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Exclusive: Digging Horror & Metal with Rusty Eye
by Gregory Burkart
One of the perks of this gig is meeting do-it-yourself artists whose love of all things dark, heavy and brutal is matched only by their innovative energy. There really aren’t as many of them out there as you’d imagine, so it’s a great day when you find a band that understands the connection of horror movies and heavy music down at the molecular level. The Hollywood-based trio known as Rusty Eye don’t just take the standard metal formula and graft horror lyrics and gore-drenched artwork onto it; they know exactly what the thrill of horror cinema feels like, and they’ve found a way to express it musically, capturing the exact same breathless feeling you got when you saw Suspiria, The Beyond or Evil Dead for the first time.
That ain’t hype, either – the proof is burned right on the tracks of their latest full-length release, Possessor. You may think you know horror metal, but this band just might flip your perspective. If you doubt me (and you do so at your peril), check out their seriously high-tuned website, which just launched this week, and watch them in action… and I mean that literally, because their unique presentation lets you see them perform the tracks from Possessor in a three-panel interactive viewer.
If you’re into horror, giallo, grindhouse cinema or just straight-up heavy music – any of the above are probably a given, if you’re reading this – you owe it to yourself to check these guys out. Plus their new site is really amazing (I guarantee you’ve never seen a presentation quite like it before), and their sleazy, sick and sinister video for Mr. Cannibal (from previous album Stendhal Syndrome) is a wonder to behold. But before you go too far, settle in for a moment while the Rusty Eye crew – comprised of drummer/singer Miss Randall (who plays wicked double-kick… in high heels!), bassist/singer Mr. Rust (the band’s founder and web designer) and axe-swinger extraordinaire Baron Murtland – share some thoughts about black-gloved killers, ultra-fast beats, and their enviable collaboration with Italian prog-rock legend (and founder of Goblin and Daemonia) Claudio Simonetti. Dig it!
FEARnet: What led you to start incorporating horror movie concepts into your music?
MISS RANDALL: Horror movies have always played an important role in our music, and they’ve always been as influential for us as music itself. Lyrically, every song has been written from an existentialist or metaphorical perspective, but this time with Possessor we explored darker places, the horror themes being much more evident. Metal is to music as Horror is to film. To us the horror thing is not a gimmick, it’s our lifestyle.
You’re so well-versed within the different horror genres, I’ll bet you’ve got some pretty interesting films in your collections… what are some of your favorites?
MR. RUST: Phantasm, Friday the 13th (all of them), Scanners and Rosso Sangue, to name a few…
MISS RANDALL: Suspiria, The Beyond, Macabre, Deathdream, Hellraiser, Buio Omega, Shock, Demons, Happy Birthday to Me, Dellamorte Dellamore, Don’t Go in the House…
BARON MURTLAND: Zombi 2, Evil Dead 2 and Fido.
Miss Randall, you told me you’re also a big giallo fan… which Italian thrillers are on your short list?
MISS RANDALL: What Have you Done to Solange?, Amuck, Perversion Story, Spasmo, Stage Fright and Tenebrae.
Have you had a chance to see Dario Argento’s Giallo yet? He’s already caught a lot of heat on that one, but that’s nothing new.
MISS RANDALL: I haven’t heard positive things either… but still, I’ll go see it. You see, Argento is like Metallica: even if the latest stuff isn’t quite as you expected, it’s still Metallica, and you’ll still buy it. Same goes for Argento in this case.
Good point, I’ll be seeing it too. Speaking of Argento… I’m excited to hear the contributions of Claudio Simonetti on Possessor – including my favorite cut, Mondo Cane. How did you manage to hook up with him, and how exactly was he involved?
MR. RUST: The Goblin influence has been stated on music reviews, and many times after shows people would come up and say: “I can tell you like Goblin!” so we knew that working with Claudio would be a good match. Miss Randall got in touch with him a couple of years back through common friends in metal bands and he was very pleased to hear about us. We believe he did a great job.
MISS RANDALL: Claudio is a great person, a super cool guy. We’ve been in touch for over three years and he was kind enough to do this as a friend, didn’t even charge me. I’m also huge into Prog Rock and I consider him like the Italian Keith Emerson. I feel more than honored, and could die a happy gal now… well not just yet. Kidding, but ya know what I mean.
