The Deadhouse was launched way back in December of 2013. I started the site as a way to improve my writing abilities, in addition to help spread my love of all things horror. I truthfully never thought that the site would last as long as it is, let alone afford me many opportunities that I have been privileged enough to come across. Of course, the other main reason for the site was to serve as a way to help spread the word about the horrorpunk genre of music. Given that for the most part, with the exception of a few bands, horrorpunk is a very niche market. But it’s also a genre of music that features some of the most incredibly talented and driven people I have ever met. There is a special love that horrorpunk represents. The community is one of the most open and welcoming I have ever seen, and once you become a part of it, it becomes a part of you, as it truly is a family. With this site I have been able to share and review some of the best albums over the past few years, as well as ensure that some of these hard working bands get the recognition they truly deserve.
With all of that said, there was one man who embraced myself and this website in the very early days of the site when I was just reviewing albums I wanted to, with no intention of ever having the opportunity to befriend any of the artists. But Shadow Windhawk changed all of that. He gave me my first opportunity to do an advance album review (my review of Casket Spray is here), as well as participated in the very first Deadhouse Interview (which you can find here). So with the recent release of Cremation Garden, which you can find my review of here, it seemed only appropriate that the first artist to be interviewed twice here on The Deadhouse would be Windhawk. So without further a due, I present to you the newest Deadhouse Interview, with the one and only Shadow Windhawk!
The Deadhouse: It’s been a few years since we last spoke in an official manner such as this, and obviously a lot has happened. For those not fully aware, what have you been up to since our last interview at the time of Casket Spray’s release?
Shadow Windhawk: Since Casket Spray was released, I wrote and recorded my second album, Cremation Garden (which is now out on CD), and recorded a cover of “Stigmata Martyr” by Bauhaus for the HorrorHound Records compilation, “It’s Only A Movie”. I pressed Casket Spray to 12″ vinyl with artwork by famed “Goosebumps” cover illustrator Tim Jacobus, all in the past year. My live band performed in New Jersey last July for the first time, with a number of our colleagues in the horror rock world. Aside from things with Shadow Windhawk And The Morticians, I’ve performed live with Argyle Goolsby’s solo project at HorrorHound Weekend twice now, and also played guitar on the first stateside Argyle Goolsby And The Roving Midnight tour. I also went on a west coast mini-tour playing bass for Tragic Black last December, playing Long Beach, Mexico and Vegas together. Right now, I am working on completing the writing for the third Shadow Windhawk album and moving Cremation Garden on through to production as a 12″ vinyl release. This time around, my friend Joel Robinson, who is the cover artist for Scream Factory, painted the jacket artwork. It’s beautiful, and so are the CDs designed by Jimmy Dilley from Nex-FX. So I’ve been keeping things steady with Black Flame Records and staying busy. The horror business is good business.
The Deadhouse: In addition to your solo project, you’ve also been playing with Tragic Black and as a member of Argyle Goolsby’s Roving Midnight. Did these experiences have any effect on the writing of Cremation Garden?
Shadow Windhawk: Not directly. Playing in Goolsby’s band has definitely had a big impact on me, but Cremation Garden is a project with a feel that’s all its own. And while I wrote and recorded some guitar work for Track Black’s new album, Nostalgia, I don’t believe that experience really affected how I approached putting Cremation Garden together. This album doesn’t feel like either of the other bans I work with, because my songwriting and singing styles are pretty distinct. So the influences on me as a musician are definitely present no matter what, but it’s never a direct thing. I don’t sit down to work on a song and focus on sounding like anyone else. Some people do that, but I just write what comes up naturally and it all flows along from there. It’s a focused process, but never forced.
The Deadhouse: As part of the intro to “Sleep”, you pay tribute to the late, great Rowdy Roddy Piper with one of his all-time classic wrestling promos. Are you or were you a big wrestling fan?
Shadow Windhawk: Roddy Piper was just a total badass. When I first wrote “Sleep”, he was actually still alive. I had been looking forward to meeting him one day and giving him the song. So when he died, it was definitely tragic. Roddy was one of those people I always thought was immortal, because he was so good at what he did on the screen. He was a larger than life figure. I’m not a huge fan of wrestling, but I used to watch it sometimes as a kid. My introduction to Roddy was through the classic John Carpenter film They Live. His performance in it is brilliant and he was perfect for that role. A little while after I saw the movie, I sought out his wrestling performances and was hooked. He was a real showman and entertainer; I admired him. So I decided after he died last year that I would dedicate the song to him on the final recording. His line “Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions!” seemed to me like the perfect way to pay tribute. In a small way I sort of just took that moment and made it an epitaph for him. A couple of weeks ago, one of my fans out in the UK wrote me and said he was at a show where some people had started discussing Cremation Garden. They all were enjoying listening to “Sleep” in particular and the mention of Hot Rod in the intro of the song sent them into a bunch of impressions and laughs about him. That was great to hear, because I know I did what I’d intended to do. If I can help people to remember Hot Rod in a positive way through that song, I’ve done my job. He was an underrated actor. A total legend.
