CROWGRRL’S PERCH 09-19-04
By Athena Schaffer aka The Crowgrrl
* Dee Snider is a very busy man these days: live shows with Twisted Sister and Bent Brother (not to mention a new Twisted Sister cd getting ready to be released on October 5), tv and radio shows, etc. But first and foremost in his sites is a plan to bring a special Halloween experience to audiences.
Van Helsing’s Curse - billing itself as the Soundtrack to Halloween - began a year ago with the release of the cd, "Oculus Infernum" (Latin for "Eye of Hell"). Over a backdrop of hauntingly beautiful yet chilling music and a chorus singing completely in Latin, Dee narrates a nightmarish story of a classic battle of good vs. evil. An ancient entity murders the adults in the town the story is set in, and one boy wants to avenge his parents’ death by challenging this embodiment of evil.
Starting October 15, Van Helsing’s Curse will begin performing larger-than-life stage performances, bringing this haunting story to life. This is one live event not to be missed!
I understand you want to focus on Van Helsing’s Curse right now?
I’ll talk about anything that you like, but obviously with Halloween approaching, Van Helsing’s Curse is my primary focus. I view it as a perennial - each year it returns for the month of October. We’re building it. It just started last year with the release of "Oculus Infernum", our first installment. This year we’re going to get our first performing entity up and running. We’re only going to do like a half dozen cities. But it’s time for people to see what Van Helsing’s Curse is like.
There’s a long range plan here for an ongoing project that will, I hope, become an intrical part of the Halloween season.
Are the same people who were involved on the "Oculus Infernum" album going to be on the tour?
Well, Van Helsing’s Curse is the brainchild of Yours Truly. The first thing I did, though…I have learned to do things well, one should have a team of people that each bring something to the table. I had a band called Widowmaker, an ill-fated project in the early Nineties. Great musicians - Joe Franco, Al Petrelli (who plays in Trans-Siberian Orchestra, amongst many other things), and Phil Carson, who is the only record company executive who I’ve ever kept a relationship with and I’ve ever thought had any value. We formed Widowmaker Productions. We all bring something to the table - my writing ability, Joe’s producing ability, Al’s musical ability, and then we’re also musicians as well. Phil is actually a bass player, but he’s a great businessman. This team produced and put together and created Van Helsing’s Curse. This team is the production team that will oversee everything.
That said, these first six shows are very important shows. So that nobody screws it up, I will be doing the live narrations at these shows. Joe Franco who played the drums and produced will be doing the drumming live. Al Petrelli has other has other responsibilities, but he’s training the musicians and doing the musical direction at our rehearsals.
In the future, the plan is to have multiple entities out there. A: it would be impossible to have us all at all these shows. B: We never wanted to be something that was star-driven. Right now, yeah, we need me to promote it, which is one of the things that I bring to the table, and I always will promote. But we don’t want people to come to it and go, "Oh, gee, I thought Dee would be here". We’re toying with the idea in the future of celebrity narrators, maybe bring in Robert Englund or Alice Cooper or Ronnie Dio or Glenn Danzig.
We’re also working with John Carl Buechler who is a horror director and special effects guy. We’re developing a dvd concept which will mix live performing with dramatic renderings of the storyline inter-cut. We want to have a multi-media event. He wants to film my various little soliloquies in a very dark and dramatic setting. We’ve got this dark forest where I’m sitting on a throne talking. Then in the darkness in the background, you can see all kinds of things crawling and creeping around, getting closer and closer to me as I do my bits. The idea is eventually if we make that happen would be to use video projections at the concert performances of me doing the in-between parts to the audience.
So, ultimately the plan is to have not only multiple touring entities, but we’re already in discussion with places like Six Flags about having local hires - setting them up in theme parks and any place where there’s tourists looking to expand. Say, Vegas for a month. Any place where people are looking to expand their Halloween experience. Have almost like a Blue Man Group set up almost for Van Helsing’s Curse through the month of October. We’ve got big plans.
I know your vision last year was to dress the rock musicians in a raunchier Goth style, the string people as Anne Rice-style Goths, and choir as druids. Are you still doing that?
Oh, yeah! Those costumes are already bought, the people are being dressed. To me, that will always be the statement. It will always be the "New School vs. the Old School". It’s an underlying theme within the whole concept. I don’t know if you’ve seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but I was very inspired by their Classical Meets Rock approach to Christmas music, but the strings are sort-of second class citizens. With me, on our stage, both the Old School and New School will be represented.
