This interview was conducted on September 19, 2011 aired originally at 11pm Wednesday Sept 28th 2011 on WMSC’s 90.3’s Japan Nick’s Rock and Metal Pandemonium, Ghoul Singer/Guitarist Digestor aka (Sean McGrath) speaks with “Japan Nick” Perkel about how Ghoul got onto the tour with Gwar, words about all of Ghoul’s albums including the new album Transmission Zero, thoughts on horror movies and more.
Ghoul is a Sacramento California based Death/Thrash Metal band that has appeared on a number of legs of tours with Gwar in the past year as well as having appeared on the Maryland Deth Fest (MDF) a number of times and happen to be appearing there in 2012 as well.
Bulldozer: You are going on a nationwide tour with Gwar for about a month and half did you make contact with Gwar first or did they contact you?
Digestor aka Sean Mcgrath: We got an email from Dave Brockie several months ago, maybe 3 or 4 months ago asking if we want to go on this thing with them. It was totally out of the blue and I wasn’t expecting it at all and it was kinda weird actually to us. We hadn’t really done anything in a really long time but it turned out that it was perfect timing because we had just finished writing stuff for a new album, our first thing in 5 years. It ended up being fortuitous anyway, it ended up being a really perfectly timed thing and actually I should mention that the way they got in touch with us was a film made by a guy named James Balsamo called “Hackjob,”. He had contacted us about being in it and having some music in it and he also had Dave Brockie’s/Oderus Urungus in the movie and when they shot the stuff with Dave Brockie, I think James Balsamo mentioned us and Dave Brockie was like “Oh yeah do you have their contact info or whatever and I think they had heard of us before.” I think it had something to do with James and that movie HackJob, so he sort of got us in touch with them, or them in touch with us, and they emailed us and then I talked to Dave Brockie on the phone once and it was just ever since then, we have been planning for the tour.
Bulldozer: Is this your first time going out to the East Coast?
Digestor: No Ghoul has played the Maryland Deth Fest like 4 or 5 times in Baltimore. After the first time we played Maryland Deth Fest we played in Boston and Brooklyn. We just flew out to do 2 dates. So yeah we have been there before.
Bulldozer: Do you have any special plans for your NYC appearance with Ghoul on October 23rd 2011 with Gwar?
Digestor: Well we have a pretty big show with giant robots and monsters and special effects and stuff. It’s going to be pretty much the same stuff we always do but it’s kind of a production. So we don’t have anything in particular for New York but it’s always sort of a big thing.
Bulldozer: What kind of stuff goes on at your show besides obviously you guys playing music?
Digestor: We have sort of a loose storyline for the whole band and we sort of act out some of the songs, sometimes we have characters that come out on stage and fight each other and stuff like that and then fight us, that’s pretty much it, it’s pretty theatrical.
Bulldozer: If you could appear outside of America for 3 one off shows, where would you go if you could get on a private jet and could fly out to wherever?
Digestor: That’s a good question. Maybe Japan, Maybe Russia we have never been there before and I kind of would like to go to South Africa or Egypt or something like that.
Bulldozer: Now how did your band get your new album Transmission Zero featured on the Fangoria website?
Digestor: We actually know a guy Sean Smithson who incidentally was the creator of Vic Rattlehead the MegaDeth mascot, who works there, he writes for them, I am not sure if we writes for the magazine or he only writes for the website but he’s been a friend of ours for a really long time and he has sort of gotten into the horror movie literary scene or horror movie reviewing stuff/horror new type stuff. So we have known him for a really long time. Then he started working at Fangoria and it just seemed like a good fit. IT”S HUGE FOR US cuz obviously Fangoria is obviously a giant magazine and a ton of people go on their website all the time. I’ve been reading that magazine since I was 14 years old, so this is kind of a personal dream I guess to be in something like that.
Bulldozer: How big into horror movies are you and your bandmates in Ghoul?
Digestor: I think we’re all pretty big into them. I definitely used to be more into stuff like Slasher movies than I am now. We’ve all been HUGE fans of that genre since we were kids.
Bulldozer: What kind of horror movies are you guys into as of late?
