By Jordan Mooney.
Picture if you will…
It’s the late 90s. A worn down Blackpool bingo hall has been cleared to make way for the usual DJ sets. Nothing particularly inspired, and a crumbling plaster wall with rising damp is all that acts as a backdrop.
The audience is a few teenagers – made up far too much and plastered in neon. The UV light isn’t quite strong enough to pick up their fluorescent make up, and keeps flickering. Within its casing are a plastering of long-deceased flies.
Some dust falls from the knackered lighting rig as they attempt to get the controls for them working. It’s given up as a bad job and the technician goes for a piss. The door to the men’s room is hanging off of its hinges, and on the back of it, there’s a crudely scribbled phone number advertising ‘a good time’.
While he’s gone, the DJ arrives. He looks a little different from usual, and he’s brought another guy nobody’s ever seen before. He seems to be wearing a trenchcoat, and shades indoors, but nobody bothers paying attention to that. It’s the coast, there’s always going to be some weirdoes, right? Nobody’s particularly enthusiastic about anything this evening. It’s a boring ‘Cheap Tuesday’ night – crap, watered down drinks and a packet of Nobby’s Nuts for £2.50.
A horror movie sample suddenly blares from the speakers. The room goes black and there’s a sudden feeling of unease and panic. There’s an explosion of green lighting that quickly illuminates the stage, where a pale, sharp-featured man in a bone-wrapped top hat is standing. Behind him, a man with shades and a devious grin is wearing a stovepipe topper and has amassed about 60 records and 300 samples on his blood splattered laptop.
The doors lock.
By the end of the night, the bingo hall is on fire, six people are on the floor, an ambulance has arrived, the speakers are laying in bits and a priest has been called to carry out an exorcism. All of the packs of Nobby’s nuts have disappeared and at least one young woman has gone missing. The majority are terrified. But a small group can’t resist saying “That was a bloody good show.”
What has happened is not quite a horror film. It is not fiction. It’s just another day at work for Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show.
There’s few records that have roamed into my inbox that one could really claim to be unique. A band can be unique, a theme can be unique – but a record that’s really like nothing I’ve heard before? That’s a bit more challenging.
It’s Fun To Be A Monster, the 13 track magnum opus of terror from the Rodent Show, is not only like nothing I’ve heard before, but may well be the only album to really capture the idea of a horror DJ set to its logical conclusion.
It’s a cataclysm of horror samples, bass-fuelled beasts and loud, distorted amplifiers that seems to carry the intention of putting you straight into the show – a spider-ridden cabaret club’s insane circle of frenzied audio mauling. Most of it is quite literally making use of The Cramps and Alien Sex Fiend as a base…then layering whatever the duo fancy on top.
It’s chock full of fun, chock full of those classic horror trademarks we all know and love, and, perhaps most importantly, is huge veer away from what can often be labelled ‘traditional’ horror music fare.
My favourite aspect is the huge variety offered at every turn – no two songs sound very alike and some would sound like an entirely different artist were it not for the very distinctive vocals of ‘The Rodent’ himself. This counts, similarly, for the samples used, and the forms the tracks take. There’s some that are purely instrumental and sample formed, such as Rippersville, most seem built around the strange and unusual things said in horrors past, and one is even inspired by 1960s-1980s wrestler – The Crusher. It’s a terrific melting pot of sinister concoctions that carry intentions to confuse the cockles out of any convention.
As much as I love horror punk and horror rock, it’s truly exciting to see something take a few steps back from that and try for a bit more variety – it does take a while to adjust, but once you’re in there, thirteen tracks suddenly seems insufficient. Withdrawals set in. Madness erupts. You hands shake, your moustache quivers…The spiralling madness begins. You’re now a fan, and there’s no way out.
Its The Cramps and Alien Sex Fiend…but not as we know it. Everything here, really, is the Rodent Show’s own. They’ve made sure of that. This is no mere tribute band. Think of it as the next generation…
If you’re bored of horror music, try this horror music. If you’re bored of this horror music too?
Well, bugger off. We’ve nothing for you.
Coaxing him with a few football shirts and antique bottles, we eventually got Andrew ‘Ratfink’ over to the interview table. He takes on the role of ‘lead throat’ (vocalist for those so inclined), and has a decent career of musical forays beyond the Rodent Show having been part of the legendary Alien Sex Fiend in the past and many groups that have not carried the luxury of the internet for easy promotion…
Cat on the Wall: Hello there, and welcome to Cat on the Wall. Please leave your pet corpses at the door. Say hello!
Andrew ‘Ratfink’ Wilson: Hiya Folks, this is Ratty….. The Rodent from Vince Ripper and the Rodent show!
COTW: Please, introduce yourself to our criminally uninformed readers. What is Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show?!
Ratfink: Well… it’s a Boneyard spookarama… kinda like Karaoke for the dead! We fuse The Cramps and Alien Sex Fiend songs into our own – a mash up with Vince mixing the songs live- and I give it the boneyard as lead throat, of course…
COTW: How long has your rattling morgue of debauchery roamed the lands? How did it all come to be..?
