THE CROW Twitter Watch Party – Tonight

RFBANNER

Horror Addicts, in honor of the new book release, Requiem in Frost, HorrorAddicts.net and Jonathan Fortin would like to invite you to a Twitter Watch Party! We’ll be watching the dark and brooding beauty of 1994’s The Crow, beginning at 8 pm PST tonight.  So, pop your popcorn, take a seat, and get your tweet on.

WHO: Jonathan Fortin and HorrorAddicts.net

WHAT: THE CROW Twitter Watch Party

WHERE: Twitter

WHEN: Tonight at 8:00 PST

Stay Spooky!

THE CROW Twitter Watch Party

RFBANNER

Horror Addicts, in honor of the new book release, Requiem in Frost, HorrorAddicts.net and Jonathan Fortin would like to invite you to a Twitter Watch Party! We’ll be watching the dark and brooding beauty of 1994’s The Crow, beginning at 8 pm PST on Tuesday, October 1st.  So, pop your popcorn, take a seat, and get your tweet on.

WHO: Jonathan Fortin and HorrorAddicts.net

WHAT: THE CROW Twitter Watch Party

WHERE: Twitter

WHEN: Tuesday, October 1, 8:00 PST

Stay Spooky!

Interview with Artist Luke Spooner


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Carrion House is the online domain of England artist and illustrator Luke Spooner, whose work has appeared in projects featuring stories by horror masters Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Stephen King.

“I have a First Class degree in illustration from the University of Portsmouth,” Spooner says on his website. “My current projects and commissions include illustrations and covers for books, magazines, graphic novels, books aimed at children, conceptual design and business branding.”

Spooner’s projects include the interior artwork for Crystal Lake Publishing anthology “Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories” and the interior artwork for Bram Stoker Award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing anthology “Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders.” Both feature stories by horror masters Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Ramsey Campbell.

Spooner’s illustrations are also featured in the anthology “You, Human,” which includes the short story “I Am the Doorway” by Stephen King, and in “The Dead Song Legend Dodecology” by Jay Wilburn.

 

In an exclusive interview with HorrorAddicts.net, Spooner discusses his career.

 


THE INTERVIEW

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HORROR ADDICTS: Where did your artistic eye and talent originate? Any artists, books, or movies inspire your style?

SPOONER: I was doodling from the moment I discovered pencils and things to scribble on. In those early formative years, it was just a way of emulating what I loved; I used to draw my favourite characters from television shows, books – even imaginary characters that I’d make up and try to explain to others and write stories about. In hindsight; the desire to communicate ideas through visual means actually developed earlier than my attempts at communicating through spoken language. I’m not saying I was any good at it – I’m just saying it was my first port of call once I realized there were things I needed to get out of my head, but gradually, over time, it became a tap – a leaky faucet that you really had to put your back into if you were to have any hope of turning off. It never occurred to me that some people just didn’t do it. It seemed so important and instinctive but as with most things in life; once you arrive at school and find peers of your own age staring back at you, you notice people and they notice you, the things that separate you from them start to become clearer and more definitive.

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HA: How long have you been a cover designer? What compelled you to start your own business in this field?

SPOONER: When I reached the age of 18 I had gathered enough understanding of the world to know that there was a chance I could do something creative, something that involved creating images to convey meaning, for a living – a way of making money to allow me to create images for as long as possible with no interruptions. It was suggested by my art teacher that I undertake a Foundation Degree at the Wimbledon College of Art in London.  Following this suggestion and applying myself to getting accepted was a confirmation that I was indeed going to do something creative as a profession; I’d sat across tables from other students with artistic prowess far greater than my own for years by this point and despite this I still felt very strongly that I could find a niche for myself that they couldn’t fit into. That degree, in total, lasted a year and was essentially, what became known in retrospect, as an ‘options year,’ a term suitably vague and confusing. I ended up in a scary umbrella option called ‘visual communication,’ which basically meant commercial imagery in the broadest and (sadly) vaguest sense. I was trapped in a room, right on the edge of Wimbledon like a dirty secret, shoulder to shoulder with photographers, graphic designers, typographers, traditional illustrators, children’s book illustrators and even a couple of fine artists who had severely lost their way but decided that it couldn’t have possibly been there fault. I barely made it out of that year purely through the department’s constant need to try and cover every discipline’s needs on a daily basis. We were essentially a broth with too many chefs and I lost any sort of direction or idea of what I truly wanted to be. However, I did survive it and based on the few tethers I’d managed to grasp over the course of a year under the degree’s instruction I decided to sign up to The University of Portsmouth’s illustration degree.

