Exclusive Interview: Rod Usher ‘The Other’

On the day of release of The Other‘s newest album, ‘New Blood’ (review HERE), I got the chance to talk at length with singer Rod Usher, whose love of horror knows no bounds! After the jump is your chance to learn a bit about the beginnings of The Other, influences and inspirations, and, of course, the horror that drives The Other. There’s also a special message from Rod to you, the readers of Bloody-Disgusting at the end, so make sure to check it out!

rodushersolo
Rod’s Top 10 Horror Rock Songs
Rod’s Top 10 Movie Poster Taglines
Rod’s Top 10 Horror Literature

How are you doing?
I’m doing fine! How are you?
Doing great! Thanks so much for all the support you’ve given Bloody-Disgusting with your Top 10 lists. The readers really enjoyed reading them!
Well, I was just going to say as soon as I talked to you that I want to thank you for all the support because it’s been a real pleasure doing that because you’re the first person, the first media, that has ever asked me to do anything like that. So, it’s been a great opportunity, a lot of fun, very cool and obviously it helps the band too, so it’s very, very cool. Thank you so much!
Absolutely! You really explained what we are trying to achieve here, which is to let the musicians sit back and just have fun putting these lists together. It shouldn’t feel like a chore at any point, because horror is just too much fun for that!
Well, usually, in all the metal interviews I do, it’s mostly about the music. I mean, some ask about horror and this and that but it never goes really deep, so that’s a way to give a little more private information about how I came to like this movie or that book. So, yeah, it’s been a pleasure!
‘New Blood’ just released in the U.S. today! What are the feelings of everyone in The Other about this?
Our first three albums have, in a way, been released in the U.S. They came over as an import, really expensive and really only die hard fans, the few that we had in the U.S., bought them. So now is the first time that the album is really available regularly for an affordable price. And obviously, every musician in Germany or Europe, the dream is to play the motherland of rock and roll and of horror too! I mean, obviously a lot of old black and white and silent films, horror films, come from Germany but then you guys took over with the Universal monsters and everything. So that’s where everything happened and where 90% of the good movies come from and for us, it’s the biggest honor ever to release an album over there and to gain new listeners pretty much every day. 
I mean, things have been going so well for us in the last couple of years and now it seems like the new deal with SPV that’s really topping everything we’ve done so far and there’s a lot of interest in the U.S. There’s even some more interest than a lot of European countries, for the south of Europe, for example.
So yeah, it’s great and I hope that people will like to check it out and let’s see what’s happening now that the album is out!
So, are there any plans to tour the States?
There are plans. We’ve actually toured in 2007 on the west coast. We did eight shows in a couple of weeks. Kinda spent our vacation on the west coast and played shows there with our friends from some other horror bands. Those were very successful. We played, the Key Club in Hollywood, Sacramento, Santa Cruz and Las Vegas. Las Vegas sucked. There were only like 15 people there but every thing else was really great. So we always knew that we wanted to be back, but you know how things are. You have to work on your reputation on your home turf and now that the album is out, though in America, that’s another reason to come over and to meet all the kids that write to us on our website. Like on our MySpace, we have like 60% of our so called “friends” from America! Which is pretty impressive for a German band. We want to meet those kids! We want to play for them. We want to work on our career in America, but mostly just have fun. 
So we do want to come back, probably in the spring of 2011. 
So let’s take a step back for people who might not know a lot about The Other. Tell me a bit about the band history.
Well, we started out in 1999 as a Misfits tribute band. It was a really fun thing. It was like a party! So it went over very successfully. And then at one point, the fans kept asking us, I mean Misfits fans were asking us if we could consider writing our own stuff because the Misfits weren’t doing anything after 1999. So we said we’ll give it a shot and we played this one Halloween show in 2002 where we mixed one of our own songs into the set. And either people didn’t realize it wasn’t a Misfits songs or they loved it and that made us want to continue and makes us want to make people differentiate between the tribute band and our own band. We didn’t call it ‘Ghouls’ anymore, but ‘The Other’. 
So, we did our first demo and since I always wanted to start my own record label, I did it with ‘The Other’. The label is called Fiendforce Records and it’s got 12 bands on it right now. We released the first album and then we released a compilation called ‘Horrorpunk’ which defined the genre actually. Then we played lots of shows, especially bigger ones later with 69 Eyes, The Cult, Alice Cooper, everything you could imagine. And there were three albums we released on Fiendforce Records and then SPV became interested in us and we released the new album, ‘New Blood’, on there. We played the Wacken Open Air, which is the biggest metal festival in the world with bands like Iron Maiden. We also played a lot of goth festivals. Actually, the goth scene was the first scene that really embraced us. We played some huge festivals there before punk rockers and metalheads became aware of us, which is kind of weird because, I mean, we have our dark atmosphere, but I guess we’re more punk and metal than goth. But we love the scene and we love the girls, so perfect!
What are the influences of the band?
Well, I’m probably the biggest horror nerd in the band. Our drummer is too. Right now, he’s actually in the movie theater watching The Last Exorcist. I’m obviously not going, but I’d love too. The other influences from the other guys in the band…hmmm. Well, our guitarist is a big metalhead. He love Metallica and Iron Maiden and all kinds of stuff but he also likes a lot of psychobilly and punk rock. I come from a total 80’s metal, like Kiss and Motley Crue and Twisted Sister and all that stuff but I got into punk rock and hardcore in the late 80’s too. And then I found out about the 80’s death rock scene and it all came together. It’s mostly Sarge, our guitarist, and I who write the songs and we mix up our influences and they come from the three genres that I mentioned. And we do try to find our own style in that. But there’s definitely some Samhain, The Damned, Danzig influence in there. 
