Originally Posted on: September 19th, 2011
Greetings everyone, Shane! Hahn here sitting down with the singer/songwriter for Darrow Chemical Company, J.V. Bastard. J.V. has also played for such bands as: Mister Monster, Gotham Road, and Michale Graves before forming his own band, Darrow Chemcial Company.
H-P: Welcome J.V., how are ya'?
JV: Been better, been worse...
H-P: Constantly as an artist you always grow, but going from Mister Monster to Gotham Road to Michale Graves self-titled band, when in those points of time, did you feel that you were really growing as an artist and felt it was really something you could do as a living and what was it that made you feel that way?
JV: I still cant do it for "a living" none of those bands could have.I was started on this journey and doomed to follow my "dreams" since I was in kindergarten (I talk more about it in the "Living The American Nightmare" documentary, I dont wanna be redundant) I have a lot of confidence, and that doesnt come from thinking im great at anything. I am just aware of my heart and my staying power. I've already gotten what I wanted from all this, now its about sustaining happiness. To be
honest I feel the most confidence and growth from Darrow ahead of all those projects cause it took me out of my comfort zone (playing guitar or bass) and threw me in the hot seat, so far I've sat there with a smile. I never set out to be a singer, never would have imagined it this way. If you asked me in the Mister Monster days if I would ever front my own band I'd say no. So I guess at this point the most of my growth is ahead of me still.
H-P: Mister Monster is obviously the band that got you notoriety in the Horror Rock scene. But what was it like, as a fan, to be able to go from Mister Monster to play with one of the biggest names in the scene, Michale Graves and how did it effect the way you approached your style of making music?
JV: It gave me an odd and interesting perspective into "Horror Rock" as a whole. There are only 4 or 5 bands (with lots of common members) who have toured as a genre band (So lets say 12 dudes in 4 or 5 bands) On "Horror Punk" tours I have gotten to see over a dozen times all your home town horror bands for the last decade. What you find in doing that is that almost EVERY horror punk band is the same. A Michale Graves tour basically sees the same local act every night.....band gets on stage, face paint, Misfits cover or 2, Misfits t shirt or tattoo, kid with a devil lock (as if we haven't already gotten from your opening song "Zombie" and the bill you booked yourself on that you are into horror and notice your a "punk" band) When you do a 55 city tour a few times and see this over and over you become jaded to it all. I'm not shitting on the local talents here, but when in the confines of your city or state its very easy I suppose to assume there aren't THAT many more like you. In the end, each state has 2 or 3 horror bands, each the same as the last states. Those experiences taught us to lead and not follow, and made me recognize not only how much we have influenced people, but how much they rip us off. I understand this may be hard to wrap your head around without actually experiencing it for your self, but If you spoke with any dude from Calabrese, Blitzkid, or Gorgeous Frankenstein they would probably have made similar observations. So to me it jaded me into being a leader, and taught me to push the envelope to recognize how important it is to evolve and stay relevant. In my innocence I had a lot of respect for this scene, I still do, and understand the perspectives of those who have not had the experiences we have had, with that I respect the scene now by trying to open it up a little, widen the walls. I would love to see some up and coming horror bands that use their influences as inspiration rather than a mold.
H-P: Being part of all those bands and with the material you have written and compiled over the years yourself that has now become Darrow Chemical Company, do you feel any of that material mimics or at least highlights your times and experiences with those bands?
JV: Sure, I definitely would not have gotten to point D with out having been to point A,B, and C first. I hear little bits of all my projects in all my projects, and I dont know which ones are apparent or which ones only I notice. Working with Michale over the years certainly crafted the way I sing (obviously I dont have his voice) working with Loki crafted the way I play guitar, J-sin pretty much taught me how to play bass, so all of those styles are a part of me naturally. In a nut shell Darrow is very much (on sooo many levels) a product of its own environment (my past bands being part of my environment) I dont hear it blatantly in Darrow in the way I could say "this song inspired this song" but I wont deny where I came from or that it may bleed over into what I'm doing here. None of it is conscience if ya hear it at all.
H-P: Darrow Chemical Company's debut E.P., 'A Nightmare on Seventh Avenue', is an album about the real life horrors most, if not all of us, face day to day. How would you categorize the album/band and how is it different from any of your other bands you've worked with that we mentioned previously?
JV: I think its different cause its a different person sharing their stories, different perspectives. I dont consider Michale or Jasons songs to be "cookie cutter horror punk" (though we all have a song like that sometimes I guess) What I've always taken from this genre is pain masked in metaphor...why does it always have to be about a monster to be scary? I'm 29 years old man, I'm not afraid of monsters, but there are things in my life that effect me tremendously, and they can be just as scary as the The Wolf Man, I assure you.
