likely ask the others for their opinion on those matters, it's very common.
INTO THE GRAVE WITH THE MASKS ON
Luxi: Your pseudonyms, Uncle Death, CadaVeronica, CemeTerry, FunerAlice, and NecroNancy, undoubtedly were invented to bring a smile to people's faces. Is your intention to keep yourselves hidden from the world as long as possible or do you think you may reveal your real names in public at some point?
Uncle Death: I'm glad it's working. We spent countless days carefully crafting and tempering our unholy names, so it'd sound cooler during our demonic summoning. To answer your question without getting too political or serious, we just think it helps separate the art from the artist. We would rather people focus on the music instead of who is playing it and if we can help it, we'll keep it that way. I think if it really is that important to people, they aren't really worried about the music as much as they should be. Maybe we'll be unmasked one day, but it won't be willingly. We will take our secret identities to the grave! Literally.
Luxi: When will there be some Creepshow merchandise available? I suppose you are working on it right now because the demand for it seems to be so huge from people, right?
Uncle Death: Absolutely yes. We are working hard to bring CDs and shirts to Bandcamp and hopefully that will be over the summer as more and more people purchase the EP digitally. Unfortunately, money is a little tight between us and we would love to get CDs printed now but we have to wait a month or two before that is a possibility. We want to take this time to thank everyone who has purchased the EP, as every bit counts, and merch is definitely coming soon. These cloaks were expensive, this is REAL Italian pleather.
Luxi: I have to believe that you have enough material ready for a full-length album. Any plans to enter the studio to record it this year?
Uncle Death: It is true that we are writing our full-length and recording can be anywhere from this fall/winter to early spring next year. It really all depends on how much we like it. We're extremely picky when it comes to what stays and what goes, and we really want to bring the best to the table. We can't give anyone a time, but we are writing, and we are very excited to record.
PLAYING LIVE IN CHICAGO AND BEYOND
Luxi: I do believe that you have serious intentions to play live, in your cloaks and perhaps some other cemetery and horror-related props as well?
Uncle Death: It's going to be an experience for sure. We love bands like GWAR, Ghoul, Mortuary Drape and Devil Master, so I think you can guess we're going to show up with a lot of ridiculous antics and stage props. And don't forget the fog machine and lights, we don't leave home without it. The King Diamond fan in us will not allow us to hit the stage without some well-rehearsed sets. We are very excited to bring the Creepshow experience to every human in the venue.
Luxi: Do you book your own gigs or do you have some people that take care of that?
Uncle Death: We haven't really reached that point yet as we're pretty fresh out and we'd like to practice like crazy before we head out to do shows. To answer the question, though, yes, we would probably be doing it ourselves. These are things that don't hurt to be learned and we would not want to rely on one single person to function as a band, so that's our view on that.
Luxi: I am curious to know which venues in the Chicago area book underground Metal bands? With this question, I am only referring to smaller, less known underground names, not bands like Kreator, Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth and stuff like that?
Uncle Death: Well there are lots of DIY venues across Chicago that feature local talent and small clubs such as Cobra Lounge, Reggie's Rock Club, and the Exit. It all depends on how involved you want to be, there's always a show going on somewhere in the city or the outlying suburbs (well not now, but you get the picture).
Luxi: What do you think of bands like Ghost and Undead Prophecies that have wanted to keep their true identities hidden, some more successfully than others?
Uncle Death: Personally, we love Ghost despite the countless neckbeards complaining about them. For us it's all about personal preference and nobody can take that away from them. If they want their identities hidden, it's their choice and we believe that shouldn't impact the music at all. Knowing the face behind the music would not make the music any better or worse and that's just how we see it. People will find out one day, that's just how the internet is, but for the time being, who cares? Life is too short, make spooky music.
Luxi: Ok, time for the last question and then we are done. What's that most secret thing in the band that you want to keep hidden as long as possible?
Uncle Death: Nothing really, because while it's true that the identity thing is a preference we have, it won't change us as musicians. We're very grateful to everyone who supports Creepshow and we wish for everyone to know that under these masks are genuine people who love what we do.
Creepshow was born out of a love for all things horror, and no matter who does the writing, that will never change. Just kidding you'll never know our secret, Creepshow will remain in darkness until the end of time.
Luxi: I want to thank you for your time and wish you all the best with the future endeavors of Chicago's best-kept underground secret, i.e. Creepshow. The last curses are yours, we are ready! ;o)
Uncle Death: No, thank you for taking a stroll through our humble graveyard, we promise it will have more zombies next time. New music, merch, and terrible jokes are on the way. If you enjoy our music, please take some time to check out some of our favorite bands in horror now; Axeslasher, Crypticus, Ghoul, and VHS.
And remember kids, Christmas sucks – Halloween is better!
|Other information about Creepshow on this site|
|Review: Bump in the Night|
The Metal Crypt - Crushing Posers Since 1999
Copyright © 1999-2020, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.