I was able to grab some time with Sean from Twiztid on Saturday for a quick phone interview. He was enjoying a beautiful sunny day in Las Vegas. We discussed the difference in weather between the Midwest and Vegas, our appreciation of Red Rock Canyon, and we also talked a bit about our enjoyment of the city of LV for a little bit before the actual questions.
Michele Blue: Our photographer Laura met up with you a few weeks ago in Indy. She mentioned that Halloween time is really busy for you guys, can you explain what makes that time of year different than other times? Sean: I guess we have technically been labeled Horror-core movie rappers/rock band and the guys have always just loved all things Halloween, and scary movies, and all of that kind of stuff. This band is unique, they do a lot of what I call “specialty shows.” We do a New Year’s show called New Year’s Evil and they’ve been doing that for like 12 years. The Halloween show is always really big. There of course is always the 420 weekend. There’s My Bloody Valentine. So different times of the year they try to do specialty shows. The fans know it’s going to be something special, so they’re always just big shows. We always bring in pretty big named direct support bands and stuff like that. It’s always just turned into a pretty big deal, and this year we kind of combined Attack of the Ninjas – which is basically Twiztids whole record label, Majik Ninja Entertainment, that started Attack of the Ninjas where they get the whole label together. They also set up a second stage with local acts. So, this year they combined Attack of the Ninjas and the Halloween show. That was something pretty cool this year for the fans.
MB: It’s always cool when a band can fit into a category to be there for the fans and know what they like during certain times of the year. S: Yeah, some bands try to fight that kind of stuff but I don’t really understand why. I mean, there’s probably a reason why you fit in that time frame or you fit in that area. Tran Siberian orchestra does a lot of stuff around Christmas time, but they’re not as big around Halloween… we are. So, get in where you fit in and we are in a position where we can something special for the fans around Halloween time. It is also normally around the end of our fall tour. This year they added a couple of extra weekends, but normally Halloween is the last of our fall tour. So, it’s just a big blow out. We try to always go big and do something cool. It keeps growing every year. We love it. We love Halloween.
MB: Laura also mentioned that you have a word Juggalo. What’s that about? S: Yeah, that’s the core of the fan base. Twiztid was originally on a record label called psychopathic records which was ICP clown posse. They kind of built up the Juggalo name and the Juggalo fan base. It’s just what they call their fans. Kind of like Slipknot and the Maggots. It’s just how that word came around and it just stuck. A whole culture was built around it. A lot of our fans are Juggalo’s but it’s not a mandatory thing. We are out with Motionless and White and really trying to show that you don’t have to be a “Juggalo” to like this band. It is all around just a band. If you like the music, come to the show… buy the record. You don’t have to paint your face, you don’t have to wear a jersey, but a lot of people do, and we love it. There are super diehard Juggalo’s and we’re the most diehard fan bases I’ve ever experienced… and it’s just awesome! You hear the word family a lot and a lot of different chants. It’s just a place where everybody’s welcome. Come one come all kind of a mentality.
MB: I love that. I love when it can be about anyone coming to listen. I listen to a lot of Emo music and when people hear me listening to that style of music I often get a double take because I dress sort of posh and I am in my 40s. But I like that I do not have to dress like the typical Emo fan to really love the music. So I love that the band is welcoming to all fans. S: Yeah, that’s the thing. So much of the music scenes these days seem to be based around fashion, which is just so weird to me because it’s music. But I get it. A Marilyn Manson concerts going to look different than a Lady Antebellum concert, but you know… it’s not mandatory. Juggalos have often gotten a bad name over the years, but they love all kinds of music. You probably stood next to a Juggalo and didn’t even know it. They go to so many shows and support the local scenes like no other. They love Rob Zombie, they love Endless Moment, they love Flosstradamus, they love Motionless in White… they’re all over the place. They love rap, metal, and horror-core, so yeah. Twiztid is a very diverse group. We’ve got rock songs, hip-hop songs, reggae, and metal songs, and the guys are into so much different kinds of music. They’re also a little older and they just love music. Whatever inspires them… we want to write a heavy rock song today; cool let’s do it. They might want to write a Reggae smokin’ weed and chill song, cool do it. There’s no limits. It’s not like a metal-core band that has to write metal-core only all day lone. Fuck that. Why put yourself in that box? So, they’ve always fought to not be put in a box. Which makes it really fun for me, because I get to play many different styles of music. Keeps me on my toes.
