Recent holiday inventions, such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day, are anything if not great opportunities to craft detailed mood playlists. With the Misfits, the Cramps and an endless stream of talented horror theme rock groups out there, shaping your own Halloween playlist may seem a daunting task. Why not simplify and enjoy your Hallows Eve celebrations to the soundtrack provided by seminal horror punk band, Demented Are Go. Here’s the brief guide to one of psychobilly’s greatest and weirdest institutions.
Messy beginnings and the Demented Are Go debut masterwork
Nothing came easy for Demented Are Go, a band whose history is as turbulent and bizarre as their music. Started out in 1982, the group, whose only consistent member has been gravelly voiced singer, Sparky, set up to create a mix of their favorite sounds and visuals. Rockabilly and Teddy boy culture were part of it. So was the revolutionary sound of punk rock. Last, but not least, the group sought lyrical inspiration from the world of b-series horror movies.
After a number of years and already frequent lineup changes, Demented Are Go finally released their debut album in 1986. In Sickness and Health finds the punk band’s ideas fully fleshed out. From the gory image, to the punk-rock musical dynamics, this is the band at their best. In Sickness and Health remains a golden standard for the niche genre of horror punk. And, for a niche band, it is the album that put Demented Are Go on the map, offering them considerable success, arguably more than the group members were ready to handle.
Halloween rating for their debut album: Essential to your playlist!
Off the reservation and into the trees
Subtlety and consistency. Those are two things that rarely characterized Demented Are Go. Following the success and notoriety awarded by their debut, Sparky and the group, whose lineup had once again changed, set about recording new music in the vein of In Sickness and Health.
While the band is rarely short on, at least, a few great songs, on all of their records, some of those have certainly aged better than others. Kicked out hell is a worthy followup to their debut record. Releases like Call of the wired offer noteworthy comebacks. But, it’s the records in between those that find the madness of the band, on and off the stage, threatening to tear them apart. The metallic sound of the The Day the Earth spat blood is a prime example of this, and obvious and rigid misstep.
It’s in those turbulent days that the Demented Are Go’s reputation began to precede them. The group earned praise for their tight 50’s meets punk sound. Sparky’s voice developed into a sound impossible to replicate. And the singer’s reputation for arrests and trouble with the law added to their myth.
Halloween rating for middle period: Excellent when songs are chosen carefully
Is their such a thing as classic horror punk?
If there is, Demented Are Go are worthy of the title! Having survived the numerous struggles that life and their music career has thrown at them, the group has moved into an existence facilitated by the esteem that the punk and alternative rock community offers them.
By the 2010s the group was still touring the world, treating their legions of fans to old favorites and newer numbers. The timbre of Sparky’s voice (few in the genre are as recognizable) was used to great effect in a collaboration with the Hillbilly Moon Explosion. It earned millions of listeners and viewers.
The singer even found time to collaborate with Stan Standen on the excellently inventive side-project Demented Scumcats. Their album Splatter Baby finds Sparky finding his old enthusiasm for all things gore, while channeling his best Tom Waits.
Halloween Verdict: My love for evermore, a collaboration with the Hillbilly Moon Explosion, is a ideal way to end your Halloween party. Essential addition to the playlist!