Originally Posted on May 10th, 2011
Marquis DeBlood caught up with J.V. Bastard (Mister Monster, Gotham Road, Michale Graves & more) to find out what he's been up to lately and get the scoop on his new band Darrow Chemical Company.
H-P: Firstly, if you don’t mind, could you tell us a little bit about how you got started in music. What were some of your favorite bands growing up, influences etc…
J.V.: I got started on my own, just making sounds on a guitar till they made sense, I taught my self "smoke on the water" and just carried on from there. I never took any traditional lessons, just kinda used my ears and picked up a thing or 2 from my peers. The first bands I remember being shown to me were Van Halen, Guns N' Roses, and Sabbath. My grandparent instilled a lot of doo wop and Elvis in me. I later grew really fond of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC who was certainly my first "favorite band" The first time I bought Music for myself (Cassette tapes) I bought Alice in Chains: "Sap" and "Dirt" The Beach Boys Greatest Hits, and Mad Season "Above", of course I was already versed in Metallica and Nirvana at this point. In a nutshell I like to say I grew up of the Metallica/Pantera generation "A metal head" if I told you otherwise I'd be lying.
H-P: Now, you seemed to be aligned with the horror-rock scene. Was this your original intention or was it something that just happened?
J.V.: Just happened, there wasnt a term like "horror rock/punk" when I started playing in bands like that. I suppose I was always into horror movies anyway as a child, and all my friends were into the Misfits (Whome when I backtracked I had already heard and been familiar with their music via family) So with a common like for horror, and playing guitar I guess I moved from there. It was something to do. At first I remember thinking stage names were dumb and not wanting one, and thinking the make up was silly, in the end I really dont feel all to different, but I certainly found myself in the whole thing, and how I could contribute to that formula of song and theatrics. So I carried on......
H-P: Let’s go back to Mister Monster for a minute. You were in the band for 2 years (2000 – 2002) and then recently returned to the stage with them for the 10th year anniversary show. What was that like? If offered would you go back full time?
J.V.: I joined Monster in 99, rehearsed with them right after their first gig (which I played 3 songs on guitar for them at) but didnt officially join the band till early 99. I was very young, which was an issue at first. The Over Your Dead Body 10 year anniversary gig was great, and it was great to step back into that character, being an adult looking back at all the pictures and all it was real easy and fun to go back to playing the character I did in Monster. I had 10 + years of everything I did in that band that may have looked or been stupid to look back at and study.....I had one night to correct it all was how I looked at it. Every band I play in is "Full time" to me when I'm doing it. Mister Monster is an active project, we are working on the release of the live CD and DVD, and have some other stuff up in the air. Who knows!
H-P: Lets talk Michale Graves for a second. I know it's kind of dated but I'm curious. It seems that you and Loki have been together for quite some time now (Mister Monster, Gotham Road and now Doomsday Prophecy & Darrow Chemical Co.). He’s like your right hand man. What was it like to tour in Michale Graves without him?
J.V.: Loki is my brother, its not so much a "were best friends" thing, as it is that Loki is an awesome guitar player and theres no other guitar players I can imagine working with. He is an asset to whatever team he is a part of..... on almost any level, in any forum. Loki usually has his hands in much more than he is credited for. He plays without me in Graves now, he and I dont really compete, we both have our strengths that serve different purposes at different times.
H-P: What would be the dream band or line-up for you?
J.V.: I dunno man, I have worked with a lot of people already who I would be comfortable crossing almost any genre with. The Gotham Road lineup coulda played anything and pulled it off. I loved the confidence I had when touring in that band, we could play in any city anywhere and appease any audience. There was a lot of bullshit in that band on the outside, but on the real to real when you put the four of us in a room, we could really tear a house down...... Consistently. Jamming with that caliber musicians is a pleasure. I had to shake my ass a lot physically and visually in that band to keep up with how musically talented the rest of them were at their instruments. I had a lot of catching up to do then. Doomsday can also blow your mind live, but Gotham Road was versatile as fuck.
H-P: Ok, let’s talk about The Doomsday Prophecy. Now this is some serious metal. How did this come about and was it your intention to break away from the “horror-punk” sound that you are so known for?
J.V.: Nope, Doomsday came about as an outlet to bring friends together and keep hopes up in some rougher times, then we got good, and decided to take another step forward with the project, and so on.....
H-P: Do you plan to release a full-length album, tour?
J.V.: Yes we have a full length recording recorded that we would love to release, and of course with that we would love nothing more than to tour in support of it. Its quite a financial struggle for us to reach these goals (and to our expectations) The Doomsday Prophecy differs from alot of my other projects in that we seem to refuse to settle for any less than we feel necessary for this project. Metal music is a big boy game, and we have enough respect for it to only contribute to it a relevant, traditional "big boy" release. We have sat on a record that no one has heard for a year now in displeasure with it, and we still sit. We have spoken with some producers who loved the record and we would be honored to work with, but still those conversations end in an amount of money that we need to move forward with it. Being a D.I.Y. metal band is VERY different than being a D.I.Y. punk band. Doomsday is currently working on a music video and writing.
