MICHAEL-MYERS.NET

Artist Spotlight: Ed Edmunds (Distortions Unlimited)

Ed Edmunds is someone who needs absolutely no introduction in this hobby. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy day to chat with me, and I have to say that it was one of the most engaging interviews I’ve ever done. Ed is an incredibly sweet, funny, and intelligent man, so speaking with him was a breeze. We were supposed to have done our interview around late-October, but life got in the way for me and we weren’t able to hook up until the beginning of December.

The following has been transcribed from our phone call as verbatim as humanly possible – warts ‘n’ all:

Zac Crook: Hello?

Ed Edmunds: Hello, Zac. I am so sorry; I just got the note that you’d called. I’ve been sitting here for – oh, I don’t know – probably over a half hour and I just got the note. [Laughs]

ZC: No problem! How are you?

EE: Good!

ZC: First of all, I just wanted to say thanks again for taking the time to do this. I know you’re super busy.

EE: Oh, yeah. We’re always busy, but it’s a lot more…controlled now, you know. We’ve got a lot to do, but it’s not like, “it has to go out today – these guys are desperate”. [Laughs] The old days of “well, Halloween’s over – what are we gonna do?” You know, that’s gone.

ZC: It seems like you have a pretty good staff, though. I mean, all the times I’ve called, they’ve been super polite.

EE: That’s kind of part of the secret to our success. We ended up with this really tight, talented – basically – self-trained crew. We’ve gone through – I’m not sure – maybe thousands of employees, but certainly many, many hundreds. They just keep – you know, let these ones go, keep a few, keep a few, and people quit then [we’re] down to this small core staff of very fun and talented people.

ZC: That makes all the difference in the world.

EE: Oh, it does.  You know, when you work with a group, you’re with them more than your family.  You’re  going through the best and the worst with them.  It’s really like a family.

ZC: Another thing that’s cool is how easy it is to access you. I mean, I just called and said I’d like to do an interview and they said, “OK, sure!”

EE: Well you know, first of all – I have no delusions of being a celebrity in any way. We’re just regular people who have got our day job, and I think sometimes people get caught up in this delusion of I’m somebody special because I’m on TV or in the movies or something. If you took Arnold Schwarzenegger and you took a few choice opportunities that presented themselves and he was just a guy that never made it and he stood in a parking lot and said “hasta la vista, baby”, people would be like, “get away from me!” The hundreds and hundreds of names that scroll after a movie and the work of all those people creatively and the millions upon millions of dollars that create an illusion that this person is more fun than that person or something. And that’s not true – everybody’s special and everybody has their own mission and only they get to fulfill it. It’s just that some people, we get to see a little more intimately and so, it’s fun. I enjoy it, myself. I enjoy watching some people’s journeys through life. Everybody’s got a trip. Everybody could be famous; it just depends on how the cards fall.

ZC: So, you were into sci-fi and stuff as a kid, obviously.  Were you what they call a “Monster Kid” – reading Famous Monsters of Filmland and all that kind of stuff?

EE: Yes.  I would say that I absolutely loved monsters.  It was more than – well, here’s the difference – I had a best friend, Bob Taylor, and [he] and I lived about a quarter-mile away in Long Grove, Illinois.  We lived in a town that was truly like [Andy Griffith Show’s] Mayberry.  We had a gas station, a country general store, we had a candy store; I mean, it was just an amazing little town.  We’d walk to downtown Long Grove, which was teeny.  But, he and I would watch, like, The Outer Limits together; these reruns would come on and we would be watching them.  I can tell you, he had a very different experience: he was watching it like “ooh, that’s very cool” or whatever.   I was watching it like “I want to be those monsters”.  Now, I didn’t want to be Godzilla, but I wanted to be, like, “The Sixth Finger” from The Outer Limits or I wanted to be Spock or, you know, something like that.  So, I think that was the difference that drove me to do it as a career.  I was, like, super nerdy about it.  I wasn’t just “oh, I like monsters”. 

