Source: Wreckhouse Magazine
1. Can you give us a brief history of Creature Feature and how you guys started?
Well, to put it in one sentence, Creature Feature was born from the Halloweens of childhoods past. Erik and I formed the band after a discussion we had at a Halloween party and the path ahead instantly became clear. At the time, Erik was toiling away in his house working on strange music and I was toiling away in my basement working on strange music and writing strange horror films. We started talking about the sorts of music we liked, I kept comparing everything to horror films I liked, and then the whole idea emerged from that. That very night we got the idea for the song “Aim For The Head’ and it all steamrolled from there.
2. What are some of your influences, musical and non musical?
Most bands mainly pull their influences from other music, but our main influences are a twisted concoction of all the wonderful, terrible things that shaped our childhoods: The Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury, numerous horror films, EC comics, Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos, Vincent Price, dancing skeletons, pumpkin patches, Bigfoot, shrunken heads, etc. All the weird things that terrified and altered us as kids, the stuff we just couldn’t get enough of. Then you can add in all the strange music influences like: The Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo, music from the Haunted Mansion ride, Django Reinhardt, Tom Waits, Goblin, Queen, Henry Mancini, Dmitri Shostakovich, The Ventures, and a ton of old horror soundtracks.
3. What is your creative process like and how do you write your songs?
We write songs any and all ways, we really don’t have a set formula, but it all has to start with a good idea first, whether it be a good title, or a catchy riff, or even just a ghoulish theme. Sometimes Erik will already the music for a song worked out on keyboard, or I’ll have one worked out, sometimes I’ll even have a full set of lyrics with the singing melody finished that just needs backing music. It’s really just however the mood strikes us. Somehow they all seem to fit together and become cohesive on the album even though they are approached from all different angles. Since each song is more like story set to music, I still think that theme is most important and ends up driving the rest of the process. To me, a perfect album is like a collection of short stories you can read by the fire while something sinister claws at your parlor door, ready to pounce and snack on your bones.
4. What’s essential for you guys to have while you’re touring?
First and foremost for me, it’s coffee. Without coffee, the machine would grind to a halt and we’d be stuck somewhere in Kansas working at a prairie dog farm, which doesn’t sound half bad now that I think about it. Nowadays though, I guess an Ipod is essential or you will slowly lose your mind. We once did a tour with only four albums in the van, it was a terrible experience. Another essential thing to have now is a GPS unit. Thinking back to the time we toured just using maps, it’s a miracle we even made it to the shows. We’d end up getting lost all the time and once we even ran into a kid playing banjo on his front porch—I do not care to relive that situation ever again. We’re really a no nonsense band and travel like Gypsies, if it doesn’t fit in a tiny suitcase then it gets left behind. We’ve been home from tour for quite a few months now and I still live out of the same suitcase, it’s in my blood now. I’m like a vagabond, just waiting for the traveling circus to pick me up and whisk me off to another town.
5. What’s a day off like for you guys?
Depends on if you mean a day off while on tour or time off from touring. I think we’ve only a few days off while on tour, but I always plan those days around places I’ve been dying to see, like the Alamo in Texas, the House Of Mystery in Oregon, Prairie Dog Town in Kansas, and all those other weird roadside attractions off the highway in the middle of nowhere, but generally a day off on tour means you’re driving another 13 hours to the next gig. I think one of the most brutal drives we ever had was Seattle to Reno overnight, I died a little bit on that one. When we actually get back home from tour, we always jump right back into all the random projects we have lying around. After this last tour, I jumped back into writing and scoring work.
6. Curtis RX, you have a website called “Villains & Vaudevillains”, tell us a little about it.
Thanks for asking. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a sharpened pencil to my teacher’s throat, so Villains And Vaudevillians is my very own strange little vortex on the web where I post all my sinister short stories, twisted poems, sadistic song lyrics, otherworldly essays on my favorite strange places around the world, daily weird news stories, strange facts, and snippets of all the mischievous music I’ve scored for various projects. It’s basically just on online compendium of all the weird stuff I’ve learned about in my years on this mortal coil and the bizarre stuff I really enjoy, and hope other people will as well. I like weird, the world needs more weird.
7. Curtis RX, any plans on publishing a book of your stories and/or poems?
Yeah, writing is my absolute most favorite thing to do and it’s really how I approach every song, just like a short story. Each one has a twisted plot, devious characters, ravenous monsters, and hopefully plays out like an exciting short audio horror film, but those songs have consumed the last five years of my life and I’ve always kinda put my more traditional fiction writing on the back burner. I’ve made a pact with the Elder Gods that this year all the odd little stories I’ve been working on for the last ten years or so will finally see the light of day. If all goes well and I can squeeze out every second the day has to offer, then by end of the year I’ll be releasing a horror novella, about a talented writer struggling to find the inspiration for his second book and the weird series of events that pushes him onto a different path, and a book of short death poems called ’101 And Ways To Die, Accidents, Murder, And Other Techniques To Lose A Life’. I can sincerely say that I’ve never been busier in my life than I am right now, but I enjoy the process of creating the unbelievable too much to slow down. I’ll can always get some sleep after the world ends.
