The Jake Stratton of BlöödHag Interview

June 6, 2003

Today is the day to go to the basement of the Alamo.

Only three shows left of my Second City Writing Show "TV Misguided"--SEE IT TONIGHT!! Read here for more information.

You have the rest of the weekend to tell me what you ate.

I cover local film for a paper here in Chicago, and one of the guys I reported on sent me a tape a few weeks ago. Some of the films on it were brilliant, some interesting, some really stupid. But one caught my eye. It was a documentary about a band the likes of which I have never heard. Litearally. I could barely make out the words being sung/howled into the microphone, but it turns out it was about sci fi and fantasy literature and the band's name is BlöödHag and they rock the hell out in libraries. . I am interviewing somebody from a band called BlöödHag. That in itself makes me so happy.

The Jake Stratton of BlöödHag Interview: Slightly Less Than Twenty Rocking Questions

Why did you name the group "BlöödHag"? Is there a
Blood Hag?

No, there's no Blood Hag, at least as far as I know. It was a name I chose off a list of bad band names that some friends of mine and I had come up with long ago. I chose it for the band because I knew that no one could possibly think that we were anything but Metal after hearing the name. Not like
that terrible band Incubus. I was expecting Metal, you

Exactly how loud are you guys? Have you been measured in decibels?
Loud enough to be heard...a few blocks over. Never been measured. People tell us that we're loud, and we've been louder than most of the bands we've played with on tour, but it doesn't sound loud to me.

Tell us what Edu-Core is. Did you coin the term?
Yes, I coined the term as soon as we formed the band, seven years ago. Although KRS-ONE coined the term "Edutainment" in reference to his music, but we're different since I don't give a rat's ass if you're entertained.

Edu-core is any music that has an educational message outside of the standard realm of lyrical content, ie: sex, drugs, politics, social issues, Satan, sex, How Awesome It Is To Rock, etc. Several bands are Edu-Core bands whether thay like it or not. We encourage new bands to take the Edu-Core banner with other subjects (other than ours). Math, science, the Crimean War, anything.

It's mainly just a term to self-pigeon-hole ourselves before some rock critic does it for us. In the same vein as the other ridiculous sub-genres of Metal and Punk...Posi-Core, Emo-Core, Straight-Edge, what the hell ever.

Who composes your audience?
Mostly oxygen breathing humans of both male and female
sexes. Uh...the library shows have the most variety, little kids as young as 5 or 6, teens, old folks, librarians. Most of whom don't particularly like Metal, all of whom leave happy. We are well-liked by metalheads, fanboys, educators, librarians, and some of the writers of whom we write about.

I notice on your website your group does what many young, funny groups of guys do; you make up your biography and give yourselves fake titles. So how old are you guys in reality and how did you form BlöödHag?
Well, you're right, our bio's fake, but it's not just for laughs. Just to go off on a tangent for a second, I think bios about
the bands you were in previously, blah, blah are really boring and pointless. All the list of your previous bands is going to do is color the reader's view of your current music. Describing your band in a bio by saying that you sound like
somebody else gives people a chance to decide not to listen to you because you just said you sound like a band they hate.
If nobody's heard of your other bands, who cares anyway? I suppose you could look at it as beneficial if your previous
band was huge, but I think it also has the negative effect of people saying "Well, he was in Such-and-such previously,
but THIS band is NO such-and-such". Just listen to it! If that's genuinely your interest, the music, just skip that bio shit
and listen to it! If you've got a bio, it should be approached like a creative writing assignment. Force so-called music fans,
reviewers, bookers, etc to listen to you out of sheer
curiousity! Um, okay. We're all 32, except our drummer Brent Carpenter, who's 29. We're old and our bones creak.

Tell us about your tour. Where have you been going? What's life like on the road for you? Big fancy bus? Private jet?
We recently completed a 28 shows in 21 days U.S. tour
of both libraries and clubs/venues. Libraries in the early evening/afternoon, bars at night. Rough on my throat, but overall, we had a great time. Our longtime van, the Beastmaster, is beset with ailments, so we were forced to rent a car in order to do the planned tour. We had to get a
Ford Explorer and rent a U-Haul trailer for the equipment. Kind of embarassing, but we needed to have a reliable vehicle, because the tour was planned so tightly. We hardly had any days off. Soon, we hope to buy a used Bookmobile. We sleep on floors or couches or the occasional motel. We camped out in North Dakota. I'd like to thank all the libraries who booked us (no pun intended), especially Boston, Oklahoma City, Athens GA, and Las Vegas. Chicago was great for both shows! I'd also like to give mad shout outs to Gold Bond Medicated Powder! It really works!

How short are your songs? Why keep them so short?
And do you think that it's time that songs get shorter, like, say, 'oldies-length'?

We decided that since we were already self-imposing limitations on our music by only playing songs about authors, we figured we should set some other restrictions as well. None of our songs are more than two minutes in length. We are inspired by Slayer's Reign in Blood and S.O.D., who kept most of the songs brutal and short. I never liked endless one-riff Metal songs (except Black Sabbath). Plus we figured out that if you take the ubiquitous guitar solo out of any song, it's only about 2 minutes long.