Michale was EXCELLENT at writing songs that make you the listener think they are about one thing, and they just arent, its usually a metaphor for a much bigger picture that sadly few recognize, but it entertains his audience and appeases his need to create and be an artist. While Michale has turned his back on this style quite a bit, I think I borrow from that school of thought a lot. Not one Darrow song is actually about a movie or a monster, its all smoke and mirrors, metaphors. Most of the songs bare a misleading title to the lyrics and content of the songs, I did that consciously and purposefully... Lets categorize Darrow as "Life Punk"
H-P: Which track on 'A Nightmare on Seventh Avenue' has the most meaning to you and why?
JV: Wow. They are all very personal songs about many particular experiences and both ends of the spectrum of those experiences. For every downer theres an equal upper song to balance it out (a speed ball of content if you will)
"A Nightmare on Seventh Avenue" was a pretty pivotal song in this whole process for me, its what really got the band going, and made me realize only I could put across the conviction needed to sell such personal songs.
"Anything You Want" content wise is the polar opposite of "Nightmare on 7th" it may be my personal favorite, its a cautious tale of where I found my self right after the stories told in "Nightmare on Seventh" and "Better Dead than Wed" I dig that song cause its very honest, and is like a phoenix to all the other songs. Its a victory song, a happy song, and an aware song.
"Dont Believe" means a lot to me again for its honesty, its a song that shares the feelings any man put in said situation would have. Dont Believe is a song about when being a man is not enough. Its a song about falling in love with and trying to date a lesbian. very much like the story told by Kevin Smith in his movie "Chasing Amy"
All of them mean quite a bit to me.
H-P: How much of Darrow Chemical Company's E.P. touches on stuff that is personal and real to you and are you able to give us an example without getting too personal?
JV: Much of the record deals with relationships, there are all kinds of relationships, you and your mother have a relationship, as do you and your best friend or your significant other 100% of that record is based off of personal expediences. Not one track was written just to write a song about something I thought was cool, or funny.
H-P: Darrow Chemical Company consist of the "known unknown" that have created the sounds of the Horror Rock scene from the past decade. What's it like being able to still play with your bandmates, from your past bands, to create this new band and new material?
JV: Its awesome I have one of the most over qualified punk bands imaginable behind me, Loki, Matt Johnson, and I are a pretty solid force to reckon with as is. We can fluently play you 50 to 60 tunes from our previous affairs. Matt Johnson is a Berklee graduated jazz drummer gone punk rock drummer, he makes his living giving drum lessons, he is constantly a student to his instrument. Loki as well, in the way that he just finds soo much joy in it, he plays and plays as well as he does cause he loves it, he always has a guitar in his hand. Loki has began to blossom into quite the producer in his age as well. We have 2 new guys in the band "Jasko" our rhythm guitar player (who comes from a band not even close to what we are doing) has paid his dues and is not only a great player but he owns the stage he stands on, he commands attention and I demand that of every person I share the stage with. Our new bassist has similar qualities to Jasko in the way that he performs well, but he is also double the bassist I am (which is nice and welcomed) I want my band to be better than I am at what they do. I dont wanna play their parts for them on the record anymore.
H-P: Not to put anyone on the spot here, but besides yourself who has written the new material over the years, who do you think in Darrow Chemical Company has contributed the most since the conception of 'A Nightmare on Seventh Avenue' and how have they influenced you to take the band to this level?
JV: I wrote 100% of the lyrics, The music is mostly me as well aside from "Better Dead than Wed which was a Germs riff Loki and I slapped into a song, and "Welcome to My Nightmare (musically) was the first song I worked on with Germs after he joined Mister Monster. Since the E.p.'s completion Loki just wrote a new one (his first musical Darrow contribution, aside from production) no matter what Loki is doing on whatever team he is on in any forum he becomes an asset to that group, knowing that Lokis is just getting started, and that I finally peaked his interest makes the future bright to me, he is a STRONG song writer.
I owe a lot to Loki and Matt Johnson for sticking with me and being willing to try something like this on our own. I have soo much personal invested into these songs I will work till the bitter end without food or pay to see this happen, those dudes are just good friends who stuck by. I am lucky to have them.
H-P: If there is one thing you would like fans to take away from 'A Nightmare on Seventh Avenue' and Darrow Chemical Company in general, what would it be?
JV: I hope for you to walk away knowing your not alone. I hope that everyone can relate to or take from this record something that will hit home with them. a 13 year old can easily walk away from this record and think that Full Moon Rising is simply a werewolf song, and I get that just, like why it took me a while to understand Social Distortion. I hope not be lumped with all the horror of the genre but embraced for my songs.
H-P: Well J.V., thanks for sitting down with us and giving us you insight on you and Darrow Chemical Company.
JV: Thank you Shane!
Visit Darrow Chemical Company online: facebook.com/DarrowChemicalCompany
Like J.V. Bastard on Facebook: facebook.com/jvbastardmusician