The UK horrorpunk and horror bred music scene has never been more thrilling and adventurous than it is right; hordes of bands pushing boundaries and lustful pleasures with their diverse and viscerally tempting sounds. Two musicians have been at the heart of this; been a key cog to the fore and behind the scenes in this emerging creative machine. Johnny Rose of Thirteen Shots and Tommy Creep from Lupen Tooth, have both pushed the British underground rock ‘n’ roll scene with their bands, labels, and simply helping others. Now the pair has linked up to craft and soon unleash the first Travelling Morgue Horror Punk festival at the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham on April 4th. Already more highly anticipated than a feisty fondle in back street of a movie house playing the entire Hellraiser franchise, the event is set to be a landmark in the UK horrorpunk scene. We grabbed the chance to talk with both Johnny and Tommy about the festival, pulling it all together and what is in store for those braving its dark temptations. We also dug into the hearts of their bands and record labels to learn…
Hi guys and thanks for taking time out to talk with us ahead of a busy time with your bands, labels, and the upcoming Travelling Morgue Horror Punk festival you guys are behind.
Can we talk about the event first and what sparked the idea to out the festival together?
Johnny – It was something Tommy and I have been talking about for a while, we just had to get the courage to do it!
Tommy – Yeah absolutely, there are too many awesome UK horrorpunk bands around at the moment to fit onto a normal bill so some kind of festival had to happen.
Was this an idea seeded in your thoughts for quite a while or a more recently proposed adventure?
Johnny – It something I think both of us have been thinking about for a while, we just needed each other to help push each other! Both of us are trying to help boost exposure for the UK Horror scene so it made perfect sense to collaborate.
It is easy to come up with the idea of holding an event like this but far more problematic and difficult to actually pull it together. How have you found it so far?
Johnny – So far so good, the scene is quite close so the line-up took shape pretty much automatically
Tommy – It’s pretty straight forward so far I think, because Johnny and I are both quite organised people
Has it helped that both of you are the driving force behind the event rather than others and how have you shared the organising and promotion of the festival?
Johnny – Yes I really think working together has been a real advantage; Tommy and I both have different strengths so it makes to a more complete job being done!
Tommy – Yeah so far I’ve been handling the design and ticketing while Johnny’s been organising some of the more logistical stuff, it makes a nice change from working completely solo as we do with our labels.
Are you looking at this as a one off event or already have designs on an annual festival of the best horrorpunk bands and sounds around?
Johnny – That purely depends on the success of this one, I would love it to be a yearly event with different bands and some more international bands joining the line-up.
Tommy – Definitely, as long as people show up, there’ll definitely be more. We’ve already had loads more bands contact us wanting to be on the bill so there’s no shortage there. This’ll be the third event under the name the Travelling Morgue (the last two just being one off gigs), so I’d really love to keep going with lots of smaller events throughout the year culminating in a massive party like we’ve got planned for April 4th!
If it does grow will you look at spreading the type of bands playing it to keep it fresh each time or do you see there enough diverse talent within the European if not the world scene, to cover that anyway?
Johnny – Exactly, would be great for all the bands and for the international bands. I was delighted when Jamey Rottencorpse and the Rising Dead agreed to headline the festival, I have been a big fan of them for a long time, I have a list as long as my arm of bands I would like to book.
Tommy: There’re definitely really diverse bands out there that’d still totally fit the theme. For me the “horror” element is definitely more important than the “punk” element. There are loads of bands in the world, like Creature Feature for example, that while completely different from the horrorpunk bands would fit perfectly on a Travelling Morgue event.
How easy was it to choose the bands to invite to play the show or did you always have a certain few in mind and maybe on board before the event was a reality?
Johnny – Yes it was pretty easy, Tommy and I pretty much agreed on line-up before inviting the bands, a couple of bands we wanted couldn’t make it but hopefully there is next year.
Tommy – There was no way any of the UK horror bands, that me or Johnny have gigged with, would want to miss out on this so it was just a case of whether they were available or not.
How can people grab details of and tickets for the April 4th show at the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham?
Johnny- everything you need to know about the festival, tickets, line-up etc. can be found at www.thetravellingmorgue.co.uk
Back to the line-up, both your own bands are playing. Tell us about both Thirteen Shots and Lupen Tooth and their histories.
Johnny – yes, it’s a bit egotistical for us to have our bands playing but we weren’t going to miss out! Thirteen Shots will be playing this show as our only local show of the year so far! It will be great to play for a crowd that may enjoy what we do in the UK before we head out to Europe! We have so many new tunes to debut.
Tommy – Lupen Tooth have only been going since the summer but we’ve already been into the studio 4 times and got a load of material to choose from. People can expect live horror film sampling and several songs about necrophilia haha!
Both bands have new releases in the offing too, will they be available and paraded on stage at the Festival?
Johnny – Our new album will not be ready for the festival, but we will be debuting a lot of songs in our set. We also still have a few copies of our limited edition CD available.
Tommy – Yep! Our EP Strawberries & Cream came out 2 weeks ago so we’ll have those for sale and definitely be playing everything from that, along with some even newer tracks.
Can you share some spoilers over both releases?
Johnny – I can’t give too much away yet, all I can say is this album is our most adventurous one to date. We’re really impressed with how it sounds so far! It is scheduled to a May 1st release.
