VULTUREHOUND MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE 14
ROCKY HORROR P IC T U R E S H OW
M A I L L I W TENACIOUS D
SOPHIE HOPKINS +BRAND NEW COLUMNS
L O R T N CO
E S E H T E S I C R O X E O T "I NEED ERIK CHANDLER D E M O N S O U T O F M Y H E A D " BOWLING FOR SOUP
DC+MARVEL: COMIC CON INTERVIEWS BLACK MIRROR
The latest podcast from
WELCOME FROM EDITOR
nother year is almost over, but we had just enough time for one more issue and this issue we had the chance to speak to some of our favourites...
EDITORIAL David Garlick Editor / Design email@example.com
Michael Dickinson Online + Film Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dan Withey Co-Music Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
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Returning to VH is WILLIAM CONTROL and this time he is out in front as our cover star. TENACIOUS D’s KYLE GASS, former MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE guitarist RAY TORO and PARAMORE founding member FARRO all speak to us. As well as stars from music we also chatted with a number of DC, MARVEL and DR. WHO’S ‘CLASS’ TV stars. We review both Netflix’s BLACK MIRROR and THE CROWN, and a more in depth look into SCREAM QUEENS. Our wrestling spin-off STEELCHAIR MAGAZINE, also makes an appearance as we spoke to the first WWE Universal Champion FINN BALOR. Lastly thanks to everyone who has helped us or simply read what we’ve put out this year. See you in 2017!
Keira Trethowan Live Music Editor
Craig Hermit Wrestling Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
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WORDS: LEE HAZELL
08 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016
My band name is
FARRO. That's weird.
we spoke to paramore founding member josh farro
" DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 11
J osh Farro was a founding member of Paramore, one of the bands that musically defined the 2000s. In 2011, Josh left the band citing creative reasons, particularly a loss of creative freedom. He returns with his self-titled music project FARRO and his first album release since Brand New Eyes, Walkways.
YOU’VE NAMED YOUR NEW MUSICAL PROJECT AFTER YOUR LAST NAME. ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE A STATEMENT ABOUT THE NEW DIRECTION YOU’RE TAKING? No, not in particular. Here’s the deal with that. When I decided to do a project, I was trying to come up with the coolest band name ever that’s never been done before. Turns out, every band name is taken. I hit a wall and after talking to some friends about it, they were like, ‘Well, I guess you could just use your last name. It’s cool.’ I was like, ‘No, my last name is terrible.’ And they were like, ‘No, it’s really cool, it’s unique.’ I wanted a short band name. I didn’t want this three-word, fourword band name that was just ridiculously long. It works for some bands, but for me, I just wanted that short name that could be really memorable. Like U2 for example. I’m not comparing my name to U2, but it’s so short and easy and simple. I think it’s brilliant. So I wanted a one word band name, and there is already a
10 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016
band with any word you can think of, or any combination of words, as a title. So, I was like, ‘I guess I could just go with my last name. I mean, that’s me and it’s one word.’ It’s simple. It is a little strange sometimes when I think about it too hard. You know, when you say a word over and over and over again it starts to sound weird? So if I sit there and think about it for too long I’m like, ‘My band name is FARRO. That’s weird.’ But everyone else was like, ‘Man, I like that name a lot.’ So, to me, it’s not so much about the name, it’s more about the music. And I think the music really makes the name so…
SPEAKING OF YOUR MUSIC, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE NEW SOUND? Uh … I guess as far as genre wise I would say just alternative pop-rock. There’s no like, crazy genre. It’s very melodic. I’m a big melody guy. I always tell people I feel like I have a song for pretty much any mood. I’ve got dark songs, I’ve got happy songs, I’ve got really mellow songs, really energetic upbeat songs, then some middle of the road songs. I try to make my album very versatile and I feel like I did pretty well at that.
ANY PARTICULAR INFLUENCES? There’s always the given of Coldplay. I always listen to them, I love everything they do. Uh, let’s see … it’s a long list but, at the time … there are so many. At the time, I was getting into a lot of really old-school music. When I was growing up, I never listened to any music, any classic rock bands or anything, I really didn’t listen to anybody but – my mom would occasionally put on – Michael
Jackson, but that was about it. But I really started getting into bands like The Eagles, Elvis … but as far as current bands, like I said, Coldplay, I’ve love Radiohead, the list goes on. I could name you bands all day. Oh, and The National are probably up in the top five, for sure.
ANY BAND YOU’RE LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT THAT YOU THINK IS REALLY COOL AND THAT OUR AUDIENCE SHOULD CHECK OUT? Uh … yes? Well, there’s a lot of local bands l that I really like. Well just a couple, not a lot I guess I should say. There’s a band called Don Tigra. I love their album and they’re some friends of mine here in Nashville. There’s another guy, his name is Rayland Baxter, I really love his stuff a lot. It’s pretty chill. But I’m really not great at following up on the latest bands and new music. I stick to my albums from early 2000s. Whatever Coldplay and Radiohead were doing back in 2008-12.
WHAT WAS THE RECORDING PROCESS OF WALKWAYS LIKE? It was a blast. I worked with producer Jacquire King who’s worked with so many great artists. To name a few, Kings of Leon, Of Monsters and Men, James Bay, Norah Jones, the list goes on. He’s a pretty famous producer and I had actually never heard of him until I started interviewing and looking around for engineers for my album. Before that I was gonna self-produce, but then an engineer introduced me to Jacquire. Him and I had lunch and we just really hit it off. We connected on so many levels, both personally and musically, so I knew it was going to be a great fit.
We started pre-production two weeks after that. It was great. It was just Jacquire and I. It was definitely different because I’m just so used to having a full band around me and all doing preproduction together. It was just he and I listening to my demos and we were doing pre-production just sitting down. It was interesting. It was a really cool process. I had
"A solo album's very freeing. There are no boundaries, no rules, nobody's telling you what you should do".
my brother Zac play drums, a few other musicians came in to play the instruments that I am not very good at, and it was very rewarding. It took a lot of time, it always does, and a lot of hard work, but I really had a great time just making my first solo album ever.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO HAVE SO MUCH INDEPENDENCE AWAY FROM BEING IN A BAND? WAS IT REFRESHING?
Yeah, I guess so. There’s definitely a high level of independence. I guess this is as independent as you can get doing a solo album. It’s very freeing. There are no boundaries, no rules, nobody’s telling you what you should do. The
DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 05
WHAT ARE YOU EXPLORING ON THIS ALBUM LYRICALLY OR THEMATICALLY?
YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO TOURING IN THE UK? Heck yeah. I can’t wait. We’re like two weeks away or less. I’ve always loved the UK. Actually, that’s a lie. I hated the UK the first time we went over there. Hate’s a strong word. Sorry (laughs). I strongly disliked
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"I'm really inspired by melody in music. I'm just driven by that. I like the song to tell me what it wants to be written about".
When I start a song, I usually start with a track or a guitar riff because I’m really inspired by melody in music. I’m just driven by that. I love when melody just stirs something inside of you. I like the song to tell me what it wants to be written about. I know that sounds weird, but I’ll sit with some music for a bit and say, ‘What are you about? What is the subject matter in this song? Sometimes it’s about what I’m going through. I write a lot about personal experiences and also the experiences of others – close friends or family; their hardship, good times, I have love songs on there too. I’ve got a song on there about my parents splitting up because I just love relatable songs. Some of my favourite artists write songs that are just so relatable. On the other side of the spectrum I love songs that feel good and are amazing songs, but you don’t always know what they are about. I think that’s ok. I feel like I have a couple of songs where, it’s not like I didn’t know what they were about, but I try not to give it all away or make it simple and straight forward. I try to take the listener on a journey and they can interpret whatever way they want to interpret it.
it because I’m a foodie. I shouldn’t say that. It makes me sound really overweight. But, we have some great food. I’m not just talking about McDonalds or Burger King we really do have some great food here [in the United States]. But I went to the UK and, of course, we were just teenagers touring there for the first time, we were in a van in the city and we don’t know where to go. We don’t know all the posh places. Not that we needed to eat at the posh
sky’s the limit. I loved it.
places, nor could we afford it. But we were eating at Burger King over there and places like that. The best place we could find to eat in our opinion was Nando’s. I don’t know if your familiar but we actually liked it. It was like heaven to us. We were like, ‘OK, this is pretty good. It’s decent food.’ So, the first time we went over there was not the best experience. It wasn’t until our third or fourth time over there we had a proper Sunday roast. That was amazing. I was like, ‘Oh, well here’s
the good food! We’ve been missing this.’ It’s not all about the food but at first I was just like, ‘Man, is there anything good to eat here?’ I’m just a spoiled rotten American. I dunno, I guess everything in America’s very new, so nothing’s older than a few hundred years and for you guys that’s so new still. Everything in the UK is very aged and I learned to appreciate that. I found that each time I came back, I developed a deeper love of England and Scotland and all the countries surrounding. The culture and the history is so fascinating; and the people – the people are just so great, the fans are amazing. So I’ve really developed a deep love and respect for the country. Any chance I get to get over to across the pond I do because I just love it. I think fashion wise, you guys are a whole step ahead of us and I love that. I don’t know why it takes the United States so long to catch on but I think we’re a bit stubborn over here. I can’t wait to go over there and see some familiar faces and also meet some new faces. So UK fans get ready. It’s gonna be the best night of your life if you come out the show.
DO YOU HAVE ANY GUESTS LINED UP? Greywind are going to be opening acoustically I believe. I think it’s just the two of them, so I’m excited for that. They seemed really pumped for the tour. There’s another band called Natives. They’re all local to the country so that’s really exciting. I always love meeting new bands and checking out their live shows. Some of the best parts of the tour are coming up with inside jokes with other bands. So hopefully we’ll all hit it off and have a great time together.
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WORDS: LEE HAZELL | PHOTOS: TOM ROSE
FARRO. Live at the london
to a couple of tunes that are only accompanied by Farro’s guitar and voice.
he projector was there for the headliners, Farro. The images created a firework display of sparks and lights across the bodies of the band with Josh himself being the centre point. It created a series of visual clues as to how you should be feeling, an exuberantly unnecessary addition, but a welcome one.
An especially poignant moment of the night is the song he introduces by saying that his parent’s divorce was a sad time for him, but it made for a good song, at least. That was a good, chucklesome line, but the way that the song starts out so forlorn and gives way to a massive wail of pained emotion is the rawest and most honest of all of the night’s emotional moments.
The music is a journey of Farro’s influences beginning with the melodic rock of Coldplay and Radiohead and ending with a flourish that sounds decidedly Springsteen. He even finds time in the set to get a little a cappella with his fellow bandmates providing vocal backup
Farro topped off a night of strong performances from a group of gifted songwriters with a talent for illustrating the meaning of their songs though the simplest of methods. Farro and the bands that preceded them created an invigorating, life-affirming and soul-lifting night.
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DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 15
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
WORDS: GEORGINA MULLANY
THE GIRL ON THE
TRAIN: E H T F O N R U T E R THE R E L L I R H T N A I K HITCHCOC
16 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016
itchcock is undoubtedly one of the best filmmakers of all time, a legendary icon of 20th century film. He has been rightfully named the master of suspense and no other has quite yet been able to match him. As a result, there haven’t been many psychological thrillers that have matched up to his either. The Girl on the Train however, directed by Tate Taylor, is pretty close and can be best described as the return of the Hitchcockian thriller. It boasts all of the vital elements for a superb and successful psychological thriller that even Hitchcock himself would approve of. After all, he perfected them. What are these vital elements? Starting with the characters, it would not be the same without a strong, cool blonde female who is present in many of Hitchcock’s films. In The Girl on the Train we have Megan, a young blonde who is, of course, beautiful too, who seems to have everything in life that the lead character Rachel wants so badly. Then there is an innocent man accused, which in this case is Rachel. It turns out blondes do not have more fun as Megan soon goes missing, and it is Rachel who becomes a prime suspect in her disappearance. But is she an innocent person accused? Did she or didn’t she hurt Megan? These are questions that make this a perfect thriller. Then there’s the psychological aspect, where the lead character often battles with their own mind, portraying an abnormal psychological state and behaviour. No different in this film, Rachel battles with her own mind as she struggles to cope with life, resulting in alcohol abuse. Her ever-growing dependency on alcohol causes her to become mentally unstable, suffering from memory loss and a dissolving sense of reality. Her loss of memory during the night in question when Megan disappeared means that neither her or the audience are really sure if she did have something to do with Megan’s disappearance or not. A character with memory loss is a common plot device used in such psychological thrillers, creating that all important suspense that Hitchcock devised so well. Similarly, in Hitchcock’s Psycho, we have the lead
character Marion who portrays some disturbing and strange behaviour by stealing a significant amount of money and then running away with it. Although her behaviour is somewhat abnormal and we’d all go to prison if we did something like this too, the audience is still able to sympathise with her character. Marion’s helplessness is her drive to steal the money, believing that it will solve all of her problems which the audience can relate to. Everyone is guilty of believing that money solves everything at least once in their lives. The audience can relate to Rachel’s character in The Girl on the Train too. Her behaviour becomes increasingly abnormal throughout the film, yet we can sympathise with her struggle to deal with her problems, as it is not uncommon to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. The most important and essential element to a Hitchcockian thriller is obviously the suspense. This film cleverly builds much tension, leading to a spectacular climactic plot twist. It is the anticipation of what is yet to come that keeps the audience engaged and Hitchcock knew this all too well. He once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” He knew that imagination is more powerful than an image on screen and this knowledge has clearly been passed onto director Tate Taylor. He manipulates his audience by purposely giving them gaps to fill in. We don’t know exactly what has happened to Megan; all we know is that it can’t be good and that’s a little scarier. Filling in the gaps for yourself may be done so by imagining your own worst fears, which is exactly what Taylor wants. His clever use of camera shots ensures that the audience sees only what he wants them to see. Unlike many thrillers of the 21st century, The Girl on the Train goes old school, swapping gore and bloodshed for masterful suspense, bringing back the classic style of the Hitchcockian thriller. There are no axe murderers wearing creepy masks or fierce werewolves on a bloody rampage, only ordinary people like you and me, except one could in fact be a killer. That is the message that most Hitchcock films and The Girl on The Train portrays; it is not the obvious killers that the audience should fear most but the least obviousones. Do we need more Hitchcockian thrillers? Almost definitely. The Girl on the Train shows us just what we’ve been missing.
“THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN GOES OLD SCHOOL”
DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 17
"THE KYLE GASS BAND IS THE FINEST ROCK BAND YOUâ€™RE EVER GONNA SEE"KYLE GASS
WORDS: LEE HAZELL
18 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016
yle Gass holds a special place in my heart for reasons that will soon become apparent. We immediately start off the interview with it. As the straight man in one of the 2000s most iconic bands, Tenacious D, they skyrocketed to success with anthems like Tribute and Wonderboy. He now has his own band. The Kyle Gass Band. He talks to VultureHound about Donald Trump, the origins of the name ‘The Kyle Gass Band’, and his new album, Thundering Herd.
