The second of my retro interviews is here. If you have read my past retro interview, you will know that these took place a few years ago and I am now barely digging them out from their tombs. Read on for my interview with London May.
Again, this interview was conducted when I was a staff writer for The RealmCast.com
To me, there are bands that are good, great and just mind-blowing. Samhain is of course among the latter. From the moment you turn up the stereo to hear the drums, bass and guitar start to groove, your instantly sucked in. London May was the drummer for Samhain from 1985 till its demise in 1987. The albums he contributed to have been my favorite from the band’s catalog. So here it is fiends, my interview with (in my opinion) punk rock legend London May.
Horror Man-You were hanging around the Misfits when you were 15 and started playing drums in the 8th grade. Who inspired you to play?
London May–I was always into art and music–my parents raised us on jazz and classical and Jesus Christ Superstar (a pretty hard rock recording for that era) and my dad was in a band when he was in college. I was just drawn to rock and roll and my first hero was Pete Townshend of The Who. I tried guitar before drums–but drums came more natural for me.
H.M-While you were in Reptile House, I heard you guys played with Samhain two times how were these shows?
l.M–Both of the show we did with Samhain took a lot of work–but worth every headache I thought. They were my favorite band! The first time (1984) we played in Detroit for one show-we couldn’t get any other bookings on the way there or back. So it was just drive-play-drive home-and go back to school on Monday. We got our friend Toad to drive us in his Mom’s station wagon. Me and Danny (Higgs) also got in a fight so that sucked I remember. The next time (1985) was in Baltimore and I booked it directly with Glenn –I was terrified of fucking up the show so I went out of my way to make it successful. I was pretty stressed out you can imagine. I remember Samhain absolutely slaying at both shows (you can see the Baltimore show on the Samhain box set video) but I thought the Reptile House performances were not up to our usual par. We were a pretty intense band usually but maybe nerves got the best of us (or maybe just me!) Well obviously we/I weren’t TOO bad since I was soon offered the audition for Samhain when Steve left.
H.M–After joining Samhain was it very militaristic when it came to rehearsals or was Glenn sort of care free? L.M–More controlled than militaristic. Glenn wanted things just so. He was paying for stuff and didn’t have time to jam or fuck around. A big change for me since I had been in a teen-age garage band. It was like boot camp –shape up or ship out!
H.M– You joined in the summer of 1985 did you have any idea Samhain would have the cult following it does years later?
L.M–At the time I just wanted to play drums and tour with a band that went crazy on stage and sang about things that I was into. I am so thrilled that the band still holds up these days and another generation has embraced it.But back then I never thought about what it would mean later–I was so fantastically excited to be in my favorite band–not everyone agreed with my decision to leave Baltimore and Reptile House but I knew I had to–I was just 18 when i moved in with Glenn and I was scared shitless 1/2 the time.
H.M-What was your most memorable show with Samhain back in the 80s?
L.M–Every show was crazy! The blood shows in New York and Chicago, my first Halloween show in Pittsburgh, etc., etc. I could go on and on…
Really there was rarely a dull moment on stage with Samhain-well maybe ONE of our Canada gigs was a bit weird–lame crowds taunting Glenn–that was a drag. A few times I really choked and knew I was this close to being fired–I’ll never forget those close calls.
H.M-13 years passed before the call to do a reunion show was made. Were you a little nervous?
L.M–A little. Playing-wise I had lots more touring and performing under my belt but I had been playing guitar for the last 6 years and hadn’t done much drumming. The biggest adjustment was being being part of and living with the “extended” Danzig family (his solo band, the crew, security, management, etc.) –It was a big entourage and I’m kind of a loner–but having Steve Zing around really helped.
H.M- Was it disappointing that Eerie and Damian didn’t participate in the Reunion tour?
L.M–Yes–I REALLY pushed for an all original line-up–I thought it was time for everyone to work things out and I really rallied behind it– but it just wasn’t meant to be.
H.M- To me Samhain will always be you, Glenn, Eerie and Damian. Do you think all of you will ever get back together to do a reunion tour one last time? L.M–Thanks, but Steve’s a BIG part of Samhain too—-I seriously doubt there will be another Samhain reunion–sadly, the 1999 reunion was probably it–me and Steve and the fans would love it and Glenn is not totally opposed to it–but we can’t do it as a 3 piece–unfortunately there’s some broken bridges between him and Eerie and Damien that might never be re-built. It’s too bad.
H.M– I heard that you made the cut to play drums by acing the Howl.
L.M–Yeah, that was my favorite song off Initium–and I learned how to play it by watching Steve rock it in the video from the Baltimore Samhain show. I loved when he did the back up vocals on the outro… still gives me chills… “There is a human slaughterhouse…”
H.M– Do you still have contact with anyone from Samhain?
L.M–Yes and no, me and Glenn get along well these days and Steve is obviously one of my closest friends. John Christ was technically in Samhain for a moment and we’ve always been friendly and have exchanged emails over the years. Eerie seems to have some secret beef with me so we’re not in contact and haven’t been since I left the band in ’87–not once–I’ll never understand that–people ask me why I’m not in his photo book–Eerie could tell ya why I guess- oh well, I’m okay with that–it’s his life and his book –just as long as I’m in Glenn’s book someday-that’s all that really matters !! But I do wish everybody could get along. That’s just my nature. I haven’t seen Damien in about 10 years but I think were good. He’s now playing bass in Bebe Buell’s band.
H.M– Tiger Army was another band you were in at the early stages. What was it like being in that unit?
L.M–Unit? ha! How about a combo daddy-o?? Tiger Army was cool band and we made a great record (Power of Moonlight) that I’m very proud of. Unfortunately it was a very controlled situation and i wasn’t quite happy in that type of environment anymore. Like Glenn, Nick had a very specific way of doing everything and at the time I was looking for something a bit more relaxed. I did the first leg of the Moonlight tour and decided it was better to leave than fight it out anymore. I knew Nick would land on his feet. I’m happy he’s done well.
H.M– What new projects are you working on? And how might people get news regarding them?.
L.M–Lots of stuff all the time–at the moment a lot of re-issues and re-unions (Reptile House and Distorted Pony) and there’s also the newest release from my Australian/American pop/art band The Foul and The Fragrant (available on iTunes.) I’ve also got a few new projects in the wings–definitely something with Steve eventually and maybe a guest spot in a few super groups that have been talked about — we’ll see-I’m open to all kinds of stuff and hopefully I’ll keep busy for awhile longer. The easiest way to get my updated info is to check out or contact me via my FACEBOOK page.
There you have it kiddies, a great interview with a stand-up dude. I would like to say a big thank you to London for accepting my offer to interview him.
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