Thursday, February 4, 2010
Rare Maris the Great Interview by Groovey...
The word “icon” is way too strong for most people in the entertainment scene. However for Maris The Great, it fits. Now I’m not saying Maris is universally loved or anything. He is probably the most polarizing icon in music and entertainment there is. I don’t know anyone who has a “Meh” attitude towards him. Honestly, if you can have a “Meh” attitude towards an overtly gay zombie overlord in full armor surrounded by his undead minions who brutally slaughter your favorite band during their interview ...? Well then I want what you’re having 'cuz it sounds like your doctor hooked you up. This is Maris’s 10-year anniversary of “killing” bands. Before we continue I am going to put my own disclaimer in this article 'cuz I like to keep my hate mail focused on me. MarisTheGreat.com is for adults only. It is a gore-fest of disturbing awesome and an amazing gallery of very skilled bloody effects with some very adult themes – and bitten off “wieners.” Yeah, I just said wieners, and various other blood-soaked nekkidness, as well. Here’s the interview:
CMB: How does it feel to have 10 years of killing bands under your belt?
Maris: Amazing. I certainly wouldn't have thought I would be doing this for this long.
CMB: So how did you come up with the concept of ‘killing bands'?
Maris: It began with the local music scene, here in Denver in late '99, early 2000. Discovering local music was like a religious experience for me. It really changed my life. The fact I could go out to all these venues and hear so many great, talented bands was a revelation to me. At the time, I didn't think the local press did enough to get the word out about the music scene, so I wanted to do it myself. I believe it was Brice Hancock of Rubber Planet that encouraged me to start a website. There were already other local music websites, but I wanted to create one that no one could ignore – something more Rock and Roll and much more dangerous. I really wasn't trying to be the star; I just wanted to be the naked guy on fire running down the street – in support of local music. The first band I interviewed was a local Goth group called Scary Valentine. When I did the group photos to accompany the interview, I asked the lead singer – a beautiful lady named Shari, to rub blood on her hands. When I saw the results ... there was just something about that blood that clicked with me deep inside. I can't explain it. I just knew I was supposed to be working with blood (laughs). From there, everything unfolded naturally and very quickly. My band name, the shtick – the whole thing. By my next interview with Rubber Planet, everything was in place. They were the first band I killed. There was hardly any blood in their feature, but we certainly thought it was gory at the time! After that, each band tried to outdo the previous one, just in terms of blood. And that's the way it's been ever since.
CMB: Did you go to school to learn how to do the gore effects? They look very realistic.
Maris: No. I just learned as I went. Initially, the gore was much more campy, because I didn't know any better. But as I learned more, I got better. After awhile it became darker as I began to work with heavier groups. In fact, I rarely appear in my murder photos anymore, because I give the pictures too much of a cartoonish vibe. I like them dark and disturbing because that's what most of my fans enjoy.
CMB: Do you get inspiration for gore from Horror movies?
Maris: Not as much as people think. I love horror films, but I'm not a fanatic. My gore comes from real-life horror. Many of my pictures were inspired by real crime scene photos, or hearing about something horrible that happened to someone. My pictures aren't a celebration of misfortune, however. I'm not trying to make light of the terrible things that happen to people in this world. While I do have a morbid sense of curiosity, just like anyone, my gore is really just me trying titillate people and maybe work through my own issues of mortality.
CMB: What inspired your look?
Maris: I have no idea. It just came naturally from my influences and the bands I loved growing up; Kiss, The Misfits, Plasmatics, Gwar. ...
CMB: Why do you go to such lengths to hide your real identity?
Maris: If you want to be Mike Myers, you can't let people see behind the mask.
CMB: You also made Maris The Great a gay zombie. Was that because you're gay? Or was there a statement behind it?
Maris: No. My site was never about sexuality; it was and still is about Rock and Roll. To me, Rock and Roll is about breaking rules. It's about challenging convention and crossing that thin red line that society tells you not to step over. Also, I always felt like an outsider to the gay community anyway, because I was deeply into Metal, Punk and Hardcore. It's only recently that I'm meeting other gay people in extreme music. But initially, I was all alone. Even today, I'd much rather be at a Death Metal show than a gay bar.
CMB: How many bands have you killed so far?
Maris: Around 100; about 60 are local bands from Colorado.
CMB: Since your site was initially only about the local music scene, how did you begin killing national groups? And why?
Maris: Like everything I do, it came about naturally. It happened some time around 2004. At that point, I had killed pretty much the entire local music scene, so maybe I was open for something new (laughs). A friend of mine named Donovan was in a touring group called Dork (eventually renamed to Animo). He asked me if I wanted to kill a national Pop/Punk band called The F Ups. I thought it would be some harmless fun, so I said, "Sure!" After I killed them, it was as if a magical door opened up and bands from all over the world wanted to die. At first, it made me uncomfortable doing groups from outside Colorado, but as time went on, I realized a local group will get so much more publicity if their murder is featured on my website, alongside a national group that everyone around the world knows about.
