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Coffin Draggers


Interview by Ron Sawyer

Exclusive to ©girlsandcorpses.com

issue #13

"The Coffin Draggers blend rockabilly with touches of goth, deathrock and at times a hint of industrial to make their own unique sound they like to call... Death-Rockabilly! Their music, though it contains dark elements, is very lively and upbeat. A touch of dark humor is mixed in to create a morbidly fun atmosphere! The Coffin Draggers are widely received by audiences of all scenes from goth to rockabilly to punk. Their fans range in age from small children to the aged and nearly dead!"

Look for their tour bus... a 1969 Cadillac hearse!

Coffin Draggers members are...

Gator McMurder - Upright Bass and Vocals. McMurder is well known for his old band the Bea Pickles, one of America's earliest psychobilly bands. McMurder has shared the stage and recorded with many acts of all genres.

Robert Frank - Drums and backing vocals. Khrist as he is sometimes called is a founding member of punk band O.B.S. Which stands for Our Band Sucks. Khrist hates playing drums... He only does it for the Coffin Draggers... And their fans!

Jose S. Sleeping - Guitar and backing vocals. Jose has broken strings on stage with many well known rockabilly acts from original 1950s rockers to present day revivalists! Jose is well known as the guitarist for the now laid to rest... Flaming Aces!

G&C: Hello Gator, Jose and Robert. Let's start with a bit of history on Coffin Draggers, how you met, got started and all that.

Jose: I think you should take this one, Gator.

Gator: Oh, you think so? You say that every time. Why don't you take it sometimes?

G&C: One for the team.

Gator: Yeah. Anyhow, it all started many many many years ago... How did it start?

Jose: We were in bands.

Gator. Oh yeah. Bob and I go way back in bands, but as far as this band goes, Jose and I had a band called The Wild Men with a different drummer. Bob wasn't the drummer.

Robert: By the way, they call me Bob.

Gator: That was Robert Frank saying "They call me Bob."

Robert: So I heard some recordings of Gator and Jose, the project they were doing and no offense to the drummer in there but it was definitely the weak link of the material. And by that time, I had pretty much stopped playing drums.

Gator: Bob's the best drummer in the world but he hates playing them.

Robert: I just don't play drums. Gator showed me some songs and I knew I could do much better on these things. When they wanted to record, I think it was five songs or something, Gator asked me if I would do it so, yeah, I learned the songs and they sounded really good so we decided maybe we should do something with this because it sounded really good. And it kind of took off from there.

Gator: Yeah, and the first show, we didn't even have to book. We just kind of got put on it without even being told. We saw our name listed. Because I was helping to organize a really big musical event, a whole weekender, and those recordings we did, I just played them for the guy in charge just for fun to say, "Hey, check out this new thing I'm working on. And he said, "This is cool. What do you guys call yourselves?" We didn't even have a name at the time.

Robert: We had to come up with it.

Gator: But ever since I was a kid, I wanted to have a band called the Coffin Draggers because of that "Monster Mash" song, it says "The coffin draggers are about to arrive". So I just threw that name out of the blue. And next thing I know, Coffin Draggers are listed on the flyer and the website and we played. So it started.

G&C: When was that?

Gator: Oh, God, when was that?

Robert: Was that '03 or '02?

Gator: '03, I think. We're so good at knowing our own history.

Robert: But it took off. The popularity exploded.

Jose: But we kind of had a dry spell. But everything seems to be coming along like always, just fine, it's working.

Robert: Yeah, it's amazing, the success... you know, I don't want to be Mr. Rock Star guy. By all means, we're not. But it's pretty cool the success we've had without the release of a CD, to play sold out shows and packed places.

Gator: Yeah, three, four years together playing and no CD out and we're doing pretty good for ourselves.