MB: Which is why I really enjoy festivals. You get a taste of just about everything. Do you guys ever perform at any festivals? S: Not a ton. It is something we’ve been trying to get into more. We did Warped Tour. Like the last cross-country tour of Warped Tour. That was probably the first big festival they’ve done in a long time. ICP has what is called the Gathering of the Juaggalo’s – The Gathering – and they’ve done that for years. That’s always a big event that draws all kinds of different bands. Rock, metal, and all kinds of stuff. But now that they’ve sort of parted ways with ICP we’ve been looking to do more festivals. I think it’s just trying to get people into the idea that we are a band and we can hang with those rock bands and stuff like that. Warped Tour is a good past, and I think we’ve proved ourselves. We opened a lot of people’s minds. We came out of there really good friends and have done shows since Motionless and White, Kelsey Grin… it would be us and Chris Motionless and guys from Reel Big Fish all hanging out just eating BBQ. So, it was a very bizarre parking lot party all the time, but that’s what made Warped Tour such a cool experience. We were on one of the heavier metal stages and we were like oh man, we’re gonna get our asses kicked out here… these are going to be some hard-core fans…but people loved it. We came out, and it’s a high energy show. We have a good time. People just really responded to us. Other bands always come and check us out. We were kind of, you know, the breath of fresh air throughout the day. There was a lot of screaming with just heavy-heavy-heavy music and then we come out and people are like “what the fuck is this” but then 30 minutes later people are like “oh my God that was amazing!” And we’re like hell yeah. That’s the goal. That is what we love doing right now. Just kind of like going into those odd-ball situations like the Motionless tour. People were like “why the fuck is Twiztid on that tour?” And then by the end of the night they’re like “Twiztid is a hell of a band, that was a lot of fun!”
MB: Do you guys create the tracks that play in the background during your shows or do you have someone else create those? S: A little bit of both. The guys are very involved in all of the creation from start to finish. There are a lot of producers involved. Every record has multiple producers on it basically. The guys are responsible for all the lyrics and ultimately the final version you hear is them, but a lot of the initial ideas might come from different producers. Me and a production partner named Jarred Farrow we kind of have a group called The Danger Within and they kind of used us for a lot of the rock songs on the new record. I’ve played in a couple of different metal bands over the years. I played in Static X. Me and Jared played in a band called Baby Suicide together. And so we just always stayed friends and twisted was looking for a rock sound and trying to push the rock songs a little bit more. They kind of tapped us, so we came in and played quite a few songs. I think we ended up with maybe 6 songs or so on the new record from us. And then multiple other producers on the album as well. MB: So how many people are officially in the band?
S: The band is officially the two of them. The band has been around for 20 plus years and it’s always been the two of them. Then a couple of years ago the idea came around to maybe have a full band behind them. It was kind of a way to hopefully get into these rock festivals. We kept hearing “oh it’s too rap for this festival or it’s too that for this festival…” we were like, well then fuck it, let’s put a band together. So there was kind of a full band for awhile. It never quite jelled or felt like what it should be. So it ended up just being me on drums. Then backing tracks for other stuff. It helped to add some spontaneity on stage. While in between songs while they are talking, I might just go into a beat. Then they might just start telling a story or improvising over it. It keeps it more live… more than just some rappers playing a backing track to it. I think it adds a little extra punch just having live drums. You see people like Travis Barker playing with Yelawolf and doing all of this different stuff with DJs. Or Tommy Lee playing with different DJs. They were like, “you can have just a drummer up there if you want…” and they were like, “Hell yeah. let's do it!” That's kind of where it ended up.
MB: Yeah, there is an alt band named Missio that is just the two guys Matthew and David and they have a guy playing drums with them. It just sort of adds something extra to the stage. S: yeah, it definitely makes a difference to have someone up there. Whether it's a drummer or a guitar player or a DJ up there scratching. Just having that extra instrument on stage… that extra feel. If definitely changes things. It takes the energy up. The band has been around for a long time... some people love me and some people hate me?
