This interview will travel down many dark and strange roads as Perry Greyson and I discuss Horror ,Metal and his future as a Publisher and life after Destiny's End.
Prof.ManiC: How did the whole publishing thing start for you?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
I just jumped right in and learned as I went along. It all started when I put out the first issue of my weird fiction journal, YAWNING VORTEX, back in 1994. The whole impetus behind my founding Tsathoggua Press was the thought that 'if you want it done right, you should do it yourself' Sure, my first publishing efforts were chapbooks, but I feel good about the material I put out there. The packaging may be a little shoddy, but I think it's the dedication, the effort and the sincerity that shines through in all the Tsathoggua publications Iıve put out. I took the name Tsathoggua from the writings of Califnornia poet-author/artist Clark Ashton Smith. Coincidentally, Tsathoggua Press was on the list of names jotted down by H. P. Lovecraft when searching for a moniker for his friend R. H. Barlowıs small press (Dragonfly Press).
Prof.ManiC: How hard was it for you to take time off from your love of metal to make time to follow your love of literature? How did following your love of metal prepare you for the move your about to make?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
Well, considering I have worked full-time for the majority of my days in Destinyıs End it was really tough to put time into the olı literary pursuits. I wrote my fair share of non-fiction while in DE, but not much fiction. Fiction and poetry require some serious concentration, dedication,and they're very emotionally draining. If I put my soul into a song, it's very similar to that. I might add that I have a hard time keeping myself from getting attached to a set of lyrics and a tune once they're written. When I create something, I really put my all into it,every last ounce of effort. And these past three years I've been putting a lot of effort into songs, as opposed to stories.
I have a lot to thank DE for. I followed the dreams I've had since I was a 14 year old kid (workin' his ass off, slingin' pizzas, to buy his first guitar). With DE I accomplished some lofty goals I've had ever since then; we recorded two albums (both of which I was a part of writing), toured the States and Europe. I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to write/play/record metal again in the foreseeable future. Still, I'd like to make it very clear that if DE was the last thing I did musically,and I know I will do something else,I'd be a happy man indeed, just knowing that I touched the dream. It's high time for me to move on. I'll explain more about that in a bit...
One thing in particular about DE that has prepared me for getting back to some writing is gathering some real life experience. Going on a full-scale U.S. tour for a month, doing two weeks in Europe and traveling to other cities for shorter periods of time really helped me gather new experiences and explore parts of the world around me. The main thing going for youth is the ability to dream; its drawback, of course, is a lack of worldly experience. Traveling with DE helped bring some of those experiences to me. And that opened a door or two for me. I'd like to make one thing clear about my writing/publishing. Just as I never mind if I make a cent from playing/writing music, I'm content to write, edit and publish material that I dig just to get it out there in the world,for art's sake. If money ever came out of it... cool. If not? I don't mind. I never expected to get rich off this stuff, nor do I believe anyone owes me a living! I honestly don't feel that it was hard for me to make the decision I did to take some time off of being in a band for a while. If a band situation isn't working out too well, and you're not happy, what point is there in continuing? Why let things get ugly? Signed band or not, that's the way I look at it; I'd rather be in a garage, just a local act, than be in a signed band wherein the members aren't getting along well or there's too much stress and bad vibes. Music (like literature) for me is about having fun. If I'm not havin' fun anymore, then it's time to move on to another project (or toss the unfinished story aside). At the same time, if DE seems to be working for the rest of the members, then I wish them all the best with finding a replacement for me and continuing on with their music. The parting was on good terms, and I hope they keep the metal flowing. I can only speak for myself in saying, I play metal because I love the music,and I'll never expect any money to come out of it. I came into DE thinking that, and I left with the same notion!
Writing is something that can be instantly rewarding or gratifying for me. And considering I've had some projects on the backburner for a while, it's a pleasure to have a chance to tie up the loose ends. But I haven't given up on metal. It flows in my veins. I still have a lot left to say as a songwriter, and there's still room for me to grow as a guitarist. I plan on takin' a few lessons soon from G.I.T. grad Dave Bates, actually, to work a bit on my lead playing.
