Tonight: Transylvania meets the South Side as The Renfields take over the Inn Termission Lounge
April 26, 2013 8:15 PM
Photo by Mike Winland Studios
The Renfields take the stage at 9 tonight at the Inn Termission Lounge.
Dan Majors The Pittsburgh Press
If you're going to spend all your time trying to separate fact from fiction, you're never going to have any fun.
So let's just say that the groups playing tonight at the Inn Termission Lounge -- or "The Mish," as we like to call it -- include The Renfields: two zombies, a mummy, a werewolf and a mad doctor on drums.
They come to Carson Street on the South Side from Transylvania by way of West Virginia.
"We got stuck in West Virginia," said the Abominable Vincent Renfield, who is the front man for the group. "And the horror in West Virginia is in some cases greater than the horror we've witnessed in Transylvania."
Zombies don't tell the best jokes. But they like to play music.
These guys are characters who stay in character. The band started 10 years ago, which, when you think about it, means they were ahead of the zombie curve.
"We were the zombie curve," said Mr. Renfield, who describes himself as the band's "heartthrob."
"The Renfields' coming to the United States actually started this whole 'The Walking Dead' craze, which we're not really fans of," he said. "In Transylvania, we're about 20 years behind. It's just a personal belief, that the slow zombies are the way to go. Fast zombies are popular in the United States. We don't have those in Transylvania."
They describe their music as "horror-punk," which is very different from the music favored by vampires.
"Vampires mostly listen to '80s goth-pop, and that's not our kind of music," Mr. Renfield said. "Horror-punk, as a genre, was something created in the United States. There's a huge horror-punk following of grown men who dress like monsters and wear makeup and try to look scary. Somehow we've been branched in with these guys. But they're all really cool guys and we have the same taste in music and movies.
"We're actually trying our best to rip off The Ramones."
If you sample their sound on YouTube, you realize how right he is. It's like Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone all came back from the dead and started playing again.
"It's a mixture of pop-punk with horror references," Mr. Renfield said. "It really probably goes back to The Misfits and maybe some rockabilly elements. But there's a lot of variation from band to band. Some horror-punk bands are incredibly aggressive. We stick on the side of ripping off the Ramones as much as possible."
The rest of the lineup at The Mish tonight includes Under a Nightmare, Children of October, and The Lady and the Monsters, none of which are dedicated "horror-pop" bands. But their names add up to a zombie feel.
"About two years ago we had a zombie show," said Tony Rome, bartender and entertainment manager for The Mish. "There's a surf-zombie band around here, and it went off really well."
They brought in a good crowd, most of which was quite lively. Not like zombies at all.
"Some of the people dress up, but not many," Mr. Rome said. "But you know what. Some of the people we get, they're zombie-ish every day, so they're not really dressing up. They're pierced up and they have the stretched ears. But they're a great crowd."
"We've actually played with the Children of October before," Mr. Renfield said. "They're our brothers in horror, even though they're just nice young lads from the United States. They don't have any zombies or werewolves or mad doctors or anything like we're used to in Transylvania.
"We've also played with The Lady and the Monsters, who surprisingly enough are not a horror-punk band. But they have Monsters in their title, so we have allowed them to be part of our group."
But here's the question: Does the visual impact of the stage show overwhelm the music? Do you want your audience talking about your songs or the werewolf with the bullhorn?
"You understand that I'd never admit that we're not actually from Transylvania," Mr. Renfield said. "But the visual aspect of the band has to continue. We try to translate the story of The Renfields through the music.
"If you look at KISS, who were one of the most influential bands that did makeup, they liked to convince themselves that without the costumes and the makeup the music could stand on its own. But what happened when they took it off? The people missed it.
"One goal of The Renfields is we're never going to convince ourselves that the visual element isn't a huge part of what we do."
So far it's working. They've played shows throughout the region and they're putting together a CD. Fans have created Renfields tattoos and comic books. And after their shows, everyone is clamoring to have pictures taken with the band.
"At the end of the day, other bands get off stage and they get to go flirt with the girls and get to go hang out at the bar," Mr. Renfield said. "The Renfields have to go home and spend an hour in the shower washing off the makeup and the fake blood. But it's completely worth it."
That's IF they were wearing makeup and fake blood.
You can investigate for yourself tonight at 9 at the Inn Termission Lounge, 1908 E. Carson St. on the South Side. The cover is $5.
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.