Category Archives: Interviews

Weird Interview: Anklepants

Anklepants

Photo by Dina Schweiger

Back in late June, we got to interview our current No. 1 Weirdest (One-Man) Band in the World, Dr. Reecard Farché, better known to his penis-loving minions as Anklepants. Reecard—or, more accurately, the man behind Reecard/Anklepants, [name redacted]—chatted with us for over an hour from his home in Berlin about everything from how he got interested in animatronics to why the Berlin music scene kinda sucks right now.

The interview was originally conducted as part of an article I wrote about breakcore for Insomniac.com, an electronic music site run by the folks behind such massive EDM festivals as Electric Daisy Carnival. But only a few Anklepants quotes made it into that piece, so I decided to transcribe the whole thing (well, most of it, anyway—an hour-long interview adds up to a LOT of words) and post it here so you weirdos could learn more about the man behind the mask.

We began by talking about what was, back in June, still the hottest Anklepants-related topic of conversation: his mind-blowing live set for the Boiler Room DJ video series.

 

WB: So let’s talk about that Boiler Room set. It got quite the response when it first came out.

A: Yeah, man, it’s completely nuts. In that first period, it was just ridiculous. I was getting emails every five seconds…it was just streaming in. It’s been less ridiculous since then, which is good. It’s hilarious to see what people write now that it’s getting more mainstream coverage.

My voice was completely fucked at that gig. That was my seventh show in a row, and I blew it out like three nights before that. I really fucked it up. And then I smoked a cigarette. I don’t smoke often, but sometimes when I drink, I smoke. I smoked one cigarette and my voice was fucked. I couldn’t even really talk before that gig—so that’s how much I was straining my voice.

WB: When you booked the Boiler Room show, did you have any inkling that it was going to be such a big deal?

A: No, I knew that would happen. It’s got the biggest captive audience for something of that nature, with people who are completely sedated by the DJ standing there playing tracks. That’s the thing it’s brought to my attention: I didn’t really realize how many people have been born into the world where DJing is the normal for music. People still think I’m DJing. I’m not DJing. People still don’t understand what I’m doing. You’ve never seen bands? People manipulating machines? Some of the haters’ comments are just so stupid: “I’ve never seen someone doing that on the decks.” There’s no fucking decks. There’s nothing like that. And they think that I’m just singing over the track for the hell of it or something. They don’t realize that it’s my music.

So I’m definitely not DJing. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, really. With the equipment that I use, there’s definitely no name for it, because it doesn’t exist [outside of my shows].

AnklepantsWB: Do you think that’s why people at the Boiler Room set were kind of just standing around? Because they didn’t really understand what they were seeing? Or they were afraid of the mask, maybe?

A: Usually when I play it’s completely fucking rammed and people aren’t afraid of it. Probably since the Arte thing, that interview…

WB: Oh yeah, the German TV show. [Note: We were thinking of this show. But he’s actually talking about this one.]

A: Yeah, it’s Germany and France. I don’t know if you know of this thing, but it’s the biggest arts show in Europe, really. It’s on mainstream, pay TV. So after that, my next few shows sold out straight up—in Germany, in Switzerland. They were fucking packed.

I can cum with the mask now. And at lots of gigs I’ve got guys and girls just lining up for me to cum on them. I’m not exaggerating. This happens all the fucking time. This Boiler Room gig is the first gig where you would see people standing like this in over a year. It’s usually people jumping up trying to grab me.

WB: So wait, the mask shoots liquid now?

A: Yeah, yeah, it has for quite a long time. It’s hard to see. There’s some photos where you can see when it’s fluoro coming out, because I put like glowstick fluid in there. It’s a button on the microphone I can just press at any time. There’s a small pump and a small tank. But anyway, this is the thing: People go crazy normally. This is why it kind of annoyed me. I was like, “Fuck, come on.” It was just a shame that when it finally gets a lot of coverage, it looks like people are scared. I think a lot of people thought that was the first gig, or normally I do something else. But it’s been happening for five years.

WB: Was the jester outfit new?

A: I’ve worn it on and off for awhile. But I wore it that whole tour. The black one is really, really hot. It kills me. It’s so nasty. I see stars easily five times a show when I wear that. I mean, I do anyway most of the time, because it’s so hot.

Anklepants black costume

WB: In the mask?

A: Yeah. When I have the black [costume] on, the only thing exposed to the air is my eyes and my hands and my mouth. It does up really tight around my neck. Which I could loosen up, but I like that suit because you can’t see any skin. So the illusion of the head being my head looks a bit better from a distance. But it gets so hot. The pants come up to my armpits and it’s all wool. So when the jacket’s on, there’s two layers of wool around my chest. So yeah, I’m completely drenched and the suit is completely wet by the end. It takes days for it to dry out.

WB: Did the music for Anklepants come first, and then you designed the mask? Or did it start with the mask?

A: Well, the mask was originally an idea for this stupid porn film me and my friend came up with. It was these two characters driving around space in a beat-up old spaceship, beaming girls up from different places and seducing them on the spaceship and having weird orgy parties. I mean, we still might make this film. But this is where the character came from. And at the time, I was making a lot of music with a friend. I was in bands with him and also making lots of electronic music with him. And I was like, “Hang on, maybe we should use this as a character for a music project.” ‘Cause I was already using the bear. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this teddy bear that I used to use? There’s videos of it around.

WB: No, I don’t think so.

