“By Spirits Unclean – An interview with Alex Story
An Interview with Alex Storyby Kevin Millikin
Alex Story is one man you really don’t want to fuck with. After releasing countless records through Cancerslug, Alexinash and fronting the crushing ‘super group’ Gorgeous Frankenstein alongside ex-Misfits Doyle Wolfgang Frankenstein and Dr. CHUD is at it again with his latest outlet ‘The Ultra Creeps.’ his already impressive discography itself takes up a huge portion of my ipod. So, what follows is by far one of the best interviews with one of the most humble and well respected vocalists around today.
What inspired you to originally form a band like Cancerslug?Hatred for music and people.
What is it about horror and its imagery that attracted you to it?Life is horror… from the birth process to the death process it is blood and pain and the excitement found in both.
You’ve been actively working on Cancerslug now since 1999 and have since become on of the most prolific musicians on the ‘horror’ punk circuit, releasing numerous albums a year and most of which are without a set band. Was this something you intentionally set about from the get-go or did it just come as a natural progression of revolving members?Honestly i just never had a regular set of members or even a home base, I move around so much. I get bored if i stay in one place to long but I’m always writing songs and over the years many of my friends and fellow musicians have done shows and albums with me because they believe in the work I’m doing. I’ve been fortunate enough to have many great musicians see merit in the material and want to participate in the cult.
I’ve tried to go back and count how many releases you have under your belt both with Cancerslug and your other side projects but always draw a blank as most discographies are incomplete or none existent. So I feel it’s best if it were to come from the horses’ mouth. To this date, how many records have you release?I kinda like people being unsure about how many releases demo or otherwise have been released. I think it would be cool if after I’m dead some kid that was into my shit just constantly kept digging up random rare and unreleased material. That’s what was great about being into obscure music pre-internet, I remember driving to other states to dig up rare bootlegs of my favorite bands back in the day so all I can say is there is A LOT of material out there and there will be A LOT more before I’m done. The good the bad and the uglyit all paints one big picture together
Of all of those which is the one that stands out the most in your mind and why?I’m always happiest with whatever new album I’m working on and I don’t just say that to sell the current project. It’s just that, at any given time, that’s where my head is and so the most current disk usually reflects the current state of the movement my personal war and your only as good as your last battle
You’ve said in interviews before that 2009’s “Tales of a Butcher” is Cancerslug’s proper debut. What is it about that particular record that sets it apart from everything else you’ve done in the past?It was the first one released officially in stores, every other album was pretty much a demo given away for free online even though there were lots of bootlegs sold in stores, butcher was the first official release from the band and the only reason that it wasn’t given away for free was because it took a lot of money to make that album happen and to get all those great musicians together in one place at one time. It could have only happened with label support and so we called on our friends at drink blood records, those guys spent money to make that album happen and worked hard to promote it, so I wanted to make sure they got a return on their investment. They will also be releasing our newest album “BY SPIRITS UNCLEAN” on an even wider scale, so this album will pretty much be our second official release even though we have countless demo albums out there, this new material needs to be properly distributed because it is the strongest most spiritual album to date
Cancerslug has been hailed as one of the vilest bands in America by Rue Morgue Magazine, much like the punk rock equivalent of Cannibal Corpse. From what part of you do such vile and horrific things come from? Where does the real Alex Story end and the lyrical one begin?The art is always a representation of the artist, most of it is very personal, some is not literal, however some is. It’s not up to me to explain where I fit in, it is up to the listener to figure out where they fit in or if they even do fit in. This is more than a band, the slug cult is rising and people will see what we do.
Has any of your lyrics ever struck a nerve with friends, family or loved ones?I should hope so as well as with total strangers otherwise I would be full of shit
You align yourself with the concept of wolves and the werewolf with such themes revalent in many of your songs (Shapeshift, Rise of the Wolf, winter and lone wolf) what is it about this that attracts you to it?As men we suppress our true natures, the animals inside but pushed far enough and the beast will come out. Our true skin will break through, fists to claw, tooth to fang. We are all capable of metamorphosis in our own way most people are just too scared to give in to their primal side but it can be a great strength to pull from.
