Q&A: DSMs Spookiest Tribute Show

Reported by Erika Owen and Lindsay Fullington

Tomorrow night at 8 p.m., four well-loved Des Moines bands will hit the stage for a concert that will never be rivaled. The Poison Control Center, Volcano Boys, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters, and a new-to-the-stage supergroup called Red Poison Wolf Gun will dress in their Halloween gear and hit the stage as their favorite bands. Called Night of the Living Dead Moines, it will surely be an evening of spooks, drinks, and rock’n’roll.

Hit up People’s Court for $5 to see The Poison Control Center as David Bowie performing “Ziggy Stardust,” Volcano Boys as Nirvana, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters as the Velvet Underground, and Red Poison Wolf Gun (members of Kiriko, Wolves in the Attic, Datagun, and The Poison Control Center) performing a mystery set.

We interviewed one member from each band to get their take on the music they’re covering, their favorite Halloween traditions, and their best costumes. (See our interview with the man behind the magic here.) Enjoy the show, Des Moines.

Photo cred: Dan McLanahan

DEVIN FRANK OF THE POISON CONTROL CENTER

BB: You’re playing David Bowie for the Halloween show. What do you love about this band?
DF: What’s not to love about Bowie? He’s a genuine weirdo and innovator. He never settled for doing the conventional thing, and wouldn’t even repeat himself from album to album. His chord progressions are insane but still sound completely natural, his lyrics are beamed in from another planet. He is easily one of the most unique, inimitable figures of rock and roll history – not a small achievement given the loons who make up that history.

BB: What song by David Bowie was on your must-play list at the show?
AB: Well, if we were picking songs from his entire oeuvre, I would have said “Changes”, which I think is about as perfect of a song as can be written (and Patrick, reading this, would probably say is not even the best on Hunky Dory). But we’re restricting ourselves to just playing The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in its near-entirety. Perhaps the more appropriate question then is which song is on our must-not-play list, and that would be “It Ain’t Easy,” primarily because Patrick really hates that song. I could take or leave it. Bowie didn’t write it anyway. It’s not making the cut.

BB: You’re walking through a haunted house—what creepy music should be playing in the background?
DF: Good question! If we’re looking for something haunting to be playing in the background, the song “Farmer in the City” by Scott Walker comes to mind. I like the idea of juxtaposing the constant, intense visual stimulation of severed heads flung down halls, ghouls popping out of the floorboards, and witches boiling human brains (that all happens at haunted houses, right?) with such a slow, discomforting, almost operatic song floating eerily overhead.

If we don’t want the experience to be absolutely bleak and dreadful–maybe if the haunted house is supposed to fun in a more conventional sense –I’d go with “Monster Mash”. The original Boris Pickett version is obviously a classic, but I’m partial to the Bonzo Dog Band version these days. It’s pretty rippin’ and the studio version has a killer sax solo. This live video of it is essential viewing – the drummer is playing the drums with human bones!

BB: What was the best Halloween costume you ever had?
DF: I was Zombie Mark Twain a few years back. It seemed appropriate for celebrating Halloween here in Missouri, given his roots in the state. Another memorable costume was from when I was in maybe first or second grade. I was really into these little toys called Battle Beasts. My mom made me this killer costume of one of them that was sort of a parrot thing. But then on Halloween everyone wore their costumes to school and I felt a bit self-conscious since my wing-span made it hard to get through doors.

BB: If you had to eat one type of Halloween candy for the rest of your life, what would it be?
DF: Never been too crazy about the candy, but I think Reese’s peanut butter cups are the clear choice.

BB: What’s a movie that scares you every time?
DF: I was pretty freaked out by the Poltergeist films growing up. I don’t remember them too clearly, but for a long period in my life, I couldn’t stand to be in a dark room with a mirror for fear that that white-haired guy would be in the mirror staring back at me. Did this even happen in those movies?

JORDAN MAYLAND OF VOLCANO BOYS

BB: Volcano Boys is playing as Nirvana for the Halloween show. What do you love about this band?
JM: I discovered Nirvana at around 6th or 7th grade. Even though I grew up in a pretty musical house (my mom was the choir director and church organist, my dad jamming to The Beach Boys and The Beatles), I had never heard music like this before. I had gotten obsessed with Aerosmith and Billy Joel earlier, but hearing Nirvana helped express myself a lot better. It was punk, it was melodic, and it was a brand new style of music I had no idea existed. I remember my friend, Crystal, making me tapes of Bleach, Incesticide, and In Utero, and me listening to them over and over in my grandparents car on the farm. I think I wore out their battery the first day I got those tapes.

BB: What Nirvana song was on your must-play list for the show?
JM: I think most people would say “Smells like Teen Spirit,” but I don’t think we’ll be doing that one. You never know, though. We’re really excited about the heavier In Utero stuff. “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” is a personal favorite of all of ours. Playing any of those songs live just makes me feel like a grown up kid.

BB: You’re walking through a haunted house—what creepy music should be playing in the background? 

JM:I think a really slowed down version of Patsy Cline could be pretty terrifying, though I love Patsy.

