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The Soft Moon | Three Nights In Berlin


This past February, The Soft Moon celebrated the release of their fourth studio album Criminal with a sold out three-night residency hosted by aufnahme+wiedergabe at Urban Spree in Berlin.

We were there early and late, documenting the concerts, each which had a different opener each night. The first night featured The Devil and The Universe, the second Veil of Light, and the third SΛRIN.

Immediately after closing each set’s encore on the first and last night at Urban Spree, we spoke backstage Soft Moon mastermind Luis Vasquez about the importance of honest expression in music, and “filling the void” with earnest communication and emotion.

Another underlying theme to both the concert and interview is how artists and musicians can work together to fill this void by picking talented bands to take on tour, such as Boy Harsher, who opened for all the proceeding North American dates live dates in support of Criminaland Luis’ friendship with Deb Demure of Drab Majesty, whom he comments on in the interview.

In perhaps an act of karma—the sense of community and support of fellow artists has already had its return, as The Cure’s Robert Smith personally contacted Luis, asking if he was “not too busy”, and would like to perform at the 25th annual Meltdown Festival in London.

Luis is now set to perform twice during the festival, with the first gig taking place on June 23rd as an opening slot for My Bloody Valentine, and the second a headlining spot on the 24th with fellow Berlin musicians The KVB.

Criminal is out now via Sacred Bones



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Now We Lustre – An Interview With Poptone’s Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins


Much has been written about Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins‘ numerous projects, but the ink has yet to dry on their latest celebratory outing, Poptone. So the story goes, Ash was dozing with his headphones on and woke with a start at 4 a.m. to the telltale sounds of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” The jarring urgency of the moment is what inspired him to get back on the road, this time drawing heavily upon (but not limited to) the work of short-lived project Tones on Tail. Enlisting Haskins on drums, the trio is rounded out by Diva Dompe, Haskins’ daughter, a formidable force fit to fill the shoes of both David J and Glenn Campling.

After a wildly revered tour, which pitted much of Tones on Tail’s transitional back catalog against the Ash-sung Bauhaus and Love and Rockets songs, Poptone cut their debut album with LA’s Part Time Punks. Due out across various formats on Cleopatra Records on June 8th, the record captures thirteen classic songs from the band’s repertoire, a testament to the strength and timelessness of the material. They’re also slated to tour again, kicking off a short stint of west coast dates this Friday, May 11th.

We were able to catch both Kevin and Daniel for two separate but parallel conversations about the band’s past, present, and future.

While Poptone celebrates your entire catalog as a songwriter, it draws heavily upon Tones On Tail, which I’ve always felt is the freshest and most vital, yet most criminally underrated project you’ve been a part of. How has it been revisiting this material live considering how much of it was created in a studio?

Daniel Ash: Well, it wasn’t quite a studio project – we would be in a room rehearsing the tracks before we got into the studio actually. A few tracks were created in the studio perhaps, but for the most part we’d be in a rehearsal-type situation, with some experimentation done after the fact – there were some tracks that would take on a different flavor. Things like backwards echoes and reverbs would be added afterwards, but the core of the song was written and played in the rehearsal room beforehand.

Out of the three bands, Tones on Tail is my favorite because we were completely free to do whatever we wanted. My plan on that band was to do music that sounded like it came from another planet but you could also tap your foot to it – in other words, it’s commercially viable. I think we achieved that. I think the band has aged well – it’s very simply recorded – but I think most of that stuff could have been recorded last week. It’s very fresh sounding even though in essence, it’s 30 years old. You can’t really put it into a category, which I love.

It’s funny because “Go!” probably has the most cross-genre appeal of anything you’ve done, including “So Alive.” I’ve heard “Go!” at sporting events, for example…

DA: Wow, yeah! It’s ironic, because it was a B-side. The DJs in the clubs would flip it over and play the other track, and it became a big hit in Germany for six weeks. It’s one of those magic moments in the studio, but for us, I saw it as a B-side. I was more into “Lions” at the time, you know, because again, ironically when I was younger, I preferred slow tracks. Now that I’m older, I prefer faster tracks – it’s very strange!

Kevin, I recall reading that Bauhaus – Undead was meant to be a celebration of your work with Bauhaus in light of years of negativity – is Poptone meant to keep that positive vibe going?

Kevin Haskins: Very much so, yeah. We all get on really well and have a lot of fun doing it. We’ve been rehearsing the past few days after not seeing each other for several weeks and we’re really enjoying dipping into the back catalogue and realizing what a great collection of songs that Daniel wrote. We’re bringing in possibly six new ones – we didn’t plan on doing that.

Any hints as to what the new songs will be?

KH: We didn’t want to talk about it until we were sure these songs would work in the set, but I’ll just say that “Haunted When the Minutes Drag” and “Burning Skies” are working out very well.

Otherwise, we’ve pretty much exhausted everything we can reproduce live with Tones on Tail on the last tour – so it’s going to be more Love and Rockets this tour. I think it was rather Tones heavy last year, and now it’ll be more of an even balance.

I love the guys at Part Time Punks and I’m excited to hear the recordings you made with them. It really feels like they’re tapping into the same level of support and enthusiasm that John Peel was back when. I’d love to hear more about the session. 

DA: We originally recorded a couple of nights in LA in the spring, in last April, as a sort of a tester for us. The capacity was 250 people per night and we recorded both gigs. As the tour went on, the original idea was to put these recordings out as a live album, but as the tour progressed through the year, we were playing a lot better as time went on. When we listened back to those tapes in comparison to what we were doing into the middle of the year, and the stuff we were doing later was better in essence. We decided to go into that radio station and recorded a session. It’s all live in the studio. 1-2-3-GO!

KH: I’ve DJed for Nigel before, and we kept in touch. Occasionally we’ve discussed recording a session, so I thought it would have been prudent to do it while we were on tour. The crew would be there and everything would be all set up. I just thought it would be great instead of doing five or six songs, let’s do as many songs as we can in the time we have. It definitely reminded me of those Peel sessions where you only have six or seven hours, but it takes three hours to set everything up – especially now with all the electronic drums and computers and keyboards. So, we ended up with about two hours in the end and I said, “let’s just play as if we were playing live.”

We didn’t get everything, but we got most of the key songs down.

How has social media and streaming helped grow or sustain your music over the years?

KH: Well, I think any form that your music is put out there, it all helps to keep the legacy going and keep you in the public eye. We don’t get paid very much for streaming, it’s true, but there is the plus that your presence on those platforms is important for new generations – it helps reveal you to them.

DA: The bottom line is that it’s the new way of doing things. I sort of reacted against it a few years back – thought it was too many cooks, everybody having a go, too much stuff out there and you tend to disappear, but I’ve changed my mind on it completely. I think it’s a good thing because you can reach so many more people. In the old days, if you didn’t get a record deal, you were done, what were you going to do if you didn’t have a record deal? You’d just be playing at the bar at the end of the road and that was it. Now, kids can get on their iPhone, make a great video, put it on YouTube and it reaches so many people, so I’ve come to the conclusion now that all of those formats are great. I love it. I used to hate it but now I completely see its effect and I see its power and I’m embracing it, just like everything else.

I don’t think any medium is the solution, you know? There’s no one service or one way of doing that covers everybody – but it is incredibly useful when you’re seeking out hard-to-find material or trying to discover things on your own. Much easier than when I was getting into music in a big way, at least…

DA: Yeah, I mean, if you want to discover ANY band if you’ve heard the name, you just go on YouTube and there it is, and it’s great. This is the world we live in – everything is speeding up. It’s sped up SO much. I don’t know where it’s going to end. There IS concern that the generation growing up now – the ten year olds with their iPhones, they walk down the street don’t even look up, even to cross the road, and it’s freaky. I don’t know how it’s going to affect the psyche of these young kids – it’s SO different.

It’s funny me saying this though, because when talking to friends my age, I start laughing because we sound just like our dads and granddads when they were talking about TV or whatever and saying, “when I was a kid I used to be climbing trees and mountains and going for a swim at four in the morning, and now you kids just sit there and watch TV,” and now we’re saying the same thing about the so-called millennials and their iPhones. There are pros and cons to every generation though, it’s just the way it is, so I try to keep an open mind on the whole thing.

I remember when I was getting into your music, how difficult it was to even find a Bauhaus CD, so I’m envious of the way things are now in a way.

DA: We were so left of center, we were so alternative, it was ridiculous. It was an irony there, because me personally, I’m a REAL fan of commercial music- there’s nothing better than a three-and-a-half-minute hit single. I love that stuff, and yet I was in the most alternative band you could get. I wanted Bela to be a big hit, but it ain’t gonna be because it’s nine-and-a-half-minutes long. It’s the weirdest thing, I have huge admiration for anyone who can write a hit single. I think it takes a lot more talent to do that than to make an album of obscure, weird, elitist alternative rock.

Which is funny, because your guitar playing strays from that theory as well – you don’t play any solos, for example, and your playing is much more textural and minimal.

DA: I’m just a ball of contradictions, aren’t I? I give up! I just like, say one thing and then say something else. Someone asked me the other day if I was an introvert or an extrovert and quite honestly, I said BOTH, depending on the time of day…

How would you say your playing has progressed over the years? Each of your styles are both instantly recognizable, and in some cases, change radically from track to track.

KH: Well, I started drumming when I was twelve, and I would just play along to all sorts of different bands’ records and I’d pick up little things by doing that. Then I had drum lessons where I learned a jazz beat, a pop beat, bossa nova – it was bossa nova I used on “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” I’d also play along to Ringo Starr and Faces drummer Kenney Jones – I’d navigate towards simple drummers. When Bauhaus started, the first Banshees drummer Kenny Morris, and Joy Division’s drummer, Stephen Morris, were favorites. They were a big influence on me at the time.

When we’re writing and recording, even if you just listen to another song, it all goes into your brain and it’s filed away and I’ll find things coming out of nowhere. It’s really organic the way it happens. If I set out to do anything, it was to be as innovative and as unique as possible. I always tried to come up with something different to the previous song – I felt contrast was important.

DA: Well, it hasn’t really! I just do the same thing I’ve always done, ha ha! The big change for me, what made me sound totally different from other people – I remember when I was in art school, all the kids wanted to sound like Jimi Hendrix. No way was I going to do that for two reasons: Number 1, he’s already done that and got that sound,  and Number 2, I’m much too lazy to learn to play like that. So I thought I’d go the other way and keep very innocent and not learn many chords and scales and all that, so that hopefully would make my guitar style sound very different. The main thing that changed for me is because I got a hold of an e-bow very early on and that little gizmo in my hand there changed the way I played guitar completely. It opened it up for me to get my own sound. There’s a lot on the records that you think might be a keyboard, but it’s not…

Having played live for so many years, how has the experience changed for you? Do you still get the same thrill? 

KH: Oh, definitely. In fact, I thought that I was done with touring eight years ago, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I’m loving playing drums again. It takes more effort and practice because of my age, which isn’t surprising, but I still enjoy the whole thing. It keeps me fit too, which is great!

Has it gotten easier with all the new technology?

KH: I met with Roland and they gave me a really good deal on a TD-50, which has a lot of built-in sounds, but you can put your own sounds in there. I started triggering samples in the late 80s, because in the studio we’d come up with different snare drum sounds. I really love sampling and triggering all these sounds. It became an important part of the song structure. So I’m still doing that now – I’m using six pads and a trigger on the snare, and that’s basically what I’ve been spending hours on every morning this week before going into rehearsal. I have to go and try to find the samples, and if not, I have to try and re-create them, which is really difficult.

I enjoy it though, it’s a challenge and it’s creative. Live, it makes the songs sound more like the records and there are more of the elements – the cherries on the cake.

What’s your take on the Poptone tour so far, how has the response been?

DA: It’s been a blast, yeah. Touch wood, we rehearsed for eight weeks solid and it paid off. There weren’t any bum gigs, I mean, we were consistent. Hopefully it’s going to be the same this year. It’s a great little unit we’ve got – the crew, the band, we all get on great, it’s like one big happy Partridge Family on the road.

KH: The audiences have been AMAZING, another element of it that I didn’t predict. Especially as our demographic is older now, and as you get older, you tend to want to stay at home, but we’ve been getting a LOT of people to come and see us, and the enthusiasm is really wonderful. I feel very grateful and blessed that we have fans that still want to come and see us and have a good time. It’s such a celebration of the music and it’s a wonderful thing.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this a lot, but I know these things are always fluid – any plans to write or record new material together?

KH: Personally, I’d like to, but Daniel’s kind of hesitant – he sees it purely as a retrospective project. That’s how it started out, and it’s working really well as that. That’s what he wants to do with it, but I keep hope open all the time that maybe he’ll change his mind.

