London May is one multi-talented human! It is tough to categorize London as a drummer or bass player because though that is true, it is only a glimpse into the scope of London’s talents and experiences. One of his better known gigs is as drummer and bass player for Samhain and that is the starting point of this interview with London. Samhain is heading out to Riot Fest Chicago as one of the 10 bands that will be playing a seminal album in its entirety in celebration of the festival’s tenth year. Initium will be featured at the festival and kicks off a short series of “Samhain 30 Bloody Years” shows through November 1. By the Barricade caught up with London May to learn more about Samhain as well as his diverse career. The full interview transcripts follow.
By the Barricade: When I began researching for this interview I was super impressed with all of the bands you have been in and other projects you have been involved in. What is the most obscure thing you remember being a part of?
London May: It’s a little known/obscure fact that I actually had a little run as a professional songwriter. I have written songs for Disney’s “A Bug’s Life“, Wes Craven’s 2009 re-make of “Last House on The Left“, and even country legend Toby Keith. I didn’t get anything placed but it was exciting to write for some big clients.
By the Barricade: Some of your interests and projects have been and are in the realm of horror. Were you always drawn to horror or what got you interested in it?
London May: I’m into a lot of stuff but horror has always had a very strong hold on me. I seemed to have been born into it since I can’t remember an early epiphany or pivotal moment when I was like, “Yeah, horror is my thing!” And I wasn’t raised by Herman and Lilly Munster or anything spooky like that, I had a typical upbringing. My brothers and sisters are totally normal. But I did spend a lot of time by myself reading since I was asthmatic and we didn’t have a TV and I just couldn’t get enough of scary comics and paper backs. But on the lighter side I was also obsessed with Richie Rich!
By the Barricade: I read that you go to Riot Fest every year. Do you have a favorite Riot Fest experience or story from your times there?
London May: I think Riot Fest is the best music festival in the USA! We played our first Danzig Legacy show there in 2011 and I’ve returned every year to visit. I’m very excited and proud we get to premier the Samhain 30 Bloody Years tour there. Im honestly not sure there would have ever been a Legacy or Samhain anniversary without their endless support and encouragement. I can’t thank them enough. The entire RF staff is wonderful and they treat me like family. I will never forget taking my nephew there –it was his first concert ever–seeing him lose his mind watching GWAR and later meeting Oderus was priceless. RIP Dave Brockie.
By the Barricade: Samhain is playing Initium in its entirety at this year’s Riot Fest, how will the first show of the tour stand out?
London May: My parents will be there and the pressure is on! They are dedicated Samhain fans and I don’t wanna let them down!
By the Barricade: You were pretty young when you got involved in Samhain, what were some of the things you learned from Glenn Danzig?
London May: 1) There is plenty of time to fuck around in life but playing music is sacred and serious. Play for keeps at every show AND rehearsal.
2) If you are not in your favorite band then you are in the wrong band.
3) Be extra kind to animals.
By the Barricade: I wasn’t cool enough to know about Samhain back in the day but it seems like some shows you played drenched in “blood.” What was it like to play in that sticky mess?
London May: Actually every Samhain show since 1999 has been a blood show, not just back in the 80’s. On the Legacy shows in 2011-2012 I was the only bloodied one since the other guys had Danzig and Misfits sets to do as well. It’s a big gluey mess and every night is different, I never know where its gonna flow–my eyes, my hands, the strings, etc. Certainly an occupational hazard, but totally worth it when I see the audience go mental!
By the Barricade: I read that you have traveled the world with various bands and also went to Haiti for disaster relief. Is there anywhere you haven’t been that you wish to go (either to play or just to visit)?
London May: I did relief work in Haiti after the massive earthquake in 2010. I would like to play music on every continent. I’ve only got two left. Antarctica is very high on my bucket list. Im open to any serious inquiries…
By the Barricade: You are also an ER nurse. What led you to get involved in Haiti?
London May: I became a nurse to be in on the action and to help. Haiti has always had a strong pull for me because of my interest in zombis and vodou. It was a chance to blend all those interest together and when they were putting together a rescue team I immediately enlisted. Thankfully we were able to travel there and actually help since I have also made attempts to volunteer after the disasters in Burma and the Philippines but the governments made it too difficult.
By the Barricade: In addition to music and nursing, you are also involved in acting. I was fortunate enough to see your performance as the Cardinal in The Duchess of Malfi, not to mention the Hillary Duff music video. What’s next on the acting horizon?
London May: Thanks so much for coming to see The Duchess! That was an amazing experience and I’m so proud of it. Besides Hilary’s “Chasing The Sun” video collection (which now includes a Behind The Scenes and Blooper reel) I have a few other things that are out or will be out soon. I’m in “Volunteers Of America,” a fun new music video by The Both which features Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, Susanna Hoffs, and Russ Tamblyn. I have a nice comedy role in an upcoming episode of Tattoo Nightmares and also a scene in a Russian movie called “Bet On Love.” I’m shooting a wicked little horror short in October called “Massacre“. I really love live theater and hope to have another play opening sometime soon.
By the Barricade: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers of By the Barricade?
London May: For all those strong and brave enough to watch from the barricade I salute you! Everyone in the audience counts–but you count the most! Thank you!
Also these are the last Samhain shows ever. It will never happen again. We finish up on Samhain night (Nov. 1st) and then Glenn is sealing the tomb forever.
(*All Photos Courtesy of London May)
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