8. Tell us about Last Man On Earth Productions?
Last Man On Earth is my film production company and as time permits, it will be the place where I turn some of my written ideas into actual moving images. I live, breath, and consume weird cinema and hopefully by the end of this year I’ll have the ball rolling with a few short horror films Ive written and some info on a full length film I plan on starting soon after. I’m a very visual writer and I always think in terms of movies, so every time I write something, I can already see the film version of it in my head. So, it’s been a goal of mine to turn the novella I’ve been writing into a full fledged, crimson spewing, weird cult flick. Ever since I bought my first VHS camcorder, I’ve been making strange films involving flying eyeballs, demonic bartenders, bad Kung Fu, severed limbs, flesh eating ghouls, gallons of fake blood, and a particularly painful experience with a homemade break-away glass bottle. One of my favorite times was during high school, we had an assignment where everybody in our art class had to make a film, then we would put them all together and screen them in the school theater for all the world to see. Of course everybody else made these very feel good, make you think, art films and I made a bloody cult horror short about a guy who gets downsized from his job and breaks into his bosses house to steal the money he feels that he rightly deserves. He ends up getting his guts dispersed by a shotgun blast to the stomach and stumbles over to a cemetery where some kids playing with a Ouija board end up resurrecting him and a chase ensues. Now keep in mind that none of these films are, by any stretch of the imagination—good, but they were fun. To make a long story, even longer, they told me to cut out some of the bloody stuff before the screening. I wasn’t a big fan of that idea, so I spent a few days adding more blood in. Let’s just say, it didn’t go over too well. On a side note, what some people don’t know is that there was a film planned to go along with our album ‘The Greatest Show Unearthed’. It was written, I just never got around to making it due to funds and the strangeness of the project. Imagine The Who’s ‘Tommy’ and ‘Fiddler On The Roof’, all taking place in a traveling circus of horrors with knife throwers, mermaids, cemeteries, ghouls, and a door into hell. Someday…someday!
9. You’re the music composer for a new series called “Playing Dead”, can you tell us about the series?
Of course, a little press never hurt anybody. I recently teamed up with the incredibly talented Ted Raimi on web series called ‘Playing Dead’, a dark comedy about a down on her luck actress that takes a part time job as Death to pay the bills. Directed by Ted Raimi, written and starring Suzanne Keilly, with music composed by yours truly. It’s an eight episode web series, we have 3 posted now, with the remaining episodes to be posted every Friday until it’s conclusion. It’s one of those cool little projects where everybody has the same frame of mind and the same interests, so everything just fell into place. I had a blast scoring the series and got to compose a little more comedic and traditional soundtrack with violin, clarinet, and one of my favorite instruments—the tuba. Truly a fun experience and I think everybody will dig it, check it out at www.watchplayingdead.com. If you like what you see there, please tell all your friends, or you’ll be next on Death’s list. There’s also a donation box—hint, hint!
10. Seeing as we deal with horror and comics, what are some of your guys’ favorite horror movies and comic books/characters?
First and foremost, EC comics paved the way for my ghoulish interests, there’s nothing like them. They were frighting, disturbing, depraved, clever, funny, and perfect in every way. I could go on forever about all this stuff, but the one that’s blowing my mind right now is ‘Chew’ by John Layman and Rob Guillory. It’s a crazy story of a detective who gets psychic impressions from everything he eats, sometimes even resorting to eating from dead bodies so he can track down their killers. It’s such an amazing and unique concept, truly a breath of fresh air and I kick myself everyday for not coming up with the idea first. The other comic I really enjoy is ‘Cemetery Blues’ by the artist behind a lot of the Creature Feature artwork, Thomas Boatwright. It’s the story of two bumbling creature hunters named Ridley and Falstaff and has a really cool Hammer vibe that would make Vincent Price & Christopher Lee proud.
11. You work with Gris Grimly a lot, how did that relationship come about and anything new between you guys on the horizon?
Gris is an immensely and multi-talented artist who can jump to any media and make his own creepy statement. We’re very good friends and have a few projects we’ve thrown around just waiting for their time to crawl back from the depths and help bring about the end of the world. Unfortunately, with our touring and recording schedule and his numerous projects, we have yet to get anything set in concrete…well, except for that one body, but that’s a whole different story.
12. Any plans for another tour any time in the near future?
If all goes well, we should be hitting the road again sometime around the middle of the year. I have a few more projects to finish up first and a few DEADlines looming, but the it’s back out into the black heart of the road.
13. Any upcoming projects or events that you’d like to tell us about?
Other than the two books and the Last Man On Earth stuff, I’ve been working on way too much new music. So much so, that I also wrote a strange little 10 song rock opera that I’m recording in the studio as we speak. It’s a little too rock for Creature Feature, so instead of tainting the waters, I’ll be releasing it under my solo music project ‘Rufus Rex’ sometime in 2010. I can say no more about it due to the men in expensive suits monitoring my household from a van down the street.
14. How can people get a hold of your music and merch?
You can get all our malevolent merchandise directly from the Creature Feature website at www.creaturefeaturemusic.com or from my website Villains And Vaudevillians at www.villainsandvaudevillians.com and if you got one handy, you could always use a Ouija board. We also got this handy dandy mailing list, in which we offer specials discounts on merchandise, special offers, and song previews at http://creaturefeature.ifanz.net.
15. Anything else you want to say to the fans out there reading this?
I wanted to sincerely thank everybody who has found the same ghoulish delight in our music that we did in creating it. It really is a Frankenstein monster made up of all the offbeat, left of center stuff we grew up on, so it’s an amazing feeling to know that it inspires others the way our influences inspired us. We are lucky to have such a talented and artistic fan base that is always sending us artwork they painted, drew, photographed, filmed, recorded and I can’t wait to see what they end up creating in the future. Actually, they might put me out of a job soon. Thanks for all the support and soon the world will be ours.
Interview by Shaun May