A: The first animatronic thing I ever used at a gig was an animatronic teddy bear, which straps around my upper torso—and that goes with a whole different music. There are some Anklepants releases that are called Le Bear, but eventually it will be a separate thing. It was a pretty shit animatronic, but the new one is gonna be crazy. So yeah, that was the first one, and then I was like, “Well, there’s this penis character, maybe we should use this.” And at the time, we were making a lot of really slow, strange techno. There’s a handful of tracks that are from that but I don’t ever really play them. But it was like 110 BPM and really slow, and I dunno, I don’t even know how to explain it.

WB: Just slowed down techno?

A: Yeah, but this really kinda wonky thing with these really sleazy-sounding vocals, all pitched down. Just stupid, weird, joke kind of tracks. And I was like, “Well, that character would fit perfectly. The dicks would be moving in time.” Because at first, there was two of them.

WB: That’s right, I’ve seen some of those where you have a dancer in a mask, as well.

A: No, that’s a different one. The very first gig was two of us singing and two of us operating machines. So there were two animatronic cocks like in time, doing all different moves like synchronized. It just looks hilarious when they’re moving together. That was the first gig, but after that, he never wanted to play again. I don’t know what it was—he never said. He was kind of my best friend but he’s pretty weird with communication. I haven’t spoken to him in like a year now. Though I haven’t been back to Australia in five years, mind you. I’m going back soon and I’ll see him. But anyway, it was definitely a different idea at first and then—I mean, the music existed way before the cock face.

When I first worked on films and saw animatronics being built and started to learn a bit about the control systems and realized I already knew a bit about the electronics already, because I was really into radio-controlled cars and shit like that. I used to race them. So I was like, “Hang on, I can kind of understand this.” And I always wanted to do animatronics. I used to ask the electronic engineers questions. And then I found out a lot of the old animatronics were MIDI sequenced and I was like, OK.

The systems I use are far superior to [film work animatronics] now, as well. It’s kind of overtaken what I was first trying to emulate. Because you can’t manipulate audio when you’re programming for films. You can’t slow it down very easily with the systems they use. And they’re so expensive. What they pay a hundred grand for I can build for like 200 Euros.

WB: Would you ever want to get back into doing animatronics for film?

A: Oh, I still do. I’m doing two film jobs at the moment. But it’s not the same as if I was in Australia working for the same people—or being in the U.K. When I was in the U.K., it was just non-stop. But in Germany, it’s not as often and it’s not as much money.

WB: But it sounds like you’re too busy now with Anklepants anyway.

A: But it’s been like this. I’ve been gigging most weekends since I’ve been in Europe, since 2010. There haven’t been many months I haven’t played at least one gig in another country. This is the thing that’s hard to notice from the outside. I mean, yeah, it’s getting more popular in Europe, but at the same time, I think most of the coverage at the moment is from America and Australia. In Europe, I’ve played in most places multiple, multiple times.

A lot of the traffic I’m getting at the moment is from America. I think it’s the biggest surprise for America. I dunno—it’s not that strange. Fucking weird shit goes on in Europe all the time. I mean, yeah, it’s a robot dick face. But the music is not that weird. I could go out right now and 100 meters from my house, I bet you there’s something more obscure going on.

Anklepants live

Photo by Fabia Rodi

WB: How would you describe your music these days?

A: The newest stuff, the next Anklepants music is going into different microtonal ideas and more ethnic scales, different tunings, and more acoustic instruments, custom-built things. Really different. But I dunno, it’s parodying different things, critiquing things. A lot of different people might like different bits of it, and then maybe realize that they shouldn’t be so concerned about what’s good or bad about it.

I don’t think anything I do is that strange at all. And nothing is new. Animatronics is from the fucking ‘60s. Everything I use is old. Even the technology—it might be new combinations of things, but the sensors and stuff have been around for fucking ages. So it’s just mixing all different things together.

WB: As a writer, I find “breakcore” useful to describe your music. But it’s also a bit arbitrary. I’ve heard Otto Von Schirach’s music described as breakcore, Venetian Snares, your stuff. But really, if you put all three of you side by side, your music is pretty different.

A: Yeah, if it’s got breakbeats in it that are sped up and chopped up—I mean, I do have some songs that have this.

WB: Yeah, like “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick”…

A: Yeah, of course, but this is about the generic breakcore scene in Sydney. I was involved in this scene a bit when I first started Anklepants. I did listen to [breakcore] but I was really just fascinated with the technicality of it. I was never into chopping up pop tracks and speeding them up. That infuriates me, to be honest. Not many things infuriate me, but when people just get a Britney Spears song and speed it up and put a distorted gabber kick under it…this just infuriates me. It’s literally just turning a knob.

This is where society’s getting so fucking lazy. I’ve met people who do this stuff and some of the attitudes are just unbelievable. They think they’re crazy and wild. But I’ve had quite a few of them tell me what I should change. It’s pretty weird. They’re supposed to be rebels that don’t care about what anyone else does. But then—this is when I [came up with] this stupid thing, the übergrunde, a direct inversion of the mainstream. All they’re doing is the exact same thing. They have their own clique. They’re the same. So this kind of breakcore—I just think it’s stupid.

WB: So when you do a track like “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick,” it’s a parody of that scene?

A: Yeah, the lyrics are, “When I come to the bowels of the party, I really like to look at your dick at the party.” It’s just saying, when I go to the shittiest party—and it’s all guys, mind you—we just look at each other’s dicks. That’s what the lyrics are. They’re so stupid, but I just made them one day when I was so pissed off after I played one those gigs, with these assholes who pride themselves on being so completely open, and then you play their gig and they just give you a bunch of attitude and tell you what you should change in your music.