Robert: It's very cool to see kids out on the street wearing our shirts or you see one of our stickers on a car. And I feel that whenever we do see that they're just an automatic friend. You know, just go up to them and be like, "Hey, man, that's pretty cool. Thanks a lot. So the release of the album is just another major boost for us. Needless to say, all those people who stuck around for the last few years are definitely waiting for it and I think they're in for a treat.

G&C: Was there a particular reason why you waited so long to put out an album?

Gator: We were stupid.

Robert: You know, Gator and I, we both have Pro Tools studios and it seems like the last band we ever wanted to record was our own. And we have tried, we recorded a few demos but when we tried to do something serious, the whole Murphy's Law, "never try to record your own band" would kick in and we just never liked anything that we did and we would can it, shelve it.

Gator: Yeah, we were too anal about our own stuff.

Robert: And that went on for years.

Gator: We have tons and tons and tons of recordings, even back on analog tape, because we both started recording on tape. But we never liked anything we did. We always thought it sucked.

Robert: But earlier this year, back in February, I got really motivated, I was doing a lot of reading. just really motivated to put this CD out. We're not getting any younger. I told myself we're gonna record and everyone's gonna contribute all of their positive assets and I said it's gonna be done by October and sure enough, it's done.

Gator: Originally you said May.

Robert: That's true. Originally, we wanted to have a single out by May. But, again, because of our procrastination and just never recording ourselves, that never happened.

Gator: We recorded the drum tracks in February.

Robert: Yeah, I was done in February. It's these two guys that just took forever.

Jose: October seems like a better month, anyway, because it's my Birthday month.

Robert: And Halloween, don't forget that.

Gator: But the funny thing is, we actually recorded your drums earlier than that, with the old microphones.

Robert: Yeah, I did my drum tracks twice.

Gator: I bought new microphones and stuck them on his drums and said, "Hey, let's listen to these, " and he said, "OK, I've gotta re-record." Because the new mics were so much better.

Robert: We record at such a... I don't know if it's such an unusual way or what but I'm able to just have a click track going and play the song. I don't need the guys to play along with me. I just have it all memorized. So I'm just sitting in the studio playing the song on the drums to a click track. I can knock them out in a take or two. So a lot of the stuff on the album...

Gator: They may not be right but he can knock them out in a take or two.

Robert: A lot of the stuff on the album is first or second take stuff. I mean, probably knocked them out in one or two days for all the drum tracks.

Gator: And then Jose took forever.

Jose: Sometimes it takes forever for some bands because I feel that it takes a while for a band to pick up its style, to feel like, "OK, this is it, this is what we need to record. Let's do it." Guess it finally happened.

G&C: It sounds like it was worth the wait.

Gator: We're getting a lot of good feedback, just over the fact that we've finally got a CD out. I mean, people haven't even heard it yet but we're getting all kinds of positive feedback. And we've already got record distributors contacting us to distribute it, which is really cool.

Robert: And one thing that we've thought about with the product itself, we wanted it to look cool and different. We refer to our fans as 'the kids', because we're old. We wanted the kids to have something cool so we have this great artwork on it. It's packaged in a DVD format so it sticks out.

Gator: It's in a digipak instead of a jewel case.

Robert: It's very cool. It has an insert in it and I think the kids, the fans are just gonna dig it. I hope they do because we're proud of it.

Gator: The artwork's really amazing and it crosses over different genres.

G&C: Is the artwork under wraps or can you talk about it?

Gator: We can talk about that, can't we? A friend of ours named Lucky Dias who works at Paramount Studios, he did the artwork for us. Very good graphic designer.

Robert: We had a couple meetings with him, told him what we wanted, kind of described it. And what he had shown us like the next day just blew us away, he is so good. He did some quick mock-ups and we were like. "Man, this is perfect." It wasn't your typical psychobilly, you know, flaming dice and martini glasses. It was just with skulls, all that stuff.

Gator: It's very classy.

Robert: Yeah, it's very classy, it's very dark.

Gator: Has a dark Victorian look to it.

