London May is a venerated musician and actor born in Baltimore, Maryland. After spending decades playing with some pretty influential goth and punk bands like Glenn Danzig’s post-Misfits project Samhain, Dag Nasty, and Reptile House (members of which went on to form the incredible Lungfish) he later returned to his childhood love of acting. Now London can be found in roles in television, music videos, and film. He is currently promoting the award-winning short film Brutal Realty, Inc., in which he plays The Summoner, a demon who decides to take a stab at his true passion; being a realtor. But enough from us, let London tell you about it.
London May, photo by T. Ahmadi
Let’s start off talking about your recent award-winning short film Brutal Realty, Inc… what is it all about?
“Brutal Realty, Inc. is an absurd Black Metal farce-- and Joseph Mueller, who wrote the script explains it best: The Summoner is a Black Metal demon rocker, but that’s just his day job. He works a 9 to 5 like every other average Joe (or in this case average ghoul.) He’s become a little disappointed with his direction in life. He wants to be more than just a weapon wielded for evil and rock, and would like to focus on his true passion: flipping houses. But soon enough an attack from a vicious gang of realtors forces him to embrace his awesome powers of destruction, and gain the confidence to achieve his dreams."
How did you get involved with the project?
I had worked with both Joseph and Erik (Boccio, Brutal Realty director) on separate films and I thought it’d be great if the three of us could collaborate on something cool in the future. In the meantime I had come up with this Summoner character after joining a Black Metal band and went on to play him in a few cameo roles before we did Brutal Realty. Erik loved those early performances and thought the Summoner deserved to take the lead in his own movie. I then asked Joseph to join in and write us a script. When he came up with the real estate angle we knew we had something really special. Neither Erik or I had ever produced a film before but we instantly felt so strongly about Joseph’s script that we didn’t want to wait around for some one else to fund it— so just like an old punk rock band we put up our own money to make it happen.
Stills from Brutal Realty, Inc.
Not only did the film premiere at the Cinepocalypse festival at the amazing Music Box Theater in Chicago earlier this year, but it won BEST KILL! Congratulations! How was that experience for you?
Thank you! It’s a shock! Truly beyond our wildest dreams for this crazy little movie. So far we have won five awards but “Best Kill" was especially gratifying since we went out of our way to do old school practical gore effects. Even with tarps everywhere we still managed to fuck up my house pretty bad when one of the gags misfired- so its nice to see all that mess was not in vain! We also had a stunt coordinator on set so he helped us to really sell the gags too. But back in the pre-production stages Joseph had intentionally left "carnage" gaps in the script for me and Erik to devise the most outrageous violence we could imagine and afford! Ha ha ha! Making that shit up was the funnest meeting ever. So with a lot of creativity, enthusiasm, and teamwork from some very dedicated people we were somehow able to pull those crazy effects off without anyone getting seriously injured. Hail Satan!
What does the future hold, for the short and beyond?
We've done three summer horror festivals around the country and a screening in Las Vegas in September. From there we hope to show the film internationally when the rest of the horror festivals open around Halloween. Like I've done at the New York and Chicago screenings, I'd love to travel around with the film as much as possible in character as The Summoner. It's fun to interact with the audience and get everyone pumped up by wearing that corpse paint and introducing the film and doing a little presentation. Its just like doing live theater which I find exciting and I've been able to meet some really great people. Horror movie fans are the best!! In the meantime, we are in development for a full length Brutal Realty movie. Joseph followed up the short with an amazing feature length script. It's got 666% times the gore, laughs and BLACK METAL BRUTALITY. The response from the studios has been very very positive so far and we already have some star power attached. Claws crossed!
Upcoming screenings listed below.
Aside from that you also had a small role in Glenn Danzig’s directorial debut Verotika, which also premiered at the same festival. Knowing your very long standing friendship/working relationship with Glenn, how did your part in the film come about, and how was it working with him on a movie instead of a musical endeavor?