HELLO SIR. IT’S LEE HAZELL OF VULTUREHOUND. (In the tune of Tenacious D’s Lee) Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee, Lee.
OH MY GOD! I HAVE TO SAY, THAT SONG WAS SO AWESOME FOR ME WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER. IT’S THE SOURCE OF THE ONLY NICKNAME I RECEIVED IN SCHOOL THAT I EVER LIKED. AND I HAD A LOT OF NICKNAMES. That’s awesome man! That’s so good. I always loved
that song. That name was something to celebrate.
THANKS DUDE. ANYWAY, DON’T YOU HAVE A NEW ALBUM OUT? Yeah, it’s been out a month. I heard that Bro Code even got played on the radio, which is a real milestone for us because we’re used to people not really caring that much. So that was pretty exciting.
HOW DOES THIS ALBUM DIFFER FROM YOUR FIRST, AND THE MUSIC PROJECTS YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED WITH PREVIOUSLY? It’s a creative endeavour, so you never know how it’s gonna come out. You just do your best. I don’t know if we had too much of a concept, going in. We would think of funny titles on the road and just try to sell ‘em in. We just took ‘em from wherever inspiration came. But it was kind of a tall order; it took us over a year to come up with a whole new fresh batch of tunes. Oh, we have a new drummer. I think that he added a new energy to the proceedings, and actually, we even wrote a song about him. Called ‘Bone’.
IS THERE ANY SONG YOU’RE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF ON THE NEW ALBUM? DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 19 47
"WE’RE GONNA BRING THE THUNDER. THAT WILL BE WELL DOCUMENTED". Well, you know. Songs are like your kids. You’re proud of all of them. Whenever one actually makes it to fruition, it’s a cause for celebration. Not all songs make it to the record. I kind of love all of them, but, that being said, I really like ‘Gypsy Scroll II: Toot in the Valley’. Which is just because it’s a great song; it kind of sums up what we’re about; and obviously, it serves as a sequel to ‘Gypsy Scroll’ – from our first record. I thought that was kind of a fun concept. The story continues.
YOU SAID THAT REALLY SUMS UP
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WHAT YOU GUYS ARE ABOUT. CAN YOU DEFINE THAT? Uh, no. Hahaha. Whatever we’re about, I think we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band. We’re a live band. We’re kind of about energetic entertainment, y’know? We’re all about havin’ a good time and guitar rock. It’s got a classic rock vibe to it. Lynyrd Skynyrd; Allman Brothers; Bad Company; those old kind of seventies guitar bands, or ‘dinosaur bands’. Whatever we are as personalities, that’s what we bring to it. But I think it’s all good under the rock ‘n’ roll banner.
WHAT ARE YOU EXPLORING LYRICALLY WITH THIS ALBUM? Well, each song is a story unto itself. Track one, ‘Cakey’ is about a real fan that we had. Track two, ‘Regretta’ was another story. They all have their thing. ‘Toot in the Valley’ is kind of a mythological tale. ‘Bro Code’ is self-explanatory. We wrote a couple of songs based on band members, which I always like to do. It just tickles me. It’s hard to write songs, really. I wish it were easier. It takes a long time to craft them and record them. So whenever one happens you should just be really glad that it happened.
THE TITLE OF THE ALBUM IS CALLED THUNDERING HERD. WHERE DID THE TITLE COME FROM? It seemed appropriate. We went around on several names, as bands are want to do. But with the album art and the feeling that we had, we really wanted to create a thundering masterpiece. It was
WAS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THIS NEW ALBUM’S RECORDING THAT WAS PARTICULARLY MEMORABLE? Yeah, it was a great experience, actually. Our friend, John Spiker, who plays bass with Tenacious D, is a great producer, engineer, mixer and a great friend. So we were lucky enough to record at his home studio. The whole thing. So that was quite relaxing and very enjoyable, not being on the clock or anything like that. And he’s really, really good, so we felt lucky to have him. So we were able to take our time and get it just right. We did run into a deadline, a selfimposed deadline, but sometimes that’s when you do your best work. Like we said in the last song on the album, it was ‘The Best We Could Do (In The Time Allowed)’.
DO YOU VALUE THE STUDIO MORE
THAN YOU DO THE LIVE EXPERIENCE?
"A LIVE ROCK BAND IS THE HIGHEST CALIBRE OF BAND. ...ESPECIALLY OURS"
Well, they’re just two different animals. I love recording, that’s really fun. It’s a blast, especially with today’s technology. Pro Tools and all that stuff is just a real good time. It’s a different beast. But there’s no substitute for live performing. A live rock band is the highest calibre of band. Especially ours. The Kyle Gass Band is the finest rock band you’re ever gonna see (He winks at me and goes ‘tch-ch’). I mean, it’s a pretty powerful experience.
IF IT’S GOT KYLE GASS IN IT I SHOULD HOPE IT WOULD BE. Well, I wish I could take credit, but it’s really all the other guys. I’m just kind of keeping up.
IT HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND ANY DOUBT THAT YOU ARE KYLE GASS OF THE KYLE GASS BAND. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE NAME? Bon Jovi without a doubt. Actually, how it happened was… I have a side project called Trainwreck. From 2002 to 2010, because of my massive celebrity, wherever we’d play it would say ‘Trainwreck, featuring Kyle Gass of Tenacious D’. And then my brilliant guitarist, John Konesky, said – when we formed the new band – let’s just call it ‘The Kyle Gass Band’ and then we can take out all that extra info. It seemed to be the right move. Saved a lot of guys some
marquis space with that.
SO WHEN YOU WERE IN TENACIOUS D… I still am.
YEAH, I KNOW BUT… You were speaking in the past tense sir. I’m a lifetime member.
I APOLOGISE PROFUSELY. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT YOU GET WITH THE D AND WHAT YOU GET FROM THE KYLE GASS BAND? Obviously in Tenacious D, Jack (Black) is in there. He’s the front man! I’m more of, y’know, the straight man, guitar guy. And then with this band, I get to be more of a jackass, and work on my stand-up comedy. It’s still a bit looser; we try to share the microphone. It’s just different.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN LONDON FOR AND ARE YOU ENJOYING YOUR EXPERIENCE? We played London on a Friday and then had press on the Monday, so I guess four days. I’m just a geeky
DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 21
really a kind of shared team effort. All of us working together in tandem. So it seemed like we were the Thundering Herd. The other name that we had, which I liked, was ‘Masters of Beasts’. It had a lot of plurality. But we tested them in front of audiences, and even though Thundering Herd has been used before, we just felt it was right for this album. We’re gonna bring the Thunder. That will be well documented.
KYLE GASS tourist. I love walking around and taking pictures. There’s always something. It’s a great city. I went to Brompton Cemetery. It was a really great experience. We need to take better care of our dead. I don’t know if it inspired a new song, but it was a great visit. We need to restore it to its splendour.
ANY FURTHER DATES LEFT ON THE TOUR? Well, we just finished a month long tour. London was our last show. We played Germany, and France and the Netherlands and Belgium, and one gig in London. That was great. I think we’re gonna come back in April. To finish what we started.
FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED? DESTROYING THE WORLD? No. I think Trump’s gonna do that.
DO YOU FEAR FOR YOUR COUNTRY COME NOVEMBER? Yes.
THAT’S THE MOST DIRECT ANSWER I’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN. There’s a little bit of fear there. Similar to your Brexit. You take a step back and go, “Wait a minute. What’s happening? Why is this happening?” I’m not quite sure. It’s a little unnerving. Hopefully, it will work itself out and sanity will prevail.
AS IT USUALLY DOES? GOD HELP US ALL. God help us all.
ANYTHING HAPPEN ON THE TOUR?
22 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016
Well, it was our first time in France. And er.. y’know. You hear the stories. Of France. But when you go there, you have to work with the French people, and sometimes there would be problems with the promoters. It seemed like a daily battle. And I don’t know why they don’t use toilet seats on the road. They don’t believe in toilet seats. That was a little unnerving for me. France, I think you’ve got to level up a little bit. And then they pretend they don’t understand you. I dunno. They’re a whole thing. But the French fans were just unbelievably enthusiastic. It was great to play there.
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING COMING UP IN THE FUTURE YOU WOULD LIKE TO
The Kyle Gass Band’s Thundering
I’m starring in a motion picture called Gnaw. It’s an indie horror film. That’s a little unusual for me. I’m excited about that. We have our own festival. Festival Supreme, Los Angeles October 29th. So Yeah, just onwards and upwards. Try to stay creative and make more music.
ANY MORE WRITING PROJECTS? Ah, who knows? I try not to plan. Just stay positive today and we’ll see what happens.
Herd is out now
BOWLING FOR SOUP
WORDS: LEE HAZELL | PHOTOS: TOM ROSE
G N I L W BO P U O S R FO owling for Soup just performed on a super tour with fellow debauched libertines Steel Panther and Buckcherry. We tracked them down to their natural habitat (a dive bar in a seedy part of town) to ask them about the devastation they’ve left behind them and their new album Drunk Dynasty.
A GORILLA ESCAPED FROM LONDON ZOO YESTERDAY. WHERE WERE YOU ON THE NIGHT OF THE 13TH? I was somewhere on an airplane above the Atlantic Ocean.
A LIKELY STORY. WHAT DO YOU PREDICT WILL BE THE OUTCOME
WHEN BOWLING FOR SOUP MEETS STEEL PANTHER AND BUCKCHERRY ON TOUR? I don’t know if I’m really, really, really looking forward to it, or if I’m really fucking scared of what’s going to happen. I know this is going to be a blast because we’ve had great times with those guys before. We haven’t hung out with them too much, but Jaret and I have had a couple of good conversations with a couple of dudes from Buckcherry. So everyone’s already slightly familiar with everyone else so there’s not going to be that awkward first couple of days where nobody knows who anybody else is and everyone’s trying to get the introductions out of the way. So we don’t have to deal with that.
GOT ANY STORIES FROM ANY PAST ENCOUNTERS WITH THOSE GUYS? For some reason, Jaret and I always
"I DON’T KNOW IF I’M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE TOUR OR IF I’M REALLY FUCKING SCARED OF WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN" get stuck on a shuttle bus at Download Festival, or wherever, with the singer and guitar player from Buckcherry. We’re constantly running into one another. So it’s like, “Oh, you guys again!” So we sit down and generally just shoot the shit about what we’ve been up to and stuff. Nothing that anyone would find interesting, just a bunch of salesmen sitting around talking about how the eastern division is doing.
DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 25
BOWLING FOR SOUP THE NEW ALBUM IS CALLED DRUNK DYNASTY. IS THERE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD YOU GUYS HAVE TOURED THAT HAS BEEN IRREVOCABLY CHANGED BY YOUR DRUNKEN ANTICS? Oh god. I will say, that in Bejing, we did get kicked out of our own party. A party that was happening in a private room. It’s not like we were getting kicked out of a club where we were in public. We were in a private room and we got tossed out of our own party. We’ve also left some scarred individuals in Japan as well. There are some bits of propriety and
"WE WERE IN A PRIVATE ROOM AND WE GOT TOSSED OUT OF OUR OWN PARTY"
difference in culture – mostly to do with politeness – that maybe got lost on us somewhere in translation.
ARE WE TALKING PHYSICAL SCARS OR EMOTIONAL? Both. Mostly emotional. There was one city, in particular. I can’t remember which one. It was on our first major tour of Japan. Jaret was sleepwalking and woke up in the hallway of a hotel in his underwear. He couldn’t get back in his room, because he was sharing a room with Gary (Wiseman) but Gary wasn’t back yet, so he had to go down to the lobby in his underwear to get the night manager to let him back in. So he comes around the corner and the guy’s just like, “NO! No, no no, no, no!” and Jaret was like, “I’m sorry but I can’t do anything about this. You need to let me back into my room.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE FAN RESPONSE TO YOUR PLEDGE MUSIC CAMPAIGN FOR DRUNK DYNASTY? We were extremely, extremely pleased by the response. I don’t know if surprised is the right word. We hoped that it would be good but we didn’t anticipate that it would be so good so fast. We got to where we wanted to get but we didn’t know we were going to do it in a matter of days. That’s why these campaigns last for two, three months. It’s so you have time to get there. It all happened so quickly we were all so blown away. It was really awesome.
HOW DID THE RECORDING PROCESS GO? It was really great. We, for the last couple of albums, have used a studio in Denton. We decided a couple of albums ago that we wanted to go back and make an album in our hometown, there in the place where it all started. We ended up, unintentionally, having some of the best studio experiences
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we’ve ever had. We spent all this time going all over the country to all these other studios and here’s this little badass place that was just down the street the entire time and we just didn’t know it was there. So it was awesome to get back into that studio. We’ve worked with Linus of Hollywood as co-producer on several albums now and this is his second time engineering for us. So everybody’s very familiar with how everybody works and there’s no downtime, or lag, or need to – when somebody’s not getting it – sweet talk them. All that niceness goes out the window so you can actually get to work. I think sometimes people who aren’t in the group come in and see us in the studio and they think we might be being a little harsh to each other. But it’s harsh, it’s just that we work quick, we talk fast and it’s like, y’know, your singing a track and the music stops and in no time flat it starts over again. So we’re like, “OK. Tell me what’s going wrong. You’re not gonna hurt my feelings.” Because we have to get this done. But yeah, the process was great. The other guys actually went to L.A to put some finishing touches on it, but I did my other finishing touches back in Dallas because I happen to be on vacation whenever they went to L.A.
WHO DID THE ALBUM ARTWORK? We’ve got three main dudes that do artwork for us but this was a guy named Dave Pearson, you also may know him as the drummer of the band Lacey. He’s done several things for us. From the very first time Dave drew us, we saw he does a very good job of getting everyone’s personality in these caricatures he
"WE ALWAYS SAID WE WERE GOING TO DO THIS UNTIL IT WASN’T FUN ANYMORE" draws of us. It was kind of a no-brainer. Anytime we get him to do something for us, it could be an idea or a shell of an idea, and then two days later he shows us something and he asks, “Does this work?” and we’re like, in awe, so we say, “Yeah Dave that’ll do. That’ll do pig. That’ll do.”
YOUR FIRST ALBUM WAS RELEASED TWO DECADES AGO. HOW DOES THAT FEEL? We released our first album in 1994. It’s so stupid to think about. We formed in June of ’94 and we released our first album in September. It’s crazy, y’know? Drunk Dynasty is our 17th album and it’s just nuts to think that we’ve been around that long and in that time recorded that much material. There’s no way that any of us could have imagined that in the beginning we would still be here this many years later cranking this shit out.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'VE GOT TO PLUG YOU HAVE COMING UP IN THE FUTURE? Bowling for Soup will be releasing in the near future a live DVD/CD from our last acoustic tour in the UK. It was shot live at Union Chapel. The title is ‘Bowling For Soup – Acoustic Live in a Freakin’ English Church’. I believe that’s the wording, but it’s something to that effect [it isn’t you have to drop the ‘Live’ part – ed.]. I’ve just released my first solo album. I’m in the Erik Chandler Band, the album’s called ‘The Truth’. It’s out right now. So feel free to pick that up.