Prof.ManiC: So now that you have decided to pursue your BLISS for literature what projects do you have on the horizon?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
Foremost of my current projects is to publish my first poetry collection, PEREGRINE'S SONG, within the next month in chapbook form. I'll be putting it out through my very own Tsathoggua Press. At the same time, I'm finishing up final editorial work on The Collected Poetry of Frank Belknap Long, a project I've had near completion for the past couple of years. While concentrating on DE, the Long book took the backburner for a while. I will either publish Long's Collected Poetry soon, or I may send it off to Keith Daniels at Anamnesis Press. Long, whose name some may recognize from the lyric booklet of BREATHE DEEP THE DARK, is my fave author of all-time,and I'm entrenched in editing a number of books by Long, as well as compiling his bibliography and researching my Long bio. The actual writing of my Long bio is sure to take close to a decade, but collecting materials for research has gone well within the past few years. I intend to deliver On the Threshold of Dimensions, a massive short story collection by Long, to weird fiction specialty publishers Fedogan & Bremer in the not-so-distant future.
Prof.ManiC: Can you give me an example or at least a description of whats going to be in your upcoming PEREGRINE'S SONG?
Perry
M.
Grayson:

Sure thing. I'd term the collection as romantic, weird and cosmic poetry in verse, prose and song lyric formats. I've been writing free verse seriously since 1991, and lyrics since before I ever picked up a guitar. Here's short poem from one of my old stories:

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
By Perry M. Grayson
(C) Copyright 2000
From the Tale "Conqueror of Dreams"


There is triumph in dreams and in the life,
Which assails the unknown and paths afar,
Where none have trodden or killed with the knife,
The brood of the savage lands and the scars
Of a man's ignorance under the stars.

 

Autumn 1993
------------

Prof.ManiC: How did the 'Rewind' article in Metal Maniacs come about? Will you be writing for them again?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
It's a pretty hilarious story, to tell you the truth! It happened almost by accident. METAL MANIACS writer Sue Nolz asked me to send her my current playlist to be included in the mag. She in turn forwarded my list to editor Mike G. While in the hands of the MM people the playlist was retyped at some point. And instead of saying "Perry Grayson, guitar , Destiny's End" it said "Perry Grayson, New Eden." Now, I was never a member of New Eden. Dan DeLucie (guitar), Nardo Andi (bass) and Brian Craig (drums) from DE were! A close friend of mine called me while I was at work to tell me about the new issue of MM, raving about a killer interview Jeff Wagner did with my fave doom band of all-time, Pentagram. And then he went on to mention that my playlist had been printed,and botched. I wasn't exactly infuriated, just ticked that I'd been misquoted. So, I spent the rest of the morning attempting to track down Associate Editor Jeff Wagner's e- address. I had no luck, but before too long E.J. from Metal Blade called me up to tell me about the playlist mixup,not realizing I'd already seen it. E.J. said he'd already given them hell over at MM (laughin' my ass off!?) and that they'd run another playlist for me. I asked E.J. for Jeff's e-address, saying I'd been trying to get in touch with him about something else entirely anyhow. You see, in November I did a phone interview with Tony D'Iorio, the former drummer and songwriter (and now manager) of the 1970's proto-metal band BANG. Bang is yet another one of my obscure faves. The plan was to publish it myself at first, however I soon interested Conan Hultgren in running the massive Q&A format piece in his doom zine Slow Ride. After doing the interview, I realized how wide the scope of the BANG story was, and I knew that it was just the sort of thing that deserved the attention of Metal Maniacs. To that end, I had seen Jeff Wagner and Sue Nolz mention those heavy psychedelic rockers from Philly before in MM. So, after a few emails and phone calls exchanged between me and my metal bro Jeff the REWIND article was accepted. It's a pleasure to write for a newsstand magazine, much less get the opportunity to cover something that one's interested in. If all goes well, I'll be putting together a REWIND article on the band Cirith Ungol for MM towards the end of the year.
