ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 20, 1992
By Steve Newton
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was probably the first artist to bring together elements of horror and rock ’n’ roll. Back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, he would open his concerts by rising from a coffin and letting loose with a blood-curdling scream. Alice Cooper took the mixing of the two genres a few steps forward in the early ’70s with his simulated on-stage beheadings and hangings, and tunes about necrophilia, dead babies, and other sick things.
Kiss—Gene Simmons, in particular—cashed in big-time with the help of scary make-up, demented facial expressions, and the slobbering of fake blood. And, more recently, a band called GWAR took nasty rock to the extreme with a gruesome stage show that features a grinding device that turns humans into hamburger.
Now a group called Haunted Garage is stepping into the horror-rock ring with a twisted tour that brings the L.A. band to the Town Pump on Saturday (August 22). They’ll be playing non-new-age tunes like “Welcome to Hell”, “976-KILL”, and “Party in the Graveyard” from their debut release, Possession Park.
“A lot of the show is based around the fact that life is a B horror movie,” says lead vocalist Dukey Flyswatter, “and we just come up with a lot of strange theatrical ideas. Like last week, I was born on stage. They wheeled out a doctor’s gurney, and there was a screaming pregnant woman on the table, and the doctors reached into her womb and pulled full-grown Dukey out. I was covered in blood and started singing, ‘Knock, knock, knockin’ on Satan’s door’. I mean, Guns N’ Roses don’t do that every night.”
Maybe not, but hell-raising riot-inciter Axl Rose isn’t unfamiliar with the bizarre goings-on at Haunted Garage shows.
“We slimed him a long time ago in San Francisco,” boasts Flyswatter. “Him and Slash loved it! We had this giant brain and we were squeezing out all this, like, movie slime—the kind of snotty stuff that you see all over the Aliens. We use a lot of special-effects movie people who want to do some really fun, outrageous stuff with us.”
Dukey himself is heavily involved with today’s low-budget film (or direct-to-video) scene, having written scripts for Blood Diner and Star Slammer and acted in Surf Nazis Must Die and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (as a chain-saw-wielding priest). His band started out performing theme songs from cheap cult flicks, the kind of movies in which the music is quite often the best thing about the film—even when the soundtrack sucks.
“We used to do ‘The Blob’ and ‘Green Slime’ and the themes from real bad biker movies like Satan’s Sadists. And then it went from being real joky to mixing in stuff about how emotions and relationships in life are actually more horrible and more scary than anything else.”
Another no-budget schlocker, The Gore-Gore Girls, became the inspiration for the moniker of the two female dancers who normally accompany Haunted Garage on stage. But Flyswatter admits sadly that the Gore-Gore Girls won’t be making it to Vancouver this time around.
“Why don’t you guys have some girls there for us?” he suggests. “They just can’t be shy girls, ’cause the Gore-Gore Girls are like our female counterparts—they’ve gotta be totally into the whole uninhibitedness of it, very much into anti-censorship and against double standards.
“A lotta people see what we’re doing as being totally violent and weird and offensive,” continues Flyswatter, “yet it’s no different than a lot of the things they’d see on the movie screen. The thing is, when they’re watching Pet Sematary or Terminator 2 in the movie theatre, they can distance themselves; when they see it happening live, it’s like they’re forced to be a part of it. I mean, we really get into the audience’s face.”