By Jordan Mooney.
Photographics by Asylum Seventy7.
K.M.D. artwork by Darkwave Art.
Zombies. Zombies, zombies, zombies. If there’s a horror icon to have really established itself as a major part of a popular culture in recent years, zombies are probably the posterchild. What was once a niche form of horror media has become a cornerstone.
But Zombies, as great as they are, aren’t always that scary. They often lack discipline, they lack Doc Martens and tattoos, and, more often than not, they simply don’t know how to arrange themselves. It’s extremely difficult to be scared of something incapable of strategic planning.
Zombies, furthermore, tend to be very difficult to orchestrate into a band. They’d have to be a damn sight more intelligent than your average breed and still carry a certain amount of coordination, even between their foray into the undead.
The fact is, a zombie band would only apply with a near military level of precision…
Cue an Army of Walking Corpses. (See what I did there?! This is how we won an award. Evidently.)
This group, still freshly dug up from what seems to be the new punk capital of Britain – the city of Nottingham, no less – have the strong, thundering feel of a battalion. It’s just the battalion has left a few limbs behind.
Their new EP, K.M.D, has been released this year, and promises all of the savage power of warfare, without skipping on a single bloody detail. This time, those typical horror punk trademarks have been risen a couple of inches by some very large military boots, a touch of rock and roll ethic and a nice dash of metal straight into the centre. It’s not a massively eccentric mix, perhaps, but it does result in a no-frills, savage, even slightly rotten atmosphere.
Everything in the mix – put together by Andreas Frank, the very talented big bod of Casket Garden Studios – seems to echo – it could be far off in the distance, or it could be behind you. The fact of the matter is you won’t know until it’s grabbed you by the shoulders and gored your throat. The drums feel like a hundred sets of boots marching down a dark, foggy street – the atmosphere is completely different to your average piece of horror music. The militant flavour completely sets it apart, gives it the je ne sais quoi that will no doubt keep the band distinct among a surprisingly vast background.
Saying that, it’s not all shouting. Our vocalist, Le Mang has no problem hitting the slower, more poetic notes. They’re still about blood and horror, and still sound more haunting than romantic, but the thought’s there. This blends with an often very heavy style of music that crunches like the average ribcage- and provides an EP that simply demands your attention and a couple of relistens the moment the terror has finished.
The ultimatum? This is a seriously impressive EP that strikes as a group George A. Romero would give his blessing and welcome into the undead family. It’s built by people with a true passion for their horror source material, and provides a delightful soundtrack to all of those video nasties you have stashed underneath your bed. Crack open a bottle of Hobgoblin, get an italian horror film playing and put it on mute. Replace the terrible dialogue with some excellent music. You’ll understand when you’ve tried it…
It was the summer of 2014. And Cat on the Wall tower was suddenly come upon by a group of marching, slathering and half-decomposed bodies. They stared me straight in the eye, all the way on the topmost floor, from the pavement outside.
It was time.
Trailing a sticky, black gunk behind them, they were soon sitting on the shrink-wrapped sofa we had prepared especially.
One of them was chewing on an intern’s wrist. We felt it rude to say anything.
COTW: Hello there, and welcome to Cat on the Wall! How are you today? Make sure you sit on the clingfilm…our sofa’s been ruined by enough horror bands this year!
Le Mang: Putrid. This heat doesn’t do a lot for our rotting corpses, however the maggots in my right eye socket are thriving.
COTW: Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy, and dubiously violent, schedule to talk to us. Please, introduce yourself and your band/battalion of radioactive, blood soaked nasties.
Machine: Hello there, I’m Machine, guitarist and eye candy
Le Mang: Le Mang – Throat-shredding & blood-spreading.
NvP: NvP – Nikolai von Plaskenheimer, samples, artillery and generally pissing people off.
Frankenfiend: Frankenfiend. Upright bass, skull crushing and spleen ripping.
Machine: And inhuman stench.
Frankenfiend: Doesn’t that apply to all the undead?
Machine: Some more than others…
(an awkward pause fills the room.)
COTW: You’ve all got rather…colourful names. Where do they come from? Actually…where have you all come from?!