When I got to Portsmouth everything was confirmed. I was reminded of what I truly enjoyed and what I wanted to do more of in the future. The degree provided the perfect platform for me to start from and presented the bare bones truth of what the world I was trying to install myself into was and would be like, so any second thoughts I would have had were put aside fairly early on. The unofficial mantra that got passed down by the lecturers, and made frequent appearances in our group tutorials like a support meetings code of conduct was “what you put in – you will get out,” and while that obviously sounds like common sense, I can assure you that you’d be amazed at how many people decided to sit back, put in minimum effort and just assume the work would find them both during University and out in the big wide world of work. I heard from one of my friends at a London based art degree while I was Portsmouth that her department’s stock phrase was “nobody wants you,” which although incredibly depressing is an unfortunate truth.

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When I left University in 2012 I had finished my illustration degree; handed in work, filled 14 sketchbooks, written a dissertation on film noir, even wall mounted my work for an exhibition to be looked over by a horde of complete strangers – all over the course of the final third year. What I didn’t realise was that we although the work was handed in on 11tth May – we didn’t officially graduate until the 23rd July. This meant that we effectively had two whole months of not having a clue who we were supposed to be; were we students? Were we graduates? Could we start working without knowing whether we’d passed or not? The list of open-ended questions goes on and on but when you’re talking about a department full of potential freelancers you knew you weren’t going to get any answers – even the lecturers gave the impression that they now saw you as competition as opposed to the subordinates they were teaching a week previous.

There was absolutely no hope of turning to your fellow artists and finding out what they had planned because competition was verging on blood thirsty, so rather than dwelling on it I decided that I didn’t need to know what grade I got, or even whether I’d passed, to be a practicing freelancer. I had a portfolio to my name and a desire to work and seek out potential projects so, for those two months, I emailed and searched, rinsed and repeated, sending upwards of fifty emails a day until eventually one client, just as fresh and new to ‘the game’ as I was, said they wanted me on board for their new project and were willing to pay me actual money in return for my services. That was six years ago, and I haven’t stopped since

HA: You call your online domain, CARRION HOUSE. Why that name? Does it have a special meaning?

SPOONER: I didn’t actually live in the city I studied in when I was at University. I lived forty miles away and was working two part-time jobs, so I didn’t really socialise much with other students outside of the formal lessons and group tutorials attended at the University. I used to commute via bus and train and when you couple that with the fact that our schedule, especially towards the end of the course, was pretty lax it meant that not a lot of people actually knew me beyond being able to recognise me in passing me in a corridor. However, during the second year of the course there was a big emphasis placed on creating an online identity for ourselves as prospective illustrators through online portfolios, social media, blogs etc. We were encouraged to represent ourselves as more of a brand than a person, where possible, and so for two weeks I went through all sorts of names that I thought would highlight the dark work I was creating, and hoping to create, for other people.

