INTERVIEW: 800 Octane
Portland, Oregon Punk Rock Band
By: Jett Black
HALLOWEEN'02 approaches with 800 Octane scheduled to perform October 26th inside Portland, Oregon's Roseland Theater during the "Queen of Halloween Ball", an adults-only presentation of Severina Productions.
The Return provides fantastic Living-Dead-esque ghoulish imagery, and with song titles such as "Ghosts of Monochrome" and "Day of the Dead", the term "ghoul-rock" leaps into mind.
I feel an itch coming on as my eyes bug out, and the webbing spreads bewteen my fingers and toes. Tune in now as 800 Octane gives us something to chew on.
IMWT: What more can you tell us about the presentation and line-up for this Halloween Ball?
Eric: I can tell you that we are totally excited because it's definitely not our usual crowd. We'll probably be one of the more upbeat bands on the bill but I think that's what will make it fun for us. Most importantly though I can't believe we are playing with Gwar! I'm anxious to get a group picture just for the sheer fact that it's freakin' Gwar!
IMWT: What can 800 Octane fans expect on October 26th that they might not have seen at any of your other performances?
Eric: Because of our album cover we have always entertained the idea of playing a show in zombie makeup. The reality of putting on zombie makeup and playing in a local club with "regular" bands always seemed a little far-fetched but when this came along we thought ... it's now or never. Sounds like we'll fit right in with the freaks though.
IMWT: I gather that 800 Octane is "returning" to perform at Roseland Theater. What can you tell us about the last performance 800 Octane brought to Roseland Theater?
Dave: The last time we played the Roseland was with Guttermouth, The Deviates and Anti-Freeze. It was a great show. I can't remember how long it's been, but it was a while ago. We have been looking forward to getting to play there again.
IMWT: How did 800 Octane come to choose "Super Rock" as category descriptive of the music it seeks to unleash?
Eric: We had a review ages ago that described us as "super rock" and it just kind of stuck in the back of our minds. We've always had a hard time classifying what we do. Songs influenced by horror and sci-fi movies are only a small portion of what we play so we tried to stay away from being overly associated with the horror/zombie/ghoul theme. We've also been a little reluctant to carry the punk rock banner because of all the baggage that comes with being punk and what people consider punk music. Most people describe us as fast, loud and energetic so the "super rock" title seems to work for now.
IMWT: Who is the "man behind the zombie make-up"?
Dave: That would be our friend Lee Williamson. He has been doing special effects stuff and horror art for a long time. He's currently working on several projects, and when he gets done with them he should have a show in the Portland area. Keep an eye out for his stuff. It's awesome.
IMWT: What's the story behind photos for The Return?
Dave: I love zombie movies. They are my favorite movie genre. My favorite film of all time is Return of the Living Dead. Combine that with a friend taking special effect courses and it only works out that the cover will end up looking the way it does. Not only that, the makeup hides our ugliness!
IMWT: Please tell us about the latest 800 Octane Swank CD contest.
Eric: Our Swank CD is a sore point for us. The quick version is that the artwork was not what we were promised and due to some recording mishaps the album actually plays slower than what we actually recorded. In other words it looks and sounds like total ass! Anyway, we made 1000 of them back in 1996 and only managed to sell about 200. The rest reside in two boxes in Dave's basement. No one buys them, we don't like to sell them and basically we don't know what to do with them. In a fit of Denny's induced creativity we decided to have a contest where the person (or people) with the most creative way to destroy the remaining CD's gets the pleasure of actually carrying it out!!! We are going to attempt to document it for the web site as well! We are going to save and try to sell the last 100 but the others are all fair game for destruction!
IMWT: 800 Octane seems to be going through a change in drummers. Who's the new drummer for 800 Octane; and what's the story behind the change?
