AMERICAN HORROR STORY: Bobby Steele & The Undead

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The erstwhile Misfits member on that band and the 2016 reunion, his current band and its new album, the state of the record industry, and more. Below, check out the video and audio, including a 30-minute live set from 2015.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

As guitarist for The Misfits (1978-to-1980; he was the group’s second guitarist and founding member of The Undead (1980-to-present), Bobby Steele is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of horror punk. If the genre had a Mt. Rushmore, (likely placed somewhere in Japan’s Suicide Forrest and teaming with bats), Steele would be one of the first faces chiseled up there – though likely not too close to Jerry Only. No less a fan than Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan covered Undead classic “When the Evening Comes” last year, which Steele says was “quite a surprise and compliment.”

The fall, The Misfits are reuniting to play a couple of Riot Fest shows, cobbling together a somewhat original lineup, but apparently lost Steele’s number along the way. Screw ‘em; he’s got his own plans. Starting with a new Undead full length, The Morgue… The Merrier. There are also potential plans for a short film, a comic book and possibly more.

Blurt traded some e-mails back and forth with Steele recently to talk about his new record, horror punk and the call The Misfits never made to him. (Ed note: See below for the first video from the album. As Steele recalls, “We shot most of this in an 18th century cemetery – until the local police caught wind, and shut us down. but once they realized they were talking to a former Misfit – they took us to what they called ‘a better location’ where we shot more footage.”)

BLURT: Let’s start out by talking about the new album, The Morgue… The Merrier. It’s been a while since the band’s last album. Do some of these songs go back a few years ago or did you suddenly get inspired and write most of these recently?
STEELE: There are three new ones that our former bass player wrote – “Righteous Light,” “I Got Your Number” and “Vampire Pinup Girl”. Aside from “I’ll Never Leave You,” I wrote the others a few years back.

You helped pioneer an entire genre of music – horror punk. Are you surprised that it is still as relevant today as it was in the late ’70s?
I’m surprised that the Horror Punk seems to be more popular than it was back then.

Between the release of your solo effort and this new record, you and your wife started another band, right?
RIP (as in Reign In Power) is a band we play at church… tryin’ to tear it up more there. Our pastor pioneered hard rock church music back in the early ‘70s. We are trying to take it to the next level.

Have you been working on any other musical projects between The Undead and RIP?
Just working on new Undead material and possibly a short form video.

Can you talk about your ideas for the short movie?
Don’t want to say too much but that it will be more of a summer-themed concept.

What about the comic?
It’s still in the works. I have the artist lined up, Bill Galvin (Archies, Scooby Doo, Simpsons and Pink Panther), just working on story concepts now.

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Have you set up any shows to coincide with the release of the new record?
We have been doing shows in the Northeast and expect to be moving South over the next couple of months. We have just begun touching base with stores and venues in Virginia and the Carolinas and will be making an appearance in Florida at Spooky Empire on October 7-9.

The Misfits are reuniting. Were you told why they didn’t ask you to participate? If you had been asked, would you have liked to play? (Ed. Note: Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only performed at the Riot Fest in Denver on Sept. 4. In the photo below, circa 1979, Bobby Steele is pictured on the far right.)
No, was never told. And sure as long as it didn’t interfere with The Undead. If I did it, it would’ve been more for the fans than for myself.

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Throughout the years you have been on a number of record labels, of all sizes. I know you and your wife operate The Undead as a DIY outfit. Do you think labels still serve their purpose in 2016 or has the Internet made them pretty obsolete?
Depends on the labels. There’s still room for both. In our case, we’ve always needed a label that understands our fan base, who like interesting packaging, and colored vinyl, etc.

What else are you working on?
Just getting The Undead back out there again. I’ve got Diana always encouraging me and pushing things forward; having that support helps. She’s been a great catalyst and having new band members that are as excited about the band as we are helps! (Below: watch a 30-minute set by the Undead from 2015.)

Those are all the questions I have. Anything else you want to cover?
Sure, the website is www.theundead.com. There’s t-shirts and other merch there; our new video, “Be My Ghoul” is on the website, Facebook and YouTube. Friend us if you haven’t already.

Below: The Undead on the set of the “Be My Ghoul” video shoot.

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