EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: London May talks about Samhain

Photo: Dvl Man

LOS ANGELES, August 29, 2014 — Samhain is the punk band that Glenn Danzig formed in between the Misfits and his current band, Danzig. Originally a side project with Eerie Von, Samhain become the focus of Glenn Danzig after the Misfits broke up. Over the years, Samhain went through various lineup changes with Danzig and Von the only real constant members since the band’s formation. Eventually, Danzig would drop the Samhain moniker and go with his last name, Danzig.

The band reunited in 1999 and has done various tours since then, most notably the Danzig Legacy shows. Samhain will embark on a U.S. tour this fall with Danzig, London May, Steve Zing, and Peter Adams on guitar. May, who was Samhain’s drummer from 1985 to 1987 and played on the November-Coming-Fire album, took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding his time in Samhain and also the upcoming Samhain tour on which he will be alternating with Steve Zing on drums and bass.

Scroll below the video to read the interview.

KW: How did you first come to join Samhain?

LM: Did you ever see that movie “Rock Star” with Mark Wahlberg? It was just like that. I was a 17-year-old fan boy who got a chance to join his favorite band. I had just graduated high school and blown off college to play music. Next thing I knew I was on a train to New York with a little suitcase and a big dream. I’m glad it worked out.

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KW: What was your first impression of Danzig after first meeting him?

LM: I first met Glenn with the Misfits in 1982. I had him sign some stuff for me and he was cool. Later on I found him to be 75% funny and 25% terrifying.

KW: What were the writing and recording sessions like with Samhain?

LM: It was very brief during the November-Coming-Fire era. Glenn wrote every part to every song and would show us all an arrangement in the morning and we would record it that afternoon. It was nerve wracking since we were on a tight budget and Glenn was pretty demanding. I was also very green as a drummer, so I had to hustle to keep up the best I could. Thankfully, we spent more time working on the Samhain IV sessions. Glenn was playing guitar at the time so we would jam a bit more before we recorded. Still I was always a bit slow to catch on with the precise drum parts he wrote, so occasionally he used a drum machine to save time/money in the studio. He always recorded his vocals last. So, in his head all the music/arrangements made perfect sense, but to me the material was frequently confusing until I finally heard him sing over it.

KW: Why did you and Samhain eventually part ways?

LM: Besides some ever present personal friction between me and Glenn, Rick Rubin simply wanted a different drummer. Chuck Biscuits was one of Glenn’s faves so they tracked him down. It was actually quite a compliment. Like if your girlfriend breaks up with you to be with George Clooney.

KW: Obviously, any bad blood has been forgotten since you are back with the band, but at the time was there any bad blood between you and Danzig?

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LM: Yes, even though I was kinda stoked that Chuck was my replacement (he was always a huge inspiration), I wasn’t too happy with the whole situation. There was some legal stuff with Glenn that had to be sorted and that caused a bad rift with everyone for years. But even though I was frozen out I still loved the band and secretly went to see them every chance I had.

KW: Why do you think Samhain gets the red-headed step child treatment from the general public. By that I mean that Samhain is the least known Danzig band, but is just as good as any other one. It doesn’t seem like Samhain gets the credit it deserves. A lot of people I think should know about it for some reason just don’t and I always find that odd.

LM: Firstly, I feel Samhain was never destined to be a mainstream band. Too gloomy, too tribal, too raw. That’s why there was such huge changes when the band finally morphed into Danzig. Considering that Samhain was never on a major label, never had a hit song or video, never had a mass market T shirt AND our records have been out of print for almost 15 years, I’m happy that we still get the minor acclaim that we do! The songs are timeless and we have earned our cult status and our fan’s respect, but there’s really not a lot there to keep the casual music consumer interested in for long. We were never blinded by the bright light of commercialism but instead we lurked in the darkness. Maybe that’s why some discerning folks are still so passionate about us. Thank you to our loyal and die-hard fans!

KW: How did the ball get rolling for you to be involved in the Danzig Legacy shows?

LM: Glenn and I have been on good terms for the past few years and he asked me if I was up for it. I thought a Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig show was an amazing idea and I said hell yes!

KW: Is there a chance or has there been any talk of new Samhain material being written for a record?

LM: Nothing new yet, but Glenn has talked about releasing an Initium outtake called “The Urge,” which is part one of a trilogy of songs including “The Shift” and “The Howl”. He had mentioned the song way back in the old days, but I wasn’t sure it really existed. Well, it does and I’m excited to finally hear it.

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KW: Danzig has a pretty serious-type of “Don’t mess with me” reputation. Do any of you guys ever try to mess with him on tour? Or does he ever try to pull any practical jokes on you guys?

LM: Back in the day, I was hell bent on driving Glenn nuts. I was such a teenage trouble maker and his intense temperament was impossible to resist. I was always up to some stupid s**t and then I would deny it. I’m lucky I never got smacked. I know better now! Glenn likes to joke around a lot and tease, so you gotta have thick skin if you wanna hang. His most major prank back at me (and well deserved after years of me dishing it out) was to have a huge bucket of fake blood poured on me “Carrie” style while I was playing the final song of the 1999 tour. If those gallons of red sticky sugar water weren’t a surprise enough, the roadies followed it up with a bag of feathers. It was fucking gross and my drums and I were drenched in it, but to my credit I finished the song!

Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music and food. Kevin plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

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  • RGZ_50

    Danzig is a complete fraud whose bad @$$, tough guy, devil’s henchman persona and shtick got blown out of the water when Danny M. cleaned his clock back in 2004. That was a howl. How anyone can take any of his nonsense seriously at this point is beyond me.

    • How dare you besmirch my IDOL!

      Glenn Danzig explained that he couldn’t punch back that one guy because then he would be sued and Glenn Danzig is worth like 6.5 million dollars so he did not want to get sued. Makes perfect sense.