Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cue & Ehh? With Scar Stuff's Jason Willis



It's a very rare thing to accidentally stumble across greatness. So when I tripped over Scar Stuff on Blogger you can imagine how amazingly lucky I felt. Scar Stuff is looked after by Jason Willis; Blogger, Musician, Designer, Art Director... phew.

There are already a few respectable album posting blogs, though none as close to my heart as this blog. Regularly updated with amazing finds from the Horror/ Halloween genre, you are sure to find many keepsakes. I was able to catch up with Jason and find out what makes him tick…



Download Various Spooks 'Ghoul-Arama', A Scar Stuff Compilation (192k Zip)


The first thing is the question that everyone wants to ask you: Where the hell do you find all your blogging material? Have you found a secret haunted house with an attic or basement fool of goodies?

Sadly what you're really getting here is a glimpse into the packrat brain I've formed after years of misfiring neurons & the ill-considered neural nets constructed as a result. I've just collected this crap for as long as I can remember (I have records dating back to when I was 4 years old that I'm still lugging around) and I guess my tastes just haven't evolved enough to where I've realized I could jettison them. Aiding all of this was a solid decade & a half of record store jobs and my general obsessive personality; If I have 1 of something it's a safe bet that I have at least 10 other variations on the theme lurking about somewhere.


This is a boring question, but I'm interested in the answer... Maybe I'll ask it muddled up to spice it up:

Waht si yuor Fvaourtie fnid?


I guess usually it involves re-connecting with some artefact I either had or coveted at a formative stage in life -- something I only saw in the pages of a magazine or had & lost over the years; these are the most satisfying. Along those lines getting that damn Johnson Smith Novelty Company "Horror Record" single again was pretty cool, and finally being able to hear the Harvey Records singles (thanks to a guy on a "Richie Rich" yahoo group) was a pretty swell recent score too. For Punk Rock/ New Wave stuff it's a similar story -- I searched for an album by a band from Texas called "The Nelsons" (they'd won an early 80's MTV contest called "Basement Tapes" with a novelty New Wave song called "I Don't Mind") for years before finding it, and once I finally got it probably wasn't going to matter how the rest of the thing sounded since the whole package so perfectly represented the moment in time that created it. There's probably a way for me to work in the D.P.'s "If You Know What I Mean" LP in here too (ex-Depressions, Barn Records, 1978) cause that was a fighter to find again, but I can't figure the segue out. Suffice to say that usually the more marginal the artist (& to a degree, the genre) the more I'm going to flip my lid to hear it, and obviously the "market value" is pretty meaningless to me; I'm not trying to score a copy of the Tapeworm 7" or anything.


'Scar Stuff' is quite a funny name, but perfect for your blog. What I hate about the actual latex though is that when you use it, it's impossible to get off your fingers. Then for two months after Halloween you are struggling with the simplest task with sticky fingertips. Why 'Scar Stuff' over 'Fake Blood', 'Foam Fangs' or 'Plastic Claws'?

It was actually completely spur of the moment, but right after I thought of it I knew it was perfect for me. Here in the states "Scar Stuf" was made by this cheapo company called "Imagineering", and you could find their stuff at dime stores around Halloween. It was basically a low-budget peripheral product with crummy (but almost unwittingly cool) packaging -- pretty much everything I look for in MOST art forms (not to mention that most of the records I'm posting HAVE left some kinda scars on me). And yeah, that
stuff was a fucking mess to use.


What's been the best Halloween costume you've ever been dressed in?

In 1976 (which was second grade for me) I dressed up in a homemade Creature From The Black Lagoon getup that my mom helped me make. The costume was composed of a thin ¾” rubber mask ordered from a comic book and my previous year's Sears-bought "Planet of the Apes" costume turned inside out, dyed green and accented by darker green cheesecloth that was supposed to resemble seaweed. All by itself the costume was pretty damn cool, but the *best* part was that it got me a role in an educational film called "Halloween Safety" (made by Coronet/ Centron films, for whom director Herk "Carnival of Souls" Harvey did most of his work). Some scout looking for kids to stick in this thing came to my grade school & picked me out as we paraded around in our outfits, and I've been trying to find a copy of the damn movie ever since (there's a revised version out there that came out in 1985 as well, but I'm pretty sure I'll have been excised from that one since my "part" was totally minimal.) Heh, and about 4 or 5 years later I dressed up as a "Punk Rocker" & on some level that's a costume I'm probably still wearing at least a little bit.


You must spend a lot of time ripping the tracks, researching them and then blogging them. Do you ever have moments where you feel like you can't be bothered anymore? What keeps you blogging?

Yeah, more based on dwindling time than lack of desire though. Like everyone I know, I've got a lot of junk going (I'm in a full time band, I've got a full time job, I do a ton of freelance design work for various record & video companies, etc), but I really do love sharing stuff with people, especially the type of Joe I'm largely catering to. I mean, this is at least *marginally* fringe stuff (either in terms of current cultural significance, initial market share, or the just the mental real estate people are likely to've allotted it over the years), so I suppose that to me that means that the more detail-oriented & informative I can make my posts, the better they'll be at shifting that weight at least a little. The weird truth is that the people who originally made this stuff (for whatever reasons be they pure artistic impulse, trying to make a quick buck by doing as little as possible, total exploitation -- whatever) have made the world a better place for me. I wanna give them their due! Hopefully I won't burn out on that.


