BY JON STEFFENS
With a sound that’s a witch’s brew of punk, metal, and goth, and songs covering creepy topics from all over the horror spectrum, Germany’s The Other has been delivering the ghoulish goods since the their first album, THEY’RE ALIVE! in 2004. On the band’s seventh full-length CASKET CASE, frontman Rod Usher and co. offer up sixteen sinister slices of horror punk honed to catchy perfection, with odes to lycanthropy (“Werewolf of Bedburg”), phantoms (“She’s a Ghost”), hockey-masked lunatics (“A Party at Crystal Lake”), and all manner of things that go bump in the night. Rue Morgue recently caught up with Usher to dish the grave-dirt on CASKET CASE.
1. What were the main inspirations, musically and otherwise, behind the creation of CASKET CASE?
I don’t think we had much external influence. After 15 years of doing this we find inspiration among ourselves and from the sound that we have created and shaped during that time. Our two guitarists, Ben and Pat were a great influence and they were involved very much in the writing process. Lyrically I went from singing mostly about fictional horror to creating horror stories around what I experience myself everyday in relationships with partners and other people. I exaggerate to let out emotions. People die…but only in my stories.
2. How would you compare it to the rest of The Other’s discography?
I think CASKET CASE is another step forward in musicianship and arrangement while going a bit back to a more rocking style of our earlier works. Less metal, more rock. Plus, lots more diversity and dynamics. We have matured without wimping out.
3. “Werewolf of Bedburg” is about the case of Peter Stumpp, tried for lycanthropy and witchcraft in the 1500s. What inspired you to write the song?
Bedburg is about 20 miles from my hometown. I drive by Bedburg every two weeks when I go to the stadium to see my favorite football (you guys call it soccer) –team play. Years ago someone gave me a novel called THE WEREWOLF OF BEDBURG, which took the historical facts and the mysterious details around the case and made a fictional story out of it. This story has been in my mind since and after singing about “Doll Island” – a real island in Mexico with thousands of old dolls – we liked the idea of using another “real” tale for our song. We might continue this with more lyrics about real cases for future albums. Maybe especially cases from Germany. Not about Peter Kürten – the vampire of Düsseldorf – though, that’s been done too often.
4. What are your favorite tracks on the album, and why?
Every band member will give a different answer to this. I love them almost all, I have only one song that I think is weaker than the other 15. My favourites are “What It’s Like to Be a Monster”, because it’s totally new ground for us and I like the lyrics; “Counting the Flies” because it’s hard and fast and inspired by a friend of mine – Dr. Mark Benecke – who is called “Dr. Maggot” in the media, since he is probably Germany’s most famous forensic expert and solves crimes by analyzing the maggots and flies around a dead body. I’m sure he has his own body farm in his basement.
5. The Other often includes a German language track on each album. What is the story behind “Morgen Ohne Grauen”?
It’s about having nightmares and waking up to find that the world you wake up to is even more scary than your nightmares. So you wish you could just return to your world of monsters – together with your loved one – every night.
6. What has the fan feedback been like for CASKET CASE thus far?
Seriously, it’s been overwhelming. We have played 9 songs from the new album on the tour and people loved it. A lot of fans mentioned that this could be our best album and we agree. The biggest music magazines in Europe do too and they have been following us for years, so they know what they are talking about. Some small websites have been critical though and have bored us with the Misfits comparisons that have been outdated for ten years. You could tell who has actually listened to the album or who was out to bash a band because of their image. Well, fuck them!
7. What’s next for The Other?
Our tour was a big success, which gives us a lot of strength for the next year. We are already confirmed for some of the biggest festivals in Germany and will play selected headliner gigs throughout the year. We hope to return to North America, but it has definitely become a lot harder for foreign artists to come to the US since January 2017. So we will see. One thing I would really like to do is support a big band on tour next year. If I had a choice, it would be either KISS, Rob Zombie, or AFI. We have supported a lot of big bands – from Alice Cooper to The Cult or Misfits – but these three would be my top-list or horror-related bands.