NvP: I have no recollection of where i come from, or whether Nikolai von Plaskenheimer is my real name. I’ve always just been ‘there’. At the back. Lurking. The voices in my head told me my name. Apparently, amnesia and auditory hallucinations are typical symptoms of head trauma…
Frankenfiend: I am Frankenfiend – a creature made up of body parts from some of the most vile mass murderers in history.
Le Mang: Back in the 1800s, I was known as Le Man, a very debonair gent, invited to all the best parties, and entertainer to high society ladies… However, after a couple of ‘incidents’ (involving horsehair, a garter belt and some chloroform), I was confined to an asylum, where I was incarcerated until the zombie virus outbreak in late 1843. While I managed to escape the asylum, I couldn’t outrun the virus, which… unfortunately affected my appearance somewhat, as well as my style. Upon seeing my scarred, rotten reflection in a mirror, even my decaying brain knew that I was no longer Le Man. I had become Le Mang.
Machine: I am Machine, that’s all you are safe to know.
COTW: You’re here, of course, because you’ve recently released your new six-track release, K.M.D...how would you explain the content to our decidedly more…innocent readers? What are the main themes and ideas that go into this particular release?
Machine: We are horror.
Le Mang: Songs of death, murder, aliens, loneliness, fear, escape. Essentially, we are the shambling embodiment of everything you see on the news. Set to music.
Frankenfiend: Loud, guttural, bone crunching music.
COTW: How was the process for this EP? I understand you sent the beast out to Germany to be tamed, once it had all been recorded…
NvP: Ahh, sweet Germany! The land of many a great Horror band, and the home of Casket Garden studios.
Frankenfiend: We have put a lot of ourselves into this release. Literally.
Machine: We dug up our brother, Andreas ‘Jackal’ Frank from the Crimson Ghosts, and chained him up in the Dungeon until he finished making our E.P.
Le Mang: For a time, we considered going out to Cologne to record, but, in the end, Andreas came to us. We sent demo tracks out to him, via the wonders of the web, so that he knew what he was getting into.
Machine: Then it was a case of finding more bloody rags for extra soundproofing in the dungeon. I mean, muffled screams is one thing, but it’s hard to muffle drums, bass and guitars.
NvP: And then, once we’d finished the recording, it was just a case of releasing Andreas back into the wild. He must have made it back to civilisation without being hunted by the populace for the beast that he is, as we received the finished tracks back in time for release.
Le Mang: And absolutely none of the lyrics are based on real life events. Nope, none at all.
COTW: When you went into the studio, what was it, specifically, you intended to create? Would you say you’ve fit your specifications?
Machine: We wanted to create a cake, but didn’t have the ingredients… Haha, seriously though, we wanted to create an atmosphere, not just some songs on a disc!
Le Mang: Speak for yourself. I wanted to create the same level of success as Metallica. Didn’t work out so well.
Frankenfiend: At least Machine remembered his solos.
NvP: Haha! (ahem) Our goal…
Machine: We had one?
NvP: …was to improve on what we had recorded previously. Along with the right songs, one of the first steps was to find the right producer.
Le Mang: And with Andreas, we had someone with experience of capturing not only the music, but the literal blood sweat and tears. We wanted a flow to the music, to the vibe, and we think we achieved that in a way that we haven’t previously.
Frankenfiend: So what we end up with is a a visceral journey through various bloody horror landscapes. Maybe you can tell us if you think we succeeded.
COTW: You’re yet another horror group that’s climbed out of the sewers of Nottingham…what do they put in the water there?!? Would you say it’s becoming a bit of an undead punk capital..?
Machine: Another? We were the first!
Frankenfiend: We infected the water.
Le Mang: And you have the audacity to suggest we climbed out from sewers? Like some kind of fecal matter?
NvP: I’ll have you know i’ve never been anywhere near a sewer!
Machine: You’re starting to look quite appetising there, Jordan…
(Jordan adjusts his collar and clears his throat. All four band members are now staring.)
COTW: Ahem. Nottingham must have a fair live scene, then..! What local bands would you recommend us to check out? Trioxin Cherry have already got us on a collar…
Frankenfiend: If we’re talking Horror bands, then, along with us and the Cherry, theres also Headstone Horrors and Flirting With Corpses.