Prof.ManiC: Which came first your love of music or your love for writing? How did each help you grow as a person?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
I'd have to say that music came before writing, only because I could listen to tunes on the radio before I was physically able to write and read. I can remember being knee-high-to-a-grasshopper and hearing Aerosmith, AC/DC, Queen, Def Leppard, Scorpions, Blue Oyster Cult and Blue Cheer on the radio here in L.A.,back when KMET was still around. But I didn't start playing guitar till I was much older. I had a love for reading ever since I was first taught how. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I decided that I wanted to try my hand at writing something for others to read. My grandfather was a huge influence on my reading/writing habits, considering he gave me his entire collection of paperback fantasy and science fiction,which introduced me to the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. E. Van Vogt and Robert E. Howard. Even though I wrote lots of boyish things way back, I'd say I started to get a clue around the age of 13. After reading some Poe, Bradbury, J. D. Sallinger's "Catcher in the Rye", Theodore Sturgeon and Piers Anthony's "On a Pale Horse", I really started to take things seriously. I'd seen the name Lovecraft mentioned in Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles", and I was intrigued by the name. There was this distinct moment of epiphany for me there when I was a kid: "I could be a writer, like Bradbury." And so, that's what I decided to pursue. Somewhere along the line I managed to dig up several anthologies and collections at local used bookstores and libraries containing yarns by H. P. Lovecraft, Frank Long, Clark Ashton Smith and their literary peers. By the time I was 16 I had started to submit my stories and poems to both pro and fanzines alike. Heavy rock and metal gave me the big push,the ability,to rebel. I really have to thank the music for that. Around the time I first started playing guitar, my tastes shifted towards heavier bands, the whole double-picking thrash movement (old Metallica, Death, Testament, Sadus, etc.). Metal really helped me break away from the bombardment of the media blitzkriegs and various uninformed "authority figures",to decide for myself what I wanted to do and who I am,the right to decide what's best for me without caring about what marketers and advertisers are trying to force down my throat. Metal isn't for popular consumption. Not everyone can be into it. I am. It's dark and aggressive, and yet (at its best) it's melodic and epic. Weird fiction (horror), fantasy and noir literature did a similar thing for me,considering these genres aren't highly regarded by educators and the masses as being "quality." My lifestyle isn't necessarily right for other people, and I'm not saying it's any better than the way others choose to live. That's their choice. Some could care less about art, and their sole purpose for playing music may be so they can party all the time. I'm in it for the art, for the music,not to get wasted! The party- till-you-puke thing doesn't work for me. I don't find it fun. Writing songs (lyrics and music), fiction, non-fiction and poetry all helped me grow as a person. All are creative outlets. Through them you can channel a lot of dark emotions, things that might otherwise be stressing you out in a big way on a day-to-day basis. Creating gives me purpose in life. It also gives one a sense of wonder, a desire to dream and imagine,to ponder ultimate questions of humanity and the universe at large. When you write, you learn to observe the world and the people and creatures around you,you pay keener attention to how things seem to work.
Beyond anything else, both music and literature have allowed me to become the person I wanted to be deep down,not something that others had planned for me. There are no writers, artists or musicians in my immediate family. Sports were big, but I have never been one for sports,despite the fact that I played them when I was a lad. Playing was always less boring than watching, but it wasn't long before I found the playing to be just as useless to me personally. Just because music and literature work for me doesn't mean they're good for you!? All human beings have their own personal strengths and weaknesses. My strength lies in being a creative writer; I've known that for some time.
Prof.ManiC: Are there any future plans for your playing days?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
I'm going to take a little time off, for sure. But I have not given up on metal,and I will continue to practice and write music as much as I can. You can expect my next endeavors to cover some doom metal ground (the influence of bands such as Pentagram, Cirith Ungol, Witchfinder General, Manilla Road, Angel Witch and Solitude Aeturnus rearing its jack-booted heels). I've had some serious fun jamming doom with a guitarist friend of mine, Aric Villareal. If we get this thing together eventually, we hope to call the band Relentless,after the Pentagram tune of that name. And there's also the stuff that I was doing before DE, in more of a progressive/thrash vein. I was going to do a self-pressed release under the name Obscure, as more of a project. "The Fortress Unvanquishable," "Breathe Deep the Dark" and "The Obscure" (first titled "Flame of Life") were all meant to be Obscure tunes,and I brought them with me into DE. Mike Bear (bass) will definitely be a part of whatever I do in the Obscure vein.
Prof.ManiC: What was one of the coolest things a fan said to you when you were on tour with DE?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
For someone,anyone,to say that we were/are their favorite band blows me away. I never expected the kind of critical or fan response we received. Honestly, I'm just another dude... Just another guitarist among millions here in the States. And for someone to tell me that the tunes I wrote and played on made a serious impact on their life really makes me feel like I accomplished something that went far beyond just satisfying my inner desire to create. A lot of people made some really flattering comments, both while we were on the road and via snail or email. I'd like to thank all the fans for being so cool.