DAN WITHEY MUSIC EDITOR’S BRAND NEW COLUMN 016 has become an easy target. #Fuck2016 for Brexit, Zeka and Trump. #Fuck2016 for the death of Bowie, Prince, Ali, Daniels (Paul), Rickman and Cruyff. We could even attribute the BBC’s loss of Bake Off, the end of Brangelina and the Mannequin Challenge to the 365 days that make up this most derided of years. Still, it’s not been without its good points. In fact, deaths aside, 2016 has been an incredible year for new music.
Mass Gothic, The Dirty Nil, Milk Teeth and Hinds released brilliant debut albums. In March and April we had to deal with the loss of George Martin and Prince, but we’re buoyed by the debut efforts from Solomon Grey, Muncie Girls, Raindear and Zoax. It seems whenever there’s been a temptation to bemoan an ‘event’ by shouting ‘DAMN YOU 2016!’, there’s been an artist like Beyonne or a band like Lilac Daze to bring some relative calm. Even a #Fuck2016 event like the break up of The Dillinger Escape Plan was numbed by the thought of more music from DEP side projects Giraffe Tongue Orchestra and The Black Queen.
IGNORANT TO THE INEVITABLE HORRORS WAITING FOR US IN 2017, THERE’S ALWAYS SOME COMFORT TO BE FOUND.
While established bands and artists like Radiohead, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Deftones, Animal Collective, Suede, Beyonce, Dillinger Escape Plan, Kanye, etc, reaped the spoils of (mostly) positive reviews, for me, 2016 will be about the new bands – those debut albums that make you forget about state sponsored doping and the rise of the ‘dab’. While January and February saw many using Black Star as a comfort blanket into which they could pour their grief, bands like
So as we move into a new year, ignorant to the inevitable horrors waiting for us in 2017, there’s always some comfort to be found. That comfort is coming in the form of The Big Moon, Bad Wave, Hunck, DBFC, Black Honey, Claudia Kane, Daisy Victoria and whoever else suddenly pops up on the VultureHound music radar. With enough luck we’ll all still be around to hear it, or at the very least have an amazing soundtrack to listen to while we watch the world burn.
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WORDS: JESS CORFIELD | PHOTOS: FOX
V T & M L I F N I Y T I O R IG I N A L
R O R R O H ROCKY
ocky Horror: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again was made and broadcast by Fox for Halloween in a valiant attempt to remake the 1975 classic. However, scouring fan reviews on IMDB, the only remarkable thing about it is how low the score is; the highest rating I saw was a 4 with most giving it a 1 out of 10. Now, perhaps it wasn’t the best adaptation, which, from watching most of it (I couldn’t face the whole thing), I can attest too. However, this isn’t the real problem. The issue is that it is a remake of something that is so decisively beloved by so many – indeed, a ‘cult classic’ - it didn’t stand a chance. This seems to be a paradox we are stuck in, a loop of remakes and sequels, remakes and sequels. They bring in money at first – attracting an audience if only through morbid curiosity – but don’t seem to encourage afluctuating and growing a creative market. At this point a second film
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is pretty much expected, and whilst some remakes and sequels can be quite well respected, you have to pick your franchises and pick your audiences. This seems to be part of the new phenomenon of creating multifilm franchises out of one plot. It seems to have its roots in the teen genre and the ease at which teenagers will be willing to have their fandoms extended: Twilight: Breaking Dawn (2011, 2012) parts 1 and 2, Mockingjay (2014, 2015) parts 1 and 2, Deathly Hallows (2010, 2011) parts 1 and 2, The Hobbit (2012, 2013, 2014), all three films made out of a 300page book and now, 5 movies to
be made out of Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them. For films that live outside of these mostly teen audiences, however, it is almost as if people live to go and see the sequels if only to disapprove of them. The response to the new Ghostbusters (2016) film, for instance, seemed to be one of genuine surprise that it was any good – we expect remakes to be bad, yet they are consistently made and we consistently see them, and this seems to continue the spiral of remakes which no one really seems to want. Rocky Horror: Let’s Do the Timewarp Again (Fox, 2016), seemed to want to cash in on the
Halloween success of the film but instead alienated people (pun completely intended) and get their backs up by treading wellworn territory. The major problem with the new Rocky Horror: Let’s Do the Timewarp Again was that it was too different to be good. The music was different, the cast was different, the dancing was different. In fact, it was actually slightly better in terms of choreography and sound/visual quality. Therein lies the problem. It doesn’t have the nostalgic feel of the shaky camera, and wobbly sets, or the glimpse of the Boom appearing in the top of the screen every now and again. Arguably, the desire to remake it was a valiant idea on Fox’s part, but the ‘poor’ quality of the original is part of its charm, and removing that makes the film feel wrong. Perhaps remakes are acceptable in large franchises, where they can be forgotten and laughed about, but in a small, cult remake - one that is remade nearly every year in the theatre with absolutely no changes other than cast - it just won’t work. You are selling to an audience of critics who may bite initially, but will never be impressed. Overall, the temptation to make a remake of such a popular film with such a die-hard audience is tempting and I can see why Fox would want to do it. But because it remains so popular in the model it is now, there is no room for update, and, I would argue, even if the new version of The Rocky Horror Show was the best thing ever, it would still be a flop. So, stick to bigger franchises that have room for expansion, or franchises that need reviving, but don’t mess with the cult classics – they are ‘cult’ for a reason.
WE ARE STUCK IN NOW, A LOOP OF REMAKES AND SEQUELS, REMAKES AND SEQUELS. DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 29 05
WORDS: TIM BIRKBECK | MAIN PHOTO: @KIMMIBOOPHOTOS
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FORMER AIDEN FRONTMAN SPEAKS
TROL DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 31
PHOTOS: TERRY MATLIN
THEN YOU HAVE BEEN EXPANDING THINGS WITH WILLIAM CONTROL, HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE YEAR DEVELOP FOR YOURSELF?
aving put one project to bed, William Francis, better known as William Control, recently released the first part of a four part record in Revelations. Having self-released the latest EP Revelations: The Pale, the vocalist has taken control of his creative output and is doing things the way he wants. VultureHound caught up with the Gothic master as he was waiting for a flight back to Seattle to discuss branching into Hollywood, being selfish, and possibly closing the book on the character of William Control.
It has been fantastic. We did the last Aiden album to put that band to rest in the right way and give fans something to listen to and then to head out on tour to say goodbye and I feel like we accomplished the tasks we set out to accomplish with that band. I then spent the first part of the year setting up the merch company, organising the building I had brought, writing the new William Control album, and preparing for the release and we put a lot of time and effort into the aesthetic of it and the sound of the album. Now we are at this jumping off point where we are just ready to get out and crush it.
IT HAS BEEN A REALLY BUSY 2016 THUS FAR FOR YOU, HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING? Well I don’t drink or smoke pot so that helps. I just have a list of things to do and go through the list and bang them out one by one.
THE YEAR STARTED WITH YOU CLOSING THE BOOK ON AIDEN AND SINCE
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WITH SETTING UP THE MERCH COMPANY AND RELEASING THE NEW EP OFF YOUR OWN RECORD LABEL IS IT - PARDON THE PUN YOU TAKING CREATIVE CONTROL AND SAYING TO THE AUDIENCE THIS IS
WHAT I WANT TO DO? Yeah exactly. The biggest thing that bummed me out about being on a record label was the fact that I had to work on someone else’s schedule, I wasn’t free to release something whenever I wanted, I had to ask for someone’s permission. I was so against authority and against rules that getting permission felt weird. Like, I’m a grown man. I shouldn’t have to ask permission to do something regarding my art. I’m just tired for working for other people and working on other people’s time so we just took everything in house.
ASIDE FROM THE MUSIC, YOU KEEP YOURSELF BUSY, SHOOTING MUSIC VIDEOS, STARTING YOUR OWN MERCH COMPANY,
"NOW WE ARE AT THIS JUM ARE JUST READY TO G
"I’M NOT THE TYPE OF GUY TO SIT AT HOME AND WATCH TV" RECENTLY BEING ANNOUNCED YOU ARE ALSO STEPPING INTO THE WORLD OF FILM. DO YOU PREFER LIVING THE BUSY LIFESTYLE? I’m not the type of guy to sit at home and watch TV, I don’t have cable at my house in Seattle, I just can’t really sit around. If I am not writing, or recording or touring, then I am reading, or I am building something, or I’m printing some merch. I have to be doing something.
IT WAS RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THAT THE
REVELATOR BOOKS WILL BE GIVEN THE BIG SCREEN TREATMENT, SO HOW DID THAT ALL COME ABOUT? Last year I was approached by a guy called Jacob Johnson, who, at the time, worked for Marvel studios, so I met him for lunch and we talked about Revelator and he was really into the idea of writing a screenplay for it. So he wrote the screenplay and over the last year we have been sending it out and getting people interested. It is a slow process but it’s good, I mean, we are in the casting process at the
moment so we are sending out letters to people like Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGreoger all these crazy people who I never thought I’d be in the same vicinity as let alone casting them for a film of my book.
ANY CHANCE FANS WILL SEE YOU STEPPING IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA? To be honest I am not going to be a major role, but I might have a cameo who knows.
SPEAKING OF BEING IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, YOU RECENTLY RELEASED THE VIDEO FOR THE SONG “THE MONSTER” FROM THE REVELATIONS:
MPING OFF POINT WHERE WE GET OUT AND CRUSH IT" DECEMBER 2016 VULTUREHOUND 33
"I NEED TO EXORCISE THESE THE PALE EP. WAS THE INTENTION OF THIS VIDEO TO GIVE FANS A BIT MORE OF AN INSIGHT INTO THE WILLIAM CONTROL CHARACTER? Absolutely. I feel at this point I’ve had this kind of William Control facade for quite some time now. And this new album revelations is really about the four aspects of our lives which can ultimately destroy us or build us into better people. It is also about revealing who I really am and what this character is really about, and almost puts a bookend on the story of William Control. I have been doing these concept albums since Hate Culture and I wrote The Revelator to a precursor to what Hate Culture was, so between the three Revelator books, that is the end of that story.
SO I THINK REVELATIONS IS 08 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 34 MARCH 2016 2016
REALLY THE END OF THAT WILLIAM CONTROL STORY. WITH REVELATIONS BEING SPLIT INTO FOUR DIFFERENT EPS, ONCE THE FINAL ONE IS OUT INTO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN WILL THAT BE THE END OF THIS WILLIAM CONTROL PROJECT? I don’t know, I don’t really have a plan for it. And that’s the way I like it. I don’t want to be bound to something or have expectations of anything in this life, I just want to make art and create, travel, dance and sing and have a good time in my life.
THE FIRST OF THE FOUR EPS IS CALLED THE PALE, WHAT WAS THE REASONING BEHIND THE CHOICE OF NAME? Each EP is named after the four
horsemen of the apocalypse. The Pale Horse, The Black Horse, The White Horse and The Red Horse, which we thought fit quite nicely with the title Revelations. And by splitting it into four parts we wanted to give it that feel of the four huge things that can change life, war, death, famine and destruction.
AS PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED, EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE BEEN DOING WILLIAM CONTROL FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, MANY PEOPLE'S FIRST INTRODUCTION OF YOURSELF MAY HAVE BEEN THROUGH AIDEN. HOW HAVE YOU FOUND TRANSITIONING SOUND FROM ONE PROJECT TO ANOTHER? When I first started William Control there was always going to be some crossover fans from Aiden, because they like the way
DEMONS OUT OF MY HEAD" I write songs. But a lot of people who loved Aiden don’t necessarily like William Control cos they both have completely different sounds. It took a long time to switch from just being ‘the guy from Aiden’ to this is William Control and it has almost taken the audience to flip to where we are now, where many of the William Control fans have never heard of Aiden or they don’t like Aiden but they love William Control.
AS YOU SAID IT TOOK A WHILE FOR SOME PEOPLE TO DETACH WILLIAM CONTROL FROM BEING “THE GUY FROM AIDEN” AND THERE IS A LIKE IN THE OPENING TRACK OF HATE CULTURE WHICH REALLY STICKS WITH ME WHERE YOU SAY “I DON’T WANT YOU TO LIKE ME” IS THAT A MESSAGE OF YOU SAYING THIS IS SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW?
music and I write books and I do everything that I do not because I want people to like me, but because I need to exorcise these demons out of my head. The fact that people have gravitated towards it and some people really connect with it on a deep and meaningful level is amazing. And that is something I am truly grateful for because it means I am able to do what I do. But at the end of the day I don’t give a fuck if you like me or not, I make music because I am selfish and I want to make something. I’m going to make something because I want to, whether you exist or not I’m still going to make it. You have been in the music industry for well over a decade now, either with Aiden or William Control, and both acts progressed and changed as the years went by.
Yeah that’s exactly right. I make
HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR MUSIC
INFLUENCE BANDS FIRST HAND? I have met tonnes of kids in bands today who have said ‘Nightmare Anatomy’ was my jam in high school so I made a band. I mean Andy from Black Veil Brides, he was an Aiden fan and now he’s in arguably one of the most famous rock bands around. I never though that I would influence someone else to go out and pick up a guitar or start writing lyrics. It was never in my mind, I have always just writing music for myself so it is really gratifying when you hear that what you have created has influenced someone else. I mean if I never had the bands I was influenced by who knows I could have ended up as a lawyer, or an accountant, or working Burger King who knows?
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MUSIC | FILM | TV | ART | WRESTLING
WORDS: JESS ENNIS | PHOTOS: NETFLIX
THE CROWNS AND THE GOWNS
Netflix and the Period Drama
n a movie business filled with disappointing sequels and the rebirth of franchises barely buried, period dramas have remained a constant. From true-to-story, exquisite adaptations such as Joe Wright’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice or Thomas Vinterberg’s moody 2015 Far From the Madding Crowd, to vast, sprawling masterclasses in colour and sound - of which Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina is a perfect example - it seems we rarely have to go unsatisfied for long.
