The Renfields: Scariest damn band in the land
Graffiti: How did growing up in Transylvania have an impact on the music you play and how has being “trans” planted in WV changed your sound, if at all?
Vincent Renfield: We’re really just your average clean cut kids from Transylvania. We don’t have much of a music scene back home. We were always more influenced by American punk rock music and culture than anything else; American bands like Ramones, The Queers, T.S.O.L. and of course American horror films. Unfortunately Transylvania is about 20 years behind on everything, so imagine our surprise when we arrived in the states only to find that we had missed out on the punk rock movement that had inspired us. As it turns out, all of the American horror films we grew up on completely misrepresented what the United States is actually like; no zombies, no slashers, they don’t even utilize re-animative medicine here! And apparently Americans believe that Transylvania is full of vampires. Ha! We actually tried to leave West Virginia and head back to our homeland several times. Unfortunately the Phantom Hearse runs only on blood and gets terrible mileage per gallon … so we make the best of it.
Graffiti: Best horror movie, best horror director and best horror actor/actress of all time? Go.
Vincent Renfield: Best Horror film for me is always tough. The best I can do is a top five with Lucio Fulci’s ‘Zombie’ (aka ‘Zombie 2,’ ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters,’ ‘Woodoo’), ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch,’ ‘The Burning,’ Tobe Hooper’s ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre Pt. 2’ and Peter Jackson’s ‘Bad Taste.’
Best horror director would (be a) tie between Lucio Fulci and Tobe Hooper. I love Jess Franco and Jeff Lieberman as well.
Best horror actor is Tom Atkins. Best actor period is Tom Atkins! Best Horror actress is Tom Atkins as well! Best supporting actor… you guessed it, Atkins!
Graffiti: The legend goes that The Renfields dug up the dead Ramones and reanimated their hearts and implanted them in their own bodies. What other famous body parts make up the gang? Is there any other musician or band, living or dead, who would be worthy of digging up or otherwise borrowing their “talents,” theoretically speaking?
Vincent Renfield: Well, I got half of Dee Dee Ramone’s brain, which explains my rudimentary musicianship and desire to record a solo rap album. The other half of my brain belonged to Ed Wood, which explains these panties I’m wearing. I also got Dee Dee’s heart. The Fiend got Joey’s heart. Unfortunately, Dr. Herbert was unable to get a brain for him, so we had to fill his rotten cranial cavity with items we had on hand which were one of Lucio’s old squeaky chew toys, a deck of nudie playing cards, and the liner notes to Black Flag’s album ‘Loose Nut.’ This combination actually allows Fiend to function quite well. Although unable to speak, he sings like an angel.
As far as enlisting the talents of others, I’d have Dr. Herbert reanimate Stiv Bators. Joe Queer isn’t dead but we would like to have his vocals on our album. Oh, and Dr. Herbert once spoke of reanimating Gene Crupa.
Graffiti: How has the current trend in horror movies – zombies, exploitation, torture porn, “found footage” – had an effect on The Renfields music, or has it? What are your thoughts on these types of films? Good, bad, indifferent?
Vincent Renfield: Current horror trends don’t have much of an effect on our music. There are so many amazing films from the 1970s and 80s that we still want to write songs about. By the time we get around to writing about the current stuff, it’ll be 20 years old.
The horror genre is most definitely on a zombie and found footage kick right now thanks to ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘The Walking Dead.’ I don’t mind these types of films or television shows at all. But as it is with both movies and music, something makes money and then an endless string of imitators come out of the woodwork.
What’s really exciting right now is what’s happening with indie horror, there’s an exploitation boom going on with some incredibly violent and trashy films like ‘Dear God No!,’ ‘Father’s Day,’ ‘Hanger,’ and right here in West Virginia we have Eamon Hardiman’s ‘Porkchop’ films and most recently ‘Porkchop 3D,’ which we were able to write the theme song for.
Graffiti: This time of year is probably pretty busy for the band, with all the Halloween events – how do you kick back and unwind? Is there anything this season you are particularly looking forward to?
We are always quite busy for the Halloween season. It’s also the time of year where we feel least out of place amongst the American kids. But being away from home does take it’s toll on the Renfields. The key to staying happy and managing stress has always been Renfields family home evening, which occurs weekly. At these gatherings we’ll eat dinner together (except for The Fiend – he’s grounded and gets no food for a week), practice our vocal harmonies and sometimes Dick Ramsses-Renfield will delight us with a nice Powerpoint presentation on proper hand washing techniques. We also have team building exercises. Our favorite activity is called ‘Run Away from Fiend,’ where we leave Fiend in an unfamiliar place without telling him where our next show is and attempting to replace him with another bass player. Rascal always seems to find his way back.
As for things we’re looking forward to this season, as always playing as many shows as possible, meeting the American kids, and also putting the finishing touches on our new album. We will also be releasing a short film called ‘Christmas Break at Crystal Lake,’ which chronicles the release of last year’s Renfields box set and the subsequent deaths that occurred as a result. It’s like ‘Gimme Shelter’ meets ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ meets ‘Friday the 13th.’