Dreikönigskeller, Frankfurt, 26.10.2014 – Interview
– Original English version –
– Deutsche Fassung hier –
We went to see the unusual surf rock band BEWARE THE DANGERS OF A GHOST SCORPION! play a show at Frankfurt’s Dreikönigskeller as part of their current tour. And because we liked what we saw and heard, we asked the four gents from Texas for an interview after their gig. You can read the English original of this interview with Vince Vance DeLambre (Guitar), Professor Coyote Science (Guitar), Naughty Bobby, The Bitchin’ Witch Boy (Bass) and Glotch (Drums) – including lots of pictures and two clips – below. You will find a German translation of the interview here.
You’re not really a well known band on these shores, so would you mind telling us about your musical background? Where, when and how did you guys first meet and did you have any previous experience playing in bands at that point?
Most of us grew up outside of Dallas, Texas. An early version of Ghost Scorpion was formed in 2003 while we were in high school. After graduation, we put the band aside and all moved on to other projects. Eventually, we individually made our way up to Boston and continued playing in various groups. In March of 2010, we decided to write a few more surf songs and resurrect some of the old tunes from the high school days. It started as a side project for us all but it quickly became our main focus after we realized how much fun it could be to put on silly costumes and play wild surf rock tunes.
I think it’s quite unusual for young people like you to play surf music. The majority of bands that come here from the States play punk rock or hard core. What is it about the surf genre that you find fascinating?
Well, there are a few reasons why we have decided to play surf style tunes. One of the main reasons would be that it gives guitar players license to basically play solos the whole time. We have each been vocalists in past bands, and probably the most liberating aspect of Ghost Scorpion for us is NO MICROPHONE CHECKS! We never have to worry whether the venue we play in has a proper PA system, as long as we can plug 3 small tube amps in and crank them up, we’re ready to party. It’s great not having to come up with senseless banter between songs as well. As someone once said „Less squawking, more rocking“.
Which artists have been an inspiration for your work with BTDOAGS, and which bands or music do you like to listen to on your sofa at home?
Obviously, early surf and instrumental groups like THE VENTURES, Dick Dale and THE ATLANTICS have had a huge influence on us and really every other band that can honestly claim to be Surf Rock at all. Seeing bands like THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT and LOS STRAITJACKETS while we were teens also informed our guitar style greatly, as well as picking up records by Horror-Surf pioneers THE GHASTLY ONES (from California) and SATAN’S PILGRIMS (from Oregon).
As far as what we are listening to at home, we are quite lucky to live in Boston at present. The other local bands that we play shows with have all been putting out awesome records over the past few years. Boston bands like THE FAGETTES, CREATUROS, NICE GUYS, SPIRIT KID, DOUG TUTTLE and so many others have frequented all of our home stereos recently.
How did you come up with the bizarre band name and your trademark face masks and scorpion t-shirts? Does the scorpion symbolise anything specific for you?
There are many answers to the question „What’s up with the crazy name?“, none of which make any real sense. For one, we can be sure no other group already has our name! Really, it was just kind of a nonsense inside joke that we decided to run with. When it comes to the masks and uniform tee shirts, we decided we could come across as more of a singular rock n‘ roll party machine, kind of take a little „front man ego“ out of the equation. The scorpion was chosen for it’s deadliness and overall bad ass attitude. You would not want to mess with a living scorpion, but you’re doomed if you come across a ghost scorpion. So, beware!
It’s always pretty funny to see you lift your bandanas during a show in order to have a sip of your beer. Have you ever cursed the whole bandana thing and aren’t you horribly hot under those things?
Yeah, wearing the bandannas was a decision we made in the beginning, and we sometimes regret it. Once you make that sort disguise a part of your act, you kind of have to keep going with it. Otherwise, it would be like when KISS took off their make up. No one wants to see that! The bandannas do get hot and uncomfortable sometimes, but the main advantage is they help cover up the ridiculous rock n‘ roll facial expressions that everyone seems to have to make when playing a guitar solo. Sometimes our drummer will even wear a full-on werewolf Halloween mask, which is incredibly uncomfortable to play a whole show in. At the end of the day, the costumes just kind of help us go up on stage with no inhibitions and just play the songs with the energy they require.
I guess you can’t live just from playing surf music, never mind financing a tour. What are your day jobs? Do you happen to bank robbers what with your bandanas?
Actually, we mostly rob graves and sell the bodies to medical students and mad scientists. That and work in restaurants and stuff. Our drummer also runs Mystic Steamship Company, a recording studio in Boston. Financing the tour definitely took an entire year of saving. Every dollar we made as a band in 2014 has gone into basically just getting over to Europe and renting the gear and van. We have put out a number of records recently, and our sincere hope is to sell enough vinyl and t-shirts to get enough gas in the tank to get to the next town. For a band of our size, all of our income is based on selling merchandise. Even with that, breaking even is a lofty goal.
The – beautiful – artwork of your releases suggests you have a leaning towards horror and the supernatural. Is there a concept behind this or is it just what you like as individuals?
Thank you! We try to be thoughtful about the artwork we produce for our releases. Yes, we have a bit of a supernatural obsession and try to write music to reflect that. It’s like Tony Iommi said about BLACK SABBATH, people love horror movies, so why not horror music?
Tonight you were playing in front of just a handful of people. Did you enjoy it just the same or is it on days like this that you wonder what you got yourselves into?
Since we are completely on our own with no record label, it’s still typical on a weeknight to play for only a few folks. Especially considering we’ve never been to Germany before! Fridays and Saturdays are normally more well attended. We had a wonderful time playing at Dreikonigskeller. It’s the perfect kind of club for us. Everyone who was there was extremely kind, and we even sold a handful records. The times that we ask „what the hell did we get ourselves into?“ are usually when we’re driving around trying to find a place to park or sleep for the night. Playing the actual gig is what makes it worth it to us. Obviously, the more the merrier, but if only 8 people come out to see us on a weeknight, no problem. We still treat each show like a party.
How long did you work on preparing this tour and what were your expectations when you travelled to this side of the pond? How has the trip been so far?
We have been planning our European tour in theory since November of 2013 and in practice since January 2014. We were never sure what to expect, but we figured that this was the time to do a tour of this scale. If not now, when? We’ve done a fair amount of touring in the USA, which has gone pretty well for us. But we’ve always wanted to experience life on the road in Europe. So far, the experience has been very positive, outside of a few shows being cancelled last minute because of misunderstandings and double bookings. One thing we have learned is that it certainly is expensive to travel around over here!
How big is the turn out for your shows at home? Is surf still popular in the US or is there a come back?
Surf Rock is not extremely popular in America, but it is a fairly large subculture. The good thing about our band is that we often fit very comfortably on punk or garage rock shows as well as strictly instrumental events. In many ways, we prefer to play with bands that are not strictly surf, because traditionalists would say that we are not strictly surf. We like being the odd instrumental act thrown in the mix.
What did you like and dislike in Germany in particular? Careful how you answer this question guys…
We LOVE Germany. It is such a beautiful country and we had the good fortune to see a large amount of the landscape over the past week or so. Honestly, it was extremely helpful while traveling in Germany that we could get by mainly in English. I’d say that next time we do this, we should definitely brush up on our German and French. The ONE thing we don’t like about driving around in Germany is paying to use the toilet at a gas station! That takes some getting used to. Like, „I have to take a shit, does anyone have a Euro?“
We are lucky, especially when we are the only band on the bill, to often have the opportunity to play bit of an encore set. In Prague, we ended up playing 4 full sets, finishing up at nearly 3 in the morning!
Thanks a lot for the interview, guys!
Interview, photos & clips: Stefan