The album art for Possessor is so perfectly metal… how did you hook up with artist Joe Petagno?
MR. RUST: We initially tried to hire a “hip” contemporary artist that paints and plays in a contemporary semi-known band, but he turned us down because we didn’t match his trendy music taste. That disappointing event made us change our minds and turn to someone who related to our musical roots, a more seasoned illustrator from the older school of art – that is Joe Petagno. We got in touch with him and told him about the concept we were looking for, and he delivered the Possessor cover.
You’ve got videos in the works for Serial Kind and Mondo Cane. What can we expect to see in those?
MISS RANDALL: We will start getting some footage this year, but we still need an extra hand to film them. Mondo Cane will depict footage from Mexico City’s most gruesome parts, and Serial Kind – in contrast to Mr. Cannibal – will have Miss Randall as the leather-gloved killer.
You’ve reworked your official site in some innovative ways to coincide with the album release…
MR. RUST: We have years of making music with a DIY approach, benefiting from the powers of the Internet since its early stages (we were one of the first bands to ever have a band site). Nowadays, the internet has become more of the same… if you make your songs MP3s and put them up on a music jukebox type of player, you’re not offering anything to your audience, and it’s going to be very hard to get their attention while they’re sitting in front of the computer staring at images or just text at a Facebook site.
Describe your new approach…
MR. RUST: We found a solution to add value to the experience: it’s basically a video player that controls three movies simultaneously (one for each band member), and we play the whole album entirely, but you can make your song selection as well.
MISS RANDALL: We performed all of the songs, each of us, with like 10 different angles, so in fact we edited 39 music videos in all… crazy!
MR. RUST: This whole technology shift has never been about converting songs to MP3s – it’s about converting the CD to the Internet itself. So we developed an interactive multimedia gateway to introduce new listeners to our musical world… that sure beats a CD booklet or a MySpace. We’re also very positive that as soon as our website comes out, every signed band is going to rip off the idea, specially the ones supported by labels. This will be our written testimonial that we did it first, and that we did it without the help of a new media department.
I’m glad you chose us to get the truth out there! So how did you bring the band’s whole visual concept to what we see today? I particularly dig the grindhouse feel to a lot of your imagery.
MR. RUST: Rusty Eye’s art has been ever-evolving over the years, so it’s become an entity of its own. When I do artwork for Rusty Eye, it all comes naturally. There’s a lot of Grindhouse influence indeed, since I’ve always been a fan of that type of poster art.
I also noticed a comic-book style to a lot of your images…
MR. RUST: I wouldn’t consider myself a comic type of guy, but I always like doing tracing with vectors and that gives you a comic book feel.
What’s your background in visual arts?
MR. RUST: I started doing art for Rusty Eye at the exact time the band was formed and eventually went to art school. During that time I did art exhibits and sold digital art and photography… later on I decided just to focus my art on the music.
Miss Randall, you’ve got the distinction of being one of the world’s fastest drummers. What’s your secret?
MISS RANDALL: Oh it’s funny, ever since I started playing I got myself a double pedal and that was my main focus. I took some drumming classes, after a year of starting out, and that created a discipline of warming up – as if running – prior to playing. The competition I entered a couple of years back was just for fun. It’s nice to be considered “Mrs. Fast feet” and all that, but what counts is what you do to follow the music, arms and feet, independently.
Is it true that you pretty much mastered the skins in about six months?
MISS RANDALL: It’s true, I’m not kidding when I say that I literally learned to keep a steady beat in 6 months – which eventually got me the gig with Rusty Eye, after I learned all their songs. That early stiffness of the beginner is what left throughout the years, and now I just have loads of fun. Drums are fun!
You embrace frightening and gruesome concepts in your music and visuals, but we’d like to know what really scares you. What’s your greatest fear?
MISS RANDALL: Perhaps we fear the oppressive burden of time. We have so many projects and ideas, and the thought of never being able to fully fulfill them, or being acknowledged about what we’ve done in our lifetime, is rather scary.