This one’s for the ghouls … It’s the sound of fast guitars, snappy drums, gritty lyrics and horror movie camp that even those Bad Boys Jason and Freddie would envy.
This one’s for the ghouls…
It’s the sound of fast guitars, snappy drums, gritty lyrics and horror movie camp that even those Bad Boys Jason and Freddie would envy.
Yes, in central Massachusetts, the hills are “alive…” with the sound of Ghouls Night Out, bringing the thrashy, trashy sound of garage punk to the macabre masses.
At work on a second CD, the band – whose members all have “day” jobs and who have played together at rock music haunts for about five years – relishes the scary and shivery, but all with a haunted sense of humor.
It all started as the dream – or perhaps we should say, the nightmare – of singer and guitarist Kerry Testa, who goes by the stage name of Myra Ghoul, who wanted to start a band and picked college friend Jane Smith, aka Lily Ghoul, as a drummer, and Christine Swinimer, (that’s Vampie Ghoul to you) to play bass.
“Lily didn’t play the drums back then, but I knew she always wanted to learn,” Testa said. “Vampie I met at work. She has always had an ear for music, but she had never played bass before. She had never even touched a bass, she had never held one.”
Undeterred, the band members learned their instruments, and set out into the night.
With the stage surname, Ghoul, they are in every respect a musical family. For Testa, that musical family includes her husband; she even does double duty, playing in his band, Gein and the Grave Robbers.
(For those of you unschooled in 1980s horror films, Gein was the name of Ed Gein, the body thief-turned serial killer who inspired, among other happy little bedtime stories, “Psycho,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and even a few bio pics about the actual Gein.)
This probably gives you an idea of what kind of music both bands are about, and who their darkest muses are.
With a nod to horror punk bands -- the noisy cousins in the extended clan of Gothic music which counts patriarch Glenn Danzig among their ranks – and surf giants such as Dick Dale --Ghouls Night Out plays extensively in the region, as well as gigs in the greater Boston area.
Despite dabbling on the dark side, Ghouls Night Out goes for the obvious, over-the-top sense of a band wholly aware of its morbid image. “Campy is probably a perfect word,” Testa said.
Being an all-female lineup doesn’t scare people off, but Testa said, for some audience members, the band members’ gender does seem to lower expectations until they start to play.
“Sometimes, I feel like people really aren’t expecting too much, like, ‘Yeah, it’s another band of girls in mini skirts.’ So when we actually play, they did get a different reaction.”
And she said, even other female musicians can have a hard time giving each other credit. She said she has regarded some female musicians in this way, until hearing their music.It’s only supernatural
In the often strangely reactionary world of rock, to quote David Bowie, “Time may change me, but I can’t change time.”
“It used to be a very male-dominated world of musicians,” said Testa, recalling the slow evolution that began around the 1990s, when she was a DJ in college.
Suddenly, female musicians were everywhere, and not a few band organizers and managers saw commercial potential in the novelty of having at least one female band member, if not an entire lineup.
“Nowadays, it’s a little bit less of a novelty…and it’s more of the norm,” Testa said.
Which still leaves the question: Why Goth?
“That type of thing comes naturally to me,” said Testa. “I knew I wanted to do rock and roll and have a good time, and do something the kids could dance to, but also I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done a thousand tiems over.”
And, moreover, “I just I just absolutely love horror movies. Halloween is definitely my favorite time of year. A lot of our songs are written from POV of a female victim character.”
Well there were plenty of those and always have been, from the eerie 1920s silent films to Hammer horror films, with no end of dim-bulb wenches drifting about the country side in flimsy night gowns -- to the golden age of so-called slasher fims “Halloween,” “Friday The 13th” and on into a dark eternity.
Playing out a handful of gigs each month, and taking local honors such as a second place fete in the garage rockabilly genre in the Worcester-based Turtle Boy Music Awards in 2005, the band – with a debut CD, “The Mourning After,” to its name -- hopes to finish a second CD soon on their label, Acton-based Necro-Tone Records, which Testa and her husband created along with John Kozik.
The band also practices in an Acton location, although the band members live in towns throughout the region.
To learn more about Ghouls Night Out, visit www.ghoulsnightout.com.Margaret Smith is Arts and Calendar editor at Community Newspaper Company's Northwest Unit. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.