:: Interview with The Other
Interview with The Other
Germany’s The Other wears the tag “Europe’s most popular horror punk band.” This tag seems valid considering the group’s solid mix of gothic-metal-punk rock. Their tales of grave robbers, werewolves, vampires and other chilling subjects relate a fun, comic book sensibility that is always a pleasure to sing.
Formerly known as the Misfits
tribute band Ghouls, The Other has climbed its way out of the underground. Now, thanks to Steamhammer/SPV Records the group has descended upon Europe like a horde of walking undead approaching a well-barricaded house. The Other’s latest recording "New Blood," their fourth full-length, has gotten a lot of folks talking, and the group has taken its horror show to some of Europe’s largest metal festivals such as Wacken.
Now with the ball rolling…or eh, the severed head, the Other looks to smear some blood and guts across the globe. Possessing a voice that is one-part Danzig
and one-part Peter Murphy (Bauhaus), the Edgar Allan Poe dubbed Rod Usher seeks to gain more fiends into his club through presenting Metal Ship with tales of the Other.
Metalship : The Other started as a Misfts tribute band. How did you make the jump from covering the devil-locked ones to The Other?
Rod Usher: We started out as a Misfits cover band in 1999 just to have some fun playing cover songs of that great band. After playing more and more shows, people wanted us to write our own songs in the Misfits
style. We played our first own song – “Ripley 8” – at a Halloween show in Cologne in 2002 and the fiends loved it or thought it was an unknown Misfits song, so we continued writing song and recorded a first demo. To not be confused with the tribute band, we called ourselves The Other and after a while we stopped doing the tribute shows altogether when The Other became more and more popular and the first album “They’re Alive” was so successful. Just before the first album came out, we supported the Misfits
by the way and have done so a few more times later, too. Plus Alice Cooper
, The Cult
, The Damned, The 69 Eyes
and many more.
Metalship : I read on your Web site that you’ve been labeled “Europe’s most popular horror punk band?” How do you feel about this tag?
Rod Usher: It’s a great honor for sure! We worked really hard over the years, on our songs, the live-show, the outfits, the merch, our comic book ("Tales of the Other") and it seems to pay off. But to be absolutely truthful, there aren’t that many horror punk bands in Europe if you don’t count the horror-influenced Psychobilly bands in, but still, it’s a neat label!
Metalship : Are there many other horror punk bands that play shows with The Other?
Rod Usher: Absolutely. I also run Fiendforce Records, the “Home of Horror Punk” so I try to bring genre bands over to Germany all the time and have them play with The Other or tour with us for our annual Hell Nights Tour. We’ve played with Blitzkid, Misfits, Rezurex, Nim Vind, Shadow Reichenstein, The Spook, Mad Sin, The Damned, and lots and lots of local unknown bands. We’ve even toured with Blitzkid and Rezurex in the US. Yeah, we love our little horror family.
Metalship : The Other has a new album out on Steamhammer/SPV Records—"New Blood." Please describe the recording process.
Rod Usher: First, we did a pre-production in our rehearsal room and then went over all the songs with our producer Waldemar. Then we entered the studio and Doc played all of his drums in three days on click without the band. He only had the pre-production to refer to when needed. Then Sarge came in to record guitars and when he would have three songs finished, Migore did bass on these and then I did vocals. Sarge came in the mornings, Mirgore in the afternoons and I sang in the evenings but I was in the studio most of the time when the other guys recorded. My vocals took me about two hours a day for two weeks because you gotta watch your voice in the studio. The fun part was the last day of recordings. As soon as I sang the last word, I left to go to the gas station, got myself a case of beer and got drunk, while the rest of the band and some friends did the gang vocals and shouts.
Metalship : How do you perceive the finished product? Did the record come out the way you wanted?
Rod Usher: It came out even better than anticipated. With this album, I think we improved our songwriting and the sound. This album is pure horror punk, with mostly fast tracks, dark singing, haunting melodies and the influences of goth and metal. I think it’s our best album so far, because it captures our influences in the best possible way. Waldemar [Sorychta—Tiamat
, Moonspell] did an awesome job with giving us a big but natural sound. The best sound we’ve ever had. I would really like to re-record some songs from our first three albums with Waldemar, come to think of it.
