Dark Bites Presents: The Horror Up North
– A Conversation With G and Dean Italiano –
Although plenty of Dark Bite readers are bound to know the names Giasone (G) and Dean Italiano, most of you likely have not, but that’s okay. It’s not your fault. First, they’re Canadian. Plus they tend to stick more to the Indie side of things when it comes to their brand of dark creations. Don’t let their humble Canadianism fool you though. Whether it’s a haunting song from G or a raw and poignant passage from any one of Dean’s books, to enjoy either of their work for the first time is to know what you’ve been missing out on all this time. From G’s gritty rock n’ roll zombie soundtrack to Dean’s raw and merciless pen to their co-operative efforts on their newest CD From Skull Tavern, they’ll easily worm their way into your brain and have you coming back for more before your first helping is devoured.
G, fans may best know your music from the
regular gigs you once played as a member of Brass Pear, a classic rock n’ roll bar band with a few originals of your own. I understand you’ve also enjoyed some success in various song writing competitions as well. For the sake of this blog and keeping the focus on the darker side of things, how did you go from playing the crowds at the local level to where you made the horror themed Johnny Gruesome CD to your most recent horror themed CD, From Skull Tavern? And what did this new – and revisited – direction in your music mean to you?
Alice Cooper has always been one of my favourites since I was a little boy. Even during the bar band days we would slip in a “Johnny Gruesome” original a couple times during the set. But while the The Johnny Gruesome stuff was happening at the same time and I would always have to re-focus and change my setlist for Johnny Gruesome promo performances as they were so different. I actually grew to get tired of the bar cover based setlists as I really (really!) enjoy performing original music especially if it is horror or ghost themed. So, in a way, the Johnny Gruesome writing and performing indirectly led to me not wanting to do the bar scene anymore.
Dean, you’ve been at this horror thing for a number of years and first broke into the deep of the writing business with Pain Machine back in 2003. No doubt it’s been a wild, winding and adventurous road inside and out of the horror business since then but, if it’s even possible, how would you summarize your creative journey as it relates to the evolution of your writing life between Pain Machine and your most recent literary offering, The Starving Queen?
something a lot of people, rightfully, don’t want to do. Horror stories pull the dark places into view. I’m sure I’m not the only author who ends up adding autobiographical elements even if it’s unintentional. Pain Machine wasn’t really a horror novel, it was a book about my horror. I was a few shades of green back then (quite a sight) and I learned many lessons from those that were honest enough to deliver them to me. Following that, Spirits and Death in Niagara was written on contract, a research-based book which took me in a totally different direction, as did the Katrina book (Katrina And The Frenchman: A Journal From The Street) for very different reasons. But with each book, each short story, all of the editors, writing groups, and friends in the business
helped me clean up my work. As a person I grew as well, and my story changes. The Starving Queen was originally a short story, then a novelette, and finally a novel. It grew with me, and tells a story I grew up with. And it’s definitely a horror novel, you’ll see that from the first page. My work(s) in progress tell a vastly different tale again. …Jack Ketchum once said to me that he never wanted to write the same thing twice. I loved the idea, and try to follow that advice myself.
attached then putting out your own book. But in reality a good product will find an audience and a bad product will get destroyed by critics or fans. In many ways small press (with some exceptions) is really just self-publishing in disguise anyways. Many small press publishers spend $0 on promotion and make their money off the expectation that each author will buy 50 copies of their own book at wholesale and sell them at conventions. So the whole thing can be a ridiculous argument.
see as the biggest problem that people don’t take into account. If you are an indie musician, and you have put out CDs or songs or play gigs, chances are you’ve practiced for thousands of hours and get regular feedback. What works, what doesn’t work, fix that part, write a better riff… Not all indie writers get feedback, aren’t sure what to fix, some don’t have editors, and decide to publish too soon. Everything I publish has been edited, run past writing groups, and beta read. With both industries, the reward is delivering a quality product. Writing the contract book was restricting but, with fiction, where it’s published doesn’t change my approach at all. In music, if I thought we had to write for the radio? There’s a formula, a set of rules as listed in the tune “Pop 101” by Marianas Trench. Google it. That’s just not us.
collaborating followed by three intense months at the end finishing the last two songs and then booking a week’s worth of studio time all at once. Having two kids and full time jobs really gets in the way sometimes.
on a fun project again. Remembering the Friday-night-with-martini writing sessions we used to have, inspired us to work together on music again.
But there were no martini nights. We tag-teamed, handed things back and forth when we found time, left edits and corrections and ideas for the next available moment. It was much harder to work this way. Now that the kids are older we have more flexibility. We can go back to scoffing at each others ideas in person. And speaking of beasts? Dark Halloween was a beast to work on, and I’m glad the damn thing is done. The rest was fun, choosing different styles like reggae and metal and pop, choosing topics like Frankenstein and zombies, we had a blast. We hope you like it.
that have pirated the album, were complaining about the album they just lifted.
DEAN: To add to what G said, musically I don’t think we’ll be working on full-length CD projects, but individual songs for release from now on. I’ve been creating more artwork this past couple of years, not horror related yet but ya never know what’ll come next. Writing is writing, as trite as that sounds. Now that The Starving Queen is out in the world, I’ll get back to the next brain-child. Stay tuned! You can check out our website at: picpublishing.ca for all things G and Dean.