HorrorPops have quickly become one of my favorite bands. Their first record Hell Yeah! was a monster of a debut record. It was loaded with psychobilly and rock songs that were all top notch. In fact there were so many gems on here, like the fabulous "Julia", "Psychobitches Outta Hell" and their signature song "Where They Wander" (along with my favorite "Emotional Abuse"), I still play the record on a weekly basis (at least).
Nekromantix founder Kim Nekroman met Patricia Day in 1996 in Denmark, when Patricia's band Peanut Pump Gun opened for the Nekromantix at a festival. With like-minded influences and interests, they decided to form a band featuring Nekroman on guitar and Patricia on standup bass. They drafted Strawberry Slaughterhouse's drummer Henrik Niedermeier along with a former band mate on guitar Caz the Clash. After several shows they decided they needed something more to spruce up their live shows. They came up with the idea of adding go-go dancers and drafted Kamilla and Mille (later replaced by Naomi), who were friends of Patricia. The move was a great one as the girls immediately became an integral part of the live show. In the meantime, Patricia and Kim cemented their working relationship by getting married.
After replacing the departing guitarist with yet another Strawberry Slaughterhouse alumni Karsten, the band toured constantly, finally releasing their debut early in 2004. The guitarist turnstile moved once again with former Tiger Army/AFI bassist Geoff Kresge coming in to replace Karsten in early 2005. This was a move welcomed by Kamilla as her and Geoff are married.
The band toured their brains out, including becoming a favorite on the Warped Tour, for the next several years. In September of last year, they produced yet another wicked CD, Bring It On! The psychobilly was cut back from the band's sound and in its place was a more straight-rock sound. The common link to the first record, however, was the awesome song selection. From "Freaks in Uniform" through to the 13th cut "Who's Leading You Now", there isn't a bad one in the bunch. In fact, several "Hit'N'Run", "You vs. Me" and "It's Been So Long" ranking among the best the band has ever produced. The band even breaks new ground with the amazing "S.O.B.", a country-tinged song with a great vocal. It's not wise to pigeon-hole this band as clearly they are adept at changing styles at the drop of a hat. Although moving away from the psychobilly sound that partly got them started, Patricia has said whatever few fans they might lose in the transition will be made up for ones that like the new sound.
HorrorPops on a record is a very good thing. Better than that though, is HorrorPops on a stage which is a great thing. I'm a veteran of several shows now and have to say that these are some of the best shows I've ever attended. For certain, they have been the most FUN shows I've witnessed (and I see a LOT of shows).
The focus is on Patricia and her giant stand-up bass (made by Nekroman) from the get-go as her sultry voice leads the crowd through favorite after favorite. There's a lot more going on up there however. To her left is Kim Nekroman, as commanding a figure as there is in rock, cranking out the chords and contributing background vocals. On the other side is Geoff Kresge, a perfect addition to the band, who is as adept at six-string duties as he is an MC along with Patricia. Almost hidden away in the back is Henrik Niedermeier who holds down the beat securely. Flanking everybody on both ends are the dancers Kamilla and Naomi. From the first beat, the girls have their choreographed moves down perfectly, working the crowd manically in a fashion that would leave any fitness instructor breathless. In fact, there is almost too much to watch on here.
I want to point two things here that I find amazing about this band. First, last year I was to interview Patricia from Denmark while they were awaiting the paperwork to allow them to work in the States for the next year. There was a mix-up with the interview time and I ended up missing my scheduled time and rousted Patricia from her sleep at 3:30 in the morning Denmark time. It's not tough to imagine most other musicians hanging up or rescheduling. Despite being a bit out of it for several minutes, Patricia quickly woke up and waved off my offer to reschedule and ended up talking for over an hour --- and was her usual congenial self. Can you imagine Britney Spears doing that?
The other thing is that the band just announced that Kamilla will miss several shows while recovering from Bronchitis. Apparently she had been suffering for several weeks now and finally couldn't go on. Geoff will look after her at home and will miss some shows as well. The band has said they do not want to cancel the shows and so will perform without the duo and will not charge for their shows until they return. Besides that, the thing that I find amazing is that if you were to try to copy the moves Kamilla and Naomi do, you would probably not be able to last more than a few songs. Kamilla gyrated through over an hour and some worth of songs in Ottawa last week and you would not be able to tell she was ill. There's lots of dedication, professionalism and hard work in this whole crew for sure! In addition, they are among the most approachable and likeable bands in the biz.
Despite encountering a plethora of problems on their recent Canadian tour, the band dug deep and cranked out another amazing set in Ottawa. Just before they took to the stage I had the pleasure of speaking to Kim for a few minutes. Enough of my gushing. Here's what he had to say:
antiMUSIC: Congrats on Bring It On!. It's just excellent.
Kim Nekroman: Thank you so much.
antiMUSIC: Were you writing all along when you were touring or did the material come together just in pre-production?
Kim Nekroman: We just sat down and said ok we're going to write an album. And we spent that, one - one and half months writing and at the same time doing the pre-production. So yeah, we laid it down really fast.
antiMUSIC: What were some of the songs that came out first? You were doing Freaks in Uniform when you came here last so I imagine that was one of the first?