H-P: Now, you have a new band, “Darrow Chemical Company”, that is more in the “horror-punk’ vein, can you tell us little more about that?
J.V.: My motives for Darrow have changed over the years, first it was an outlet for music I wrote for Graves or Monster than never came to, and I never EVER in a million years even thought about singing as a lead singer for a band in my life previous to Darrow. This actually put the band, project, and idea on the back burner for quite some time. I wrote songs with Germs and played them in my basement on drums and vocals with germs in guitar, That was the first incarnation of Darrow. Then we brought Loki down to play drums? So then it became "everyone get good at playing a different instrument" From those style situations is how it all came to at first. During this time, I found myself married and divorced over a period of 4 years, I moved around a bit,toured a lot, and had seen some better days. I lived at Lokis house right away and it was the first time I lived alone in a bedroom since I was like 18. I had no one even suggesting my next move, my insomnia raged, I drank a lot and got a lot more fucked up than I usually would for a few weeks....all alone, and all the while I played guitar through the peak of my inebriation, all this I found in retrospect to bring down my inhibitions enough to really get something honest out of myself. I recorded it all and after a week+ I reworked the nonsense and had a lot of great ideas to work with, a few songs came out of that, which inspired Germs to write! The excitement of the new batch of songs prompted making a "move" cause I was stoked to play these newly written tunes (as was Germs) it was simple I just needed a drummer, and I had a great band, I just had to bite the bullet and sing. This became okay with me even due to my lack of experience as I became attached to the songs in a way that me and even the other guys couldn't imagine any one else singing them. I brought in Matt Johnson, who I brought to play drums in the Michale Graves band for the Punk Rock is Dead Tours. Matt is a fantastic reliable drummer, he is constantly and literally a teacher and student of his craft. From there we did a gig with Blitzkid in Jersey and another at Dingbatz again with Calabrese, and Then NYC with Blitzkid again, we've only played live 3 times! We then went in and began recording 8 of the tracks, we are in the midst of that still. With a couple cool gigs lined up. My motive nowadays is to provide a brand of music that will hopefully open the door to some other musicians to show everyone that its okay to break the mold. Darrow is barely a horror punk band by standards, but at the same time has so many pokes to horror it can be enjoyed by your run of the mill "Horror Punk Kid" and thats great! You will hear and see things like that in all my music because its what I'm into. I dont think I need a devillock and corpse paint for you to know where I came from, and if ya dont, we probably wouldn't get along anyway.
H-P: What made you decide to “go back to your roots” if you will?
J.V.: Nothing, I never really left them. I never really had an outlet for any of the type of music I was writing from after Mister Monster to present day, The only song I had a writing credit on after OYDB was "On My Way" (Gotham Road) I was writing the songs that just popped up but I had no actual project to write music for, I was touring with Michale most of those years. So I kinda got a little off track, and then later fed up with having so much material on the shelf
H-P: Can we expect an album or tour?
J.V.: Its kinda like The Doomsday question you asked before, it comes down to cash at the end of the day. Darrow is something I can handle D.I.Y. however, I hope to release a 7" first, which is something that we will take on on our own if we must. a tour for Darrow would be very expensive, its common dudes in those bands and we all need a van!
H-P: So as we all know, the music industry is in chaos with downloading, dismal sales and so on. What are your thoughts on this and do you have any ideas how it can be saved?
J.V.: Well that is the million dollar question nowadays isnt it? I download and have for years, in the last few years I've justified a lot of it in vinyl, as cds are just such a waste of space around here for some reason. I am a collector and a sucker for a great package, I think if bands put more thought into the packaging and release of physical product it will spark interest in it again. To me Vinyl is a pretty awesome way to own physical non ipod music.
H-P: Any advice you would give to anyone starting out?
J.V.: Find a job that you can work and tour!
H-P: What do you do in your down time? Any hobbies?
J.V.: I own a screen printing business with my girlfriend it keeps me busy but with all the projects I keep going at once there isnt much time. I have a lot of fun screen printing.
H-P: So what’s next for you? Any up coming projects (other than the obvious
J.V.: You'd be surprised, I do a lot of work behind closed doors, and jam with a lot of bands. I have a lot of stories I dont bother telling cause people wouldn't even believe em, but I've jammed with a lot of cool musicians in the past year who knows what will come of it.
H-P: Any books or movies that you would recommend as a “Must See!”?
J.V.: A book called "Tour:Smart" and a movie called "Deadgirl"
H-P: and the burning question is, will there ever be a Gotham Road reunion tour or album?
J.V.: Burning huh? Who knows man, thats a band that never broke up to begin with, only time will tell.
H-P: Any Final words?
J.V.: Thank you all for your continued support, "sharing" links on facebook, buying shirts, and spreading the word like a lot of you do, makes more a difference than you'd ever know. Check out and become familiar with "The Doomsday Prophecy" , "Darrow Chemical Company", " Gotham Road" and "Mister Monster" theres a lot to be heard. Slayer be with you!
Like J.V. Bastard on Facebook: facebook.com/jvbastardmusician