Ratfink: This is our fourth year doing recordings and shows. We started as a Live DJ show first, with Vince Ripper spinning 1950/60s garage punk rock ‘n’ roll, and I was the MC, Introducing the songs and getting people grooving in the clubs and Bars we played. But as it was, it became more and more apparent we should be doing something ‘bigger’ live. So we decided to spin some Cramps backing tracks, I’d sing over them…then, so many people said as you were in Alien Sex Fiend you, should do some of their stuff!
So we did, and eventually that span into this! Vince has a very good history of working as a DJ in our home town of Blackpool. He’s a great DJ, and very popular with everybody on the club scene.
COTW: You’ve recently released your new album, ‘It’s Fun To Be A Monster’ – how would you describe it to the uninitiated?
Ratfink: This CD record is a kind of a ‘one off’, it’s a unique record that isn’t available anywhere else. Shock! After Shock! After Shock! It’s gonna bake ya, it’s gonna flake ya, it’s gonna boil you up and shake ya. Tune in, and stay sick… to the sounds of the Boneyard, from Vince Ripper and The Rodent Show….and what’s the sound of the boneyard…?
The Cramps meet Alien Sex Fiend in a Bonearama Twist Off!
COTW: How was your experience recording the album? Do you find studio environments particularly easy to work in, or do you prefer a stage show?
Ratfink: To be honest, we love being in the studio. I always have – I first went into a studio over 30 years ago with my first band, The Buggs. A cool punk rock band from Lytham St Annes. Recording the show stuff is a lot of fun for us as the songs have been already recorded by the The Cramps & The Fiends. As we’re such big fans – and I worked in the other (!) it’s great fun for me and Vince to take them and put our own spin on them!
COTW: You’re definitely what one could call a theatrical band. Do you think theatrics are increasingly important to a live show, or do you feel it’s dying out?
Ratfink: It’s very important to us yes; very much so.
I was raised on Theatrical bands…Alice Cooper, The Sweet, Bowie, T Rex, Hawkwind, Lord Sutch, The Cramps…
I don’t think it’s that it’s dying out, I think it’s just fallen out of the mainstream and doesn’t appear as much as it used to. Nowadays, it seems bands are lazy and just wear jeans and a T-shirts. That’s okay and all, but to me it seems very boring and useless…it ain’t my bag.
COTW: Who originally inspired the visual aspects of the Rodent Show? Are there any shock rock musicians who you turned to and said ‘That’s what we’re going to do’?
Ratfink: To be honest? No, not really! As you can see, the whole show is a nod to the Cramps and Alien Sex Fiend. I was a member of the Fiends for 7 years, so that’s not surprising!
Maybe I just fuse a lot of characters together when I’m performing?!
COTW: When it comes to horror, we always end up to that oh-so-beautiful topic…the topic of films. What are your favourite horrors? (Bonus points for any Vincent Price!)
Ratfink: We are very big Hammer fans always have been, always will be… and you can see and hear that in the show too, I think! In fact…we love British horror full stop! Haha, Amicus Films…Tygon, oh and the classic Pete Walker Films…and yes of course we love Vincent dearly… PHIBES RULES OK!!
We also like American trash B-movies. You know the sort, they’re a big thing with us…Herschell Gordon Lewis‘s films in particular…FAB!!!
COTW: You’re playing at the Resolution Hotel on the 24th of April this year to coincide with Whitby Goth Weekend! Do you ever attend the event as a guest?
Ratfink: Not really, we’ve just played a couple of times there, and had a really good response! There’s a great crowd in that town…so we’re looking forward to going back and performing our new album!
COTW: How do you feel about the current state of ‘alternative’? Do you think events like Whitby Goth are important to maintaining our delightfully creepy corners of the world?
Ratfink: Yes! Totally. It’s soooo important to keep it going and educating the young ones, who tend to be unaware of ‘our’ music scene. Without us and events like this, they get brainwashed and polluted by corporate music! We have to keep it alive.
COTW: I think that’s everything! Many thanks for taking the time to talk to us – you are now free to roam the streets once again! Any parting words to your friends, fans, family, or even us?!
Ratfink: Thanks so much, Jordan!
Come to our show, have fun with us in the Boneyard…Buy our new album and KEEP ON GIGGLING! Stay sick, turn blue…and have a good looking corpse.
OH YES. YOU WILL GET YOUR 3D GLASSES.
How’s that for life advice, readers?!
Vince Ripper and the Rodent Show: It’s Fun To Be A Monster was released in the dawning months of 2015. These fine chaps sent us both a CD and a Vinyl – we don’t have a record player, but…
It’s a fancy bloody vinyl.
You can now purchase both of these on the vast marketplace known as Amazon!
Don’t forget to shoot them a like on the book of faces…
And of course, they have a website – where they also have some cracking T-shirts and proper gig listings.
Don’t forget – Vince and Ratty will be performing at the Resolution Hotel, Whitby, on the 24th of April to coincide with Whitby Goth Weekend. If you’ve been unable to get WGW Music tickets, this is DEFINITELY a spot worth haunting!