I started writing about horror for the internet about eight years ago. Back in 2007, my first piece for Icons of Fright was a review of the Monster Bash convention outside of Pittsburgh. It was fun to write about my hobby, and having an audience made it even more satisfying. Mike Cucinotta was so impressed with my article that he invited me to start writing reviews for Icons. I graciously accepted. I kept up with writing convention reports, and my dual role at Icons was a joy. But it wasn’t until I started interviewing horror people that I found that part of horror blogging about which I was truly avid. In those eight years, as I’ve expanded my repertoire, there’s no greater joy for me in running a horror blog than conducting interviews.
I fell in love with interviewing the first time I conducted one. I’d travelled to Dallas for the Texas Frightmare Weekend, which had a great guest list. There was a whole slew of Romero folks, as well as Tom Atkins, the three ladies from Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN remake. One name in particular struck me: Harvey Stephens. The kid who played Damien in THE OMEN had grown up and stayed out of the spotlight since 1976, when the flick came out. I’d never seen him listed on the convention circuit before, and so this could be the only time I’d ever get to meet him. If I could start right at the apex with him as my first interview, it would be an auspicious debut.
Looking back, the interview wasn’t great. Harvey was gracious enough, but his answers were cheeky. Not that I asked the greatest questions. I’d written them down on a pad, a process I would follow for a few years before finally abandoning. But it was my first interview, with the actor who was the centerpiece of my favorite horror movie. All in all, even if the interview wasn’t great, the experience itself was.
I’d transcribed it and was looking forward greatly to seeing it posted in Icons of Fright’s Interviews sections. But Rob G, my point man at the time, wasn’t so impressed with it and stuck it at the end of my convention report. (On a side note, as the guy who runs Death Ensemble I have the luxury of making all editorial decisions. Which is a nice luxury to have) Rob G’s decision was a letdown, but it didn’t stop me. I’d found a new part of the blogging experience, and I really liked it.
For the first bunch of interviews, I transcribed them and posted them as written material. This was a painstaking process that required me to listen to some lines of dialogue repeatedly to make sure I got every single word correct. It also took all the fun out of interviews. I loved chatting people up, but man did I hate the back end. I came up with a solution: why not just post the audio? I’m not techie, so Mike helped me set it up where I could take the audio and put it up so people could listen. It was a bit complicated because of Icons’ server, but when I started Death Ensemble, I found WordPress made it a much easier process that they’ve refined several times in the five-plus years I’ve been using it.
I also graduated from an old school tape recorder which used actual tapes to a sleek, digital model that delivers crisp sound and holds literally hundreds of hours worth of audio. It’s one of my investments of which I’m proud, and it makes a nice pocket-sized edition to the DE staff.
It’s the human element, though, that makes interviewing my favorite part of running DE. It’s the chance to sit for a few minutes with people who have fascinated me and chat them up, to get their views on their approach to their art, to listen to their experiences and in turn chronicle them so you too can listen to them. Whether it be a very tired Dee Wallace taking the time at a con to discuss her long career with me, or a phone conversation with Paul Bunnell about his lifelong love of film and how he poured that into THE GHASTLY LOVE OF JOHNNY X; if it’s Will Keenan meeting me at a theatre showing that movie and breaking off mid-interview to chat up a fan, or Lori Cardille talking about being in the Wampum Mines as we stand on a street in New York City after she took part in a Q&A; or if it’s the keystone of Death Ensemble, my beloved set of interviews I’ve named “The Romero Retrospective.” It’s people sharing of themselves, making a connection with me and, through me, you. And I find that to be wonderful.
So yeah, there’s that moment when I first press “Record” that I get all jazzed as I introduce my interviewee and ask my first question. It’s the same, giddy feeling I’ll have this Sunday as I sit down with POULTRYGEIST’s Jason Yachanin and sometime within the next week or so with RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH 2’s Catherine Corcoran. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that feeling as long as I run interviews. I sure hope not.
There will always be fun for me in reviewing flicks, especially since my take often runs so contrary to the mainstream. And getting home from a convention, sitting down with my laptop and writing about my experience will surely never lose its joy. Interviewing, though, has for a long time been my favorite part of running Death Ensemble. Crafting a good conversation with an interesting horror person keeps me going, and I hope you continue to enjoy listening to them as much as I love conducting them.