Eerie Von is an artist and musician currently located in Nashville, TN. Growing up in Lodi, New Jersey, Eerie played drums in Rosemary’s Babies, befriending the legendary Misfits and eventually becoming one of their primary documentarians. After the band split up in 1983, Eerie joined Glenn Danzig as a founding member of both Samhain and Danzig. Since his time in Danzig, he has continued releasing music, painting, and published Misery Obscura, an archival book of photography, stories and memorabilia spanning his days in high school through his work with Danzig, and beyond. He was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his art, music, life, and coffee.
Hi, Eerie. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Why don't we start out with you telling us a little bit about who you are and what you're up to these days?
I am working on the follow up to my book Misery Obscura and painting almost every day. I am a musician, artist, photographer, and author. Been putting out records since 1983.
You are quite an archivist, made evident in your book, Misery Obscura. Chock full of incredible photographs and stories, it begins with you attending high school in Lodi, New Jersey and your friendship with and documentation of The Misfits, your band Rosemary’s Babies, and spans years and years of your involvement with the legendary bands Samhain and Danzig. What drove you, starting so young, to so closely document all of these experiences around you?
I’ve been a collector since age 8, so I always saw the value of saving, or appreciating things from the past. I started taking pictures because they capture a moment in time. I kept stuff from the bands, because I guess the collector in me saw some sentimental value in them, and as a collector you have to save things so you can pass them on to others.
Eerie and his proud parents at his high school graduation, 1982. From Misery Obscura.
Self portrait in a cemetery, Lodi, New Jersey. 1984 or '85.
Eerie performing with Samhain, likely in 1986.
Could you please share some memories that stand out to you of these experiences, people and bands you were a part of?
There’s too many things to single out, but some of my favorite memories were getting to meet Roy Orbison and HR Giger, and playing to 13,000 people on Halloween night in California, at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater.
Performing with Danzig, in Allentown, PA 1994. Photo by Jaye S. Clarke
At Graceland, Memphis TN. Photo by Glenn Danzig.
In 1985, Samhain played Chicago’s Cabaret Metro, in what you’ve referred to as “The Chicago Bloodbath.” Could you tell us about this night, and what made it so special?
No one had done that before. A whole show covered in blood. Every Samhain gig was special, but that was special for that reason, and we always liked playing Chicago.
"Ever since we did the blood for the cover of Initium, we talked about re-creating that look onstage in a live setting. Somewhere along the way to The Metro in Chicago that November, Glenn decided he wanted to do it there. We looked at the blood idea as both a way to create a Samhain "Spectacular" and to celebrate it being the last show of the tour. We originally wanted to rig it like "CARRIE" with buckets in the rafters that would dump blood all over us, but there wasn't a way we could set up the buckets with The Metro's stage ceiling being so high. Besides, we left the buckets back in Jersey, anyway! We tried to figure out a way for us to get actual pig's blood for the occasion. After all, this was Chicago and they were known to butcher stuff from time to time! It should be a breeze, right? Well, not really. The people who ran The Metro were not into this idea one bit - no way, no how. So instead, we ran over to a local grocery store to get the ingredients for the next best thing: Hollywood blood! Glenn knew the recipe, and we set out to make a massive batch of it for the stage show. I remember us buying up four bottles of Karo syrup and a load of food coloring, and then heading back to The Metro. We are all set. We decided just to dump the mix on each other, but only ended up using three of the four bottles because London didn't want it dumped on his head. There was a pool of blood at least 8 feet wide on the dressing room floor. It looked like a murder scene... it was awesome! The reaction we got from the crowd was amazing; no one had ever done that before. We ended up doing the whole show in sticky Hollywood blood and left one hell of a mess for someone to clean up. It was, simply put, a great night."
- Eerie Von, from Misery Obscura.
Samhain at Chicago's Cabaret Metro,1985. (L-R: Glenn Danzig, Damien, Eerie Von, London May) Photo by Gene Ambo.
Not only have you been making music for decades, but also have a long history as a visual artist, working in photography, illustration and painting. How are you currently expressing yourself creatively?
I still take photos, and I’ve been painting everyday since 1999. Sold over 400 paintings in that time, done some album covers as well.
Painting in Pennsylvania.
Eerie with a painting of his, photo by Jaye S. Clarke.
As a multi-faceted artist, can you describe what you feel you get out of each of these mediums and creative processes?
I approach all creative things in a similar way. A certain amount of “wing it”, and the rest, attention to detail.
After leaving Danzig, how do you feel your process for creating music and art has changed and grown?
Well, I had to start writing all the songs. All the stuff I learned from Glenn, and other songwriters, helps me continue to write better songs all the time.
Performing at a book signing at Generation Records, New York City. Photo by Linda Wildemann.
Eerie Von and Glenn Danzig backstage in 1993. Photo by Mark Leahola.
Do you maintain friendships with anyone from Samhain, Danzig, or other bands you were touring and playing with?
I am still friends with Chuck and John (of Danzig), Doyle and Jerry (of The Misfits), some of our crew guys, and some past opening acts.
John Christ, Chuck Biscuits, Eerie Von, 1994. Photo by Jaye S. Clarke.
As mentioned earlier, you came up in Lodi, New Jersey, moved to Los Angeles, among other places (including James Dean’s hometown Fairmont, Indiana) and are currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. What have you seen as the similarities and differences in the artistic communities in these different towns?
I had no musical relationships in Indiana, I recorded on my own. I also lived in Florida. I left L.A. before the 4th Danzig record; the musical communities are diverse, no matter where you go.
Eerie shows off but a portion of his collection in Florida, likely 1999 or 2000.
How long have you been in Nashville and what drew you to it?
Been here about 5 years off and on. I came here for a relationship, and stayed for the hot chicken.
Anything we can expect from you in the near future?
More books, another record, at some point, and some more Horror conventions, I guess.
Eerie at a recent exhibit of his work at PUSH Gallery, Asheville, NC.
Ok, let’s talk about coffee. How big of a role does it play in your life?
I love the smell of coffee, but never really drank it until recently. I understand why it is so popular. Never thought when I was a kid, there would be so many shops where you could just go get coffee.
What do you look for in a good cup of coffee?
My mother always drank black coffee, and I think if the beans are good, you don’t need to add anything.
If you are out and about in Nashville, are there any cafes you like to go to?
Things are kind of expensive here, so I stay home a lot.
How do you feel that coffee interacts with your creativity?
It doesn’t really.
Once again, many thanks to Eerie for doing this! If you are interested in keeping up with what he's up to, or his paintings and collectables for sale, follow him here.