As we produced the record, I kept reinforcing the fact that there’s got to be this tension. There has got to be this battle. It has got to be back and forth, back and forth, at times coming together and meshing beautifully, then pulling apart challenging each other. Visually that needs to be there. Musically that needs to be there. The costuming is a great way to achieve that. As classic as the Old School Anne Rice-style Goth look is, the New School - latex and leather -- that’s becoming a classic look itself. It’s not going anywhere.
Then ultimately, although we have an 18-piece orchestra going out (6 strings, 6 electric, 6 choir), if I had the money it would really be more of a 24-piece because we had a horn section in there as well. I hope that in years to come, I’ll be able to say, "Van Helsing’s Curse gets horns." I’m already planning it. I’ll have a zombie horn section up there as well, which I think will really add another flavor to the palette. That would be nice.
"Oculus Infernum" left the storyline open. Is there going to be a Part 2?
Absolutely! As I said, this is going to be a long range project for us as producers. Another reason to keep ourselves out of it is I don’t want it to live or die by me being there, or me being around even. My real goal is to provide a much needed musical element for the Halloween season, and to have it decades to come - be an integral part of Halloween. People are going to go trick-or-treating, have a Halloween party, go to a haunted house, and they’re going to go see Van Helsing’s Curse. I really want that to be a part of the Halloween experience.
In order to be that part of Halloween, there need to be other installments, other volumes. Right now we’re still working "Oculus Infernum", and I think we’ll be working this one through 2005. But for 2006 we’re already planning the next installment; it will be another story with new music. It will be Van Helsing’s Curse, there will be another title, and we’ll go there. There will be other installments. If you want it to be living for decades to come, then you’ve got to give people new ideas, new music to digest and enjoy.
So, the timelessness that you’re pushing for is the reason you used stuff other than your own? There are a lot of your own compositions in there, but I heard things like "Tubular Bells" and "Black Sabbath" in there.
Actually, the truth is (and thank you for giving us credit for some of those amazing classical pieces), a majority of the music is not ours. I took the idea from Trans-Siberian Orchestra which is a rock orchestra, and they mixed timeless Christmas songs with original stuff. I said I really like this idea because people immediately identify with themes that they have a familiarity with, which is good. Then you introduce new themes that are your own, so it gives them their foot in the door, so to speak, then you bring your thoughts to them.
Also there was Rock and Classical, so we took "Tubular Bells" and "Black Sabbath" along with our own pieces, but there’s also Stravinsky, Paganini, Strauss, Beethoven…
There was a lot of familiar stuff in there, I just couldn’t place it.
I didn’t expect people to. When we sat down to business, we said, "What are our criteria for the classical themes?" One, they have to fit. Two, they should be familiar to people. Classical is great. One of the problems with classical - I was a classically trained counter-tenor, so when I was 19, I sang classical music as well as rock. I always felt that classical music had the worst PR in the world. It has a horrible presentation, and it turns people who might embrace it off. People know more classical music than they realize. I always felt that the Beethovens and Bachs of the world could have been the Black Sabbaths and Led Zeppelins if they were alive today.
You have to properly present stuff to people. You can’t beat them over the head with subtle classical music that you really have to be an aficionado to appreciate. You’ve got to hit them with things that will fire them up, that they recognize. You’ve got to educate people slowly.
So, first, it had to be creepy, it had to be eerie, it had to fit the bill. But also, familiarity was important as well.
Speaking of scary stuff, how about a "Strangeland 2"?
I’m so happy to report that after 5 years of ugly legal struggle - and mind you, it hasn’t been on my part. I’ve been caught in a horrible, Enron-like fiasco that happened to The Shooting Gallery, who made "Strangeland". (They also made "Sling Blade"). They were growing at a tremendous rate. It turned out there was a reason for that. Beside their successes, they also had the CFO cooking the books. He was indicted by the federal government, and they literally padlocked the entire company. For five years, it’s been in the courts, and I’ve been sitting, waiting for them to release my property. I own my property, but because it was in the middle of this mess, I couldn’t extricate it. So, I’ve been sitting there for five years with studio interest, a script, producers ready to go, and I haven’t been able to do anything.