When do you go about deciding the horror theme of a song lyrically?
You know what I really don’t like is what a lot of bands do when they start out is to just take a movie retell it. That’s what I do not like to do. When I see something that inspires me, when I read a book or see a movie or something, I try to figure out what the general theme of the book or movie is. If it’s something like Tarantula, I’m not going to give away the story or retell it or something but I’m gonna find the theme of humans messing with nature, that the creature is, just like with Frankenstein, it’s a misunderstood creature the humans fight against. That’s what I try to single out from what I read or hear. So that could be inspiration, like literature or movies.
But also, regular things that happen that I read in the newspaper or hear on the radio or something and I make a lot of notes. I always have my cell phone with me and I speak into it when I have lyric ideas or song ideas or I write things down, I always have a pen and a piece of paper next to my bed. And what happens lots of times, when I go to bed and watch some TV or something, ideas just come pouring in and it takes me an hour or two to just fall asleep because I have ideas in my mind all the time that I have to write down or speak into my cell phone. And that’s usually how the lyrics come about. 
Sometimes, the music comes first and I just sing a few words that fit the rhythm of the song and then I’ll find that the words sound pretty good together and try to write the song off of that, but usually I have separate lyrics ideas that I switch around to make them work for the song. 
As I said earlier, you have an obvious love of horror. When did that passion begin?
That is actually a good question because it started very early, I can’t really say how old I was, but I was real young. My little sister is one and a half years younger than I and it started on the same day. My parents were sitting the living room watching, I think it was Friday night at 10pm, an old Frankenstein movie from the Hammer studio, like a Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing thing. It was all in color and all bloody, if I remember correctly because I haven’t seen it since then actually, and we were watching through the glass door. We weren’t allowed to watch it, but we were hiding and watching it and my parents didn’t see us because their backs were to us. And we crept into bed and I had nightmares for, like, a week! And not because the movie was so scary, but because I felt so sorry for the creature. I remember vividly that lynch mob of farmers with their torches and their hayforks, chasing the Frankenstein monster and I thought that was very sad and that gave me nightmares. 
So that was the first encounter with horror. And then, I think a few months or years later, I can’t say, I was watching Tarantula, which is one of my favorite movies. It pretty much had a similar theme with the creature. Afterwards, they had an interview with the director Jack Arnold about the movie and about Creature From The Black Lagoon and I found out that horror wasn’t only about scares but could have a deeper meaning and I think I was 11 or 12 or something and I felt like this was what I wanted to see! Because it wasn’t just about an effect, but it was about making a statement and crossing borders and that’s where my love for horror started. 
What is the first movie you can remember that just scared you completely?
That was The Shining. Or was it The Exorcist? Both of those are my favorite movies. But with The Shining, I read the book first when I was nine years old and that terrified me. I mean, I read until four in the morning and every noise in the house would drive me crazy. I couldn’t sleep at night. Later I was watching the movie, I can’t remember how old I was, but I just couldn’t watch it all the way through. I had a pillow right in front of my face, just trying to look at the screen and then looking away and I remember the two little kids in the hallway and the little kid, Danny, on his little bicycle thingy through the hallways and the blood coming from the elevators. That was terrifying! I must’ve been 13 or 14. Remember, this was in the early 80’s. Nowadays, kids are totally used to all kind of horror and terror and those pictures, but back then it was a different time. When you saw a movie like that, it just freaked you out totally. 
You’ve given Bloody-Disgusting your Top 10 horror rock songs, movie poster taglines and horror literature. Now I’m curious to know what some of your favorite horror movies are.
I love all the old Universal monster movies, like Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and those definitely belong to my favorite movies. The original Nosferatu, the original Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. It was recently remade into a movie with sound, but the original was better. Tarantula, like I said. The Creature From The Black Lagoon. Then to more recent movies, The Exorcist, for example. I loved The Blair Witch Project, it totally creeped me out. Then The Ring was pretty great. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead. Then there is a new movie that just came out called Suck, I don’t know if you know about this, with Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. That was excellent. My favorite movie of 2010. I loved Zombieland, because it was funny, like Suck. I’m sure there is more, I just can’t think of them right now.
Anything you’d like to tell the readers of Bloody-Disgusting?
Wow, that’s a tough question [laughs]
[laughs]
Well, 98% of readers probably haven’t heard of horrorpunk before and are just wondering what the hell that is all about. I mean, if you guys out there like dark punk rock, you like the Misfits and bands like that, then check us out. And what I really, really like is when people get in touch, either with criticism or with feedback or with ideas or anything. We really like to hear from people, listeners, or fans directly. I mean, that’s what it’s all about. We started a band to meet people, to have fun, to party, to get to meet people all over the world. And we want nothing more than to be in touch with people through MySpace or Facebook or the comments on Bloody-Disgusting.
So yeah, give us a try! Long live the horror!