And so, as television enters its heyday with a new litany of beautifully shot, written and acted dramas, it seems natural that the humble period drama would follow suit, being reborn into this new world of understated and nuanced programming. No longer content to be merely the fodder for a single woman’s Sunday evening (with perhaps Poldark as an exception, for obvious reasons), the period drama has become masterful and engaging outside of this designation. ITV’s Victoria and the BBC’s War and Peace stand as testament to this, the most recent products of a television trend surely kickstarted by the success of Downton Abbey. In their hands, characters were not merely the tropes of a Hardy novel, but rounded individuals with subtleties and stories worth telling. Therefore, it was only natural that Netflix soon followed suit, bringing the period drama to a new platform, and with it, a new audience. Netflix, since it began creating its own
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‘originals’ brand, has seemingly been bang on the money with their range and success rate. They gave us darkness and political grit with House of Cards, reinvented Marvel with Daredevil, AKA Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and offered some levity with cute comedies like Love, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. So, in their turning to the period drama for their latest original, The Crown, it was only natural that they would do it to such a masterful degree. The Crown, telling the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s early reign and marriage to Phillip, is a triumph. Dramatic without the vamping of shows such as The Tudors or the CW’s Reign, The Crown draws its engaging storytelling from life. Brought to life and - embellished - certainly, but nevertheless true. It’s a strange beast, a period drama with a lot of its events still within the minds of the modern demographic, but it achieves a sort of distance, a separation from 20th century memory that gives it the ethereal glow of the period drama. With all the stylistic chicness of a Scandinavian drama and nuanced, understated performances to match, it doesn’t merely set the bar for the episodic period drama - it redefines it. In the hands of its lead actress, Claire Foy, Her Majesty is imperfectly oxymoronic. Tender yet stoic, vulnerable yet unnervingly tenacious, the Queen becomes known to the show’s audience simply as Elizabeth, a woman of impossible character, for whom the burden and the privilege of the crown is thrown upon. Not only is she a newly crowned monarch, but she is a mother, sister, daughter,
“She’s pulled in a thousand directions at once, not least of all by her husband, Phillip. Played brilliantly by Matt Smith” and wife. She’s pulled in a thousand directions at once, not least of all by her husband, Phillip. Played brilliantly by Matt Smith, as he struggles with his allegiance to the crown and the instability it places upon his marriage - this constant dialogue between privacy and the public is the show’s greatest asset. Relationships are thrown into turmoil by journalists, women cannot grieve the loss of their husbands in front of the crowds, and it seems almost impossible to find the balance between duty and the need for one’s own space. It’s this that the show does so well. The intrigue comes not from knowing the figures this show presents us with - but from precisely the opposite. The British monarchy is an entity that we are taught about from primary school age; we know their lifetimes, achievements, husbands, beheadings - and yet, really, we know nothing at all. The Crown is a subtle insight, heightened reality or not, into the lives of people whose reality is so entirely, utterly
different. Whilst Pride and Prejudice might give us 200 years of distance with which to view the characters through, The Crown gives us less than 70. Yet beyond the clothes, the cars and the grainy black and white television shots, is a foreignness, an incomprehensibility which the show continually begins to disrupt. The Crown takes the figures we see everyday in print, but that still feel so very far from ourselves, and unpicks them. And so, in the same way a woman might find themselves in some parts of Elizabeth Bennet, they might just find some of themselves in Queen Elizabeth II. The Crown takes these gilded people and makes them human. This, supported by a stellar ensemble cast, beautiful direction, writing, and gorgeous cinematography, creates a show that stands to be one of Netflix’s finest works. Widely remarked upon as being the platform’s most expensive investment, it would be far from my abilities as a writer to deem its worthiness. All that can be said is that as a body of work, The Crown stands before us as a testament to the power of the period drama, and to its ability to adapt with its audience. Gone is the stuffiness of old, and in its place stands some of the most refreshing, character-rich, emotionally engaging pieces we might hope to see. The first series of The Crown is now streaming on Netflix.
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WORDS: JOSH LANGRISH | PHOTOS: LAURIE SPARHAM/NETFLIX
BLACK MIRROR SEASON 3 SEASON 3 BLACK MIRROR 56 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016 40
understand that some of you may have heard about this series called Black Mirror that’s been getting Guardian readers all hot under the collar; that it’s this ‘amazing’ series that makes people throw around words like ‘dark’, ‘twisted’, and ‘disturbing’ more frequently than the track listing of a My Chemical Romance album. “So what...”, some might say whilst rolling their eyes, “the show’s creator has read Brave New World and 1984, and listened to OK Computer too many times - we get it! Technology is bad! Move on! It’s getting boring!”.
On the contrary, hypothetically apathetic person - it is anything but boring.
CHARLIE BROOKER HAS PRODUCED SOMETHING THAT REPLACES LAUGHTER WITH AN INTENSE, GUT-BASED KNOT OF UNEASE AND ANXIETY.
I’ve always been a fan of Charlie Brooker; his writing contributions to the genius Brasseye, the underrated Nathan Barley, and the superbly acerbic Screenwipe* (And his other Wipe series) have proved, beyond a doubt, that he’s a witty and incisive mind; an illuminating beacon of clarity, selfawareness, and irony that can guide you through the discombobulating swamps and bogs of bullshit that envelops the majority of our sad, media-smothered lives. Although usually commenting on the nature of our media dominated reality from a comedic standpoint, with the emergence of Black Mirror, show-runner, lead writer, and creator Charlie Brooker has produced something that replaces laughter with an intense, gut-based knot of unease and anxiety. Needless to say, Black Mirror isn’t a “chill-out on a Sunday afternoon with a pizza” type of Netflix show. *(Even though new episodes of Brooker’s Wipe series comes back around Christmas time ever year to summarise and mock the previous year, you can fill that year-long void by checking out the Youtube channel H3H3 Productions; think Screenwipe but the mockery is aimed at Youtube and various Youtube channels and trends instead of TV. It will scratch that itch trust me). Although a tad reductionist, The New Yorker described Black Mirror correctly as “Twilight Zone for the digital age”; a dystopian monster that, with each episode, gives us a disturbingly dark glimpse into the future at what the worst aspects of humanity are capable of when living in a technological age of electronic wizardry, thereby allowing us
to see - like the mirror to which the name of the show alludes frightening, but unnervingly real, reflections of ourselves that we didn’t necessarily want to see, looking back at us on the plethora of computer monitors, and smartphones we all have, the second the screens turn black.
Series 3 (which “dropped” as they say on October 21st in its entirety) not only explores new ideas (and worries) that weren’t explored in previous series, but also expands on ideas that were once touched upon but demanded elucidation. And don’t worry, no spoilers ahead (although I recommend watching the series first). We start off with the episode ‘Nosedive’, starring Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation, The Twilight Saga, Jurassic World). Visually, the episode marks a new departure for the series. The rustic, kitchen-sink realism of the show during its Channel 4 era is replaced with an eerily pretty, sharp, filmic quality that is utterly reflective of a bigger production, bigger cast, and bigger budget (no doubt caused by Netflix’s takeover of the show, and the bread they must be printing themselves by now). The world in ‘Nosedive’ in particular is sickeningly sweet - and not in a good way. Watching the people, and the reality in which they live is like being forced to drink a galleon of honey. The houses, the streets, and the gardens are of that pastel-coloured, ‘idealistic’ American suburbia ilk that creeps under your skin - like the town in Edward Scissorhands - and is populated with pristine, ‘perfect’, plastic-looking people,
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BLACK MIRROR and businesses, close friends will stop returning calls, and people will try to avoid you in the fear that, by interacting with you, they’ll be given negative ratings by tutting onlookers. Not only that, but the second you look at someone, you can see their rating, and thus see their social status. As a result, everyone looks and behaves like an Instagram photo with a pulse; aesthetically pleasing, whilst devoid of any substance or meaning.
wearing crocodile smiles - like The Stepford Wives. The fake, hollow nature of the world of ‘Nosedive’ seems reminiscent of series 1 episode ‘Fifteen Million Merits’, whereby people value how you appear to the public rather than intellectual honesty and integrity. The similarity is furthered in ‘Nosedive’ with the importance of your internet presence, as aspects of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have mutated into the ultimate social network that can be accessed via lenses in everyone’s eyes. Your finances, your privileges - your life in fact, is entirely dictated by what “rating” you have out of 5; a rating that is created depending on what ratings you receive (and give) for every single social interaction you have. As a result, people rated a 4 or higher are seen as the upper class, but if you’re lower than a 3.3? You’ll be denied service at a myriad of shops
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This is epitomised by Bryce Dallas Howard’s character Lacie, who despite being a well-regarded 4.3 - wants to breakthrough to the upper echelon of society, and is willing to sell her soul to do so. This idea of social networking detrimentally affecting real-life interactions with humanity was partly examined in Black Mirror’s haunting 2014 Christmas special ‘White Christmas’. However, whilst one could soothe one’s concerns about that special by muttering reassuringly “that won’t happen, that won’t happen” to yourself, the instant cyber-judgement occurring in ‘Nosedive’ unfortunately isn’t too far away, what with the existence of the driver/passenger rating paradigm of Uber, or the rating system for Airbnb. There’s even an app available now (albeit in other countries) known as ‘Peeple’ that allows you to “recommend and be recommended by the people you interact with in your daily lives”. Just marvel at the reality wherein the philosophy and message behind shows like The Kardashian’s has infected nearly every facet of our society - albeit watch through the gaps of your fingers. The third episode (titled ‘Shut Up and Dance’) provides a perverse antidote to the sugar-drenched nature of the series opener, with a “back to basics” gritty story set in the present, in the
PEOPLE RATED A 4 OR HIGHER ARE SEEN AS THE UPPER CLASS, BUT IF YOU’RE LOWER THAN A 3.3? YOU’LL BE DENIED SERVICE AT A MYRIAD OF SHOPS AND BUSINESSES, CLOSE FRIENDS WILL STOP RETURNING CALLS.
same vein as series 1 episode ‘The National Anthem’, and series 2 episode ‘White Bear’ - and make no mistake, none of the horrific, vomit-inducing, terror and panic has been lost in this one. Kenny, played by Alex Lawther (X+Y, The Imitation Game), is a shy and timid teenager who, after getting malware on his computer, has his freedom, relationship with his family, and his entire life at the mercy of an anonymous, malevolent hacking group. The muted colour palette adds to the horror show, appropriately reflecting the utter bleakness of Kenny’s situation. What is most troubling about Shut Up and Dance is how plausible it is. In fact, something similar has no doubt happened already, whereby sick people, with ominous intentions, utterly destroy a person’s life by utilising blackmail via “sensitive materials” obtained through nefarious means. The episode escalates, in a manner not to dissimilar
from the 2016 dare-based thriller Nerve, culminating in a cocktail of conflicting - but equally unpleasant - emotions. Fair warning though: this episode is emotionally, and psychologically exhausting. Cheese, red wine, blankets, loved ones, and some Seinfeld or Friends are recommended immediately after viewing. Brooker seems to cast his condemning but satirical eye on the notion of mob justice, hashtag culture, witch hunts, and the noxious SJW (Social Justice Warrior) movement online with the final episode ‘Hated in the Nation’. A jaded, pessimistic detective DCI Karin Parke - played by Kelly MacDonald (Brave, Trainspotting, Boardwalk Empire) investigates the mysterious deaths of various unpopular media personalities (one of whom - a “trollumnist” - might as well have been called Katie Popkins) as the rising popularity of a sinister hashtag seems to be linked to the murders. Freedom of Speech seems to be main subject matter in this episode; the public’s frequent misunderstanding of what it is, how it’s a two-way street, and the disparity between the moral righteousness of someone who can’t stand offensive language versus the shockingly bloodthirsty ease with which the same person reacts the deaths of people who express those offensive views. This reminds me, to some extent, of the infamous Danish cartoon scandal in 2005, and the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015, whereby the morally bankrupt sentiment “They somewhat brought it upon themselves” was worryingly common. It therefore touches upon ideas explored in series 1 episode ‘The National Anthem’, as well as revisiting the public’s more sadistic sense of moral outrage and justice from series 2 episode ‘White Bear’. Brooker cleverly juggles several pertinent and pivotal modern dilemmas and themes, such as the decline of the UK bee population, privacy laws, mob justice, and the consequences of online bullying, without dropping a single one, and weaving them throughout a cohesive narrative without it feeling all over the
AT WHAT POINT WILL GAMES BECOME SO IMMERSIVE THAT THE VERY NATURE OF WHO WE ARE IS AT RISK, OR IN DANGER place. And the literal personification of internet trolls as an angry, hive-mind swarm was the icing on the cake. All I’ll say is, Brooker must have watched Hitchcock’s The Birds the weekend before writing the script. The world of VR and augmented reality is given a once-over by Brooker in the episodes ‘Playtest’ and ‘Men Against Fire’. The latter depicts the life of a soldier called Stripe, and his military excursions where the army, using the latest visual-tech implants, are tasked to hunt down ‘roaches’; a race of violent, feral, alien-like monsters that seem to
BROOKER CLEVERLY JUGGLES SEVERAL PERTINENT AND PIVOTAL MODERN DILEMMAS AND THEMES WITHOUT DROPPING A SINGLE ONE.
have permeated the land. The episode is the most action packed of the series, and is clearly a commentary on - and scathing attack of - the dehumanising rhetoric employed by various far right newspapers and tabloids to describe the recent Syrian refugee crisis (as shown in ‘Hated in the Nation’, Katie Hopkins seems to have touched a nerve in Brooker, since the nickname given to the hunted populace in ‘Men Against Fire’ is extremely similar to when Hopkins, in a manner Hitler would have been proud of, described migrants as “cockroaches” in a Sun article from April 2015). ‘Playtest’ on the other hand, acts like a canary down a very real and visceral mine with regards to the hypothetical dangers inherent within future developments of video game immersion, and the prevalence of VR products (such as the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift). It being Halloween time, the episode could accurately be summarised as a horror film, with Brooker himself admitting in an interview with The Independent: “I just wanted to do a haunted house movie”. Wyatt Russell (This is 40, Cowboys & Aliens, 22 Jump Street) plays a friendly, although slightly dopey backpacker called Cooper who finds himself stranded in the UK due to low funds, and aims to get some cash by applying to be a play-tester of a revolutionary VR/Augmented reality prototype that taps into his innermost fears in order to create the most realistic and terrifying horror game
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CONTINUE TO TWEET TO THE WORLD THAT THE CHICKEN NUGGETS YOU ATE EARLIER ARE CAUSING HAVOC TO YOUR BOWELS.
ever. The occasional jump scare then evolves into more intimately frightening, psychologically-ruining levels of horror. The episode could be summarised thusly: “At what point will games become so immersive that the very nature of who we are is at risk, or in danger?” and “When that day comes, is it worth it?”. Guess what? After watching the episode, the answers are definitely “No” and “Hopefully never”. The episode isn’t yet another anti-video game polemic that seems to pervade the media every few weeks (as news anchors, with their zero knowledge of video games, shake their metaphorical canes, dismiss the medium as a waste of time, and moronically point at it as the primary cause of evil and violence in the world). Brooker, being an avid gamer himself (as well as the episode’s director - Dan Trachtenberg - who did the fan-made Portal short live-action film), includes various video game easter eggs throughout the episode; with references to Resident Evil and Bioshock to name but a few. The tone of the episode is very Inception-ey, with the manipulation of perception, and the
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layers of reality - both used to unsettle the viewer and make you question yourself every time you feel safe and secure. The episode ‘San Junipero’ however, is by far the most unusual episode of series 3 - and arguably all three series in general. It takes place in a fictional Miami-esque, party beach-town known as, you guessed it, San Junipero. Although the setting is different enough already, Brooker takes it up a notch by having the story set in the 80s; we’re talking neon, perms, mullets, Max Headroom, Tears for Fears - the whole shebang. It follows the life of nervous introvert Yorkie - played by Mackenzie Davis (The F Word, The Martian) and her developing relationship with flirtatious extrovert Kelly - played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, Beyond the Lights). The episode wistfully depicts the two’s existential struggles and fumbles through love and life, as well as their concerns about death (a motif that was explored in the much darker series 2 episode ‘Be Right Back’) whereby their mutual understanding and adoration of one another seems to carry them
through thick and not as thick. The optimism of the episode, whilst somewhat of a relief initially, nonetheless creates a perturbing thought at the back of your head - like the unsettling feeling one would get as a reluctant general of a despotic regime when faced with the psychotic dictator in a good mood; that the joy and happiness being conveyed simply must be a cover for some horrible, Kafkaesque nightmare or some impending disaster. This feeling simply doesn’t go away. And so, continue to make statuses on Facebook informing people of every significant event in your life, tweet to the world that the chicken nuggets you ate earlier are causing havoc to your bowels, and call off meeting up with your friends in favour of doing Buzzfeed quizzes and making memes. Enjoy this whilst you can. But be weary, and keep an eye on the ol’ techie-tech because, to paraphrase Goya, “the sleep of reason brings forth monsters” - because they are only just round the corner.