Le Mang: You could probably throw in Dick Venom and the Terrortones as well as Evil Scarecrow. Outside of the Horror genre there’s Widows, as well as a very healthy hardcore scene, amongst others…
Machine: King of Pigs (cough)
NvP: Shush, you.
COTW: What sort of multimedia goes into a band like The Army of Walking Corpses? Films, books, television, other music, video games…so on and so forth. Is there a personal favourite era of horror that has inspired the band we see today? (Vincent Price gets an extra fifty points – Cat on the Wall rules!)
Frankenfiend: All of the above. Obviously, films are a big influence for us, 40s/50s Sci Fi, B-movies like Plan 9, Earth Vs the Flying Saucer, It Came From Outer Space, to movies like American Werewolf .
Le Mang: Hence the first song we wrote as a band was ‘Night of The Wolf’.
Machine: Of course Vincent Price! Witchfinder General is a personal favourite. And Christopher Lee, i’m actually watching The Devil Rides Out at the moment. All horror new and old really. And we couldn’t sing about zombies if we weren’t Romero fans.
NvP: Real life also plays a big part of the song writing process. I mean, some of the most horrific things you can think of aren’t in books or film but on the news. Right there, at 6 o’clock. Even songs like Invasion of Mutant Slugs have its base in real life.
Le Mang: Ah yes, the giant slug invasion of 2011, I remember it well…
COTW: What can one expect from a performance headed by Army of Walking Corpses? A blood bath? Murder? A venue burnt to the ground..?
Machine: Blood sweat and tears. Sometimes….they’re ours.
Le Mang: I always cry a little on the inside…
NvP: Ritual sacrifice, decapitations, disembowelments…and thats just on the way to the venue…
Le Mang: Make up running off faces, forgotten lyrics, Machine’s wrong chord, NvP playing over the singer and Frankenfiend almost taking my head off with a double bass…
Frankenfiend: People always get in the way of my bass…
COTW: Do you have any plans to take this horror band into a more visual medium in the future? Music videos, movies, comic books, a television sitcom..?!
NvP: You could argue that we already have a comic series as well as a tv show.
Le Mang: Its a little known fact that Robert Kirkman used our life on the road, a group of zombies battling in the face of human stigmatisation across continents in the name of rock and roll, as his inspiration for The Walking Dead.
Machine: Unfortunately, the time spent with us left him so traumatised that he got the whole thing arse backwards and made us the bad guys!
Frankenfiend: Pfft, and he’s stopped returning our calls…
Le Mang: We’ll have a music vid at some point but that’s about it. However, your question led us to think about a band sitcom…
NvP: Whaddya reckon to these ideas…
Le Mang: Married With Corpses? Coronation Corpse? CorpseEnders? Corpsedale Farm? Two and a half Corpses? Corpsing Up Appearances?
Frankenfiend: How I Met Your Corpses? Corpsey Towers?
Machine: Fawlty Corpses?
Le Mang: The Corpse In Apartment 23?
Machine: Shall we just say ‘No’?
COTW: That’s everything! You’re free to go. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us. Make sure you take all of your body parts on the way out! Any final words for your fans, our readers…or us?!
Le Mang: www.aowcstore.com
Machine: Are you the buffet we were promised?
After the band finally left, I sat down,made a cup of coffee and listened to their EP again. Whom are we, truly, to say who can or cannot be an artist..?
…And how the hell is pop music so goddamn awful if four bloody corpses can produce this?!
ARMY OF WALKING CORPSES’ new EP, K.M.D., was released on July the 4th 2014.
It’s available for purchase at the Army of Walking Corpses Store, right here, with some incredibly reasonably priced T-shirts, patches and vinyl – check it out!
If you don’t want to just take our word for it (fussy litte bugger, aren’t you?!) they’ve also got it all available for a listen on Soundcloud.
Until then…give them a like, a follow, put a collar on them…whatever lights your proverbial candle.
And, before this article truly ends, a final shoutout to Andreas Frank of Casket Garden Studios…
And Matt Vickerstaff at Darkwave Art, whom produced the fabulous visuals that have become the aesthetic identity of Army of Walking Corpses – and is responsible for a gigantic range of other bits and pieces, too!