Horror Punk, American Gothic, and Danzig’s Nutsack: An Interview with Eerie Von

“We were never thinking about it politically. We were just doing our thing, just like some of the “Bat Cave” and Goth stuff that was happening in Europe at the time”.

In Interview with Eerie Von, Brad Feuerhelm, ASX, October 2015

Eerie Von is a musician who grew up in Lodi, New Jersey. Having made a large impact on me in his former bands Samhain and Danzig. I never knew he had taken many of the famous photographs of the Misfits early on and played on some of their recordings. I saw Danzig in 93’ with Kyuss and White Zombie supporting. It was about the time “Mother” was getting all that airplay. I remember it specifically as a challenge to my youthful dreams of seeing Danzig. The diminutive front man had gone for a monitor rockin’ move halfway through the set and transfixed at his sweaty mass and plastic skull belt buckle, I looked up at the front of the stage…only to see a split in his jeans and his shaved mouse of a scrotum tumbling through. Game changer. Anyways, that has little to do with Eerie Von’s photography, but he was on stage that night with Danzig. His first book “Misery Obscura” features many of the images I spoke about with him.

BF: You grew up in Lodi, New Jersey, played in Rosemary’s Babies, would play on some Misfits recording, and would later go on to play in both Samhain and Danzig. I’m not in favor of thinking in terms of social conditioning and questions of geo-specificity informing who a person becomes in life, the choices they make, or the interests they later develop…but what the fuck was in the water that produced your collective interest in horror?

EV: It probably helped that we were all of a certain age when there was a horror resurgence on TV in the 60’s and 70’s. Growing up with the Misfits didn’t hurt either.

BF: I grew up in Wisconsin with a heavy background in 80’s slasher flicks and the living dead films of Fulci, Romero, and Jess Franco. Films Like Dan O’Bannon’s “Return of the Living Dead” being of particular relevance not only for the amazing soundtrack, but the persuasive use of horror punk culture, particularly with Trash and Suicide characters. In your opinion, was the mid-80’s sort of an apex moment where the crossroads of punk and horror would merge in your opinion? If so, can you elaborate why…Reagan be damned?

EV: We were never thinking about it politically. We were just doing our thing, just like some of the “Bat Cave” and Goth stuff that was happening in Europe at the time. It all happened quite naturally, with the Misfits leading the way here in the States.

BF: Are the influences of horror mostly cinematic for you or do you take literary references into your work as well? Lovecraft, King, etc.?

EV: Glenn’s a big reader, and I’m sure some of that stuff crept in, I know the religious stuff certainly did after the Misfits. For me it’s about the religion side, and the fact that I just like the spookier side of things.

 

cave_0

Misfits, 1981

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Graceland

Glenn Danzig, Graceland, 1984

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“I looked up at the front of the stage… only to see a split in his jeans and his shaved mouse of a scrotum tumbling through. Game changer”.

 

BF: Your output suggests a very creative background, music, painting, drawing, and photography…. within the discipline of these mediums…how is it that photography came to shape (outside of music) such a large part of your career? Was it ever a potential career for you or did it stem from family?

EV: I went to school for photography, after high school, and considered a career in that field, but it was very hard getting your foot in the door, and there was no way to make money at it. Besides I wanted to do music more than anything, it was a passion, and was/is also hard to make a living doing.

BF: Working with the Misfits to produce those cave images, images of the live shows, and knowing now how incredibly influential the music and imagery has become, was there a feeling of being quite outcast or was there a sense of empowerment imbibed in the relativity of freaking people out with bloody aesthetics?

EV: We never cared about what other people thought. I still don’t. We just felt that whatever band we were doing was the best band on the planet, and we didn’t care if you liked us or not.

BF: Did you have any say on the celebrated cover for Samhain’s Initium? I was wondering if you guys were aware of Hermann Nitsch and the Vienna aktionists while considering the cover? All that blood was probably quite intuitive, but it does portend towards the motion of ritual bloodletting and performance….

EV: Glenn wanted to do the blood cover with the Misfits, but I don’t think they were too keen on the idea. So we did it for Samhain, and I took the picture. Glenn looked thru the camera, and takes 1/2 credit for the photo, but I set the exposure, the focus, and put my camera on a timer. I thought it was a kool idea, and always figured it was based on the Prom scene from “Carrie”.

BF: And the Final Descend cover with Glenn looking a bit “altered states” and blurry? Is that one of your pics? Did you direct any of the covers that were not yours?

EV: That was during a Samhain show so I was on stage. It was a fan shot sent to me. I really liked it, and showed it to Glenn.

BF: Finally, the aesthetics that you helped develop culturally with the Misfits, Samhain and Danzig align much like King Diamond with the aesthetics of black metal, was there ever a cross-pollination of horror within music post-Misfits that drew you back to the early aesthetics and potentially influenced your own art?

EV: My art is influenced by my subconscious, and everyday life, just like most art and music for me. I don’t draw on any spooky influences, or music, unless it’s the blues. Or some old horror movie stuff. There really was no influence on Glenn unless it was the religion, the blues, horror flicks and comic books/animation.

 

 

http://www.misfits.com/

http://www.danzig-verotik.com/

(All rights reserved. Text @ ASX. Images @ Eerie Von and the respective photographers and artists.)

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