There were some truly awful names amongst the list of potentials and some downright laughable, so I eventually decided to take stock of how people already viewed me within the course as they were, to a point, pretty unbiased and probably a good indicator of how people would view my work having not really known me personally. In the first year we had done a project where we were set the task of researching and illustrating an animal of our choice over the course of a month and producing some sort of ‘end result’ based on our research and development. I had chosen a crow as my subject and had jumped head first into my research almost gratuitously. The end result was a series of illustrations based on ‘The Crow’ by Ted Hughes and when it came time to present the research and final product to my teachers, alongside everyone else, the other students were slightly taken aback by how ‘into it’ I had become when they saw the bulging sketchbooks and development folders. Subsequently people started referring to me as ‘the crow guy,’ not in a negative capacity (as far as I know) but simply as a convenient moniker based on simple fact — I did nothing to dissuade this.

So, knowing that I was already known as ‘the crow guy’ I took the word ‘Carrion’ and coupled it with the word ‘House,’ because I liked the idea of appearing as a professional house, or style of illustration as opposed to just some guy who could colour in really well and that’s how the name came about. It may also interest you to know that I also work on children’s books under the name of ‘Hoodwink House,’ a name chosen because I don’t feel that the child friendly style of illustration I utilise under that name is an honest representation of my artistic self, therefore I feel like I’m tricking/hoodwinking both customers and myself when I put on that particular hat style.

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HA: I read your website where you have worked on projects that include works by Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Stephen King. That’s impressive. Can you talk about how those projects developed for you? Do you feel more pressure when creating covers for high-profile projects with big-name talent attached?

SPOONER: All of those stories have come to me as parts of anthologies, so they are packaged alongside other stories, by other authors and therefore it diffuses that pressure by normalising those particular names and reminding the elated fan in you that they are just people. I try to make a point of going through anthologies avoiding any knowledge as to who has authored what as it’s the story I’m illustrating – not the writer. It also prevents me from trying to mimic any sort of aesthetic that they or their publications are synonymous with and in turn raise the chance of me coming up with something genuinely original and honest.

HA: In the age of Amazon and ebook readers, are covers as important in this digital age as they were in the days when hardcovers and paperbacks ruled?

SPOONER: Yes, of course. Covers are very important for conveying a theme or the essence of a book, ultimately providing an insight into what you might stand to gain or experience should you decide to have a look inside. On a simpler level; humans are sensory creatures so if you can appeal to someone’s imagination simply through the power of sight and image then you’ve already enriched their experience of a publication before they’ve even opened it. I would almost suggest that ebook covers need to be more illustrative than that of a physical copy as they are at a sensory disadvantage by not having that physicality and appeal to touch that humans enjoy so much.

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HA: What’s the key to a successful collaboration with authors and publishers in creating cover designs? Do most authors and publishers have a specific cover in mind or do they give you a lot of latitude in your design?

SPOONER: I think a successful collaboration comes from a mutual understanding and respect between the client and the illustrator. The writer should never see themselves as some sort of divine benefactor that has stooped to the illustrator’s level and offered them work that they are lucky to get – even if that is the case, and the illustrator should never be tempted to hold their skills to ransom and demand inordinate sums of compensation. Writer’s should realize that illustrators are a key part to making their body of work, not just a marketable and interesting package, but a complete and fully realized one with multiple layers. Illustrators should also realize that; yes, they are artists, they should never work for free because it undermines the entire profession, but they should also be open to the needs of the writer and understand that just because they are talented does not mean they are entirely right when it comes to understanding a writer or publishers’ vision. Working in tandem with each other towards the same goal, making all criticism fair and constructive from both parties – they seem like common sense things to keep in check, but they are often the first things to suffer when a collaborative effort starts to break down.

HA: I see your art incorporates visceral colors but also you have black-and-white illustrations. Which do you prefer and why?

SPOONER: I genuinely don’t know. I spent a long time simply sketching in standard pencil, sticks of charcoal and standard black ink so colour rarely made an appearance in my work during my infant to early teenage years. Around seventeen/eighteen years of age I had access to my A Level college’s entire art department, pretty much whenever I wanted, so I took the opportunity to explore the use of colour in my free time (lunch breaks etc.) and did so quite sporadically. The result was that colour would tend to explode within my images, as if the fact they were no longer repressed was reflecting a sort of violent display of annoyance at me personally through the very paper or canvas I’d set myself to. So I don’t know which of the two I prefer but I’m very happy that they are both present and hope I treat both equally well.