WB: What have they said you should change?

Anklepants

A: “It’s good but after you see it’s a dick, it’s like, whatever.” People just always try and put shit on it, because usually, what the problem is, if I play a gig with them, no one fucking watches them, they watch me. This is obviously the problem. It’s a weird thing with Anklepants, because obviously some people might not want to look at it, or they want to see the funny side. But a lot of the time, all people want to talk about is the dick face. They forget there’s even music there. And if they talk about the music, they just say it’s horrible.

But then there’s the other kind of breakcore I got interested in because of different kinds of software. For me, when it comes to anything you might call breakcore—this fast, heavily programmed music—it’s just the technical side I’m interested in, really. There’s just so many techniques trying to create contrast between different hits, different notes. The more contrast there is, the more your brain is being triggered that it’s a new thing that it’s hearing. This part of it I’m really interested in: tricking the brain, so when you’re listening to it, your brain feels like it’s constantly being shown something new. I like hearing all the techniques and people using all different hardware and software all mixed together. It’s still kind of exciting. And it’s like a challenge as well, because you have to use a lot of tricks with production to make all the sounds come through in the mix. It’s kind of like a weird jigsaw puzzle, and it’s kind of like a game, and it’s kind of problem solving.

WB: I think that’s what interests me about it, as well. Just the production skills involved with something like what Igorrr does, for example, taking classical and metal and breakbeats and stitching it all together….

A: I mean, Otto and Venetian Snares, those guys, they’ve been doing it way longer than me. I was playing in bands and stuff for a long time. I’ve played guitar since I was nine. Jazz theory and all kinds of stuff. I was doing that and I suppose they were making electronic music. I’ve been making electronic music for probably 15 years, but Anklepants is only since 2008. I was into all kinds of music, but a lot of metal when I was younger. I really only ever got into electronic music to add it to a band. Anklepants will be a band eventually. Not this new thing—Clock_yange is like a one-off thing. Anklepants will be a full band that’s got all these crazy instruments and all kinds of things going on.

WB: Is that the goal with something like the face-tar?

A: Yeah, and as soon as I start getting big enough bookings, where I can afford to have other people…the first person I want to bring in is a drummer. I’ve always wanted to use this guy in Australia who I’ve played in two bands with. And he’ll be using a mixture of conventional rock drums, but also triggered and strange electronic percussion, weird instruments that are electronic and acoustic and moving, as well. And he’ll have some character. But yeah, the main focus is to get the guitar built. Although that instrument is based on a guitar, it’s gonna have a lot of sensors and things.

I used to manipulate the music a lot more, especially arrangement-wise, before I had the wireless microphone. When I built that microphone, it started to be more about the microphone vocal manipulation. When the guitar comes, the music will be as manipulated as the voice. When it joins together, everything’s just gonna be way more free.

Read my interview with MC Frontalot…on this other site

MC Frontalot

MC Frontalot‘s new album Question Bedtime arrived this week, with its twisted folk tales and hilarious sketches in which Front babysits unruly comedians. (“I’ll go to bed on one condition: Make me a Baked Alaska,” Paul F. Tompkins pleads.) It’s good stuff, but also a major departure for the nerdcore rapper, whose usual subject matter consists of videogames, sci-fi and the occasional stoop sale. We wanted to find out more about why he chose make what is, in essence, a children’s album.

While we sometimes do interviews on this blog, it’s more lucrative if we can convince some other website to pay us to do it. In this case, that website was The Daily Dot, a tech and pop culture site heavy on geek-friendly content. Front’s right in their wheelhouse, so they agreed, perhaps not knowing that we’d spend most of our interview talking about Idries Shah’s World Tales: The Extraordinary Coincidence of Stories Told in All Times, in All Places.

Anyway, to read the interview, go here. And to pick up a copy of Question Bedtime, go here. Just remember that if you play it for your kids, they’ll probably start asking you for Baked Alaska.

Weird Interview: Teloch from Mayhem

Teloch

Listen, we do OK in the readership department, but Christ knows, we’re no Metal Injection. We probably don’t even have as many readers as Hell Furnace. So when we hit up Mayhem‘s label, Season of Mist, to see if we could interview the band around the release of their latest album, Esoteric Warfare, we weren’t really expecting a response. But dip us in honey and feed us to the bees, cuz the Season of Mist folks not only wrote us back but hooked us up with Teloch, the band’s still-sorta-new guitarist. We’re not worthy!

Teloch answered all our questions via email, which is admittedly lamer than phone or Skype or in-person…but, it does give us the opportunity to tell you this: Teloch uses emoticons. He gave us the fucking winky sign at the end of this thing! And he didn’t even put devil horns on it! This changes my entire impression of black metal forever.

Anyway, we got the interview back a few days ago but decided to wait until Friday the 13th to post it, on account of it being the day of ultimate evil and all. Teloch answered all our questions except one that was specifically about Euronymous, which is fair enough, I guess. Nobody likes to talk about the dead guy they replaced.

Oh, did I mention that Esoteric Warfare is out now? Yep, it finally dropped on June 10th here in the States and everywhere else on June 6th. If your life seemed a little more miserable than usual this week, it’s probably because there was just a little more darkness in the world. You can stream the full album exclusively on Terrorizer…another site that probably gets more traffic than ours. Bastards.

