Saturday, August 9, 2014

30 Bloody Years | An interview with London May of SAMHAIN

Photo © DVLMAN

You joined SAMHAIN in 1985. Did you have any idea of the cult following SAMHAIN had back then and even now almost 30 years on?

Well if I had any idea how enduring the band would be I surely would not have thrown/given away all my souvenirs! After the band broke up I was totally butt hurt and I was also moving around quite a bit so it just seemed like non-essential boxes of stuff. I'm not really into selling stuff or Ebay but it would have been nice to look back at my old notebooks and journals, etc.  
I'm beyond thrilled that there is still such a huge demand for the band 30 years on. I was passionate about the band from day one and thankfully there are a lot of folks who feel the same way.

SAMHAIN are reuniting in September to commemorate 30 years since the debut of "Initium". You will be playing Initium in its entirety at RIOT FEST. Is that a trip? And how do you feel about the album 30 years on? 

Initium was such a turning point for Glenn and it was a huge leap sideways after The Misfits. You hear Earth A.D. and then he releases Initium a year later and you are like "WHOA! Where did that come from?" It was darker, slower, and sexier and I remember being immediately pulled into his new world. The record still holds up and live those songs really transcend to another ferocious level. The Howl is my favorite song off that album and I will never forget nailing it for my first audition. I used to recite the lyrics in my head all the time like a mantra--I'm lucky I didn't end up a serial killer! Cant wait to play that one and all the rest--if there's a few thousand people who feel the same way about those songs as I do its gonna get VERY VERY crazy.

This marks the fourth time SAMHAIN have reunited. Looking back on the early days how different are the shows and the audience today compared to then? 

Besides the venues getting bigger and all the obvious modern upgrades it still feels the same to me. As long back as I can remember, and years before I joined Samhain, I've always played like it was my last show, regardless of the size of the crowd or venue. Some of the smallest shows I've played over the years are actually the ones people still talk about most. The fans are always great but they've always been a blur for me when I'm on stage since I'm so focused on my instrument and Glenn. We had a lighting rig fall on to the stage at a show and I didn't even realize it! 
Our audience has always been the best and most diverse: young, old, punk, metal, etc. and it still amazes me. Our records have been out of print for almost 15 years and we are bigger now than ever!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU ! I'm always stoked to meet our fans and hear their enthusiasm. I'm not shy about being a fan boy myself so I can always relate!

Photo © Piggy D

What are some of your best memories from the SAMHAIN early years? 

Well one among many is renting out a rehearsal room in NYC and me, Glenn, and Eerie jamming out Misfits songs with Kirk and James from Metallica. Also living in New Jersey was a blast, I loved it there. I made so many life long friends back in those days-- and I'm so grateful to still be close with most of those people.

You have been credited as both drummer and bass player throughout the years in SAMHAIN. I've read your heart is in in the drums. What drove you to pick up the sticks and who are your drumming idols?

As a kid I was a Who freak and I wanted to be Pete Townsend so bad but when it was time to pay the guitar rental fee I spent the money on comics instead. It was a Gibson Les Paul sunburst just like his (though mine was made in Korea) but I just couldn't get it to happen for me so I gave it up. Maybe my fingers were too small then. Later my little sister was signed up to play in the school band and I couldn't let her get all the attention so I competitively signed up for the drums. Even though it was just "rat-tat-tat" on a snare drum it was immediately easier and more natural for me, so then I envisioned myself as Keith Moon and never looked back. Besides Keith Moon, some of my early drum inspirations included John Bonham, Phil Rudd, Topper Headon, Chuck Biscuits, Bill Stevenson, Martin Atkins, Lars Ulrich, and many, many more. But I wasn't ever really interested in drumming just for the sake of drums-- the songs came first--if it was a good song I then became interested in what the drummer was doing. 
P.s. I actually went back to the guitar many years later and finally had some success with it. I was actually considered for Samhain on guitar when Damien didn't work out for the '99 tour. Instead I got the bass gig. Never give up!

What are you most looking forward to with the 30 Bloody Years tour?

Premiering this tour in Chicago at Riot Fest is very special to me. I think it's the best music festival in America and I'm very proud to see it grow and be playing it once again. Chicago has always been like a second home to me and I fly out every year for the festival and the staff and crew treat me like family.

You recently finished up a stint in theatre playing the Cardinal in "The Dutchess of Malfi". What was that like? Is acting another avenue you are passionate about exploring and can we except to see you on stage or screen again soon?

Before I was ever practicing windmills on a fake Les Paul I was involved in theater. I have always been passionate about acting but got sidetracked by music for decades but always thought about getting back into it. The whole theater atmosphere is very much like a band for me-- lots of rehearsal and memorization, lots of team work and camaraderie, and finally stepping on stage in front of an audience and trying to bring them into your world. It was very intense and The Duchess was quite a challenge for my first production back after so many years. The cast and crew were amazing and supportive and the play was a big success so I hope to do more soon (schedule permitting---theater is a BIG time commitment). In the meantime I'm constantly auditioning for smaller, less time consuming roles in films, music videos, and TV. Besides the new Hilary Duff video there's a few things in the can that I shot recently that will be coming out in the next few months-- so don't touch that dial! It's all been very exciting and I love acting--it's really an extension of my music--and I'm lucky and happy to be getting some work in a very competitive field.

Photo © Dan Rawe

What's next for London May once the SAMHAIN tour raps up in November? 

More acting and more music, so I'm trying hard to find time for it all! I just recorded drums for an upcoming EP with an incredible new multinational super group. It's going to be BIG --I might have to clone myself to keep up with everything!

Samhain -- 2014 Tour Dates