[Interview] Wes Borland Of Black Light Burns Talks Horror And Painting

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Next week sees the release of the long awaited sophomore album from Black Light Burns, The Moment You Realize You’re Going To Fall (review). In anticipation of this release, Bloody-Disgusting got the chance to catch up with mastermind Wes Borland, who is also the guitarist of platinum-selling band Limp Bizkit, to discuss his passion for horror and his love of painting. Check out this exclusive interview below.

Bloody-Disgusting: How are you doing?

Wes Borland: I’m great. How are you?

BD: Not too shabby! How’re things going for you these days?

WB: Pretty good. Just getting anxious to have this record [The Moment You Realize You’re About To Fall] come out and preparing to go on tour. Trying to do some Limp Bizkit stuff at the same time, which is kinda crazy juggling but I’ve waited for so long to put this record out that I knew that whenever I did, and the main thing that kept me from putting it out was Bizkit, was that I was going to have to burn the candle at both ends. So, it’s expected.

BD: Sounds like you’re definitely keeping busy. Are you getting a chance to relax at all?

WB: Actually, yeah! I’m just finishing up being almost near San Diego at the beach with my wife’s family.

BD: I saw on twitter that you went fishing with your brothers-in-law. Did you catch anything?

WB: Y’know, it was a bad day for fishing. We caught few very small fish that we threw back. But it’s fun being out on the ocean.

BD: Last time we spoke was at the 2010 Rock on the Range festival and, unfortunately, we got cut off short before I could really get into the “meat and potatoes”, if you will. So I wanted to focus this interview on horror and the ways that it affects or influences you. So, with that in mind, I guess the first question would be to ask what got you into horror?

WB: I don’t know what gets someone into horror initially. I think it’s just…I just started gravitating towards that style of film and those kinds of books. I don’t know, I started reading Stephen King novels when I was a kid and then moved onto Lovecraft and other things like that. Just loved being scared, I guess. Or loved being creeped out and feeling a bit of something that’s terrifying or creepy in some way.
And I tend to like horror that’s more, y’know, plucks at the strings of imagination and leaves a lot of things open. I was always more into horror that was kind of suspense and freaky suspenseful horror that didn’t give everything away and wasn’t, like, gore-filled slasher films as much. I still like that stuff but I think Irreversible is much more disturbing to me than any of the Friday the 13th movies because it’s more visceral and real and when the horrible things happen, there’s kinds of stuff that’s not horror that happens. The dynamics are much more extreme instead of just, “You know it’s coming, you know it’s coming.” It’s like, oh my god, when it comes it’s so terrifying.
That’s why I’m a big H.P. Lovecraft fanatic as well, because he leaves so much open for me to make up, for me to fill in the blanks that he leaves. That tends to terrify me more when I’m left to my own devices, to come up with what’s hiding under the stairs. Instead of going, “Oh, it’s that thing! That thing’s hiding under the stairs!” And it’s CG-looking and I’m not afraid of it.

BD: When it comes to metal visuals, they are often quite extreme and have a lot of horror references or influences. However, some of the most intense horror films are quite understated when it comes to the visuals, leaving more to the imagination. Films such as Se7en, The Silence Of The Lambs, The Shining, are truly terrifying but don’t place much emphasis on extreme visuals. Why do you think that metal tends to go for the extreme rather than the cerebral?

WB: I think that metal music is so on fire, the guitars and drums sound like someone is being attacked with an axe a lot of the time, that the music is made to terrify and pull all kinds of feelings out of the listener and to try to, in some way, terrify and scare the listener or the parent of the listener. I think that’s why metal just gravitates towards Satan and gore and dismemberment, murder, medical operations. Y’know, things that sound like they feel like the music sounds.
A lot of people get into metal because, I think…I have kids going through high school and they need something to shield themselves or terrify others to basically leave them alone in many ways. And that’s also for likeminded people to come together on when they don’t have anything else.
So, it’s all about, I think, shock and keeping people that might not understand them or give them a hard time at bay. That’s where it starts. Horror movies are terrifying for children, so why not take on that villainous presence and become an agent of that terror. That’s kind of where a lot of metal comes from.

BD: Looking at the artwork in your online gallery, the images are very detailed and very surreal, often even rather gruesome. What is it about this style that makes you compelled to paint it?

