Coffin Carousel’s Spooktacular Howard Noise on Influences, Instruments, and Letting Go of Toxicity

Today we have an interview that I have been looking forward to, from one of my favorite signings to Eclipse Records. You may remember that album I reviewed from Coffin Carousel called Between Death and Dead. Well, today we have none other than vocalist Howard Von Noise to answer our most burning questions, and hopefully we will all get a lesson in what it takes to make doom pop music.

Chimera Magazine (Tom) – Hey, Howard. Thanks for doing this, and congrats on the upcoming release; it’s really a great listen, with aspects that most music fans can enjoy.

HVN: Thanks Tom, super stoked to release this album through Eclipse Records and glad you enjoyed the listen! ‘Between Death & Dead’ has been a work in progress for 5 years so it feels awesome to finally see it going out. My main goal with the album was to keep the songs as original as possible and all high energy so I am hoping fans of all heavy music genres can enjoy at least a couple of songs, if not the whole album.

Tom – From listening to the album, it is very apparent that you have a horror themed vision for the band. I just went and saw IT; awesome movie, make sure you check it out. That being said, what films, books, etc inspire you from that genre? 

HVN: Oh yeah there’s a horror undertone indeed. Not a gore/bloody horror feel, but more in lines with creepy/spooky horror flavors and lyrically spinning them to give a double meaning…for those into horror the lyrics paint one picture, to the music fan who has just heard the music without seeing the imagery I imagine they might take another message all together, the song messages and meanings are universal in that sense…I have always loved a fun element to the horror genre. I fell in love as a kid with the Evil Dead trilogy, especially Army’s of Darkness. When I was in my teens I used to stay at a friend’s place after school every Friday night and watch the Friday 13th movies…that was an early memory for me getting into horror, then finding out about Rob Zombie and the Misfits when I started playing guitar opened me to all the horror influenced music out there and I was hooked for life. Tim Burton is another huge influence visually and creatively, along with the Danny Elfman soundtracks in his movies.

Tom – I can hear some Addams Family type keyboards on the album. I always loved it in the show when Lurch would play those weird things, and Wednesday and him would end up dancing. After discovering that these things worked with music, how did you choose where you drew your inspiration for the music? There’s so much of it out there that I would think it would be difficult to pick the ones to use.

HVN: I love the Addams Family, the whole concept and the Munsters also! I have Butch Patrick’s (Eddie Munster) autograph on the headstock of my Cargill custom telecaster. On the album there is a synth backing plate to every song. As well as keeping a live band feel I wanted to create a soundscape that complemented the songs and drew more depth to the sounds and atmosphere specific to each song. I don’t really draw inspiration, I just get into the feel of each song and express what sounds I can hear playing in with the band instruments…I live and breathe what I love so really the album sounds is just an extension of my everyday thoughts and ideas with the music I like to create. I try to create sounds that I haven’t heard before as much as possible, I will play with effects and sound plugins for hours to push a sound into a new realm and have it sounding unique.

Tom – Between Death and Dead is a really cool album. I love the fact that it’s got a vibe from several genres at once. “Sleeping Hollow” and “Toxic Candy” are my favorites, oh and “Voodoo Riot”. Your vocals are almost like another instrument in propelling the song forward, they are rhythmic in their execution. What led you to using that approach in performing vocal work?

HVN: Yeah for sure, I tried to pack as much in as I could that would make sense all working together. I love just keeping everything driving on the beat, rhythm is what I love about heavy music, growing up with albums like Metallica’s Black Album, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Sepultura’s Roots albums, I just loved the impact of keeping the vocals working in sync with the music and on the beat. I love bands like Blink 182 and obviously, the Misfits so keeping the pop sensibility melodies to the songs is something I love as well about song writing. All awesome songs to me are vocal and drum driven, the guitars flavor up the chord progressions and the bass bridges the drums and guitars…classic Bob Rock producing mentality.

Tom – Speaking of “Toxic Candy”, can you tell us a little on what the song is about? I’ve been trying to pick it up, and I just cannot figure it out lol

HVN: I wrote Toxic Candy about growing strong and shutting out people’s opinions or thoughts around how we each live our lives and the path we walk. Understanding that the toxic element which is negative is actually in each of our control to let go of and move away from. We give away our power to move through life’s obstacle by acknowledging those elements existence in the first place. We all hold the power to change and grow and once we realize that life becomes fun and light to enjoy and evolve internally which effects our external relationships, environments and behaviors.

Tom – I see that you have some endorsements from Mesa Boogie amps, Cargill Guitars, and ESP Guitars (Australia), color me green with jealousy. What pieces from these companies do you recommend, and what is your main guitar for touring, and what one for recording?