DA: Well, it sounds crazy, but yeah the original idea was to do put this thing together for a limited amount of time and play a LOT of Tones on Tail songs because the demand was there – we’d only done two very small tours in England and one in the US back in the ’80s. We’d done reunions with the other two bands several times, so this time we wanted to just do the Tones stuff. People wanted to hear that, and that’s what we’re doing now.

As far as new stuff, in the time off we had between Christmas and now, I came up with this song called “Alien Love,” which you can check out on my website. It’s a couple of tracks as a download or a limited personalized CD. I put that together on the break just to test myself and see if I could still write stuff basically because it’s been a while. I was satisfied, it was great fun doing it, so please do check it out!

Will Poptone be sticking around for a while?

KH: We have this west coast tour we’re about to go on and we’re also setting up an east coast tour for July. We’ll keep going where the interest is. We went to Mexico this year, and we’d love to go to Europe and South America and wherever else people will invite us.

DA: You know, we really don’t know. We’d like to do Europe, etc., but it’s all down to finances and whether or not we get the right offers in order for us to carry on. We’ll have been through the States twice now, so we can’t really come back and play again for another year or two…so it’s either going to be Europe or festivals.

After July, the whole thing’s up in the air!

 

Check out the Poptone tracklist and tour dates below:


Poptone- Poptone LP/CD
1. Heartbreak Hotel
2. Ok This Is The Pops
3. Mirror People
4. Movement Of Fear
5. Happiness
6. No Big Deal
7. Lions
8. Love Me
9. Performance
10. Christian Says
11. Ball Of Confusion
12. Go!
13. Slice Of Life

Pre-order via Bandcamp | Cleopatra Records

Poptone Tour Dates:
5.10.18 – Solano Beach, CA – Belly Up
5.11.18 – Pomona, CA – The Glass House
5.13.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
5.15.18 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom
5.16.18 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst
5.18.18 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre
5.19.18 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
5.20.18 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre

All photos by Paul Rae.

 



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Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis


We revisit a chat with Bruce Campbell in time for Sunday’s Ash vs Evil Dead finale.

Bruce Campbell is a goddamn legend. He’s conquered the dead, fended off maniacal cops, locked up Billy Drago, lorded over thieves, sailed the East Indies, impersonated Elvis, brought back Ronald Reagan, and slept with Miami cougars on a nightly basis. He’s also directed four films, written three books, officiated multiple weddings, and raised two children. Now, he’s back for the third season of Starz’s Ash vs Evil Dead, reprising his iconic role as Ashley “Ash” Williams, who’s not only a prophesied hero this time around but a totally deadbeat dad. In anticipation of the February 25th premiere, we spoke to Campbell about his salad days in Michigan, how Stephen King saved his ass twice, and the trick to acting on horses. Groovy? See for yourself.

Meeting Sam Raimi

raimi evil dead Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

I had seen him physically in junior high school, in about eighth or ninth grade. He was a year behind me, and I was walking down the hallway and this guy was dressed as Sherlock Holmes. He was sitting on the floor of the hallway — in the middle of the hallway — playing with dolls. I remember very specifically, very vividly, going “Okay, I’m gonna go way around that guy.” It turned out that was Sam.

So, in Wylie E. Gross — I guess in ‘75 — I had typing class. It was the worst class I ever had, but I never even knew I could drop a class. I never even knew where the counselor’s office was. It just never occurred to me. So I went down there and said, “Hey, can I drop this typing class?” They were like “Yeah. Well, what do you have in place of it?” I said “Well, how about this, how about that”, and one of them was radio speech. I said, “Wait – like a DJ who plays music and all that?” They were like, “Yeah.” I went “Ok, sign me up.” So, Sam was in the same class.

We started doing morning announcements together, and then we got in plays together, and we started spending more time together and seeing each other extracurricularly. He did little movies in his neighborhood, I did them in my little neighborhood, and then one other guy … there were about three neighborhoods that made Regular 8 and Super 8 movies. So, we just eventually started to link up.

Making Short Films

Around ‘75, Scott Spiegel, who wound up co-writing Evil Dead 2, was very into the Stooges and he had been making Super-8 movies pretty much since 1969. Scott’s the same age as me, he was around 11. I started doing it in my little neighborhood around ‘71, ‘72. I would do D-Day, Son of Hitler, Day of Violence  they were a bunch of these weird little shorts. I played Hitler and Hitler’s son was still alive lurking around. Scott would do like, Pies and Guys and Inspector Club Saves the Day. Sam was doing stuff like The Great Bogus Monkey Pignut Swindle.

Sam’s were a cross between Monty Python-ish, Groucho Marx-ish… Scott was very Three Stooges. I was a big fan of the Stooges. So we all had our influences. Then, these short films started to get longer or more sophisticated as we met each other. This one guy is like, “I got a better camera than that,” and the other guy is like “Oh, I got a package of lights here.” So, we started working more on each other’s stuff. The weekends were slammed. I never got in any trouble in high school because we were too busy.

Working with St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild of Cranbrook

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 8 45 43 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

Unofficially, I was. I was too young to join. You couldn’t join this local, suburban Detroit theatre group … you couldn’t join until you were 18. But, every summer, they would do this big splashy musical in their outdoor pavilion. It was this beautiful facility formerly owned by the guy who created, The Detroit News. It was his former grounds. So, ‘71 … I think ‘72 … I did The King and I and played the King’s son. Each summer after that I was in South Pacific and Fiorello and played all these different parts.

I was always the guy who was the “servant boy.” I was a newspaper guy, a World War I soldier, that sort of stuff. Then I turned 18, and I could join. My dad had been a member for years, since the ‘60s, so my dad was a formative member there. He directed me in Sweet Bird of Youth. I started to do plays there, and it was a great access to costumes. They had a great collection for this theatre group that had been around for 30 or 40 years.

Keeping Things Professional

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 8 48 17 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

We were serious. There was no one else other than us doing this stuff. We started buying equipment. Some of us would act more than others, some of us would direct more than others, and whoever put up the money was the producer for these things. That’s how that kind of worked. We started to get more and more interested, but more panicked at the same time because we realized “Ah crap, high school’s gonna end. Are we gonna actually have to get a regular job now?” There was that possibility. But then in ‘78, Sam’s brother Ivan — who went to Michigan State — his roommate was Rob Tapert, who became sort of a partner over the years. Rob was the first one. He met Sam through his brother, and Sam was always talking about making movies. He wanted to make a real movie. Rob was the first guy to go, “Well, you need a lawyer.” And we’re like, “A lawyer? What does that mean?” He goes, “Trust me: you need a lawyer.”

Rob had always been a teenager who was always in trouble, so they had a family lawyer. You know, Rob’s father and this guy went to Catholic school together. So this guy Phil Gillis … we went to talk to him and he goes, “Well you wanna drop a limited partnership.” Then, we go “What the hell is that?” You know, it was way before the LLC kind of thing. His point was that you needed a creative structure. If you’re going to go into a businessman’s office to make an appointment to get them to invest in your movie, you had to have a structure, and you had to have a law firm behind it that’s actually a reputable law firm in Detroit. You had to have it all spelled out: How much if I invest 10,000 bucks, what do I get, what’s my percentage, and what position am I in.

So, there is a perception that the first Evil Dead movie is an amateur movie, but that’s actually not the case. Contractually, every “I” was dotted and “T” crossed because we got lucky. We found a lawyer. He got interested in the project so he didn’t charge us for his work, he invested the money that he would have charged us into the movie. Other guys at the law form then became interested and, you know, guys with money go “Hey! What are you doing?” to their buddies. Then the guy goes “Oh, I invested in a movie.” So, we got some investments just because their buddy invested. They were like, “Sounds good! I’m in.”

Studying and Warming Up to Horror

texas poster Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

They still had drive-ins. So, we would go to drive-ins and we went to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which impressed us all very much. The theory was that once the horror started in that movie, it never stopped. That impressed us. But we also saw Revenge of the Cheerleaders and other shitty horror movies. You would see in the lousy parts or bad parts — or if it was bad dialogue or bad acting — that people would turn their headlights on the screen. They’re like, “Fuck you.” They would flash their lights or honk their horn until something better happened. You could tell that they were the barometer for “I’m bored.” What was amazing was that it had a lot of commentary, and we said, “Okay. Let’s not do that. Let’s not be boring, let’s keep these moving.” So, that’s what influenced us if we were going to make a horror film,

And I think to answer your upcoming question, no, I could care less about horror movies. They had no influence in my life whatsoever. I listened to The Carpenters. I didn’t play any of that game, I didn’t have any tattoos. So, there was nothing that influenced me like, “One day my parents took me when I was five to go see The Beast with Five Fingers.” None of that. Whenever I saw horror, I found it incredibly disturbing. I read an article when I was 10 about Night of the Living Dead  this movie that is so disturbing that people are fainting. People are being disemboweled by zombies, unstoppable zombies. I remember reading that and going, “I hope I never see that movie.” It’s like my wife’s point: I’m already a nervous wreck. Why would I watch something that would make me more nervous?

Do you still feel that way now?

No, I respect horror for what it can do. Aside from comedy, it’s one of the few genres that can make some actually have a visceral experience with the movie, like shouting and screaming, talking back to it, or jumping or lurching in their seats. It’s just really one of the few genres that can get you physically agitated.

What scares you in general?

Ignorance. There’s nothing scarier than that.

The Power of Stephen King

evil dead poster Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

He’s responsible for two of The Evil Dead movies, not just one. The second one is much more obscure. He’s obviously quoted for the first Evil Dead, he saw it at Cannes and allowed us to use that quote, which was really cool of him and we’ve been using it ever since. On the second movie, Evil Dead 2, we were having trouble getting financing. We were prepping it and trying to get it going. We had a woman who was kind of like doing scheduling stuff, and we had to let her go. So she was a crew member, and she took off down to North Carolina and started making all these movies.

Dino De Laurentiis is making movies down there. Who does she run into? She gets on the crew of Maximum Overdrive, directed by Stephen King. Stephen was like, “What are you up to?” And she was like, “I just came from working with these guys trying to get money for Evil Dead 2.” He goes, “Evil Dead 2? They can’t get the money for that?” She goes “No.” He calls Dino De Laurentiis and goes, “You should make this movie.” I think we had a deal … we met with Dino and I think we had a deal in about half an hour, and a basic understanding.

Imitating the Late Dino De Laurentiis

dino de laurentiis Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

On The Losers’ Club, our Stephen King podcast, we always joke around that Dino De Laurentiis used to materialize out of the shadows with a cigarette or a cigar, calling out to King. What was he actually like?

He was just like that. He was basically five feet tall. The guy was very very short — very dark, very swarthy. You’d come into his office and he would have a button that would open the door, so the door would open very majestically to a giant desk. He had a thing about lion’s heads. So, there were lion’s heads on the desk, and the desk was enormous. Schwarzenegger got in immediate trouble with him. Schwarzenegger comes in and goes, “Why does such a small man need such a large desk?” Dino goes [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice], “Get that Nazi outta my office!” Their relationship for Conan [The Barbarian] started with that conversation.

But anyway, you go in and you meet with him and he just wants to know [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice] “how much, how long, when you start, when you stop, and who stars in this movie.” We gave him the basic information, but when he saw the foreign sales figures for the first Evil Dead that sealed the deal. He knew foreign, you know. Some producers … they know America. This guy knew everything but America.

This guy … he bought movies and packaged them everywhere else but America. His version of editing … like Army of Darkness. We would bring it into his office and off to one side of his office was an editing bay. This was the whole flatbed, so you’d put the reel of film on the side and you’d run it through. For any part he didn’t like, he would put his hand over the screen and just go [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice] “Out! Out!” Then it would cut to something else and he’d go [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice] “Come back here.” It was like that trying to interpret it. He still didn’t have full grasp of the English language.

Dino was all business. He had a guy named Josh that worked with him for, I don’t know, 20 years? They’d fly together constantly — long flights all the time overseas. Dino would do no small talk. One day, 15 years into the relationship, he looks over while they’re on a flight and goes [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice], “Hey Josh.” He goes, “Yeah, Dino?” “Where were you born?” He says, “Uh, Brooklyn.” Dino goes, “Agh.” And that was it. That was the extent of their private conversation. He loved business and started a brand new young family. He lived the classic over-the-top lifestyle. He really did. He was just a big, big character and a little, little guy.

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 9 12 33 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

We like to imagine that he’d randomly call up Stephen King and be like, “Stephen, what do you have for me?”

He went to call our offices in Ferndale, Michigan. Someone had given him our number. He dared to like dial the actual phone himself and on the message machine was this: “Hello, thank you for calling Renaissance Pictures. We’ve moved our offices. Our new number is 313-547-6262.” He goes [imitates De Laurentiis’ voice],  “Hey hey,” now he’s yelling at someone from across the office, “they got another number.” Then, the machine cuts him off. It completely flummoxed him that he had to write another number down to call us. So we didn’t get called right away, it was the next day — like he had to give the number to someone else. So, yeah, that was Dino. We did two movies with him: Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness.