Kim Nekroman: We were playing with some songs already. I think we had "Hit'N'Run" which has been around for a while. Like the riff we had been fooling round with at sound checks for a while. And "Freaks in Uniforms" we had for a while. And a few more we had like the basic idea, but it wasn't until…like I always had like the guitar riffs. Patricia has the bass lines, so it's like "Okay lets f**king make a song right now."
antiMUSIC: What has Geoff Kresge brought to the band and how has the sound of the band changed with his addition?
Kim Nekroman: It's hard to say whether or not he changed the sound because. Because I don't think he changed the sound. It's just that this time around everybody was like in the process of the song writing where as the first time it was more only Patricia and I. Or this time it was more of a band-band thing, so I would say it was more compromising, but that doesn't necessarily mean a bad thing.
antiMUSIC: How does the writing work within the band? Does everybody come into rehearsal with a riff and you jam off that or do you guys bring in the skeleton of a complete song?
Kim Nekroman: That depends. I can have a basic idea. Patricia can have a basic idea, and Geoff could come up with an idea or Henrik can have some crazy beat. And we say, hey that sounds really good and then we just jam it out. There's no particular recipe to it, I would say. It's more a like a random thing I would say. Lyric-wise it's still Patricia. Solely her.
antiMUSIC: The record was produced by Brett Gurewitz and it sounds amazing. Aside from the obvious connection, being on Epitaph, why did you decide on him as a producer?
Kim Nekroman: What he did was he heard our pre-production and he said "I love your stuff. There's nothing in there I want to change at all." It was more of a sound thing. He worked getting the right sound on drums, let's say. It was the first time I ever worked with a producer. "Nobody's going to change my music" kind of thing. So I was "OK, let's try it out. When I found out what it was like, I said "Cool". You take care of the technical side….so we can concentrate on the creative side of things."
antiMUSIC: "S.O.B." is just awesome. Were you surprised when Patricia came out with that direction?
Kim Nekroman: Thank you. Patricia wanted to do a country-western style song. And I love that stuff. It's not a complicated song. It's pretty much as old school as can be. And that was just another one that just came out. It's not a complicating thing, it's not like were spending months on it. It's like no or yes. If it's good, it's like yeah, that's f**king good. Let's keep it like that. That's kind of how we do it.
antiMUSIC: Do you have to get into a different mindset to write HorrorPops material than with Nekromantix? I mean the obviously material is a bit different but are your routines different when actually coming up with material? Or is music just music and it comes out according to the band?
Kim Nekroman: Usually its just music. And when we started this band, on purpose Patricia and I we switched instruments. She was already a guitarist and that was one ways to have a different approach to the music and therefore it sounds different than what was happening before. So the fact that I'm playing guitar and not bass makes a huge difference songwriting wise.
antiMUSIC: The story goes that you and Patricia switched instruments upon starting up HorrorPops. If that's the case, how did you write material prior to that, if you were used to playing bass?
Kim Nekroman: I've always been writing on guitar as well but it's just a natural thing for me. Like now it's HorrorPops, later it's whatever. I've been involved in many projects and I don't have…I'm not schizo or anything when I'm doing it. It comes natural… my body and brain focuses on that. And basically when it comes down to it, it's just music. You've got your 12 notes and you can put them together in different ways, but depending on who you're together with, or who your team is, your song will go in that direction or that direction. Unless you are a solo guy that just goes in one direction…I'm pretty open minded when I play music.
antiMUSIC: You and Geoff are obviously very well schooled in the art of the studio. Do you think Patrica and Henrik were more comfortable in the studio this time out as they learned from their first time in the studio with Hell Yeah?
Kim Nekroman: Actually both Patricia and Henrik…actually Henrik was in Strawberry Slaughterhouse and they had two albums on a major label in Denmark. And Patricia was in her own punk band and released an album many years ago on a very big label too long ago. And Henrik is also a sound engineer. He's the one when we demo and do pre-production, he's the one actually sitting behind the computer and doing all that stuff. And so everybody is pretty skilled when it comes to recording.
antiMUSIC: I asked Patricia this last tour but I don't know if you were based in the U.S. prior to HorrorPops starting or not. Has changing countries, living in Los Angeles, had an effect on your writing?
Kim Nekroman: I would say no. We've been here for three years now. The band actually started in '96 with me, Henrik and Patricia. Obviously you get influenced and inspired by your surroundings. I guess so but the thing is we tour so much. Even though we live in LA. We're only home maybe 30 days a year and so it's hard to say. But I would say of course there's influence from the U.S. It's hard to say music wise because it's the same as...we listen to the same things we listened to in Denmark. We do the same music as we did when we left Denmark so but sometimes things happen without you… maybe you're aware of it. But I don't think it sounds more American in any way. But it's hard to say for me.
antiMUSIC: Do you have any material left over for the next record or will you start with a clean slate?
Kim Nekroman: No, we just had what we needed. There was one song which wasn't on the album. It was on the Japanese album. We have a song we never put lyrics to. That's basically it. I'm a believer in quality before quantity. I know some bands have like 30 songs. And then it's like okay we're going to use 15 and the rest… I think we're more like, concentrate on the songs we have and make it the best album.
antiMUSIC: I'll let you go, Kim. Thanks for this.
Kim Nekroman: OK, thanks a lot for the interview. Hope you enjoy the show.
antiMUSIC and Morley Seaver thank Kim Nekroman for taking the time for this interview.