It was actually a long campaign to land that very small role I got in Verotika, ha ha, but it was worth it. Working with Glenn on the movie was similar to working in a band with him; for me there's always some close calls and of course I almost got fired on the second day of shooting. We always seem to have some miscommunication that puts me in the wrong place at the wrong time, that seems to never change on stage or on set. As much as I prepare and plan the universe always has a way of throwing a wrench in! But, I survived and we always joke about it later.
Can you describe the experience the two of you shared, premiering films at the same horror festival?
It was a proud moment for me to be involved with two movies that premiered at such a prestigious festival. Both Samhain and Danzig have historically had a close connection with Chicago and having some good friends, family , and fiends there to cheer us on was quite comforting. Dallas Thomas and Sanford Parker did the score for Brutal Realty and they are Chicago guys too and they were there as well, so I couldn’t have asked for a better premiere. Witnessing the first ever screening of Verotika felt truly historical. Cinepocalype really launched both Glenn's film and Brutal Realty so it was all very surreal, and its extra nice when you finally come out from behind that giant shadow and achieve something on your own.
Glenn Danzig & London May at The Music Box Theater in Chicago.
Photo By Maurice Nunez
You’ve actually been acting for some time, correct?
Yes, on and off. I was actually doing children’s theater back in Baltimore before I even played in my first band. Then I took a long break from it to play music but then got back into it about 10 yrs ago when I finally had some free time. But I was really rusty when I got back into acting so I went back to drama school and really tried to make up for lost time. I still go to classes and study acting almost every day. What are some other films you’ve been involved with?
Lots of little guest star roles on TV shows (my appearance on the Disney Channel as “Bam-O” is a classic) and in small indie films and shorts- mostly horror and comedy. My main acting gigs have actually been theater - one main highlight included a long stint with SAW
director Darren Bousman and his immersive theater shocker The Tension Experience
. I also performed three different roles a night in the mondo-biblical-puppet play Bride Of Blood
, I played a murderous clergyman in the OG goth masterpiece The Duchess Of Malfi
, and I even got to ride a horse every night as The King at Medieval Times! Circling back to your relationship with Glenn, you have been a part of several incredible and important bands over the years. Break it down for us!
Oh thanks! I’ve been super fortunate to play with so many talented people, but man the list is exhausting. Sometimes I wish it was just one band for 35 years but instead its more like 35 bands in one year! Here’s just a few since 1983: Reptile House, Samhain, Dag Nasty, Distorted Pony, Tiger Army, Son Of Sam, Danzig Legacy and also miscellaneous gigs, projects, and recordings with Exene Cervenka, Lol Tolhurst, Lee Ving, Pat Smear, Rikk Agnew, Ritual, Cold Cave, etc. In 2016 Cleopatra Records released my first drumming anthology album called "Devilution - The Early Years 1981-1993” and it includes some of those bands and a lot more! Check it out
Samhain: (l-r) Damien, Eerie Von, Glenn Danzig, London May.
Top Photo by Gene Ambo, bottom photo from Your Flesh Magazine.
What would you consider the biggest influences on your work (both musically and acting), and how have you seen these evolve over time?
At first I wanted my drumming and acting to mimic ALL my formative inspirations-- from Bill Stevenson to Lars Ulrich to John Bonham to Shakespeare to Brando to Buster Keaton but as I got older I realized that very few people are good at everything so I just had to simply settle for being the best version of me (whatever that may be). I’ve tried my hand at a zillion different styles of music and acting and I haven’t always been successful at them but its been helpful to learn a couple of tricks from everything so you can pull them out to add a little color to some music or a role. But anytime I think I’ve reached my limit I find myself once again saying “yes” to something new and I push on a little further --like playing in a Black Metal band was a big stretch for me since I thought I had gotten too old and too slow-- and now making a comedy movie when I thought I was relegated to only playing psychotic villains! I'm proud to have a little range but its been a hard uphill trial-and-error battle every inch of the way.