HVN: Mesa Boogie have been my choice guitar amplifier since 2004 and having them support me as an artist is totally an awesome feeling and an honor. The Mesa tone is awesome for the sound I love to dial in and sag up the Coffin Carousel guitar chunk. For fast chord riffing ‘phat’ chords I haven’t found an amplifier that serves me so well like my custom Mesa Boogie Rectifier 50-watt head and my Rectifier 2×12 speaker cabinet. I used this amp for all the Coffin Carousel studio recordings as well as my live rig. On the Between Death & Dead LP I used a Japanese made ESP Viper…I no longer have any of my ESP guitars, I only currently use my custom Cargill telecaster now live and will for all future Coffin Carousel studio recordings…I have Jim Cargill building me a 2nd custom telecaster at the moment which should be ready to bring out into my rig in 2018. I recommend all players to keep trying all the gear they can and research what will get them the tone they are chasing. It took me a good 15 years to build my dream guitar tone trying different guitars, amps, pickups and different recording techniques but I got there in the end…just don’t stop searching until your jaw drops.

Tom – I love the guitar tones on this album. They are raw and metallic, cutting through the mix like a bloody dagger. What’s your secret to this tone?

HVN: Yeah, the guitar tone on the Between Death & Dead LP is my favorite studio tone I have pulled ever on any recording I have done to date. I used my main live rig in the studio so there aren’t any tricks going on there that anyone else can dial in with a Mesa Rig. I took the time to get the right blend of microphones on the guitar cabinet that captured the frequencies I wanted most predominant in my tone and could also be mixed in perfect with the bass guitar tone and the overall mix. Everyone’s tone is all in the right hand and how you use it. I also used EL34 tubes in my Mesa Boogie 50-watt Rectifier to pull a more British “brown” sound with me Mesa. There was some Neve microphone pre-amping on the back end of the microphones before the desk input, nothing digital, it was an all real and analogue process captured through a SSL4000 console then into Pro Tools. My secret is keep it simple and don’t over complicate your tone, let your right hand deliver what the power tubes like to feel so the speaker then expresses what you right hand commands.

Tom – When Coffin Carousel sets about writing music, how do you approach it? All together jamming out, or separately to bring in full songs for the band to take a look at?

HVN: I write all the music and lyrics. Coffin Carousel has been my brainchild from the beginning so that making me the main song writer lets me pull the songs together as a package that works for the vocals I can perform. I start with the music always. Getting the right tempo with my demos so the guitar riffs feel right to work with any vocals ideas I might get as I am demoing parts of the music. Once I have a solid ripping song working I start writing vocal melodies then the lyrics last. For me so everything makes sense as a package and all the instruments complement the song in a dynamic way, that gives me a good footing to start writing vocal melodies and working in lyrics with the melodies so they work with the rhythm and the song accent placements with the drums.

Tom – After the album is out can we expect a tour? With maybe some American Dates?

HVN: That’s the plan, once the album drops I will be working a lot of the promotion in the background with the label, but I plan to get the band working from here in Australia on the live scene with my main goal to reach overseas. The first opportunity/tour/support shows that come up I will get on a plane and make Coffin Carousel happen internationally. I want to be out hitting the festivals and touring through Europe and North America where the scene is for the Coffin Carousel sound and grow an international fanbase.

Tom – On the touring side, I see on your Facebook page that you are Vegan and Straight-Edge. For years it has been a cliché that bands party vigorously while on tour, and it’s cool to see that not all bands are continuously wasted. What led you to choosing this lifestyle, and deciding that using chemicals was just not part of your plan?

HVN: I have been vegetarian since 2007, and went vegan/straight edge in 2015. It just works for me. I treat my body like a temple and won’t eat anything that had a face, no dead foods, only living foods. I have never been into mixing hard drugs or alcohol with music. I exercise every day so that way of life wouldn’t work for me anyway. I like to stay living in the moment, and clear in my head, to let the inspiration filter through without having substances and toxins in my body clouding and receiving that inspiration. As an artist I believe it’s a more pure way to express and live for the planet also and bring everything into harmony.

Tom – One last question, and I’ll let you go. What is the next step for you and the band? Do you have any creative goals, or personal goals within music that you still want to see fulfilled?

HVN: Creatively just to keep learning and growing as an artist/songwriter, and be able to continue to bring all my ideas to life. I want to have Coffin Carousel grow to be a regular player in the world touring circuit and be able to play and share the band’s music and art with as many people as possible and bring a positive experience to live music and just keep having fun creating and performing the music I love.

I want to thank Howard Von Noise once again. I appreciate the time it takes to sit down, and answer these email interviews, and hopefully so do all of you readers. Musicians are busy guys, some have jobs outside of music, then run their band, and deal with labels, and band members, and all the other assorted things that go along with being in a successful band; taking the time to do this is no small feat. So thank you Howard!!! It is much appreciated! As for you loyal readers, go watch the Addams Family, some Tim Burton movies, and prepare yourselves for this release. October 13th, 2017 on Eclipse Records is when Between Death and Dead will be available, so get ready!!!!!

Tom Hanno

Chimera Magazine