The Deadhouse: Tell us a little about some of the songs featured on Cremation Garden and how the album came together as a whole?
Shadow Windhawk: Cremation Garden is a collection of horror rock songs that are tonally and thematically conceptualized. A lot of material I’ve written didn’t go on this album and is instead being saved for “The Funeral Cortege”, just because it fits the tone of that album more. I drew inspiration for the songs on Cremation Garden from all aspects of my life, even though each one is themed around a horror or cult film that I’ve loved for many years. I like to tell multiple stories in each song, from the perspective of a specific character or person. Often times I re-tell stories from films that I find to be either relatable on a personal level, or socially relevant. An example of the latter would be my new track, “Sleep”, which was written as a tribute not only to Rowdy Roddy Piper and John Carpenter’s They Live, but also as a politically-charged song that addresses the very serious issue we have here in Salt Lake City and all across America with police brutality, violence and murder. This contrasts other songs on the record that address other more personal battles. “Box Five” is not just about Lon Chaney’s character in The Phantom Of The Opera, it is also about feeling like a ghost in society, like someone who doesn’t really belong or exist. The Phantom was insane and misunderstood. He is relatable on many levels because a lot of people feel that way – alienated, failed, hated, cast out, lonely and desperate. Working with Willie Wolfbite (of Zombiecock) in the studio was great, as he’s a fantastic bassist and provided solid tracks for many of the songs on Cremation Garden. Having Bruce Kirby as both my drummer and audio engineer has made it incredibly easy to be hyper productive in the studio. We just hammer the shit out together and it’s a fucking blast. We have fun and I think that translates to better recordings and more in-depth mixes. A lot of intensity goes into the mixing process because we’re all perfectionists and obsessed with sound. Marketing and packaging aside, sound really is everything when you’re releasing an album. You can have a brilliant song, but if it is not recorded and mixed properly it often times results in a strange inconsistency that makes things a bit muddy. So I always maintain a serious quality control on my output.
The Deadhouse: You recently announced that despite Cremation Garden just having been released, you are already writing and preparing the next album entitled The Funeral Cortege. How are things moving with that and do you have a timeline in mind for the recording and release?
Shadow Windhawk: The third record is beginning to take shape. I’ll be working on it before too long. Currently, I am finishing up the writing process. The album could potentially have as many as 12 songs, but I will probably narrow that down to a smaller number as I usually do. I’m always writing and some of the tracks that will appear on The Funeral Cortege will be familiar to the people who follow me on social media, such as “Unpleasant Dreams” and “Fourteen-Mile Tombstone”, a couple of songs which initially were set to appear on Cremation Garden, but just didn’t flow into the record tonally. I can’t wait to start on this one in the studio.
Shadow Windhawk performing live on June 5th, 2016 in a Dr. Decker mask.
The Deadhouse: Casket Spray was released under the full band name of Shadow Windhawk and the Morticians, while Cremation Garden was released under just Shadow Windhawk. Was this always the intention, or something that changed along the way?
Shadow Windhawk: Yes, in fact, Casket Spray was originally going to be released under just “Shadow Windhawk”, but I had been on the fence about calling my live band “The Morticians” for some time prior to that, in or about the summer of 2013. So in the end it came to be “Shadow Windhawk and the Morticians”. It felt right at the time. When my band performs live, it is still SWATM, despite that I only put “Shdow Windhawk” on the cover of Cremation Garden. It is similar to Goolsby’s approach, he released Saturnalia of the Accursed as simply “Argyle Goolsby”, but when he plays out live and goes out on tour, it is “Argyle Goolsby and the Roving Midnight”. Being a solo artist with a live backing band is a time honored tradition, it’s a bit more old school to use the ‘your stage name’ and the ‘band name’ formula for a live band. I’ve since noticed a resurgence in the number of bands that are using ‘and the’ in their names. But really, everything is still running pretty much the same as it always has with this project. I write songs, arrange them and record them solo in the studio with Brucifer. Then I rehearse and perform with The Morticians and we play the songs live together. That’s how most solo projects work.
The Deadhouse: The Morticians themselves have seen a complete overhaul since the last album. Can you tell us a bit about the new members and how they came to pick up the reins?
Shadow Windhawk: The lineup of The Morticians inevitably changes over time, but right now it’s pretty damned solid. The band consists of Willie Wolfbite from Zombiecock on bass – he is a fucking great guy and a fantastic musician. We toured together with Goolsby’s band in April and he is a pro. Mr. Wolfbite has been invaluable to the band ever since. Tony “Mr. Drinks” is now the longest standing member in the live band. He’s been playing lead guitar for The Morticians since he joined back in November 2014 and he does a fantastic job, on top of being one of the nicest people I know. Brucifer has joined the band on drums just this year. He’s absolutely insane behind the kit – one of the best drummers I have ever worked with, hands down. In addition, Stich is back on rhythm guitar to play live with us – he hasn’t been around since spring last year, but technically joined the band back in September 2014. Stich and I have toured in Tragic Black together and have been friends for quite a while now. So it’s going well. Doors close, doors open, but ultimately the band always survives and carries on as it should.