The Art of Acting on Horses

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 9 31 18 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

The first horse stuff was Army of Darkness. I learned how to ride a horse, but did not learn to ride it well. I benefited from the fact that a cape behind me disguised what cowboys call “the ass saddle battle” from slamming on the saddle because you’re not really fitting the horse right. You know, normally you’re kind of one with the horses as you go across the countryside. I struggled through Army of Darkness with the horse. There was not a lot of training involved. It was about a “C-” riding effort on my part.

But! A couple years later, you know, Army of Darkness was ‘91. In ‘93 comes The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. That’s a different ball game. He’s a cowboy, so I thought that there’s no way I’m not training for this. The producers were very good about it. So, me and the wrangler — the actual guy with the actual set of horses … you never just have one horse. You have, like, four horses for your one horse. We would train for 30 days in this guy’s ring, and that’s how you do it. The guy, he just ran me through every fundamental. He goes, “Okay! I want you to sit on the horse now for half an hour.”

brisco Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De LaurentiisAnd if the horse takes one step forward, you go, “I didn’t tell you to step forward” and you correct it, you take it one step back. This thing gets bored, starts looking around, and steps to the side. You go, “I didn’t tell you to go to the side,” and correct it back. You have to let it know that you are the pilot. Otherwise, the horse will take complete advantage of you. Like, I’d be on the horse and the horse is acting all crappy, and I’d go “Gordon, this horse is being shitty.” So he goes, “Alright, get off and let me check. I get off, and the second he sits on the horse, the horse freezes. He looks at me and goes, “Yeah. I guess it’s the horse.”

This guy was the most sarcastic son of a bitch. Gordon Spencer, he was great. He goes, “Crew members don’t give a shit about her horse. So that boom guy is going to shove the boom right by you, and the horse is going to see it out of the side of its eye, and it’s gonna freak out. We’re gonna get that horse, your main horse, used to things being shoved in its face. All day long.” He goes, “Your job is just to sit on the horse.” He takes a 4×4 piece of box cart — you know, the big bright white stuff. It’s just a big piece of styrofoam. They used it to bounce light. It was a big, bright, shiny piece of white styrofoam. So, he would just stand there with it, and I would sit there on the horse and we would wait and wait. Then out of nowhere he would just shove that thing in the horse’s face. Then, I would get control over it again, and we’d wait, and wait. Then, he’d shove it in the thing’s face again. We would do this for, I don’t know, half an hour.

After a couple of days, the horse would go, “Oh, oh, it’s just that thing.” Then he started with the noise. Here’s the tough thing: An ex-Marine takes a string of cans and puts it all over him — like the Tin Man! He’s running in circles around the horse making random, loud noises. The horse is flinching, you know, and he goes, “Don’t get off. Relax.” If I would relax, 9/10 times the horse would relax. So, you know, we just did that with every gunshot. She shoved big wads of cotton in the horse’s ears, and they have different loads for your fake guns. They have a quarter load, half load, and full load. If you wanted a big flameout at the end, you would do a full load. The noise would get louder with each one. We had those, and he would sit next to the horse, again, and you’d wait and wait. Then, randomly, boom! Right next to the horse, and I’m on it the whole time.

bruce horse Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

The horse just got used to noise, guns, things in its face … and by the time we would shoot, we did it, man. We did some stuff with that horse… I went back and was like “Damn, that was good.” The wrangler also did this: he taught us how to shoot the horses. It’s one thing to train them. So the director goes like this: “Okay guys. You’re gonna say goodbye to the girl, you’re gonna get on the horse, you’re gonna rear, and then you’re gonna ride out of town.” We’re like “Okay, that’s three different horses. And, like, four different angles.” He looks at you like, “What? Is he telling me how to shoot this?” And we’re like, “Yeah. Oh yeah. We’re telling you how you’re gonna shoot this.”

‘Cause the dialogue is on my main horse, Copper — and that horse is an old horse and doesn’t wanna go anywhere — that’s the dialogue horse. So, you do all your dialogue with that horse. Then, you fake like you’re gonna start your rear, swap it out with a horse called Ace, and all that horse does is rear. You give it leg cues on either side of its chest, and it’ll pop right up in the air. But you don’t want to use that horse normally, in a dialogue scene, because what if you gave it a leg cue inadvertently? The thing would pop right up and knock you off the horse — or knock you out. So the second shot is with Ace, that horse. Then the third shot, the wide shot, is with a horse that has a nice lope to it.


bruce brisco Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

It’s, you know, three to four different horses for all this stuff — and the director’s faces would just fall. They always had it in their head about how they could shoot this seamless shot, and we’re like “Bullshit man, you got three horses. Here’s how it’s gonna go down.” In between each take, if you wanted a second take after the first take, the horse knows that it’s gonna ride outta town. The second you start to swing up on that horse, it’s ready to run. So between take one and take two, you jog it in a circle. Now the horse goes, “Well shit. Are we racing out of town? Or are we going to jog in a circle?” Then in take two, when you race out of town, the horse is like, “Aw, you fooled me!” Then, literally, if they want a take three, you now have to jog it in the opposite direction for a few minutes. So, now, it goes, “Am I going that way, that way, or around in circles?” You’re messing with the horse all day long.

I have great respect for the fact that we actually did it right. I’ve been on other stuff where they have horses since then, and nobody takes the time to do what we did. It’s so cool if you take the time. You can really do some great stuff. So, yeah, the horse stuff got better. It finally got to where it had to get — and now I’m good! If I never get on a horse to wreck my knees, or get thrown off, or get stepped on … that’s fine. I won’t miss ‘em. They’re a lot of work, horses, a lot of work.

Is that why Ash vs Evil Dead hasn’t gone back to medieval times yet?

There’s a myriad of reasons for that. That’s just one of ‘em.

Loving Motown, Ignoring Punk

I’m a Motown guy. I like classic rock. Gimme Bob Seger, gimme Creedence Clearwater. So, Ash and I sync up to some degree. I’m not as hard as Ash. Ash will go harder rock than I will. I didn’t do a lot of AC/DC, that stuff is just too much. I was too much for me.

Did you ever get into the Detroit punk scene growing up? Like The Stooges or MC5?

Nope, nope. I am, uh, musically illiterate. We were making Super 8 movies, man, while everyone else was going to Grateful Dead concerts.

The Future of Ash vs Evil Dead

 Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

It’s too early to tell who’s coming back only because we don’t even know if we’re coming back. So, mid-March is when we’re gonna get the sign; either see you later alligator, or pack your bags: we’re going for another season. So, we’ll see. Our inclination is to start fresh. We had some big changes at the end of the season which are great, it’s a cool end of the season. But the way that we went, it probably requires, you know, a little bit of shuffling if we were to continue.

If this is it, what would you say is your favorite hero moment from Ash?

Episode 10.

Of this new one?

Yeah. The big payoff. It’s everything we’ve built up to. Hopefully the audience will go, “Fuckin’ A-right, Ash. Fuckin’ A-right.” You know? Ash is gonna prove his stuff, man. This is it. This is the final showdown.

Well the first five episodes are great, and I can’t wait to see how the next five go.

Nine and 10 are awesome.

Does Sam Raimi come back for any of them?

No. He’s a busy boy.

Well, you are too. Good luck with everything.

Alright, thank you.

Ash vs Evil Dead premieres on Sunday, February 25th via Starz. Read our review.



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Broken Lizard Explains Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2


Photography by Heather Kaplan

With Super Troopers 2, the guys in Broken Lizard hope to achieve among the rarest of cinematic feats: making a comedy sequel worth seeing.

Seventeen years after the prank-happy patrolmen made their debut, Officer Farva and crew are back. Despite the success of the first Super Troopers and a cult fan base that only grew with the subsequent releases of Club Dread in 2004 and Beerfest in 2006, the Broken Lizard squad found themselves turning to the public for help to raise funds for their latest endeavor.

The group’s Indiegogo campaign was a record-breaking success, ultimately raising $4.6 million. Now, fans will finally reap the rewards of their generosity with a new Super Troopers that features bloodthirsty bears, the consumption of unlabeled narcotics, and hot officer-on-officer action. Master curmudgeon Brian Cox is back while the forever-handsome Rob Lowe (as the mayour) and MadTV alum Will Sasso (as one of three disgruntled Canadian Mounties) join the cast for a story that finds the onetime Vermont State Troopers tasked with overseeing a seemingly sleepy Canadian town now inexplicably under US jurisdiction.

Sitting down to chat about Super Troopers 2 with Broken Lizard members Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, and Steve Lemme is like being granted a temporary pass into their world of inside jokes, gleeful insults, and easy banter. The five core members of Broken Lizard have been together since their fraternity days at Colegate University, and their familiarity with one another is a joy to behold.

It also explains why they’re willing to let themselves be doused with powdered sugar while fully nude on camera, do more takes than necessary for difficult scenes when director Chandrasekhar demands it, and ultimately deliver a film as irreverent as its predecessor. Over the course of an early morning conversation in San Francisco, following a backer’s sneak preview the night before, three of Broken Lizard’s five members touched on their favorite moments from set, the origins of an ongoing macho contest, and writing checks to Danny DeVito.

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On Writing 35 Drafts of Super Troopers 2

cos super troopers 2 kaplan 17 kevin Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Heffernan: I think just because the movie took so long to happen that we just kept writing drafts. I think the first draft was probably six or seven years ago, and then every time we got life again, we’d do another series of drafts and put new jokes in. We like to try and layer as many jokes as we can, but it’s also just a function of how long it took to get the movie made.

Lemme: It was the same for the first Super Troopers. It was five years between our first film, Puddle Cruiser, and Super Troopers getting completed. Even if you have one draft and get three new jokes or five new jokes, that’s still three or five new jokes in the movie.

Heffernan: It is a testament to how many times it was jump-started. Even with the first movie, there were so many times where we thought we were going to make it, and then the financing fell through.

Chandrasekhar: Also each time you write a new draft, you’re like, “Thank God we wrote this draft, because the movie wasn’t actually good until we wrote this draft.” You feel that every time, like, “Now we have a good movie!”

Heffernan: And then you write another five drafts.

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On Researching Canada for Super Troopers 2

cos super troopers 2 kaplan 8 steve Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Lemme: [Laughing] Yeah. We did a lot of recon.

Chandrasekhar: I’ve shot a lot in Canada. I’ve shot a lot of television in Vancouver and in Montreal.

Heffernan: We’ve done a lot of stand-up shows there. We go there a lot.

Lemme: Also, the original idea came from back when we made our first movie. We went up to a buddy’s house and he lived right on the border of Vermont and Canada, and we spent some time there. That’s where the very first little cracklings of an idea about this area of the country came together. It’s absurd: you can cross over the border — you’re literally five minutes away from the United States — and there are these French-speaking people who will not speak English to you. They’re business owners, and you’ll say, “Can I get some Poutine?” They’ll go [in a French accent], “I do not speak English.” I’m like, “You’re such a dick.”

Chandrasekhar: You don’t even know what the French is for “I don’t speak English?”

Lemme: Je ne parle pas anglais.

Heffernan: I think one of our intentions, though — because we cast a lot of Canadians in the movie — was to have it be a give and take. The Canadians give the Americans as much shit as the Americans give the Canadians in this movie.

Lemme: We are the ugly Americans in this movie. We’re driving over the border and we’re just disparaging the Canadians, but that works because it’s going to come back and bite us in the ass. It’s like Red Dawn. We’re an occupying force coming in and taking your land.

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On Farva and Mac passionately kissing

cos super troopers 2 kaplan 21 Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Heffernan: There was a huge buildup to that day. It was one of those things where you write an idea, and then all of a sudden you realize you have to accomplish it. You realize you have to suck face with Steve Lemme.

Lemme: That’s the thing. You get the shooting schedule, and it’s like a 30-page packet. It’s the breakdown of each day. The first thing you do is [mimes looking at a schedule] … “Alright, let me just find when this one’s going down.” You circle it and you’re like, “Ok, it’s three weeks in. I have to look at this guy for three weeks knowing that one day I’m going to kiss that mustache.”

Heffernan: Not even that — put your whole mouth on my mustache.

Lemme: You can see it in the bloopers. We’re not even pussyfooting around it. He’s like [points to Chandrasekhar]: “We need those cheeks to puff out.” So now we’re talking about a number of takes, and then that day it started raining. That’s when the lines get blurred.

Heffernan: Stuff got tender.

Chandrasekhar: As they know, I’m going to do way more takes than I need. They know that going in.

Lemme: Empirically, we know that. In Beerfest, I did a strikeout, which is a bong hit, and then you do a shot, chug a beer, and blow the smoke out. I wanted to do it for real, you know, because it was going to be on film.

Heffernan: And you’re a method actor.

Lemme: It was method, right. De Niro would do it, so I’m going to do it, right? So the take we use in the movie is actually the first take, but these guys made me do it like five times, and I was pretty fucked up.

