~An Interview with Mark Splatter by Blu 
(photos provied courtesy of Mark Splatter)

One of the true heroes of the Deathrock scene by all accounts is Mark Splatter -- the man behind, a hardworking DJ, promoter and one of the founders of the successful weekly deathrock/punk/goth club called Ghoulschool. I dare say you can't go anywhere around the globe and not find a group of deathrockers who know exactly who Mark Splatter is. Mark was kind enough to field some questions from us about his new night in Hollywood, his thoughts on the deathrock scene in general and what's in store for
SV:  Seemingly,  the rise in popularity of new deathrock/punk/goth (traditional goth) clubs is a conscious rebellion against electronic/trance/dance music that has taken over the "goth" scene. What do you think caused this change? I know the deathrock scene has always been in existence in LA - partly in thanks to clubs like Release the Bats, but what's behind this recent almost world wide growth?

Mark Splatter: In LA I think Release the Bats IS behind it. Until Bats came about, deathrock wasn't in LA for a long time. People faded away from the scene, but luckily, they eventually got tired of whatever they were doing and said to themselves 'You know what? I miss deathrock, and that's what it's all about'. So Release the Bats was born. If it weren't for RTB I would not be in California.

As for the rebellion against the format at goth clubs today, Goth clubs have become a business, and business rules dictate you gotta make money. And that means playing the music that most people want to hear. So goth clubs play the electronic music that people are used to hearing - its very accessible especially to people who are just coming into the gothic thing. Even Siouxsie, the Sisters, and the Cure aren't the sacred cows they used to be. Now its Apop, VNV, and Covenant. Which frankly I don't think are very 'gothic' at all. As bands like that came into DJ's playlists, more and more songs that match them in sound and style followed. Until we are at a point today when DJs don't feel the need to even bring their Sisters, Siouxsie, or Cure records with them, let alone Christian Death or something like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. Some Goth clubs have even (rightly so) dropped the term 'Gothic' from their flyers. And others keep it on there for appearances even though they don't play it much or at all anymore. That's fine for the people who just want to go to dance to no matter what, or just electronic music, which are most of the people at these clubs, but as for good old fashioned deathrockers or oldschool goths, it leaves a really bad taste in their mouth. They might as well be in a hip-hop club. Needless to say they aren't going to go back. I still think deathrockers are in the minority, but that's fine. Some of these clubs even go so far as to put 'deathrock' on their flyers to try and bring in the crowd the new deathrock clubs are attracting. That practice has definitely become a trend in Hollywood. But they don't get it - we are playing totally different music. Their version of 'deathrock' is 'Dominion' by the Sisters. They are simply ill equipped for it. Not only because of the DJs, but the people going to those clubs don't want to hear it. They want thump thump thump.

SV: What are some examples of this kind of music and clubs gaining in popularity that you know of?

Mark: Well there are several bands appearing all over the globe that even if they aren't strictly 'deathrock', they certainly are unique and interesting. I'll be mentioning bands in a moment. Clubs like Pagan Love Songs and a bunch of parties across Germany, and there's a club in York, England called Body Electric that plays oldschool gothic. Shane and I tried doing a bunch of clubs in LA last year, but it looks like Ghoul School, my new club this year has gotten a foothold. There are others in the US that are smaller venues, like Voodoo A-go-go in New York and the new Funeral Drive in Texas. 

SV: A lot of people like to argue that deathrock is dead and that there's no new deathrock bands. Set the record straight, tell us about some new deathrock bands?

Mark: These people need to get their heads out of the sand. There are bands from all over the world appearing, latching onto that oldschool feeling in their music. Antiworld, Bloody Dead and Sexy, The Phantom Limbs, not to forget Cinema Strange and the Deep Eynde who have been around for quite some time. And the number of bands is only growing.

The people that think that need to get internet accounts or something; I can say the same thing about electronic music. THERE ARE NO GOOD NEW ELECTRONIC BANDS. Just because electronic music is something I don't pay much attention to or follow up on, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. By the way there ARE good new electronic bands like Babyland, The Faint, Bakterielle Infektion and Adult (All you big industrial club promoters take note).

SV: How'd your new club night develop? I know there was a long search for the right venue...and Fate Fatal from the band The Deep Eynde is your partner in this right?