Weirdest Band: You’ve worked with drummer Hellhammer for many years on other projects before you joined Mayhem. How did the two of you first meet?

Teloch: We first met when we where doing a warm-up gig for Mayhem with Nidingr [Teloch’s previous band]. But it wasn’t until later we started hanging out.

WB: What was your first-ever show with Mayhem like? Where did you play?

T: It was strange, we played here in Norway at a place called Jessheim, where Mayhem had played a gig maaaany years ago. Of course since it was my first gig with them there was some nerves involved, as it always is performing the first gig with a new band.

WB: Were those early Mayhem records an influence on your band, Nidingr?

T: Haven’t really thought about it before but I’m pretty sure it was one of the influences, together with the rest of the Norwegian Black Metal bands, but we have never tried to sound like Mayhem, that’s for sure.

WB: How does Esoteric Warfare compare to the rest of the Mayhem catalog?

T: It’s hard for me to say, ’cause the only Mayhem albums I have listened to top to bottom is Mysteriis and Ordo, the other albums went completely under the radar for me. Also I have only listened to the songs they wanted me to play live.

WB: What guitars and other gear (pedals, effects, etc.) did you use during the recording of Esoteric Warfare?

T: LTD EC-1000 and a cable straight into Engl Powerball 100 and Powerball 1 and 2, no pedals or effects…we added some effects in the studio later, reverbs and delays.

WB: The first song released, “Psywar,” talks about how modern society brainwashes people into submission. Is that what the title of the album is referring to: that our governments have declared war on people’s ability to think for themselves?

T: In a way, it’s more like there is this constant secret war in the world all the time. Also it’s about mind control and military control, secret societies.

WB: What do you think about the black metal scene these days? Are there any bands doing work you admire?

T: I have no idea, I don’t follow the scene at all and have no idea what’s going on. I would say there is probably nothing worth following, since most albums released is shit.

WB: What do you think about bands like Deafheaven and Amesoeurs that use elements of black metal but mix with them different styles like shoegaze and punk? Do you appreciate bands that like to experiment with black metal, or are you more of a purist?

T: Don’t know the bands you mentioning and have no idea what shoegaze is, but sounds like a fucking mongoloid looking at his shoe for no reason. People can do what the fuck they want, I really don’t care as long as I don’t have to listen to it, really. To me, when you say experiment and black metal together in a sentence, it’s no longer black metal. To me black metal has strict rules and codes to follow for it being black metal, but that’s also the reason why I quit playing/listening to black metal years ago, not that fond of rules, especially when it comes to music, it constricts you. But that’s just my opinion, and it’s not important.

WB: Mayhem’s early history has been sensationalized in the press. Do you find that some of the band’s fans are more into the mythology surrounding Mayhem than the actual music?

T: Yup, and looks like it’s going to be like that forever. A solution would probably be if the other members stopped talking about the old days and start focusing on what’s in front of them. 😉

Weird Interview: Laki Lan

Laki Lan

After they topped our Weird 100 chart last month, we were determined to learn more about bug-themed Polish funksters Łąki Łan. But English-language info about the band is scarce. So we reached out to them directly. Here’s what they had to say for themselves via email in their (probably) first-ever English interview. (We’ve edited their answers a bit for clarity and coherence, but not too much—we didn’t want to lose that English-is-not-their-first-language flavor entirely.)

P.S. All questions answered by Laki Lan’s guitarist, Bonk.

Weirdest Band: You call your music “meadow funk.” What’s meadow funk?

Łąki Łan: “Meadow Funk” is a title of one of our songs (“Łąki Funk”). So we used it to call our music. We call it techno twist or techno live funk as well. Many kinds of music are intermingled: you have funk section, rock ‘n’ roll guitar, techno keys. We didn’t want to be a typical funk band or rock ‘n’ roll band. Nobody want to be a pigeonhole.

WB: How did you all first meet and come to play music together?

LL: In about 1999 there was a group of people who got a great passion. They visited [abandoned] buildings, industrial zone and many interesting places. We made a bonfire , smoking joints and had a good time. We had many very cool places in this time in Warsaw. Old communism factory…a huge factory about two or three kilometers from the center of Warsaw! Paprodziad was a spirius movens [spiritual leader] of this informal group.

WB: What’s Paprodziad’s story? Most of you seem to be insects but he seems more like some kind of mad wizard.

LL: He wasn’t a typical vocalist to begin with. He was a kind of showman or performer, a theatrical person on the stage, something like a mad wizard indeed. He did a lot of performances like changing brains to clump of grass. He was singing a few lines in a few songs, but we played almost only improvisation in those days. Some riffs, but it was open form on one chord on most of them. It was cool, but it was sometimes working and sometimes not, so we felt we needed [more structure] to get our show up. Paprodziad always was a writer, and he started to sing own stuff and we started making songs.

WB: Are your influences mostly other Polish bands? Or bands from other places, too?

LL: I think only bands from other places. We listened to funk ’70s stuff, James Brown and George Clinton of course, and RHCP [Red Hot Chili Peppers], Frank Zappa, all new stuff like Chemical Brothers or Groove Armada, techno music and house music, we loved it. And rock ‘n’ roll ’60s , all acid jazz, Jamiroquai, Snoop and all hip-hop stuff, Beastie Boys and AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Slayer, and also Burt Bacharach or Elvis. And Bob Marley of course. And Prince.