WB: I think that I just have images and things in my head that I can’t get out musically. So I turn to painting or drawing to kind of have these things manifest themselves from me to whoever the viewer is. I don’t, a lot of times when I paint, come up with the ideas. When I’m painting it’s very much a selfish thing for me and an outlet for me and, a lot of the time, I won’t even think about what I’m doing. Writers will free write and not have any kind of goal in mind when they’re just using that as an exercise to just free write whatever thoughts or on the tip of their brain and tap into their unconsciousness. For me, free painting is something that is a huge outlet for me, to explode all over the canvas and have whatever ideas I have, whether they have significant meaning or not, throw themselves up on canvas.
I don’t know if it’s a true representation of who I am or a part of who I am. I just usually feel some parts of myself are repressed in some ways. There’s no ways to get those thoughts out in conversation with another person or in society. I don’t know what about modern society makes me miss opportunities to present myself in certain ways or why I paint the way I do. I don’t think about it a lot, I just go.
I have no excuses or explanations really [laughs]. It’s just what I am inspired by or inspired to do.

BD: So, on top of it being a means of inspiration, it almost sounds like you’re saying that it’s a means of catharsis.

WB: Absolutely! There’s things that I think of that are almost like gibberish words that have no importance or meaning whatsoever to any subject and that’s the realm in which I paint from. I don’t have any purpose most of the time. It’s just for me. If other people appreciate it in some way, that’s excellent.

BD: In many ways, that’s what a great deal of musicians do as well. They write the music that they feel they need to let out and, as you say, if people gravitate towards it, that’s simply a bonus.

WB: Yeah, exactly!

BD: Do you feel that your art and your music have a connection or do they come from different places?

WB: I think that they have a connection certainly for me. But there’s an area of overlap between the two and that area tends to be the part of both that comes from a place of intention more to where I’m intent in this song that I’m writing to convey this idea that I’m feeling. So, the mirror image of that idea, in the painting world, would be a very intent idea that I want to express or get across that would have some sort of logical fit with the music. So, if I’m doing an album cover or a piece that’s somehow representing the idea of a record or song, it will make more sense. And when I’m just sort of in the studio creating something for the sake of creating it musically or whether I’m painting something that’s coming from the back of my head and not having any purpose really. And those two areas, while both purposeless, give out some kind of feeling that in the music, when I’m doing it musically, I could never get it across in the painting world and vice versa.

BD: Is there anything you’d like to attempt in the future in connection with horror, such as a comic book, acting, directing, or anything like that?

WB: Absolutely! I’ve always thought about doing a film or writing a novel or something like that and that stuff could be totally possible but I wouldn’t want to do any of that without years and years of experience in learning how to do that. It’s not something I’d try on a whim. I’d want to research it and know what I was about to undertake instead of looking like some sort of moron, some completely green novice that decided, “Oh, I’m just going to do this now. It can’t be that hard.” I would really want to know what I was getting into.
I do write a lot and come up with stories but I don’t think I’m at a place in my life at this moment to where I could actually take the tools I have to work with and write a horror novel or something like that.
But anything is possible and those are definitely things I’m interested in.

BD: Wes, that’s all I’ve got for today. Thanks so very much. I heard The Moment You Realize You’re Going To Fall and-

WB: Yeah, I saw your review and thank you! I think you really got it, so I appreciate it.

BD: Thanks for those words! I really appreciate you saying that! And I can’t wait to see what the rest of the world thinks of the album as well!

WB: Me too! Or if they think anything! [laughs] It might be completely ignored. Who knows? But yeah, I hope that whenever I do one of these records it’s like sticking a flag out for other people of like minds. If I only succeed in meeting people like yourself who are somewhat like-minded and kind of understand what I’m doing, it’s nice to make new friends and have new people to work with in the future.

BD: Thanks very much! I hope everything works out for you and that the candle burning at both ends doesn’t burn out too quickly!

WB: [laughs] Thanks very much! It won’t! I was expecting all of this so I’m ready!

BD: Take care sir!

WB: You too, thanks so much!

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  • bonerghost

    Cruel Melody was awesome and Cover your Heart was not as much. The thing I like most about Wes is he doesn’t slap something together just to get it out there. Even though Cover your Heart wasn’t that great, the DVD that came with it shows you what this band does day in and day out and still made me give it a thumbs up. I still listen to Cruel Melody about 2-3 times a week, and that’s how fucking good it is. I’m very anxious to see what he has in store with this new album. I always heard the rumor that most of the scrapped Damning Well songs were deconstructed and reformed into Black Light Burns, is there any truth to that?

  • Taboo

    Great interview! I really like Cruel Melody and from what I heard of third album, I think it will be good.

  • Decapitated_Dave

    Maybe I’m the weird one, but I hate that being a horror fan means people automatically assume I’m into the mall-metal of the ’90s. It’s absurd that Limp Bizkit is relevant again. I’m usually not such a pessimist, but doesn’t anyone remember “Nookie”? Jesus.