24: LEGACY, Tuesday 14th February at 9pm on Fox
DC V MARVEL
WORDS: PAULA OSA
S V C D
L E V R MA e n a e B tt le io V j, a k jo G r ve n E W e s p o k e w it h . n o C ic m o C 's n o d n o L t a e a n d M ic h a e l R o w
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n the second day of MCM Comic Con 2016 in London we sat down to have a chat with Enver Gjokaj (Daniel Sousa in Marvel’s Agent Carter), Violett Beane (Jesse Quick in DC’s The Flash) and Michael Rowe (Deadshot in DC’s Arrow). The latter two joined us halfway through.
TO START WITH AGENT CARTER – WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S A SHOW THAT MEANT SO MUCH TO SO MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE? Enver: It’s interesting. I think it’s a little ahead of its time. I have experience being on shows that are a little ahead of their time... So with Agent Carter, the truth of the matter is that a female-led, sci-fi fantasy show is hard for the
networks to get people to watch. As much as fans like it and are ready for it, network television still depends on viewers and I give ABC credit for trying to push it and being behind it. They gave it a whole second season. It was just hard. It didn’t find a large enough audience. I think the people to answer your question are the ones who really loved it. Unfortunately it’s ahead of its time, but you could say it’s totally overdue. Hayley Atwell… she’s brilliant in everything, but with that character, she does such a perfect job. The concept of the series is great, but Hayley is also an integral part. What I thought was very attractive about the show was taking the pulp detective approach, where there’s a guy punching people and then the secretary is pining after him the whole time, and then you turn the whole idea on its head. It’s really smart, the writers are fantastic, and the concept, the actors and the execution are great. You get used to
this as an actor. The cancellation of great series hardly has anything to do with the quality of the show and this is heart breaking.
DO YOU THINK THAT THE SHOW HAS HAD AN IMPACT AND PAVED THE WAY ON THE MORE FEMALECENTRIC SHOWS AND FILMS? Enver: As an actor you’re always selfishly looking for the next job, so by the time something comes out, I’m already onto the next job, thus I’m not really thinking about the impact it has. I was playing a disabled character, whose disability didn’t define him, and he was made the love interest. I was blown away how much feedback I got from people who are disabled and they said it is really important for them to see. This is just a small example of the impact you can have being on a show. The young women can see a strong, self confident, kick ass woman, who is really good at
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DC V MARVEL her job, who is killing it. I think it has a massive influence on young people, because it’s formative. A lot of families would come up to me and say they watch the show as a family. I felt so good about being part of Agent Carter, it had a very good message.
GIVEN THE FRANCHISES YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED WITH, WHAT IS THE IDEAL FOR YOU? IF YOU WERE SPEAKING TO A CASTING DIRECTOR RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU BE SAYING TO THEM ABOUT WHICH FRANCHISE OR ROLE YOU WANT? Enver: Everybody asks you that as an actor. The truth of the matter is life, and life as an actor, is not for filling in the blank, it’s multiple choice. You take the best shot that’s offered to you. You spend most of your time as a young actor getting upset about not getting some job, but then a job comes along that’s so much better, and you’re so glad you didn’t get that shot. Being an actor initially breaks you, but then you accept that the next job will be the next job, and that’s the one you are supposed to do until the job after that. It is something you have to live by or you go insane. You always have five things that might be your next job.
full life outside of acting then you can go into the room and be of the best help you can be. Nobody is doing you a favour in giving you a role you’re not perfect for. That’s my opinion, I just go for it and if it works out, then great, but if not then I just move on. One of the things I do when I leave the room is I take my sides and I rip them up, I never keep them. I always throw them away, it’s symbolic. Violett and Michael arrive. Michael: Oh, are we late? Enver: They’re so sick of me…
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE HERE IN LONDON FOR THE MCM COMIC CON? Violett: It’s absolutely amazing! Besides meeting the fans, my favourite part about conventions are travelling, so coming here is absolutely awesome and I love London so far. Michael: I just got off a plane so I don’t know yet… So far so good! Got a cup of coffee, had a nice drive here, drove past Buckingham Palace. I’ve been here a few times, I love London and it’s a good excuse to come back.
YOU GUYS ARE PART OF SOME AMAZING SHOWS. VIOLETT, STARTING WITH YOU, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A PART OF THE FLASH AND WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD LOVE THE SHOW SO MUCH?
Enver: (laughs) For a moment that was my technique. But really it’s about living your life. If you have a
Violett: It is an awesome show, that’s why people like it! People of all ages and types can enjoy it.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL TECHNIQUES TO DEAL WITH REJECTION? Enver: Yeah, I do.
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It’s super light-hearted and fun. I love being on it because I get to be a superhero! I get to put on a suit and look really cool, work with amazing people in an amazing city. It’s an awesome opportunity and I’m so lucky.
THE COMIC GENRE IS OFTEN ACCUSED OF BEING VERY MALE DOMINATED, PARTICULARLY IN WHO GETS TO BE THE HEROES. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO BE A FEMALE HERO IN THAT UNIVERSE? Violett: I don’t know how it’s taken them so long. The show had a female speedster, but she was a villain. Slowly the other female characters are getting their powers and a little bit more spotlight. It feels amazing as a woman to be a part of that.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU FIRST SAW THE JESSE QUICK COSTUME? Violett: I was so psyched! I’ve been waiting for so long for it to happen and it finally has. I love the suit, it fits like a glove. It’s perfect.
DID YOU READ ANY OF THE COMICS BEFORE GETTING THE ROLES? Violett: I feel like all the shows do a good job of paying homage to the comics, but also creating new storylines and making it interesting to the viewers. As far as knowing her, I did not know who I was auditioning for. When I booked the role, they casually told me I was going to play Jesse Quick. Michael: They pulled that one on me too.
PHOTOS FROM COMICON: PAULA OSA | PHOTOS: DC + MARVEL
Violett: I read up on her after I had booked the role. It’s weird how they do stuff like that though. Michael: What was your character called when you auditioned? Violett: Claire. She was a CSI, who was obsessed with Barry Allen and came up to him at a work convention. Super weird, she’s never been on the show.
THE DC UNIVERSES ARE ALL NOW CROSSING OVER BETWEEN EACH OTHER IN THE TV SHOWS, WHICH GIVES AN OPPORTUNITY TO TURN UP IN DIFFERENT SHOWS. IS THERE A PARTICULAR SHOW YOU WOULD LIKE TO TURN UP IN? Michael: I want to go back to Flash.
It was a fun set to work on. A bit looser, more comedic kind of feel. Legends of Tomorrow seems like a good time too. Violett: Yeah, Legends of Tomorrow does seem cool because of all the time travel. I feel like you have a different look every episode, so it would be fun to work with the costume, hair and makeup. Arrow would be fun, and I love Echo Kellum over there, he’s a really good friend of mine. Any of the shows would be fun, really.
THE GREAT THING FOR ALL OF YOU IS THAT THE SHOWS YOU’VE BEEN ON, YOU’VE BEEN WORKING WITH AMAZING PEOPLE, SEEMS LIKE
YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF FUN, LOT OF DUBSMASHING…WOULD BE NICE TO HEAR FROM EACH OF YOU YOUR FAVOURITE MOMENT FROM SET!? Michael: During the first stunt scene I rehearsed with the stunt crew, I ripped the ass out of my jeans that was pretty hilarious… Hit a cameraman in the neck with a fake baton when I was supposed to throw it at one of the other stunt guys. There are a lot of bloopers that I can think about. Maybe I have a cruel sense of humour. Violett: (laughing) You hit that guy with a baton on purpose, yeah?
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DC V MARVEL Michael: I didn’t, I promise… Enver: There’s this moment that’s just legendary. It’s still going strong. Dominic Cooper was lying down and laughing with Hayley Atwell and somebody snapped a picture. He was upside down and it was from far away, somebody zoomed in on his face. Because of the lens warp it was really messed up…After we zoomed in, we flipped it around. It’s the worst picture, we call it Stroke Face Dominic Cooper. When he saw it he made everyone delete the photo, but suddenly everyone’s phones went ‘bing!’ and Hayley had been deleting it, but she had group texted it to everyone. Stroke Face Dom has been turned into a painting, iPhone covers…It turned into his worst nightmare. But it’s an ongoing thing! It’s a gift that keeps giving. Violett: Well…nothing like that, but we play a lot of games. Most recently the card game Exploding Kittens. It’s mostly random chance, but sometimes there’s a little bit of strategy in it, and I just always lost every time! I am not the best at losing, so I had to take a step back and not play as many rounds. It’s a good game though!
MICHAEL YOU GOT THE CHANCE TO PLAY ONE OF THE GREAT ANTI HEROES OF THE DC UNIVERSE. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SEEING A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT VERSION ON THE BIG SCREEN? Michael: I knew that was coming… It was great, I had a similar
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as you can. Just keep working and something will happen at some point. As far as the other Deadshot, I was really rooting for that movie to do well and be something special.
WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO A PROJECT? WHAT MAKES YOU SAY YES?
experience to Violett, they told me I’m auditioning for an army sniper named Finn. So maybe that was a bit closer to my actual character. I just showed up on the day I was supposed to try on the wardrobe and everyone started calling me Deadshot. I didn’t know what they were talking about, I thought they were messing with me and it was a joke. I didn’t really dig into the comic books after that, I just read his origin story and they gave me the scripts. They were going for something a bit darker and grittier, so I built it from there. I feel like the work I had done with the comedy stuff really helped out in humanising the character. Even talking about becoming an actor…I had a weird route to it. I’d been doing music my whole life and then I just got out there to do it. Me and my younger brother bought gear, we made our own thing. You don’t have an excuse anymore, if you love it then just do it as well
Michael: The easier question would be what makes you say no. I’ve run into a lot of bad scripts in this past year. Maybe I’ve got a bad attitude right now, but I stopped auditioning about six months ago, because I got sick of reading horrible scripts. So I got my stuff together and wrote, and right now I’m filming in the east coast of Canada. That’s a different challenge for me, it’s going well and I’m enjoying it. But if you’re considering a character, it’s either something familiar and relatable, or something so far away from you that you become curious about whether you can do it. Violett: I definitely agree with that. The story and the characters and their development are really important. It’s really significant to, as a woman, to feel empowered by my role, and not contribute to the mind-set of what women have always been played as. I understand period pieces, so I understand certain races and genders playing certain roles in the past. However I want to be part of the movement and the future, so I look for roles that are empowering.
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CUARON RAY TORO
WORDS: DAN WITHEY
52 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016
FORMER MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE GUITARIST
RAY TORO R
ay Toro is in a reflective mood. The former My Chemical Romance guitarist has spent the last three and a half years processing his life up to now; his childhood, his family and his time with a band who, at their peak, were one of the biggest names in alternative music.
Those thoughts and emotions have been put together to form the basis of his first solo record, Remember The Laughter. An incredibly personal record, it’s not only full of hope and positivity, it sees Toro, a guy who always seemed more ‘rock’ than ‘emo’, grow as a musician- taking on lyrical and vocal duties for the first time, and doing a pretty good job of it too. In the years since the break up of MCR, Toro has become a father and, in the year when the band’s seminal album, The Black Parade, turned 10 years old, seems perfectly happy to admit he’s all for a bit of nostalgia – as long as there’s always one eye on the future.
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CUARON RAY TORO
REMEMBER THE LAUGHTER HAS BEEN A LONG TIME IN THE MAKING, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY RELEASE IT? I can’t wait for people to hear it. Like you say its been a long process and kind of a long journey for me, not only as a musician and a song writer but also as a father – I had my son, a few weeks before I started writing for the record so that was very integral to the process. So, it’s a very exciting time for me.
IT’S BEEN THREE AND A HALF YEARS SINCE PEOPLE GOT A FIRST GLIMPSE OF YOU AS A SOLO ARTIST WITH THE TRACK ‘ISN’T THAT SOMETHING’… Yeah, three and a half years. It’s
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been one of those things where writing and tracking was an off and on thing where I would have a few months of heavy tracking and inspiration and then go quiet for a while until another idea sparked. But what was cool for me was that over those three and a half years I was going through all these changes as both a songwriter and a person - I was able to translate those experiences into a new song.
SO DID YOU SET OUT TO MAKE THIS RECORD FROM THE BEGINNING, OR WAS IT JUST A MATTER OF GETTING THOSE TRACKS DOWN INDIVIDUALLY? No – I think the first song ‘Isn’t That Something’ was a song to deal with the break up of My Chem - it’s not 100% about that but there’s definitely some of that in there.
So that was the first song that I wrote and then it was sort of like an organic process – when I wrote that song I never had the intention to write an entire record, I didn’t even have an idea where the record would end up - it was just me processing feelings that I was going through at the time, moment to moment. One of the songs is about what was going on in Ferguson in 2014, and that was a very timely song – I never had the intention of “this is going to be for a record”. So, I think, after about a year and a half I did see that I had this really cool body of work, that I felt I could put together on a record and start building the concept around it.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY WAS THE MAIN CONCEPT THAT TIES
Well, the overall concept is – an older man is returning to his childhood home and he hears a familiar melody coming from the attic. He goes up into this attic and finds a memory box that he never knew existed. So he goes through it and each of those items in the box spark memories of his childhood - his parents, of him growing up, and each of the songs is connected to that. So that’s kind of the overall concept of the record. The themes are related to family and the idea of generations passing and the passing of knowledge – a lot of the lyrics are drawn from the things that my parents told me when I was a kid, and also some of the things I hope to pass on to my son as well.