“Gwyllm Griffiths” – The Sixth Finger (The Outer Limits)

I guess the best example I could give you of how my worlds mixed was I went to see the third Planet of the Apes.  I was an unbelievable fan of Planet of the Apes.  When I would watch this stuff, I’m sure my face would’ve been…stupid.  [Laughs]  Sitting there in the theater watching, I’m sure I had a stupid face on.  When [Escape from the Planet of the Apes] hit and Cornelius and Zira, when they got killed, I was mortified.  Now, did I know it was a movie?  Yes.  I don’t know what my problem was, but I was like, for three weeks, it was like a death in the family!  It was at the drive-in playing, and I went back and watched again.  I don’t know who went, but I went back and I saw it again.  And then I could see them alive again, and I could get over it.  That’s how stupid it was.  It’s probably not right – you know, the level of involvement.

I got to meet Leonard Nimoy during the run of [Star Trek].  He was at a shopping mall, like, fifty miles from our house.  My mother drove me out there.  There was a line, I bought a couple of albums, and had him sign a three-by-five card.  Very, very nice guy.  In fact, there’s a whole story to him and how he had been shunned by Danny Kaye and it really hurt his feelings.  When he was a kid, he waited backstage, and [Danny] wouldn’t even look at him.  He wanted his autograph, wanted to say “hi” because he was such a big fan.  So, [Nimoy] decided that he would never be like that, and he stayed true to his word.  He was very good.  But, anyway, I got these autographs and then I was just standing there staring at him.  Mom’s like, “Well, you ready to go?” and, it’s like, I wasn’t going anywhere.  And I probably stood there for an hour and a half or two hours just staring at him and trying to – you know, I knew it was all fake.  I knew that it was a movie set and things, but it was like, “Yeah, but he’s been to outer space!”

Whatever that dysfunction was, it drove me to be involved in making my own costumes and things.  Back when nobody knew how to do it, and, you know, it was hard.  I had a few things like the Dick Smith book that – he had a book that showed you how to make monsters and monster makeups and things.  And I did the best I could.  But, yeah – I was definitely a “Monster Kid”.

Ed and Leonard Nimoy years later

ZC: So, you didn’t really have any kind of training.  You didn’t apprentice under anybody.  You sort or just dove in and figured it out?

EE: Yeah, I didn’t have anybody.  You know, now is such a wonderful time, because you can just get on YouTube and you can learn anything from the best in the business.  Back then, there’s just some magazine things and, you know, I learned how to do stuff.  So, I made a were-wolf and Frankenstein and so forth.  But, when I started the business it was still a black box.  Nobody was talking, and the only thing I had when I started the business wash Richard Corson’s Stage Makeup that I’d gotten in makeup class in…high school, I believe.  Or was it college?  Maybe it was college.  So, that helped me, and I just tried to expand it to expand it.  But there were problems like – they were just doing makeup, so they’d talk about rubber mask greasepaint and these kinds of things.  But I had no clue what to make these things with, and the paint was cracking off, and I’m not sure, but it seemed like I tried a hundred different things and they all cracked off.

I was painting masks for a novelty store, and they bought masks and stuff.  [The owner] came up with a clever idea of calling and saying that the mask was cracking off and “How can I fix it?”  It was a little bit of a lie… [Laughs]  But, she called a mask-making company.  Now, I don’t know what the company was, but they go, “Oh, that’s easy – just mix half house paint and half latex with some water, and that’ll stretch just fine”.  You know, it’s so simple and so easy, but – at the time – that helped unimaginably.  Oh, that changed everything.  You know, the funny thing is – I was thinking “this is just common knowledge,” and thought nothing of it.  I had Tom Savini in the shop – I don’t know – maybe a year ago or so, and he was like, “What do you paint these with?” and I said, “Oh, it’s just a latex house paint formula”.  He’s like, “What?!”  [Laughs]  I said, “Yeah, you just pick the color you want at the paint store, and you mix it with latex, add a little water”.  He’s like, “I’ve never heard of that!” and I’m like, “What do you mean?”  [Laughs]

You know, being outside of Hollywood – actually even late in my career – Jordu [Schell] would come out and show me stuff.  Like ink rub-outs.  You know, I had done rub-outs with just water-based stuff [and it] never really worked well.  So, that was just a huge benefit.  And he showed me tools that I’d never seen before and you can’t find in normal stores.  So, yeah – I’m still learning and I’m an old man, but I’m still like, “Oh!  Well, gee, that’s cool!”  [Laughs] I guess I’ll probably never stop learning.