Finally, we just got papers releasing the rights to "Strangeland" back to me. I expect in 2005, you will see "Strangeland 2" in production. I’ve sort-of had to keep myself from getting too focused on it because it’s been heartbreaking to me that my Little Project That Could, that’s built such a nice cult audience - and I’ve had interest from people in making a new one, and haven’t been able to do it. I really see it as a franchise, I really see it as another long range project. I fully expect "Strangeland 7, 3-D - this time he’s really dead, we’re not kidding", and the lunchbox sometime. But right now, as far as your readers go, I can tell you the new script will not disappoint. It is dark, as the first one is. It is disturbing, which it needs to be. It continues on in a reality-based frame. Everything you saw in the first one is plausible, could happen, does happen. Now, I continue that with the second one.
As far as where the story goes, I pick it up a year later on the anniversary of Captain Howdy’s arrest. In this day and age, when you’ve got a villain as notorious as he would have been, he would be covered by the press, the internet, and the media, with the way they blow these people up, and the way they put people under a microscope. Where would the detective be a year later? Where would the daughter be, emotionally, physically, and mentally? Where would the Robert Englund character, Jackson Roth, be? Where would Captain Howdy be? And take it from there. That’s what I did, and I just allow the story to unfold as I would expect it might if it really was truly to happen. I do think you will find it interesting and disturbing, which is always my main purpose.
Whenever I start talking a little too highbrow about it, I remind people that my main intent was to freak people the f**k out. If I can make a statement along the way, that’s a bonus. If all I do is freak people the f**k out, then I’ve done my job.
(Part 2 of this interview, where Dee talks about his many other projects, will be featured in the October 3 edition of The Perch. Be sure to check back!)
* Blazed, featuring frontman Jesse Blaze, will soon be releasing new 6-song demo! Check out the Blazed website for more info and schedule of live shows.
Check out Jesse’s radio show on 107.1 The Box in Long Island, New York. Those of you in the Eastern Long Island (and even parts of Connecticut ) area, be sure to tune in! (This station will be up on the web soon, too, so those of us not in that area can listen in, too). His show is in the 6pm to 11pm slot.
Blazed online chats have been rescheduled: the first Sunday of every month at 8pm EST. at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/JesseBlaze/chat Check the Blazed websites for updates. (And support the Merch section while you’re there - the new t-shirt designs are fun. Maybe, just maybe there may be dvd news there in the future as well, from a very special live performance).
* Thor’s "Beastwomen From The Center of the Earth", is finding its way into the Crowgrrl’s cd player very frequently these days, at least once a day. Fantastic album!
* Fear Factory and Lamb Of God are getting ready to embark on a co-headlining tour, with Children of Bodom and Throwdown opening. That promises to be one kick-ass show!!!Tour dates include:
* Mortiis is currently touring Europe in support of his excellent new album, "The Grudge" on Earache Records. Susperia are openers.Tour dates include:
* The second installment of W.A.S.P.’s Neon God saga, "The Neon God Part 2: The Demise" is being released on September 28 on Sanctuary/Metal Is records.
* On October 5, Superjoint Ritual is releasing the dvd, "Live At CBGB 2004 - Changing The Face of Music Through Uncompromising Anti-Image" on Sanctuary Visual Entertainment.
* Kick Axe have just released a new album, their first since 1986! Called "Kick Axe IV" (MTM Music), the band celebrated their return with a show this past August in Saskatchewan, and plan on doing a full scale tour in support of this new album.
"We always felt the band had unfinished business" says guitarist Larry Gillstrom. "Every couple of years we would talk about getting back together, and now we are finally able to do that. It took us two years to put ‘Kick Axe IV’ together - there were a lot of songs to choose from."
The aforementioned Larry Gillstrom is joined this time around by vocalist Gary Langen, guitarist Raymond Harvey, bassist Victor Langen, and drummer Brian Gillstrom.
* Former Blue Öyster Cult long-time roadie, Sam Judd, is currently in the hospital recovering from major spinal surgery. BÖC Fans website is holding a raffle to help Sam and his family through these tough times they’re currently going through. Either buy raffle tickets through the website (they’re $20 each) with PayPal , or send a check or money order to:
Sam Judd Benefit Raffle
Besides being for a worthy cause, raffle prizes include such collectibles as a Buck Dharma archive set of solo cd’s, an autographed Blue Öyster Cult jacket, Blue Öyster Cult coaster set, an autographed Blue Öyster Cult poster or t-shirt, and other Must-Have items.