But when we saw George Clinton it opened our eyes! We said yeahh, we can do it in the same style. Let’s dress up. Let’s make our own world. We tried a little bit to be an ambassador of funk in Warsaw because nobody playing this at that time. DJs played that but not a live band. In the late ’90s we have got only rock bands and old communism stars and awful pop stars. But most of them were really shit. It wasn’t our music, young people music. Only hip-hop and rap was interesting at that time.

We tried to be different and fresh like music we listened to, Chemical Brothers or Fatboy Slim. We always wanted to play techno as live band. Techno is some kind of jazz, you’ve got a groove full of places to improvise. We tried this on a really big techno party for thousands of people! We tried to play like Prodigy or Chemical Bros.

WB: What’s the music scene like in Poland these days? Are there many other bands playing your style of music?

LL: We are a village country so most popular artists are playing disco polo. It is our traditional [songs] but played on the Casio. Something like Balkan turbo disco. It is wedding music, too. But it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of bands playing good music, more and more. And more and more hip-hop artists using live bands so we have got more funk characters in Poland. We have got many reggae bands as well. They are very popular. I think people in Poland have a great feeling of black music like reggae or funk. It’s huge but still underground. It isn’t mainstream, but it could be in YouTube times. Times they are a-changing nonstop. It is good for us. But I haven’t seen any bands playing our style.

WB: Do you ever tour much outside Poland? Where is the farthest away from home you’ve ever played a show?

LL: We working on that. We were in Georgia farthest. We’re still waiting to show in New Zealand and Alaska.

WB: Some of your lyrics are in English. Do a lot of Polish bands sing in English?

LL: Not many but much more than ten years ago. I think people prefer Polish language because they could understand what’s going on, a heart feeling. This is poetry at the end. But much more people using English. Language is kind of instrument as well, so if you play funk or rock ‘n’ roll for example, when you using English it sounds good. If you play flamenco you [use] Spanish language rather German. It’s not a rule, but it is easy to make an odd thing doing this way. And believe me, when you get English texts and sing them in Polish it is a big comedy. Polish language is a very different, it is another context.

WB: To an English speaker, “Łąki Łan” sounds a bit like “Wonky One,” which means something like “Weirdo.” Was this intentional?

LL: It is a play on words. Paprodziad was writing a lot of stuff and he tried to use a Polish words to get English sound. We’ve listened only to western music almost (western meaning west from us) and English language is part of those [songs] like guitar sound is part of rock ‘n’ roll . So he [put together] Polish words in special way and everybody thought he sing in English. We love that because we were different and sound western but we used still Polish words. Łąki Łan is two words of one line of text, we said, “o yeahh!” It sounds great. It sounds like the name of the band. Many people in Poland still asking us what does it mean.

WB: Your live shows look like fun. Do a lot of your fans dress up in their own Łąki Łan costumes?

LL: There are much more! It is amazing! Thanks, everybody! When I see people dress up like me it is so huge a power and happy. They dress up like me, wow, and I only play music! This is nice.

WB: What are you working on these days? Will there be new Łąki Łan music coming soon?

LL: We are working nonstop because we love it. We have got new stuff so I hope it will be coming soon.

WB: Do you consider yourselves weird?

LL: I don’t know. It is hard to consider this from inside. It is normal for us. We are people like others. We know much  more weird people, everybody knows, but they are not famous usually. Really weird people for us are still normal when you know each other.

But there is one kind of weird people for me.

They believe in money.

Weird Interview: Haunted Garage

Haunted Garage new lineup

Haunted Garage in 2013 (left to right): Brian Beaver, Dukey Flyswatter, Erik Erath, Andy Chavez, Sean Fodor

From about 1985 to 1993, Haunted Garage was one of the most demented acts in the L.A. underground rock scene, famous for their elaborate, prop-heavy stage shows and frenetic, horror-themed punk/metal songs. But after releasing their one and only album, Possession Park, and touring the U.S. and Europe with The Cramps, the band called it quits. Mostly.

Since 1993, frontman Dukey Flyswatter (also famous as a B-movie actor in films like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Surf Nazis Must Die, sometimes credited under his real name, Michael Sonye) has made several attempts to bring Haunted Garage back to life. The first two reunions produced only a handful of shows, but it’s looking like the latest incarnation of Haunted Garage may stick around for awhile. Formed just a few months ago, the new lineup features lead guitarist Erik Erath (who first joined the band for a reunion show back around 2001), rhythm guitarist (and professional makeup effects artist) Andy Chavez, bassist Sean Fodor and drummer Brian Beaver. With this new supporting cast, Dukey is more excited about Haunted Garage than he’s been in years. “These guys, they believe in the band,” he says. “They like the theatrics.”

Recently, I got to visit the band in their rehearsal space at Francisco Studios, in the industrial L.A. suburb of Vernon. I listened while they tore through a full rehearsal set, then we chatted for about a hour, drinking Jack Daniels and swapping stories. Portions of that interview wound up in an LA Weekly article previewing their gig at the Long Beach Zombie Walk. But I just had to reprint the full interview (with a few minor edits) here on TWBITW, because the story of Dukey Flyswatter and Haunted Garage hasn’t really been told enough.

Weirdest Band: Can you talk about how this version of the band came together?

Dukey: I’ve been trying to put together different versions of Haunted Garage for awhile now. If I lay fallow too long, I go crazy. I have bipolar disorder and I just can’t work a normal job with normal people for too long. I’ve just gotta unleash this pent-up energy.

WB: Were you working a normal job for awhile?