Tom Savini & The Greeley Gremlin

ZC: Speaking of learning stuff and getting on YouTube and everything, it’s really, really cool – I mean, you guys are kind of different, because you actually make some in-depth how-to videos. Actually, I was just watching the one where you’re finishing a couple of zombie masks and you’re showing how to do the rub-outs with the ink and alcohol. A lot of guys who do this kind of stuff are really stingy about their techniques, but you kind of just put it all out there.

EE: You know, part of that is due to how secretive it was when I started.  And it’s like, “Uh-uh, I’m not gonna make anybody go through that”.  The other thing is, I think that there’s a conflict of interest with, let’s say, a special effects guy is going to show you how to do a rubber Halloween mask.  He’s still selling himselfI’m not selling myself; I just sell monster stuff.  You know, I don’t care.  But these guys, they’re out in Hollywood and they’re selling themselves, and their ability, and their value.  So, the conflict for them is they want to make what they do seem amazing and hard and specialized and worth a lot of money.  So, they’re not going to want to break it down to the A-B-C’s and make it look simple, because  it’s not necessarily good for business.  I don’t have any of that, so really, when you strip away all the hoopla and special material stuff, and you get right down to it – man, it’s simple.  It’s clay from the Earth you push around with your fingers and plaster from the Earth you mix with water and it hardens.  And you pull that clay out and pour in liquid rubber from the rubber tree plant and it solidifies in there and, you know, it’s real simple.  Like slip in pottery.  But I think there’s still – people like to keep it a little mysterious.  Like, “Ooohh, yeah!  I’m a monster maker and you’re not!”  [Laughs]

But, honestly, that has been rewarding for me – to meet people – and it’s shocking how many people have seen Monster Lab.  They’ll come up and say, “Oh, I love your show!” and I’m thinking Making Monsters, but – nowadays – it’s about fifty-fifty Making Monsters and Monster Lab, which shocked me.  People are saying – people from, like, Germany – are calling me up, “Yeah, I started my whole career because of Monster Lab and Making Monsters, and now I’m in the business,” and all this stuff.  And it’s – that’s very gratifying.  To have this ability on this format that people all over the World actually watch and you actually changed their lives.  I just hope I’m not changing them for the worse. You, know, like, they could’ve been a doctor or something.  [Laughs]

ZC: No way, man! I mean, I feel we’re kind of nudged into, you know, where our talents lie. You know, it’s crazy how many artists I know personally – like mask artists and sculptors and stuff – who were highly influenced by your work and the stuff Distortions put out. I mean, just from looking at ads in the back of Fangoria.

EE: Yes.  That was the same for me.  For me, it was Don Post, so I get that.  It’s just that they were kids when Fangoria was going strong, and so they saw my ad’s instead of Don Post’s ads.  I can tell you, I know what that is, because it blew me away.  A kid brought a Famous Monsters magazine to third grade, and I saw the cover and it was 20 Million Miles to Earth and it was a beautiful – Famous Monsters had some of the greatest magazine covers ever.  Super art.  So, I looked at that and thought, “What the heck is this?” and then I flipped it over and it was these Don Post masks in color.  And it just blew my mind.  And the fact that you-can-own-this.  Of course, I couldn’t afford them at all.  That was part of what, I think, drove all of us – that they were unreasonably priced.  I never thought about it at the time, but – in today’s dollars – those masks were, um…$350 to $400.  And I didn’t know that at the time; I just knew that there was no way I could afford it.  You know, but that’s back when coffee was ten cents.  Gas was – this was later, when I was old enough to drive – gas was twenty-seven cents.  It’s like, “Yeah, we lived in caves and carved our tools out of wood.”  [Laughs] 

Yeah, it was a different world.  But, you just know.  It’s like you said – it’s in people.  They find it.  It’s there, and they’ll figure out what their passion is – what they’re supposed to do for a living. 

