Calling All Monsters!!!
An interview with Johnny B. Morbid himself!
Justin (Apathy) Stankus
A “one man band” (on all recordings) then a five piece horror assault when playing live! This band was never supposed to leave the confines of studio walls, but when people began to take an unexpected interest in what Johnny B. Morbid had to offer, things quickly changed. It was intended to be a side project of the former vocalist of a metalcore band named In Memory Of (myspace.com/inmemoryofnj) but it soon took on a life of its own and cast all other musical projects into the shadows leaving Johnny B. Morbid in the spotlight. As more & more people began taking interest in this project, Johnny B. Morbid recruited 3 close friends to back him up as a live act. The rest leads up to the Johnny B. Morbid we now know and love!
Alright so let’s get this thing going Johnny! I am also a huge fan and am excited to begin!
How did everyone meet and come together to form Johnny B. Morbid? How did the name of the band come about as well?
I was in previous bands with the members of the original line up. It was only supposed to be a solo recording project for myself just to get things out of my system because I was already in a band at the time. I wrote and recorded the 1st album all on my own. It was written and recorded in August 2005 and released in October of 2005. It was suggested by a friend/band mate (Mark E. Mortal) to play the stuff live, and I figured why not. The name is just a play on “Johnny B. Goode,” a song written by Chuck Berry. The alias “Johnny B. Morbid” was going to be my name in a Misfits cover band that never came to be. That was the original idea, to just do a misfits cover band for fun once in a while but I decided to just do my own material instead….but I kept the name.
When the look at the state of the horror-punk scene, here in the US it seems to be surviving especially when you compare it to scene across the globe in Europe where it seems to be doing the exact opposite and thriving! Do you agree with this statement? Whether you agree or disagree why?
I completely agree. Everything popular in other countries is underground here. The average U.S. citizen doesn’t know any better than to buy in to what they are force-fed through radio airwaves which is a shame because I’ve written better songs than Nickelback but no one will ever know that because I’m not “marketable”.
Of all the genres out there whether it being rock, metal, industrial, country, grindcore, etc. why did the band choose punk rock? What about it personally lured you in? What was your first experience with the genre?
Well it only started as straight forward punk type songs but if you listen to all the records you will find that I wrote without any restraint or limitations as the years progressed. The horror imagery and beautiful simplicity is what originally lured me in.
This question could be part of my last one, but I felt the need for it to be a separate from the other. When I listen to bands in the horror-punk scene (to me at least) most of the bands, like literally 98% always seem to be a Psycho-billy or Rock-a-billy. And Horror-punk the genre and not the scene always seems to be on the bottom shelf of the three. Do you agree? Also why did the band decide or chose to stick with the punk route?
Well in my mind we haven’t stuck just with the punk route at all…if you check our stuff we put out in 2008 and 2009 especially you’ll see the band has progressed past just being punk rock. In my mind horror-punk is at the bottom of the shelf is because 90% of the bands in the genre suck ass and try to replicate what Danzig did from 77 to 83 instead of doing something of their own. There will only ever be one Misfits…the sooner these bands get that, the better.
I fucking love the artwork for all your albums, especially for Calling All Monsters. How does an artist get chosen for the honors and who usually comes up with the ideas for the artwork?
The concepts are my ideas and Joe Simko was chosen to bring those concepts to life for 2 of the albums and 2 of our t-shirt designs because I really like the work he does for GWAR and other bands. The artwork for the album, “Monsterpiece” that I put out in 2009 was done by my friend/ex-bandmate & ex-girlfriend.
Does the band have any pre-show obsessions or rituals?
Just stretching really, nothing too wild or exciting.
What is the best show you’ve played so far, or I guess in other words your favorite show you’ve played? Opening for The Misfits on Halloween night in 2008 in New York City…was sold out and epic.
Every horror band or fan obviously had/has a huge love and influence for/from The Misfits, and I’m sure they had/have a big impact on the band though I am not sure to what degree. But if you had to exclude them as your first influence (if they were) and had to pick another band that had the second most influence on the band, who would you say it was and why?
I’d have to say Faith No More only because they did whatever the fuck they wanted musically and made a great career off of that.
The band has been around for 5 to 6 years now? Please correct me if I am wrong. During this time, what do you guys as a band think is the most important thing you have learned? Personally what is the most important thing you have learned?
It’ll be 6 years this August. The most important thing by far is the chemistry and friendship…without that we’d crumble, I mean 20 people have been in and out of this band since it 1st started but no one ever quit or was kicked out with any bad blood. We all still keep in regular touch with nearly everyone who has ever been in the band.
What are your favorite bands to share the stage with?
