Part 2: The Show
When asked what their favourite venue has been, the macabre musicians had quite the list. Toronto bars like The Bovine Sex Club with The Greasemarks, The Hardluck-a venue where Skull noted that “(the) great sound and pentagram on the stage…really brings that evil up”, The Cadillac Lounge, and Call the Office located in London, Ontario all made the cut. The one place they both agreed on was The Silver Dollar, a 113 year old historic venue in Toronto. Fitting, since these guys have been around longer than most mortals. “I think (it’s) the best venue we’ve played- and it’s gotta be because it was 3 days before Halloween,” Fang remembered. “It just felt right, it felt at home there. They had the best lighting.” Skull also pointed out a great fact. ”The Silver Dollar was really nice just because we got to…play the same stage that a lot of legends played…they have them all over the wall, (pictures of) famous blues musicians. Unfortunately I’ve heard that they might be converting that area to condos or something. I’m really, really bummed out about (it). I don’t know if that’s true. If that is true, I suggest everyone go down there and see as many shows as you can at the Silver Dollar.” (There is a proposal to create student rental units above the Silver Dollar, and keep the venue on the main level, but apparently that will take a long time to sort out.)
“What we’re really looking forward to is…opening for the legendary Misfits at the Phoenix (Concert Theatre in Toronto on October 4th)”, Skull announced.
Fang puffed dust from his bandages with evil glee and shouted, “Fucking one of the biggest goddamn venues in Toronto and we’re there!” It’s at this precise moment that their enthusiasm made the ground rumble and our table shake. This is obviously a big deal for the ghastly group. When I asked them how on earth they got the gig, their luck was clearly not of this world. Silly me!
“You gotta have the daughter of the Devil in your band. Sorry to the other bands, but they’re not connected like we are. That’s just the end of it,” Skull declared with conviction. “Yeah, the Devil knows everyone in the music industry and his band down there is fantastic. He’s got some great musicians who have passed that are down there.”
Fang was quick to confirm this. “Absolutely, he’s got ‘em all. Make a deal with the Devil man. Then you can play anywhere you want!”
“If you’re worried about going to Hell”, Skull affirmed, “Don’t worry, Hell has an awesome band, you’ll love it.” Wow. Good to know, just in case I’ve got more naughties than nice on my list at the end of the road. Which is highly likely.
I can tell by how animated this deadly duo is that they were positively stoked about this show. “Yeah, the Misfits show-we’re really, really excited about it!” said Skull as a spark or two flew off of his bolts. I asked him if they had a similar fan base as the Misfits. “I guess I can see a lot of Misfits fans liking us,” he replied, which lead me to wonder who exactly The House of Haunt’s fan base is. Anyone who’s into pyschobilly? Fang tackled this question. “It’s anyone who loves bloody horror movies and good music. I mean even somebody like my ancient mother finds something in our music to like because it does tell a story right, so there is something in there for everyone. It’s good story telling. And the music is jumpy enough to get a lot of people on board but complicated enough to satisfy even really technical musicians.”
In terms of their similarities and musical style to the Misfits, the guys had some interesting stuff to say.
“Like you go through the Misfits discography, at least the Misfits in the 90’s,” Fang continued, “and I’m sure in the Danzig era, and every single one (song) is (based on) a movie and that’s like pretty damn close to us. Even though we don’t share a completely similar musical sound it’s there, absolutely.”
“I think that our music is not quite as punky ,” Skull said. “The Misfits…are… almost (at) the forefront, I don’t wanna say the godfathers of psychobilly, (but) they’re a huge branch, the base of the tree almost.”
“They’re at least the modern fathers of psychobilly. They were originally your underground hardcore punk stuff, but if anything they’re turning closer to metal,” Fang added.
Skull talked about the House of Haunt’s versatility as a band. “The good thing we have found about pyschobilly is it kind of has a wide spectrum. We’ve played with country music bands like Doghouse Rose, we’ve played with horrorbilly bands like the Matadors. Black Cat Attacks is another fabulous band. They’ve been very kind to us as far as (us being) monsters. As mere humans, they are really, really cool.”
Fang agreed and added another name to the list. ”The Namedroppers, they are a really good band. They’ve turned towards a little more punk rock folk. We play with punks, we play with country, we play with rock, we play with…with just anything! There’s a taste of it all right there with pyschobilly and it appeals to the working class, the people who are more likely to actually go to a show that costs 10 bucks. They’re not the cheapskates, they have a little money, they don’t have lots of money but we’re not big enough to require lots of money just yet.”
Skull snickered. “And again being that the Red Duke is so cheap, we can get lots of gigs, it gives us wide berth of musical ranges that we can get to. Almost any bar will let a pyschobilly band play. Except for the one place that has denied us, but little does he know that the Red Duke has cursed him and his family.” They both laughed maniacally for a moment as Skull described a particularly unpleasant torture involving spikes through heads, “ghost peppers” and hot sauce in a not so nice area. After a breath, the guys got back to business. “It will be interesting to see when we do open for them (The Misfits) the reception that we get,” Skull said.
Fang went further with that thought. “Yeah, we’re taking very special steps to make sure that this is a particularly great show. We’re gonna hire additional staff and you need to be there cause you’ll go and you’ll see the Misfits and the Misfits will be great just like they always are, but there’s going to be 4 opening bands and they are all just going to be guys in ripped jeans or whatever they wear, playing their music and us, The House of Haunt, that put on a world class show just being an opening band. That’s who you’ll remember. We’re the surprise.”
Indeed! I don’t think anyone will expect a mummy, a man made of dead men’s body parts, a voodoo priest and the Devil’s daughter to show up and jam like they are from another century! This is a show not to be missed!!
The guys gave their final thoughts on who they are and what they represent. “I think it’s nice that we’re a band that doesn’t particularly have any negative messages in it,” Fang said. “To me punk, I know pyschobilly is not punk, but punk has always been about going against the norm, like being true to yourself against the norm,…and I think today punk has become so anti-authoritative and anti-regular that in essence they lost what punk was really about, they’ve set themselves up. I think with us we’re not following any particular cookie cutter. We’re doing what we want to, and expressing it the way we want to, so we don’t talk about living your life in any particularly good or bad manner. I think it’s important that all acts keep in mind their responsibility to the general public to be at (the very) least not bad. If you go on stage and go ‘who’s smoking a joint right now?!’ you get a huge response. You’re actually alienating the people who don’t (smoke). So it’s smart just not to mention that (and) keep it about the music and the good times.”
“They want that rebel feel…but are you really going to live your life that way?…That’s where monsters come in. It’s so absurd. We can eat a baby on stage as a monster, but we’re not telling everyone to go eat a baby,” Skull finished. Although Skull really likes them with fried chives and butter. The guys stressed that there isn’t any strong political message, in fact, for them, it’s all about the show, the music, and of course, the monsters. As Fang put it, ”We’re not psychobilly, we’re monsterbilly! Put that down! We’re monsterbilly!” With that ancient enthusiasm and insight, it’s hard not to like The House of Haunt. Haven’t checked them out yet? Where have you been?! Here are some upcoming dates, and be sure to get your tickets to the Misfits show on October 4th, 2013. Or else they will find you…trust me on this…
The House of Haunt show listings:
Saturday, October 26th at the Backstage Bar and Grill, Stratford ON
And check out this link for future dates!