CMB: How do you go about designing your costumes?
Maris: In the beginning, I wouldn't wear much more than a bloody T-shirt, jeans and maybe a feather boa. It was all made by me. Just last week, I got my new jacket. It was specifically tailored and created for me by a company in California.
CMB: What band was the most difficult to kill?
Maris: A Metal band from Denver, named Drudgery. They were a three-piece. Two of the members wouldn't show up for the shoot and the lead singer and I had a bit of ongoing drama because of my overt gayness. I would never tolerate that today. Today, everything is run much more like a business, with contracts and a professional photographer (rebel photo). I even have a manager. I also take some time with a band before I kill them. I like to see first if they have the stomach and Rock and Roll sense of humor for what I do. If a band doesn't have either, I move on.
CMB: Any favorite kills?
Maris: Locally it would be, hands down, Erica Brown. That one has so much charm, and I love her so much. Nationally, a Metalcore group from Queens, New York, called Emmure. That one features the most disturbing and extreme photos I've ever done. Also, never before has a group suffered as much as these guys did for the shoot. They shaved their bodies to accommodate all the prosthetics I used. Those photos are so good that I've had police officers that have seen actual decomposition, personally compliment me.
CMB: You have had several television and magazine appearances. Which ones are you most proud of?
Maris: Locally, definitely the cover story Westword did on me. Nationally, Rue Morgue Magazine, being that magazine was a dream-come-true for me. I still get chills when I see my face in it. As for television, MTV did a feature on me when I toured with Bury Your Dead on Ozzfest, 2004. That was wild, because I didn't even know that I was on MTV. Fans told me about it. One of them taped it for me. I was blown away.
CMB: How did the Ozzfest tour come about?
Maris: Bury Your Dead simply asked me to join them and I said yes. I had a ball! I hunted and killed bands, danced on stage with Rob Zombie and hung out with and got to know Will Smith. His wife, Jada, was touring with her group (Wicked Wisdom), so I guess he decided to tour with her and brought their children with, as well. What was hilarious was, his children were afraid of me, but intrigued at the same time. Every day, they decided they were ready to meet me. One of Will's bodyguards would come to the Bury Your Dead tour bus and ask me to come with him. He and I would walk to the Smith's bus, to meet their children. As soon as the kids would see me approaching, they would shriek and run to the back of the bus. The whole meeting would have to be called off until they felt they had enough nerve to go through with it again. That went on for a while. In fact, Will wanted to fly me out to their birthday parties, but alas, they never got over being afraid of me, so it never happened.
CMB: Tell me about your band? Who writes the music?
Maris: My band was initially fictitious. The original Faggots of Death were Love.45 backing me up. We did one song at the very first show I put on. Once it became clear that people wanted to see some ongoing incarnation of the band, me and my creative partner, Dan Bray (Faggoria, lead guitar), sat down and started to piece the whole thing together and write songs. It's something we have fun with and nothing we want to do full time, just occasional shows. We are proud of the fact we have a very cool EP out, though. What I really love about the group is it is true-blue, old-chool Punk. We've sold out to nobody and nothing. It's totally funny and offensive. MySpace deleted our music page because of the complaints.
CMB: What magazines do you write for?
Maris: Right now, only one: Hails N Horns magazine. It's a national Heavy Metal mag. They publish my murders in every issue. There is talk of another national magazine publishing my “Wee Wee” CD reviews, but we're still working on it. We'll see what happens.
CMB: There's a lot of shock and controversy surrounding what you do. How do you deal with the backlash? Any funny stories about one of your haters?
Maris: Well ... the thing you have to realize is, whatever an artist creates, some people are going to "get it" and some people won't. That's what makes art so powerful; everyone has their own experiences with it and can draw their own conclusions. Occasionally, I get hate email, but what really fascinates me is when grown people begin to cry when they see me. It happens more often than you'd think, and it's not always women doing the crying. That perplexes me. Locally, there have been some groups that have made their dislike for me known, but nothing compares to the nationals. Scott Vogel of Terror and Sal Lococo of Sworn Enemy initially freaked out when they first met me. I mean, full on temper tantrums. My manager, Rainie Rain, had to talk to them and get them to calm down. Paul Koehler of Silverstein had me removed from Warped Tour because he said he didn't think death was funny. Johnny Christ of Avenged Sevenfold is freaked out by me. Even the gay community, here in Denver, had five police officers escort me out of PrideFest back in 2003 because I didn't fit in with their idea of diversity. It's all fine with me. Rock and Roll shouldn't fit comfortably within a box. It's supposed to me smelly and loud. I've always said, if what I do makes you laugh, you probably needed a good laugh. If what I do offends you, you probably needed to be offended.