Tuesday, January 4, 2011
FEAR FOR YOU LIVES! HERE COMES THE VON FRANKENSTEINS
For the first interview of 2011 here at the Cathode Ray our subject is outspoken New York City musician Aerik Von, founding member of The Von Frankensteins, a hard rocking band that aims to bring the aesthetic of Grindhouse cinema and noir stylings into today’s music scene!
Catch our readers up on the history of the Von Frankensteins.
Aerik: Started in 2004 or so with my friend Ramrod to keep the new-old Misfits vibe alive…worked infrequently and then re-tooled as a fully functioning band in 2009. I had spent five years away from the music industry as I simply ceased to enjoy the way people dealt with each other. It just felt like the right time to try something new and the Von Frankensteins is a name I had for 15 years and it was the most fun I ever had doing this nonsense and figured that it was the right thing at the right time. Ryan gave me his blessing to use the name and we continue to play his songs in tribute to him. Convoluted, yes…the way it is? Yes.
What is your musical background?
Aerik: Long answer turned to a short answer - I've been singing and being in bands since I was 15. It started with an extremely primitive high school band called Snake Shift, evolved in Black Moon Rising (some of these songs are now being played by the Von Frankensteins) whom I put on vacation from to work with Rampage, The Von Frankensteins, Slaughterhaus and Agnosis and now I'm back to just recording with Rampage and The Von Frankensteins, with a Slaughterhaus EP in the works as well. I've left a LOT of side projects out of this list because really, the only time that matters is now, the new "Heroin[e]" single and the upcoming "Crime" EP.
What are the chief influences on the Von Frankenstein's sound and aesthetic?
Aerik: It's really a big mix up of grindhouse film, horror and film noir. I just write about things and look at art that I enjoy. The band originally was a pure horror rock band created after the Misfits 95' original line-up broke up as we figured the Misfits were done and we wanted to keep that Doyle/Graves era sound alive. Sadly, founding member with me Ryan Weiss died and the band was forced to evolve sonically as he was a singular talent. We really write about anything and everything…I'd say we have more influence from the city/noir stylings than anything else aesthetically…with a horror edge. I've always loved those old noir films and living in Manhattan and only being out at night…it has it's own natural influence on things. Any kind of cheap thrill is an inspiration…I love to present cheap thrills as elegantly as possible! As for sound? Jim and I both love old dirty blues and punk rock and early Black Sabbath material. We just kind of attack things, I bring in songs, he helps arrange them and it goes as it goes. I try NOT to be "influenced" too much by anything.
The Von Frankenstein's feature legendary Misfit's member Mr. Jim on drums. How did he come to be involved in the band?
Aerik: It actually was the result of a how drunken, 4-5am in the morning e-mails and Facebook conversations… I was such a huge fan of Jim's period of the Misfits and his work and eventually in a conversation with a guitarist I was thinking of working with I joked that maybe we should contact Jim. I hinted at Jim that maybe it could work out, he listened to some of the newer material we were into and it all just fell into place. We had one awful first rehearsal which lead to a decent show which lead to a much better show with the current line-up. The rest is history… It's a very natural working relationship and we all get along well…it's really a no stress band in that sense.
You play Misfits songs in your live set. How do you feel that your performance of the material differs from what Jerry Only is offering fans with his version of the same material?
Aerik: Jerry is playing the songs as they were written…we're fucking around with them a lot…if you notice we do a lot more with lead guitar breaks and unique drum arrangements. We don't play any songs that Jim was not a part of in his tenure… We add all sorts of licks, solos and drum arrangements that weren't featured in the originals. Jerry is the Misfits and we're not…so we don't really attempt to recapture the original vibe. When we do "Return of the Fly" we have a whole death-surf inspired intro that isn't ANYTHING like the original…why bother to offer Misfits material without changes if we aren't the Misfits. People expect Jerry to deliver what he delivers, nobody expects anything from us…it's a lot of fun to be in that position.
How important do you feel art is to the overall product of what a band presents to the public?
Aerik: It's one of the biggest parts of being a musical artist. I remember thinking the Misfits were the coolest band on earth when I was 14 because of the "Die Die My Darling" album cover. That is what sticks with you when you first find a band and it does shape the pictures you get in your head of the songs and the lyrics. I've always said that the lyrics are the film, the riffs are the soundtrack and the artwork is that promotional poster that makes you go "holy shit, I need to see this movie". It's the same with the art…it shapes the entire build up and payoff of the record. Without it, you really don't have anything… That, and it's simply just fun to try to figure out the story and correlation between the artwork and the song… We work with one artist right now and one artist only (Dan Wilder @ TH1RTE3N DOORS: THE ART OF DANIEL TH1RTE3N)…it's creating a regular synergy that is evolving with the band and people are coming to really enjoy the mutual work and have even come to expect it. A lot of bands don't deal with regular artists and the image tends to fracture…I'm all about defined and refined artistic arrangements.
Currently the Von Frankensteins' music is available digitally via iTunes ((http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-von-frankensteins/id403625355). Will this be the primary way that people can obtain your music, or are more "old school" releasing methods planned?
Aerik: Yes, we are in talks about releasing 7" singles in the "old-school" variety as well as CD's in extremely limited form in the future. I am always one of the few people to enjoy change but one of the first to adapt to it. I hate the mp3 generation but why be stupid and try to ignore it? Collectors vinyl though is always a worthy investment and I will be about that shit till the day I'm dead. The fans have already asked for it and it will have a download option included so if you get the vinyl you get the songs…
Since our site deals primarily in esoteric genre material, what would you say is the best Grindhouse film ever made and why?
Aerik: My personal favorite is "The Undertaker and his Pals" but the list goes on and on…to pick one definitive grindhouse film, especially in light of the diverse nature of the genre, is practically impossible. One could argue that "The Hills Have Eyes" is as grindhouse as a number of exploitation films like "Teenage Mother" from 67' or any variety of "men’s movies" from the 50's. I wouldn't say there is a greatest grindhouse film as it's a genre you tend to love and accept in its entirety or hate in its entirety.
Any final words of wisdom for our readers?
Aerik: Don't listen to words of wisdom from people who play in rock and roll bands. Trust me on this