G&C: And what about the songs that went into your album? What went into putting them together?

Gator: Hmm. Well, it's a mix of old and new.

Robert: Yeah, we wanted to give, here I go again, the kids the songs that they enjoy from our live shows as well as some new stuff which is kind of like a breathe of fresh air because we had been playing that set for the last couple years.

Gator: Yeah, we needed new stuff but we figured we'd record all the old stuff since it's what everyone knows and then we'd through a couple new ones in and then the next album will be all new.

Robert: I think it's definitely noticeable what's old and what's new. the newer stuff's more of a harder, faster... punky, speed thrash death metal, whatever you wanna call it. Smooth jazz skate punk...

G&C: Cool jazz?

Robert: Yes, cool jazz. Isn't that a new rapper, Cool Jazz? Anyway... But, definitely the new stuff, I think the kids are gonna eat that stuff up because it's hard, it's fast, it's loud.

Gator: But as always, the lyrical content is about dead girls.

Robert: Well, of course. Is there any other kind of lyrical content?

G&C: I bet the girls love it.

Gator: Oh, yeah, we have a huge female fan base... not that they're huge females but...

Robert: Well, I don't know. But it's pretty amazing. At the shows, all these teenage girls, man, it's crazy. It's mind-boggling sometimes to see that.

Gator: Yeah, and we walk funny afterwards.

Jose: When we usually play "Dead Girls Don't Say No" we try to get all the gals to go in the mosh pit and it's crazy.

Gator: A lot of the girls know that certain songs are kind of dedicated to them and they take over the pit and don't let the guys in at all. And if a guy dares go in, watch out. It's insane.

Jose: What were we talking about?

Gator: Dead girls and our songs.

Robert: I hope that the success of this album leads to bigger and better things. We wanna go on tour, which we probably will next year, we're thinking spring when the weather gets nicer.

G&C: Where will you be touring?

Gator: Anywhere we can. We want to go across the country if we can.

Robert: Yeah, a US tour would be great.

G&C: Robert, tell us about your side project called Veil Of Rain.

Robert: It's something that my beautiful fiancé Carolyn Ann and myself are working on along with a very close friend Raul. We're recording that album right now, it's being mixed and mastered. It should be out in the next few months.

G&C: I've had a chance to hear one of your songs. Your fiancé has an amazing voice.

Robert: Yeah, she's a trained soprano and she does a lot of work with classical recording studio sessions. She's also a teacher at a performing arts school.

Gator: I was gonna sing for them but, you know, I decided not to.

G&C: Robert doesn't want to marry you.

Robert: No, the ring wouldn't fit.

Gator: Depends on where you put it.

Robert: That's true.

Gator: Wait, I'm talking bad about myself.

Robert: By the way, us big, mean rock stars are sitting here, sipping on tea.

Gator: Earl Grey.

G&C: Yeah, I tried to bust out the hard liquor but they're having none of that.

Robert: You know, when there's mango caffeine-free tea in the house, I can't resist.

But yeah, Veil Of Rain, look for us on Myspace at myspace.com/veilofrain. I think it's got some old material on there right now.

Gator: That remix with too much reverb?

Robert: Yes. But enough about that, shucks.

Gator: Jose is sleeping right now.

Jose: I'm just thinking. The gears are turning.

Gator: Jose sleeps a lot for some reason. What were we talking about?

G&C: Actually, why don't you mention your studio. You recorded your album at your own studio, right?

Gator: Yes, we recorded our album at my studio, which is called Funeral Home Studios, and it's decorated really spooky and cool inside. So far, everybody that's come over to it loved it. I have candles burning when they record.

Jose: It's also a mortuary, so if you have loved ones who have died...

Gator: Yeah, I run multiple businesses there.

Robert: He just puts on a different hat.

Gator: Actually, I don't wear hats. It would mess up my hair. I've got a hearse too to haul them away.