MB: does everyone recognize you without all the make-up on or can you pretty much go to the store any no one knows who you are? S: A little bit of both. It’s not like Kiss back in the day, where you’ve never seen us w/out make-up on. Or ghost where no one knows who the nameless ghouls are. The guys post things on Instagram without make-up on all the time with everyday life stuff. Are real faces aren’t a hidden identity, but it does help though. I can take off the make-up and walk through the crowd and most people do not recognize me. I can normally make it through a crowd, so I enjoy it.
MB: have you ever performed outside of the US? S: Yeah, Europe a few times… Canada. There’s been some talk of Australia. It hasn’t happened yet. There are talks of some more overseas stuff. One of the guys doesn’t like to fly a lot, so it needs to be a good tour for us to cross the pond. Now with more festival opportunities, we’d love to do a couple of the European rock festivals. I’ve done Download with a different band. Its crazy over there with theUK and German festivals; it’s insane. I’m like guys, if we need to get over there and do some of those… we’d have some fun!
MB: do you have a favorite venue? S: Cleveland is always a good time. Denver is always a lot of fun for us. Obviously anything around Detroit or basically anywhere in Michigan. Honestly, anywhere in the Midwest is pretty much bread and butter for us. We’ve got a super strong fanbase in the Midwest. And obviously around the Detroit area because the band is from Detroit.
MB: is everyone from the Detroit area? S: The guys are, and the record label is based out of there. I am in Vegas, but originally, I am from Dayton Ohio. I was playing with some other bands, and I moved back to Ohio after being in LA for a while. That’s kind of when I met the guys. I started off playing drums for one of the opening bands and I was doing lighting for Twiztid. That’s how I became interested in them and involved with them. When they started using live instruments and the first drummer didn’t really work out they brought me on board. I handle lights and drums.
MB: Both important! I also help out with photography and bad lighting is the worst. There are times when I go to a show and the lighting is so bad I wonder why I even went because I couldn’t even see the band let alone photograph them. S: Yeah, I was talking to Laura about that a little bit. As an LD… this trend of all backlighting is just so dumb to me. I hate it. I think it looks like shit, and I know the photographers hate it. We use a lot of red and fog or haze which photographers hate too. But I like the guys to have some front wash to them. I mean, we put on all of this makeup. You know, we’re doing all of this stuff… and people want to see our faces. So, just seeing a band black lit for 30 minutes to an hour, that just absolutely drives me insane. MB: I agree. There was a band awhile back that I really enjoyed their music, but I could only see the main singer and everyone else in the band was in almost complete darkness. S: Yeah, I mean… it’s cool for a certain part or a certain song to make it creepy. I’m all about it as an effect, but when I see a band tell the lighting crew, “no front wash just all backlighting…” for like half an hour i’m like what the fuck are you guys doing! It’s not cool. MB: I’m glad to hear that I am not the only one who thinks that about some shows. S: You know, I love the big rock shows like Rob Zombie and Manson and NIN… backlighting is used properly and has an effect. It can make it very theatrical in a very cool moment. But then, you’ve gotta light it up sometimes too.
MB: So, last question I’ve got here… Are there any big plans for the upcoming holiday season? S: So yeah, we do a New Year’s Evil show and I think it’s going to be at the Thompson house in Covington Kentucky this year. It’s going to be Twiztid and a handful of other people. We have Twizmas, which is basically a free show. It’s a food drive that they do every year. That’s going to be December 6th at the Crowfoot in Pontiac Michigan. Basically, if you bring a few cans of food you get in for free. It’s just kind of a party and Twiztid does a set. We just have so many other people from the label come out. It’s just a way to try and do something nice. It’s normally free food and just kind of a thank you at the end of the year. Trying to do what we can to raise some donations and give back to the food bank. It’s a great way for everybody to give back and get into the holiday spirit. So those are kind of the two things that end the year. Then we are still formulating a plan for the spring. There are some different opening spots being talked about and then some headlining shows as well. But year, come first of the year I am sure there will all kinds of fun announcements.
MB: It was great getting to talk to you. Enjoy the Vegas weather! It has been really cold out here recently. S: I’m from the midwest so I get it. The sky matches the pavement and for a few months out of the year it’s depressing as shit. [laughing] Have a good evening.