Digestor: Like new ones? I don’t even know what the last new horror movie I saw was? I don’t know if Troll hunter counts as a horror movie but I really liked that. I know Scott one of the guys in the band, just saw “the Dead” a movie he really liked and he was supposed to give me copy of. I can’t really think of the last horror movie I saw in a theatre. It probably was a long time ago.
Bulldozer: You ever gotten a chance to see any of the Japanese splatter movies like Tokyo Gore Police, Machine Girl and stuff like that?
Digestor: Yeah I’ve seen Tokyo Gore Police, I don’t think I’ve seen Machine Girl.
Bulldozer: Is that your cup of tea for horror movies?
Digestor: It’s not mine. I know there are people in the band that really like that kind of stuff. It’s not really my cup of tea but I tend to like movies like Dawn of the Dead (The original), actually a lot of Romero’s stuff from the 70’s, actually recently I’ve been watching stuff like the old Koremen/Edgar Allen Poe movies, stuff from that era, or old hammer movies and stuff like that?
Bulldozer: Lucio Fulci or George Romero?
Digestor: I would pick George Romero.
Bulldozer: If you could play a villain in a horror movie what kind of villain would you want to be?
Digestor: I guess probably one of the members of Ghoul.
Bulldozer: Now let’s get back to music for a bit. Your band’s debut album We Came For the Dead!! was released in 2002 with numbers like Death to Dust, Coffins and Curios, and Soon They’ll Scream, What were some good memories of those days?
Digestor: I don’t have a whole lot of memories of that process at all, it was really fast. The whole album was written and recorded in the span of a couple of months. So I pretty much don’t remember anything about the writing process, I just remember it got written and we did a demo of it, and don’t know what happened to that. Then we recorded it and I think the last 2 songs on the album were the last 2 songs that were written and they were literally written the day they were recorded on the album.
Bulldozer: Then came Maniaxe with thrashers like Maniaxe, Ghoul Hunter, Mechanized Death and Sewer Chewer, that was like your sophomore album. Did you feel any pressure to change up your sound or did you feel like just sticking it to the core.
Digestor: I changed a couple of things just ‘cuz I didn’t want to be in like a Hemorrhage Style Death-Grind or Gore-Grind Band and it wasn’t really the kind of stuff I was really listening to at the time or the kind of stuff I ever really listened to all that much aside from maybe Carcas. There was a conscious decision to add a little more thrash or crossover stuff but I guess that’s the answer, there was some conscious decision to change it.
Bulldozer: Then came 2006 with your album SplatterThrash with songs like Mutant Mutilator Rise Killbot Rise, Bury the Hatchet, and As Your Casket Closes, did you feel real pressure to record that differently?
Digestor: I don’t think I ever felt any outside pressure, at that point it was like a real band, it wasn’t just whoever could do it, I don’t think I ever felt any outside pressure like as far as fans or anything we were sort of just doing what we wanted to do, also we were sort of still finding our style that wasn’t like a total pastiche of other people’s riffs or sounds or whatever. It is different than the first two albums but I think it was a sort of an organic evolution as opposed to us feeling like an outside pressure to change because we certainly never felt that or even if we did, we probably wouldn’t respond to it. I mean we are just doing this for fun especially at that point and trying to make something that is a little bit different and fun for us to play.
Bulldozer: On Splatterthrash whenever I hear somebody mention that album people always go nuts over As Your Casket Closes, what songs on Transmission Zero do you think fans will get a similar reaction from?
Digestor: Actually I really think that all of the songs on the album… I know that this sounds dumb but all the songs on the album are really good, I think that it’s our best written material and I don’t think that there are any songs on it where oh this song is a little bit of a dud, or you know it’s filler or anything. I don’t feel that way at all about any of the songs. They all seem when we play them live which we have done a few times now, they all seem to get a really good reaction. I mean that happens with As Your Casket Closes every time we play it too. People really go crazy for that song and it seems like with all the new stuff they do the same thing.
Bulldozer: I guess for the title track Transmission Zero, Tooth and Claw, and Bloodfeast, would you say those get especially good reactions.
