It's no surprise a band whose very name is a riff on the classic “zombie-vs-shark” scene from Lucio Fulci's gore classic Zombi 2 would be seriously into horror movies. But what we didn't know until recently was how much horror cinema has actually inspired the furiously creative art of this hardworking Canadian electro-punk outfit. Frontman Kevvy Mental (aka Kevin Maher) told us all about the band's many inspirations, and reveals some of the fear flicks that inspired him... and in one case, maybe reveals a little too much.
FSRZ's new full-length album Meeting People Is Terrible is coming soon, and if the tracks I've heard on advance EP Angel Lust are any indication, the band's got a solid thing going with their manic, all-over-the-map sound that fuses danceable electronics with dirty funk, energetic punk and a touch of industrial metal, anchored with a hooky melodic core and a tough lyrical edge. Thanks to the production skills of Dave “Rave” Ogilvie (who has worked with iconic artists like Skinny Puppy and Marilyn Manson), this project widens the creative canvas for a band that really needs all that room to bust out their ideas. The US release date for Meeting People isn't locked down yet, but you can snap up Angel Lust right now... and damn it, you should.
Previous release Zebra Zebra made the band a cult favorite in Japan, but fame among North American audiences had, for the most part, eluded them... until now. Thanks to some high-profile tours with the likes of Mindless Self Indulgence (the only band out there to which they bear some stylistic resemblance) and Goth sweethearts The Birthday Massacre, it looks like the guys might finally have broken through to well-deserved recognition.
Kevvy took some time out from his busy touring schedule to shoot the shit about horror classics, the Fulci connection and the infamous “Bro-tem Pole”...
FEARnet: Considering your band's name, would it be too obvious to ask how much you're into horror movies, and zombies in particular?
KM: I've been a zombie fanatic since seeing the original Dawn of the Dead back when I was in the 8th grade. My uncle (who's the drummer in the band Annihilator) introduced me to it. He suggested it to me because I was really obsessed with From Dusk Till Dawn at the time and told me that Tom Savini was also in this “Mall Zombie” film. I had also read that Quentin Tarantino (falsely) claimed to have been an extra in DOTD on his resume when he was a struggling actor. It was good enough for me to look into. I also worked in a record/DVD store and had the reputation as being “the guy into horror films,” so people would come to me for suggestions.
Aside from the Fulci thing, what’s the story behind the name?
[Guitarist] Louis Wu and I are were at a party [and] someone asked me what a good zombie film to seek out would be, and I described the famous scene from Zombi 2. Someone asked if it was real... being a smart-ass, I jested, “Yeah – fake shark, real zombie!” Louis, who was passed out on cough medicine at the time, woke up at that moment to let me know that was to be the band name.
Are you a fan of Fulci's work in particular?
You know, I'm not a giant Fulci fan... I'm a huge [George A.] Romero fan and a big [Dario] Argento fan. I liked The Beyond... I like any films that are mean-spirited and done in bad taste.
I'd say The Beyond is both of those. So you’ve stated that many of the songs from Meeting People Is Terrible are based in part on horror or cult movies. What are some examples?
The [George Romero] film Martin inspired me a lot, as did Taxi Driver. If you really look at it, both films are about lonely characters seeking a partner in insanity when all else has failed. It's something I can definitely identify with.
I also like the idea of being in certain mindsets when beginning to create. This new album has been a new experience for me, as it's been a really introspective process for me... but it's a dichotomy of my soul sitting next to someone like John Hinckley Jr.'s... the comparing and contrasting [of] that makes things interesting to me. I believe that any director, artist, or in this case musician, should be in their own favorite band. That being said, I tried to make the ultimate album that I'd want to seek out.
If I was making the ultimate album, Rave would be on my short list for producing. What was it like working with him, and what kind of creative input did he bring to the game?