HA: On your website, you have a section for your illustration work. You also have a section titled “Self Directed Work.” What is the difference?

SPOONER: That simply refers to the work I make out of sheer impulse and self direction. None of it is commissioned by a third-party, they are simply the things I create because I have to create. Therefore, there are a few slightly weird pieces up there as well as a few canvas pieces, which is a medium I don’t advertise as a service to anyone. As you can probably imagine; there is a massive amount of work that I’ve produced for myself that isn’t on that page and is instead going completely unseen by anyone other than me.

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HA: What scares you?

SPOONER: The idea of not being able to create or be creative in my pursuits or hobbies scares me tremendously. Once, while in a group tutorial at University, after summer holidays through which we’d been told to maintain a visual diary, a teacher asked to see what I’d amassed. Upon opening my book and flicking through it she went very quiet, looked back over everything and asked me if I had produced as much as I had because I was perhaps scared of not being able to one day. That question caught me completely off guard with how direct it had been but also provided me with the quickest, most uninhibited ‘yes’ I had ever given in my life.

Terror Trax: Grave Of Thorns

TerrorTrax

Our featured band for episode 135 of the podcast is Grave Of Thorns. Recently we asked them a few questions about their music:

 1. Band name and member names/what instrument they play. Who writes your lyrics?

7-496-desolation-1Our band is Grave of Thorns. We have two members, Thorn and Ron Graves.

Thorn ~ I write all the lyrics and sing.

Ron Graves ~ I play all the instruments.

 2. What singers or bands inspired you growing up? Who are your favorite artists today?

Thorn ~ I was really inspired by the Virgin Prunes, 45 Grave, Christian Death, Subhumans, Skeletal Family and Alien Sex Fiend. They’re still my favorite artists but more recent artists that I like are Crimson Scarlet, Fangs on Fur and Dystopian Society.

Ron Graves ~ My journey began with gothic rock and synthpop such as The Cure and Depeche Mode, but my tastes later turned darker to bands like Ministry and Skinny Puppy.  Today I enjoy all things heavy, with a few favorites being Hocico, Excision, and Meshuggah.

3. When did you first know you wanted to be a musician and how did you start out?

Thorn~ I wanted to be a musician all my life but I thought it was an impossible dream that required years of music school that I could never afford. Then one day I just thought I can do this on my own, so I did.

Ron Graves ~ I’ve never been obsessed with being a performer, but I’ve always wanted to create.  I was exposed to music theory, vocal performance, music notation, and guitar from a very young age, but my obsession with music production over the last 10 years is why I’m making music today instead of other art forms.

3-540-the-belfry4. What non-musical things inspire your music? Is there a place where you go to be inspired?

Thorn~ I’m inspired by my life experience, dreams, adventures, the plights of society and politics. The places I mostly go to be inspired is my mind and nature.

Ron Graves ~ I find patterns and contrasts a motivator to create.  When the internal struggles of hope, fear, desire and despair aren’t enough, nothing beats a walk through downtown Oakland.  There you can see really feel wealth and poverty, art and vandalism, love and hate, all shaping the city’s soul.

5. What’s been the greatest achievement of your band? Or, where was the coolest place to play? Where did you enjoy yourselves the most?

Thorn~ The greatest achievement of our band is our self-titled 4 song EP Grave of Thorns. We have yet to play live. I really enjoyed seeing my lyrics come to life and sharing that with like minded souls around the world.

Ron Graves ~ The greatest achievement has been seeing our EP from conception to completion.  The most enjoyable moments were found in the creation process and finally being able to share our work.

