By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Art Imitates Death
Long Beach’s Mike Monster isn’t just pretending to be spooky
Horror-punk bands commonly use illicit imagery and dark lyrics to create eerie atmospheres, but Mike Monster, lead singer/guitarist of the Spooky, has made those topics his life’s work. The Long Beach resident grew up in Garden Grove and worked in Santa Ana as an undertaker/mortician for five years. He even named his cat “Salem.”
The Spooky’s album We Have Risen is a melodic hardcore aural experience that scares parents and fires up the kids.
How did you get interested in horror?
I saw Night of the Living Dead when I was about 5 or 6. I thought it was real. The disturbance it caused turned me on. After that, I looked for anything that could fill my mind with the macabre and horror. In junior high, we had our paisley shirts, long hair and bell-bottoms. But after a while, I needed something refreshing. There were these older punks who turned me on to the Adicts, GBH, Dead Kennedys and the Descendents.
Do people assume the Spooky are a Misfits rip-off band?
I didn’t like the Misfits for a long time. I thought they were lame until I sat down and really listened to them. We [Monster, drummer Stain and bassist Makill Embalm] came out with our devil locks and got the backlash of Danzig this and Danzig that. We eventually got away from that and created our own deal. We’re still morphing into what we are. But we’ve been doing it for 13 years, and we still get crap.
What’s a Spooky show like?
I breathe fire onstage and we have fog, but there’s no blood-spitting. Sometimes the shows can get pretty hectic, but we’re nothing like GWAR. It’s showmanship, and we like to put on a show. Old people say, “I thought you were going to be scary, but I love your songs.” People respect that we’re doing this for cinema and mystery. If you don’t want to look at us, cover your eyes and listen. Don’t think about the Misfits or the Damned—just think of us.
What’s “Suicide On the 405” about?
As an undertaker/mortician, I dealt with dead bodies and knew the stories behind them. This girl was in a limo, but I guess she lost her mind and leaped out of the sunroof at 80 mph. The cars behind her took her to shreds. There were a lot of mixed stories about her, so I wrote one about that. It’s an interpretation of what could have happened. He digs her up and sews her back up, kind of a romantic macabre story.
Does working with death change your feelings about the subject?
Death would hurt if it were someone close to me, even my cat. But when you’re working as an undertaker, you tend to shun those feelings because that’s your job. You build a callus. It’s really hard to explain. There was a point when I watched movies and got bored because I wanted something more. I’m always searching for something more extreme and bizarre, still chasing that high from Night of the Living Dead. People don’t get that; they think I’m standing in Glenn Danzig’s shadow. I’d love to see a werewolf or chupacabra, though. I’ve been like this forever, and I’m not going to change.
What’s next for the Spooky?
The music’s getting tougher because of my angst to find that extreme. We’re supposedly doing a West Coast thing next spring after our bassist is done with mortuary school.
Visit the Spooky online at www.myspace.com/thespooky.