Prof.ManiC: The song "The Fortress Unvanquishable" is inspired by a story by Lord Dunsany since I'm not familiar with him can you tell me a bit about him,the story and how it inspires you?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
Lord Dunsany (1878-1958) was an Irish fantasist. He was the 18th Baron Dunsany, and his full name was Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett. He wrote most of his dreamy and epic fantasy stories in the early 20th century, long before Tolkien's Lord of the Rings came into being. Dunsany, next to Poe, was one of Lovecraft's biggest influences. The same can be said for Dunsany's influence on Frank Long and Clark Ashton Smith. "The Fortress Unvanquishable Save for Sacnoth" is an epic fantasy yarn. It may outwardly have some traits that one would expect (a hero on horseback who slays a dragon), but that's where the "cliché" ends. The story illustrates a very deep theme: not being afraid to dream. At least that's what I gleaned from it. It was published in the collection The Sword of Welleran (1908). I'm not gonna ruin the story for you. If you find the lyrics interesting, I suggest you track down one of the paperback Dunsany collections containing the story. They've been largely out of print since the big heroic fantasy boom of the 1970's.
Prof.ManiC: What are your favorite WEIRD or Horror stories ever?
Perry
M.
Grayson:

To name a few:
"The Outsider" by H. P. Lovecraft
"The Night Reveals" and "Deadline at Dawn" by Cornell Woolrich
"Dark Vision" by Frank Belknap Long
"The City of the Singing Flame" by Clark Ashton Smith
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Poe
'Usher II" & "Marionettes, Inc." by Ray Bradbury
'The Mask" & "The Yellow Sign' by Robert W. Chambers
"In the World's Dusk" by Edmond Hamilton
"Gas Station Carnivals" by Thomas Ligotti
"Third from the Sun" by Richard Matheson
"Black Man with a Horn" by T.E.D. Klein
"The House on the Borderland" & "The Night Land" by William Hope Hodgson
"Some of Your Blood" by Theodore Sturgeon
"The Hill of Dreams" by Arthur Machen

Prof.ManiC: What do you think of the movies based on Lovecraft's work..like Reanimater,From Beyond and the ones that FULL MOON have done like Lurking Fear. What Do you think of Jeffery Combs?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
I'm afraid I'd have to say that none of the Lovecraft film adaptations I've seen have done any justice to HPL's fiction. Combs is a capable actor, but he's not the one in control of the screenplay. You can't have a good film without a coherent script. Of course, that's just my humble opinion. I'm not telling people what to think. I dig From Beyond from the standpoint of being a fan of gory exploitation flicks. It was really effective on that level. Necronomicon, which wasn't released in theaters in the U.S., was a pretty cool anthology-type movie, as well. As far as film adaptations of Lovecraft are concerned, my fave is The Resurrected, Dan O'Bannon's adapatation of HPL's short novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I also liked the parody/satire filmmaker John Carpenter and writer/producer Michael DeLuca managed to pull off surrounding the Lovecraft mystique in In the Mouth of Madness. Sam Neil and Jurgen Prochnow were fantastic in that flick, in my opinion. Still, I think the finest, most faithful adaptations of HPL's stories were done on television. "Cool Air" and "Pickman's Model" were adapted into episodes of Rod Serling's Night Gallery in the early 1970's. Both of them still blow me away every time I see them.
Prof.ManiC: Who do you think is the modern day version of Lovecraft? Perhaps Clive Barker!?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
That's a toss-up between Thomas Ligotti and T.E.D. Klein for me. Ted is a real master, but he doesn't write enough these days. While I've liked some stuff Clive Barker has done, I can't find enough consistency there. I think Ligotti is a consistent and mind-blowing writer. No one has given me gooseflesh the way Ligotti has!
Prof.ManiC: You thank the band Prototype I've only heard the King Diamond cover they did(which i liked). Can you let me know about their sound and how you know them?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
Prototype have been around in one form or another since 1990. Back then they were called Psychosis. I saw them as a power trio on a local speed metal bill at the Reseda Country Club in '90. Little did I know that five year's later they'd blow me away opening up for Death & Nevermore at the Whisky in Hollyweird. Shortly after that gig I wound up in a band with a talented bassist by the name of Mike Bear. Then in '96 my friend, Mr. Bear, joined Prototype. Three years later he bailed from Prototype, but we've all remained good friends. Kragen Lum (lead guitar) is a finesse player with lots of feeling, and I love all the songs he's collaborated on with Vince Levalois (guitar/vox). The Proto-dudes are my favorite unsigned metal band and have been since '95. They're exactly the kind of band I envision when I think of the word modern,and still they're TRUE METAL. Not rapcore, not industrial, not a Korn-imitation. They have such a heavy and in-your-face guitar tone, such wicked harmonies and emotional songs. Pat Magrath is a sick drummer!!! Bands like Coroner, Cynic, Anacrusis and Sacrifice don't exist anymore,but at least Prototype is still slugging it out!