The vast majority of your music is released freely online. While I’m sure this has helped you reach a wider audience, it must be difficult financially. How has this (if any) effected your ability to tour or release merchandise and that sort of thing?I’ve never made money off the band, it costs me money to do it. Tours pretty much pay for themselves and keep us alive but i don’t do it to be rich or famous otherwise I wouldn’t make the kind of music I make and I wouldn’t give away the demos in whatever form of completion. This is like religion to me more than entertainment. This is something you can’t put into words. I’m not so one dimensional that I would say “music is my life” but it is a very important part of who I am and what I am trying to do is use my art to get people (even if only a select few) to see things from a different perspective.
When will we be seeing the follow up to ‘Decade of Decay’?If you mean phase 2… then never….. originally I had planned on doing a two part album to celebrate the first ten years of Cancerslug… D.O.D. phase one was just the rough demos for the album and I was going to do a proper studio version for phase 2 but I have a short attention span and I kept writing new material, so what started out as one kind of album has now grown out of control into its own thing and no longer has any connection to those demos so we will be releasing a completely stand alone album now called “BY SPIRITS UNCLEAN” we record next month.
You’ve become sort of a cult icon in the underground. How’s that feel for someone who really seems to stray away from the spotlight?I never wanted to be like a “rock star” or whatever, That’s why I call my solo stuff “Cancerslug” not “Alex Story.” Its just about the art but I’m glad that a lot of people all over the world seem to get it and it has allowed me to meet and work with a lot of artists that I grew up respecting. I honestly just want to do good work, it’s all about the end result to me
Recently George “Corpsegrinder” of Cannibal Corpse give Cancerslug a huge shout out in a recent interview with Burning Angel, how does that feel?George is a really awesome guy. I’ve been lucky enough to hang out with him several times now and don’t think I would be overstepping bounds to call him a friend. It’s always good when someone you respect tells you they like your work.
As of lately you’ve been serving as the vocalist for Gorgeous Frankenstein alongside Left Hand Graham and former Misfits, Dr. CHUD and Doyle Wolfgang Frankenstein. How did all of this come about? Who approached who?I grew up with a total love for the Misfits. They were the first band a really became a “fan” of as a kid and Doyle was the reason i started playing guitar. I loved the brutality and “don’t give a fuck” kind of approach he took to music. Those old bootleg videos and magazines I grew up on really made me respect him as an artist and performer. He had a clear vision for what he wanted his band to be but as it was his first band to put t ogether on his own, it took him a while to make it exactly what he wanted to be. The riffs and playing were there, he was just looking for a way to make the rest just as brutal. I think he is one of the most underrated people in the biz, he is the strongest rhythm guitarist ever in my opinion and just needed a little help with lyrics and focusing his ideas into what he was trying to do. ‘Seems he wanted to bring that old school “Misfits – Earth AD” or “Damaged – Black Flag” aggression with a thrash metal quality of modern heaviness. He liked my Cancerslug stuff and so he asked me if I would help him write some songs. We spent like a year and a half just writing together and came up with some really amazing stuff but then he told me; ” no one can sing this stuff like you, and we all want you to do it” so I said I would sing for his band as well. Now I think we have one of the strongest live acts around and we are just starting to record the first of several albums that we will release back to back to show just how brutal this band should have been from the start. I think its really going to blow people away.