The Misfits, GWAR, and The Zombie Mafia
What is your personal view on religion? And does the band have a view on it? With most bands I listen to there is never a shortage of songs about murder, necrophilia, ghouls, horror movies, killing your girlfriend, etc. But most bands seem to not put much focus on religion were I feel it kind of goes hand in hand with the whole horror thing. The Quintessentials seems to be the only band that really state a view on it as far I’ve seen. How does the band feel about the subject and does it have any influence on the band’s music?
Yeah we touch on religion for sure. My view is that religion of any kind shouldn’t exist because it causes nothing but pain. People kill in the name of something that doesn’t exist…that is absolutely ridiculous, I have no tolerance for religion of any kind but I don’t try to convince people to be like me just like I expect people not to preach to me. I can coexist with them without any problem whatsoever…but i snap very easily when preached to. Do your thing and I’ll do mine…end of story. You can always listen to our songs “The Humble Beginnings of Blasphemy,” “Faithaholic”, and “Hey God, Get A Life.”
Top 5 favorite horror movies! Go!
The Thing, Saw (only the first one), Freaks, The Human Centipede, and Teeth
What are your favorite 3 bands in horror-punk scene currently?
The Misfits, Calabrese, and Cancerslug
More of a goofy question but what have you currently been listening to? And if you were to suggest a band to your fans to check out, who would it be?
I just keep my ipod on shuffle because I get bored easily, but Volbeat was the last band I really got in to. I’d suggest people to check them out, them and Faith No More. People just think of “epic” when you mention Faith No More…but they are WAY more than that.
What is your favorite song to play live? Also what is your favorite album so far? How come?
Lovers’ Lane is my favorite to play live. And my favorite album that I’ve done would have to be “Monterpiece”. Each song stands on its own 2 feet and each song is extremely different from the next, a “something for everyone” kind of album.
What’s a day like in the life of Johnny B. Morbid?
Working 2 jobs, hang with my friends, and that’s pretty much about it.
So rumor has it you guys are not done, and are basically just chillin out for now. Is this true, and will you guys get back to making new music at any time?
That’s correct. This band will only break up when I decide to call it quits because it’s my thing. Things died down for a while and it didn’t seem to be much fun for us anymore but then I thought what the fuck else am I doing? So I figured fuck it, let’s just keep the train rolling haha. A new album will hopefully be out before 2012.
This is a signature question of mine and I ask every band I interview this question. So let me set it up for you, your band is Headlining the Greatest Halloween party in history! Seriously, nothing in the future or past will ever touch it! You have 6 and only 6 choices of supporting horror-punk bands. Who are they? (They can be past or present)
The Zombie Mafia, Blitzkid, Mister Monster, Darrow Chemical Company, Cancerslug, and The Undead
You get to play 4 covers by Danzig, whether it’s from The Misifts/Samhain/Danzig but you also get to play them with Danzig himself! What covers would you chose?
The Birthing, Under Her Black Wings, Earth A.D., Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight
Are there any big tours in the works for the future? Will we see Johnny B. around the US anytime soon? Can you spill your guts on this subject at all?
If my guys are willing and available then we might do a week this summer in the U.S. but only if we can secure guarantees from promoters because gas is too expensive to go on tour without any promise of being paid.
Is there any new material in the works? An upcoming EP, or even album? What can fans expect music wise from Johnny B. Morbid for the near future?
I refuse to put out E.P.’s I hate ep’s. Just a personal preference of mine to always do full length albums. Why go through the trouble of recording, mixing, mastering, artwork, distribution, and promotion just for 5 songs? Fuck that shit, it’s all or nothing with me haha.
How do you feel the band’s music has progressed since first starting the band?
I think it has progressed for the better and has become its own thing. Sure, you can pick out our influences from listening to our most recent songs…but you can’t say we sound like any 1 band and that’s the goal. Keep it fresh, new, and as original as possible musically. Dark imagery has been done, I know that, I’m not saying our visual is all that original but we try. But the music is a far cry from what most horror-punk bands are doing. That’s why we don’t classify ourselves as a horror punk band…we’re just a horror band.
Inevitably now that I am in the closing segment of the interview I have to ask. Who were/are your biggest influences on you personally and the band itself and why?
It was after seeing Michale Graves play for the 1st time in july of 2005 that changed my mind about starting a Misfits cover band and just to do my own thing. So i’d have to say that show played a huge role in the beginnings of Johnny B. Morbid. Musical influences range from Johnny Cash to bands like Deicide and Behemoth. Too many to name really, I like anything if it is good and that is how I try to write. Just good songs…fuck the category they fall into, if they’re good then I have achieved the only goal I set for myself.
In closing I sincerely thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me, and in closing is there anything you would like to add?
Yes, I am taking donations to fund the next Johnny B. Morbid album! Haha, you can mail me a personal check, money order, concealed cash or send via paypal!