Blood Farmers - David Szulkin

Blood Farmers - David Szulkin

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In our next installment of the 'Days Of The Doomed' fest's interview series, I've had the opportunity to pick the brain (figuratively speaking of course...) of  BLOOD FARMERS lead man and horror movie guru, David Szulkin. An amazing conversation ensued...

David! Thanks for taking the time to chat! It's a well know fact that you have a love for all things horror, but has Metal always been a part of the equation, or did that come into play later on?
I got into both horror and Metal at a young age. The horror and exploitation movies were first for me, since I didn't start learning guitar until I was a teenager. The idea for BLOOD FARMERS came about when I heard BLACK SABBATH's first album and thought, "I want to do that in front of a giant movie screen showing movies like "Last House On The Left" and "Mark Of The Devil"". I was obsessed with those movies for years, and the band grew out of that interest naturally. Horror and Metal always go together!

Indeed they do!  Can you give us a definitive status update for BLOOD FARMERS? In other words, what concrete plans does the band have coming up?
The only concrete plan: to show up at 'Days Of The Doomed' in June! We have been talking to a label overseas about releasing a new album and going back to tour Europe again, but nothing concrete yet.

In regards to the new album, is there a tentative release date in mind? Possible vinyl edition made available?
First we have to record it! We would love to do vinyl, it just takes somebody to pay for it.

I was lucky enough to be at 'Born To Be Doomed' back in 2010 for the BLOOD FARMERS 1st show after about a 2 year hiatus. What a treat that was! Can you tell us a little about what was going on leading up to that show, and what ultimately lead to securing a European tour with BLACK PYRAMID?
We had just lost a member of our family, Dr. Phibes (1966-2010) right before we did the 'Born To Be Doomed' show. He was the original bass player for BLOOD FARMERS & my flesh & blood. There were other personal things going on, too... it was a bad time. But despite the stress and grief, we had made a promise to our friends Josh Hart and John Brenner to perform at the 'BTBD' festival, so we went down to Baltimore and honored the commitment. It was the first show we played with our drummer Tad Leger after years of jamming together on & off. John and Josh were responsible for reanimating BLOOD FARMERS as a live act since they had brought us back together to play the 'Doom Or Be Doomed' festival in 2007. That was the last show we did with Phil, and a really special event all around. PENANCE, REVELATION, IRON MAN, even the '70s band POOBAH played! We had a great time. There was a real Doom brotherhood in the room that weekend! At that show, our label guy Toreno Kobayashi flew in from Japan to see us - that led to us touring Japan with OGRE and CHURCH OF MISERY. We laid low for a while after that, until Walter at 'Roadburn' asked us to play – that's an opportunity you don't turn down!

Without a doubt!
At the same time, we were offered a slot at the 'Hammer Of Doom' festival in Germany, and the guys from the Vibra Agency put together the tour around those dates with BLACK PYRAMID opening. We did our best shows on that tour– playing 'Roadburn' (twice!) and the shows with ELECTRIC WIZARD and PENTAGRAM were highlights that I'm sure will always be some of the best memories of my life.

That sounds like an unforgettable experience! That being said, I know that tour must have seen it's fair share of laughs and hijinx! Care to share any road stories without incriminating yourself or others? (laughs)
I had to be taken to the hospital twice on that tour because both of my ears and my sinuses were hideously infected. Oddly enough, those were two of the best performances! People said I was like walking death on that tour, but I guess that upped the Doom factor!  We played a show in Munich where a huge crowd showed up but they were all there to see CHILDREN OF BODOM next door! It was actually a relief given the looks of that crowd... we'd rather play for that one stoned guy wearing a VITUS T-shirt, anyway!

Is there a particular band, or movie for that matter, that you would say influences the musical direction of BLOOD FARMERS?
"Last House On The Left" (1972) is my favorite -I consider it the greatest story ever told! (Eli Roth pointed out that I should have called the band BLOODLUST after the fictitious band referenced in "Last House On The Left".) BLOOD FARMERS recorded a version of the David Hess theme song from "Last House On The Left" that will be on the next album. Some movies we wrote songs about: "Headless Eyes", "I Drink Your Blood", "Mark Of The Devil", "Deathmaster", "Night Of The Sorcerers". I'd like to do a tribute song to all of the S.F. Brownrigg movies ("Don't Look In The Basement", "Poor White Trash Part II", "Don't open The Door", "Keep My Grave Open")...lately I have been really getting into all the Jose Ramon Larraz movies - underrated director! The two big musical influences when we started the band were BLACK SABBATH and SAINT VITUS...that was the intention, the main goal. It was to the point of obsession. And then there were a lot of 60s and 70s bands that influenced us, that we love: Hendrix, James Gang, old ZZ TOP, Johnny Winter, CREAM, CACTUS, DUST, BLOODROCK, I could go on forever naming bands. JUDAS PRIEST was a major influence for me, even though I could never play like that! Through playing in BLOOD FARMERS I discovered other doom (TROUBLE, all of the Maryland bands such as INTERVAL VOID, REVELATION, IRON MAN – the Maryland bands turned us on to PENTAGRAM, BANG, STRAY & other cool '70s rock). We found kindred spirits in some of the bands we played with like GRIEF, and bands we corresponded with who were into the same stuff like ELECTRIC WIZARD. But in the '80s/early '90s there weren't nearly as many bands in this vein compared to now.

