Tucson's horror film and surf music-loving psychobilly outfit Mission Creeps don't shy away from the macabre-- which is why the group joined the Southern Arizona Ghost and Paranormal Society to spend the night at The Oliver House, where there have been 28 known deaths, making it one of the most haunted locations in Bisbee.
Mission Creeps drew on this experience to craft a new Halloween record, appropriately titled Halloween. It includes audio from exorcisms and the paranormal activity SAGPS recorded at The Oliver House, which can be heard in the song "Plum Room."
Up on the Sun: Why did you guys decide to record a Halloween album
James Arrr: We decided to record the Halloween album for two reasons. One, we took part in a paranormal investigation with Southern Arizona Ghost and Paranormal Society and were intrigued with the outcome. Two, we've always been fans of haunted house records, including Disney's Thrilling Chilling Sounds of The Haunted House. We're also big fans of Halloween in general.
What was it like tagging along with the Southern Arizona Ghost & Paranormal Society?
SAGAPS are a great bunch of people, and we're proud to now call them our friends. They're extremely professional, skeptical, and try to disprove everything they can. So it was interesting to see their perspective, in addition to all the fantastic high-tech equipment and gadgets as well as some cool DIY stuff too. We did another investigation at a club here in Tucson called the Surly Wench. That experience with SAGAPS was a blast as well.
What drew you to the Oliver House in Bisbee?
SAGAPS had chosen it as the location for the investigation. It's known as one of the most haunted places in Bisbee, which is one of the most haunted towns in the country. We've played many times in Bisbee and always had a "spirited" time, so any chance to go to Bisbee, we take.
What was your experience like spending the night at this haunted house?
The hotel was mostly empty and it had a very eerie vibe to it. After the SAGAPS folks left us alone with an audio recorder, we drifted off to sleep. We were awakened many times by voices and people marching up and down the hallways. We had crazy dreams and tossed and turned. Even before we listened to the audio, we knew it was a very interesting adventure going to Bisbee and staying the night by ourselves. We would totally do it again, of course.
Did you guys believe in paranormal activity before spending the night -- or were some of you skeptical? How did this experience change your opinions?
Though we've had many strange experiences, we try and remain skeptical about all this paranormal stuff. It's not to say, we don't love a good ghost story and we aren't open to whatever is out there, we just like to keep our wits about us so when something "real" does happen we can't attribute it to "wanting to see" something. So our opinions or beliefs really haven't changed, just waiting for absolute proof, which may never come.
Did anything particularly weird or creepy happen to you, aside from what you recorded?
During the investigation, we felt a presence in many of the rooms, and the investigators' meters were jumping like mad. Before the investigation, we visited an infamous spot where a local funeral director had dumped the bones of many people in a field. It was in the news at the time, and it set the stage for the investigation.
Was anything else going on when you guys captured the ghost track? Were you asleep?
We were asleep during the first three-and-a-half-hours the recorder was going before the batteries ran out. Seemed like it was much later when all the ruckus was going on in the hotel overall.
How do you play "Plum Room" live? Do you play the ghost recording while you perform?
We play a sample of the ghost sounds while we play. Often, however, the gigs are somewhat noisy, so it doesn't always come through, but it always adds a nice subtext for the music.
What are the other creepy sounds on this album? Were any of them from that tape, or are they added spooky sound effects?
We have some audio of purported real exorcisms and a bunch of homemade sounds we made by doing things like pouring rice into a metal pan and making cat sounds.
Tell us a little bit about "Shadow: A Parable." Why go with Edgar Allan Poe?
We have always been big fans of Poe, of course. We came across "The Shadow" by chance and it seemed to tie up the overall narrative arc of the album. Plus, we figured a Halloween album needed a good ghost story on it, and who better than Poe?
What can we expect from your upcoming show at Rips this weekend?
Some good, sweaty rock 'n' roll and plenty of creepiness. Hope you all can make it out!
The band has a special Halloween flash drive for sale that contains the Halloween album and footage from SAGPS' investigation of The Oliver House.
Mission Creeps is scheduled to perform at Rips Ales & Cocktails on Saturday, October 27.
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