Exhumed: Zackula Von Nasty

Zackula and Brit, before the show.
Zackula and Brit, before the show.

Back in 2008 when I stumbled upon the horrorpunk scene, I realized that I had discovered something truly great. Bands (and members of bands) like Blitzkid and Dragnun took this confused 20 something year old girl who had for all intents and purposes been labeled a “freak” by society just for liking dead things, under their wing. The years passed and the bands started disbanding, I felt like the music died. Out of the crypts crept a band called The Big Bad. “The Big Bad? What genre are they?” I asked a friend. They were opening for Koffin Kats, were they even worthy? Someone said “horrorpunk” and those memories that were only few years old, yet seemed to take place decades ago, filled me with fire. “I HAVE TO SEE THEM,” I proclaimed. And, then I did, and was hooked.

Just a two years later and I’m ecstatic. I feel like I’m part of a family again. The ever-generous Zackula Von Nasty, the veritable “mack-daddy” of The Big Bad, sits down with me before the show and lets me pick his brain to get even further into his genius. He’s not even Zackula Von Nasty right now; no, right now, he is just Zack B., my friend (whom I am also badgering with questions).

Me: So I guess the most obvious question is, “What inspired you to start The Big Bad?”
ZVN: At the time, I didn’t know that anyone was doing it. I mean, other than The Misfits, TSOL, there was a band called The Deadline, and then there was a band I had heard of called Blitzkid, and I was like, “Yeah, whatever, I’m going to do better than they do,” *both of us laugh* which is funny, because we’re friends with them! I have the Blitzkid logo tattooed on my shit now, but nobody did it. I moved into a strange city and I started bumping into people. I go to the mall and bump into people and say, “Hey, do you play music?” And so, finally, I bumped into our original guitar player. That’s how I got started.

Me: And how do you prepare to write songs?
ZVN: Sometimes I’ll just be goofing off. One of the songs on our album started off as a joke and I was like, “Actually, that sounds pretty fuckin’ good, ” so then I started writing pretty serious lyrics for it. Sometimes I’ll sit there and kinda soul-search a little bit. I work nights, so I unwind in the morning. I’ll have an adult beverage and just sit and think about things, and write it down.

Me: So I read in an interview where some of your songs are about dark/sad times in your life, how do you write those and still keep the horror theme?
ZVN: I was raised in a funeral home, and I played in a graveyard as a kid. There’s nothing to do in Logan, so, we’d go driving around on a Saturday night, looking at all the graveyards and tell each other ghost stories. One of my best friends passed away and that’s what “See You in the Shadows” is about, you know? Getting to see her again one day. “May All Your Nightmares Come True” is about somebody really dear to me and suicidal tendencies.

Me: What do you consider success?
ZVN:  Success is people singing the lyrics back to me when the PA kicks out. But ultimately, the main goal is to not have to do our square jobs and getting to do this for a living instead of having to go to these jobs we hate. If I could make a living and do this for the rest of my life, I would be the happiest man on earth.

Me: Following up with that, does it floor you having a local band and still having fans?
ZVN: It’s really, really strange. I don’t want to embarrass anybody, but I met this one particular fan, at HorrorHound and they are from WV, and she almost had a panic attack just because she was so excited. I was like, “No! No! I’m a nobody! I live 2 hours south of you, it’s okay!”

Me: What about fans in other states while you’re on the tour?
ZVN: It’s still weird! It’s cool, it’s great, it’s the best feeling in the world, but still really surreal. It’s a hard thing to describe, but at the same time, you’re like, “Whoa, that happened.”

Me: How do you define “horrorpunk”?
ZVN: Horrorpunk? Oh wow, there’s like, the question, “What does your band do, is it all like, ‘blah blah blah’?” No! Defining horrorpunk is like punk rock with spooky lyrics, and, you know, *we both laugh, because, we really do know* Some people lead spookier lives than others. We’re giving “goth” back to America.

Me: Do you feel like it’s a lifestyle, music genre, or could you even consider it a religion?
ZVN: Rock and roll is my religion. Some people call it a “scene”, some people call it a “horror rock family”. I think it’s definitely a family.

Me: Speaking of religion, at the beginning of “Shine the Signal”, you’re basically preaching, and I have to tell you: that’s fucking genius! *ZVN laughs* That’s seriously like one of my favorite things ever. How did you even come up with that?
ZVN: I graduated from a Christian School. I went to about 3 different Christian Schools, and I’ve been raised in a church my entire life. So I know what’s up.

Me: Well I feel like, and I know other people do too, is that “Shine the Signal” has become this huge movement, this punk/horrorpunk anthem. You mention in it that you were raised in the Bible Belt and that you were born with the demon in you, was that your intention; to incorporate religion into that anthem?
ZVN: Yeah, it’s all about living in West Virginia and being a horrorpunk kid. Kids now, walk down the street with plugs in their ears and tattoos. I was like, “Wait a minute.” I’m 33. When I was like that at 15 with spiky hair and pins all over me, I got looked at like I was an alien. It’s not just about southern West Virginia. It’s about anybody in any town, and it’s a call to arms. Like, “Let’s be together. Let’s do this thing.”

Me: What are you currently playing on your playlist?
ZVN: We got a lot of stuff from See You in the Shadows because it just came out, 180 gram vinyl, and it’s never been mastered before so it is now, and it’s awesome.

Me: What about your playlist at home, what are you listening to?
ZVN: I listen to everything! A lot of Muddy Waters, Lou Reed, Billie Holliday. Old rock and roll, Otis Redding. Post-punk like Joy Division, The Cure. I listen to my peers: The Cryptkeeper 5, and all the bands we play with. They’re not just my friends, they’re bands I listen to,

Me: And do they feel the same way, like, do they listen to you all?
ZVN: I don’t know, I hope they do! *both of us laugh*

Me: We talked earlier about your vision, being able to do this for a living. Do you have any other vision, or is that what’s on the horizon.
ZVN: That’s what’s on the horizon. I’ve been doing this since 2004, I’m not getting any younger. I’m not getting any older, either.
*Kyle Thirteen interjects*: Not getting any prettier, either. *all 3 of us laugh*
ZVN: Thank you, shut your mouth. *all 3 of us laugh* We’ve invested so much time, so much effort. There’s been so many lifestyle decision based on this band. It’s either go big or go home. I don’t wanna be the coolest person in West Virginia, or the coolest person in the horrorpunk scene. I want to be world wide. I want everybody to know who The Big Bad is.

Me: And now that you’re getting new material together, I guess the only other question to ask would be, “What’s next for The Big Bad?”
ZVN: It’s coming from a much more organic as far as songs with themes for horror rock. It’s more themes of human horror and deadly obscure. We’ve had a lot happen in this past year. Some of it was good, some of it was tragic. The best thing to do is lick your wounds, learn from it, and be a meaner animal.

The Big Bad are currently on tour. To learn more, visit https://www.facebook.com/TheBigBadMusic/

About Britt Feury

Slasher flick enthusiast; Scream lover. It's all about the metatext. A wise friend once said, "What's always struck me about Brit: she knows the horror genre so well that she can almost see through it. When Brit Feury says she has a fan theory, you listen; and try to keep up."

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