Violence, Hardcore and Mayhem the Alex Story interview
Interview by Jeremy Kelly
Note on the review – Alex Story is a one of a kind individual. Nothing at all what I expected. I have to say that reading this, he has my respect and admiration for giving me responses that aren't canned or generic. It shows that in every one of his answers, he took the time to process what I asked and gave me back something to think about (which with a few had me thinking about a few days after), and a different way of thinking on the subject we're talking about. He got me thinking and altered my perspective a little. So, if you're reading this Alex, thank you for this. After this experience there's going to be a small bit of your influence in what I write.
Down south, especially within Alabama and Florida, there is a band of legend. A band that puts on the most violent, disgruntled, and passionate shows in music today. Passionate may be the odd adjective out, but that's what Alex Story brings to the table every show with his band Cancerslug. You can't fake sincerity, and it was that which caught the attention with Doyle of the Misfits fame. Cancerslug isn't far off from the Misfits tree, but they don't shy away from towing the line with songs like "Fetus Milkshake", "In The Dumpster, Behind The Clinic", and "Straight Razor Rape". I guess you could say they pretty much blow up the line with a Howitzer and do whatever they want. Doyle, wanting to do another solo album, called up Alex and wanted him to be his singer/songwriter. Which, if you're familiar with Cancerslug he's without a doubt the best in the business in horror themed music. In October the Doyle album dropped, and wrapping up a few shows where Doyle was the special guest at the Danzig shows, Doyle, Alex, and the rest of the band hit the road bringing some of the heaviest, raw and catchy music to the unsuspecting masses. During his off time from making ears bleed and spawning church protests, I caught up with him and had a very stimulating, interesting conversation. Read forward…
HMS: Alright let's start with Cancerslug. I love the band, lyrics, pretty much everything you guys do is gold to me. Your music reminds me of having my mom driving me all over town to find a copy of Samhain's November Coming Fire. What was the progression of Cancerslug for you? How did little Alex evolve into the monster you are today?
Alex Story: I've always been me. I lived on my own since I was 14 and I've lived all over this country. I grew up fast in a lot of rough areas, not just city ghettos and slums but backwoods rural areas that would make those places seem like Disneyland. I've always written or kept journals, and Cancerslug was just another way for me to express my thoughts and feelings through that writing. But I've always been the type of person that believes if you have something to say about someone, you say it to their face, not behind their back like a coward. So Cancerslug was my way of standing in front of the people I am talking about in my writing and saying it to their faces.
HMS: Wow man that's intense. Lyrics for songs like "Gone", which is a personal favorite, go up a level. Then again, a lot of famous performers had a horrible childhood and traumatizing events. Roddy Piper, Ice-T, and Iggy Pop; each one of those I think are experts at what they do. Roddy Piper never ceased to piss me off or make me laugh, Ice-T's Body Count shows made me feel dangerous with the rest of the crowd, and Iggy Pop - I've never been more entertained while feeling like I'm in danger. The effort and personality you put in the show is on par with those artists. I mean even pictures bleed intensity and passion. Being at shows is the closest thing to a spiritual experience anyone will have. If anyone hasn't been to a Cancerslug show you can take the audience and have them feeding out of your hands, how do you play a Doyle show?? Do you just completely steal the show?? Kind of let Doyle do his thing? Or is there a shared medium?
Alex Story: A Doyle show is a little different than a Cancerslug show. It is like people playing with fire, they come to see the freak show, and stumble into a spiritual ceremony. A Doyle show is more like going to the zoo and someone opened the cages and the beasts are walking around loose in front of you.
HMS: The description for your shows should really be on a liner note, or better yet a t-shirt. The way you described the Doyle show intrigues me. You also described the audience as beasts that scream opening for Abominator must rile them up. Could you go into more detail about the vibe? I'm more than intrigued since I won't be able to catch the show.
Alex Story: Actually I mean we were the beasts.... and the audience is usually nervous that we might bite.
HMS: Hah, I love the idea of a little bit of violence at a show. Last music question, what're you listening to right now?? Also, this happened to me where a friend had his iPod on shuffle and F-Minus and Leftover Crack was playing and then we hear the beginning of James Brown's Sex Machine. I learned something about my friend. You got a version of Sex Machine?
