Few bands live up to their name as much as Horror Movie Marathon. The New York-based project of songwriter William Rutledge, Horror Movie Marathon’s music exists in those moments of panic where you’re not sure if you’re terrified of exhilarated. On their debut album, Good Scare, out this week on Beachball Records, this presents as the middle ground of cinematic folk and gothic cabaret, like the middle ground of Andy Shauff and B.C. Camplight.
Recorded in Brooklyn in the summer of 2018, Good Scare is an atmospheric melding of percussive piano and soaring strings, grandiose and bombastic one second – there’s a moment on Chewed A Hole In My Cheek that could almost be Queen – and gentle and reflective the next. On first listen this might play out like some macabre underworld, yet a closer listen to the lyrics reveals something arguably even more troubling, the world you’re viewing is our own. As the theatrical finale to Halloween Party, fades to quiet, William sings, “this town freaks me out, with the seven Trump flags next to the Indie Theatre house, we’re complicit in so many complex ways, even in our well intentioned postures and behaviours”. William has suggested much of the album reflects on, “the exchange of love and fear in all their contradictory forms”, a record about absorbing the world around you, even when it horrifies you, and projecting some hope back out at it, no matter how hard that can be.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Horror Movie Marathon?
Horror Movie Marathon is primarily myself, Will Rutledge, and is based in NYC. I write all the songs, though I’m fortunate to work with some amazing musicians in the studio and on the stage. Alex Molini co-produced my new record, Good Scare, and performs a lot of the keyboards on it. He has a project called Philary and is also on tour all the time in a band called Pile, so if you’re reading this, go hi five him at a show and tell him you like HMM. My dear friend Will Ponturo played drums on Good Scare. He and I grew up together playing music in a band called Poverty Hollow, so it was really wonderful having him in the studio and playing tunes with him for the first time in four years. None of us live in the same city, so they don’t play in the live band, but I’m blessed to have a terrific 6 piece live band comprised of NYC’s hottest heavy hitters who I love dearly.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
I can remember the entirety of our first show pretty vividly because it was only this past May, but I suppose the most significant detail that stands out to me was that people laughed. The bits of humor in my lyrics landed on a live audience and it was really affirming to experience that in the first show. I’m a big believer that you can take things really seriously and still have fun or do something you consider very serious but not take yourself super seriously.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I don’t really know how to answer this question. Making music feels instinctual to me because I have been doing it since 13, but sometimes instincts feel like socially programmed instructions that are hard to decode. Like, is this my true desire or is this an approximation of a feeling that I am culturally predisposed to? I don’t mean to sound intentionally heady or pretentious, but that dissonance between identity and free will, and how it relates to one’s own artistic process, is real as hell. I guess I’ll never really know what to do, but just have to keep doing what feels right. On that note, though, let the record reflect I’ve written 6 scripts in my life and have a shitty short from 2015 titled “Extra Sauce” on YouTube. One day I’ll make a movie!
FTR: What can people expect from the Horror Movie Marathon live show?
I take the live show very seriously and it’s important to me that there is a spectacle aspect to it. For right now, we’re a six person live group and I just sing. There are wild synths, jazzy piano licks, and I may or may not swing the microphone like it’s 2003.
FTR: What’s next for Horror Movie Marathon?
Very excited to be putting out Good Scare this Fall and then we’ll be doing some East Coast touring in the first half of 2020. To be honest though, I love recording and I have a slew of new songs written so I’d really love to just put out an EP or a series of singles at some point in 2020, but nothing is necessarily planned.
They Listen To…
Jon Brion – “Here We Go”
Oneohtrix Point Never ft. Iggy Pop – “The Pure and the Damned”
Charlotte Gainsbourg – “Le Chat du Café des Artistes”
The Killers – “Everything Will Be Alright”
Lucinda Williams – “Are You Alright?”
Good Scare is out October 18th via Beachball Records. Click HERE for more information on Horror Movie Marathon.