BB: What was the best Halloween costume you ever had?
JM: I think after becoming obsessed with “Everything I Do, I Do it For You” by Bryan Adams, my Robin Hood outfit from that year was pretty brilliant. I’m fairly positive all I had was a bent stick with a shoelace tied on that I made into a bow, and a brown sheet for a cloak. There was a treacherous blizzard that year, but my parents still took me around Rake, Iowa, so I could play Robin Hood. Also, one year I got a Friday the 13th hockey mask, but still convinced my parents how absolutely necessary it was to paint my face grotesque to fully become Jason.

BB: If you had to eat one type of Halloween candy for the rest of your life, what would it be? Snickers or Baby Ruth probably. JM: I’m not too into sweets so I’m probably that lame-o who would hand out apples or something…but that’s not candy. More of a nature’s candy…right?

BB: What’s a movie that scares you every time?
JM: Maybe I’m more intrigued than scared, but I think my favorite horror film is probably The Shining, but the scariest movie I’ve seen as of late is House of 1000 Corpses. I needed to take a few cigarette breaks to make it through that one.

AMY BADGER OF LOVE SONGS FOR LONELY MONSTERS 

BB: You’re playing Velvet Underground for the Halloween show. What do you love about this band? 
AB: So many things, but vocals always come to my mind first. Reed’s vocals are unrestrained – one minute subdued, wild the next, but somehow always conversational, natural. And I can’t talk about my love for VU’s vocals without gushing a little over Nico’s stunningly melancholy voice on The Velvet Underground & Nico. As far as their music as a whole, I think it’s that their sound is distinct and experimental, even when bare and simply structured.

BB: What song by Velvet Underground was on your must-play list at the show?
AB: Definitely “Venus in Furs.” That’s been my favorite VU song since the first time I put on that record. I love its unhinged, creepy, sensual vibe…a little unsettling, and (for me, at least) always striking.

BB: You’re walking through a haunted house—what creepy music should be playing in the background? 
AB: Something with screechy strings, howling vocals, and maybe some deep reverberating drums. Ha, come to think of it, Velvet Underground could have come up with a few good songs for my haunted house.

BB: What was the best Halloween costume you ever had?
AB: I’d have to go with last year’s costume when we played at Des Moines Social Club as part of the Best Halloween Ever show. I went as a ghost bride, and aside from a really annoying wig, I had a blast in that costume. I managed to recycle an old prom dress for it too, so bonus.

BB: If you had to eat one type of Halloween candy for the rest of your life, what would it be?
AB: Reese’s peanut butter cups. I’d settle for the regular kind, but everyone knows the pumpkin shaped ones are far superior.

BB: What’s a movie that scares you every time?
AB: The Shining. It’s just one of those movies that gets under your skin. I’ve seen it so many times and it still shakes me up. The wave of blood rushing through the doorway always gives me chills and haunts me a little.

PATRICK FLEMING OF RED POISON WOLF GUN

BB: Red Poison Wolf Gun is performing a mystery set for the Halloween show. Can you give us any hints?

PF: Well I can’t say the band we are covering, but it’s super fun to play with these guys!  And they all know the songs a lot better then I do, so it’s kinda like joining a new band with buddies, and I’m the weakest link!  But the band already has some hits. So I’m not too worried about it.

BB: Red Poison Wolf Gun is quite the super group! How is it mashing so many musicians with different styles of music?
PF: It’s been a pure joy, because I would want to be in everyone of the other guy’s bands. I love all of them as people and musicians so it’s been fun. Now if we could have just picked a band to cover as easy as Nirvana or the Velvet Underground, this would be a piece of cake.
BB: You’re walking through a haunted house—what creepy music should be playing in the background?

PF: I think the scariest music I have ever heard in my life is the last 30 seconds of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It’s also my favorite song ever so that should be played wherever you go whenever!

BB: What was the best Halloween costume you ever had?
JM: A couple years back I went as a snake charmer with a basket over my penis, kinda like Dick In A Box,  but I had this huge snake coming out of the basket and Ashley, my wife, did my make up and made me a turban.  Kids came to our door confused as I played a recorder. Parents were like, “Oh, you’re a snake charmer,” and were freaked out.. Then we went to this party and my friend Adam (who can now legally get married in Iowa) said, “If I pet your snake, will it spit on me?” So much fun was had with that costume!
BB: If you had to eat one type of Halloween candy for the rest of your life, what would it be?
PF: I love candy corn and those little candy corn pumpkins, but they are not vegan so I can’t eat them anymore. But as a kid I always went for the Snickers bars and Skittles because those two are the greatest candies ever!  My great uncle used to give out full Snickers bars and one time he let me take, like, 7 of them!  It was amazing. I was a totally a little plump kid, but Halloween has always been my favorite holiday!
BB: What’s a movie that scares you every time?
PF: Well, the Exorcist is my all time favorite scary movie, but a movie that I relive all the time in my head is the Blair Witch Project!  I was at the perfect age when that movie came out and it was so scary the whole back ground story and all!  To this day everytime I’m in the woods or something with friends I always say do you remember that final scene of the Blair Witch Project and then I start screaming, “MIIIIIIIKE, MIIIIIIKE, MIKE, MIKE” and it always freaks them out!  What a scene!
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4 thoughts on “Q&A: DSMs Spookiest Tribute Show

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