HAS HAVING A CHILD HEAVILY INFLUENCED YOUR OUTLOOK AND APPROACH TO SONGWRITING? Having a kid really does change your world and changes how you look at the world - I feel I became much more conscious about the state of the world and my responsibility to help him navigate it. It can be a very confusing and scary place. I think that’s reflected in the overall theme of this record – things I would tell my son to help him get through how crazy the world can be.
YOU MENTIONED THE MEMORY BOX BEFORE - ARE YOU THE SORT OF PERSON WHO TENDS TO KEEP HOLD OF PHYSICAL MEMENTOES FROM YOUR LIFE - ARE YOU A BIT OF A HOARDER?
It’s actually kind of funny – I’m really not! I have a very small cardboard box of things that mean a lot to me from my years in the band and before that too. So what was cool about the process of writing the record was that it got me to start going through my parents photo albums and going through my high school year book and seeing some of the things my friends had written to me at the time and trying to correlate it to where I am in life now. But yeah I’m definitely not a hoarder, and my dad is the kind of similar to that – he’s constantly throwing things out , and we bagged on him when we were younger, like, we would be looking for toys of ours that we were playing with at the time and he just decided we didn’t need them any more so ...! (laughs) So I guess I’m like him – always trying to clear out and get rid of things! And so the record was a nice way to get me to start thinking again about my past.
WELL YOU WERE PRETTY NONSTOP FROM THE BEGINNING OF MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE UP UNTIL THE SPLIT – DID IT FEEL LIKE YOU FINALLY HAD A MOMENT TO STOP AND GATHER THOSE THOUGHTS UP? Yeah, you’re exactly right – when you’re in a band as active and popular as we got, you don’t get that chance to sit down and take stock of everything – I feel like that didn’t happen for me, in regards to the band, until about 6 months after we broke up. I don’t think I ever fully understood what it meant to people and how special the band was. So, I think having time
DON’T THINK “II EVER FULLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT IT MEANT TO PEOPLE AND HOW SPECIAL THE BAND WAS.
REMEMBER THE LAUGHTER TOGETHER?
to reflect and process definitely got me to see those years in a different light. You have a certain appreciation when you’re in it but because it’s moving so fast it’s sometimes hard to see what you had. So that time after was a good time to reflect and come to terms with the end – getting to the other side of it. We did an incredible thing together, but now it’s time to put that away and move on to the future.
SO AFTER BEING A PART OF A MEGA BAND LIKE MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, WAS IT A WELCOME CHANGE OF PACE WHEN IT CAME TO WRITING THIS RECORD? LESS PRESSURE FROM A LABEL, FANS, BAND MATES? Absolutely it was. I think that’s something that any band on a label that sees some success will eventually run in to. Where as if you start out smaller the number of people that rely on you and looking to you to produce music aren’t so much in the mix. So you
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CUARON RAY TORO feel a little bit isolated, but it’s easier to perform.
SO DID YOU FIND IT A LIBERATING EXPERIENCE?
ALTHOUGH THERE WAS NO LABEL PRESSURE, DID YOU FEEL FAN PRESSURE AT ALL? WE’VE HAD SOLO EFFORTS FROM GERARD AND FRANK - WAS THERE A SENSE OF “COME ON RAY, YOU’RE NEXT! WHERE’S YOUR STUFF?" (Laughs) No, no, you know, the fans have been incredibly supportive and extremely patient, and I think if anything there was just excitement about what I might possibly do. But I never felt any pressure to rush something out – I’ve always been of the idea that when things are ready, they’re ready. Musicians or artists, whoever, everybody needs
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ARE TALKING ABOUT MY “PEOPLE CHEM, IN PARTICULAR THE BLACK
Oh yeah, it feels nice to be able to take your time. But it also poses dangers too - cause there’s something about music where, ultimately, recording is about capturing a moment in time and capturing it in the best way possible. That can get tricky if you have too much time - you can find yourself going back and re-editing and re-working things and going a bit overkill. So there’s a fine line you have to walk – but for me it helped cause I was still developing, you know? I had never written lyrics before, never sang, never wrote songs entirely by myself, so the time I had to do that allowed me to develop a lot as a musician and songwriter. If I had a label breathing down my neck I don’t think I would have been able to do it.
PARADE, AS THIS MYTHICAL THING. SO THAT’S COOL their time to be able to work to their best ability. Sometimes that can take a short amount of time and sometimes it can take longer. But for me, in this instance, it took a little longer.
THE ALBUM COMES AT A TIME OF RENEWED ATTENTION ON MCR, WITH THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BLACK PARADE SUDDENLY UPON US IN 2016. IT’S GENERATED A LOT OF NOSTALGIA OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, ESPECIALLY AMONG THE FANS, CULMINATING IN THE RE-ISSUE/SPECIAL EDITION RELEASE – ARE MILESTONES LIKE
THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU? DOES IT REALLY MEAN ANYTHING THAT IT’S BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE THE BLACK PARADE? I really didn’t ever realize it until some emails started being sent around about the re-issue and the putting together of a trailer for it. But it relates back to what we were talking about before – a milestone allows you to reflect back and I feel that’s what has been happening with the press and the fans as well. So it has been interesting, and the timing of the 10th anniversary being so close to when my record is coming out too – a record about
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WAS ABOUT THE BLACK PARADE, MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, THAT JUST RESONATED SO MUCH? It’s so hard to put a finger on it. I think the themes of the record resonated with the audience. There’s a lot of truth on the record. There’s a lot of processing of death and trying to understand it, but there’s a lot of hope on there too.
looking back at the past. It’s just one of those funny coincidences. But it is cool to see the love people still have for My Chem. It reminds me of when I was younger, in high school, when I started getting into the Misfits - that was a band I never thought I would be able to see live.
DID YOU MANAGE TO GET TO ANY OF THE RIOT FEST SHOWS FOR THE DANZIG/ONLY REUNION? No, I didn’t, but I think Frank was playing one of the shows, so he was sending me videos of it and yeah, it was fucking rad! But at that time, back in school, I never thought I would get to see them and so in some way the Misfits were like this mythical thing. So I’m starting to see how, in a similar kind of way, people are talking about My Chem, in particular The Black Parade, as this mythical thing. So that’s cool – reminding me of how I felt about some of my favorite bands in high school who weren’t around any more.
I THINK IT WAS MAYBE THE RECORD THAT, MUSICALLY AT LEAST, BROKE FREE OF THAT ‘EMO’ TAG, TO REVEAL A GREAT ROCK BAND – ONE THAT COULD HOLD THEIR OWN ON THE BIGGER STAGES AND, WITH THAT ADDED STAGE PRESENCE AND SPECTACLE, INVITE COMPARISONS TO THE LIKES OF QUEEN. Right, and I think at that time it was a free and creative environment for us, and any artist or any band works their best without limits to possibility. And I feel people responded to that as well – they saw a band not trying to be pigeon holed to a certain sound or label.
SO WITH THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY RE-ISSUE OF THE BLACK PARADE, AND THE DATE STAMPED TRAILER – TO WHICH THE FANS WENT MAD FOR, ALMOST FALLING OVER THEMSELVES IN EXPECTATION OF SOMETHING MORE – WAS A REUNION SHOW OR TOUR EVER ON THE CARDS? WAS IT EVER DISCUSSED AS A POSSIBILITY? No, nothing like that. Our focus
was just the re-issue – to celebrate the record. We never discussed any thing like that.
IF GLENN DANZIG AND JERRY ONLY CAN GET BACK ON STAGE TOGETHER, SURELY MY CHEM CAN, EVENTUALLY. Yeah, maybe, but I cant really say for sure. I think for each of us individually, the new stuff we’ve got going on is our focus, and that’s where our excitement and passion is right now. The great thing is that everybody is doing some really great work – Gerard and his comic, Frank with his new record and Mikey with his – so everybody is focused on that.
AND WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER THE RECORD COMES OUT? SEEING AS YOU’VE RECORDED AND PLAYED EVERYTHING ON THE ALBUM, WILL YOU BE LOOKING TO GET A BAND TOGETHER TO PERFORM THIS STUFF LIVE - GO OUT ON TOUR? Yeah, I’m planning on getting to the UK next year – the first half of 2017, if possible, but I do have to find guys to play this stuff with me! I’ve got a few people I’m actually getting together with in a couple of weeks and doing some preliminary rehearsals – there’s a lot I have to figure out myself like what I can play on guitar and sing at the same time, so that’s the first step for me in terms of how the live shows are going to feel like. But its very exciting – to bring a new life to it, cause its mostly all me playing for myself, so, I think the songs will take on a different life and I’m very excited for that.
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WORDS: RITA ARESTA 58 VULTUREHOUND DECEMBER 2016
Following the start of the second season of Scream Queens, take a look at how Ryan Murphy’s newest venture pays homage to slasher movies and plays on the absurd to paint a cruel picture of North American youths.
In 1978, killer Michael Meyers escaped from a sanatorium back to his hometown, going after babysitter Laurie Strode, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis, originating one of horror’s longest running franchises: Halloween. Thirty-seven years later, the ‘Scream Queen’ stars in another horror production, which doesn’t stem from a movie franchise, but from the mind of one of today’s biggest showrunners. However, this time, the main story element is absurdity, not fear.
pop culture references (present in all of their works). There is a constant and unscrupulous amount of verbosity, but it’s always completely contextualised. To reinvent old formulae of bold scripts and conceptual aesthetics was also Murphy’s main strategy to transform American Horror Story into a successful anthology. Such success brought with it the possibility of exploring other themes – and thus we got Scream Queens and American Crime Story. With a plotline that’s enclosed in itself each season, this format’s greatest merit is the way it leaves us wondering what will be the next themes and what characters will the same actors portray.
Scream queens creators described the storyline as a mixture of Mean Girls, Scream and Friday the 13th
Through Scream in 1996, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson achieved the unimaginable: to rekindle the public’s interest in 1980s horror movie format, with its teenage deaths, virgin heroines and fantastic killers. Overuse of this magical formula could’ve signposted an attempt to get such films to take themselves too seriously, however Williamson managed to use healthy doses of humour and irony in the script and although somewhat flirting with trashiness, managed to get the public to laugh and believe in fear and death at the same time.
Scream Queens, created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan debuted in September 2015, as a means of keeping their partnership with Fox since Glee’s six years were over. To be honest, whatever project Murphy presented to the producers, they were bound to invest in it, as the guy has basically proved to be a goldmine. Although this new project didn’t feature the musical genre as its creative base, it was based on the three pillars from these three dramaturgical clockworks: horror (resurrected by two of them in its core essence with American Horror Story), ridiculous dialogue targeted at a young audience (from Glee) and
With a huge marketing campaign, this series was conceived and divulged as an anthology, which in itself meant less worrying about time and more focus on action. Murphy and his team – with keen commercial sense and impressive pop culture knowledge base – provided a cast including artists strongly related to teenage fandom and pop music such as Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas. Lea Michele was recycled from Glee and Emma Roberts was redirected from American Horror Story. The original “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis, and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) joined the rank of well-known cinema actors, and Curtis’s participation pretty much ensured that the series would be protected from failure – although things didn’t completely turn out that way. Its creators described the storyline as a mixture of Mean Girls, Scream and Friday the 13th – which is pretty accurate. The first season is set in Wallace University, where the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority is tormented by the death of its members. It’s a simple enough premise that hides a multitude of small details. Starting from a slasher movie outlook, it soon establishes from the pilot episode that, although Glee still maintained a level of compromise with reality,
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SCREAM QUEENS SCREAM QUEENS Top quotes: “I’ll have a trenta, no foam, 5 shot, half-caff, no foam, pumpkin spice latte, with no foam, at 210 degrees” (Chanel Oberlin)
Scream Queens was determined to throw away any potential similarities and it’d be set in its own outrageous parallel universe. References to the 1990s are present from the outset and the plotline begins in 1995, when one of the fraternity members gives birth and dies immediately after. As expected, this event provides the catalyst for the killer’s motive, who appears in 2015 dressed as a “Red Devil” (the university’s mascot), preferentially killing those in the fraternity or somehow related to it. KKT is presided by Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts), a self-described ‘gross rich’ girl who knows what she wants and runs the house like a headquarter of humiliation. Instead of acting as a representative of her peers, she prefers to treat them as slaves. Each one of them is a Chanel, only numbered: Chanel number 1, number 2, number 3 and so on, having relinquished their own names. This is Murphy’s typical amplification of extreme
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frivolity, in keeping with exaggeration and absurdity as key ingredients, and using them to shout out his intentions. As usually seen in this type of plot, the fraternity is depicted as a sanctuary of pure hedonism, and popularity rules are the only thing that the characters take seriously. A series of subtlety, this is not. Chanel’s personal hell starts when Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) decides to take control of the fraternity and declares that any girl can join the ranks of KKT. As a result, all the potentially popular girls immediately become disinterested and are replaced by a group of underdogs (or should I say, underbitches?). There’s a girl with a neck brace, a black girl, a candle vlogger, a lesbian (Predatory Lez) and a deaf girl (Deaf Taylor Swift). It’s in this dynamic of cruelty and cynicism that Murphy brings forward his best mordacious dialogue, with bitter comedy on how in American society the only thing that matters is what others
think of you and not what you actually are. In the pilot episode, the Red Devil kills one of the characters in a very unique way: their killing-scene textbook dialogue (including screaming and begging) is exchanged via text messages. While being stabbed, the agonising character still chooses not to call for help, but to post on Twitter that she’s being murdered. It’s the ultimate message from the show’s creators, anticipating a plot that won’t necessarily be based on the real world, albeit underlining behavioural truths that are almost away hidden in day-to-day life. This provocative humour is present throughout the whole series. It’s soon clear that although there’s a clever plot behind the murders, each episode is a tool for Murphy et al to talk about everything that’s present in the daily lives of young Americans. It gets to a point where the portrayal is so bitter and the prejudices and frivolities are exposed so eagerly, that
inevitably some sort of defence mechanism kicks in, and from there we can begin to understand how Scream Queens’ audience numbers started to decrease.
characters do take the deaths seriously. Therefore, saying one didn’t like Scream Queens because it was implausible or idiotic isn’t much of an insult to it. Having said that, the audience numbers were lower than expected. This is probably also due to the fact that a lot of people were expecting a comedy, whereas others were expecting a horror series, and the end result was somewhere in between, which couldn’t please everyone. While the series made
While being stabbed, the agonising character still chooses not to call for help, but to post on Twitter that she's being murdered.