From what I've heard, your lyrics are almost impossible to decipher. How does your audience know what you're talking about?
I introduce each author and talk about them briefly, sometimes quizzing the audience about them. It's alot like going to school, except you get to stand up the whole time and drink. Plus, you can read the lyrics, because after our show, you'll be able to read.

Tell us about your different albums. And what's so great about the packaging on "Hooked on Demonics"?
We packaged our 6-song demo "Hooked on Demonics" as a
6-song book on tape. We got book on tape clamshells, and made them ourselves, with library slip lyric booklets. It's sold out, collectors! We try to do theme EP's of similar authors, like our "G.L.O.W. - Gorgeous Ladies of Writing" 7" which featured all Women Authors, and our upcoming "Appetite for Deconstruction", which is all authors who have written SF, but are also considered "Genuine Literature", such as Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, J.G. Ballard, and more. Our first full-length CD "Necrotic Bibliophilia", however, is a collection of random authors, but a lot of big names...Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, William Gibson, Octavia Butler...15 songs and a hidden bonus track,
what a bargain!

Is it true that you pelt your audience with books? What do you make of Neal Pollack tearing up books at his readings?
Yes, we throw out paperback Science Fiction and Fantasy books to the audience during our set. Only a few get thrown
back by idiots who think we're playing "Punk Rock Catch".
Most are treasured as the gifts they are.

I don't know from Neal Pollack. If Neal Pollack is tearing up Neal Pollack books, that's fine, but if he has the temerity
to tear up somebody else's, he can go get fucked.

You said in an interview about the umlauts in your name, "The umlauts serve as a warning: Metal ahead." Does that mean that because of this and this, I am somewhat metal?
I've never met you personally, but you mean you're not
full-on metal? This interview is over.

Do you limit yourselves strictly to Science Fiction and Fantasy? If so, how come?
Yes, mostly SF with important Fantasy and Horror authors thrown in (no Stephen King or Dean R. Koontz! Don't get your hopes up). We've stated this before: it's because of the direct debt owed to SF and Fantasy authors by Heavy Metal bands, in terms of lyrical content, visual themes, song and album titles, etc. The musicians are aware of this, but somehow, the general public is not. Therefore, we act as the bridge, trying to connect these authors to the Metalheads who never figured out what "The Thing That Should Not Be"
by Metallica was all about.

Are there certain kinds of libraries that lend themselves to especially good gigs?
Ones where the librarians actually advertise outside of the library for the gig. We found out that attendance at one of the library shows during our recent tour was an extra-credit assignment for a local middle school class. Now that's a teacher I wish I had. Most of the libraries we played at during this last tour, we played during the day, while people were trying to read, so I just want to say thanks for putting up with us.

What have been some of the most memorable audience
reactions to BlöödHag?

Usually in the form of threats upon my person from people I nail in the face with a book. They are standardly sqeulched with a drink ticket. We had a crack whore strip during one of our shows. We had an 80-year old woman come up to us after one set and tell us we were great, but she wished we
would've played some Marily Manson. Hip old granny.

Tell us how the BlöödHag documentary came to be

We brought our friend Brad Vanderburg along on our
western Washington library tour, which wasn't a tour
in the normal sense, since it was spread out over a couple months, and we came home after the shows. He came along to about four out of six shows. He then edited it down in Hollywood, Californy, and wham! He made us look good. And kept it short. It's played at a bunch of film festivals...SXSW, Chicago Underground, Noise Pop,
Perth International, Woodstock and more...It won best short doc at the 1st annual San Francisco Underground Documnetary Film's also been on PBS and been chosen as the number one choice in the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) top ten items for purchase for Libraries and Schools for 2003. Plus, my mom likes it.

Have there been any casualties of rocking so
thoroughly? I've heard that there have been a few
dental issues.

Yes, Sir Zachary Orgel, bass earned the temporary nickname of "Notch" Orgel for chipping a tooth while playing the bass with his teeth. I cut the back of my head banging it into Brent's ride cymbal, and I recently strained some tendons in my knee really badly jumping off a stage onto my knees.

How does one differentiate between the various kinds of nerds, as well as geeks, dorks, dweebs and so on?
Smell. Actually, we classify a Nerd as anyone who is obsessed with a particular subject to the point where they can't talk or think about anything else. Therefore, football nerds, car stereo nerds, record collector nerds, fashion nerds, etc.. Geek can also be used in this sense. Dorks and dweebs are fictional. Whoever told you of them was lying.

Ok, maybe this isn't necessarily a BloodHag question but what is Norwescon?
NorWesCon is a Science Fiction convention, mostly literary in focus rather than TV & movie stars or whatever. We played the most recent one to a great reaction, which has led to offers to play another, called "Westercon", and the Nebula Awards, which are the Oscars of SF writing, or at least the Golden Globes. It was great to play in front of writers as well as teenage goth girls.

How does it feel to be the 63rd person interviewed for
I can't believe you thought there were 62 more interesting people to talk to before me.