 6. What are your favorite horror movies?

 

Thorn~ I have a lot! Here are some from my personal collection: Kwaidan, Susperia, Nosferatu, The Hunger, The Crow, The Underworld Series, Vampire Hunter D, Vampyr, Classic Universal Monster Movies, The Fall of the House of Usher, Flatliners, The Alien series, Gothic, The Lost Boys, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,  Poltergeist 1982, Blood: the Last Vampire, Let the Right One In, Shaun of the Dead, The Craft, A Chinese Ghost Story.

 

Ron~ I love the suspense of Alien, the horrific humor of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, and the gruesome effects of The Thing.

7. What was the scariest night of your life?

Thorn~ That would be telling. But I can say that I had a recent night of terror when I had an episode of sleep paralysis. I’m forming it into a song.

Ron Graves ~ My scariest night was when I was around 10.  I was in my bedroom and I saw the bathroom light turning on and off every couple seconds from under the crack in my door.  I opened my door to see who was doing it, but the light stayed off at that point and no one was there.  I spent the rest of the night buried under my blankets, wide-eyed and bathed in cold sweat.  After that, I was beset by nightmares nearly every night until I moved out of that house

8. What is available now that the listeners can download or buy? What is the website they can find it on? What is the best social media site for listeners to connect with you on? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Other? Bandcamp? What are your id’s/ web addresses?

Thorn~ We have videos of all four songs from our EP on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9TzsPAYXgD-m_iLPNvuQOg

Ron Graves ~ We have a self produced EP available for free on Bandcamp at https://graveofthorns.bandcamp.com/releases

Message and like the band on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/graveofthorns/

9. If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your opening band?

Thorn~ I would love to play at The Castle Party Gothic Festival in Poland with Alien Sex Fiend.

Ron Graves ~ Nothing beats playing to the home crowd in the SF Bay Area, and any of the great local bands could open for us. There is so much talent here it would be hard to choose!

10. What are you working on now for future release? Are you on tour? Where can they see you?

Thorn~ People can see us on YouTube. I continue to write lyrics.

Ron Graves ~ We do not have live shows booked at this time but please like us on Facebook to be notified of updates.

Dawn’s Dark Music Corner: My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult- Philadelphia PA and Seattle, WA 2014

Groovie

Photo by Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit

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Photo by Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult’s long-awaited new release was unleashed in May 2014, followed by a steady 6 week tour of the United States. I was fortunate to catch their show in Philadelphia and my band opened for them in Seattle. The last Thrill Kill show I caught was in Seattle in 2012 and this new tour was a bit scaled down, lighter and warmly funky. Their support tour opener, DJ Toxic Rainbow, sets the mood for a dancier version of TKK. (DJ Toxic Rainbow won the Beatport.com THRILL KILL KULT “Kooler Than Jesus” remix contest, and has since done various remix work for the band and Groovie’s side-project DARLING KANDIE.) Amongst old TKK favorites: a remixed version of “Swine and Roses”, a fun call and response to “My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult” and my personal favorite “After the Flesh” from “The Crow” Soundtrack.

mimistar

Photo by Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit

The new CD is the band’s 13th certainly versatile enough to be played at any club. The influence of 70’s electro music and some spaghetti western-esque guitars grace the collection of music. My personal favorites being: “Neon Diva”, “Hell Kat Klub” and “The Way We Live Now”. The current lineup of My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult is: Groovie Mann, Buzz McCoy, Mimi Star, Justin Thyme and Westin Halvorson. The band has progressed with an assortment of members over the past 25 years. Taken directly from the biography on the Official Thrill KillKult Website:

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Photo by Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit

It was in the fall of 1987, in a neighborhood Chicago bar. Artist and performer Franke Nardiello met with newly transplanted Bostonian musician Marston Daley over drinks. They crafted a shocking and lurid film concept, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT. Inspired by a shared love of tabloid tales of sex, kitschy horror and exploitation films in the style of Russ Myers, the concept came naturally. The name was ripped straight from a British headline Nardiello had noted while living in London. With limited experience and resources the film was scrapped, but work on its accompanying soundtrack continued. Legendary Chicago record label Wax Trax! Records were drawn by the hard beats, distorted vocals, rich instruments and bizarre film samples. They released a three song EP in 1988. The full–length album, I SEE GOOD SPIRITS AND I SEE BAD SPIRITS, followed the same year. People seemed to love it almost instantly, and so, their dreams of celluloid became a reality on vinyl.