Dukey: Yeah, for a little while. I had a gig with Dinah Cancer and this other girl at a movie company’s daycare center. And then one of the women there—I put her kid into time out. You know, I was weird-looking; I had green hair and everything. So she started this rumor that I was yelling at her kid and yelling at all the other kids. That’s the time that sent me into my second nervous breakdown. I had one breakdown when the band quit and then right afterwards there was the [Northridge] earthquake. And then right after that, my brother blew his brains out. And then right after that, my Mom tried to overdose. So that was just a lot. It was just too much. So yeah, I do better on my own and being creative and staying up late at night—I’ve got insomnia a lot.

We’ve tried to do several versions of [Haunted Garage]. Funnily enough—we used to play this place in San Francisco a lot called the Chatterbox. It was a tiny little place. When the bands came in at night, they would take the pool table and stack the amps on it and put a piece of plywood on top of it—and that’s where the bands would play. And Erik walked in in a stupor one night and we were throwing blood and stuff around. And he was like, “I don’t need to see this crap.” And walked out! [laughs]

And then about 12 years ago, me and Gaby [Godhead, guitarist from the “classic” Haunted Garage lineup], we had a big party at a friend’s house, and we got these guys from O.C. [Orange County, California] to be the rhythm section. They were blown away by the [number of] people that came to the gig. So the next time we saw them, they were dictating to us what they were gonna get paid for each gig. They just decided to hold the band for ransom. So that didn’t fly.

That Gaby got offered a gig with the guys from Bottom 12, and [that] morphed into Virginia City Revival. So I was able to do one more revamp of Haunted Garage for one night only at Safari Sam’s a little over five years ago.

WB: That was with Gaby?

Dukey: That was with Gaby. We were going to keep it semi-regular, and I was booking some gigs, but he wanted to make sure that Virginia City Revival was going to be first and foremost. I could see the writing on the wall: Rehearsals were gonna keep on getting canceled. So that didn’t fly.

Trying to find reliable band members when you don’t have any money to tempt them with is like trying to pull teeth, you know? [laughs] You got money, you can get any hotshot kid to go with you on tour. If you don’t have any money to start something, it’s gotta appeal.

So it was just the right time that I hit Erik—and Erik and I are friends anyway. The rest of the people—it’s kinda like it was the first time with Gaby and those guys. It just fell in my lap. I’ve known Beaver before from this band Insecto. And I met Sean at this club where we were doing this cover band Undead Kennedys with Erik, which was Dead Kennedys covers all in zombie makeup. And then Andy I’ve known for awhile…

Andy: From Mondo Video.

Dukey: Yeah, from Mondo Video. Used to go there and see them shooting porno. They had all these weird bands there like Extreme Elvis and The Kids From Widney High, which were all these disabled kids. He saw the Safari Sam show and he really enjoyed it, so when he saw on the Facebook page that I was looking for a guitarist, he jumped on it. Plus this is the first time we’ve ever had an actual makeup man, an effects guy, in the band. The rest of the guys didn’t bother learning how to do that stuff.

Andy: Yeah, I work for a costume company.

Dukey: And his wife does, too. And I can do some. And these guys are starting to learn, too. Erik used to do his own zombie makeup and stuff.

Erik: Yeah, I did it in the Redwood one night with no mirror. It turned out OK.

Dukey: You do what you gotta do. One night, I think it was after we made the Cramps’ dressing room way too bloody in Europe—we were playing in Germany, I forgot where. Stuttgart, maybe. Anyway, we couldn’t use the dressing room. So we had to go up on these catwalks that were way high above the audience. We had to change our clothes up there and have little flashlights and little mirrors. No one even knew we were up there, it was so frickin’ high up. So you do what you gotta do.

WB: You said earlier that you have bipolar disorder. So is it when you get the manic energy that you get an itch for getting this band back together again?

Dukey: Absolutely. Being creative, period. I’ve been doing other things. But some things just don’t pan out, you know? I’ve been commissioned to write about three scripts, but they’re just kinda laying there.

WB: I checked your IMDb page and see you’ve still been acting occasionally.

Dukey: Yeah, I had a small role in a film called Reel Evil not too long ago. Me and Johnny Angel Wendell—he’s a musician and an AM talk show host, one of the few liberal ones—five years ago we were commissioned to write Blood Feast: The Musical. And we did, and the first draft turned out pretty good. But they haven’t gotten anybody to finance it yet.

WB: Were you always into music as well as the film stuff?

Dukey: No, I was always interested in acting. I always liked music. I love rock ‘n’ roll music. Me and my friends—it might’ve even been my birthday party—we’re all sitting around drinking beer, and we were just talking about some of the bad movies we liked, and the songs in them. And we were like, wouldn’t it be great if there was a band that played all those bad songs that we remember from those movies? You know, “The South Is Gonna Rise Again” from Two Thousand Maniacs!, and Strange Pursuits and Hideous Sun Demon and The Blob and stuff like that. And then the bass player called me up and said, “Dude, we’re gonna do the band. And you’re gonna sing.” And I went, “Oh, shit.” I hadn’t done any singing, except being drunk.

So you know, it just kinda took off for awhile. And then we found out that not as many people knew about the songs and they thought we were just making them up. So we started to make them up. And then as the band morphed, it just got more and more aggressive. It started out kinda bluesy, then it went kinda psychedelic. And then straight-on metal and punk.

WB: Do all your stage props live somewhere else?