Distortions Unlimited ad from Fangoria
Scan credit: http://monstermasks.blogspot.com/
Famous Monsters of Filmland #37
Scan credit: “mightymags1” via eBay

ZC: When we spoke on the phone yesterday, you told me about a dead dog prop you guys got a lot of flak over. Tell me about that.

EE: Oh yeah…  [Laughs]  Well, you know, we made this thing for the New Orleans show. I believe.  It was New Orleans or St.  Louis – I’m not sure.  TransWorld in St. Louis?  So, it was no big deal.  We just – we had this dog, we had tire tracks across it, and I had – we were going to put some fur on him – but, I had the brilliant idea of just doing it as muscle like the fur had been worn off him from being run over or something.  And part of that was that I liked the look of muscular anatomy, you know?  It’s very interesting with the white and the black and the red, and it’s just interesting.  The idea was that – like if you’ve got a person who’s playing a zombie or something in a haunted house – you’d put him on a leash and drag him around.  So, we sold it for – I think it was a year or more – and then somebody put it up on Wal-Mart’s website.  These are not haunters, these are not Halloween enthusiasts – these are, like, regular folks, and they saw this and were so offended that somebody started a Change.org [petition].  And they had – in less than two hours, they had five thousand people sign up, or whatever you do.  And this was, like, on a Tuesday.  This was just a normal day, so I’m back in paints.  And I come in the office and there’s all this commotion and the phones ringing and everybody’s a-dither, and it’s like, “What the- what’s going on here?”  [Laughs]  Marsha told me what was going on.  It wasn’t just the phones – emails were coming through.  You know, just wild.  I mean,  people were saying stuff like, “Maybe he should be skinned himself” and I think there were some death threats.  Change.org, which I think is actually a very good organization – I think it’s cool that people can have a voice.  Now, this particular thing – I felt it was a little misdirected.  You know, these are rubber props.  We make all sorts of horrors, you know – children that are zombies and bloody things.  It’s funny how [we make] all of that and [there are] no complaints.  You know, people with their head chopped off – stuff that’s just standard Halloween stuff.  No problems until we did it to a dog.  So, Marsha just discontinued the prop when Change.org called.  She said, “Oh, no.  We’re animal lovers and this is, like, a Halloween prop for haunted houses” and stuff.  But she was gracious and said, “You know, if this is going to upset people, just discontinue the product” and she did immediately.  The problem was the momentum.  You know, the avalanche that started it.  There was all this anger and energy of animal lovers, thinking that we were trying to make this torture-animals statement or something.  I told you this yesterday – so,  Mike Glover comes in the office and sees all the commotion.  So, he goes to Janene [Johnson], “Let me take one of those calls” because the phone is ringing non-stop.  I mean, literally.  We’ve got, like, five lines, and they’re lit up.  [Laughs]  I don’t know that all five lives were lit up all day.  But, anyway, Mike takes one of the calls, and he’s in his office for twenty minutes.  He comes out just, like, beaten,  and he’s like, “I won’t do that again.”  [Laughs]

I actually saw people in other states standing in front of Wal-Mart.  News reporters thought this was a news story, and they’re talking about this…thing.  I’m like, “Hey.  It’s just a rubber dog.  It’s OK.”  [Laughs]  Sometimes, people don’t understand where you’re coming from or something, and – yeah.  But again, I’m not anti-people speaking– I’m a firm believer in the First Amendment and people saying whatever they want.  You know, they can accuse us of being terrible or something, and we’ll defend ourselves if we can.  I’m not against that, but I thought it was kind of interesting.

ZC: When was this?

