Rod Usher (vocals) of The Other
This year, German horror punk formation THE OTHER released another successful album entitled ‘New Blood’ and in the light of this event I’ve got a chance to interview vocalist Rod Usher catching up with him via email. Of course the main part of the discussion was devoted to the band’s new CD, concerts and music in general but actually in the article below you will find a lot of different interesting and funny moments, so read carefully in order not to miss anything.
Reflections of Darkness (RoD): Congratulations with the new release! So what do you expect from it? Do you believe it will help to increase your fan-base?
Rod Usher (R.U.): Thank you very much! Well yeah, I think this is our best effort to date and all the great reviews speak for themselves. I’m doing interviews with Punk-Rock, Goth and Metal-Mags and it seems that we’re really breaking new grounds here. And the deal with our new label SPV helps, too, because they are professionals who know how to make a band big…
RoD: When and where did you start working on the album?
R.U.: We actually started writing new songs right after the release of our last album ‘The Place to Bleed’. ‘Blood Runs Cold’ was the first song we finished and that track showed us the direction that we wanted to go in: a little more back to the roots, faster songs, but with lots of atmosphere.
RoD: Please tell us a little about the songwriting process for the album.
R.U.: I’m happy to say that the songwriting was very easy and came naturally, not like with the previous album which was sometimes hard work. ‘New Blood’ more or less wrote itself, with me brining in lots of ideas to the rehearsals and Sarge also contributing a lot. At first we were a little slow in writing new songs but when we knew that we had to record soon, that extra pressure made us really creative. I think you can hear that the new album was a pleasure to write…
RoD: How do you usually write? Do you do lyrics first, or do you just start playing something?
R.U.: A lot of times I have a chorus or a verse-line in my head that I just sing or hum into my cell-phone and then sing it to the others during rehearsal and we play around with the idea. Or Sarge shows us a riff-idea and I will try to find a melody for it. Most of the times the music is first, sometimes it’s a lyric-fragment.
RoD: What inspired you this time? Judging by the song ‘Transylvania’ and the title of the whole thing, of course, it must be vampires. And would you like to become a vampire as it could bring immortality, power, whatever?
R.U.: I read lots and lots of books, read essays and critical articles about literature and movies and watch lots of movies, so the inspiration never ends. And then there’s the newspaper and the news on TV, cause we actually are inspired by current events and social or political issues, we just “hide” them under the horror-story. ‘Transylvania’ is indeed a vampire-song, but it’s not meant to make Vampires look cool or attractive or great lovers but rather wants to point out, that vampires are a scary bunch of creatures. And I like being scary as well. ;) Not sure if I want to live forever, though. And my favourite monster is the werewolf by the way.
RoD: ‘New Blood’ mostly got only positive reviews. But how would you feel if it got a bad one? What is your attitude towards criticism?
R.U.: It’s true; we haven’t gotten a bad review on the new album yet and were lucky that we haven’t gotten much bad feedback throughout our history. But when people write something negative I try to find out, if it’s something that we should look into and improve or if it’s just some ignorant asshole who has a problem with THE OTHER dressing up as monsters, or singing about horror, or this and that… You cannot take this seriously, but it makes me angry nevertheless. We give our heart’s blood for this band!
RoD: What is your favourite track off the new album?
R.U.: I love all the tracks with a passion, but my faves are ‘Back To The Cemetery’, ‘cause it’s such a powerful Punk / Metal-Track with double-bass drum and a catchy chorus, ‘Hier kommt die Dunkelheit’ because singing and writing in German is fun and makes the song stand out, plus the riff is great, ‘The Lovesick Mind’ because it’s totally new territory for us, this type of orchestral Goth song, and ‘Demons Walk The Earth’, because it’s classic THE OTHER Horror Punk.
RoD: Why did you choose Horror Punk?
R.U.: It’s a mixture of everything I love. I grew up as a metal head, then discovered Punk Rock, then got interested in Goth. And I’ve loved Horror since I was eight or nine. I’ve played in a few bands before, a Hardcore band and a Grindcore band to name two, but Horror Punk and THE OTHER combine the power of Metal, the melody of Punk, the atmosphere of Goth and the theatrical imagery of Horror and bands like KISS or ALICE COOPER.