Dukey: Yeah, they live at my house. They’re just building up now. Andy was able to score some stuff, and I’m asking around. We’re getting stuff sometimes right off the junk pile. I just had our corpse reserviced—you know, patched her up and everything.

WB: Does she have a name?

Dukey: Amber’s [Dukey’s girlfriend] just been calling her my wife. I think I’ve called her Monica. We’re gonna put a Miley Cyrus wig on her or something like that.

Sometimes it was hard to get the guys in the old band to fork over the money for the show. ‘Cause they were musicians first and they were showmen way second. But these guys like every part of it. So they’re willing to put some money forth in the beginning to at least get the show going. People expect some kind of a show, but we’re not up to where we used to be. ‘Cause on the last couple of shows [pre-breakup] we destroyed everything.

But the best thing about these guys is, they wanna do it. Sometimes it was like twisting the other guys’ arms. I had difficulty just getting them out of town, like to San Francisco. [puts on a gruff grouchy voice] “Why do we have to tour?” And then when they found out it was a gay bar in the daytime: [gruff voice] “Goddamn, look at all these queers hangin’ around here. We have to play this place?” They changed their tune later on. They were good guys.

Brian: Are you doing the bass player right now?

Dukey: [laughs] No, none of them…no, actually, I was doing the old drummer.

Brian: The bass player you guys had [King Dinosaur], he looked like Ted Nugent. Was he a total redneck or did he just look that way?

Dukey: You know, we made him that way. He was a total San Diego surfer guy. And we were like, this is not gonna fly. We were like, you gotta grow your hair, put on a leather jacket. I had the conversation for weeks to get a leather jacket. And when he finally got it, he’d never take that thing off.

And Gaby, the first time Gaby came in, he was dressed up like a hippie with a Nehru jacket and a peace sign. “You know, that doesn’t quite work.” And he says, “Oh, OK. I think I know what I’m gonna do.” And he just showed up at this club, the Zombie Zoo, about 15 minutes before we were gonna go on, in like a total Catholic schoolgirl outfit with this weird kabuki makeup. Brilliant. He stayed that way ever since. In his other bands, he’s still dressing that way.

I was lucky to start the band at a time in Los Angeles when the club scene was very vital. There were a lot of bands that were doing stuff like that, like Pigmy Love Circus, Celebrity Skin, Christy McCool. Tons of different bands.

Erik: I mean, just your average rock band was throwing shapes onstage and wearing weird clothes. It was quite a time.

Dukey: That’s true.

WB: Does this version of the band have the blessing of Gaby and those other guys?

Dukey: Well, the other guys and I don’t talk very much. But Gaby wished me luck in an email. There’s some resentments with one or two other members, but that’s the way it goes.

WB: You’re the sole original member—the sole survivor.

Dukey: You know, I hated doing that. That’s another reason I waited so long. I didn’t want to like, cheapen it, you know? Here’s Fear and the only one in it is Lee Ving or here’s this other band and the only one in it is so-and-so. All the bands that only have one member left.

Erik: It was hard to imagine Haunted Garage without Gaby …

Dukey: Yeah, he’s so dynamic. So when he was doing the revivals with me, it was fine, because it was me and Gaby. But after that it was like, I don’t know. I didn’t know whether it would work or not. But I had to just give it a shot, because I needed to do something.

WB: What’s the story with Peter Rottentail?

Erik: Yeah, what is the story? The first time I saw that thing, it starts grabbing me.

Sean: It almost knocked me over, dude.

Dukey: We used to have a demon suit for that, for “Welcome to Hell.” But we don’t got no demon suit no more. So my girlfriend is like a borderline furry. She’s got some furry costumes and stuff like that  She decided to give me that costume for my birthday one night.

At the La Habra Bowl, they have furry bowling on Saturday afternoon. She wants to go, but she works on Saturday. So we might start one out here.

WB: That can’t be easy to bowl in a full furry costume.

Erik: I was gonna say, they must put the bumpers up or something.

Dukey: You know, I think they just roll it [mimes throwing a ball from between his legs] like that.

WB: So was that Amber in the rabbit costume?

Dukey: No, that was a friend of ours. Nick, from the Radioactive Chicken Heads. But I may put Amber in the flying monkey suit.

WB: Whatever happened to the demon costume?

Dukey: Oh, that foam rubber just deteriorates.

WB: I always wondered how the GWAR guys handle that.

Dukey: Well, they have VacuForm machines. They just make another one.

WB: Did you ever play with those guys?

Dukey: You know, they say we have and I swear we didn’t. But we’re friends with them. We were at their shows.

WB: I know you played with The Cramps…and you’ve probably also played with The Misfits, Butthole Surfers

Dukey: Right. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

WB: Oh, really?

Dukey: Yeah. That was amazing.

WB: He’s one of your influences, I understand.

Dukey: Absolutely.

WB: As far as the sound of the band goes…I was listening to Possession Park earlier today and it sounds pretty close to what you were just playing. But do they kind of bring their own flavor to it?

Dukey: They can play with it. It’s pretty close in structure as long as they get all the chords right and everything like that.

WB: There were a few things that sounded a little more Sabbath-y…

Sean: Yeah, everything’s down a whole step.

Dukey: And the solos are very whatever they feel like doing.

WB: Are there plans to release any more Haunted Garage material? Old demos or any new stuff?

Dukey: Yeah, two people and Sean, too, want to record for us.

WB: Oh, so it’ll be new recordings?