Metalship : The Other released three other albums before "New Blood." Please tell our readers about these albums.
Rod Usher: We released three albums before “New Blood” called “They’re Alive!”, “We are who we eat” and “The Place to bleed. I think that “New Blood” shows the biggest step forward regarding songwriting, playing and singing. We worked a lot harder on the little things, like harmonies, breaks, guitar melodies, and Waldemar helped a lot in bringing out the best in us. He suggested things that we hadn’t thought of before and that make the sound bigger and more diverse. You can hardly hear little things like a guitar that plays the same riffs but in a higher key. Plus we felt secure in trying out new things, like the very metal-influenced “Back to the cemetery”, the goth song “The Lovesick Mind” or the Poison/Kiss-Tribute “Violence, Murder, Bloodshed” on the Bonus-CD of the Special Double-CD Edition (only available at www.fye.com
Metalship : Even though your name is singular, it still reminds me of the Nicole Kidman movie The Others. The Other has a mysterious ring to it. Please tell our readers about arriving at this band name.
Rod Usher: When I wrote my thesis at university on Stephen King and horror literature I read a lot about philosophy, psychology and literary criticism. The concept of „the other” appealed to me, its part of the Freudian concept of the “uncanny”, it means that something is different, strange and alien but in a way familiar. It can also mean that it’s a part of you – a memory or an urge - that is repressed and comes back in a monstrous form. Like Mr. Hyde. It’s a very interesting subject and I even wrote a book about Stephen King and the interpretation of some of his works with the concept of “the other” and the “uncanny” in mind, but it’s in German. Well, we wanted to be these monsters, these repressed feelings and thoughts that take a monstrous form and haunt the stages of the world, so The Other is a fitting name for a horror band.
Metalship : The Other has its background in covering Misfits songs, but tracks such as “The Lovesick Mind” have more in common with Bauhaus or The Cure than Misfits. What sort of vibe were you going for with this track?
Rod Usher: Exactly the ones you mentioned. Being fans of 80s Goth-Rock from bands like Sisters of Mercy, The Damned, The Cult
, etc. we always wanted to record a track that sounds like it could be from that time. We were just jamming in the rehearsal room, when suddenly the song developed out of the blue. But it was director Gris Grimly (“Cannibal Flesh Riot
”) who wanted one of our songs for his next movie Wounded Embark of the Lovesick Mind that actually made us follow that initial idea and make it into a song. It was the last track we completed for the album and we’re so happy we did, because it’s become a fan favorite already and we even play it live with the keyboards coming from a sampling-machine. By the way, we don’t do many Misfits covers live any more, only on Halloween. It would just be too obvious. On the special Edition to our new album, we have two covers by Johnny Cash and The Damned, though.
Metalship : “Hier kommt die Dunkelheit” is another unique song on "New Blood." Why did you choose to write this song in German? How does the song title translate into English?
Rod Usher: We wrote part of a song on “We are who we eat” in German and then recorded a whole song in German for “The Place to bleed”. That song (“Der Tod steht dir gut”) has become an underground hit for us and is being played in lots of clubs, so we wanted to continue the tradition. And “Hier kommt die Dunkelheit” seems to go over really well with the kids, even in other countries. Lots of people have mentioned that we should write only in German but we like our English songs way too much.
“Hier kommt die Dunkelheit” is about the darkness that spreads across the country, but that darkness can be interpreted as a plague that spreads around the world. It’s our comment about a globalism that only the rich and powerful benefit from and that leaves the regular guy helpless and hopeless in its wake, while the big guys sell it to the people as an improvement and something that cannot be avoided.
Metalship : The vocals are one of the bullet points for purchasing "New Blood." From the howling, Misfits/Samhain-like choruses to the vampire deepness of your solo singing, "New Blood" features vocals not only of a strong sing along quality but with a definite spooky vibe. How did you develop your vocals/the band vocals into what we hear on this album?