EE: Let me see now.  This would’ve probably been- I think we were in the second year of the show, so this was four or five years ago.  We were actually a little afraid, because they were, like, contacting Morris Costumes, who is our big distributor – you know, with threats and things.  Scott [Morris] tried to deal with that, and he got on the phone with some of them. He basically said, “Your energy is misguided”.  [Laughs]  I truly, truly love animals.  I’ve had so, so many pets.  I grew up on a farm and had horses, and dogs, and cats.  My grandparents probably had thirty cats, because they fed all these strays.  They just sort of moved in at any given time.  You know, I’ve had a macaw, parrots, parakeets, hamsters, mice.  I used to get field mice and make pets out of them.  Snakes, even.  Massive snakes.  [That] kind of goes into my thing with Alice Cooper. So, I love animals.  This is probably something stupid to say, but I was actually in my thirties at a therapist with Marsha and talking about this parakeet that died when I was a kid, Grendel, [who] I absolutely loved.  Here I am, a thirty-year-old man, talking about how I hadn’t gotten over it yet.  [Laughs] 

It’s like: kids, don’t try this at home.  Because, some of the things that I’ve done and some of the attitudes and things are not quite right, you know?  I can put it into perspective as an adult in a way, but – in a way – I can’t.  Recently, I found out Tesla – I don’t know if you’ve looked into Tesla – [he] was one of the most brilliant people [who] lived on the planet.  All our lives are changed because of this man.  The facts that we’re able to talk on the phone and have our rooms lit are due to this man.  I found out [that], in his old age, he married a pigeon.  You know, here’s one of the most brilliant men on the planet [who] was a loner, because he couldn’t really have a wife.  He had his work, which is his wife.  He was so busy, but – as an old man – he had an apartment in New York and he would go down to the park.  This one pigeon, he just really loved.  It was very tame with him.  I don’t know if he literally got a marriage certificate or something, but he loved this animal and I understand.  I know what’s going on.  I can still say, “Yeah, but it’s just a pigeon,” but I get it, you know?  [Laughs]

You can’t teach a dead dog new tricks…

ZC: Speaking of animals, I actually have a vet appointment at 1:00 – our time – for my cat. So, if I have to let you go then, that’s why.

EE: No! That is fine, and you just give me the one-minute countdown and we’ll wrap. You’ll have more than you’ll need for an interview

ZC:  Oh, I love it.

EE:  I’m sorry I’m going into a little bit of minutia, so please.  I’ll try to make my answers briefer. Sorry!

ZC:  No, not at all!  This is great.  These are the types of interviews I love to read.  All sorts of cool stuff.

EE:  Well, you know, I’m so bored of “how’d you get in the business” and “what was your scariest mask”.  You know, it’s fine to answer those questions, but I actually like – that’s why I told you to ask me anything – I like getting a little bit deeper.  So, if somebody actually takes the time to listen to something like this, they actually get insight into – and maybe wish they hadn’t, you know?  “That dude’s weird”  [Laughs]  But, I’m not.  Actually, Marsha and I are really almost boring – the lives we live outside of what we do for a living.

ZC:  So, how did you and Marsha meet?

EE: Well, we met at church.  I was married [at the time] and it was kind of a thing-  I was kind of counseling [Marsha].  She was having some marital issues and stuff, so I was sort of self-appointed – helping her out.  But – oh, man – we fell in love.  It was a long process and ended up, unfortunately, in divorce.  I was trying to figure out how I could not have that happen.  You know, as divorces go, it went well.  I mean, we separated well, and – even after the divorce – we would get together on the weekends with the kids and stuff.  We would share the kids and stuff.  So, it was minimal impact, but it wasn’t good.  But, the thing is: it was like destiny, because Marsha just- she just was amazing.  You know, as far as fitting into the company and us jiving and having the ability to run this business.  And she is not like- now, [my ex-wife] was just more, like, the wife of and she helped out a little with the books and things.  But Marsha totally got it in that it’s a two-man deal.  I mean, we really work altogether to figure this stuff out and work on what we’re going to produce and things.  She’s very, very talented. 

Marsha working her fingers to the bone

ZC:  That’s great!  My wife and I own a music store.  She’s the same way.  I mean, she is such a- it’s a blessing to have a wife that’s a-

EE:  Aw, listen, dude: you don’t know how lucky you are.  I’ve told this to people: if you can- a lot of people say, “I could never work with my spouse” and that’s sad, because it’s half or more of your life.  If you can work together- and it’s hard.  It can be hard, because the stresses-of-business thing, but if you can work that out – man, you will have a full life with your spouse.  You can relate everything because you’re experiencing it.  You don’t just come home, “Oh, how was your day?” – “Well, this is what happened.  What’s for supper?” you know?  It’s really cool if you can do it.