Dukey: Yeah. Basically doing each other a favor so they can have production credits. So new material will be coming out. And then there are a few more songs of the old band that I want these guys to learn.

Andy: “Little Green Men.” I’ve been seeing it on all the threads.

WB: Had any of you guys done stuff like this in your previous bands, with costumes and all? Or is this pretty new?

Andy: I was more black metal/thrash type stuff.

Brian: I might enjoy being in Haunted Garage because of my prop-rock pedigree.

Erik: Besides being in Haunted Garage 12 years ago, 22 years ago, I walked out on the band in San Francisco. It was just too much for me. I was like, these guys are too fuckin’ crazy, so I actually walked out on the band that I’m in now.

WB (to Dukey): Do you have to do things differently now to take care of your voice and your body?

Dukey: Yeah, I have to do a lot more stretching and back exercises and stuff like that. And I used to be all over the fuckin’ stage and I can’t do that so much anymore. But, this one person I’m seeing for my health says I’m still not too old to reverse some of the aging process. Sixty is the new forty, I guess.

WB: How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?

Dukey: I’m pushing sixty. I’ll be sixty next April. But I only feel it in my joints.

WB: I have to ask, how did the mousetraps on the face come about?

Dukey: You gotta just [make] do with what’s around. There used to be a big prop house in Hollywood and I would go raid their trash cans at night. I got all these papier mâché cow heads one night from the trash there and we stuck ‘em up on this wall and threw the wall into the audience and had people smash them. We found this old antique fat shaker machine on somebody’s lawn and just went and used that for “Torture Dungeon.” Stuff like that.

Brian: People used to think those made you lose weight?

Dukey: Yeah, but they don’t. [laughs] I was doing that shit every night for two months and never lost a single pound. It was really fun when you put it up high—you could sing like the munchkins.

So anyway, I knew a lot of people in the S&M club scene that was just starting to come up at that time. It was just like, what am I gonna do with [all] these things? I don’t know how the idea came into my head, but it was like…OK, mousetraps.

WB: It’s an intense image.

Dukey: It’s not that bad. The rat traps after awhile hurt but the mousetraps are not that bad. I did play pierce my eye bags one night. That was kinda gnarly.

Erik: That’s a very delicate area.

Dukey: It was. I got shiners afterwards. [sounds of disgust from the band]

WB: Did you do that in a show or in the comfort of your own home?

Dukey: In a show. I’ve got it on film.

WB: That’s intense.

Dukey: It was intense.

Erik: More or less intense than a roman candle up your ass?

Dukey: Yeah, that was at a party. [laughs] I’ve still got the scar from that. I just don’t think like other people do. I don’t want to put myself in a certain league, but other artists that I like a lot think different, too, like Doug Stanhope, Sam Kinison, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart

WB: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

Dukey: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. When I was a kid, I saw some puppets do “I Put a Spell on You” and I was fuckin’ blown away. “Mom! Get me this record!”

WB: What’s the craziest live show any of you have been to?

Andy: I think Rammstein, when the guy came out on fire shooting lasers out of his eyes. That was pretty badass.

Sean: I have to think. I’ve seen so many shows so I have to clear the cobwebs. I don’t know, I mean, for me, that wasn’t really my cup of tea. I was more of a musician. I would go see musician bands. Like, everybody was into Kiss and I was into Queen at that time. Fuck Kiss, I hate that band. They suck.

Erik: They do. They’re terrible.

Sean: My very first concert that I ever went to in my entire life was Judas Priest when I was like seventeen years old. I saw them on the Defenders of the Faith tour in 1983. They had this huge stage thing with the monster with the claw that came out. [Rob Halford] comes out on a Harley. They opened with “Love Bites” and it was ridiculously loud. I was probably 15 feet from the stage. They hit that first note and I turned to my buddy and was like, “We are not standing here.” It felt like somebody was squeezing my head. So much sound pressure. It was insane. But they were great.

There’s a band out of Kalamazoo, Michigan called the God Bullies that’s pretty wild. There’s a really famous place in Kalamazoo called Club Soda. The Stooges used to play there back in the day. When I saw the God Bullies there, the bass player came out in a full clown outfit and stood with his back to the audience the whole time. The lead singer, I remember he had on these super-tight patent white leather pants and super-tight patent white leather jacket. No shirt. And he had this huge bulge, like down to his knee. And halfway through the show, he opens up his pants and pulls it out, and it’s a rotten squash. And he took this rotten squash and squashed it all over his body. They were really good musicians, too, but that’s probably the closest thing to this band that I’ve seen.

WB: Brian, what about you?

Brian: Strangely, I didn’t see many performance-type bands before I was in Insecto. But being in bands, I’ve always been kind of obsessed with musical power. Like you know, certain bands just seem to have that laser focus. My favorite band from my youth is Jane’s [Addiction]. They always had that. It was four people just musically focused [who] would punch you in the face every time you saw a show. From a musical standpoint, that’s always my goal, to have that wall of power.

WB: Erik?

Erik: Oddly enough, Judas Priest back when I was a kid in high school, too. I saw them in ’78, on the Hell Bent for Leather tour, with the motorcycle on the stage. And then the next time they came around [was] Screaming for Vengeance. That was the first time I took a full dose of acid, too. My ears were ringing the next day. The twin guitars…

Andy: Yeah. K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton. You can’t beat those guys.

Erik: As far as what I can actually pull off playing, K.K.’s the guy, you know? Delay, whammy bar, wah pedal and just a lot of spirit.