Thursday, May 16, 2013

Antiseen Is Wrestling With Pop Culture

Antiseen - Falls Count Anywhere - A Collection Of Wrestling Songs
Get your copy of Falls Count Anywhere

Click over to all things Wrestling With Pop Culture

"Given the self-destructive stage antics and confrontational messages of underground punk band ANTiSEEN, the band’s longevity is as impressive as a championship title reign. But these self-proclaimed Badwill Ambassadors have been piledriving eardrums and abusing themselves for audiences all over the world for 30 years now. And with numerous shows already logged this year, as well as an ever-growing catalog of new releases including the recent New Blood and Falls Count Anywhere albums, ANTiSEEN shows no signs of letting up on its destructive path of punk rock mayhem. As the band embarks on its Dixie Dynamite Tour with Hellstomper, front man Jeff Clayton talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about wrestling, rock and blood.

ANTiSEEN has done enough songs about wrestling over the years to fill an entire CD. How far back do the songs on this album date?

Our earliest wrestling song was “Cactus Jack” and that appeared on Eat More Possum, which came out in ’93. But the version that’s on Falls Count Anywhere is the single version that came out a few years later. But that’s still the earliest thing on that record.

Greatest hype man in the business, the Cosmic Commander. Photo - Lance Dawes
You’re clearly a fan of hardcore wrestlers like Cactus Jack, Abdullah the Butcher and Terry Funk. You portray a similar sense of violence during your performances. What attracts you to such extreme behavior and how does it relate to the music you create?

I’ve always liked wrestling and growing up in the South I loved seeing Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen. Later, when cable came along, we actually got to see the Freebirds and stuff like that. But I always liked the guys that were monsters and freaks. I loved it when Gary Hart brought in Kabuki. I remember being able to barely get a station on our television – we still had one of those rotary-dial antennas – and me and my brother would look for wrestling wherever we could find it. We found something that I think came from Texas and we saw Eric the Red. We thought that was cool, but the one thing that really left an impression on me and is why I still do what I do was when they brought in Abdullah the Butcher to take on Wahoo McDaniel. They had never shown nothing quite that brutal on the television show before, at least not since we had been watching it. They showed some pretty brutal stuff like the Andersons hitting people with the cast they had on for six months. But seeing Abduallah, the commentators made it seem mike it was the most terrible thing in the world. The audience was going crazy, there was blood everywhere and it went off the air while it was still going on. It was like, “Wow!” Then we found the show on another station and watched the replay, even though it looked like it was in a snowstorm, just to get to see it again. Then there were cage matches and barbed wire, which back then guaranteed one thing: there was going to be blood. A cage match was a brutal thing and we used to get wrestling magazines and see pictures of the Billy Graham/Dusty Rhodes bullrope match, barbed wire and all that stuff, wrestling just had a lasting impression. And I have an appreciation for all of it; I like luchadores, I like the mat technician guys like Guerrero, Malenko and all them people. But the monsters and maniacs were always my favorite, and still are to this day.

Wrestling has changed quite a bit since then. Do you still watch much of today’s wrestling?

I don’t watch it much because I don’t have cable. It was a big waste of money for a vast wasteland of nothing. I talk to people who do follow it, though. If something goes down that I think I really need to see, I’ll look it up the next day on YouTube.

Did you miss the Rock N' Rassle Apocalypse? Blame yourself for being lazy and the show of a life time! The Necrobutcher gouging Beast Master Rick Link with a beer can for a hardcore death match. Photo - Lance Dawes
What did you think of Mick Foley being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year?

It’s about time. He deserves it, man. He and just a handful of others were the ones who breathed life into that company. I know it was the efforts of a lot of people, but when you think about the Attitude Era you think of Foley going off the top of the cage, the Undertaker/Shawn Michaels Hell in a Cell, Stone Cold and all that stuff. And that whole attitude the WWF adopted at that time came from ECW. Foley came from there, even Stone Cold came from ECW to WWE. And they all brought some of that with them. It was a really exciting time for wrestling and one of them times you’ll never forget. It’s hard to picture that as being classic now, but it is.

Another CD came out around the same time as Falls Count Anywhere

New Blood is a compilation of singles that were done over a three year period. We stopped being concerned with making albums, but we’ve put out a ton of singles in different countries all over the world. They’d be really small runs, so we sold out of all those within days. So we just compiled all those singles to make that album, which is why some of the tracks repeat on Falls Count Anywhere. But we just compiled all the wrestling songs in one place so people could just buy them in one place. I guess that’s not a very good business move since they’d have to buy ten CDs otherwise. Saying that aloud, now I think that was a really dumb move. Now we’re doing a truckload of singles again, so maybe in another year or two we’ll compile another album. We’re doing a split with a death metal group from Cleveland called NunSlaughter that will have two brand new songs on it. We’re also doing a split with Poison Idea that’s going to have a brand new original track and a cover of the Sex Pistols‘ “Belsen Was a Gas”. We’ve got a bunch of other projects lined up that we haven’t actually done yet. Those are the two that are done, sent off and going to be out soon.

The Cosmic Commander, The Ref and Jeff Clayton of Antiseen at the Rock N' Rassle Apocalypse, Photo - Lance Dawes
You’ve still been performing quite a bit and are now on tour again.

Yeah. We went on a three-month break because our bass player’s wife had a child. But we play at least one weekend a month when we’re not touring. But now we’re touring with Hellstomper and we also have a bunch of offers for one-offs overseas. So this year has been pretty busy.

What do you guys do when you’re not on tour?

Our bass player is going to school on his G.I. Bill. The drummer is about to finish college. Joe [Young] runs a record store and I work in a heating and air conditioner warehouse. ANTiSEEN keeps us busy, but it don’t keep us rich.

You guys are based in the Carolinas, an area with a storied wrestling past. Do you keep up with the local wrestling scene at all?

There’s a town here called Chester where Action Packed Wrestling runs every Friday night. They’ve had people like Ricky Morton and maybe some of the younger guys that are popular. It’s a fun thing. I only live about 20 minutes away from Charlotte and there’s a bunch of federations running out of Charlotte. There’s a real good one that runs out of Tremont Music Hall, where we play, called Xtreme World Wrestling and they’re really good.

Has ANTiSEEN ever performed at a wrestling event?

Yeah. But you know what? Only twice. We played at one in Philadelphia called Rule Breakers Rule back in ’96. That was the first time we had played one and that was complete and total chaos. Cops shut the thing down as we were playing during a barbed wire match. Last summer we hosted a show in Charlotte called Rock N’ Rassle Apocalypse headlined by “The Beastmaster” Rick Link and the Necro Butcher, so there was blood all over the place.

Necrobutcher, Cosmic Commander, Rick Link and Antiseen - Photo - Lance Dawes
Beast Master Rick Link giving the Necrobutcher a good beating - Photo Lance Dawes