(The Crowgrrl wishes Sam a speedy recovery!)
* Speaking of Blue Öyster Cult former BÖC keyboardist Tommy Zvoncheck’s recent side project, Acid Test Band, has disbanded. Now Tommy is devoting more time to his solo project, ZKG Music. The first cd from ZKG music is absolutely brilliant! (And features a guest appearance by BÖC guitarist Buck Dharma!)
* Apartment 26, which included frontman Biff Butler - son of Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler - have called it a day. Partly this decision was made due to the band parting ways with Atlantic Records, but other factors entered into their decision as well. In an official statement, the band says, "In light of this and other more complicated events than we could possibly put into words, the time has come for us to call it a day. Louis decided a while ago to go his own way, with his wife, into a more stable, and decidedly less "Cliff Burton hair wielding extreme metal" existence. Carrying on without any one of the four of us would have been strange, although we had intended to give it a go. Now though, it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen, for reasons many and varied."
* Having just completed the 2004 OZZfest tour, Dimmu Borgir are headed back to Norway to work on writing new material and take the first breather since "Death Cult Armageddon’s" September 2003 release. Look forward to a dvd and video reflecting the tour to come out in 2005. (see the Crowgrrl's Ozzfest 2004 Tribute Page
SCREENS (Large & Small):
* We have a guest reviewer this week, Collin Schaffer, who took a peek at the Japanese version of Power Rangers.
Review of: Abaranger vs. Hurricanger by Collin Schaffer.
Brief summary: You see Tokyo, lasers hit a roof, mecha battle. The
villains appear. Some talk about the villain, Fake versions of the villain
appear. The team can't morph, but the clones are defeated. The team can eventually morph again and then the ending is near and it’s great (And I’m not telling any more). And there is a clip of the story after the credits.
Overall: Good action. Great ending. Thumbs up. Worth buying!
* Did any of you readers catch the season premiere of Third Watch this past Friday? One of the ones featuring Gene Simmons as a guest star? If you did, you will agree that it was seriously INTENSE!
* Unfortunately, the excellent Crow fansite, A Boy And His Bird was temporarily down this week ,so there was no new edition of the Murder of Crows Newsletter. Hopefully all will be back up and running soon. (It's the absolute best source for The Crow news!)
For the very latest news and interesting stuff about anything remotely The Crow-related (including info on the upcoming movie The Crow 4: Wicked Prayer) be sure to sign up for the newsletter and check the website frequently.
* Speaking of The Crow, as mentioned in previous weeks, Frank has retired from The Crow’s Loft website. But there is a parting gift to Crow fans - for a limited time.
There was a soundtrack made to the tv series, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, but it was only available to cast and crew. (And periodically, a copy would show up on E-Bay, which the Crowgrrl has unsuccessfully tried to get her own talons on).
That soundtrack IS THE PARTING GIFT from The Crow’s Loft!!! Go to the following link to download selections from the show: http://www.thecrowsloft.com/sth/
* Chapter One of my own book, Under Her Black Wings (yes, the title is with Glenn Danzig’s permission - I never would have used that title otherwise) is available to all my readers in the "Print" section of this site.
From the moment this project started (brainstorming article ideas with a magazine editor; she asked if I could get an entire article out of the topic of Crow and Raven legends, and I quipped "I could write a BOOK on it!), it has taken on a life of its own, taken flight. So many people have gotten involved, and these beautiful birds mean a lot to many people!
The chapter list (the actual titles of the chapters may be renamed, but the subject matter’s the same) includes:
All chapters are in progress, and as I research and as people share their stories, they’re included in the appropriate chapter. These should be available soon (to those with a subscription only) to watch the work in progress.
* Gothic Beauty Issue #14 is out! A copy just arrived in The Crowgrrl’s hot little hands! I can’t wait to read every delicious word! Check out details at the Gothic Beauty website. (Also, check out the cover of #14 - I seriously want an outfit like that awesome one the cover model is wearing!)
Gothic Beauty Magazine has revamped its website, and it’s fantastic! Go to www.gothicbeauty.com and check it out.
Anyone in the UK interested in being part of Gothic Beauty’s new UK Street Team should email email@example.com with your brief details and mailing address!
Ad space is available for future Gothic Beauty issues. For specifics, go to www.gothicbeauty.com/ads and "be sure to mention that Athena sent you."