Chandrasekhar: If you’re going to say you want to do it for real, you know we’re going to have to do more takes than we need.

Heffernan: Then we wrapped that day and everyone was like, “Where’s Lemme?” We found him wandering around in the parking lot.

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How an Argument About Danny DeVito Made It into the Film

cos super troopers 2 kaplan 5 jay Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Chandrasekhar: What really happened is Danny DeVito was one of the executive producers of the first film. Basically, his name was put on it. Jersey Films was the producer, and there are three producers in Jersey Films. Danny DeVito is one of them. So I ran into Danny DeVito. I met him for the first time at a Director’s Guild dinner. I went up to him, because I write him checks. I write him checks all the time, and he should know who we are.

I went up to him and said, “Hey, Danny. I’m Jay Chandrasekhar. I directed Super Troopers.” He goes, “I’m involved in that movie!” I said, “I write you checks.” He goes, “I cash those checks.” That was two or three years ago. So I told everybody that story, and we started riffing on the idea that with the Mounties, one of them might not know who Danny DeVito was. We’re joking, we’re laughing, and then we put it in the movie. It’s an example of what our process is. We’re just hanging out all the time and we have all of these personal jokes, and once we get a good one, we try to figure out a way to make it work for our film.

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On Working with Brian Cox

troopers 2 Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Chandrasekhar: Brian Cox comes in and he perceives the way we insult each other as the way to behave. So he comes in firing away. He’s just insulting me the whole time, and probably these guys, too. I know when I interact with Brian, that he’s cracking jokes at my expensive.

Lemme: When you’re not around, though, he’s just badmouthing you the whole time. I don’t think he understands that we’re all friends from college, so when he’s talking shit about you, that I’m like, “I’m going to tell him.”

Chandrasekhar: To some degree, in a classroom, it’s always the kids against the teacher. On a movie set, it’s often the actors against the director. Brian embraces that wholeheartedly.

Lemme: It’s funny, though. He is totally game when he comes in. On day one, he’s game for everything. Then, after spending a couple of days with us, you can see it begin to wear off. His enthusiasm begins to wear off because we’re putting him through the ringer. His body starts to rebel. He popped a blood vessel in his eye. He was generally crusty.

Heffernan: But when it’s all said and done, he’s so happy about it.

Chandrasekhar: When the movie comes out, it’s a little bittersweet for him, because he gets approached more for our movie than for his very fine artistic work.

Lemme: He’s the best actor in the world.

Hefferan: Way better than any of us!

Lemme: Combined.

Chandrasekhar: He and Rob Lowe are better than we are.

Lemme: Truthfully, everybody we ever bring in — all the outsiders — they’re all better than us, but that’s because they are people who rose the organic way. They are capable of beating everybody else out in auditions, and they get a lot of work because they’re so good.

Chandrasekhar: Right. We just write our own scripts and cast ourselves, and then we’re like, “We’re in this movie!”

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On What Mac Sees After Taking Confiscated LSD

cos super troopers 2 kaplan 11 steve jay Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Lemme: The funny thing is that the thing that I do see when I look over at all of these guys and they’re not police officers is something that we had been talking about for years.

Heffernan: That may have been in the first draft of the script.

Lemme: It may have been.

Chandrasekhar: We always wanted to dress up.

Lemme: We had always wanted to use those particular costumes. That was another date that we had circled on the shooting schedule

Chandrasekhar: That joke has been in a number of different movie scripts, but never made it. We finally were able to figure out how to do it.

Lemme: Although it was devastating for me, because in the scene it’s my POV. I remember on that day, these guys were all in that makeup, and I was sad that I wasn’t in it. They told me not to worry about it, and then we took the group photo with of all of us.

Heffernan: He was Plain Jane over there.

Lemme: They’re like, “Steve, can you step out for one second?”

Heffernan: That was Brian Cox’s favorite day. I swear to God.

Lemme: It was the only time his family came to watch him during the shoot.

Heffernan: His family came and he was so happy and excited. People will see what we mean.

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On the Macho Contest Between Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske

cos super troopers 2 kaplan 26 erik Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Chandrasekhar: [Fellow Broken Lizard member] Erik Stolhanske is from Minneapolis. So when I was 19, we were all in a fraternity together. I was going to build sets for the day on a Saturday morning. As I’m going out to build the sets, our rush chairman is like, “Hey, there’s this guy Erik Stolhanske. He’s from Minnesota. He’s pretty cool.  Get to know him.” I’m like, “I’m not going to get to know him. I’m not going to rush him. I’m not going to do anything like that.”

I get there and I’m building sets, and Erik Stolhanske walks up to me because he knows I’m in this fraternity that he wants to get into. He goes, “Hey, I’m Erik. I’m from Minneapolis.” I’m like, “Ok, sit down. I’m Jay. I’m from Chicago.” We quickly started making fun of each other for who had a tougher city: Chicago or Minneapolis. We’re going at it, and he’s talking about Prince and I’m talking about the blues. I’m talking about the Bears and he’s talking about the Vikings. He’s like, “Oh yeah? You’re such a tough guy?” We’re hammering, right? He takes the hammer, and he goes, “Can you do this?” and he pops himself on the ankle really hard.

He goes, “AHHHHH,” and he’s rolling around. I’m like, “What the hell is this about?” But I’m not going to be showed up by this little Minneapolis punk, so I take the hammer and pop! I hit myself. Not as hard. He’s like, “Ok, you want to do this? Let’s do this.” He runs at the wall very fast and kicks it as hard as he possibly can and falls over. I’m like, “What the fuck is going on?” So I do the same thing — again, not as hard. Then he picks up a power staple gun and puts it on his calf, and he blows a staple into his calf and falls over.

He’s rolling around screaming. I go and I look at it, and you can see that it’s into the flesh of his leg. I’m like, “Oh, my god.” I decide I’m going to cheat a little and do it in my thigh. I’m pressing it against my thigh. I ask him if it hurts, and he goes, “It’s pretty bad!” I’m pressing it there, and he then finally goes, “No, no, no, I have a fake leg!”

I thought, “This guy is getting into the fraternity.”

cos super troopers 2 kaplan 4 jay1 Dont Blame Canada: Broken Lizard Explain Why They Wrote 35 Drafts for Super Troopers 2

Hefferan: And he does. He has a prosthetic leg. He’s played a lot of pranks on people.

Chandrasekhar: That was the beginning of our macho contest, which continues to this day.

Lemme: Stolhanske loved that leg bit. At our fraternity house, a guy came and saw him. Stolhanske had a towel around his waist, so only his foot was showing, and it was just slightly off-color. The guy was like, “Is something wrong with your foot?” Stolhanske just turned and barefoot kicked a porcelain wall and this dude — he was one of the more sensitive guys in our frat, was in the men’s singing group — he just vomited.





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Creed Bratton on the Future of Rock ‘n’ Roll and The Office


There’s more to Creed Bratton than strangler jokes. Admittedly, it’s hard to separate the man from the myth — or rather, Creed Bratton in real life versus Creed Bratton on NBC’s The Office — but we’d be remiss to not mention, you know, the hundreds of other credits to his name. Like, for instance, did you know he’s been playing music for over 50 years?

A former member of The Grass Roots, Bratton has had an incredible history in the music industry, having worked with The Wrecking Crew and performed at iconic events such as the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival and the San Francisco Pop Festival. Since leaving the outfit in the late ’60s, he’s never stopped writing music.

Creed Bratton - While the Young Punks Dance

He also gets around. Name a country or toss out a city name and odds are he’s been there. He’s a globetrotter, a cosmopolitan, who has too many stories to tell, which is likely why he keeps writing songs. His latest album, While the Young Punks Dance, is his seventh solo record to date, and finds Bratton under the guidance of producer Dave Way and Dillon O’Brian.

In support of the album, which is now available, Bratton spoke to Consequence of Sound about a range of oddities. From his admiration for The Clash to his favorite far-reaching locales to his time working on The Office, Bratton was quite candid with Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman, and he even managed to pull the rug from underneath him.

Your entire life has involved music. When I saw the title of your new album, While the Young Punks Dance, I wondered if you got to experience the earliest punk movements in the ’60s and ’70s.

All my parents and grandparents all played music. My grandparents on my mother’s side had a semi-professional band. I played through college and had started making money at 17. I played trumpet for years and years. I don’t know if you knew that, but I was first chair from my freshman year on on classical trumpet. And I could play piano by ear at 14 or 15, not that I’m a really great piano player; I write a little by it now, but mostly guitar.

To answer your question, I had a friend named David Jove, and he had a thing called New Wave Theatre at the period of time I was starting to listen to the punk. And I knew it was very simplistic, but there was something about that raw energy … I loved The Clash. Yeah, of course. And there’s a song I tried on The 80’s called “Hostile Gospel” that is my punk homage, and in it there’s a line at the end that goes, “All you punks are dead … Nuke the punks.” But it’s actually a cool track.

Did you ever get to see The Clash live?

No, no, but my friend Azazel Jacobs, who directed me in Terri, he’s a huge Clash fan. He rekindled my love for that band over just the last few years. I just realized how much I really dug those guys, you know?

Where does the title While the Young Punks Dance come from?

It’s a line … And actually by my producer, Dave Way, the multi-Grammy Award-winning Dave Way. We had recorded six songs, maybe five songs, and then we were going to put on “All the Faces”, the song I did for the finale of The Office. All the songs fit into that genre, that style of me just playing my acoustic guitar and singing. Doing it the old-fashioned way, just standing in front of a mic with a guitar and doing it all at the same time and not on different tracks. And then some friends of mine came in and did a little sweetening over it.

One of my songs, “Boxer in a Club”, there’s a line that says, “While all the young punks dance.” It’s actually a song about a dealer I knew back in my LA days, back in my crazy, crazy days, who died a while back. And when I sung the song at my shows, people started laughing thinking it’s one of my funny bits, and I’m thinking, “No, no, it’s not.” There’s a line from the movie Lonesome Dove: “Even whores have hearts.” And it’s true. Drug dealers, too. He was a good guy. That was just his job. Nobody thought he was a bad person. He just fulfilled a part of society … which made America great. But he passed on, and I was moved by the man and what he had to go through, so I wrote this song called “Boxer in a Club”. So that’s where that title’s from.

You’ve always been quite the traveler. Have there ever been places over the years you felt spiritually connected to and maybe wanted to stay there?

Just a few months ago, I flew over Romania to do this thing called The Sisters Brothers, this western noire outside of Bucharest. I went to visit some friends in Switzerland, and I went to Paris to hang out for a bit. I’d been to Paris a few times before, but this time I just walked around those streets and sat in those cafes, and the city was just saying, “You know, you could just come here for a while and be very comfortable.” I used to feel the same way about London, but this time Paris was really calling to me.

I love being at Lake Tahoe. I feel there’s a great energy there. People keep telling me I need to go to Santa Fe, those desert mountains. I’m actually going to Joshua Tree this weekend, driving out, to find a place to meditate. I’m kinda looking for a cabin to rent and write at.

Do you prefer more rustic places?

Yeah, I love cool cities, and I’m generally there when I’m working. But, for myself, I’m from the mountains, that bucolic upbringing in a small town near Yosemite. I like being around water, and I’d be very happy just running around in my boots and going fishing. I go fishing a lot. I’ve been to Alaska about three times. I went up there with my son recently. I go trout fishing a lot. So, I do like getting up by myself in the wilderness. It recharges me. And as a writer, as a songwriter, and as an actor, you don’t have to be working all the time. You’re getting a lot of great work done when you’re just out there in nature recharging. It’s important. People think you need to be working all the time. No, you really need to get away and recharge your batteries. It’s important.

Rock and roll was king when you started out. Now, a lot of people claim it’s dying out. What’s your take on the state of rock and roll?

Well, when I started out as a young child … As I said, I was playing trumpet already, and then my grandfather taught me some chords on guitar as a young kid. I had a little crystal set [radio receiver] in my room, and sometimes, if the climate was right, on some days you could get KFWB. B. Mitchel Reed from Los Angeles would come bouncing over the hills there from LA. And I started hearing Fats Domino and Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Everly Brothers. One time somebody played Link Wray’s “Rumble”, and that guitar came over [mimics chord sound], and that was it. I was hooked. I got my Silvertone guitar.

There’s something about music. Music has saved me. There have been times when I was emotionally distraught, broken up with girlfriends and thought my life was over. And then I’d hear one song and have my fist pounding on the dashboard, and I’d get all excited. That was my passion. There’s something about a great rock and roll song, whether it’s the Stones or The Kinks or Arc Angels or somebody, to me, who just got it and are connected to the fiber of rock. It’s always going to be there. And sure, other stuff can come in. I used to like country, but I just gotta be very honest. I think what’s going on in country now is just rehashed, anemic rock riffs. I can’t say anything about rap because it’s not that I like it or dislike it. I’m just ignorant of the genre. I can understand the political significance of it, but it’s past me. It came up too fast.