Digestor: We’ve only played Bloodfeast once actually last night. We played it in Oakland. It got a great reaction and that might be because it’s been online for awhile and people have been listening to it. I don’t know a lot of people at the show didn’t seem like they had computers. (Laughs) They both really get good reactions. While last night we played like 8 or 6 songs off the new album or something like that. There wasn’t one song where people weren’t going nuts.
Bulldozer: Do you ever plan on putting out Roadkill and Gloomy Sunday onto a future album of yours or do fans just need to track down that 7” they are on?
Digestor: Yeah that’s probably the only place you are going to find it. If we ever ended up doing a bunch of 7”s there might be a cd compilation of all those 7”s which would include that stuff sure but for now you can get it online, you could download it I guess, but if you wanted an official thing, it’d probably be just the 7”.
Bulldozer: I noticed most of your albums have been rereleased or pressed onto vinyl by Tank Crimes Records. What has been the change with going from Razorback Records to Tank Crimes Records been like?
Digestor: It’s a lot more convenient to work with Tank Crimes because they are right in our backyard, we’re really good friends with Scottie the guy who runs the label. He’s also a really fun guy to work with; he sort of gets the band and gets the aesthetic of the band. We had that with Billie as well at Razorback as well, that relationship didn’t end up working out. It’s actually pretty similar as for as how we’re working with them aside from the fact that Scottie is really trying to push the label to be like the biggest and best label it can be in a way that maybe a way that the Razorback people weren’t trying to do at the time.
Bulldozer: Do you find that thoughts from your dreams or when you are awake are more profitable for you when it comes to songwriting?
Digestor: It’s all when I’m awake.
Bulldozer: Do you like to use any historical events for inspiration for your lyrics?
Digestor: There are historical references and there are also a lot of references to other popular music songs and stuff in a lot of the lyrics and a lot of references to pseudo history like pseudo science stuff in there that I’ve read over the years like books about Crystal Skulls, out of place artifacts, UFOS, and all that kind of stuff. There are a lot of cultural references in there that maybe I don’t know if everyone gets as many as there are, but there are a lot of em.
Bulldozer: For this tour is there anything special that you needed to bring with you when you play show?
Digestor: For the Gwar tour? We are bringing all the stuff we usually bring to a big show, like a show at a club that has a big stage, where we can do all our stuff so we bring all our giant costumes and things like that.
Bulldozer: Any words for people who will be seeing your band live for the first time on your tour with Gwar.
Digestor: (Laughs) Try not to throw vegetables, or at least throw relatively fresh vegetables so we can eat them cuz we’re gonna be hungry.
Bulldozer: Now what is some cool merch you are selling on your tour with Gwar as well as on your website as well?
Digestor: Well we are going to have a bunch of t-shirt designs, I think like 4 or 5 t-shirt designs and we are going to have patches and pins and CDS, and LPS, and just a bunch of stuff like that. The kind of stuff you would expect. We are not going to have any beer cozies or hats or anything like that.
Bulldozer: What’s your website to buy your merch?
Digestor: It’s http://Creepsylvania.com
Bulldozer: Just wondering if your house burned to the ground, but you were able to save one album, what would you save and why?
Digestor : I would prally save my German drinking songs LP because I really enjoy German drinking songs.
Bulldozer: On the topic of drinking what is your band’s favorite beers to drink?
Digestor: I pretty much like any chocolate stout or hefferveisen type like wheaty beer, I will not turn down crappy beer so if someone has Natural Ice or Milwaukee’s best or something. I will not turn my nose up at it. It’s ok by me.
Bulldozer: Any love for the Nightrain Express?
Digestor: I have never had Nightrain, but I do like the song.
Bulldozer: Oh it’s awesome man and you can get it for less than $2 and with like three of them you’ll be loaded for the night.
Digestor: That sounds great. (laughs)
Bulldozer: What’s your favorite thing to do besides music?
Digestor: I like watching movies a lot. I like hiking (laughs) I prally shouldn’t be talking about hiking in an interview about this band. I like drawing, hanging out with friends, I really enjoy hanging out with friends.
by Nick Perkel.