No Business Like Horror Business!
An interview with Thomas of The Dead Next Door
Justin (Apathy) Stankus
The Dead Next Door is a horror-punk band from Gothenburg, Sweden that was formed by Dr. Hans Orloff (vocals and bass), Jonathan Poe (guitars), and Thomas Lovecraft (drums) in April of 2005. Their debut album, “There’s No Business Like Horror Business”, was released in March of 2008. The band is slated to release it’s very anticipated new album, “It Was Hell Down There” in the near future! This band is not to be trifled with and is definitely one of my favorites bands out of Sweden. A band that needs more recognition than they already have, I cannot say enough good things about this group and their music. If you are looking for epic horror-punk that never gets old and will keep you listening for hours on end, then look no further, because you just found them!
So let us begin! Obviously we already know you’re name, but just for the sake of a proper introduction may I please get your name and position within the band?
Nice to meet you. The name´s Thomas Lovecraft. I play the drums, I´m responsible for some of the, “woah-woah-woah´s” that are out of tune and I write the lyrics. That´s how I roll, baby!
How did everyone come together and what inspired you all to form The Dead Next Door? The name also makes me wonder how the name came about, I assume the movie played a part?
Well, we´d been playing together in one constellation or another. I and Dr. Hans Orloff (the lead singer) had been part of a pop-punk band called Guitarmageddon and we pretty much realized that no matter how we look at it, the most fun we´re ever gonna have is when we play Misfits covers, so that’s when got together with our guitarist, Jonathan Poe, to perform some Misfits song under the name Psycho ´98. Then Guitarmageddon dissolved and a couple of years passed and we started playing some Misfits songs again, just for fun, when we just said, “Hey, why don’t we try to write some Misfits songs of our own?”, and that’s how we got started. The name comes from the movie with the same name. If you’ve seen it, it´s one of those kind of movies that we’ve seen a million times and whenever we’re drunk we tend to quote scenes from it and to be honest, the name kinda rolls nicely off the tongue. The movie is extremely low budget but pretty great and I really recommend it. Despite the constraints of a low budget film it’s very ambitious in both scope and story and hopefully that’s how people feel about us, as well.
When you look at the state of the horror-punk scene, it seems to be surviving in the U.S. But when you look across the globe to the likes of Germany, Sweden, and Europe in general, for example, it seems to be THRIVING! Would you agree with this statement? Whether you agree or disagree why do you think so?
Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s thriving here in Sweden. There are a handful of horror bands in Sweden, (at least that I know of), like The Spookshow, The Nighshift and Zombiesuckers so I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the genre is thriving. However, it does exist which is a hell of a lot more than it did just a couple of years ago so I guess we’re on the right track. Swedes have always been more into Metal. Punk isn’t that big. However, in Germany it does seem to be thriving, like you say. Goth has always been big in Germany and I guess it’s that kind of sensibility in horror-punk that appeals to the Germans. You know, if you live on a continent where it’s dark six months out of the year, you’re bound to become pretty gloomy and I guess that’s why certain genres are popular here.
Of all the genres to chose from, why punk rock? What about punk lured you in and what was your first experience with the genre?
Well, my very first experience with punk rock was when I heard The Ramones´, “The KKK Took My Baby Away” at the tender age of nine and I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. I didn’t think it was possible to create that kind of music, with that kind of drive and melody. After that there was no turning back, really. It really hit a nerve with me and from there I found Bad Religion and later on, The Misfits. I still think that punk rock is the purest of all genres because what it all comes down to is sort of a distillation of music at its best where you strip away solos and all that shit, which The Ramones were masters at, and just focus on writing a great song with a great melody. Nothing else matters.
This question could have easily gone with my last question. But I feel it needed to be separate from the other. So the horror-scene seems (to me at least) to be primarily dominated by Psycho-billy and Rock-a-billy bands rather than horror-punk bands, it seems like horror punk is on the bottom shelf of the three most of the time. Why did you guys as a band chose to go the horror-punk route?
