Even casual fans of classic horror rock, psychobilly and horror punk & metal have at least a few immortal names in their playlists (or if you're truly old school, you have something called a “record library”), including genre pioneers like the Misfits and the Cramps, as well as the new-generation heavyweights like Nekromantix, 69 Eyes, Murderdolls and Calabrese, to name just a few... and when I'm craving a little Halloween spirit (in other words, most of the time), I reach for an assortment of these tunes like a handful of yummy skull-shaped candies. But I have to confess that until about two years ago, one of the biggest names in European horror punk managed to elude my ears, and that's German quartet The Other.
The first thing that hooked me was the band's drop-dead-amazing album art (among the best work in the genre, in my humble opinion), and once I heard their psycho spectrum of song styles, they started reeling me in immediately. This month The Other unveiled their fifth full-length album The Devils You Know, and they've managed to up their game once again, surpassing the already excellent record New Blood (which was my first head-on introduction to their sound), and now with the creative aid of producer Waldemar Sorychta, who has worked with FEARnet faves Moonspell, Lacuna Coil and Rusty Eye. I recently had the good fortune to get in touch with their frontman, who goes by the Poe-inspired handle Rod Usher, and he told me more about the album, the band's growing international fame, the latest installment of The Other comic book saga (which features the writing of cult horror director Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik), and of course, the band's love of all things horror.
FEARnet: What kind of feedback have you been getting on The Devils You Know? It seems you've tapped into a wider audience this time.
When you release an album, you’re always sure it’s a great piece of music – otherwise you wouldn’t have recorded it – but you’re still very anxious about the kind of reaction you'll get. The first two reviews were mediocre, a little like “The Other is playing metal now, and they try to sound like Volbeat”... and we asked ourselves if they listened to same album that we recorded. But then the great feedback came pouring in and really overwhelmed us. People love the album and appreciate that fact that we don’t stand still and progress with every new record we make. Sure, the sound is a little different now than on our first release, but the roots are still the same, and our fans grew with us and we reached more people with this album than ever. So it looks like things are going good right now.
The promotional art and photography is fantastic. Who came up with the concept?
I guess that was me... I discovered the work of an American artist called William Basso, which greatly inspired us. I talked to Bill, but he simply didn’t have time to do an original artwork for the [Devils] cover, so we worked with “Heilemania” from Germany to produce something in that vein with photos of the band. He did the cover and the band photos, and we all made sure that everything fit to the concept of the band and the album title that I came up with. We’re really happy about how it turned out too, since we’re really passionate about our artworks and our look.
Your new bassist Viktor Sharp had a lot of creative input on the album. Did you co-write any songs with him?
The way we work is that each member brings his ideas to the band rehearsals, and we all work on them together. I usually bring vocal lines, Sarge [von Rock, guitarist] brings a riff or a whole song, and Viktor appeared with countless riffs and even recorded whole songs on his computer. We used a lot of his ideas and created The Other songs out of them together, but also one or two whole songs that he wrote. He was also a great help in arranging the ideas that Sarge and I brought in. In short, he was the right person at the right time!
Is this also your first album with Waldemar Sorychta on board?
It was the first time that Waldemar produced, but he did mix and master New Blood too. That why it sounds so great. This time we did the preproduction and the recording with him as well, which was an awesome experience.
What kind of ideas did he bring to the table?
He worked with the dynamics of the songs, and on the riffs themselves, and was exactly the outside opinion that we needed to not get stuck in our routine.
What inspired you to write an old-fashioned ballad for this album?
Bands like KISS, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe and all those other '80s bands. Sarge and I love hair metal, and we wanted to try out a real '80s power ballad. Turns out people see it as a total goth song, and some hate the track with a passion.
Weird, it didn't seem goth to me... more like a “get-out-your-lighters” kind of ballad.
Well, you can’t please everybody. For us it was a way of experimenting and surprising our audience. I’m sure more people will love the song once they get passed the shock of hearing us doing such a track.
Is the bonus track "The Walking Dead" inspired by the comic book and TV series?
Absolutely! I’m a big fan of both. Robert Kirkman did a great job in creating this series that deals with zombies on a superficial level, but is actually social commentary. The zombies are great, but it’s really about humans.
Exactly. Even people who say they “aren't into horror” love the drama aspect of it.
That’s what I like about it!
Speaking of comics, we'd like to know more about The Other comic book... I loved the artwork and followed most of the story, considering I can only read a little bit of German. What can we expect to see in the new issue?
The first issue established us as a band that consists of four undead musicians with the plan of taking over the world by getting more and more popular. In the second issue, a religious cult kills our old bassist Migore Drake and attacks the other three band members as well. But we raise Viktor Sharp from the dead and fight back. The book is full of horror, sex and action, and I really hope there will be an English version one day.
Is the comic your first collaboration with Jörg Buttgereit?
Yes. I met Jörg a while back, introduced him to The Other, and he really liked the band, and we stayed in touch. Since he’s a comic book nerd like us, we asked him to write the introduction, which he gladly did. A huge honor for us!
Have you ever discussed working with Jörg on a music video?
We actually did, but he lives from directing films and videos, and we didn’t have the budget back then. But maybe that will change in the future. It would be a dream come true, for sure. But I would like it even more, if he directed a full movie about The Other.
I'd like to see that happen too. Speaking of which, seen any good horror films lately?
All the time! On the band bus, we sometimes watch three of four movies in a row when we have long driving to do... and we go to film festivals together.
Very cool. What's the most interesting film you've seen recently?
I haven't seen that many recent ones, but I loved the Fright Night and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark remakes and The Thing prequel. Insidious was great; Tucker and Dale vs. Evil was hilarious; and Scream 4 is a great addition to the series and better than the third installment. Jack Ketchum’s The Woman was another good movie by one of my favorite authors, and I still have to see The Woman in Black and Dark Shadows.
This Halloween you're celebrating the band's 10th anniversary. How do you plan on marking the occasion?
The club – the “Underground” in Cologne, Germany – is already sold out, and there’s gonna be five hundred kids, all in costume and makeup, slam-dancing, stage-diving and chanting along... and we will serve them a bloody mix of old, new and never-played songs, some Misfits covers, and even bring out both of our old bassists.
Awesome. Do you plan on touring North America again soon?
We would love to tour there again like we did in 2007. We had a blast, and had quite a few sold-out or packed shows on the west coast. But for some reason, European tour plans always kept us from coming back. Plus, we don’t have anybody to book us in the States or Canada, and nowadays we’re too busy to do it ourselves. But we are working on a tour in the spring of 2013.
Thirteen oughta be the lucky number.
If it doesn’t work in '13, it’s not gonna work ever!