RoD: What attracts you in the carrier of a musician?
R.U.: We all have regular jobs - I work as a PR-Manager in the Porn industry and run a record label - but like everybody I wouldn’t mind lots of money, lots of girls and lots of fans. Ha ha…seriously I just want to play music and do something that people appreciate. That’s all I care about…
RoD: When you are not making music, what do you like to do? What are your hobbies?
R.U.: I like to party hard with friends, go to see my favourite football team Borussia Mönchengladbach every two weeks, read a lot, collect horror-books, DVDs and figures and love to go to shows and rock out.
RoD: What music do you prefer to listen?
R.U.: All type of Metal, Punk, Psychobilly, Deathrock, 80s Pop… Recently I’ve listened to a lot of 80s Hairmetal, like KISS, TWISTED SISTERS, ALICE COOPER (who we will support live in June), RATT, POISON, MÖTLEY CRÜE. It’s the music I grew up on!
RoD: What is your favourite song of all times?
R.U.: I can’t decide. Two many good songs out there.
RoD: And if your life was a song, what would the title be?
R.U.: Good question. Maybe something like “Do what you want”, even though BAD RELIGION already wrote a song with that title.
RoD: I guess you must like horror movies. So what film is your favourite one?
R.U.: Two favourite ones actually: “The Exorcist Director’s Cut” and “The Shining”. But in general I love classic horror, from “Nosferatu” to “Tarantula”.
RoD: What may scare you? Do you have any phobias?
R.U.: Ohhhhh yes. Keep spiders away from me! We once slept at a concert-bookers place after a show and that guy had lots of huge, hairy spiders. He collected Tarantulas actually. I got the hell out of there in the middle of the night, because I simply couldn’t sleep in the same room with those eight-legged-monsters.
RoD: And a little bit about your concerts. Could you tell about the show that you may call the best of yours?
R.U.: One show really stands out and that was Halloween 2008 at the Underground in Cologne. WE played lots of great shows, with big crowds and on big stages, but this was a club that holds 450 and it was sold out weeks in advance. Sweat was dripping from the ceiling and the people were pushing to the front. When we came on stage I felt like I played in the BEATLES, because the noise of these kids was deafening. Then all hell broke loose, kids were jumping the stage, stage diving, slam dancing, shouting along to the songs. It was crazy, wild and soooo rewarding!
RoD: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve ever had onstage?
R.U.: Playing before one of the coolest persons ever - Bela B. of German Punk-Legends DIE ÄRZTE. More than 2,000 kids were there and Bela came on stage to introduce us before we played. I’ve bought his albums when I was a kid and here we were playing with him. We’ve been in touch ever since and party when he comes to town. And one funny moment: we played Düsseldorf with THE DAMNED and we came on stage, while our intro was playing through the speakers. Doc, our drummer, forgot his sticks in the backstage though and had to run back. Sarge and Migore realized that the intro would end too soon and left the stage. All this happened without me noticing it, so then I was standing on stage alone with one arm raised in the air, waiting for the guys to play, after the intro ended. I looked around and no one was there. I felt pretty stupid…
RoD: How do you usually try to act during a show?
R.U.: We just rock and have fun. No acting, just pure and hones emotions. We try to give the people a great show, not stand around like statues.
RoD: What do you see in the future of THE OTHER?
R.U.: This summer we’re playing the Wacken Open Air with IRON MAIDEN, the M’era Luna with SISTERS OF MERCY and do a little Halloween-tour. We will play our second US-tour in 2011 and play the Wave Gotik Treffen and the With Full Force Festival, that’s all I know. Everything else will happen or won’t happen. We take it day by day. But hopefully we can support KISS some day.
RoD: Finally, maybe you want to tell a few words to your fans…
R.U.: Fangs to everybody who has supported us through the years. It means the world to us! We will see you on tour!