It was because of the Misfits, really. What they did so fantastically on those original recordings was that they managed to create this completely original genre where you mix 50’s doo wop with the punk rock drive of The Ramones but with lyrics inspired by horror movies. I’ve been a horror movie freak since I was a kid, so naturally this appealed to me but to be honest, it’s really those woah-woah-woah’s that sealed the deal for us. It was an amazing sensation to realize that “hey, here’s this guy with this amazing voice singing about the same obscure movies that I watch”. That was mind-blowing! I mean, listen to a song like “Astro Zombies” and if the sound of Glenn Danzig’s fantastic voice bellowing out that chorus doesn’t get you going, there’s probably something severely wrong with you. But it’s that sense of fun that comes along with singing a song about zombies stalking the planet, but done to the tune of a cheery pop song, that basically made us start the band. Anyone can sing a love song, right? However, if you halfway through the song realize that the girl you’re singing about is dead and the guy who sings the song is the one who killed her, it makes it a hell of a lot more fun for me. I was always interested in playing in a horror-punk band because I thought that I could do a halfway decent job with the lyrics, since I’ve been immersing myself in the genre since I was old enough to read, basically. I’ve always had a love for the overtly melodramatic in lyrics and horror-punk is one of the few genres where you can actually get away with singing lines like “The devil’s been laughing at me/because I was born to live in misery” or whatever. It’s an extremely emotional genre, but without the depression that goes along with most of today’s EMO-bands, and that’s one of the things I love about the genre.
I absolutely love the new album, seriously it is so good and I can’t get enough of it! When can fans expect the release of the new album, “It Was Hell Down There”? What were your main influences on the record? And what is your favorite song off the album?
Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. We hope to have it out there before the year is over. We’re probably gonna self distribute it but hopefully in time for the winter, it’ll be out there. Well, my personal favorite tracks are “Agnes, Dead Things Can’t Cry” because I think it has a certain drive and energy to it that I like and “At The Graveyard”, which was our attempt at writing a sort of 60´s Ramone-style ballad and I think we did an acceptable job at it. You know, when it comes to our influences while making the first record, it was definitely old school Misfits and classic 50´s songs. When it came time to making the second album the 50´s influence had become a bit bigger and that’s basically where we are today. Unlike every other horror-punk band, which seem to start out as pure horror-punk only to morph into some sort of metal/trash-hybrid band, we’re moving in the direction of Ramones and Elvis, instead. One might say that we’re regressing, instead of developing further.
Now it’s obvious that The Misfits have a huge influence on The Dead Next Door, and I’m sure any horror band or horror fan has a huge love/influence from The Misfits. But if you had to exclude them and name your next biggest influence, who would it be and how come?
The Ramones, without a doubt. The Ramones and Elvis, I’d say, and much for the same reason: the voices. Both Joey Ramone and Elvis Presley had this ability to sound like whatever they sang about, they really meant it, whether it was sniffing glue or your burning love. And let’s not forget the fact that the Ramones wrote some of the best songs ever.
Who are your favorite bands to share the stage with?
Well, our friends in The Spookshow and The Nightshift are always great fun to play with. We’re have an upcoming show here in Gothenburg with Blitzkid and our fellow Swedish horror-punk buds The Zombiesuckers, which we’re really looking forward to. We used to do a lot of shows with this local band called Rawmania, which unfortunately aren’t playing anymore, and I have to say that those guys are our favorite band to share the stage with. Great band, great guys!
What is the best/favorite show you have played so far?
I really can’t say. We were probably too drunk to remember it. Our release gig to celebrate the first album was pretty great, though. Lots of people, lots of beer, and lots of fun.
Does the band have any pre-show obsessions/rituals?
Not really. We just hang out, have some beers and try to make time pass as quickly as possible. We don’t even have a favorite beer, come to think of it. This isn’t good for our image! We’re not complicated enough. Before the third album is released, we’re gonna have to develop some weird rituals before the show. Like sacrificing puppies while listening to the soundtrack to “The Exorcist” or something… We’re gonna have to work on that one.
When faced with writing new material, how does the band go about doing it?
Basically I write the lyrics and then Dr. Hans comes up with the melody and then we all gather at someone’s apartment to flesh it out. It’s pretty uncomplicated and it’s all done over a couple of beers. We never ever jam to get a song written! The song is almost always written before we try it out and once it’s done, we change very little.
What is your personal view, as well as the band’s view on religion? With most bands in the scene when I listen to them 98% of time I hear the usual. Murder, necrophilia, ghouls, horror movies, and of course killing your girlfriend. Most of the bands don’t seem to put much focus on religion, and the only band I have really interviewed that seem to take religion head on was The Quintessentials. How do guys feel on the subject? Does religion play any part or have any influence on your music?
None. I someday hope to become a Christian and then lose my faith, just to go through a religious crisis because I think that would be great for one’s creativity. Hell, just look at Nick Cave! The guy’s made a career out of that. So basically, I’m hoping to one day be falling from grace.
Your top 4 favorite horror movies, go!