Tommy – There’s not really much to spoil about Strawberries & Cream as it’s already out, but if you’d like spoilers about the themes for some of our new tracks, just Google “skeletonization” or “cadaveric spasm” haha!
Give us quick run-down of who else will be playing the festival.
Jamey Rottencorpse and the Rising Dead – From Bremen in Germany, I have been a massive fan of these guys for ages and I’m delighted when they agreed to headline!
Jamey R…Pic (c) Johanna Streich
Zombina and the Skeletones – Clever, hilarious, catchy, surfy, bubblegum-horrorpunks! Been releasing awesome spooky tunes since 1998, a no-brainer that they should co-headline our festival!
Army Of Walking Corpses – a hard n’ fast, metal-tinged, horrorpunk 5-piece. 2 EPs under their belts and a split 7inch with horrorpunk legends the Crimson Ghosts
Gravedale High – Tight, melodic, fast, awesome horrorpunk, been going almost 10 years, shared the stage with pretty much every international horror band that’s come to the UK.
Headstone Horrors – Female fronted Horror Punk band from Nottingham, gaining a great reputation for being a well put together Horror Punk band!
Trioxin Cherry – Sleevy Horror garage Punk Band from Nottingham, These guys/Girl are one of my favourite bands in the scene, recently confirmed for their second appearance at The Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool
The BloodThirsters – Birmingham based Horror Punks, a great opportunity for them to play their first gig to a Horror Punk crowd.
You also as if this was not enough work, run your own labels; Johnny and Undead Artists and Tommy with Graveyard Calling Records. Was there a specific spark or moment which inspired the move to set up your own label for not only your own releases but those of a great many emerging and exciting new bands?
Johnny – For myself I had a feeling I needed to protect and support bands a little bit more. We had been signed to two labels and had really bad experiences with them, so I set up Undead Artists as a label for bands, run by a band. Hoping that I can help my bands and support them correctly, because I understand what they need.
Tommy – I had a solo release that I wanted to put out on tape and thought it’d be more fun to put it out as a “cassette-horror-double-feature” along with another artist’s release and it just grew from there.
Tell us the mind set and intent behind both labels and the type of music and bands you are releasing and giving opportunities to get their music out there.
Johnny – Undead Artists is a record label for Horror Punk/Psychobilly bands; the aim is to help give them the exposure they need. I like to work with bands who dare to push their sound within the genre; I only sign bands I like too. I feel like I can help them more if I’m a fan of the music!
Tommy – Graveyard Calling puts out any music that fits the horror theme, whether it’s electronic, punk, surf, metal, music for haunted attractions, anything spooky! In terms of format, so far I’ve put out cassettes and digital compilations.
Can you see the labels expanding further to embrace more expansive areas of music eventually?
Johnny – It’s something I’m looking into., If I’m honest I’m not doing it to make a load of cash, I am more about helping the bands. So I would have to really like the bands to sign a band out of my genre.
Tommy – The 80s/retro/synthwave kinda stuff tends to go down best on cassette, while the horrorpunk fans seem to get more into the compilations I put out; so in the future I think it may be the case that I stop mixing things up so much and focus on putting things out in the formats that the fans of the different genres want to buy.
How do you choose what you release? You touched on this earlier Johnny but is it primarily just down to whether something excites you personally or are there other factors?
Johnny – Exactly, if I like the music, I will work with it. It’s really tough saying no to a band but I keep it positive because at the end of the day, just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean they are not a kick ass band.
Tommy – At the beginning it was definitely more a case of “wow, this artist is cool-as-hell, I’m going to record a load of tapes of them”, but now it’s definitely more “this artist is awesome, but would anyone actually want their music on tape?”
Back to the Travelling Morgue festival, what can those treating themselves to its adventure expect?
Johnny – A whole afternoon and night of the very best the UK has to offer, it’s the perfect festival for fans of Punk and Metal too, don’t be put off by the Horror tag, these bands have so much to offer you.
Tommy – Whether you know the bands or not, it’s going to be an awesome day, a bunch of friendly, like-minded people hanging out and enjoying some brilliant music. There’ll also be a stall from Savage Monster Clothing, a raffle, loads more fun stuff!
And might there be any offshoots from the event?
Tommy – So far I’ve put on two Travelling Morgue gigs in Bristol, I’m hoping eventually to have it as semi-regular nights in different places around the UK- nights that fans of spooky music know that they can get dressed up for and catch a couple of cool horror-themed bands.
Also I’m currently organising Bristol Horror Convention for this October, which will be a day celebrating horror in film, books, music, games etc. There’ll be stalls for Graveyard Calling and Undead Artists, and hopefully some kind of after-party-gig. For more info people can check www.bristolhorrorcon.co.uk
Thanks again guys for talking with us. Any last words you would like to leave with or a sales pitch? 😉
Johnny – Thank you for all your support to our scene, I would like to take this moment to thank a couple of great sites helping make this event possible. A thank you to Undead 13, Monsterfiend and Punk alive! See you in April!
Tommy – If you live in the UK, don’t miss out on our horrorpunk fest! Besides the awesome bands, you’ll meet loads of cool people and have a great time.
Thanks RingMaster for the support! If anyone wants to find out more, check out the following links:
Free compilation: https://undeadartists.bandcamp.com/album/the-travelling-morgue-festival-meet-the-bands
The RingMaster Review 08/03/2015