Fill us in on your work with Grindhouse Releasing. How long have you been working with them? What's the next batch of re-releases looking like?
I've been working with Grindhouse Releasing since 1999. I book the old horror movies into theaters and help out with the DVD releases. The next one I'm doing is S.F. Brownrigg's "Scum Of The Earth", the hillbilly/backwoods horror classic also known as "Poor White Trash Part II". That's been in the works for years, but hopefully in 2012 it will finally come out on DVD & Blu-ray... maybe some theatrical screenings, too. I've also worked with Blue Underground, booking a nationwide theatrical release of Lucio Fulci's "Zombie". I teamed up with my friend Johnny Legend to release some of his movies like the Andy Kaufman/Freddie Blassie movie "My Breakfast With Blassie" and the psycho-noir movie "The Sadist" so look out for those.

Luckily for me, the Times Theater in Milwaukee has been host to quite a few Grindhouse Releasing's re-releases. What has the response been to these new screenings? I have seen several hold-overs in certain markets...
The movies are doing well. "Evil Dead" always draws a crowd, and I'm always getting requests for "The Beyond", "Pieces", "Cannibal Holocaust", and all the others. GONE WITH THE POPE have played numerous times in L.A., it is slowly building up a cult following. The Times Cinema also showed our new 35mm print of "Maniac", which we released in partnership with Blue Underground.

I remember seeing "Pieces" at the Kenosha Drive-In theater years ago. Great movie for a giant screen! So, getting back to BLOOD FARMERS, are there any surprises we can expect to hear at 'Days Of The Doomed Fest II' this June?
If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise! We will definitely debut some new material, and I promise this will be our most balls-to-the-wall show to date, because it might be a little while before we play the US again.

"Butch" Balich suggested all bands involved in 'DOTD II' pay tribute to a particular band by including a cover in their set. We did a poll a while back, and JUDAS PRIEST seemed to be a favorite. Which classic PRIEST tune would you guys give the BLOOD FARMERS treatment to?
So many favorites. "Beyond The Realms Of Death" would be my top choice. We messed around with "Genocide" in rehearsals for a while; our drummer Tad has always wanted to do a slowed-down doom version of it. Eli and I covered "Run Of The Mill" years ago with another band... that was fun to do. We wanted to learn the entirety of "Rocka Rolla". The whole subject of PRIEST is overwhelming. You can't mess with JUDAS PRIEST!

There just ain't no messing with the PRIEST! OK, here's a quick succession of random questions. Rattle them off as fast as you can:

First album ever purchased with your own money?
ROLLING STONES - “Sticky Fingers”

BLACK SABBATH working with Rick Rubin: good or bad?
Good. By the way our old bass player Russell Bello worked with Rick Rubin when he was playing in a Thrash band called NEVERMORE. Russ is one of my best friends & one of my favorite people so just wanted to give a shout-out to him.

Italian horror vs. Asian horror: which do you prefer and why?
Italian! I love Lucio Fulci, Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi, Sergio Martino, Antonio Margheriti, Andrea Bianchi, Aldo Lado, and all the other maniacs of Italian cinema! (I have to admit that Bava and Argento are too arty and classy for me - I go for the sleaze!) It's a big generalization to make, but I'm not that into Asian cinema so if I had to choose it's a no-brainer – the Italians made the best exploitation and horror flicks! Way over the top; they might not always make sense, but they deliver the goods like nobody else does!

Musician you'd love to work with?
Terry from GRIEF!

Pabst Blue Ribbon or Old Style?
Marijuana.

And because the world wants to know, what might we find on David Szulkin's playlist these days?
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL“Bayou Country” and “Green River”. I have been listening to those two albums a ton. What else... Frijid Pink, CACTUS, AC/DC, SABBATH (always), BLUE OYSTER CULT (always), VAN HALEN ("Fair Warning", "Women And Children First"), BUFFALO, BLUE CHEER, CAPTAIN BEYOND, ANGRY SAMOANS, DEAD KENNEDYS, BLACK FLAG, EARTHRIDE, Jimi Hendrix & King Travolta.

David, it's been a pleasure chatting with you, and I seriously can't wait to get my head caved in by you and BLOOD FARMERS in June. Any last pieces of  propaganda you'd like to throw out there?
I just recorded a 5-song EP with a new band called THE DISEASE CONCEPT. It's me, Corey Bing from FISTULA on drums, Tommy Southard from SOLACE on guitar, Griff and Jesse from SOLLUBI & THE PENNSYLVANIA CONNECTION on bass & vox respectively. Jesse and Tommy are also playing in the band 3-NPUT WOMAN now. I had a great time playing music with these guys and the songs are now being mixed by Dave “Big Metal” Johnson, who recorded us in his studio in Cleveland. BLOOD FARMERS drummer Tad Leger (formerly of TOXIK) plays guitar in his own band called LUCERTOLA, which is totally horror-doom oriented, so I want to give a plug for them, too. I also want to say hi to my friends Nick & Andrew in LA... I miss jamming with those guys. They are in the horror/black Metal band DIABOLOS & Nick plays in a new band called DEATHKINGS. I should also mention that BLOOD FARMERS singer Eli Brown has a new DVD out of mind-blowing classic Rock performances and it's available at www.barryrichardsshows.com. Alice Cooper, HUMBLE PIE, Rory Gallagher, BOB SEGER SYSTEM - check it out. Thanks for the interview – I'm psyched to be part of 'Days of the Doomed' & can't wait to see all the other great bands & friends at the festival. All hail Mercyful Mike Smith! METAL!

All hail the one and only David Szulkin and BLOOD FARMERS! Thanks so much for taking part in our interview series! 'Days Of The Doomed Fest II' is coming up this June 22nd and 23rd in Kenosha, WI. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through PayPal at www.daysofthedoomed.com. Don't miss your chance to see not only BLOOD FARMERS, but a ton of other killer bands from across the US. Doom on...