Rave is an amazing producer, mixer and engineer, and now a dear friend as well. I've done a couple remixes with him and worked on some of the new Jakalope album. He brought bigger sounds than we knew possible and nurtured my programming side. He introduced me to a lot of analog synths and introduced Louis to about 85 guitar pedals; Lou took them all into the live room with a pad of paper and tried every single one and wrote down where he thought it could work on the album. I then took some of Louis's guitar parts and glitched them up. It was really fun and inspiring to be around [Rave]. He also made sure I was intoxicated in one way or another every day.
Speaking of intoxicated... Who does your wild album art with all the pills, blood, flowers and stuff?
A beautiful, beautiful man named Alex Turvey. He also did our first album's artwork, and videos for Patrick Wolf and Grizzly Bear. Leigh Righton does our photography; she also does all “Fan Deaths” photos as well as stuff for Lightspeed Champion and Birthday Massacre.
Now that you’ve been touring North America with bands like Mindless Self Indulgence and The Birthday Massacre, what kind of response are you getting from fans on this continent?
A lot of people don't know what to do with us at first. We also played some shows up the West Coast with Cancer Bats, and people either hate us or love us, and we wouldn't have it any other way. MSI fans are goofballs, so I'm more on their wavelength than the hardcore kids who have choreographed punching moves and whatnot. I love the music, though. Me and [bassist] Parker's favorite hardcore dance move is called the “Bro-tem Pole,” where they all stack on top of each other and punch. It's awesome!
MSI and Birthday Massacre really embraced us and made us feel welcome on the tour and so did their fans. We love playing all-ages shows, because the kids really bring it. We were asked to do Australia with MSI, but unfortunately we just couldn't make it happen. We love those guys, though.
I hear Henry Rollins is a big fan. Has he approached you about being on his talk show next season?
We've talked a bit about it. He's a real busy guy and I appreciate all he's done for us. He played us a lot on his radio show “Harmony in My Head” last year. He's also dropped our name in a few interviews, which is huge for me because I've looked up to him for so long. I feel really lucky, because I've gotten to meet up with a lot of bands and musicians who have been my favorites and had them help me or be really cool to me, such as MSI, Rollins, Tricky....
This is kind of a left-field question, but by any chance did Louis Wu take his name from the main character in Larry Niven’s Ringworld books? Even if that’s his birth name, it’s still cool...
You can blame his nerdy ass parents for that! Wu is really one of his names. Good question!
Let's go back to horror movies for a bit. What are some of your all-time favorites?
Dawn of the Dead (the original) is the greatest – anytime I see Ken Foree in anything nowadays, I'm a giddy schoolgirl all over again.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, because it feels like you're watching a snuff film. I also love how all the characters are ugly. This needs to come back. Jessica Biel can fuck off with her cosmetic surgery. (John Laroquette can stay, though.)
From Dusk Till Dawn makes the list because it started it all for me, and I watched it roughly 96 times when I was a teenager. I just thought Clooney was such a fucking bad-ass, and I love how the beginning of that film has nothing to do with the end. I also use to constantly masturbate to the rotting stripper-vampires in that film!
Whoa... uh, next?
28 Days Later is amazing, because it's a horror film done by someone who has no interest in the genre – hence its freshness. I'm also a sucker for religious connotations in film: I love the scene when the main character goes into that church and says “hello?” and those three “infected” stare at him... and then fucking book it after him! That movie scared the shit out of me!
Jacob's Ladder – an unsung hero in the genre.
Silent Hill – the game owes its success to the ideas from this film.
Blood Sucking Freaks – here comes the tasteless side of me! Let's have a midget and a magician lure women to their penthouse to tie them up,rape them, perform lewd magic tricks on them and then cut them up!
Hostel – I like how feasible this all is; I also like how the scariest parts of the film are the parts when it's just yuppie businessmen talking in the locker room. Such a stressful film to watch. The “eyegasm” scene kills it!
I'll wrap up by going from cinematic scares back to real ones. What's your greatest fear?