The Deadhouse: Over the past year, you have become quite the divisive figure in the horrorpunk scene, with people attacking you on both a professional, as well as personal level. How have you dealt with all of this, and has it had a noticeable effect to you in your music?
Shadow Windhawk: I’ve learned to brush it off and not give it attention. I don’t have time to pay mind to people who make false accusations, or the people who play passive-aggressive games on social media because they’re upset and/or craving the attention and drama of it. I’ve been learning to love being hated and being divisive, because it’s a sign I’m doing something that’s worth a shit. Something that shakes things up. If my music sucked and nobody paid any attention to it, I’d have no haters, nobody would fucking care to waste their time bitching about me or my work. At the very least, hate and jealousy are strong emotions – and if my music invokes that in people, then the music does what it should do. Music should always evoke strong emotions in people. And of course, that’s different for everybody. But just the same. I’ve always seen that as being a main point about rock n’ roll, it’s all about emotion, inciting something in people, generating raw energy and freely expressing yourself through music. Being a love/hate sort of artist is honestly not all bad.
The Deadhouse: Throughout the horrorpunk scene, due to the aforementioned attacks on you, it appears that a lot of people seem to take sides either with you or against you without knowing the full story. For people on either side of the fence, or people who may be swayed away from checking out you and your music, what would you like to say to them?
Shadow Windhawk: There’s two sides to any story and people are welcome to form their opinions however they will. But judging people who you don’t know personally whatsoever, based solely on the opinions and rumors and internet BS spread by others is unreasonable and totally unfair to do. It is human to judge others and make assumptions, but that doesn’t negate that behavior leading to unwarranted public slander and things of that nature. I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for the people who follow what I do, who listen to my stuff, and I am humbled by all the folks who work hard and wish to spend their limited time and money picking up my records and listening to them. I try always to respect other people in general. If you show me respect, I’ll do the same for you. A simple rule to live by.
The Deadhouse: Amidst all of your other work, you have also been operating Black Flame Records. Is there anything new or exciting with the label that you can share with friends and fans alike?
Shadow Windhawk: Black Flame Records is my tiny start up that I currently base out of my apartment. It grows every year and soon I hope to be able to support releases from solid bands other than my own project. But for now, it is the umbrella that Shadow Windhawk falls under. I enjoy legally owning the rights to my own music and not having to compromise with a label or water down my stuff. It’s always been a situation of if you want something done right, just do it yourself. And so it has been. This year is my third year running and as always I have my sights set on the future and the third Shadow Windhawk album. My secretary is my cat, Salem. If anyone finds a cat hair on a package from my store, just know it is a thing of love and that Salem says hello *laughs*.
The Deadhouse: What do you currently have in the works for horror fans in the near future?
Shadow Windhawk: Right now I am working on the 12″ vinyl release of Cremation Garden, which is projected to be out in October this year, hopefully just in time for Halloween. As with all Black Flame Records releases, I am paying close attention to detail and spending as much effort and resources as I can on making this album unique and special for the collectors. A vinyl record should be an experience, from the color of the album to the artwork, to the quality of the sound and flow of the songs. Aesthetically, Cremation Garden is the most consistent and comprehensive record I have ever made. The album is to be pressed on a custom Funeral Lily White colored 12″ vinyl, with full color heavy weight jackets, featuring a fully illustrated front and back record jacket painted and laid out by Scream Factory’s go-to genre cover artist, Joel Robinson. Recently Joel has done covers for Return Of The Living Dead, all three of the Vincent Price Collections, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and the director’s cut of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. I am greatly looking forward to executing this vinyl release with the highest level of quality of anything I’ve ever done before.
The Deadhouse: And of course, as always I close with giving you free reign. Anything that you’d like Deadhouse readers to know?
Shadow Windhawk: “Follow your stupid fucking dreams” – Unknown.
You can purchase my new album on CD and digital at shadowwindhawkandthemorticians.com. If pre-ordering is a thing you do, the special edition vinyl is also available (but doesn’t come out ’til October). It is going to sell out during pre-order. Currently there are under 100 copies left for purchase of both the CD and 12″ vinyl.
As I’ve done before, let’s end this shit with a quote from a man who once found himself in Big Trouble – “When the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does. Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, “Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it”.”
I want to thank Mr. Windhawk for once again taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us here on The Deadhouse. His unwavering support of this site and what it was established to do is appreciated. Until next time, let’s hope that the wait for Funeral Cortege won’t be too long, cause anytime some new Shadow Windhawk music comes out, it’s always a damned good thing! And of course, thank you, dear reader. Without your support this site would be nothing, and your support is incredibly appreciated.