Your blog is definitely in my top ten sites to visit. When I'm looking about your site, what sites are you frequenting?

Firstly I'll avoid the things I link to off of my site & just check my history on this one;

http://www.dailykos.com/
http://anamericanpunkinsuburbia.blogspot.com/
http://mistertoast.blogspot.com/
http://atrios.blogspot.com/
http://chrisgoesrock.blogspot.com/

...and about a million more variations on these themes along with a bunch of graphic design sites that I hit for my job (I'm an art director working in a pleasingly low-brow medium).




I can imagine your collection. I'm sure it's one of the freakiest browsing experiences on the planet. Well above my old flat-mate Margaret's collection. She had an amazingly expensive stereo but owned only one CD, which was Celine Dion. It was used for all occasions. What would you play if you were romancing?

It's been a million things over the years but these days I'm cool with some bop/ post-bop 50's-60's trio/quartet Jazz (with most instrument line-ups being okay as long as it's a small group), or some early 70's King Tubby style dub mixes. Oh, and Opal "Happy Nightmare Baby" always works for me too.


I'm at a loss. I've worn War of the Worlds (Radio Play) thin, I've been listening to Stephen King's 'The Mist' in 3D, I've listened to all the Darker Projects stuff and the City of Dreams plays. I'm looking for a horror audio drama that can chill me. Even started making my own through my podcast 'Ouija' to fill the void. Have you any recommends for me?

I dunno about the scare factor, but old radio shows are where it's at for me. Actually when I was young I had a box set called "The Great Radio Horror Shows" which had an episode of Mystery House called "The Thirsty Death" which gave me nightmares, so I guess some of them might have a little creepiness mixed in there (but mostly they're souped up crime dramas). That episode is somewhere on here by the way:

http://horrortales.libsyn.com/




I remember my first horror film. I was around 7-8 years old and my mate Dave, who was much older, rented 'Mausoleum', an awful horror flick about a sexy daughter possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother. It still scared the shit out of me. Do you remember your first time?

Hey, I love that flick! For the scares AND the breasts! The shit that scared me the most as a kid in the 70's had to be anything dealing with either demonic possession (when I was a kid I was quite honestly convinced that any given night at the outskirts of my small Kansas town, there were throngs of chanting Devil worshipers busily involved in some kind of human sacrifice), or dead ghost kids (those little Diane Arbus looking girls in Kubrick's version of "The Shining" certainly did a job on me). Hierarchically speaking, after that it was probably the walking dead (either the "Avenging Corpse" variety or your more Romero-inspired zombie stuff) that could deeply frighten me. Anyway my first major movie scare was probably the Exorcist, but random episodes of the Night Stalker & Night Gallery also did me in for sure.


Backtracking a little, and keeping in mind, all the Americans that believed War of the Worlds was real at the time of it's broadcast. Have you ever been frightened by an audio broadcast/production?

Oh! I guess I covered this -- yeah that Thirsty Death program for sure when I was very young, but also a number of stories on the records I've posted (mostly "The Hitchhiker" on "Famous Ghost Stories" by Wade Denning.)


Pumpkin carvers don't know how easy they have it. When I was a kid we used to carve turnips with a spoon. You would need to start in Easter to have it carved for Halloween. What vegetable would you not like to be forced to carve?

Hey, so you really did that? In a number of the Halloween history books I've read they talk about this being one of the likely rituals that provided the genesis for the traditional US Jack o' Lantern but I had no idea it was still going on. A turnip is pretty bad so I'll largely stick with tradition & say rutabaga. Mostly cause I do in fact LIKE to say "rutabaga".




Which joke item would you appreciate more: a poo made of chocolate or a bar of chocolate made of poo?

I think it's safe to say that my level of appreciation for either item would be about equal.


Weird & Freaky Question:

If Heaven and Hell brought in a new law that ruled that rather than someone outright going to hell for eternal damnation or heaven for eternal joy, that instead, each of their body parts would be judged individually and sent to the appropriate areas. My mouth for example, would definitely burn because of my bigoted, racist and filthy humour, but my eyelashes, with Matthew, Mark and Luke. Which of a few of your chosen body parts would go where and why?


It's a good bet that the body parts that've been doing my bidding (& doing it well) are going to be serving time for their efforts. Anything being given a free pass is just due to sloppy oversight on my part.


Further Make Up:

Scar Stuff
Oxide Flake - Jason's Other Blog
The Knockout Pills - Jason's Band
The Knockout Pills' Myspace - Features 4 Great Tracks

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I love Scar Stuf.

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous Hero said...

Davidt thanks for bringing this Que n Eeh in. I had a little tear in my eye reading the whole thing. And Scarstuff is bookmarked FOREVER!

I also used to hollow turnips and the sickly sweet smell of turnip pulp and candle wax still IS Halloween for me.

I salute you both !

4:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great interview & what a great blog! Thanks!

8:22 PM  
Anonymous ScareFace said...

Great Interview. There's not enough communicating going on on the internet. It's nice to see an interesting and cleverly thoughout feature. Beautifully ugly.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason should use that Scar Stuf image on his site. It's great!


-@-

9:06 PM  
Blogger laura aura & the shoy shoy boy said...

Cool... thanks... I just merged his I.D. image with the Scar Stuf one... looked O.K. So I went with it.

9:07 PM  

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