ZC:  Right!  Yeah.  I agree with that completely.  I’m not saying we don’t want to strangle each other sometimes, but-

EE:  Oh, no – absolutely!  But, if you can worth through that, you will end up with a truly intimate relationship that can conquer the World.  If you can get over that – because it will – it’ll drive you crazy.  Marsha and I have kind of divided our responsibilities and so forth.  But it’s like, if she wants to do something and I just don’t believe in it or vice-versa or whatever – you know, these things happen.  But, we’ve worked it out well enough that we can still have a personal life and a work life together.  It’s wonderful, even though it can be hard at times.  But it would be hard with anybody!  Anybody that’s like a fifty-fifty partner, it’s going to be hard.  If you can not get divorced in the meantime, it’s wonderful.

ZC:  That’s some profound insight right there.

EE:  Oh, I don’t know about that!  Please don’t lay that on me!  Because, man, the World will be messed up.  [Laughs]

ZC: You mentioned Alice Cooper a little bit ago. How did that all transpire?

EE:  Well, you know, it’s a funny thing.  I was – along with the monsters – I loved music.  I guess I don’t have the ability to get into something without getting stupid.  But, anyway, I love music.  Alice Cooper was like the combination of monsters and music.  I was truly an Alice Cooper freak.  Now, I’m going to get into some stuff.  You might want to skip this.  This may not be for your audience, but I’m going to get a little bit deep with this because it’s so amazing to me and so…supernatural. 

ZC:  Go right ahead!

EE:  OK.  So, I’m a super Alice Cooper nerd.  I had pictures of Alice Cooper all over my basement when I was a teenager.  And I bought snakes; I owned giant snakes, because he had snakes.  I ended up with- the biggest one was a fourteen-foot Burmese python.  But I had reticulated pythons.  Yeah, I had to raise food for these things.  It was just crazy.  So- in fact, I had tailor-made silver pants that would fit my five-inch platform shoes.  I mean, we’re talking nerd.  [Laughs]  I had antique tailed coats, top hat – all the stuff.  So, there was that.  And then – sometime when I moved to Colorado – sometime, maybe a year or two in, I accepted Christ.  So, now, I’ve got blacklight pictures of Jesus Christ and Alice Cooper.  I’m sure my parents were wondering what was going to happen with this kid.

You know, you fast-forward, thinking the business – and it’s funny because he had been such an influence on me, we ended up making guillotines and electric chairs and hangmen stuff.  All the stuff used in his show, I’m sure that was in the back of my head rattling around.  So, then, we did this haunted house called Brutal Planet.  It was a weird, Rock-n-Roll, bizarre haunted house.  I don’t want to go into too much; it’d take too much time.  But, it wasn’t like a normal haunted house: you get transported to another dimension and all this stuff.  So, we thought, “Wow!  Wouldn’t it be great to have Alice Cooper come and help promote the thing?”  We called him, and he was good enough to do it!  But here’s what we found out in the process: I’m talking to Toby Mamis, who is [Alice’s] tour manager.  So, we were talking about doing it… so, he’s asking me questions and he says, “I’ve got your catalog here, and it says you’ve got this alligator and it says – let’s see – ‘sculpted as only God could create’” or something like that I put on it, because we casted it off a real alligator.  And it had some Scripture on there – we had put Scripture on a lot of our catalogs.  He’s like, “You guys aren’t in some weird alligator cult, are you?”  [Laughs]  I go, “No, we’re Christians,” and he goes, “Oh!  Well, Alice is a Christian.”  So, it was kind of like we were in.  SO, he came out and he did the thing and it was great.  So, we had him out several times to different years of Brutal Planet, because he was such an incredible draw.  You know what I mean? 

