Sunday, March 4, 2012

Interview with J.V. Bastard from Darrow Chemical Company

Darrow Chemical Company has its roots in the horror-scene. At least most of the members have played in several horrorpunk bands. But this one is different - this is DIY-punkrock at it's best, including the recordings, the production and the promotion. Their debut "A Nightmare On Seventh Avenue" (see the review on this blog) was released half a year ago and immediately got listeners and fans all over the world. Besides of the rocking tunes, it's probably the honest and emotional lyrics from J.V about the everyday-horror that catches their attention. And the fans can expect more in 2012. Darrow-founder and songwriter J.V. Bastard talked with us about the band releases, his thoughts on the scene and the future plans for Darrow Chemical Company and its record label W.H.B. records. The nightmare fortunately continues...

Graveyard Greaser Gang: Last time we interviewed you were planning an album. In the meantime "A Nightmare on Seventh Avenue" (plus a live-recording and split 7") has come out. Are you happy with the result?
J.V. Bastard: I was thrilled the record was 100% out of my own pocket, and we made every penny back at pre sale. That to me was wayyy more than I had expected, I was anticipating years of debt, and questioning why I started a label. It was our debut, people don't usually run out to buy music that they never heard before. That blew me away. I think the most valuable thing that came out of the Darrow record was realizing that we need to believe in ourselves a little more. I'm very excited to do it all over again.

GGG: How was the reaction of the fans?
J.V.: Good, I honestly have yet to meet anyone who had the nerve to tell me it sucks, and I think I've only seen one person on the net say we sucked (based off some YouTube video they saw) but basically I've seen all good reports.

GGG: Is it hard to get attention and get booked for shows with a new band?
J.V.: I wouldn't say its any harder than any other band. In NY/NJ there isn't a punk scene at all really, so in some regards I find it a little easier on a local scale. When national punk bands tour, there is a very short list of bands for these promoters to choose from as opening acts.

GGG: The live-recording was made during a benefit-show for WM3. When the album came out, the WM3 were free. Do you think the album would have reached more people if the album would have come out earlier?
J.V.: I don't know, I wasn't pushing any agenda that the record was in support of the WM3, and to be honest I personally hate the live record, some people like it more than the record?... its sold out, and the WM3 are bailed all is well I suppose.

GGG: You played a few other live-shows in the meantime. Most of them start with “Knowledge” (a cover of Operation Ivy): why that song?
J.V.: I think Op Ivy may have been my very first vision of punk rock in real life, I remember going to punk shows at 12 and 13, and EVERY band would cover their songs, pile on vocals, everyone was having a great time, UNITY UNITY UNITY! In retrospect I think Op Ivy may have lent to what I grew to love so much about the Misfits when I was younger, the songs were all singalongs, each an anthem. Our songs are short and I wanted to make our set longer. I felt that song embraced exactly the reactions I want from the audience at a Darrow show. When people familiar with that song hear it something sparks inside them, something special (or at least to me)

Darrow Chemical Company live, february 2012
GGG: Do you plan to add more covers to your setlist? Maybe even a horrorpunk-song?
J.V.: I dunno about a Horror Punk song, I have performed a few tracks from Mister Monster before, but only the songs I contributed to, and Mister Monster is now active again so i dont really feel the need to carry that torch... There are a few songs I'd like to do, I think it keeps the show fresh fun and interesting, I'm about due to swap Knowledge for a new one, so stay tuned.

GGG: Darrow ain’t a typical horrorpunk-band. How would you describe your music to people who haven’t listened to the band yet?
J.V.: Id ask them if they liked The Ramones, Social Distortion, Metallica, Nirvana, or The Misfits. I wouldn't go as far as to call us a "Horror Punk" band, but we are fortunate to be embraced by that genre. I'm not one to ever fully abandon my roots. I think you should always tip your hat to your past. More than not, when I express my self musically or artistically there is a splat of blood here and there so to speak. Its a part of who we are. Its where we came from.  

GGG: It's not a secret that you're a big Blitzkid-fan. Did they have any influences on Darrow? And what are your thoughts about their break-up?
J.V.: Yes I love Blitzkid, Ive known those guys since as far as I can remember having the internet, The Blitzboys were big Mister Monster fans before we were close, T.B. used to write to me a lot when I was a kid, we eventually met in 2000 I believe, at the first Ghouls Night Out fest. Not too long after that Blitzkid and Mister Monster became very friendly and incestuous for a few years. So a lot of our upbringings and values in this scene come from a similar school of thought. to boot most BK and Mister Monster members at one time or another worked with ex Misfits members for a few years each. we all kinda went to the same High School, and eventually wound up in the same college (metaphorically) So of course one can draw those parallels. As far as them breaking up, I'm sad to see them go, and wish it wasnt so, but if this is what needs to be than I'm sure its for the best. Blitzkid will go out on top with an unblemished track record, we respect bands for this after the fact, its never easy to grasp in the present. Thankfully they left many hours of music for us to enjoy. I wish them the best and cant wait to hear whatever comes next.

