Out of the Coffin: Kim Nekroman Resurrects the Nekromantix
… and Carries On with the Horrorpops
The Nekromantix’ Kim Nekroman, with his homemade coffin bass, stayed at the forefront of the European psychobilly scene for almost 16 years, until the band’s relocation to L.A. With his wife Patricia on upright bass, he picked up the guitar and formed the Horrorpops, who tread all over convention by refusing to be classified into a single genre of music. With a new lineup in the Nekromantix and the completion of the next Horrorpops record, Nekroman looks forward to getting out on the road with his two creations.I spoke with Nekroman about the past and his future plans, which include the usual mayhem, but he’s also got a few new horrors for you all.
SLUG: How did the Nekromantix get started?
Nekroman: Well, back in 1989, I traveled to all these psychobilly festivals all over Europe, and basically, I thought, I’m going to all these shows anyways. I figured I love music, why don’t I get fucking paid to go to these shows? I first played the drums in a rockabilly band for three months and found that too boring, so I bought myself an upright [bass] and three months later, I formed the Nekromantix.
SLUG: When did you build the first coffin bass?
N: I formed the Nekromantix in March of 1989, and I set the goal that we’d have our first show in three months, and we did. A friend of ours recorded the show on video. I watched it and we looked like all the other psychobilly bands, and I thought, man, I need something different. So I came up with the coffin-bass idea.
SLUG: So you are the originator of the coffin bass.
N: Oh yeah, oh yeah! I’ve seen a few copycats, it’s true, but I came up with it back then and since then, I think I’m on number five or six.
SLUG: Can you tell us what the new lineup for the Nekromantix is?
N: I can tell who the guitarist is, but the drummer is still a secret. The guitarist is Troy [Russel], who’s also known from the Rezurex, and they’re a great band, and he’s a very talented guitarist.
SLUG: How do you think the new members will change the sound of the band?
N: I don’t know. It’s not the first time I had a lineup change, so what I see every time when new blood comes into the band, it’s kind of like not starting over, but it gives you that extra kick. I don’t predict that many changes; obviously, there will be some, but it’s not going to be a different band. But I’m sure it’s good for the spirit.
SLUG: What does it take to be a member of the Nekromantix?
N: I don’t know; I’ve actually been wondering about that myself. I think basically I’m looking for, obviously, somebody with musical talent, and at the same time, I’m looking at people I think I’ll be able work with, so they need to have a good personality. Mostly it’s been people that I’ve known for awhile. I’ve known Troy for years now. So that’s pretty important that I know them as a person as well, because I’ll be spending a lot of time with them.
SLUG: What can we expect from the Nekromantix in the future?
N: We’ve got this tour coming up, and I plan on doing new recordings as soon as I find some time to do that. I am very busy doing two bands, but new recordings is something I definitely want to do.
SLUG: How did the re-release of Brought Back to Life come about?
N: The funny part about that album is actually that the lineup was only three months old when we recorded that, and it kind of shows what new blood in the band can do. I’m not saying that it’s that different from the former albums, but it kind of has that freshness to it. That album has been out of production for almost six years now, so about three years ago, I bought the rights to it because I was bummed out that it wasn’t out there. Then when we got signed with Hellcat and I started talking to them about the re-release, they just wanted to wait until we got a few albums out. So I think that the time is right, because we do have a bigger audience over here and a lot of those people don’t know how to get a hold of stuff like that.
SLUG: Why do you think that horror themes, rockabilly and punk rock mix so well together?
N: I can only say from my point of view, but I’ve always been into horror movies since I was a little kid: Nosferatu, Frankenstein, the good old silent movies. And I was brought up with rockabilly on my mom’s side, so it’s been all my life. I think that horror has always been a big underground thing. I can’t really pinpoint why; it is kinda weird because 50s music and rockabilly is nowhere near horror, but if that music was going on today, it would be a lot different. I think it’s that horror is just pure entertainment, and it has that dangerous part of life that we also need.
SLUG: Do you actually believe in ghosts or vampires or any of the monsters you sing about in your songs?
N: I’m not superstitious at all. Obviously I think that there is more on this earth that we as humans are not aware of, but I think it’s all in our heads. It’s kind of like religion; it’s not something out there in heaven or whatever, it’s in the human brain and these are the images we use.
SLUG: What do you think about the psychobilly scene in the US?
N: What I see is just great things. I kind of see a different thing from what happened in Europe, but I like it because young kids over here are more diverse. It’s not embracing for them to say I like punk rock, but I also like psychobilly, and I think that’s super cool. It’s not like in the 80s or 90s, where everybody had to fight each other. I also see within that group there’s more hardcore psychobilly fans that are leaning towards the attitude of the 80s, where they’re like, “I only listen to psychobilly,” but they’ll figure out one day the you can’t just listen to one type of music.
SLUG: What is the scene in Europe like today?
N: Well, because of what has happened over here, it has rubbed off on the European scene, and you have all these old farts coming out again because they can re-experience what they did when they were younger. You have these kids just like over here; greaser punks and punks just having a good time. Bands like the Klingonz, Demented Are Go and Batmobile are getting together and playing again. Those bands are grateful that that happened because they stopped years ago, because there was really no point. But now they see that something is going on again.
SLUG: A lot of people don’t know that the Horrorpops were around for a few years before the first record came out. How did the Horrorpops start up?
N: A lot of people think that we are some kind of product of the label, and we can only laugh about that, because the Horrorpops started out as a trio: me, Patricia and Niedermeier. Me and Patricia met in Germany in ’96 where her former punk band [Peanut Pump Gun] supported the Nekromantix and after the show, we’re talking about how cool it could be to make a band where there’re no boundaries or limits to what we could do. I know a lot of bands that when they do a new song, it’s got to be in this certain style or else it’s going to let fans down or people are going to scream at them. So our idea was to do a band where we can do anything we want to do. We hear all kinds of music, so if we want to do a country song we can fucking do it. The rules in that band is that there are no rules.
SLUG: What can we expect from the new Horrorpops record?
N: It’s kind of in the same spirit of the first one, only that the first record was basically demos. So this time we had a way better budget and we had Brett Gurewitz producing. We actually just mastered it yesterday and I’ve been listening to it this morning and it’s hard for me to say because I’m in the band, but the sound quality is so much better. I’m almost embarrassed when I put on Hell Yea! now. I know some people are going to say it was better before, but I don’t really give a shit because I’m proud of the result.
SLUG: Do you still do tattoo work?
N: To be honest, I don’t really have time for it; in the last two years, I’ve only done three or four tattoos. When the Horrorpops weren’t so busy, I had plenty of time to work in a shop, but right now, I’m just not able to be in a shop, and that kind of limits my tattoo work. It’s something I really love to do, but I can always do that when I get the time.
SLUG: What can we expect from the live show on the13th?
Nekroman: I always considered the Nekromantix a live band, so even more than the music, getting some energy out there and playing live is what we’re known for. Doing albums is what you need to do to get new music out there, but the force of the Nekromantix is our live show.
Come find out who this secret drummer is, and see Nekroman and his coffin bass play Club Sound on June 13. Also, don’t miss the Horrorpops on Warped Tour July 16 or you’ll be sorry.