It’s a lot of money to bring out Alice Cooper.  Trust me.  I think, at the time – it’s much more now – but, at the time, it was like ten grand and air fare for him and Toby and nice hotels and things of sorts.  So, we knew each other.  Well, then, he was doing- Six Flags had contacted him, because we had used Alice and had [success].  Well they wanted to have Alice as a spokesperson.  We kind of recommended it, too.  So, they hired him to be spokesperson when they bought Brutal Planet from us, and they opened it in sixteen locations.  Like, all over the country.  It became this gigantic thing, which is a bunny trail we can’t go down.  Anyway, he was out for commercials and things.  When he was out doing a commercial here in Greeley, I couldn’t leave; I was so busy doing all the props for Brutal Planet that he had to come here.  [Laughs]  So, we set up- the biggest place we had was Girls & Boys Club or something – and used their gym and set up all these sets for these commercials for Six Flags.  But, while we’re filming, he asked- they were working on a new album, and he asked if he could call it Brutal Planet.  And I’m like, “Sure!” you know?  “Wonderful!” 

Anyway, fast-forward I-don’t-know-how-many months, but they wanted us to do the stage sets for [the] Brutal Planet [tour].  Alice came out, Shep [Gordon], his long-time manager, and a couple other guys came out to talk about what we would do for him, and it was very elaborate.  I mean, again, I don’t want to go down that bunny trail. 

Alice Cooper with his custom Frankenalice puppet by Distortions Unlimited

EE: What time have we got, Zac?

ZC:  We’ve got about five minutes.

EE:  OK!  Well, let me just finish this and you can ask me questions, and I will answer lightning-fast.  It’s just that you touched a nerve, dude!  You’ve got this old man on the phone, and he’s like a freight train with words!  [Laughs]  You’ve got to deal with this!

ZC:  No, that’s great!

EE:  Well, anyway, Shep’s got this gold CD of the recording session that nobody’s heard yet, except him, for the Brutal Planet album.  So, Shep’s like, You want to listen?”  You know, I said, “Yeah!”  So, we went in my office; I had this big stereo thing in there.  I’m in there with Shep, and Alice, and me; and he’s playing this thing; and the title track is called Brutal Planet, the song.  So, Alice is in my office, singing to the CD of this Brutal Planet, which was the name of this haunted house that we created, and it was so surreal.  It’s like, you know, this can’t- this doesn’t happen.  This is weird.  Alice Cooper’s a believer, and he said, “before you start-“ he said, “I love this song.  It’s got Old Testament, it’s got New Testament.”  If you listen to it, it’s very hard rock, but it’s kind of- there’s information. 

So, I’ve had many experiences like that: where I’ve kind of gone back to my childhood, and, you know, the experiences we’ve had with Dick Van Dyke.  “This just doesn’t seem normal.”  You know, “It seems like this was rigged.”  [Laughs] 

Anyway, I’ll put a period on that, and you give me some wrap-up stuff you want to know.

ZC:  Hey, man, first of all: if you have the time in the future, I think it’d be cool to do a Part II, because there’s a lot of stuff that you have to say that I want to hear.

EE:  Oh, listen: I would love to do it, and if you feel like people are interested, I would be happy to do a Part II some time.

ZC:  Well, the couple people I told that I was doing this are kind of foaming at the mouth to read it, so…

EE:  [Laughs]  Yeah, feel free to edit liberally.  Now I think you understand why I don’t like to do typed interviews now.  But, the thing is: if I say all this stuff, you can go through and say, “Well, this is pretty interesting, I could include this, all that yammering about that – I’ll just leave that out.”  [Laughs]

ZC:  You know, I’m glad we did it this way, because my style is: I like to transcribe stuff as close to verbatim as I can.  I like the natural feel of the conversation. 

EE:  Sure, sure!

ZC:  This is a lot better than email, for sure.

EE:  Well, hopefully it’s deep enough that people- because that’s a lot of work to read.  You know, read something and take the time.  If you get a little deeper, sometimes people feel like it was worth the insight to take the time.

ZC:  Well, I really appreciate you taking the time, and I’ll get a hold of you sometime here not too long from now and we’ll do another one.

EE:  That sounds good, and I appreciate the interview.  Just, when you get it out, let me know, and we’ll share it.

ZC:  I will for sure.  God bless.

EE:  Alright, you too!


Stay tuned for Part II, and – in the meantime – treat yourself to a bunch of rad stuff from Distortions Unlimited at the link below!

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