Lately demos of the songs “Made in Hell,” and “Man or Monster” have been surfacing online both of which appeared on GF’s debut record. Will these songs eventually be rerecorded on the next record?We have two full length albums planned first but then we are going to re-work the first album with the full band – just for the fans who have asked for us to do it
* Among those what other songs will be/have been rerecorded because as I remember in older interviews when Goolsby still handled vocals, they discussed the possibility of redoing the first record with the then current lineup. Is this still a possibility?I’ve got demos of every song with me singing and demos with Doyle singing believe it or not but we wont put any of those out. The ones that leaked were just a few old tracks that fell through the cracks somehow. Like I said we will release that album redone with the full band after the two albums of all new material
Fans of the band are well familiar with some of the new tracks: “Headhunter,” “When I Dream, I Dream of Dead Girls,” “Mark of the Beast,” and “Dark Gods Arise.” Can you give us a hint in regards to the songs that will be making their way onto the record?I don’t wanna give away too much now. On the last tour we did, we played a different set of all new songs every night to see wich ones we enjoyed playing live the most. The ones we liked the most will be recorded along with a bunch of songs that NO ONE has ever heard. It’s great material and everyone in the band has been pushing themselves to do the best work they have ever done. We really want to make it something new and special.
With all the new songs / bootleg videos that have been popping up on you tube one of which was a track entitled “Land of the Dead,’ was this done as an intentional stab at Jerry Only of the Misfits (and Doyle’s brother) or was it just a coincidence?We have been working on songs for years now, we had that song called “Land of the Dead” long before Jerry put out his. His just came out first, maybe it was coincidence. Although we did have another song called “The Devils Rain” on our set list at the shop and now I hear Jerry is calling his album “The Devils Rain.” I thought that was funny but I don’t know… maybe he is just fucking with Doyle or maybe its just a coincidence. Doesn’t really matter… We are not trying to compete with what those guys are doing, we are just trying to make a couple of great albums and give the fans a killer fucking live band
What’s the recording process been like for the new record? What’s done? Waits still needs to be done? Since many of us have been waiting impatiently since you were announced as the new vocalist, can you give us an idea when the record will drop?Doyle and CHUD have been working for several months building their own studio. Glenn gave Doyle the go ahead to produce the new album himself so this will be totally Doyle’s vision. We are taking our time on it because we want it to come out sounding exactly how it needs to but we are rolling now and we have a shit ton of awesome demos to choose from and i can tell you the sound is amazing… its just soooo fucking heavy, so fucking aggressive. I love it and I love being a part of it.
How has it been working with someone as iconic as Doyle?He is really one of the best people I’ve ever worked with. It’s like he was totally my hero growing up and now I consider him to be one of my best friends, so that’s pretty awesome. I just want to do my part to make his band as great as I always knew it could be because I think he deserves it he’s really a great guy.
The Danzig influence in your sound is undeniable, what was it like not only playing your first show with Gorgeous Frankenstein but also opening for Danzig?Well of course Danzig is my biggest influence, he is my favorite artist all together and he taught Doyle to play guitar. Doyle grew up with him so of course there will be an influence in the sound but I also think we really have our own thing going too. It’s funny because ever since I started doing music two of my biggest goals were to play with Doyle and to do a tour with Danzig by joining this band I’ve accomplished both of those goals. It’s awesome.
Aside from Gorgeous Frankenstein, you’ve recently started yet another band called “The Ultra Creeps” what can we expect from the Ultra Creeps and what are your motives behind this new band?M and the girls (Cassie and Helen) have just been having a lot of fun… trying to do something different. Its just like really dark concepts but put together in a really fun sort of way. It allows me to explore other sound textures that wouldn’t fit in my other bands but the overall effect is just as dark just with softer, more feminine quality that can be, in some ways even more sinister.
What can we expect from the Ultra Creeps in the future?Al lot I hope. I really enjoy the project and love working with the girls, so hopefully a full length album and tour will happen soon.
What can we expect from YOU in the future?The unexpected.
In closing, I want to thank you for your time and for doing this interview and ask if there is any shout outs, thanks, threats or slander you want to give?Just to say: love us our hate us, just make your OWN opinions and don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks.”
Kevin Millikin, TECHNICOLOR TERROR INTERVIEW