My god, this is the hardest question so far. I could go on and on about this. The first one would have to be “Jaws”, without a doubt. I spent an entire summer without going into the water around the age of seven or eight. It’s the movie that got me interested in horror to begin with. Then I think I’d go with the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, because just like “Jaws” it’s still genuinely frightening. However, I guess I would have to make it a tie between the first “Texas Chainsaw” and the second one, which I also love. I guess that the second one is the one I’ve seen the most times and it’s the kind of movie that I just marvel at. It’s a goddamn miracle that this movie exist, because it’s pretty amazing the level of weirdness that this movie contains. It’s so over the top and so freakishly bizarre that I am just filled with awe, whenever I watch it. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is without a doubt my favorite horror franchise. “An American Werewolf in London” is also one of my all time favorites. I remember being really confused by it, due to the mix of horror and humor, which I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around, as a kid. But you know, that scene in the subway still makes me queasy. As the last one, I´m gonna go with the Spanish-American “Pieces” from the early 80’s, which is frankly one of the most entertaining movies ever made. It has everything: gratuitous nudity, chainsaw beheadings, weird music, dubbed lines and a fantastic ending. If you haven’t seen this film yet, you haven’t lived life to its fullest. The tagline is “You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre”, which kinda lets you know how great this movie is. Seek it out! I could go on and on but I’m rambling now…
What are your top 3 favorite horror-punk bands currently in the scene?
I think the best bands out there are American Werewolves and The Independents. I think that one album that Mister Monster put out was fantastic, but I guess you can’t call them current because they haven’t released anything since then… I’m gonna go with Nim Vind as my third choice. He’s awesome and a great song writer.
What is your favorite song to play live? Also what is your favorite album out of the two so far?
I always enjoy playing “Switchblade Sister”. That song always gets a good response. I personally like the second album much more than the first one. There are a number of things I’m not completely satisfied with on the first one. The second one came together much more like I imagined it would. We wanted to make a record that fused horror, punkrock with a 50’s style of song writing and I think we succeeded. Unlike so many things I’ve done in my life, this album is actually one thing I’m proud of.
What is a day in the life of The Dead Next Door like?
Unfortunately, very un-horror like. We all have regular jobs but during the weekend we slip into our bloodstained shirts, like a bunch of demented crime fighters (minus the crime and the fighting, of course), to spread our gospel of horror, broken hearts and open graves.
I love the artwork for your debut 2008 album, “There’s No Business Like Horror Business”. Simple yet horrifically amazing! How is an artist chosen for the honors and who comes up with the ideas for the cover? Can you spill some guts on the album cover for the new album?
The covers have been designed by our good friend Mikael Langfos and he’s given free reign when it comes to designing them. We might have some sort of basic idea but most of the time it’s definitely him that comes up with the great ideas and then we just take credit for them. The new album cover is gonna be great! Mikael’s responsible for that one, as well. It’s similar to a 70’s style horror movie poster, with the kind of color scheme they had back then, and it looks amazing! It reminded me of some of the Spanish horror movies made back then and that’s always a good thing, if you ask me.
Your debut album was released via Dr. Cyclops Records, is the upcoming album still being released on the label? Fellow bands The Nightshift and The Zombiesuckers have dropped the label, stating displeasure with the label. Is the band still signed to the label and have you encountered any problems?
No, we’re not signed to the label and they still owe us copies of our own album, as a matter of fact. I don’t wanna badmouth them because after all, they did put our album out there and we really appreciate that but I guess it ain’t easy running an independent record label these days. Of course we were promised a lot more than what we received but I don’t think that they did this purposefully. I just think that things didn’t pan out the way they planned to.
The Creepshow, The Nightshift, The Zombiesuckers, and of course your band are the only bands I know of playing horror-punk out of Sweden. Are there any other bands we should know of? And how is the scene out in Sweden?
The Spookshow. They’re awesome. Although, I haven’t talked to them in quite a while so I don’t know if they’re still active. I sure hope so because their first two albums are fantastic. Check them out! The horror-punk scene is pretty nonexistent, unfortunately.
What can we expect from The Dead Next Door in the future?
Some (hopefully) really good songs. And I can tell you one thing: you’re not gonna have to wait this long before the next album comes out. Other than that, I know about as much as you do about what the future holds in store for a bunch of degenerates like us. We wouldn’t say no to a record deal. But if you’re reading this and live somewhere in Sweden, I’d recommend you visit Gothenburg May 14th, when we’re playing with Blitzkid. That’s gonna be a blast!