But I don’t think you’re ever going to get away from a really interesting melody and a great four on the floor, lean on the one, as part of human nature. I don’t think that sort of thing can go away. I hope not. As soon as I get back from my March tour, then I’ll go back in the studio and start my eighth album. And I’m going to go in with a couple of friends of mine that I’ve met through Dave and people on my own, and we’re going to put together a nice, little, raw, raw … I don’t know how I say it. Who’s doing stuff like that? Jack White, you know. Kind of that Austin thing. I heard some young bands there, and I can get really excited over hearing a clean, little combo. It gets me turned on. It makes me think there’s hope for rock and roll. Boy, I sure hope so. I do love it so.

You took about three decades off from releasing music while you pursued acting. Were you writing and playing music during this time?

Sure, absolutely. I was always playing. Those records you hear that came out — The 80’s, Creed Bratton, Chasin’ the Ball, those first few albums that came out that I worked on with Henry Lewy, Joni Mitchell’s producer. I had several bands. Nobody heard about it. I wasn’t out promoting, but I was still playing local clubs and recording, but I had to make a living. And I couldn’t make a living by music. Now, I can … Thank god for The Office. It put me back in the public eye. But all that time I was working in film to stay alive, and then 25 or 30 years later The Office comes along, and it’s this whole new paradigm shift, isn’t it?

Obviously, you’re Creed Bratton, and the name of your character in The Office is also Creed Bratton. Are there similarities between the two? How much of you went into that character? Did you have any input on where the character would go, because it got really dark.

[Laughs] …which I loved. In a nutshell, I was working on the show Bernie Mac, and the director Ken Kwapis directed an episode, and he was a big Grass Roots fan, and we started talking. And I found out that he was going on to do The Office. Now, I was a big fan of the Ricky Gervais show. So, I lobbied through Ken to get on that show. I wanted to find a way to work on the show because my gut said, “Do it, do it, do it. Take a chance.” I left Bernie Mac just to go and sit at a desk. But they liked me and told me they’d try to work me into the mix. Well, right away I went out and shot an hour’s worth of stuff based loosely on what I thought Creed would’ve done if he had continued on doing drugs, and it got really insane. So, I basically really amped up. I’m a lot calmer in real life, a lot more thoughtful.

So, they took the character that I’d given them and gave me a shot at the Halloween episode with Steve Carell. We did six pages of dialogue in one day. And that was it. I pulled it off, luckily, and got on the show. And every once in a while, they’d let me do music on the show. You saw on the show that I had a guitar at my desk behind my character. Only in deleted scenes would you see me playing with a band or talking about The Grass Roots days until the finale where it came out in prime time that I was actually in that band. But all that time, it was part of the B story. They were going to do it a lot, but it just didn’t seem to work out. But it worked out great in the long run, of course. It kept that mystique going.

So, you were able to embellish the character, too.

Once I gave them what I had and they knew I could do the stuff, they took it from there. I don’t know if I would’ve come upon that I was killing people and sticking them in the trunk of my car, but the stuff that they came up with was so funny. I laughed as hard as anybody at the table reads. I just loved the writers so much.

They were such great jokes. One of my favorite bits was when you walked in while they were acting out the murder mystery, and you just walk right back out the door.

I was doing a radio interview, and they referred to my character as “The Sniper.” I said, “What?” It’s a radio term for someone who comes in and goes zap, bam, and kills with one shot. And I said, “Yeah, that’s kinda like the Creed character.” He gets one good shot. It’s liable that it’s the writing. It’s not like they’re playing hardball. They throw me this beach ball, and I got a bat to knock this thing out of the park. It’s pretty easy if you had writers like you had on The Office.

And the show gets so crazy in the later seasons that it really feeds into the Creed mythos. 

Oh, yeah. I had some fun stuff toward the end.

Do you ever get bothered by, even as a performer onstage, fans wanting to see the other Creed when they come out to see you?

No, no, no. I know there are some people who think that actors who come on to talk about music when others want to talk about the movie they did get all miffed out. Nuh-huh. Nuh-huh. Boy, I wouldn’t be getting to sing my songs for people now if it wasn’t for that show. So, I am very, very indebted and thankful for Greg Daniels and all those people, Ken Kwapis, for giving me that break. And I tell people right away, “I’ll do some funny stuff. I’ll talk about The Office in between because I know that’s why you’re here, but some of these songs are going to be downers.” I’m a far more serious person than that character would ever lead you to believe I would be. But you’ll hear that in this album. This is definitely the closest to who I am — these songs. I’m really proud of this album.

How did you come to sing “All the Faces” in the show’s finale?

PA comes to my trailer and says that Greg Daniels wants to talk with me. He’s back for the last season because he left to do Parks and Recreation. He talked to all the cast and asked their input on how they thought their characters should leave the show. And I thought, “Wow, this is amazing.” It’s not the typical show where they tell you to stand over there and do what they say. So, I told them that I had written a song and wrote it right after I left The Grass Roots; I was sitting there in front of the fire, and my wife was getting my dinner ready, and I was playing guitar, and my baby was in her bassinet. And I heard my wife say, “That’s a beautiful song. Who wrote it?” And I said, “I think I just did.” So, I told them the story, sang the song for him, and saw that he enjoyed it.

A couple months later, we were sitting at the table read. He had asked me how I thought the song should work, and I had told him that I thought it should be at Poor Richard’s bar on a small stage setup with maybe a couple people, and everyone walks in from the show to get a drink, and we see their faces while I’m singing this song. So, then, at the table read the script says, “Creed sings his song ‘All the Faces’.” I have to tell you I was moved. I got emotional. What a gift to give me. And, by the way, when I play that song, you can hear a pin drop. And people get very, very personal with it. And that always moves them and moves me. I still get that reaction to that song. It really hit a heart string, didn’t it?

It was overwhelming to think everything had finally come to an end.

Or did it? [Laughs] I think they should probably let it go, but, of course, if they asked me to go back and work with those people again … come on! I loved my time there. I would definitely do it. It would be so much fun.

Have you heard anything about the reboot?

So far nobody has talked to any of the actors yet. Greg sent me an email because I inquired, but they’re still just talking about it. I don’t know what to say other than I don’t know.

Well, we know that Creed got picked up by the authorities in the end. What do you think he’s been doing for the last five years? Where would you take the character at this point?

I think he’d right away get out of jail and be out in Wilkes-Barre, and Wilkes-Barre calls back to the Scranton jail and says, “We got him here.” And the Scranton jail says, “We don’t want him.” And I just con my way out of it, you know. I’d probably end up running arms, selling munitions to both sides of a war — something like that, blatantly out in front of everybody. Or developing a new designer drug. Just scammin’. And then he’d have to run from that, so he’d go back and hide at The Office again … under an assumed name.

Who do you think would be the ideal boss this time around?

Oh, come on. It’s gotta be Steve Carell, but he won’t do it. His career is going too well. It was hard. We had some amazing people: Idris Elba, James Spader, Kathy Bates. But, still, as good as all those people are in their own way, that Michael Scott character, man, you can’t beat him. That was the synergy, the glue that kept all that stuff together. And it was still funny because we had some great actors: John [Krasinski] and Jenna [Fisher] and Rainn [Wilson] and Ed [Helms]. My god, what a cast we had.

Do you stay in touch with anyone?

Well, everyone’s off doing stuff. For a while, Ed and I would get together and play music. He played on my Bounce Back album on two tracks. I see Rainn. I get together with Rainn. I just did a charity show. They had asked me to play a show in LA, which I hardly do, but I thought it was a good chance to do something for Rainn’s LIDÈ Haiti Foundation; they help young women in Haiti to get on their feet. So, I called him and said I got a chance to do the show. Why don’t we do it and donate it all to charity? I’ll do my show, and you guys can come in and do some stuff with me. So Angela, Kate, Craig Robinson, and Rainn all showed up. Rainn was the MC, and he and I did The Office theme. He played drums, and I played guitar a la The White Stripes.

I was playing this one song, “Rubber Tree”, and I hear this “peep peep.” I turn around and people are laughing, and Angela Kinsey is sitting behind me with this little Leprechaun-y smile on her face, just hitting this one off-note and grinning at me. It was so good. Nobody told her to do that. I started laughing. I could barely get through the song. She’s still a scene-stealer. Probably getting even.

Your new film, The Sisters Brothers, is a western and different from something like The Office. What about it appealed to you?

It’s not a very big part, by the way. Just two scenes — one with Joaquin Phoenix and one with John C. Reilly. But the reason I did it was because I worked on this movie that went to Sundance a few years ago, and it was called Terri … with John C. Reilly and Jacob Wysocki. And my friend Azazel Jacobs directed it. Patrick Dewitt, another friend of mine, who wrote Terri, he had written this book, which he gave me, The Sisters Brothers, and I read it. The character in there, this prospector, when the two Sisters brothers come to his camp, he makes them coffee, but he makes it out of dirt. He’s crazy, a lunatic.

So, I called up John and Allison, his wife and producer, and said if you make the movie, I need to play this character. So, years later, when it got made, I got a-hold of them again, and they said they weren’t going to do that character, but there were a couple others. So, I caught up with the casting director, Mathilde Snodgrass, in Paris, and she gave me the two other characters. And the director, Jacques Audiard, liked what I did, and he eventually found something for me to do. And by that time, I’d spent so much time invested in this project that, no matter what it was, I was going to fly over there. And I used it as an excuse to take a month vacation and run around Europe.

But doing a western with the gun and the boots and the whole thing … and I was out in this city in the middle of nowhere that they built, this western town, I should say, and you walk around town at night and go into these places, and you really feel like you’re in the 1850s. You really do. It’s crazy and wonderful.

Do you get the same sort of reward out of both acting and playing music?

I’ve been asked that before, and it’s basically the question of why didn’t I just pick one or the other. Am I spreading myself out to thin? I was a drama major in college. And music had always been something I just did. So, I always loved acting, and I started originally because I stuttered so badly. It was part of my therapy to get up and speak in front of people, and I found I was actually pretty good at it.

To answer your question, when you act, you are taking the writer’s lines and delivering them, hopefully, artfully into the camera and making them believable and eliciting an intellectually positive or negative response, depending on whatever the character is doing. So, in music the same thing except these are songs that I write. I have the stories, and I think I know what they’re about, sometimes not until much later. And I’m doing the same thing — singing the lines to the audience and making them as believable and honest as I can and trying to get a reaction from them. But I believe, in essence, it’s a very similar process. It’s words evoking a reaction in a positive or negative manner.

What’s the craziest reaction you’ve ever gotten onstage?

I had this moment one time in music where the whites of the audience’s eyes all fluttered upward, and they all passed out. I had said something just so profound, and they were all given smelling salts afterwards.

Oh, wow…

I had to walk off the stage for 15 minutes while the nurses revived the crowd. I never played that song again.

What song was it?

[Pauses and eventually breaks into laughter] Oh, I got you good. That was good. Make sure you write down that you were going for it.



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The Cure’s Robert Smith adds More Bands to Meltdown Lineup and Plans New Album for 2019


The Cure’s Robert Smith has added more bands to his curation of the Meltdown Festival this summer and has announced that he is writing new music, and plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disintegration next year.

Following the unveiling of the initial lineup of the 25th edition of Meltdown last month—featuring My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo, The Psychedelic Furs,  Alcest, and more, Smith announced today the addition of bands such as And Also The Trees, Kælan Mikla, The Soft Moon, I Like Trains, The KVB, Tropic Of Cancer, Moon Duo, and more.

See the full list of bands below:

This morning Smith also broke radio silence to give a rare Matt Everitt on BBC 6 Music, where he mentioned that he got in touch with all the bands personally, some of them he knew, and some he had never spoken to before, but all said yes save for The Rolling Stones.

Smith added that he himself would be performing on the closing Sunday of the festival with a selection of collaborators called CURÆTION-25—an exclusive two-hour show at Royal Festival Hall.

“The Meltdown thing, I think its going to be a little bit more…weird,” said Smith.

“It will be me and four other people that I know really well, and some others,  playing “primarily Cure songs” or “interpretations of Cure songs” in “different configurations of people on stage,” he said, adding that “it will allow me to explore songs some of the songs that we don’t play a lot, or at all, and add in some kind of different instrumentation.”

This certainly would not be anything relatively that weird for The Cure, who used to improvise a free form song titled “Forever” during encores, often enlisting a collaboration on stage with the touring band, or any other artists that happened to be nearby.

Smith also went on to say that he felt that he wanted to leave room this year to work on a new album for release in 2019, the 40th anniversary of the band’s debut LP Three Imaginary Boys, stating that “If we didn’t do anything new this year, we would never do anything new again”, going on to say that if a new album does not come out in 2019 “That’s it, I don’t think The Cure will do another album”.