Alex Story: I listen to all kinds of shit, almost every genre. But out of each I only like a couple of acts and think that every other act sucks shit. But music is a personal journey; it's the soundtrack to your life so what I might think what sucks for me might be life changing for someone else. What they think is epic and spiritual might be useless, but to me art is subjective like that my current favorite artist is Dax Riggs.
"...music is a personal journey; it's the soundtrack to your life."
HMS: Jack Ketchum said something and, I'm not looking directly at the quote but it says "Horror happens when you don't look away", and I've always found true to horror, not Ghostbusters horror, Monster Squad horror, but real horror. What's your "horror"? What's the scariest thing you've never looked away from, movies, books, videogames, and if you care to go there, real life?
Alex Story: To me, fear is an abstract idea, and it can be anything that an individual chooses not to deal with. It is the act of trying to avoid your perception of reality past, present, or future. It is a mental battle with one's self. Overcoming fear is the only way evolution can take place. It is to take a step through pain, be it real or imagined, and to move forward the only way to progress is to say fuck fear! Fear serves a purpose like fire strengthens steel. It keeps the mind sharp and aware of danger. A sharp mind is important to avoid danger, but also to understand that some dangers can be overcome to great reward as long as you don't let your fear of them stop you. "Horror" is the very face of fear put on display, so if you can control the fear aspect of horror, you can travel the dangerous paths that most avoid, with confidence, and receive your rewards that most would never know.
HMS: That's a great answer, and I really hope everyone reading really lets that soak in because it's a great philosophical/psychological alternative definition, not only on day to day tribulations, but things that cripple you in life. That being said, you could be the dispensator of horror. You have the authority being the band people come to see, have you ever just decided to let the inner demon out on the crowd?? Get to be for the time the embodiment of fear?? In a way, that way of thinking could be sinister. Have you ever used it to have some fun?
Alex Story: Always that is why people enjoy seeing Cancerslug. Rock n' roll musicians, before the age of the rock star, were generally the lowlifes; the scumbags, the junkies, the crooked artists. There was an element of danger to going to see them in some seedy dive bar, but I choose to keep Cancerslug on that classic level. I want our shows to have the feel of going to see some wild jazz or blues band in the old days of Chicago or seeing a classic punk rock show in late 70s New York, I want there to be an element of danger to the show.
HMS: That's something I always wondered. I'm actually from Aniston AL, but we moved around a lot when I was a kid and for a while I was in Indianapolis and around '09. We came back to the Beach since we lived here for about a year when I was younger. I never heard of your band, it was from a Corpsegrinder solo project show, and you were opening. I fucking fell in love; I was at the ATM withdrawing my whole paycheck to get your music. As I was doing this, this woman came up to me and said "come to my car, I got some Slug music, it's the good stuff" and she gave me a mixed CD. I felt like I was just initiated into an underground fight club if you will. I've caught you in Tampa this year, but from the grapevine, I don't think it does justice to what it's like when you play your hometown. For the people who live up north and have never heard of you or your shows, could you tell us what happened to the last show, in your own home town?
Alex Story: Yeah, the last tour we did was very "under the radar". We booked the shows very last minute, some shows only had a week or two of promotion before the show. So they were smaller more intimate shows. But the cool thing about that is that the people that were there were the more hardcore fans, but the fact that we were doing it as a three piece to only the most hardcore fans made it a different kind of tour. The next time we play, we will be back to being a full band and the next tour will be booked with enough time to promote the shows right. As for the last show we just went too hard for the club we played in. They were not into us branding fans or the level of violence from the crowd. They were busting bottles on the ground and pushing people down onto the glass. There were a lot of fights and just a good old fashioned rowdy show. So after we burned the kid they really didn't want us to do our second set. But it's all good because we will do a make-up show soon where we finish the show for those fans, but it'll be with the new FULL band line-up.
…Hopefully all the people reading this article on HMS now know where the hardcore show is. The danger didn't stop with 80's punk, it simply moved underground. Violence, hardcore, mayhem, and music all go by a new name now. Cancerslug.
Jeremy Kelly, HMS