Dave: At the current time we do not have an "official" drummer. We have been playing with a great guy named Dan. He has played the last few shows, and will be playing this Halloween show. He will most likely be the next full time 800 Octane drummer once he passes a variety of challenging tests and quizzes. Then, once his probationary period is over, and he has inked his pact with the devil in his own blood, we will make him "official" ...(provided he doesn't piss us off between now and then.)
IMWT: 800 Octane has climbed through various record company affiliations. What words can you share about New School Records? How does New School Records compare with previous label-homes for 800 Octane?
Eric: Our last two CD's had a label name on it but neither really did anything for us. An ad here and there and some small distribution channels but no real push for our album or band. NSR has been great because they want us to succeed! We now have enough distribution that pretty much any store across the country can order our CD, which is a huge step for us. Plus NSR has been helping with getting reviews, advertising and even getting us on some shows. I think having a label with a little more vision was exactly what we needed.
IMWT: "Ghosts of Monochrome" appears on the latest release by 800 Octane entitled The Return. What is the story behind the song title?
Dave: The song is based on a thing a friend of mine used to do. He worked at a movie theater and always ended up closing. He would have his girlfriend meet him there once everyone was gone and they would just watch the movies by themselves. I always thought that sounded like a great idea so I wrote a song about it. The only difference being that I would have watched old horror movies. I like to think of the "Ghosts" as Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. They were always my favorites.
IMWT: Which home-town provides the New Year's setting for "Holiday"? Any validity to the details told by the song itself? If so, what's the story?
Dave: The song is about my old hometown of Carlisle, PA. It's kind of a long story, but the details are true. Basically it's about coming back to a place where you've had a lot of fond memories, and seeing that everything you remember has changed. You hear about what's happened to this person and that person, and suddenly you feel that it's not a place you really want to be anymore.
IMWT: What's the title for track number 13 on The Return?
Eric: It's title is Shabba Time and it's a tribute to our friend Barry. Originally we called him by his given name of 'Barry' then it mysteriously morphed into 'Old Dirty Barry'. From there he became known as 'Buttermilk Barry' and then inexplicably we just started calling him 'Shabba'. Anyway, the song Feeding Time has a chorus of "Hey, Hey, Hey". One day our old drummer Bryan just started singing "Sha, Sha, Shabba" and it cracked us up for literally several years. In fact whenever Barry came to see us play we would sing the "Sha, Sha, Shabba" chorus at the show! When we finally recorded Feeding Time for the new album we all agreed that Shabba Time would have to be the hidden track. The funny thing is that we don't think Barry has even heard it. We're still waiting for the day he stumbles upon the song based on the nickname he despised so much!
IMWT: When did 800 Octane decide to get a Message Board for www.800Octane.com? A headache? A Blessing? What's the traffic like?
Eric: We made the board in November 2001 and it's definitely a blessing and a curse at the same time. It's cool because people can stay in touch with us and we can stay in touch with them, especially for the people outside of Portland. We end up talking to someone from the board at almost every show. Another cool thing is that we try to get involved in the discussions and I think that makes our board a little different than most. Not many bands post on their own board and respond to questions or comments directly. The downside of course is all the random idiots out there. We get people from time to time that come on just to say they hate our band and start talking shit to all our fans. I never understood that whole "spend time on the web page of the band you hate" mentality. I think the best way to irritate a band is to ignore them. Being insignificant is far more discouraging than someone saying you suck. The other curse of the message board is when the people on the board are assholes to one another. If you are reading and posting there then you inherently have an awful lot in common with the other people on there. How and why some of these people get worked up at one another boggles the mind.
IMWT: Street Teamsters Local 800 www.800octane.com reflects about 80 members, thus far. How do Street Team members obtain points?
Dave: Our street team members earn points for helping us out. They have a variety of things they can do to help us, such as getting links to our site posted all the way to getting us shows. The points are assigned so we can reward their help based on who has worked the hardest. Everyone gets something for helping though.
IMWT: How can readers make contact, and where can anyone find more information on what to expect from 800 Octane?
Eric: The best place to go is our web site www.800octane.com. The page is updated so frequently it's almost frightening.