Could you please describe the differences and similarities that you see between these two artistic outlets?
I’m actually playing a character when I’m behind the drums to suit and sell the music I’m performing— and I’m doing the same with acting. But neither music or acting is really natural or second nature to me - I wasn’t born with any particular talent—so they both require a tremendous amount of focus and hard work to be transformative. But I enjoy the preparation and the performance of both and the payoff is being someone else for awhile. And like the intense music I’ve always gravitated towards, the acting roles I am cast for are usually very physical and also usually involve a lot of yelling and screaming too! But I can definitely deliver a better soliloquy than a drum solo!
London as The Summoner
What are you listening to these days?
I spend a lot of time working on my own music and I like going to live shows but I don't listen to much music around the house like I used to— but when I do its usually the same old same old anthemic stuff that immediately hypes me up; like raw Satanic Black Metal, glam rock, classic metal, and soundtrack albums. I really used to gravitate towards singer-songwriter stuff but nowadays most of that seems a bit too sentimental for me.
Ok, it’s coffee time. Do you like that stuff?
Yeah I actually like it way too much. I used to ask for a coffee pot just for myself in my dressing room. But I’ve had to slow down. The doctor told me the caffeine was not good for me anymore.
What do you look for in a good cup of coffee?
I have to do decaf now -- I know I know -like whats the point right? But its still a nice little ritual pleasure for me — so as long as its lava hot and tasty I’m good. I’m not a coffee snob -- I will drink some gas station coffee in a pinch but of course I’d prefer something a bit more refined and richer if possible. I don't mind bitter but i really hate that fancy acidic tasting coffee that seems to be the rage at most coffee houses here in California - its too sour!
How do you make coffee at home?
Going out for coffee means putting on pants so I have one of those Keurig machines at home - I upgraded from a mister coffee. That's better, so I make just a cup at a time - and I drink it slow and will usually have to re-heat at least three times before i finish a single cup. I can’t stand lukewarm coffee.
If you are grabbing a coffee at a cafe, what is your go-to?
There's a place down the street from me that serves the best coffee i ever had. The brand is called Verve from Santa Cruz, Ca. and I highly recommend it.
How do you feel that coffee intersects with your creativity?
Instead of amping me up it can put me in a meditative state which is good since I’m pretty nervous by nature. It’s a reward and a motivator - just the warmth of it relaxes me after a task— or its bitterness makes me feel kind of grown up and serious and ready to work. It always seems to help me focus but since I’ve been doing decaf I’m happy to say that it still manages to work - so I think its always been mostly the taste and smell and heat that puts me in the zone- not the caffeine.
Thanks so much, London. Lastly, have you heard any good jokes lately?
An angel appears in a puff of smoke to a man and says to him, "Because you have lived a good and virtuous life, I can offer you a gift: you can be the most handsome man in the world, or you can have infinite wisdom, or you can have limitless wealth."
Reflecting, the man says, "I'll take the wisdom"
"Wisdom is yours," says the angel, disappearing in another puff. The smoke is barely clear before the man thinks, "I should have taken the money."
Check out these upcoming screenings of Brutal Realty, Inc. if you can!
Sat. 10/19 - @Northern Frights Fest, N.Ontario CAN
Sun. 10/27 @Bleedingham Film Fest, Bellingham WA
Wed. 10/30 - @Zebulon Cafe Concert, Los Angeles CA
(Devil’s Night extravaganza w/ London's new band SYMBOLISM)
Sat. 11/2 - @Secrets Of The Dead Fest, Brooklyn NY
Fri. 11/5 - @Soho Horror Fest, London ENG
More screenings in California, Oregon, and The Netherlands announced soon!
Wanna learn more about Brutal Realty, Inc? Check out the site and Facebook page to stay up to date with news and future screenings!
Use code BRUTAL at checkout for 20% off your first order!