Smith noted that the process of curation has “reinvigorated his creativity and made him want to do something new”.

“I’ve listened to more new music in the last six months than probably I have the last six years,” said Smith. “I’ve suddenly fallen in love with the idea of writing new songs, so it’s had a really good effect on me.”

He continued: “I booked some time to do some demos next month. Some of it’s really good, some of it not so good.”

“I never wanted to be in a position where I was forcing myself to write, I’ve never felt comfortable with that.”

Listen back to the full interview below.

Smith also revealed that The Cure would be playing more shows in 2019, and that they were also considering celebrating the anniversary of the band’s 1989 masterpiece Disintegration.

Meanwhile Robert Smith also noted in the interview that the 40th anniversary celebration is based off of when the band dropped the “Easy” part of their name, and just became “The Cure”, performing as a three piece at The Rocket in Crawley on July 9th, 1978.

Smith admitted he has a very “scratchy” cassette recording of that gig in his collection, which he has  plans to release soon.



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The Voidz Don’t Give a Fuck What You Think


Halfway through my interview with The Voidz, I got a bloody nose. I initially tried to hide it, but after a few minutes, blood gushing down my face, I had to hit pause on our chat and run to the bathroom, leaving both my FaceTime and my recorder running.

Shortly after a few Julian Casablancas wisecracks – “You should take an Andrew WK photo of yourself! Put on a white t-shirt and we’ve got your next Halloween costume!” – he began reading a quote from Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World.

“When we believe something to be the absolute truth, we have become caught in our own views,” he reads, later adding: “We may be practicing a kind of violence by discriminating against and excluding those who follow other spiritual paths… Being caught in our views can be very dangerous and block the opportunity for us to gain a deeper wisdom.”

If anything, The Voidz’s entire existence in 2018 is an attempt to prove this quote. They are hell bent on being the band pushing the boundaries, putting out music that they themselves want to hear, not necessarily anyone else. Instead of staying in a single lane on the freeway, their new album, Virtue, sees them swerving in and out of five or six lanes at once, bringing us all along for a roller coaster of a ride, chock-full of whiplash from the quick-changing tempos and fast-switching genres of each song in rapid succession.

Virtue sees the band, made up of music industry veterans from across a wide spectrum of indie rock, somewhat tone down their Tyranny-era weirdness for something ever so slightly more listenable. But in doing so, The Strokes’ frontman & co. refuse to give in to the critics that largely trashed their 2014 debut, allowing themselves to explore dozens of influences and different styles throughout Virtue’s 15 tracks.

But don’t call these risks, the band tells me – they’re just following their musical interests.

“Everyone in this band is very open musically, so it creates a great environment to create,” guitarist Amir Yaghmai says from his home in Los Angeles, sharing a couch with the rest of the band. “I don’t worry about something being too pop or too experimental when I’m sitting in a room with these guys. It’s one of the first times I feel like I can play whatever I really feel like and not think about the context that it’s in or the audience that it’ll reach. It’s just a really nice feeling of freedom when we’re jamming.”

“Sometimes I feel like I’m an overwhelmed hoarder, editor, curator, and they’re just all freely, wildly, shooting off all of their craziest ideas,” Casablancas adds. “I’m herding these wild creatures and we agree together which ones are good. They edit my edits. It’s a web of cool musical taste and not giving a fuck.”

And many of those “crazy” ideas made it onto the final record: the purposefully out-of-tune guitar solo on opener “Leave It in My Dreams”, the Auto-Tuned vocals on the Middle Eastern-influenced “QYURRYUS”, and the hair metal-esque guitars on “Pyramid of Bones” all feature in just the first three songs on the album. There’s a lot going on over Virtue’s 58-minute running time, and if you blink, you may miss a face-shredding guitar solo here or an acoustic stunner there.

“I feel like we really wanted to not conform,” Casablancas explains, comparing each song on this record to assembling a Mr. Potato Head. “I feel like I was doing something where I wasn’t compromising – we were all trying to get on the same page. I’ve written two different parts and joined them in a song since I was 15. But I think with this record, we did it early on.”

Most of the 15 tracks come from messing around in the studio, jamming along until something that resembled a song emerged, though some, like the Mac DeMarco-esque “Wink” or “All Wordz Are Made Up”, date back to messing around in a makeshift studio in the back of their tour bus. But at each point, every member contributed a great deal to the final record, the overall band utilizing everyone’s individual skill sets in different ways.

“It seems like we all figured out what we all do [well],” guitarist Jeramy “Beardo” Gritter says. “Everyone has these abilities, and I feel like it’s like Voltron, in a sense, because we all come together in one big machine. We don’t plan anything; it just happens in a natural way. I think for this record, it made things faster and more fluid.”

But while each member comes from a different musical background – Beardo has a punk band, keyboardist Jeff Kite is the lead singer of indie pop outfit Beat Club, drummer Alex Carapetis is a touring member of Wolfmother – a major interest in politics is what links them all together. Though the band seemed to want to focus on the album itself rather than politics at large – revisit Casablancas’ wild profile in Vulture for that – the current political climate was impossible to ignore, especially as it serves as a major influence for the record’s lyrics.

“I think all conflicts, whether it’s family or war in countries, are based on the idea that you see your views as the truth and you see people with different views as wrong, and I think that’s where a lot of issues and conflicts happen,” Casablancas says, explaining the frequent use of the words “truth” and “lie” on Virtue. “I think the album and the lyrics – I tried to keep it relevant and universal, so I think it’s accidental that universal concepts happen.”

Casablancas sings quite a lot about the basis of conflict and what is real and what is fake throughout this new collection of songs. “Murder in the name of national security” dots the Gorillaz-esque “ALieNNatioN” while the heavy punk of “Black Hole” features the line “What’s that say?/ NSA, NRA at the gates of psycho city” twice.

Casablancas also appears unsure of where he stands throughout the record, at points crooning: “I don’t really know where I’m going/ Not sure that I want to be knowing.” The first line of “All Wordz Are Made Up” sees him whispering the line, “No one will care about this in 10 years,” apparently repurposing a critique thrown at The Strokes around 2001.

While his lyrics may seem as if he feels lost in an increasingly dark world, Casablancas, as well as the Voidz’s five other members, feels perfectly at home with each other, making extremely bizarre – and sometimes beautiful – music for themselves and no one else, pushing each other to make a record that they would want to listen to rather than one for the critics. Virtue is a record that doesn’t necessarily flow as a cohesive collection, but it never wanted to in the first place.

The Voidz began as a creative outlet for Casablancas and his new collaborators to experiment and get weird in ways that their individual acts couldn’t – and sometimes wouldn’t – allow. Upon listening to the record, you get the sense that with every strange twist and turn, for every guitar screech or Auto-Tuned vocal, Casablancas is somewhere smirking to himself, happy that he has a outlet where he can finally be himself.



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Brave New World—An Interview with Gary Numan – Post-Punk.com


Our colleague Phil Blackmarquis caught up with Gary Numan for an interview at the Trix in Antwerp, before his gig there that night. They talked about the new album, inspirations, Trent Reznor, John Foxx and how the main riff of Are Friends Electric? was discovered by mistake…

Your new album, Savage (Songs from a Broken World) is doing very well, I heard?

Yeah! When it came out, it went to No. 2 in the British charts, which for me was a massive improvement. It was the first time I’d been that high on the charts since…. a long time ago. Actually since 1980.

Why not No. 1 ?

Because of the Foo Fighters…

It could have been worse than that! (laughs)

It was a great moment, a fantastic achievement.

Splinter, your previous album, was about a “broken mind” and Savage is about a “broken world”: is there a connection between the two ?

Not really. When I did Splinter I was just coming out of a deep depression which lasted three years. So I had a lot of material to write about with what I’d been th—rough. It was lovely to be back writing again and to have something substantial to write about. With « Savage », it was different. No problems, everything was good, my family was happy, « Splinter » had done well, living in America…

In a castle… (laughs)

Yeah, a little castle. So, at the beginning, I struggled a bit to find something strong to write about. So, I borrowed some idea’s from a book I’ve been writing for a long time now. It’s about a future world that’s been devastated by global warming. And as I started to write about that, Donald Trump arrived and started saying all these stupid things and it felt like the good that had been done for some time in terms of consciousness was going to be undone because of this powerful but stupid man. It made me want to write more about it. It felt like the right time and it made sense to develop my story into songs. And the title, Savage (Songs from a Broken World), came from one of my children, Persia…

Persia is the one who is singing on your album ?

Yes. When I told her that Savage was about a devastated, future world, she suggested the title Songs from a Broken World to make the link with Splinter. It connects the two in a way, but in truth, there is no connection… (laughs)

You said, in several interviews, that musically, you’ve been influenced by Nine Inch Nails in your last albums. Was it still so in Savage ?

Not so in Savage. I think I’ve become used to the heavier electronic thing. With Savage, we definitely moved into a different area.

Which is your favourite NIN song?

It’s difficult to choose but it must be “Closer”. There ‘s such a long list to choose from. “The Wretched” is also a favourite. “Head Like A Hole” has the best chorus ever written.

And don’t you think there is an inspiration chain between you and Trent Reznor? He said he was influenced by you and then, later, you were inspired by him.

I like Trent a lot. Especially now since we are neighbours in L.A. We were friends before but now it’s even easier when you live close to each other. And it’s mainly thanks to the children. When it’s the birthday of one of his children, he and Mariqueen always throw a party and invite us in their house.

Don’t you think there’s also a similar inspiration chain between you and John Foxx ? You said a few times that John Foxx and Ultravox! influenced you at the beginning and I believe that John Foxx was, in return, influenced by you when he did “Underpass” when solo.

The thing about influences is that it goes way beyong simply music. Musical things that you hear and that have an effect on you are only a tiny part of all that influences you as a writer. It comes from all sorts of things : a book, a TV show, a picture, a conversation. They are all sparks and they ignite your own imagination. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes, not, when these influences come from. Everyone who is creative does it. Trent does it and I’m sure John Foxx does it as well. We’re ‘sponge-like’, in a way. We’re absorbing things all the time. We listen to each other of course, but we also absorb a lot of other things and they help us to move forward all the time.

It’s like eating a lot of things and then digesting them to finally produce something new ?

Yes. Trent, I’m sure, is listening all the time. He’s looking around all the time at everything, and he’s taking a huge amount of creative information in and then he processes it to create something. Sometimes, you hear something that you like and then forget about it and one year later, it comes back in your work and you think it’s your own idea. It’s scary. I did one song, a long time ago. I liked it a lot and then my wife came and said :  That’s Siouxsie and the Banshees!  So, I’d been rewriting a Siouxsie song! (laughs)

That’s what makes plagiarism cases so complicated.

I had one plagiarism case very early in my career, in 1978 or 1979. My publishing company said that some artist had copied me. But the other party did an investigation, brought in all these experts and they traced the music, my music, back to the 14th century, to something that monks used to sing ! (laughs) So, you see, we think we are writing original material all the time but in fact we’re not.

And there’s also the fact that all idea’s are sort of floating around above our heads…

My theory is that when you’re a child, you learn music, chords, melodies, etc by listening to them, so whenever you start writing songs on your own, you can’t honestly say they’re original. You’ve been influenced since you were born. Originality is a lie, really. It’s always a variation of something you heard before, to which you add your own element.

Let’s take “Are Friends Electric ?”: Do you remember how you composed it and how the spark came?

I remember it was actually two songs I was working on. The verse part was one song and I had another song which was softer. I just couldn’t finish either of the songs. One day, I was playing the verse song and got frustrated as always and started playing the other one immediately and realized they went together, provided some adjustments. And then one day, while I was playing the instrumental part, I played it wrong at one moment and the two notes stood out and I thought it sounded better like this. So, in fact, the signature hook of the song was an accident, and came from bad playing… (laughs)

And the lyrics were inspired by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, I think ?

It was inspired by a series of science-fiction stories I was trying to write. Partly Philip K. Dick, partly a few news items at the time. And the name of my band, Tubeway Army, came from an article I had read about a gang in London, which used to attack people in the underground. All this became short stories about how to make civilization better. In my story, government gives power to a huge computer to run everything. Then the computer realizes that the only thing that makes civilization ‘uncivilized’ is people. So, it starts getting rid of people, in a sneaky way, surreptitiously. Tests are organized to evaluate people’s intelligence and those who fail are allegedly sent to a training center but in fact they never come back. Then some people realize what is going on and go underground, etc. It’s a nice story but I never finished it. Instead, I turned it into an album and got famous… (laughs).

When you look at the experiments being made now with A.I., it’s funny to see they end up like in your story : they say they want to get rid of mankind…

Yes… We are the problem, we are the virus.. (laughs)

I’ve always thought that if mankind was really 100% from earth, it wouldn’t destroy earth…

Yeah, we do feel like alien organisms.

