(Originally Published in 2008 Deadline Magazine)
Horror punk was born out of a great death in the 90’s and I was a product of it. There was great cultural change during that time. A great reordering of things. A cultural death. One that I sensed and began to try to articulate on the album I called “American Psycho” that I wrote in 1995. In the novel in which I chose to draw inspiration from, Brett Easton Ellis wrote, “Walking Down 5th Avenue around 4 O’clock in the afternoon, everyone on the street looks sad, the air is full of decay, bodies lie on the cold pavement, miles of it, some are moving, most are not. History is sinking and only a very few seem dimly aware that things are getting bad.”
One might try and argue that as Americans we were as healthy as a society then we had ever been and that might partially be true. You could argue that the American stock market hit 81 record highs in 1996. Our employment rate was the envy of the world. Crime rates were plunging across the nation. People were more affluent and going to college in record numbers, living better, longer lives. But there was an under current of darkness and gloom that settled into everywhere. Our generation lost the bravery and resilience and difficult joy it took our Grandparents to sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” in the midst of a Depression. You could here it dieing in the scowled screams of Kurt Cobain. Even the Unabomber seemed to have agreed with the sense of apocalypse and the end days coming when he wrote in his manifesto that was published in The Washington Times, that “ The world seems to be going crazy.”
Many people that the music I created in the 90’s resonated with were undeceived by media fed hype and fad and detested the “fashionable anarchists“. We grew up one of the weird kids during the Satanic Panic of the 80’s. We expressed our individualism outwardly by the things we wore. I adopted the uniform of the outcast and all that went with it. I steered clear of the media driven fashion and style trends and sought to reflect my opposition to it all. I couldn’t stand rich American kids in suburban neighborhoods who began to proclaim that their lives were tough, too as if they lived in a New York ghetto and adopted the mannerisms and etiquette of the gangster movement to boot. I began to think that what in the past accounted for drips of diluttant into a cultures soul now became a flood. I sought to reflect my experience in the songs I wrote that are now considered horror punk.
The horror punk I wrote had much of the same intentions as its muse. I created compositions that expressed the trauma of world war and economic depression and nightmare visions of thought control and invasion brought on by the Cold War. I told tales of our America and its preoccupation with demon children and mutants as our society reshapes its reproductive landscape. The rise of the epidemic illness and our fascination with vampires all become life lenses in which I created through.
Like the early 1920’s when our beloved budding horror industry became lackluster and dull in America, a German film called “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” came to the shores of America and ushered in a new generation of great film by its influence. The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari was a German made film that was produced in 1919 in Berlin. The film caused a great deal of uproar in America when it premiered in New York City at The Millers Theatre in 1921. Some 2000 people marched on the theatre in protest of the cinema for supporting and ultimately making money for a German made film. The world had just seen a great war with Germany and had bore witness to previously unimaginable ways to destroy or brutally reorder the human body. The author and art critic Willard Huffington Wright said, “ The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari” represents the inevitable line in which the cinema (scene) must evolve.”