Monday, October 12, 2015

An Interview With High Noon

Extremely happy to have the honor of the first interview with the guys of High Noon Records.
From their facebook page:
James Akers and Jason Innes, co-owners of High Noon Records - and artists: *Base Burners *The Bokor *DJ Lazy-8 *Dead End Ranch *Delvis *The Divine Sham *The Flatlines *Flesh Creeps *Flux *Buck James & the Bullwhips *John Dauber Trio *Man with the Spinning Face *Owen Rae & the Crypt Raiders *Phantom 309 *Poison Pickle *Professor Argo Beetson *Sinister 6 *Sweet Alien Game *Vampire Radio *Zombie Dub Siren

I feel like I've been aware of these groups for as long as I've loved Halloween.  They're that much a part of my holiday rituals and traditions.  I go for long drives with the groups above.  I've built my Haunt props in the basement and garage while the Halloween at High Noon tunes look onI play their music on Halloween night in the house, with a fire going, with food and hot spiced wine, and the doorbell ringing.

The annual Halloween at High Noon album:  A sign that Summer is dying and Autumn is coming.  It's the first appearance of orange lights and pointed hats with giant brims.  

I knew very little about the folks behind the High Noon label.  I just knew that I was grateful to them.  And that they were extremely talented.  And that they spoke my Halloween language.

So, it's my great pleasure to host the interview below...

Can you tell us how High Noon Records came about?

We've been doing this for a long time: experimenting with music, producing tracks, evolving our sound/process.  High Noon Records was created when we finally decided to record an album, Devil's Rope by the Divine Sham in 2006, and release it on our own.  When the idea of producing a Halloween album/compilation came up shortly after that, "Halloween at High Noon" was immediately blurted out with a grin...and just as quickly it was a done deal. It just worked.

How many aliases/side bands are actually you?

As many artists as we have graced with the lifetime opportunity of appearing on a Halloween at High Noon release…they’re all simply James and I.  Why this approach?  The list of reasons is long and ranges from practical/strategic to *embellishingly dark/poetic.  The simple answer: in the beginning the use of these aliases made it easier - and almost a responsibility - to explore different styles and sounds.  Add to that – growing up listening to Halloween records from the 50's, found when raiding grandparent's/parent's hi-fi's.  They were always presented as compilations featuring artists that were clearly intended for nothing more than Halloween/horror music - many of which were most likely fictional/pseudo bands.  So, I guess we're purists in a sense...and possibly control freaks.

What inspires you?

Artists who push without fear or apology.  Specific sources of inspiration - that's difficult as they continually accumulate over time.  But for the sake of example, this would be part of our short list today:  David Lynch.  Mike Patton.  Jack Dangers.  Dwayne Goettel.  Wes Anderson.  George Martin.  Burton/Elfman.  cEvin Key.  Vincent Gallo.   The evolution of horror in film from the late 1920's on.  Minimalism.  Industrialism.  Surrealism…

How do you come up with a theme for an album?

When there is a theme, it is decided very early.  In fact, we’re already discussing next year's release.  October is obviously our favorite time of year, and since our albums are essentially finished by August to ensure a September/October release, we’re able to enjoy October for what it is; and that lends itself well to setting the stage for the next album - whether it's witches, hauntings, a film, director, genre, etc. We’ll bounce around ideas for a Halloween-related theme as well as a musical one to get us started.  It's fluid and rarely ends as originally envisioned, but the basis is there - and evident in the end result.

Can you describe your music-making process?

In a word?  Unconventional.  We dealt with a lot of limitations before High Noon Records in terms of recording processes, instruments, etc.  Limitations breed creativity, though, right?  So we found ways.  With computers now it can be very easy to, well...let it be easy.  We avoid that as much as possible and continue to explore ways to redefine and do it differently.  We don't have predetermined roles or anything like that; we'll each bring ideas, demos, etc. to the table and know that the other will bring his own unique "response" to them.  We do have a growing list of tracks where we were not on the same page in that process - fortunately, though, it grows much slower than the list of songs we’ve released.

What makes a song suitable for a Halloween album as opposed to a non-seasonal one?

Our music tends to have a creepiness either way - but this is an interesting question/idea.  In general, I'd say environment.  Mr. Sandman is a loveable 50's lollipop lullaby track, but when it becomes the audio backdrop of an intense horror film scene...terrifying.  That's not to say that any song appearing on a Halloween at High Noon playlist is going to be creepy-by-proxy, but the word Halloween does help.  We'll record a song with very dark and macabre sounding chords/melodies one day and record something more campy and fun the next.  We enjoy the mix. Also, all of our releases, Halloween and otherwise, contain an atmospheric element.  For Halloween at High Noon that element is much, much darker.