If you had to choose your favourite song from your discography in the years 1979-1985, what would you choose ?

The two songs I still play now, which are not the big singles, are “Down In The Park” and “Metal”.

“Down in The Park” was heavily covered.

Yes: Marilyn Manson covered it. The Foo Fighters as well. They’re always there! (laughs)

And from your recent albums ?

There’s a song called “A Prayer for the Unborn”, from my album Pure. We had a baby that died, so it means a lot to me. And from Savage, I would select “Ghost Nation”

Savage (Songs from a Broken World) is out now.

*Featured photo by Jude Edginton



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Ülase12: The Home of DIY Punk & Autonomy in Tallinn


Ülase12 is a community social center in Estonian capital Tallinn. The place has been running since 2010 and it’s still strictly non-hierarchical, anti-fascist and DIY. Besides hardcore punk shows they are also organizing an anarchist bookfair, feminist festival, vegan kitchen, freeshop and a lot of movie screenings, debates and community organizing.

Can you start with presentation of the social center and how it came to be?

At some point in 2010, it got clear to us that both the local anti-authoritarian movement and the local hardcore scene needed a home for their activities. This doesn’t mean we only limit ourselves to this one physical space, however, we’re always open if anyone needs help putting on a show, crashing on our couch and so on. None of us had any experience running a place like this, and we had nobody to ask advice for either as we were the first place like this in Estonia. So we basically just gathered people from different groups together and decided to give it a go, put in money from our own pockets and jumped in. Six years later we have hosted over 100 bands from across the world.

We have had movie screenings, discussions, dinners, workshops, self-defense, freeshops, provided people chance to meet or just crash on our couches. The space is run by a horizontally organized collective, consensus based decision making can be slow at times, but we think we can benefit from practicing it.

Unlike many social centers in Europe, you rent the place. Was it a choice, and how do you manage to keep the space open?

Before we decided to find the cheapest possible place to rent, we did try to squat several buildings. What makes us different from the Western parts of Europe is that we have no tradition of autonomist protest movements. Squatting was legally a very grey area 10 years ago, meaning some of the squats lasted for a few days, some longer, but it was impossible to hold public events in them. It was also difficult to organize any resistance during the evictions, as the movement itself was very small, we’re talking about less than 10 people. So we decided we need to focus on building a movement, writing, translating, very basic things, and this is easier to do when you don’t have to worry about losing all we’ve built in an hour.

Our aim is not to make money or earn our living by organizing this space. We’re all students and workers, mostly on minimum wage or precarious. We’re not financed by the state nor the city council, no sponsor deals or anything. We wouldn’t have even made it past the first year mark if it weren’t for our community of supporters, guests, friends, comrades, who have been very helpful.

When entering the main room, you’re greeted by antifascist flags. Can you explain the importance of antifascism in the functioning of the space and maybe it’s relation to the presence of nationalists/Nazis in the broader punk scene?

Our space was first opened by anarchists, a lot of the members are still anarchists and others are sympathizers of the anarchist ideas, so politically we are antifascists by default. What we aimed for was a space where everyone but fascists can feel safe. This means we don’t want to see any discriminatory behaviors at Ülase12.

When punk rock first hit Estonia in the ’70s, the country was occupied by the Soviet Union. Naturally, the punk scene was rebelling against the system and the system hit back with some nasty repressions. It wasn’t so much about nationalism, rather national liberation. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, it was understandable that the movement got kind of confused. We’re talking about a massive shift from one system to another. One might argue we’re still in transition. So, a fair share of punks and skins went from being for national liberation, to being actual far-right nationalists.

Then you had younger people coming into the scene in the ’90s and 2000s. Remember, at that point, you had the independent, capitalistic, nation-state of Estonia, instead of the Soviet regime. And when you were in this situation at that time, a youth searching for punk music, you mostly found stuff from the ’80s.. Without understanding the context and the huge shift that took place between these two generations, this meant that a lot of the content from the ’80s could have been ripped out of the context, for example, lyrics about opposing the Soviet regime were now used by the far-right as anti-Russian songs.

A huge change came along in the middle of 2000s when hardcore punk started getting more exposure in Tallinn, especially within the Russian-speaking community. Nazis tried to walk into DIY hardcore shows as they could walk into any other punk show, so we had to deal with this issue. And since, having a place free of Nazis is a tradition of our local hardcore scene and we want to keep it that way.

It seems like most DIY bands touring through Estonia make a stop at Ülase12 on their tourplan, halfway between Rïga, Helsinki & St-Petersburg. What does the DIY punk scene looks like from where you’re at?

We’ve been fortunate with the geographical location in this sense, yes. We have a few other promoters such as the guys from Damn.Loud who put on shows as well, local bands like Nailbite have put out their records recently. Seems like it’s going a bit better now after a few years of regression in the scene.

The DIY punk scene can be as fantastic as frustrating at times. You get people from New York organizing a solidarity show for a small place in Estonia like us. Fantastic bands touring and giving their all, sharing the floor with the crowd. But then at other times, you have a bunch of struggles you have to get through and you think if you can do it.

But the fact is—we’re going into our 7th year soon. We’ve outlived some actual, professional venues, this wouldn’t have been possible if what they tell you about punk being dead was true. It’s not, it’s dead for those who have conformed already.

The last time I was in Tallinn, around the time of the anarchist bookfair, the Estonian parliament house was lit with the colors of the French flag, in response to the latest “Paris attacks”. Elsewhere, such signs of “solidarity” have been followed with a crackdown on dissent and the places where it happens. Have you felt the effect of this recent wave of repression? Can you take time to present the general social and political situation of Tallinn, and Estonia?

Our biggest problem politically are the far-right nationalists. Or to be precise, their growth. The Neo-Nazi movement is one thing, but the so-called refugee crisis brought a whole new dimension into the game, with some previously apolitical family guys started getting radicalized by the far-right, protests against the refugee quotas were almost weekly at some point.

As described earlier, part of the Estonian punk scene has, and always had, a sense of patriotism to it due to the fact we had been occupied for decades. Now, if even parts of the rebellious punk rock is conservative, you can only imagine how it is elsewhere in Estonian society.

A few years ago we tried to keep a couple of Nazis out of our space. A well-known politician who used to be a punk in the ’80s tried to come in with the Nazis. We thought that was bad, but now we’ve got actual Hitler sympathizers in our parliament, gaining more and more support. The government itself has been in the hands of liberals of different shades since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Economic inequality, the far-right outnumbering the antifascist movement, no leftist alternative to the liberals—this makes up a perfect mix for the far-right to organize and gain ground.

What the far-right is trying to do here at the moment, is to act as if they are the rebels, instead of, say the anarchists or the squatters or whoever. This is not true, you can’t be a rebel if your kind is represented in the government, if you’re beating down at people from a position of power, if your ideas are widespread in the society.

It is especially sad to see people from the punk scene buying into the far-right ideas. In punk, you accept choices that your friends decide to make. Whether we talk about the color of your mohawk, jacket, choice of music genre. We want to slam into each other while listening to fast and loud music, we feel as if this our passage to freedom, even for just one night. But then we go and start judging other people for things they never got to choose. There’s nothing rebellious about being a Neo-Nazi, as what they stand for is the opposite of freedom.

The Ülase12 social center can be contacted through Facebook, Instagram or VKontakte, or write to ylase12@riseup.net



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Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis


Bruce Campbell is a goddamn legend. He’s conquered the dead, fended off maniacal cops, locked up Billy Drago, lorded over thieves, sailed the East Indies, impersonated Elvis, brought back Ronald Reagan, and slept with Miami cougars on a nightly basis. He’s also directed four films, written three books, officiated multiple weddings, and raised two children. Now, he’s back for the third season of Starz’s Ash vs Evil Dead, reprising his iconic role as Ashley “Ash” Williams, who’s not only a prophesied hero this time around but a totally deadbeat dad. In anticipation of the February 25th premiere, we spoke to Campbell about his salad days in Michigan, how Stephen King saved his ass twice, and the trick to acting on horses. Groovy? See for yourself.

Meeting Sam Raimi

raimi evil dead Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

I had seen him physically in junior high school, in about eighth or ninth grade. He was a year behind me, and I was walking down the hallway and this guy was dressed as Sherlock Holmes. He was sitting on the floor of the hallway — in the middle of the hallway — playing with dolls. I remember very specifically, very vividly, going “Okay, I’m gonna go way around that guy.” It turned out that was Sam.

So, in Wylie E. Gross — I guess in ‘75 — I had typing class. It was the worst class I ever had, but I never even knew I could drop a class. I never even knew where the counselor’s office was. It just never occurred to me. So I went down there and said, “Hey, can I drop this typing class?” They were like “Yeah. Well, what do you have in place of it?” I said “Well, how about this, how about that”, and one of them was radio speech. I said, “Wait – like a DJ who plays music and all that?” They were like, “Yeah.” I went “Ok, sign me up.” So, Sam was in the same class.

We started doing morning announcements together, and then we got in plays together, and we started spending more time together and seeing each other extracurricularly. He did little movies in his neighborhood, I did them in my little neighborhood, and then one other guy … there were about three neighborhoods that made Regular 8 and Super 8 movies. So, we just eventually started to link up.

Making Short Films

Around ‘75, Scott Spiegel, who wound up co-writing Evil Dead 2, was very into the Stooges and he had been making Super-8 movies pretty much since 1969. Scott’s the same age as me, he was around 11. I started doing it in my little neighborhood around ‘71, ‘72. I would do D-Day, Son of Hitler, Day of Violence  they were a bunch of these weird little shorts. I played Hitler and Hitler’s son was still alive lurking around. Scott would do like, Pies and Guys and Inspector Club Saves the Day. Sam was doing stuff like The Great Bogus Monkey Pignut Swindle.

Sam’s were a cross between Monty Python-ish, Groucho Marx-ish… Scott was very Three Stooges. I was a big fan of the Stooges. So we all had our influences. Then, these short films started to get longer or more sophisticated as we met each other. This one guy is like, “I got a better camera than that,” and the other guy is like “Oh, I got a package of lights here.” So, we started working more on each other’s stuff. The weekends were slammed. I never got in any trouble in high school because we were too busy.

Working with St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild of Cranbrook

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 8 45 43 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

Unofficially, I was. I was too young to join. You couldn’t join this local, suburban Detroit theatre group … you couldn’t join until you were 18. But, every summer, they would do this big splashy musical in their outdoor pavilion. It was this beautiful facility formerly owned by the guy who created, The Detroit News. It was his former grounds. So, ‘71 … I think ‘72 … I did The King and I and played the King’s son. Each summer after that I was in South Pacific and Fiorello and played all these different parts.

I was always the guy who was the “servant boy.” I was a newspaper guy, a World War I soldier, that sort of stuff. Then I turned 18, and I could join. My dad had been a member for years, since the ‘60s, so my dad was a formative member there. He directed me in Sweet Bird of Youth. I started to do plays there, and it was a great access to costumes. They had a great collection for this theatre group that had been around for 30 or 40 years.

Keeping Things Professional

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 8 48 17 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

We were serious. There was no one else other than us doing this stuff. We started buying equipment. Some of us would act more than others, some of us would direct more than others, and whoever put up the money was the producer for these things. That’s how that kind of worked. We started to get more and more interested, but more panicked at the same time because we realized “Ah crap, high school’s gonna end. Are we gonna actually have to get a regular job now?” There was that possibility. But then in ‘78, Sam’s brother Ivan — who went to Michigan State — his roommate was Rob Tapert, who became sort of a partner over the years. Rob was the first one. He met Sam through his brother, and Sam was always talking about making movies. He wanted to make a real movie. Rob was the first guy to go, “Well, you need a lawyer.” And we’re like, “A lawyer? What does that mean?” He goes, “Trust me: you need a lawyer.”

Rob had always been a teenager who was always in trouble, so they had a family lawyer. You know, Rob’s father and this guy went to Catholic school together. So this guy Phil Gillis … we went to talk to him and he goes, “Well you wanna drop a limited partnership.” Then, we go “What the hell is that?” You know, it was way before the LLC kind of thing. His point was that you needed a creative structure. If you’re going to go into a businessman’s office to make an appointment to get them to invest in your movie, you had to have a structure, and you had to have a law firm behind it that’s actually a reputable law firm in Detroit. You had to have it all spelled out: How much if I invest 10,000 bucks, what do I get, what’s my percentage, and what position am I in.

So, there is a perception that the first Evil Dead movie is an amateur movie, but that’s actually not the case. Contractually, every “I” was dotted and “T” crossed because we got lucky. We found a lawyer. He got interested in the project so he didn’t charge us for his work, he invested the money that he would have charged us into the movie. Other guys at the law form then became interested and, you know, guys with money go “Hey! What are you doing?” to their buddies. Then the guy goes “Oh, I invested in a movie.” So, we got some investments just because their buddy invested. They were like, “Sounds good! I’m in.”