In the spring of 1989, Nardiello and Daley took on the names Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy (respectfully). They recruited band members from bar stools and created a back-up group of singers/dancers dubbed the BOMB GANG GIRLZ. They jammed the crew of nine into a van with musical and stage gear alike, and hit the road. The tour had a “Cabaret From Hell” vibe and it aroused the curiosity of the kids and media, establishing THRILL KILL KULT as one of America’s premier industrial/electro acts.

westin

Photo by Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit

They continued to fuel the underground club dance floors with tracks like “The Days Of Swine And Roses”, “Kooler Than Jesus” and “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan”. The Parents Music Resource studio album entitled: “Spooky Tricks” It is fun, interesting and Center (PMRC) was appalled. It wasn’t long before Groovie and Buzz started experimenting, combining disco bass with wah-wah guitars and dabbling in big bad burlesque brass. The result was SEXPLOSION! (1991). It was lusty and dangerous, giving them their first taste of commercial success with “Sex On Wheelz” and attracting a whole new set of fans.

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Photo by Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit

The explosion of popularity found TKK on Interscope and in 1993 they released 13 ABOVE THE NIGHT. Like all of their releases, it had an overpowering cinematic quality so it wasn’t surprising when Hollywood took notice. The duo found themselves writing for an assortment of soundtracks like Paul Verhoeven’s “Showgirls” and Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World.” They even stepped in front of the camera for a cameo in the cult classic “The Crow” to perform the song “After The Flesh”.

groovie_mars

Photo by Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit

In 1998 MLWTTKK signed to Rykodisc, who reissued their Wax Trax! catalog. And later, GAY, BLACK & MARRIED (2005), an homage to the 70’s disco era, and the depraved strip-lounge-rock fest, FILTHIEST SHOW IN TOWN (2007).

They have released 2 albums on their own label, SLEAZEBOX MUSIC, as well as a BOMB GANG GIRLZ cd titled A TASTE 4 TROUBLE, written and produced by Buzz McCoy. It features the formidable long time vocalist and dancer Jacky Blacque, with a guest appearance by Groovie Mann.

Still a favorite among directors who are looking for sexy sleaze, their music is frequently in both major and independent films and television, most recently in Sexy Evil Genius (Lionsgate) But it doesn’t end in with the studio, film and tv, Groovie and Buzz still take the KULT out on tour extensively along with a rotating cast of depraved characters. In 2010 they re-created their role in the “Sextacy Ball” tour along with Belgium’s outrageous Lords of Acid. In 2011 they performed at the “Wax Trax! Retrospectacle” show in Chicago, with old label mates Front 242 and Revolting Cocks. And the fall of 2012, the KULT celecrates their milestone 25th anniversary with a 7 week tour of the States.

MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT continue to morph and stretch the fabric of music as we know it, always remaining true to the KULT and true innovators.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult on the interwebz:

www.facebook.com/thrillkillkult

http://mylifewiththethrillkillkult.com/

The new CD is a must have for your Thrill Kill collection:

http://mylifewiththethrillkillkult.com/store/

or

http://www.amazon.com/Spooky-Tricks-Life-With-Thrill/dp/B00JXCITVI

Check them out on Soundcloud, where you will also find some amazing remixes:

https://soundcloud.com/search?q=my%20life%20with%20the%20thrill%20kill%20kult

All photos courtesy of Tony from Fierce Bad Rabbit