“What was supposed to be a year-long progress ended up taking two, as my wife, Mo, died suddenly in August of 2017,” dark fiction writer/editor extraordinaire and Weirdpunk Books owner Sam Richard tells Decibel of the long, arduous journey to get Zombie Punks Fuck Off into print. “After partially clawing my way out of my own metaphorical grave — and wishing for nothing more than for her to be able to claw out of her very real one — I knew that [this anthology] still needed to see the light of day. But it’s out now and full of all the zombie/punk action you can handle.”
Well, truer words…
This endlessly imaginative collection — the original brainchild of the great writer and former Weirdpunk Books owner Emma Alice Johnson — is as fantastically grotesque and disquieting as it is fun, each story its own punk-themed desecrated empty grave. Within its pages you will fine “a touring Christian Punk band run afoul of a horde of living dead, a group of zombie-infected anarcho-punks staging a revolution in London, Hank William’s far-distant great-grandson struggling against the restraints of universal fame, guitars that gently eat,” and much, much more.
“There are few things that go so well together than punk/metal and horror,” Richard muses. “I’m sure most of us saw this connection early. For me, the feeling of scrounging through filthy record stores for new bands and scanning the horror aisle of video stores for obscure gems with gnarly covers felt almost as one. And as an adult, these passions have not waned.”
To celebrate this joint Weirdpunk/Clash Books release, we asked Richard to disinter his own perfect Zombie Punk playlist. He graciously agreed.
“While I wait for Mo’s return in the great zombie apocalypse of 2019, here are six Zombie Punks Fuck Off approved songs,” he says. “Yeah, not all of them are punk, but they all capture aspects of what I wanted to bring to the already zombie-rich landscape with the book.”
1. UK Decay: “Rising from the Dead”
With the rise of attention paid to ’80s post- and gothy punk, it always shocks me how few people have listened to UK Decay. With their output being grittier and less pretty than their peers, it makes sense that the Crass-run Corpus Christi label put out one of their EPs. “Rising from the Dead” tells the story of a man convicted of a crime, put to death, and rising from the grave to enact vengeance. Not a traditional zombie tale, but the undead revenge themes make me wish we had more than an LP and a few EPs from this underrated band. (This link misstitles the song to “Rising from the Dread,” which is the name of the EP.)
2. Crimson Spectre: “Family Tree of Regret”
The criminally-obscure Crimson Spectre took the look and spirit of horror punk and — thank fuck — turned it on its head. Instead of heading towards increasingly-rockabilly affectations, they wrote fast, mean hardcore songs which lyrically ran parallels between horror movie tropes and the horrors of capitalism and exploitation. They created a place where being an undead specter became a source of liberation. Ghouls of the world, unite!
3. Amebix: “Winter”
While the threat in “Winter” isn’t zombies, the lyrics seem to hint at something worse than just the weather. Plus, it crawls to the pace of eerie masses slowly overtaking everything in their path. This got a lot of listens when I was editing ZPFO. I included a mention of a different Ambeix song, “Drink and Be Merry,” in my story, “Nature Unveiled.” But this is a more fitting entry to this list, given its mood and atmosphere.
4. Current 93: “Ach Golgotha (Maldoror is Dead)”
As I mentioned above, in my inclusion of the Amebix classic “Winter” on this list, my story in Zombie Punks is called “Nature Unveiled.” A story of widowerhood, grief, and zombies, I named it after my favorite Current 93 album. The A-side, Ach Golgotha (Maldoror is Dead), is an uncomfortable, challenging masterpiece. It speaks of black suns and blood-weeping moons; of toxic hells; of horrors and surreal vignettes — all while pulsing and ringing with weeping and ritualistic, meditative cries lamenting the death of Maldoror, hero of Comte de Lautramont’s The Songs of Maldoror — a classic of transgressive, surrealist writing. It served as aural muse for the writing of my story.
5. Goblin: “Dawn of the Dead theme”
Like most Goblin songs, this one has atmosphere in spades. Maybe it’s cheap to add this song to the list, but I don’t care. This was the soundtrack to so many people’s first taste of what made horror movies — of what made zombie movies — so powerful and impactful. The first time I saw Dawn of the Dead, I wasn’t prepared for the awesome insanity that was waiting for me. It is that spirit that birthed Zombie Punks.
6. Demilich: “Raped Embalmed Beauty Sleep”
When you’re standing in a tomb, reading a cipher in a forgotten language that resurrects the dead bodies surrounding you, and then they turn you into one of them, sometimes all you can do is laugh. Demilich captures everything good about surreal, weird horror to match their take on surreal, weird death metal. Yeah, we’ve strayed pretty far from zombie punks, but this song is too incredible to not include.
A QUICK ADDENDUM: Some folks might be pissed that I didn’t include any songs by the Misfits. Aside from not wanting to go the obvious route for this list, I also already have focused a significant amount of time on them with another Weirdpunk Book, Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to the Misfits. So you can check that out and get all your Ghouls Night Out needs met.