Studying and Warming Up to Horror

texas poster Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

They still had drive-ins. So, we would go to drive-ins and we went to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which impressed us all very much. The theory was that once the horror started in that movie, it never stopped. That impressed us. But we also saw Revenge of the Cheerleaders and other shitty horror movies. You would see in the lousy parts or bad parts — or if it was bad dialogue or bad acting — that people would turn their headlights on the screen. They’re like, “Fuck you.” They would flash their lights or honk their horn until something better happened. You could tell that they were the barometer for “I’m bored.” What was amazing was that it had a lot of commentary, and we said, “Okay. Let’s not do that. Let’s not be boring, let’s keep these moving.” So, that’s what influenced us if we were going to make a horror film,

And I think to answer your upcoming question, no, I could care less about horror movies. They had no influence in my life whatsoever. I listened to The Carpenters. I didn’t play any of that game, I didn’t have any tattoos. So, there was nothing that influenced me like, “One day my parents took me when I was five to go see The Beast with Five Fingers.” None of that. Whenever I saw horror, I found it incredibly disturbing. I read an article when I was 10 about Night of the Living Dead  this movie that is so disturbing that people are fainting. People are being disemboweled by zombies, unstoppable zombies. I remember reading that and going, “I hope I never see that movie.” It’s like my wife’s point: I’m already a nervous wreck. Why would I watch something that would make me more nervous?

Do you still feel that way now?

No, I respect horror for what it can do. Aside from comedy, it’s one of the few genres that can make some actually have a visceral experience with the movie, like shouting and screaming, talking back to it, or jumping or lurching in their seats. It’s just really one of the few genres that can get you physically agitated.

What scares you in general?

Ignorance. There’s nothing scarier than that.

The Power of Stephen King

evil dead poster Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

He’s responsible for two of The Evil Dead movies, not just one. The second one is much more obscure. He’s obviously quoted for the first Evil Dead, he saw it at Cannes and allowed us to use that quote, which was really cool of him and we’ve been using it ever since. On the second movie, Evil Dead 2, we were having trouble getting financing. We were prepping it and trying to get it going. We had a woman who was kind of like doing scheduling stuff, and we had to let her go. So she was a crew member, and she took off down to North Carolina and started making all these movies.

Dino De Laurentiis is making movies down there. Who does she run into? She gets on the crew of Maximum Overdrive, directed by Stephen King. Stephen was like, “What are you up to?” And she was like, “I just came from working with these guys trying to get money for Evil Dead 2.” He goes, “Evil Dead 2? They can’t get the money for that?” She goes “No.” He calls Dino De Laurentiis and goes, “You should make this movie.” I think we had a deal … we met with Dino and I think we had a deal in about half an hour, and a basic understanding.

Imitating the Late Dino De Laurentiis

dino de laurentiis Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

On The Losers’ Club, our Stephen King podcast, we always joke around that Dino De Laurentiis used to materialize out of the shadows with a cigarette or a cigar, calling out to King. What was he actually like?

He was just like that. He was basically five feet tall. The guy was very very short — very dark, very swarthy. You’d come into his office and he would have a button that would open the door, so the door would open very majestically to a giant desk. He had a thing about lion’s heads. So, there were lion’s heads on the desk, and the desk was enormous. Schwarzenegger got in immediate trouble with him. Schwarzenegger comes in and goes, “Why does such a small man need such a large desk?” Dino goes [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice], “Get that Nazi outta my office!” Their relationship for Conan [The Barbarian] started with that conversation.

But anyway, you go in and you meet with him and he just wants to know [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice] “how much, how long, when you start, when you stop, and who stars in this movie.” We gave him the basic information, but when he saw the foreign sales figures for the first Evil Dead that sealed the deal. He knew foreign, you know. Some producers … they know America. This guy knew everything but America.

This guy … he bought movies and packaged them everywhere else but America. His version of editing … like Army of Darkness. We would bring it into his office and off to one side of his office was an editing bay. This was the whole flatbed, so you’d put the reel of film on the side and you’d run it through. For any part he didn’t like, he would put his hand over the screen and just go [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice] “Out! Out!” Then it would cut to something else and he’d go [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice] “Come back here.” It was like that trying to interpret it. He still didn’t have full grasp of the English language.

Dino was all business. He had a guy named Josh that worked with him for, I don’t know, 20 years? They’d fly together constantly — long flights all the time overseas. Dino would do no small talk. One day, 15 years into the relationship, he looks over while they’re on a flight and goes [imitates De Laurentiis’s voice], “Hey Josh.” He goes, “Yeah, Dino?” “Where were you born?” He says, “Uh, Brooklyn.” Dino goes, “Agh.” And that was it. That was the extent of their private conversation. He loved business and started a brand new young family. He lived the classic over-the-top lifestyle. He really did. He was just a big, big character and a little, little guy.

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 9 12 33 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

We like to imagine that he’d randomly call up Stephen King and be like, “Stephen, what do you have for me?”

He went to call our offices in Ferndale, Michigan. Someone had given him our number. He dared to like dial the actual phone himself and on the message machine was this: “Hello, thank you for calling Renaissance Pictures. We’ve moved our offices. Our new number is 313-547-6262.” He goes [imitates De Laurentiis’ voice],  “Hey hey,” now he’s yelling at someone from across the office, “they got another number.” Then, the machine cuts him off. It completely flummoxed him that he had to write another number down to call us. So we didn’t get called right away, it was the next day — like he had to give the number to someone else. So, yeah, that was Dino. We did two movies with him: Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness.

The Art of Acting on Horses

screen shot 2018 02 19 at 9 31 18 pm Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

The first horse stuff was Army of Darkness. I learned how to ride a horse, but did not learn to ride it well. I benefited from the fact that a cape behind me disguised what cowboys call “the ass saddle battle” from slamming on the saddle because you’re not really fitting the horse right. You know, normally you’re kind of one with the horses as you go across the countryside. I struggled through Army of Darkness with the horse. There was not a lot of training involved. It was about a “C-” riding effort on my part.

But! A couple years later, you know, Army of Darkness was ‘91. In ‘93 comes The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. That’s a different ball game. He’s a cowboy, so I thought that there’s no way I’m not training for this. The producers were very good about it. So, me and the wrangler — the actual guy with the actual set of horses … you never just have one horse. You have, like, four horses for your one horse. We would train for 30 days in this guy’s ring, and that’s how you do it. The guy, he just ran me through every fundamental. He goes, “Okay! I want you to sit on the horse now for half an hour.”

brisco Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De LaurentiisAnd if the horse takes one step forward, you go, “I didn’t tell you to step forward” and you correct it, you take it one step back. This thing gets bored, starts looking around, and steps to the side. You go, “I didn’t tell you to go to the side,” and correct it back. You have to let it know that you are the pilot. Otherwise, the horse will take complete advantage of you. Like, I’d be on the horse and the horse is acting all crappy, and I’d go “Gordon, this horse is being shitty.” So he goes, “Alright, get off and let me check. I get off, and the second he sits on the horse, the horse freezes. He looks at me and goes, “Yeah. I guess it’s the horse.”

This guy was the most sarcastic son of a bitch. Gordon Spencer, he was great. He goes, “Crew members don’t give a shit about her horse. So that boom guy is going to shove the boom right by you, and the horse is going to see it out of the side of its eye, and it’s gonna freak out. We’re gonna get that horse, your main horse, used to things being shoved in its face. All day long.” He goes, “Your job is just to sit on the horse.” He takes a 4×4 piece of box cart — you know, the big bright white stuff. It’s just a big piece of styrofoam. They used it to bounce light. It was a big, bright, shiny piece of white styrofoam. So, he would just stand there with it, and I would sit there on the horse and we would wait and wait. Then out of nowhere he would just shove that thing in the horse’s face. Then, I would get control over it again, and we’d wait, and wait. Then, he’d shove it in the thing’s face again. We would do this for, I don’t know, half an hour.

After a couple of days, the horse would go, “Oh, oh, it’s just that thing.” Then he started with the noise. Here’s the tough thing: An ex-Marine takes a string of cans and puts it all over him — like the Tin Man! He’s running in circles around the horse making random, loud noises. The horse is flinching, you know, and he goes, “Don’t get off. Relax.” If I would relax, 9/10 times the horse would relax. So, you know, we just did that with every gunshot. She shoved big wads of cotton in the horse’s ears, and they have different loads for your fake guns. They have a quarter load, half load, and full load. If you wanted a big flameout at the end, you would do a full load. The noise would get louder with each one. We had those, and he would sit next to the horse, again, and you’d wait and wait. Then, randomly, boom! Right next to the horse, and I’m on it the whole time.

bruce horse Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

The horse just got used to noise, guns, things in its face … and by the time we would shoot, we did it, man. We did some stuff with that horse… I went back and was like “Damn, that was good.” The wrangler also did this: he taught us how to shoot the horses. It’s one thing to train them. So the director goes like this: “Okay guys. You’re gonna say goodbye to the girl, you’re gonna get on the horse, you’re gonna rear, and then you’re gonna ride out of town.” We’re like “Okay, that’s three different horses. And, like, four different angles.” He looks at you like, “What? Is he telling me how to shoot this?” And we’re like, “Yeah. Oh yeah. We’re telling you how you’re gonna shoot this.”

‘Cause the dialogue is on my main horse, Copper — and that horse is an old horse and doesn’t wanna go anywhere — that’s the dialogue horse. So, you do all your dialogue with that horse. Then, you fake like you’re gonna start your rear, swap it out with a horse called Ace, and all that horse does is rear. You give it leg cues on either side of its chest, and it’ll pop right up in the air. But you don’t want to use that horse normally, in a dialogue scene, because what if you gave it a leg cue inadvertently? The thing would pop right up and knock you off the horse — or knock you out. So the second shot is with Ace, that horse. Then the third shot, the wide shot, is with a horse that has a nice lope to it.


bruce brisco Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

It’s, you know, three to four different horses for all this stuff — and the director’s faces would just fall. They always had it in their head about how they could shoot this seamless shot, and we’re like “Bullshit man, you got three horses. Here’s how it’s gonna go down.” In between each take, if you wanted a second take after the first take, the horse knows that it’s gonna ride outta town. The second you start to swing up on that horse, it’s ready to run. So between take one and take two, you jog it in a circle. Now the horse goes, “Well shit. Are we racing out of town? Or are we going to jog in a circle?” Then in take two, when you race out of town, the horse is like, “Aw, you fooled me!” Then, literally, if they want a take three, you now have to jog it in the opposite direction for a few minutes. So, now, it goes, “Am I going that way, that way, or around in circles?” You’re messing with the horse all day long.

I have great respect for the fact that we actually did it right. I’ve been on other stuff where they have horses since then, and nobody takes the time to do what we did. It’s so cool if you take the time. You can really do some great stuff. So, yeah, the horse stuff got better. It finally got to where it had to get — and now I’m good! If I never get on a horse to wreck my knees, or get thrown off, or get stepped on … that’s fine. I won’t miss ‘em. They’re a lot of work, horses, a lot of work.

Is that why Ash vs Evil Dead hasn’t gone back to medieval times yet?

There’s a myriad of reasons for that. That’s just one of ‘em.

Loving Motown, Ignoring Punk

I’m a Motown guy. I like classic rock. Gimme Bob Seger, gimme Creedence Clearwater. So, Ash and I sync up to some degree. I’m not as hard as Ash. Ash will go harder rock than I will. I didn’t do a lot of AC/DC, that stuff is just too much. I was too much for me.

Did you ever get into the Detroit punk scene growing up? Like The Stooges or MC5?

Nope, nope. I am, uh, musically illiterate. We were making Super 8 movies, man, while everyone else was going to Grateful Dead concerts.

The Future of Ash vs Evil Dead

 Bruce Campbell on How Stephen King Saved Evil Dead 2, Riding Horses, and Imitating Dino De Laurentiis

It’s too early to tell who’s coming back only because we don’t even know if we’re coming back. So, mid-March is when we’re gonna get the sign; either see you later alligator, or pack your bags: we’re going for another season. So, we’ll see. Our inclination is to start fresh. We had some big changes at the end of the season which are great, it’s a cool end of the season. But the way that we went, it probably requires, you know, a little bit of shuffling if we were to continue.

If this is it, what would you say is your favorite hero moment from Ash?

Episode 10.

Of this new one?

Yeah. The big payoff. It’s everything we’ve built up to. Hopefully the audience will go, “Fuckin’ A-right, Ash. Fuckin’ A-right.” You know? Ash is gonna prove his stuff, man. This is it. This is the final showdown.

Well the first five episodes are great, and I can’t wait to see how the next five go.

Nine and 10 are awesome.

Does Sam Raimi come back for any of them?

No. He’s a busy boy.

Well, you are too. Good luck with everything.

Alright, thank you.

Ash vs Evil Dead premieres on Sunday, February 25th via Starz.



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