Mark: It's a funny story actually. Fate and I got together a couple of times and pondered new locations for a club in the Hollywood area, looked through phone books, scoured dive bars, etc. Finally we found a place that had a perfect atmosphere, but they were shutting the place down. I waited while the place changed owners, and one week I went by to see if anyone was there, and I accidentally walked into a different bar. Confused, I asked about the place and the bartender's eyes lit up - apparently he was dying to get a goth night there on an off night since he was a club-goer himself. So I found the place totally on accident. 

When I told Fate the news, he was shocked, and he told me that that bar used to be one of the most infamous gay bars in Hollywood during the 80s! I thought it was kind of fitting in a way, I mean the Sex Pistols had to play strip clubs in order to get a new music scene going. And it's not unknown to find goth clubs at gay bars anyway, but in Hollywood, your only choice for goth clubs till now was to go to a huge lavish location with multiple rooms and really expensive booze to listen to electronic thump thump thump music. So we started Ghoul School on January 2nd, 2002, and it just went off. It was quite packed, and it's maintained a steady crowd. Fate Fatal took up the decorative duties and did a spectacular job. His vision was just what it needed. He's got a lot to concentrate on with the band and all so he's taken a back seat, but still part of the team. I don't think I could do it without him being involved. 

SV: What's the venue like and where/when is it? What's the music format like? I know you've been encouraging guest DJs too.

Mark: The venue is very intimate, just an entrance, bar, a dance floor and a small back room, but thankfully gay bars have outrageous lighting systems, and this place has an awesome DJ setup. A lot of places I have had to bring in my own equipment, but this place is stocked. It's in West Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd. just two blocks east of Fairfax, held EVERY Wednesday. It's also around the corner a few blocks from the legendary Oki Dog, where punks used to hang out in the LA scene in the 70s. It was Darby Crash's favorite place. We go there afterwards almost every night.

Our format is pretty unique - that's why we are Hollywood's only alternative goth club. No matter what the other goth clubs think they are, they are still just part of the mainstream. We play whatever we want - Punk, Gothic, Deathrock, New Wave, even Alternative from the 90s. It's just good rock and roll with a dark edge to it. We DON'T play new EBM or industrial. We even play some Depeche Mode or Skinny Puppy, but only the stuff that's from the root, not all this derivative stuff at other clubs. 

And yes, I have been having guest DJs every week - I think that stimulates new music, because each DJ has their own style. As long as they aren't going to be rehashing what the other clubs have been playing I'm up for it. We've had some great guests. I have also been giving a chance to some newcomers.

SV: Do you find the crowd at the deathrock clubs to be older, in general and why is that?

Mark: Well there are definitely some deathrockers in Hollywood who have been around for quite some time, but no, there are plenty of new kids too. Unfortunately Ghoul School is 21 and up, and that definitely excludes some people who really want to be part of it. All the clubs that are 18 and up are the EBM Industrial clubs, so all the new people to the scene only have that option, and wind up thinking that's all there is to offer. But there are a lot of people, not just deathrockers, who really like ghoul school - Psychobillies, Punks, and other assorted madmen. It makes for a good mix. As for the older deathrockers, a lot of them were burnt out because all the clubs started to get boring and repetitive. When they DO decide to go back to clubs, if they go to one of the bigger clubs they will remember exactly WHY they got sick of it. But if they happen to come to Release the Bats, or now Ghoul School, they fall in love with it all over again. This is a documented fact, as we've seen it happen, and have been glad to see them back.

SV: I know you've expanded alot of services on this past year. Tell us about that.

Mark: I'm always adding new archives of bands, discographies, pictures, etc. There are a lot of great new releases appearing that I've been happy to review. As for itself, I have added a message board, a store where you can get some underground releases directly by mail order, and a virtual store where you can pick out some of the best deathrock, goth, and punk releases from one of our partners, You can also get an email address now too. I have plans to add a web hosting service as well. I have started a few email lists for people interested in deathrock in their area. There is Deathrock LA, Deathrock SF (for San Francisco) and Deathrock DE for Germany. There are a number of other lists as well. These seem to be a good way to meet others, find out what events are going on in your area, and just some good online fun.

Click Here Continue on to Part 3 --
Rick A. Mortis on Deathrock in San Fran

Mark Splatter

Here are some links:

Cinema Strange
The Phantom Limbs
The Deep Eynde
Bloody Dead and Sexy
Murder @ the Registry
Frank the Baptist
Cult of the Psychic Fetus

Deathrock Email Lists:
Deathrock LA
Deathrock San Francisco
Deathrock Germany
Deathrock Down Under (Australia)
Oldschool Batcave and Goth
Deathrock and Goth


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