One thing that some authors do, which I never really understood, is to list out the music they were listening to when they wrote a specific story. It’s kind of interesting to know what music writers dig, but I never got the correlation. Music was never a writing tool for me. I listened to the same eclectic playlists when I wrote The Wrong House as when I wrote presidential biography comics for Bluewater.
This all changed when I started writing The Devoured. I’m a city boy, through and though, and a right coaster at that. To get myself in the proper mindset for writing about the post-civil war west, I found the need for some inspiration. I needed to mentally remove myself from the subways and skyscrapers of my native Boston, and transport myself into a meaner world. To do this, each writing session was accompanied by audial inspiration.
Below is a list of some of the music that most helped mentally prepare me for my writing session on the devoured, and undoubtedly subtly helped mold the world.
Nick 13/ Tiger Army
Tiger Army is one of my favorite bands of all time. They come at psychobilly from a more mature angle than most other bands, casting aside the much of the derivative horror shtick which many other groups in the genre cling to. Additionally their composition has a much wider range than most psychobilly, borrowing from old school country-western as well as punk and classic rockabilly.
It was their energy, the western influence on their composition, and the dark, woeful lyricism that helped set me up for writing about my protagonist, The Old Man.
Tiger Army front man, Nick 13, also has a solo album, and that was probably even more inspiring to me while writing the Devoured. The self-titled release is real old school country/western. No poppy, lowest common denominator songs about blue jeans and beer. No flash over substance guitar solos. Just good, honest country and solid song writing. The music invokes images of sepia landscapes, weathered road signs, and road wary travelers. In its notes, one can find an atmosphere of hope and melancholy. Nick 13 made it incredibly easy for me to melt away from the coastal metropolis I call home, and traverse the old west of my mind like some astral time traveler.
Dick Dynamite & The Doppelgangers
The Doppelgangers are another psychobilly band, but far more crass in their lyricism than Tiger Army. What they lack in subtlety, they make up for in attitude and aggression. While a lot of bands claim to be bad dudes, psychos, and killers instead of simple barflys, Dick Dynamite almost makes you believe it. There is something in his low growl that just sounds genuine.
With songs like Partner in Crime, Sociopath Rock, and They Demand a Sacrifice, these guys supplied a perfect soundtrack for writing about the downward spiral of Emmett Wongraven. I think some of the anger and desperation in the work of the Doppelgangers leaked into the Old Man as well.
Like Tiger Army, The Doppelgangers have a pretty strong western influence in a lot of their songs, which helped get my mind into the right state to envision the world of The Devoured.
How can anyone write a supernatural adventure in the old west, and not listen to the Man in Black while they do so? Johnny had it all- the attitude, the talent, the look. And Cash’s persona- that hard, bad man with a big heart and big faith, is like a less exaggerated version of Emmett in one way, and of the Old Man in another. Johnny could always express the plight of the criminal and the soldier with expert ease, and I think those terms describe my main characters pretty well. A lot of Cash’s songs are about mistakes and consequences. The Devoured, at its most basic, is about exactly the same thing.
When I was a teenager I absolutely wanted to be Glen Danzig. The man headed three legendary bands (Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig), pioneered horror punk, ran his own comic company, looked more than a little like a Sam Keith drawing of Wolverine, and could sing like Roy Orbison jacked up on hellfire.
Danzig’s music has changed a lot over the years. After Danzig 4, things became kind of hit or miss for me, but their second album, Lucifuge, has remained one of my favorite LPs of all time. While the album is a bit anachronistic in regards to the subject matter in The Devoured, it was none the less inspiring. The powerful, southern blues riffs in songs like I’m The One, the supremely confident howling vocals of Killer Wolf, and the fitting lyrics of Long Way Back From Hell all helped me to set the right tone for my world and the unfortunate plights of my main characters.