World Horror Convention 2014 – Rock & Roll and Horror Panel

I never got around to documenting much of the 2014 World Horror Convention, which took place here in Portland, and was the first time Lena and I had attended WHC.

One noteworthy event in which I participated was the “Rock & Roll and Horror” panel, moderated by Anya Martin and also including John Skipp, John Shirley and Scott Nicolay.

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In this first photo, we’re still waiting for the panel to begin. Scott Nicolay has not yet shown up. While the audience settled in, we played music from Anya’s surf-horror compilation CD on a little boombox to set the mood.

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Here we’ve gotten underway. From left to right, that’s John Skipp, John Shirley, Anya Martin, Scott Nicolay and me.

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Here we are after the panel, getting ready to pose in front of some cool World Horror Con room decor. We brought the head of Joe Pulver, because he belongs!

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And this one captures the fun atmosphere of the event. John Skipp is pure rock and roll. We all had a blast!

Many subjects were discussed, including the earliest examples of rock and roll music appearing as a subject in horror stories or films, and ways in which we as writers use music as a story element, or as background while we write.

Here are a few short videos my wife Lena took during the panel. She didn’t want to record anybody else this way, because she didn’t have permission, so the videos are mostly limited to the three times I spoke at length.

In the first video we’re introducing ourselves, explaining our own background with music and horror. You can see the end of Scott’s introduction, then my introduction, then Anya getting the panel started.

In the second, we’re talking about our first recollections of where we first encountered rock and roll connected with horror books or films. Scott is talking about a crazy rock and roll book, and I mention a couple things that came to mind: Stephen King and Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The third video is nearer the end, where we’re talking about how we use music as writers, what we listen to, and what music contributes to what and how we write.

We spent a fair amount of time talking about Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground and other mutual favorites. I was content to speak less than the others, as this was my first panel appearance of any kind.

The last time I spoke at greatest length, there’s no video, but we had moved on to talking about similarities and differences between making music and writing. I tried to explain how much alike my approaches are between the two — how most often I start with a very simple, almost uninteresting overall pattern, and try to add new layers and complications to it until it becomes interesting. Often then as it becomes more complex and many layers have been added, some of the earliest layers added might be removed. Very often by the time I’m finished, not only is the flavor different from what it was when I started, but even the general shape has completely changed.

I wish there was video of what I said, because some of these thoughts were things I hadn’t really realized until I was asked the question, and tried to answer it on the fly in front of an audience.

Overall, the panel experience was a lot of fun, and I’m fortunate to have been a part of this fun and interesting discussion at 2014 World Horror along with other great people like John Skipp, John Shirley, Anya Martin and Scott Nicolay.

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