If money were no object, what kind of project would you guys do?

We would be doing this 12-15 hours a day for starters.  I do think it would be fun to transition Halloween at High Noon into a true annual various artists release, finding artists to compile and feature on this creature we've created. This would open us up to working on other musical projects, ideas and interests – the biggest of which would be film.  We would really enjoy creating in that way and have discussed film ideas for as long as we've been recording music.  We've also discussed a graphic novel recently, among other things.  We have no experience in or knowledge of the process of any of these – so, if our approach to music production is unconventional (as musicians), then producing a film or graphic novel would prove to be quite the mad scientist experiment.  Sign us up.  Now, if that anonymous, life-altering advance would just show up in the mail...

What do you have in store for the future?

You mean besides being inundated with calls from Marcus Dunstan, pleading with us to provide our take(s) on the Halloween theme song as well as other tracks for the Halloween Returns reboot/film?  Well, we actually have a Halloween at High Noon release in mind for 2016, which will be a special one for us - and we intend to remain more engaged (with you and others who follow us closely) during the process of recording it versus just emerging from the shadows in late September.  Specifics are still in fun-October mode, but we'll keep you in the loop.  We’re discussing providing music/scoring for film.  We've also talked about the prospect of collaborating with other artists.  Beyond that? We try not to go further than our current project/idea, but if you were to ask again in June, I'm sure we will have.

More than anything else,  we hope that you and anyone who listens enjoys what we create as much as we enjoy creating it.  Happy Halloween.
Click here for Halloween at High Noon Records


Rot said...

I forgot to ask if there'll ever be a song by Man with the Spinning Face called PUMPKINROT.
; )

Anonymous said...

Damn dude, that is pretty GREAT.

I can definitely see them doing a song about you. They could make a video of all of your creations from the Halloween's past.

Willow Cove said...

This is cool! I see big things happening.....

girl6 said...

these ARE your dudes!!!
you must be over the moon. Congrats..<3
love how they have everything properly put to bed so they can enjoy & be inspired by each new October without any interference.

they make it possible
for October to be heard ALL year long. : )
SO inspiring!!!!

Rot said...

I am indeed over the moon : )

Ragged Grin said...

GREAT interview Sir, awesome surprise!

You could argue that you've already got your soundtrack in (don't stop) The Rot, just a thought. (Great track by the way)

Congrats on what had to be a huge thrill and thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Rot said...

: )
I've often wondered.

Autumnleaf said...

I think this is the beginning of some (more) amazing things for you. Great interview. And what an awesome thing to share with the rest of us! Thank You!

Hopsy the beer drinking clown said...

Oh wow! Congratulations Rot, this had to be an amazing interview for you to conduct!! Great work, I bet this could open a lot of doors for you!

K.O. said...

Amazing interview!!! The intro you wrote is so perfect! Great questions (and answers!) too! So cool you put this together!

Steve Ring said...

This is awesome! I didn't realize that HOHN wasn't really a compilation of artists but maybe the consistent high quality of the music should have tipped me off.

bean said...

Their music is such a vital part of Halloween for me. I always look forward to each new release. Great interview - loved hearing so much from them about their process. I NEED more music from them. If I ever threw a Halloween gala, I'd have to have them there doing all the music. (P.S. I secretly wish they'd write a song called "Pumpkinrot." But, hey, I'm biased.)

girl6 said...

i would NOT be surprised at all to hear of an honorary band member inductee taking place..<3

The Gill-Man said...

Fantastic interview! I've grown to view the annual release as an official sign that the Halloween Season is in full effect (but being completely truthful, I listen to these year 'round).

I love the idea of them doing the score for Dunstan's "Halloween Returns". While I have some trepidation regarding that film, the fact that Dunstan is looking to HOHN to be involved with the music bodes well.

Rot said...

I hate to break it to you...that comment was tongue-in-cheek.
I'll have you know I fell for it as well and was overjoyed.
I blame my fanboyness on my instant reaction.

Sara said...

Really cool interview. I really didn't know much about them till now. Lucky you interviewing them. :) Right on.

The Gill-Man said...

Ah...well....I was definitely reeled in! I'm equally a fanboy, so yeah...I bought it completely! I can dream though!