April 29, 2009

Brain Picking: Interview with Greg Shadowcaster of The Screamagers

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I recently had the opportunity to talk horror and music with Greg Shadowcaster -- songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist for Toronto's The Screamagers. Here is our interview . . .

Zed Word (ZW): Greg, who are The Screamagers?

Greg Shadowcaster (GS): The Screamagers formed in 2007. There have been a couple lineup changes, but the current (and best) band includes myself on vocals and guitar, Luke Byers (aka Boocas Lyers) on bass and Scott McKean on drums. I started writing the songs that became Screamagers tunes about 10 years ago. I released a solo EP called Songs for the Undead in early 2007. A friend suggested I form a band to play the songs live, and the Screamagers were born. Or unborn...

ZW: How would you describe your music and media influences?

GS: Screamagers songs are tight, melodic ditties that have an early 60's flavour. My main concern is to not bore the listener. Most of our songs are a little over a minute long, so they don't overstay their welcome. We play 20 songs in our 30-minute set. That's a lot of bang for your buck! Thematically, the music is heavily influenced by low-budget horror films from the 50's and 60's. I'm a huge fan of American International Pictures' output from that era, as well as Hammer and Amicus films. Anything with Vincent Price, Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee in it is worth watching. The same goes for zombies.

ZW: What is the appeal of zombies and the undead in your music?

GS: Exactly half of our songs are about zombies. That's huge! I'm a rabid zombie fan. I think my love affair with them started when I saw Return of the Living Dead, probably around the age of 10, and I've been hooked ever since. I don't actually sit down to write songs - they just come to me when I least expect them -- particularly the zombie songs. I came up with "Zombie Zoo" while I was sitting on the toilet. I came up with "The Living Dead" while taking a shower. I came up with "She Turned into a Zombie" while shaving. If I'm in the bathroom for more than a couple minutes, I'm probably coming up with a zombie song. (Don't knock - I'll be fine.)

ZW: What horror movie character would you want to join the lineup of The Screamagers?

GS: That's easy - the Abominable Dr. Phibes! He was a famous organist, after all. I also adore Vincent Price. I have only two tattoos (pathetic, I know), but they're both Vincent Price tattoos.

ZW: What's in the future for The Screamagers?

GS: We just finished shooting a video in Hamilton for "Zombie Martians from Outer Space." It was directed by Thea Munster, an incredible filmmaker and the organizer of the Toronto Zombie Walk, so you know it'll be great. We're playing in London next week (May 2) with the Outbred Inlaws, the Goddamn Goddamns and the Nasty Rashes. We'll also be playing the Fiendraiser for the Toronto Zombie Walk in August, and I'm sure there'll be other shows between now and then. We can't wait to return to Hamilton. The best show we ever played was at the Casbah Lounge last summer. We're setting up an online store for our new CD, She Turned into a Zombie. And hopefully we'll head back to the studio soon. We have so many other great songs to record. We recorded our entire catalogue with the original lineup, but the bass player quit and requested that we stop selling the recordings he played on. Which was fair enough, but it meant we had to go back to square one at the recording studio.

ZW: Okay, one final question. Zombies: Fast or Slow?

GS: Ha ha! Slow. I'm a purist, I guess. And there's something even creepier about being under siege by slow-moving monsters.

Thanks to Greg for taking the time to talk with us.