Are there any big scale tours in the works? Any chance of seeing you guys in the US anytime soon?
Unfortunately not. We’d love to go but unless you got some sort of management that sort of thing just isn’t realistic. We need to find ourselves some kind of patron of the arts, like all the starving painters have, someone that supports them and pays for their expenses. That position hasn’t yet been filled.
You get to play 4 covers by Danzig WITH the man himself! What are they? They can be from The Misfits/Samhain/Danzig.
Oh man, that’s a tough one… I think I’d go with “Skulls”, “Astro Zombies”, “Some Kinda Hate” and “Blood and Tears” from the “Danzig II: Lucifuge” album, just because I haven’t heard him perform it live and it’s one of my all time favorite songs ever. But if we’d ever get the chance to back him, he could be reading out aloud from the phone book, for all I care. It would still be awesome, because… well, he’s Glenn.
This is one of my signature questions. Let me set it up for you, so your band is HEADLINING the GREATEST Halloween party in history, nothing in the future will come close and nothing in the past could rival its greatness! You get to chose 6 and only 6 supporting horror-punk bands (past or present). Who are they?
First of all, I don’t think we would be headlining this show. You just said that this would be the greatest Halloween party ever, right? Well, then you wanna play as early as possible and get that out of the way so that you can hang out, get liquored up, enjoy the other acts and party. Anything else would just be stupid. But here’s how I would have it go down: The evening would start out with us opening, just to get the crowd warm. Then Nim Vind would enter the stage, followed by Mister Monster. After this The Independents would blast onto the stage and blow everyone’s mind. At this point I guess it would be a good point to have some sort of a costume contest or something. You know, to give everyone a chance to run to the bathroom and grab a smoke and whatnot. After this, American Werewolves would plow their way through their set. At this point in the evening, things are about to get serious and since this is the future, where we live in perfect world, Jerry Only have made peace with Michale Graves, Doyle and Dr. Chud so they take to the stage and perform the “American Psycho” and “Famous Monsters” albums in their entirety. After that, Graves would assume a somewhat more of a background position because then the man himself, Glenn Danzig, would make his entrance like the godfather of horror-punk that he is and they’d play all the old classics. That, my friend, would be the greatest Halloween party, indeed. Throw some burlesque dancers in there, and I won’t think we’d ever leave…
How do you feel your music has progressed since first staring the band?
Like I mentioned earlier: we’re definitely moving towards more of a 50’s feel, I think. The first album was us trying to sound like The Misfits, the second one has got more of a Ramones vibe going on.
The band has been around for 3, maybe 4 years now? Please correct me if I am mistaken. During this time what is the most important thing you have learned personally, and what do you think the band as a whole has learned?
I guess the thing that we’ve learned as a band is not to take anything for granted. We’ve been promised a lot since we formed the band in 2005. We were basically guaranteed a spot on the “Cabin Fever 2” soundtrack but nothing happened there. I guess the lesson is that people who work professionally in the music business are not capable of giving you a straight answer. I’m not saying this because I’m bitter because I’m pretty content where we are today, you know, just writing songs and putting them out there and doing a show every now and then. We’ve given up on being teen idols in Japan by now and that’s fine with us. But I think young bands who are just starting out should be aware of this, that if you ask a music rep what time it is, he’s gonna answer with a question and you’d be lucky to get something sensible at all out of him. But I guess that’s also part of what I personally have learned: that what I enjoy most about music is writing songs, not performing them live, even though that is a lot of fun. But I get the most pleasure out of the actual songwriting itself.
In closing I sincerely thank you for taking the time to do this interview, and in closing is there anything you would like to add?
Just that this has been a lot of fun and that people should look us up on Facebook, because let’s face it: myspace is dead, and get in touch with us. I also think that you should swing my personal blog, The Last Blog on the Left, where I write about horror movies. It’s located at: http://svearikeslag.se/movie/wordpress/ and on Facebook, as well: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Last-Blog-on-the-Left/321297861200
Thanks for taking the time and hope to hear from you soon.
Until next time: take scare!
The Dead Next Door is a band that is fucking epic and have nothing but better things coming their way! Be sure to pick up their album, “There’s No Business Like Horror Business”. You can find it on iTunes, and Amazon to name a few, trust me you’re gonna love what you hear! Also be sure to pick up the new album once it’s released, for it is an instant classic! Also I would like to thank The Dead Next Door for taking the time to do this interview and I hope you all enjoyed the read!
– Justin Apathy