To put it lightly, Dracla doesn't have time for this shit. As the 1,072-year-old undead singer and bassist for the riff-heavy rock band that bears his name, he has grown weary of the machinations of the music business — the meetings, the glad-handing, the endless demands of management. And yet, on a rainy Monday afternoon, Dracla dresses himself like an Edwardian account exec — gray suit, ruffled shirt, paisley tie and a flowing cape — and submits to an interview in the darkened control room of Gaslight Studio, where the band recorded its just-released self-titled debut. The blacked-out windows of the studio only amplify Dracla's deathly pallor.
In another mindset, one might wonder why Ray Kannenberg has (literally) suited up, with a full complement of pancake makeup and eye black, for a hastily arranged interview with a local paper. But as I sit for my own personal interview with the vampire, there's no mention or acknowledgement of anyone called Kannenberg; there's just Dracla sighing heavily as he enumerates the many slings and arrows that come with being a creative genius.
His group, which mixes the muscle and repetition of stoner rock with Dracla's elastic, Vincent Price-like delivery, would be a one-note joke if either the music weren't so engrossing or the joke weren't so damned funny. Kannenberg's commitment to the bit — an ennui-saddled vampire fronting a riff-rock band full of members he barely tolerates — has helped Dracla carve out its own niche in town.
And it's no small miracle that Dracla works as a piece of music independent of the band's visual presence (though it helps that Bug Chaser members Jake Jones and Kevin Insinna are in the service of this particular clown-prince of darkness). Opening track "Hell" gives a pretty complete overview of what the rest of the album holds in its five-minute run time: circular, sludgy guitar patterns with snippets of heavy-metal harmonics swirl as Dracla intones about demons, wizards and venom. A double-time coda helps build a bridge between the band's allegiance to both Kyuss and Judas Priest.
What follows is an edited conversation with Dracla; his soul-deep sighs and long bouts of silence have been excised.
You had an album-release show in early February. How did that go?
It was fine; it was crowded. I was pretty tired. Kevin [Insinna, drummer] was out of control. I would consider it a success, maybe — monetarily — but beyond that, artistically it was at par. I wasn't dazzled.
How does your very visual performance on stage translate onto an album?
The focus is the music, but everything else seems to be filling in. It's tiring. I thought we were gonna do just an album and be done, but we're still going. We have to support the album; we have to write another album, apparently. It's a lot of noise to me, honestly.
Given your druthers you'd rather be doing what?
Sleeping. Sitting awake — I can sit awake for a long time. Maybe start another band, but I probably won't do that. I'd rather sleep.
What are the forces at work making you do all this?
Barry from management. This Gaslight business asked us for things; I suppose they do things for us, but I wasn't in for the give-take arrangement. I was in for the take. We recorded the album here; they are assisting us in supporting the album by doing more work than us. Beyond that, they make us come here for meetings. They message us a lot; they message us about things all the time. Really takes up a lot of our time with people trying to further us. But alas, here we are: We have to respond to emails, show up to meetings, play shows. They place us in front of people a lot that we probably wouldn't play for, but nobody I care for on a personal level.
This wasn't the fan base you sought?=
I didn't want a fan base at all. Having fans complicates everything to no end, honestly.
What was the recording process like here [at Gaslight]?
We recorded the album live in this room that we can see. I think we only overdubbed vocals and a few flukes. But everything was done live. It took like three days — a lot of time out of my week. I had a lot of things to do that week. It was time-consuming; I don't remember too much. It takes 45 minutes to play a set — I didn't imagine it would take much longer than that. We suffer for quality.
As genre goes, where do you find Dracla sitting?
We were recently branded "horror rock" — horror rock would perhaps fit for people who are scared of death and fire and hell, but for normal people it would be stoner rock, because Kevin loves weed and he always calls it that. He's kind of my source of what's going on.
Where did you find these guys for the band?
Family friends from long ago. I started acquiring them 700 years ago; I spellbound their souls to young bodies. Their eternal friendship is a great benefit, of course — majorly frustrating, upsetting, a waste of time, but apparently to my benefit. The minions, the boys — the "Maul Boiz," as they call themselves — it's Kevin and Jake and Nick and Dick; they play in the band but that's a small fragment of the time I have to deal with them.
I don't know why you put up with them.
It's kind of a double-edged sword, when you eternally befriend somebody. You can't rescind on that agreement, due to the hell-bonds and things like that. If I were slain, that would be a different story. It's happened before and probably won't happen again.
What are fan interactions like?
Most people are frightened. They don't want to spend money. We follow them; we try to get them to spend money. They don't want our cloths [SIC] — we have cloths we sell with our name on them. There are stickers that didn't stick — they didn't want those. We had buttons without the piercer; they were upset about that too. We didn't do refunds.
Do you ever feel like you came awake at the wrong time?
Oh yes. I should have stayed asleep for 30 or 40 more years and then this place would be washed away and there'd be nobody here — from the river swell, of course. Coulda had the place to myself. I could have had my own little river paradise.