Prof.ManiC: Speaking of King Diamond being a horror fan what do you think of his horror concept albums?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
'm both a Mercyful Fate and King Diamond fan. Nardo Andi (bass) was the biggest MF/KD fan in DE. In spring '99 DE covered KD's "Dressed in White" for the upcoming Necropolis KD tribute CD. My fave M. Fate LP's are THE BEGINNING, MELISSA and DON'T BREAK THE OATH. Every once in a while I even drag out my cassette dub of the Brats demo (pre-M. Fate). My fave King Diamond LP's are CONSPIRACY, THEM and ABIGAIL,in that order. CONSPIRACY was the first KD album I ever bought (in '89), and the guitar work on that album floors me to this day. Andy LaRocque and Pete Blakk were such a killer dual-axe team! And that goes without saying that I love the storyline to Them and Conspiracy. Man, those albums conjure up memories of walking around the ol' high school softball fields attempting to sing "Sleepless Nights" with an old metal friend. Jeez, I was/am a freak!
Prof.ManiC: If you could form a "SUPERGROUP" with anyone in the world(or time) who would you pick and why? What would be the aim or message of the band?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
I almost wish you hadn't asked me such a question!? It's just wishful thinking. I can only dream that someday I might get the opportunity to play music with one of my biggest influences. For me, some of those heroes are Chuck Schuldiner (Death), Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Death, Testament), John Arch (Fates Warning), Mark Shelton (Manilla Road) or Rob Garven (Cirith Ungol). As with all of the material I've written, I'd want to continue dealing with themes that tackle the ultimate questions of humanity vs. the vastness of the universe. To be more realistic, though, I just hope I have a chance to work with my friend Mike Bear (bass, ex-Prototype) again musically. Rich Walker (guitars, Solstice) is another friend I hope to work on a music project with someday. I met Rich at the Wacken Festival last summer, and we hung out for half of DE's mini-Euro tour. Rich and I share a lot of common literary and music influences.
Prof.ManiC: A lot of metal bands nowadays give praise to TOLKIEN but don't you think it should be ROBERT E. HOWARD who they should be praising. I mean Conan was a man who rejected the norms of the time(magic, gods and being "CIVILIZED") to follow his natural instincts and faith in himself to forge his own destiny. Isn't that a lot more about what being "METAL" is about, then some hobbits who faced their fears and beat the odds? What do you think?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
Right on! You and I have similar opinions. I think Bob Howard did a lot for modern fantasy; if there's anyone I'll credit as the father of modern sword & sorcery, it's Howard. He paved the way for people like Michael Moorcock and Karl Edward Wagner (who both rose to popularity in the 1970's). But if you ask me, I'd go back even further and acknowledge Lord Dunsany, William Morris, E. R. Eddison, William Beckford and the like with carving out what would be come modern fantasy fiction. Before them the world relied heavily on traditional mythology for their fantasy fiction. Dunsany, in particular, is my favorite epic/romantic fantasy writer. Howard was a tragic author figure, and his biopic, The Whole Wide World, brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it.
Prof.ManiC: Since my page is devoted to metal and using it to help people control or at least understand their emotions, mind telling us what you like to do when your feeling down or pissed off to take your mind off it?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
Hmm... I think I did a pretty good job of explaining what I do in this here interview. If it wasn't for art,for creativity,I'd probably be one pissed-off dude!? Ha! Not! But to be honest, I'm a mellow guy. I'm easy-going. I don't like to get worked up for no reason. What sense is there in getting pissed-off over a trifling situation? If I have a tough day at work, or something's just generally bugging me I always have my metal axes to grind. I can always play some pummeling riffs, instead of feeling the need to go out and hit a person or a wall!?
Prof.ManiC: Any Final Comments?
Perry
M.
Grayson:
Thanks for the support and for asking some pretty intelligent questions. It's not everyday that I hear from another metalhead who's into literature,and weird fiction in specific. Please check out my website, for updates on my publishing and music endeavors,and to order Tsathoggua Press publications.