* David "Avocado" Wolfe, author and foremost authority on raw food nutrition, will be making a number of live appearances, both with seminars, and performing with his band, The Healing Waters Band. For more information on any of these appearances, check his website under "Events".
For those of us not in the San Diego area, the Nature's First Law World Headquarters has an online superstore at Nature's First Law www.rawfood.com where many of the items mentioned in David Wolfe’s books can be found. You can also sign up there for a great e-newsletter. This month’s includes info on Blue Manna (wild blue-green algae), raw organic cacao (chocolate), upcoming special events, and new items available from that website.
New This Week from Nature's First Law: Tasty PERUVIAN ELDERBERRIES. (Item #0915: Food: Elderberries, Peruvian)
These berries are Raw & Wildcrafted. High mineral content, low sugar content, Peruvian Elderberries are a great source of antioxidants. The berries are small, round, and dark purple to almost blue-black in color. Elderberries offer good levels of vitamins A, B and C, and they have long been used as a savory fruit in jams and pies. A common use of elderberries today is for relieving the symptoms and shortening the days of common colds and flu. Elderberries make a delicious and highly nutritious treat by the handful!
These Elderberries come from small organic family farms in rural communities of Peru where unique non-hybridized, heirloom varieties of plants and family traditions passed on for generations create fruits and vegetables of the highest culinary and nutritional quality. Ideal low-temp specifications for drying ensure a product like none you have ever tasted.
* The Crowgrrl’s current reading stack includes:
"Mind of the Raven: Investigations & Adventures With Wolf-Birds" by Bernd Heinrich,
"Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard" by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart,
"Norwegian In 10 Minutes A Day’,
"Norwegian Verbs & Essentials of Grammar" by Louis Janus,
"Eating For Beauty" by David "Avocado" Wolfe,
, and am even re-reading The Lost World by Michael Crichton (to write up quiz questions for my son’s home-school literature class - he requested reading this book next).
This is an important note snuck in by the crowgrrl's husband.
Help Me wish Athena the Crowgrrl this Friday a Happy Birthday!!
* IMPORTANT: Readers, something strange was in my e-mail box last week, a 19K-size e-mail with an attachment that was from "management@ crowgrrl.com" THERE IS NO SUCH ADDRESS. The topic line might have said "E-mail account security warning", but it smelled like "virus" to me and was immediately deleted. If anyone finds anything similar, do the same. Delete, don’t open. There is NO "management" e-mail addy here.
* The Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, MD, opened this weekend, and continues every weekend through October 24.
* Hey, Readers, you’ve gotta check out a product called Body Balance by Lifeforce. My family takes Body Balance every day! It’s much better than a daily multi-vitamin, that’s for sure! And another "plus", if we feel down or over-tired, a little more Body Balance does the trick to pick us up.
It’s a liquid, ionic, phytonutrient dietary supplement made from whole foods, and it contains a mix of over 120 vitamins, minerals, and phytronutrients that your body needs on a daily basis to keep healthy.
Why am I telling you about this because an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. I felt I had to share this as one thing most of my readers may not know, in July of 2003, The Crowgrrl was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is something I don't want anyone to have to go through what I did. I’ve refused the "conventional" paths of chemo/radiation/surgery, and have taken a holistic naturopathy approach instead (which I’ll go into in more detail in future Perch editions, or readers can e-mail me). I’m supposed to stay on a specific holistic protocol for two years. Withing 14 months the tumor was supposed to shrunk to half of its original size. Much to our surprise as of December, 2003, the lump (tumor) is gone! I’m fine! I firmly believe the Body Balance helped accelerate the healing.Also Exclusively for the crowgrrl's readers you can get your own FREE quart of Body Balance. Go to this website http://www.lifeforcefamily.com Then put in this special redeption code 20409879.
Another Lifeforce International product The Crowgrrl and family regularly use is Colloidal Silver. Silver is a natural antibacterial element that can be used both topically or internally.
* For those of my readers who experience annoying computer (pc/mac/linux) problems (or those of you techies who are annoyed at friends and relatives expecting you to be their personal tech-support 24/7), go to www.techiesanity.com for around-the-clock help. I’ve personally done so, and my computer’s working like a dream since getting help from there.
* Anyone who hasn’t already done so, check out the Gallery section here on the Crowgrrl’s site. Prints and some originals are still available. So, buy ‘em already!
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