GGG: What other Horrorpunk-bands are you listening to?
J.V.: I think that horror punk is in the eye of the beholder. I love guitar driven fast music with great melodies, I love horror movies, horror culture, horror conventions, horror fans, action figures, models, Halloween. Thats who I am, same kid I was when ya went to the video store with me when I was 11 but this doesnt necessarily mean that I love Horror punk music. I don't usually enjoy many horror punk bands at all to be honest, its seldom people really nail the formula, there's a lot of balance needed to really pull that off and not be totally cheesy. I think the genre is a little lost in nostalgia, everyone wants to go backward instead of forward. It just gets redundant to me.
As of lately Ive been spinning the new Stellar Corpses disc, its not really my thing (im not a Psycho billy guy) but its shit tons better than the herd, I do enjoy Blitzkid like any other band I dig, I listen to their later records a lot. There are a lot of bands that falls under the horror umbrella I like that I dont really call horror punk that I listen to (1476, The Cryptkeeper Five) I think Nim Vind is Awesome!, and I dont like Calabrese's music (I dont think they suck either), but. I think they do it better than most.
Bandmembers: Matt Johnson, J.V., Loki and Jasko

GGG: Besides of the songs from “A Nightmare on Seventh Avenue” Darrow plays two newer songs live: “Lone Star State” and “Hey Girl”. Will they be featured on your next cd?
J.V.: Yes. "Lone Star State" was written before the record had even been released, it was very exciting to debut a new song from a future record at the record release party for a present record. It was very symbolic of how we felt about the whole process. We were/are just getting started.

GGG: Since you’re busy with your other band The Doomsday Prophecy too, can you already tell when Darrow will release a new album?
J.V.: Maybe but I wont, Id rather just tell you guys it will be out in a month one day and let ya all be shocked, than give everyone a date we dont live up to. I like surprises.

GGG: Darrow also released a split-ep with Vagora. How did that come about?
J.V.: I thought it was cool that T.B. and I were working together in new bands over a decade later and figured it would be cool to commemorate that, so we kinda payed homage to a split our older bands had done together.

GGG: For some time Darrow had four members. Now you play the guitar too from song to song. Are you guys looking for a second guitarist?
J.V.: At first yes, now no I'd rather keep the headcount low, I play guitar in the songs that necessitate 2 guitars. Loki is very good at emulating 2 parts on his own, Less dudes = more Pizza per dude.

GGG: You and Loki play in two bands right now. You produce your music by yourselves, distribute it, and even make your own merch. Why and how do you guys manage all that?
J.V.: As crazy and unbelievable as it sounds I am expected to contribute material to 4 records this year with 4 different projects. so as crazy as YOU think that all is multiply it by 2 I guess. At the end of the day it really isn't so crazy to us, its what we choose to do with our time.

Record Label of Darrow Chemical Company: W.H.B. Records
GGG: Your albums (not the split) are W.H.B.-releases. Are there any further plans for W.H.B. or is it exclusive for Darrow?
J.V.: Yes, we intend to do quite a bit with W.H.B. I hope to get some compilations out there and maybe help some bands who cant handle a D.I.Y.  release on their own yet. Its also a place that any of my current bands can release their work under if we choose that path, but so far...just Darrow. In our store we sell other bands shirts, and accessories etc.  I'd rather not speak of any specific releases until I have something solid.

GGG: On facebook people are talking about GNO X - rumors say that Darrow is already confirmed to play. Can you tell us anything specific? 
J.V.: As of now all is still very rough it is slated for late summer,  right now. You pros of now all is still very rough. it is slated for late summer, I am working alongside the promoter from the previous GNO festivals to ensure the best line-up we can provide. we are swinging for the fences, and haven't really seen any hurdles yet... the fest will definitely be held in the United States on the east coast.

GGG: What are your plans for Darrow in 2012?
J.V.: Write, Record, Tour. We just began booking a tour with Dead N' Wasted we are friends of Johnny from Summers End, Dead N'Wasted is his new band, he asked us out on this tour, had a bunch of crazy ideas, and we just began booking it all. It runs coast to coast in the United States for the entire months of June and July.

GGG: Where do you see Darrow in five years?
J.V.: Alive and kicking as long as I am. That is what I enjoy most about Darrow I kinda rule its destiny, it doesn't go away unless I tell it to.

GGG: Thanks for your time. Any last words?
J.V.: Please, Thank you, and Slayer Be With You!

Darrow Chemical Company on the internet:
Darrow Chemical Company homepage
Darrow Chemical Company on facebook
Darrow Chemical Company merchandise

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