Soundtracking The Thinning Veil : Colin Nance Talks Fright Night Club

Colin Nance is a passionate guy. He’s passionate about the music he makes in his solo venture Softaware, as well as the sleazy synth duo Harglow he started with fellow music dude and longtime bud Eric Gorman. He’s also passionate about Halloween. That time of the year when we romanticize the macabre, and the dying of the light is like a religious experience. When the changing leaves are as vibrant as any Rembrandt or Van Gogh. When kids dress up as monsters, cartoon characters, and superheroes and walk amongst the ghouls and goblins in search of tricks and treats. That time of year when things going bump in the night is a plus, and the creepiest house on the block is the best thing since sliced bread.

Yes, Colin is a autumn kind of guy.

For the past 11 years Colin has curated Fright Night Club. No, this is not a Charlie Brewster or Peter Vincent fan club, nor is it a Chris Sarandon admiration society(though someone really should start that, stat!) No, Fright Night Club is a ghoulish collection of eerie tunes Nance curates every year around Halloween. He gathers some of his best confidants in the music world for all things creepy and devilish. A sort of musical “Creature Feature” is built around themes of darkness, malaise, and all things cold and rotting. But never taking it too seriously.

Since 2008, Colin Nance has been releasing Fright Night Club comps and each year he’s built up his collaborations. With artists like Loomis, Dr. Caligari & The Torso, and Gross Dads, Nance has built this library of creepy music tales. Listening to a Fright Night Club volume is like gathering around the old transistor radio and being taken away to some other time and place. Maybe a place you don’t want to be, but you can’t help but listen. It’s fun, engaging, and more than a little disconcerting.

With Volume 11 of Fright Night Club quickly approaching, I spoke to Colin about its history and about his love of the season.

J. Hubner: So tell me how did the Fright Night Club come about? How did it begin? Who started it? 

Colin Nance: I started it. I had a desire to make fun Horror/Fall-themed music. The idea formed from making music like Rob Zombie and White Zombie that wasn’t metal. I was aiming for a whole other aesthetic within that world that merged guitar, electronics, film scores and a lot of kitsch. Murder By Death was another catalyst of inspiring the melding of Horror themes with music. I was fascinated with the idea of lyrically tackling macabre subjects or my favorite horror movies with samples of those films incorporated into it. Almost like creating these songs that existed in those films or worlds. Having all those things in mind, I recorded an album incorporating those themes. Then I made a copy and gave it to my horror-loving friend Eric for Halloween. It came from and still comes from a place of pure affinity for the Halloween/witching season. I wanted to make music that was fun for once instead of taking things so seriously, like I was doing in my other musical endeavors. Something to put on that would soundtrack the falling leaves, brisk nights, and the thinning veil.

J. Hubner: What were some influences on the whole vibe of the Fright Night Club? Listening to several of them I got the feeling of watching some late night Creature Feature, complete with snippets of films, commercials and of course the creepy music vibes that came with it. 

Colin Nance: You nailed it. I think subconsciously my ambitions were to create this immersive aural experience. It’s a world to get swept up in and soundtrack your season. An amalgam of cinema, nostalgia, weather, music and dark pop culture. It’s that esoteric movie gem that you see on late night tv in music form.

J. Hubner: I had ‘Nightmare Theater’ out of Fort Wayne, Indiana that would give me nightmares on Friday nights growing up in the 80s. Did you have something similar? 

Colin Nance: Well I grew up in Oklahoma and we didn’t have anything akin to that locally. Although I had Monstervision with Joe Bob Briggs and USA’s Up All Night with Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried. Also, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps and The Munsters. All those things were my forays into Horror and my love for all things macabre.

J. Hubner: Starting with Volume 2: Funeral Parlor Jukebox Fright Night Club became a collaboration. How did the collaborations start, and how did you go about finding like-minded folks to help contribute to the creepy vibes? 