Just like the first season of American Horror Story, some viewers struggled to buy into its premise, bringing some level of rejection. It’s worth remembering that trash is a genre that not only allows the uncouth and the ridicule, but also in fact validates it. Causing laughter through the visual appeal of horror is its intention, even though the
interesting decisions, such as the fact that the killer uses a different weapon in each episode, it ended up overcomplicating the “whodunit” web and the way in which the crimes were solved. Slasher movies are in themselves productions of rather simplistic structure, but which rely on a certain subtlety in order to be properly referenced. However, one thing that separated this series from others was its ending. Although the revelation of the killer’s identity was obvious (Murphy himself had said it would be), the way in which it was laid out was very clever. The idea of inverting the “final girl” (typical female survivor in this type of movie) and “killer” roles was great and it made for a very satisfying ending, although the cliff-hanger was a bit mean – but surely had me looking forward to the next season. It’s not a purely ideological
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SCREAM QUEENS If there are comedies in the quiet end of the spectrum, there’s then Scream Queens, which shouts as loud as it can
matter, however. There’s some sort of constant tune in these three creators’ text that is very characteristic. There’s also great carelessness towards plausibility – anything goes when it comes to leading a character to unimaginable ends, as long as it serves the purpose of a good laugh. The entire critique is made with overwhelming amounts of absurdity, exposing situations that could hardly happen in that lacklustre manner in real life. In fact, the whole situation spirals out of proportion, although ultimately that doesn’t mean that what they’re saying, underneath all the insanity, isn’t true. The problem here is that the vast majority of good dramaturgy consists of means, mediums and equilibriums. Exceptions to this rule are rare and tend to meander between disaster and brilliance. If there are comedies in the quiet end of the spectrum, there’s then Scream Queens, which shouts as loud as it can, and sometimes it can be hard to tell which moments are pure genius and which are surprising failures. Everything in Scream Queens underlines the juvenile alienation present in society’s upper classes, but without any sort of syndicalist compromise. Every criticism, analogy and reference in Murphy’s universe is always understood with some degree of provocativeness. That’s his trademark, and keeping up quality and narrative rhythm is very difficult, but he almost always manages it.
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Overall, Scream Queens may not be a series for hardcore horror fans – and to be fair, its main focus is comedy rather than horror. But if you’re someone who enjoys good movie parodies (like me), then this series is likely to cause more than a few Scary Movie laughs. The series starts off well, but ends up slightly losing its plot, especially towards the end. The same has happened with American Horror Story, as well as other works of Murphy. He’s a man full of great ideas, but, unfortunately, doesn’t care enough for them to take them seriously and tends to start focusing in other projects, with series ending up in limbo. Scream Queens returned for its second season last September, with a number of surviving characters plus a handful of new ones, set in a hospital. It’ll no doubt be still very appealing to a young demographic, especially now Taylor Lautner (Twilight series) is on board. Differing from American Horror Story, which creates a completely new storyline each season, the second season of Scream Queens has undertones of continuity in its plot. Once again, Murphy managed to achieve what so many showrunners spend their life trying (and failing) to get: to create a pop culture icon that, despite its numerous references, has its own voice and mythos.
Catch Scream Queens, Thursdays at 10pm on E4
WORDS: JOSH LANGRISH
WHITE G N I H S A W d o o w y l l o H n i
irstly, I am well aware that by delving into this heavy subject, I am walking across a hypothetical minefield in order to prod a hypothetical hornets’ nest. What could potentially be a relatively simple issue is unfortunately too mired in strawman arguments, ignorance, identity politics, and high-octane emotional opinions and prejudices to be able to form a rational, objective dialectic or discussion (and I’m far from asserting that I am the moral arbiter of this subject). For example, whilst the piece I’m about to write could contain nothing but facts and assertions that are 100% true and accurate with regards to the subject of whitewashing (optimistic but unlikely), one could disregard it all simply because I’m a white, vaguely middle-class twenty-something (thanks Buzzfeed). But, as Sam Harris said, “If you’re talking about reality, its character cannot be predicated on who you happen to be; in fact, that’s what it means to be talking about reality”.
Throat-clearing over. With the money-making behemoth Marvel giving birth to yet another half-a-billion dollar-making baby – or if you’d prefer “film” – in the form of Doctor Strange, the doomed to be forgotten hubbub surrounding the casting of Tilda Swinton from back in the summer of 2015 is still circulating the interwebnet like Beyblades did in primary schools during the early 00s (shout-out to our old caretaker Andy who actually installed Beyblade arenas for us on the tables surrounding our school). Many questions were raised – and continue to be
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raised towards the philosophy and thought-process behind casting a white actress to play a role that, in the comic upon which the film is based, is supposed to be Tibetan. For many, this is yet another example of whitewashing in Hollywood, whereby white people are cast in traditionally non-white character roles – thereby implying, or rather denoting, an inherent bias in favour of white people in the film industry. To preface with a gargantuan understatement, Hollywood hasn’t had the best history when it comes to racial sensitivity. Going back over the depictions of people of colour through the years in film is an absolute horror show. From the ivory towers of our millennial, PC-infused thrones, the portrayals in films of the past are so tactless, distasteful, and cringe-worthy that, upon witnessing it with your own eyes, one struggles to do anything other than hang your mouth in shock, or laugh hysterically at what on earth they were thinking. And the list of examples could even make Jim Davidson feel guilty; John Wayne‘s portrayal of Genghis Khan in 1956’s The Conqueror, Lawrence Olivier doing “blackface” for the role of Othello (and the film of the same name) in 1965, Peter Sellers playing an Indian man in 1968’s The Party, and whilst Marlon Brando‘s infamously awkward-to-watch performance as an Asian man in 1965’s The Teahouse of the August Moon will make you wince, Mickey Rooney‘s rendition of “yellowface” in 1961’s classic Breakfast At Tiffany’s as I. Y. Yunioshi will make you cringe so hard that your spleen will turn into a diamond:
white acting talent available to fill these roles, not to mention the industry’s hyper-awareness of the mistakes of the past in this current socio-political climate. World renowned director Ridley Scott‘s 2014 film Exodus: Gods and Kings received a similar backlash with his decision to cast four white actors (in the form of Christian Bale, Aaron Paul, Joel Edgerton, and Sigourney Weaver) to play Egyptians. Scott responded to the controversy with the incredibly incendiary statement: “I can’t mount a film of this budget…and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such…I’m just not going to get financed”. That statement, jarring as it certainly is, could perhaps be an honest, but sad comment on the current state of the film industry’s attitude towards diversity in casting. But whilst you could concede that, when attempting to find a movie star for the lead role of a film with a budget of over $140 million, in all likelihood the actor is going to be white (in this case Christian Bale), it’s nonetheless hard to argue for the bankability of white actor Joel Edgerton – for example – for the role of Rameses II (as referenced in this hilarious Last Week Tonight with John Oliver segment). The “I need bankable movie stars, and unfortunately most of them are white” argument kind of goes out of the window when very minor roles of films set in predominantly black or Asian countries go to white actors or actresses of questionable “bankability” or stardom. Also, the casting of relatively unknown black actor John Boyega as main character Fin in Star Wars: The Force Awakens – what with the film being the 2nd highest-grossing movie of all time (grossing $2.068 billion) – sort of proves Ridley Scott’s theory to be faulty at best, and wrong at worst (although it is to be acknowledged that Star Wars has the safety-net of having one the largest and most loyal fan-bases ever – a safety net that Exodus: Gods and Kings doesn’t have).
“Hollywood hasn’t had the best history when it comes to racial sensitivity”.
Whilst we thankfully live in an era where films no longer unironically include absurd caricatures of people of colour, and where white people wear prosthesis and make-up in order to look like a person of colour, whitewashing has evolved into something less blatant and obvious as the previous examples. Whether it be the use of Jake Gyllenhaal in The Prince of Persia, or Gerard Butler in Gods of Egypt, whilst it’s not quite an outright exhibition of racism or racial bias, there is something evidently strange about watching a film based in Africa – for example – about a character who is from Africa, but being played by a white actor. It’s especially bizarre considering the abundance of non-
With regards to the casting of Tilda Swinton as ‘The Ancient One’ in Doctor Strange however, it’s not as clearcut. As the Nostalgia Critic from Youtube’s ‘Channel Awesome‘ points out, the apparent bias against Tibetan actors in the casting of Doctor Strange wasn’t
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WHITEWASHING born from racism, but from a business stand-point. Reportedly 18% of Marvel Film’s income comes from China and, as a result of the historical political tension between Tibet and China, alienating a demographic of people who are responsible for 18% of your income for the sake of a comic-book character’s continuity isn’t really worth it. This was somewhat confirmed by Doctor Strange writer C. Robert Cargill who said in a ‘Double Toasted’ interview: “The Ancient One originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going: ‘Hey, we’re one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world and we’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political’”. As a result, they changed The Ancient One from Tibetan to Celtic once Tilda Swinton was cast.
actor or actress to play The Ancient One, whether they be Japanese, or Indian, it’s likely they’d be accused of implying that all Asian people are the same, or that the individual differences between Asian countries in terms of culture or history are somehow negligible. As you can see, and as mentioned in the opening line of this article, the whole thing is a politically correct minefield.
“HEY, WE’RE ONE OF THE BIGGEST FILM-WATCHING COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO SHOW YOUR MOVIE BECAUSE YOU DECIDED TO GET POLITICAL”
There’s also the other side to this that doesn’t get acknowledged. The fury of the SJW culture that is growing online (a movement that vehemently – and often misguidedly – attempts to condemn and quash examples of apparent racial injustice), in a twist of irony, might actually be partially responsible for some examples of whitewashing in recent years. In other words, the intense scrutiny films are under in order to avoid any controversy or backlash with regards to diversity, and the fervent nature of those all too willing to condemn casting decisions, has perhaps created a scenario in which directors and producers may wish to avoid using non-white actors to play characters of the same race for fear of not accurately portraying, or accidentally offending, a specific demographic if they did cast a non-white actor. In the case of Doctor Strange, writer C. Robert Cargill described the casting of The Ancient One as “the Kobayashi Maru“; had they cast a Tibetan actor to play The Ancient One in the same fashion that The Ancient One is portrayed in the original comics, they would roundly be accused of racism due to exhibiting a racially insensitive Fu Manchu stereotype. Had they cast a Tibetan woman, they would be equally accused of racism due to exhibiting an insensitive DragonLady stereotype. Had they settled for simply an Asian
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There’s also the sense that the majority of the offence comes from people who are being offended on a demographic’s behalf, rather than the demographic itself. For example, there was a similar uproar when it was announced that Scarlett Johansson was to play Motoko Kusanagi in a liveaction film adaptation of Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell, as many people in the west complained that, yet again, the race or ethnicity of a character in the original source material was being ignored in favour of giving a role to another white person. However, in a rather revealing video from Japanese Youtube channel ‘That Japanese Man Yuta’, when a handful of people in Japan were shown the news that Scarlett Johansson will be playing Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell, the majority of the people in the video thought it was a good choice. In fact, even when they were informed that the casting decision had received criticism in the US, of the people shown in the video, none of them had a clue as to what the criticism could be. Even when they were told that the criticism concerned whitewashing, a couple of people even went as far as saying that, due to the western aesthetic of anime characters, the decision to cast a white person in the form of Scarlett Johansson would be more suitable than casting a Japanese actress. There are also some easily avoidable obstacles that are needlessly created, preventing progress in terms of improving diversity in the film industry. Like with
any debate, regardless of the morally virtuous intent of an argument, poor arguments are poor arguments. By all means, make people aware of whitewashing, and point out examples and illustrate exactly how they are wrong, or how they are misguided, or – as with the Tilda Swinton example – how they should be given a pass within the right contexts; and it’s that intellectual integrity and honesty that will make people rally to the cause in a heartbeat. However, if you use fallacious or hypocritical arguments, some people may feel as though an agenda is governing your opinions, as opposed to a determination to find the truth. For example, whilst many in the US will chastise a film or studio for changing the race of a character from the original source material, when black actress Noma Dumezweni was cast as Hermione Granger for the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the same people applauded the play’s casting decision. In fact the sentiment: “Of course Hermione Granger can be black; she’s a fictional character and so a different interpretation is allowed” was commonplace. J.K Rowling herself even said in a tweet: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione”. Now whilst I have absolutely no issue with a black actress playing Hermione Granger (personally, when it comes to portrayals of fictional characters, as long as the person performs the role well, I do not care what race the actor or actress is), the smell of hypocrisy abounds. If the casting of Noma Dumezweni for the role of Hermione came about due to her being the best actress for the job, and for a push for more diversity in the cast, then that’s fine – but that’s what should be said in response to people who query the decision. As has been pointed out by people both defending and criticising the decision to cast Noma Dumezweni for the role of Hermione, Rowling’s supportive tweet has its heart in the right place, but is dishonest. It is clear that
Rowling had envisioned Hermione as white in the books; describing Hermione looking tanned after a hot summer, occasions where her cheeks go pink, and moments when Hermione’s face “went white” when frightened or in stressful situations (not to mention an illustration Rowling herself drew of the characters in Harry Potter) are all clear indicators. Had Rowling intended Hermione to have been black in the books, the phrasing listed above would be distractedly awkward and strange. It’s understandable why Rowling tweeted that, and to immediately stand up to the barrages of racist hate directed at Noma Dumezweni is commendable, but it still revealed a moment of intellectual dishonesty; it was more convenient for her to pretend that she didn’t have a specific race in mind for Hermione throughout the entire book series than it was to give unnecessary, and undeserved credence to the racist dissent. People have the propensity to use poor or fallacious arguments when it suits them – even if the same argument that they used earlier is being used back at them in a another debate. They rarely bother questioning whether the argument supporting their position is valid since its attempting to help their case and promote their point of view – and they don’t wish to look a gift horse-meat lasagna in the mouth. Therefore it’s common to find all arguments in support of diversity being enthusiastically used by those who wish to fight back against bigotry, but this exuberance often causes fallacious arguments with good intentions to slip through the net – thereby allowing bigots to criticise their opponents for arguing in a dishonest, hypocritical, or underhanded manner, even though no such arguments need to be resorted to in order to fight bigotry. In short, don’t move goalposts by suggesting that
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WHITEWASHING creative allowances can be made with the race of fictional characters one second (the Noma Dumezweni/Hermione example), and then insist that there is no wiggle room when it comes to the race of other fictional characters (the Tilda Swinton/The Ancient One example). That mentality, combined with questionable sentences in some reviews and articles complaining about casts being “disappointingly white”, needlessly gives ammunition to those who seem to believe that the most oppressed demographic of the modern era are white people. It creates an “us versus them” mentality amongst some people which, ironically, is one of the very attitudes that are preventing more people from getting on board with increasing diversity in the film industry. Whilst whitewashing is a very real issue, and bias in favour of white actors and actresses is a problem that we need to fix, each individual instance should be judged on a case-by-case basis. Whilst I have no authority to say what will fix the issue (and nor do I claim to), I do know that shouting and screaming “whitewashing!” and “racism” at every opportunity won’t. On the contrary, not only will that take much-needed attention away from examples of genuine whitewashing and racism (much like the parable of the boy who cried wolf), but ultimately it will make the goal of improving diversity harder to achieve.