Rod Usher: Wow, thanks, that’s great to hear! I have to admit that I’m very proud of the vocals on this album because they’ve never turned out better. Maybe I now have more confidence than on earlier albums. Maybe I just tried to sing as powerful as possible and with a little more aggression. I guess the spooky vibe comes from the singers that I appreciate the most—Glen Danzig
, Dave Vanian and Ian Astbury. But the greatest singer of ‘em all is Elvis Presley. I also love Paul Stanley
but he was never an inspiration on my vocal style.
Metalship : “Back to the Cemetery” contains my favorite chorus lines. Is this track about Frankenstein? What inspired you to write this track?
Rod Usher: It all started out years before we founded The Other at a time when I was working in the intensive care unit of a hospital. Patients died all the time but I usually had nothing to do with this until one day I had to help the coroners after an autopsy
. They took the corpse and I had to clean up the steel tub. Lots of blood and pus...not very pleasant. The corpse looked all messed up and since we don’t have open casket ceremonies in Germany it was going to be buried just like that. The grave robbing in “Frankenstein” and the use for the body parts made me think, “Man, imagine some grave robber digging up THAT corpse…”
A few years later, I went to see Gunther von
Hagens’ Body Worlds, which I found to be both fascinating and sick. I thought, “Well, at least those dead bodies are put to a good use.” That again reminded me of Ed Gein, who also used parts of the women he killed to stitch up some “nice” chair covers. I was reminded of all that again when watching Fight Club, where soap was made from human fat. When coming up with the chorus for "Back To The Cemetery" – just because the words sounded good together - I had to find a reason for somebody to go to a cemetery and keep coming back. Frankenstein came back to mind.
And in these times, where everything needs to have a reason, a use and a value, the idea came to me that even dead human bodies can be a natural resource that hasn’t really been exploited yet. Grave
robbers could make a damn good business by digging up corpses and selling that fat to make fake boobs, selling the testicles in Asia as an aphrodisiac, making lampshades out of skin…well, you get the idea. Obviously, this is not meant to be a serious song, but rather a satire on a society that will use everything to make a profit.
Metalship : “Castle Rock” is another track with cool lyrics. The song title and its contents refer to the greatest writer of the last half century, Stephen King. What books/movies do you reference on this track?
Rod Usher: Besides King, I also quote Lovecraft and Poe on “New Blood” because I simply love reading and have written my Masters thesis about the American Gothic Literature. New Blood features our fourth song that was inspired by a Poe short story, but even though Stephen King is my favorite author, I never wrote a song about his work. I don’t like retelling stories. I like to find my own angle and interpretation, so I wrote a song that pays tribute to King’s fictional town Castle Rock and some of the stories that take place there. I wrote on some of the central motifs of these. Lots of his stories deal with topics like the loss of innocence or bad things that happen to good people. The stories that I refer to in the song are "The Body" (later made into the film "Stand by Me"), "Needful Things", "Bag of Bones", "Cujo" and "The Dead Zone". Also, I refer to "It" and "Pet Sematary," although they are not set in Castle Rock. I sure had a blast writing the lyrics and singing the song in the studio.
Metalship : The Other is on the bills of several European festivals. By the time you get this, you’ll have probably played all of these. Tell us about playing these monolithic shows.
Rod Usher: We’ve played a lot of big festivals over the years, but this year really topped it all. In June, we supported Alice Cooper
at his only German headliner show, and played in front of about three thousand people. Alice’s band watched out set, they really liked it, and Alice himself came into our dressing room after the show to sign our stuff and pose for autographs with us. He even plays The Other on his radio-show now!
Then came the legendary Wacken Open Air, the largest metal festival in the world. We played the second day and a smaller stage in a tent that holds 6,000 people. Just before we played, there was nobody there and we thought it was going to be a disaster. After the intro, we went on stage and the whole tent was PACKED. People were going crazy and chanting along. Talk about a pleasant surprise. And we got to see Iron Maiden
and lots of other bands. The same weekend we headed over to the Netherlands first for a nice little festival and then played the Mera Luna Festival with bands like Sisters of Mercy, Placebo, Skinny Puppy, Laibach, etc. We were on very early but had an audience of thousands, even more than at Wacken. Later we had an autograph session that lasted an hour instead of half an hour like planned because the line was that long. Let’s hope we can continue like this…
added by Darren Cowan, on August 22, 2010 for Metalship