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TV EDITOR | BURN THE TEST CARD fter the longest six months in televisual history; a summer spent frantically searching for clues in backgrounds, actors on sets and lack of smiles on Instagram pics, fans of The Walking Dead were rewarded last month with one of the most brutal double deaths the show has ever served us at the hands of long-prophesied new villain, Negan. For the most part, we were not disappointed. Indeed, I myself shed a few tears over the course of those few minutes of unbridled savagery (though that’s not saying much; I cried as Scarlet Moffatt crossed the bridge in this year’s I’m a Celebrity... final), but since then, things have started to turn sour, and, listening to the voice of fandom, three things have become abundantly clear:
1. There is only so much of Jeffrey Dean Morgan hamming it up that we can take. 2. Nobody asked for a fucking Tara episode. 3. Season 7... well... kinda sucks... Not much really happening in the wake of two of the biggest character deaths in TWD history, a bunch of mediocre bottle episodes, and an unbelievably cartoonish villain have all led to fans being not just disappointed, but outright angry at a show they had once held in such esteem. But, then again, isn’t that what every season so far has been?
We seem to be looking at The Walking Dead through rose-tinted glasses. Don’t get me wrong; I freakin’ love this show, but in reality, there is a very simple formula: Great season opening. Small collection of sub-par, wandering, actually quite boring episodes with the possibility of a half-decent one should an interesting supporting character happen to die. Annoying cliff-hanger mid-season finale. Mid-season premiere which should have acted as the “finale” More mediocrity, usual even beiger than that of the first half. Massive, over-hyped finale. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum. It’s a recipe that has kept the show at the top for the last seven years, and what it boils down to is the way we watch nowadays. The Walking Dead is not designed for weekly viewing; it’s written in a way that, should we sit down and watch an entire series in one go, makes for epic entertainment. Season six, for me, was dull as dishwater the first time round, but going through it again over three days it was awesome. It’s just that in our age of binge-watching, people are less accustomed to the slow build. So quit bitching, Cyberland. If you can’t deal with the build-up, wait for the fucking boxset. Me? I’m just happy to get my weekly dose of Christian Serratos. #ifRositadiesweriot
The latest podcast from
WORDS: GRAE WESTGATE
lass, the latest spinoff from the legendary British scifi series, Doctor Who, promises to bring the other-worldy adventures of our favourite time traveller to a much more familiar setting in the shape of Coal Hill School. Pegged to be Britain’s answer to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Class is a darker, more mature addition to the Doctor Who universe. We were lucky enough to catch up with star Sophie Hopkins to talk about her recent Comic Con adventures, as well as dancing demons and becoming part of a national institution…
SO HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE JOINING THE WHONIVERSE? Well, I’ve Just recovered from Comic Con! It was mind-blowing! The trailer was first released there and we did a panel alongside Doctor Who and also Dirk Gently. The teaser was played before we came out and people were screaming and whooping and then
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we came out onto the stage and the trailer was shown… There weren’t many dry eyes among us! We went on the floor to meet people and to be at Comic Con as a punter… There were so many people dressed as the Doctor, and we were getting pictures with them. But it’s funny to think that maybe next year people will be cosplaying as us! I just have to keep pinching myself! I’ve been a fan of the show since the reboot in 2005. Doctor Who is a national treasure, so to be part of that family is a huge pressure, because so many people hold it in their hearts and it’s a household name and a show that, globally, people know and truly love, so trying to do it justice…. It’s just so cool! The day it first really kicked in was the day we had the first special effects and prosthetics and stuff, and we were like “Okay, we’re part of something really cool now!” Sneaking into the Doctor Who props cupboard is also very cool!
THE SHOW HAS BEEN REALLY KEPT UNDER WRAPS, SO FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW, WHAT IS CLASS? Class is first and foremost a Doctor Who spin-off for a young
adult audience. However, in itself, it really is a standalone show. It’s set in Coal Hill School, which was featured in the first ever Doctor Who episode back in 1963, and since then this school has played quite a big part, and the Doctor has revisited it on many occasions. So, because of all the time travelling energy, cracks have started to appear. We saw the first crack in Amy Pond’s bedroom in Doctor Who, and now there’s a real tear appearing, which is causing some trouble. The tear appears in the middle of Coal Hill, so unbeknown to these unsuspecting students, their world is turned completely upside-down because suddenly they’re entrusted by the Doctor to save the rest of the world.
EVERYONE IN THE SHOW HAS THEIR OWN SPECIAL POWERS OR ABILITIES IN THE SHOW. APRIL’S IS HER SHARING HER HEART WITH AN ALIEN WARLORD. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT HER CHARACTER? So, it’s clear from the get go that April’s got a big heart anyway, and that she puts others first. What she goes through, sharing her heart with Corakinus, it’s really testing, and she grows so much.
New Dr Who Spin-off
PHOTOS: BBC/SIMON RIDGEWAY
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There’s this power running through her which changes everything completely, and her character arc is wonderful because she really toys with that and struggles to keep the nice April, because she’s sharing her heart with someone that’s pure evil! So that was really fun! She truly discovers who she is through this horrible happening, which is funny, because it takes having an alien nemesis being part of her to truly discover who she is! Later on in the series it gets really juicy.
SPEAKING OF THE “EVIL” IN THE SHOW, CLASS IS A LOT DARKER THAN DOCTOR WHO. HOW DO YOU THINK FANS OF THE ORIGINAL SHOW WILL REACT? Doctor Who is the life for a lot of the fans. They live and breathe it. I think there’s always going to be fans who had expectations of Class, or who will write it off straight away, but more than anything, we want Doctor Who fans to get on board with it. We’re not pretending to be Doctor Who; we’re part of the same family, and this is about what happens when the Doctor goes and we don’t have his help or knowledge. So things are
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messier because we’re unsuspecting civilians who don’t know the name of this alien or we don’t have this thing to defeat it. So it is darker, and at no point have we said that this is a family show. Unlike Doctor Who, I certainly wouldn’t watch it with my young niece. It’s a teenage audience upwards, and it’s not fluffy; it’s real drama. I think people will be pleasantly surprised at how different it is, and I’m looking forward to fans embracing that. It’s violent, but it’s never gratuitous. Everything in Class proves a point.
OBVIOUSLY THIS IS NOT THE FIRST SPIN-OFF WE’VE HAD; WE’VE HAD TORCHWOOD, SARAH-JANE AND COUNTLESS OTHERS. WHAT SEPARATES CLASS FROM THE OTHER WHONIVERSE SHOWS? We’re incredibly lucky to have Patrick Ness writing for us. That in itself is one thing that really sets us apart. It is in keeping with some themes from Doctor Who, but it is a standalone show and we’re not relying on the Doctors powers. We’re just completely unsuspecting of what’s to come. And Patrick’s writing is so truthful and honest and witty. He has
this certain style, and if you’re a fan of his books, this show will make perfect sense!
WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST EPISODE YOU’VE DONE SO FAR? Each character has their own focal episode, and it was in mine, where I do some “travelling”… that’s all I’ll give away… but we were working on night shoots, and it was in this incredible but completely bizarre location at four in the morning and I’m surrounded by men in prosthetic suits. It’s freezing cold and it’s raining, and I turned around and suddenly all the supporting actors are doing the can-can in these terrifying suits! That was one of the most surreal moments! It’s all the behind the scenes stuff!
IN THE SHOW, THE MAIN GROUP BECOME REALLY CLOSE FRIENDS. DID YOU
“ WE WANT DOCTOR WHO FANS TO GET ON BOARD WITH IT. WE’RE NOT PRETENDING TO BE DOCTOR WHO; WE’RE PART OF THE SAME FAMILY” GET ON WELL WITH THE REST OF THE TEAM? Absolutely! We met just before the first read-through, which I’m really thankful for because it was terrifying! There’s the five of us;
Fady, Vivian, Greg, Jordan and I, and we met a couple of times and got to know each other and the script. Ever since that point, people have asked us if we did a compatibility test or something! But we didn’t’; they cast us as friends in the show, but we became really tight friends in real life. When we were living in Cardiff, Vivian and I lived in the same building and we’d eat together every night, even though we were working together all day. I don’t think we went twenty four hours without being attached to each other!
FINALLY, I HAVE TO ASK; WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE DOCTOR?
I find it really difficult to choose between Tennant and Smith. I absolutely love Tennant’s charisma, and when I think of Doctor Who and me watching it as a teenager, I think of him. But I love what Matt Smith brought to the role. He wasn’t trying to copy anything that Tennant did; he brought something completely new to it, a real playfulness and an almost childlike way of discovering things. Like when he’s discovering his own body… I love the episode when he’s trying all the food in Amy Pond’s fridge… So it’s difficult to choose! CLASS is on on BBC Three now
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WORDS: LEE HAZEL / PHOTOS: WWE
The demon king speaks FINN
More wrestling from vulturehound in Magazine 22 VULTUREHOUND 74 STEELCHAIR JULYDECEMBER 2O15 2016
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inn Balor is the former Universal Champion that never lost the belt. He talks to us about his rehab, his paint and his time in NXT.
Have you been keeping up with the UK indie scene? I don’t get back very often but I try to follow as best as I can on Twitter and Instagram. I’m good friends with a lot of the boys out here so they keep me up to date on a lot of what’s happened. Obviously, I’ve been a huge fan of the scene for a long time. It’s a scene that has not been given the platform that it deserves and this is something that is going to catapult the entire UK
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and Ireland scene to the next level.
It’s been speculated that you might return around WrestleMania. What is your dream scenario for your return? First of all, rehab is going well. Obviously, the target was always going to be getting ready for WrestleMania. That’s still the target, hopefully we can make it. But the dream scenario, for me, would be to come back and face The Undertaker. The Deadman vs The Demon. Especially for me, growing up watching The Undertaker for so many years, the idea of that match happening was pretty farfetched
“THE DREAM SCENARIO, FOR ME, WOULD BE TO COME BACK AND FACE THE UNDERTAKER. THE DEADMAN VS THE DEMON”.
as a young boy, and the fact that it is now somehow in the realm of reality and it could actually happen … I’m very aware of the limited amount of time we have to execute the match. That would be the dream scenario for me. The Undertaker.
What is your inspiration behind the unique costumes you bring out to the NXT Takeover shows? I’ve always tried to keep the paint somehow geographically relevant to the building I’m in. In Brooklyn, we did the gargoyles on my back which was an historical reference to Brooklyn. I just wanted to do something a little bit different in London. The Ripper was the first idea that came to my head and the office went with it. I didn’t realise how well the production team were going to shoot it. They put screens behind me making it look like the street. There’s even one shot where the camera pans down and … I can’t even explain it. It’s one of the coolest shots. It’s a silhouette of me, but then, because of the way the camera moves and the lighting changes, you can actually then see the paint. It was mind blowing. So as much as I’d like to take all the credit for how cool that looked it was none of my doing at all. It was the camera men and the production crew and the lightning crew. But that night in London was definitely a special moment, not only for the fact that I defended the title but that my parents were there and some of my old friends were in the crowd, and just being back in London after not knowing when I’d be back. It was like a re-coming together of lot of aspects of my life that I thought would never align again.
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How did NXT and, in particular, William Regal and Robbie Brookside help you as a performer?
You recently had a bit of a return to ICW. Can you tell us a bit about how that came about?
Up until that point I’d been wrestling around the world for fourteen years. So you kind of walk into the performance centre with a certain amount of confidence thinking that, “I got this.” What I started realising when I had conversations with Mr Regal and Robbie Brookside and Terry Taylor and Matt Bloom, was not that I didn’t have it, but I had a slightly different view of it. I can honestly say that the year and a half I had at the performance centre, whatever idea I had, it increased tenfold. I became ten times the better performer. My confidence skyrocketed. It just really polished all the loose ends and scruffy bits. Except the beard [laughs]. It really put the finishing touches on who I am as a performer.
I’m not entirely sure how it came about. I do know that Mick Foley was advertised and contracted to be on the show. However, he was also contracted to be at Survivor Series as Raw GM. I guess they needed a substitute, so the linesman’s flag went up, we did the switch and that made sense for us and it was a winwin for everyone. I get to go back to a place I love to perform at, WWE keep face by not destroying the ICW show but by helping it. Obviously, we needed Mick Foley but it was a gesture of goodwill and I think it worked out really well for everyone. I was delighted to go back and see some of my old friends.
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After being away from WWE
television for so long is there anything you would change on your return? I’m going to be 100% honest. I am telling you that I am going to change a hell of a lot. But what that is, I’m not going to tell you right now. Obviously, with the time away from the ring, the creative gears have been going. A lot of the time you get sucked into the bubble and you keep going and keep going and you think about what you’re doing. As bad timing and as unfortunate as it was to get hurt when I did, I’m trying to make the best of a bad situation. I’ve been thinking about what I can do and what I can change when I get back. I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve which, hopefully I can execute when I’m back.
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t’s nearly here. The end’s in sight. Shortly we can throw away the calendars and cease writing down four bastardly sequenced numbers; 2016.
With this time of year it’s customary to look back on the year that just was. For many reasons 2016 will go down as one of the most infamous years in living memory. Established political systems falling like dominoes, the poor and disenfranchised are becoming worse off and intolerance in all its forms is on the rise. Not to mention; the disturbing array of musicians, actors, directors and general famous folk who we all cared about becoming another R.I.P. Twitter trend. They’ll be other opinion pieces online and in print that will sum this year up more eloquently than I ever could. They’ll be speakers who will be able to galvanise folk into looking towards a better tomorrow. They’ll tell us that the time for complacency is over and now is the time to get to work. Of course I mean this more in a political sense, I don’t image they’ll be campaigns to resurrect Leonard Cohen through means of the Genesis Device, so that he can finish the undoubtedly great works he had on the boil. Although there could be far grander wastes of public money. Cohen’s gone. Bowie’s gone. Prince is gone. Alan Vega’s gone. But worry you not, we have Transformers 5 to look forward to. I jest. But seriously… no more Michael Bay Transformers! Thinks probably that things will be hella shit for a while. It’s not our fault. We try the best we can. Some of us march. Some us are social media warriors. Some grin and bear. Everything in it’s small part helps to change things or alleviate
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FINAL WORD COHEN’S GONE. BOWIE’S GONE. PRINCE IS GONE. ALAN VEGA’S GONE. BUT WORRY YOU NOT, WE HAVE TRANSFORMERS 5 TO LOOK FORWARD TO. the pain of loosing something we hold dear to our hearts. It seems like we’re entering a short term phase of mucking through, make do and mending. But to have that attitude does great disservice to the genuine talents that are currently on the rise. The changing of the old guard. For every hate mongering politician who claims to be the solution, the person with genuine righteousness on their side is currently reciting their inauguration speech in their head. For every anti-Islamic Facebook page on the web, there is a restaurant run by Islamic owners offering a free Christmas dinner to homeless people of every colour and creed (apologies for the gross over simplification of these issues). For every lost artist there are ten more artists who are making music just as experimental and joyful. Sorry, I ended up doing a bloody Hughie Green Christmas speech. I originally set out to write something saying “yeah, 2016 pundits will get all high and mighty about where we go next” and I became one of them. I’m just some douche bag in England with a bad haircut. All I wanted to say was Fuck 2016 let’s all watch Muppets Christmas Carol and have fun. Goodness knows we need it more than ever. And I mean that “most sincerely.”
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