Colin Nance: I was fortunate to have a very talented and like-minded group of friends growing up. I wanted the project to be more of a communal activity as opposed to me just holed up in the studio by myself. I reached out to my other musically inclined buddies to see if they wanted to make some fun/spooky music during our favorite season and they were all on board. Volume 2 was a real treat because we all came together in one room and immersed ourselves in this process and it was a ton of fun. That was also the year my wife and I threw a huge Halloween party and we decided to have a live Fright Night Club show in the living room for it. Not only were we recording a record, but we were rehearsing to play it live at the same time.

J. Hubner: When going into a new collection every October, how does the process start? Each one seems to have a theme. 

Colin Nance: Actually it kind of coincidentally happens that way. Even more so now as the project has evolved more into a straight compilation as opposed to a collaborative record(though we do still occasionally put out a collaborative record). We never set out writing to a theme/specific subject matter. It’s very organic. August/September rolls around and then the conversations start trickling in about the new volume. I’ll set a submission date and wait to see what rolls in. It’s really impressive what people can make/contribute in such a small window. It’s a bit of a testament for the passion some of these musicians have for it. I don’t think I say it enough, but I’m incredibly proud and appreciative of everyone’s hard work and dedication to this project year after year. That’s why I keep doing it.

J. Hubner: So tell me about Volume 11. Who’s contributing to the album? 

Colin Nance: This year we have some regulars returning and we also have some new people joining the club. Timothy Fife, Modern Slasher, The Plymouth Furies, Molly Ringworm, and C U In Hell are all newcomers this year. We have Uncas, Thackery Binx, Loomis, Dr. Calamari & The Torso, Spiritual Pancakes, and VanDykeBrown returning. Give or take a few, these are mostly all pseudonyms for other bands and artists by the way. It’s part of the fun and mystery to kind of hide behind these names that are horror/genre references in themselves.

J. Hubner: What horror movie truly disturbed you growing up? One that to this day still gives you that feeling when you first saw it?

Colin Nance: I’m pretty desensitized to horror films these days since I’m so obsessed with them and they’ve become second nature for me. Not many from when I grew up have that affect on me these days, but I think the one that gets the closest is Session 9. There’s something about mixing psychological horror with supernatural elements that really gets me. There’s a few modern films that have been quite impactful and have genuinely creeped me out like It Follows, The VVitch, and Hereditary. All those films share those elements in some manner. Call it “elevated” horror (even though I think the genre has been elevated since Romero’s Night of the Living Dead in 1968) or call it Arthouse, Horror-Adjacent or Post-Horror. Regardless there is something more impactful to me in the well thought out and executed films as opposed to the jump-scare, modern Hollywood model of horror.

J. Hubner: Were you into spooky music growing up? Shock rock? Listening to Dr. Demento? 

Colin Nance: The only thing I listened to before starting this project that’s remotely close would be this “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” audio-play cassette tape, Marylin Manson, Rob Zombie and a lot of Horror scores. It wasn’t until my early 20s when I started discovering stuff like Alice Cooper, The Cramps, The Misfits, Zombie Zombie, and things of that ilk.

J. Hubner: Where do you see Volume 12 going next year? Or do you just let things happen as the time approaches?

Colin Nance: Typically it’s just a go with the flow affair. There have been a few releases that have specific intentions to them. Last year we were celebrating our 10th year of existence, so the core members got together and did a re-score to George Romero’s Creepshow. A few years before that we did a similar thing where we all got together and recorded a concept album outside of the regular compilation called “Dark Reservations.” That was about a haunted hotel. Then there have been “music for haunted houses”-type records where it’s just creepy dark ambient/field recording stuff. I just like everyone to have fun with it so we try not to think too hard and just let it naturally materialize. We get to explore a lot sonically because we aren’t held back by any standards or rules except it has to be fun and it has to be spooky.

Fright Night Club Vol. 11 drops this Friday, October 19th. Grab your creepiest mask, spookiest outfit, and head over to Fright Night Club’s Bandcamp page to get your horror vibes on.

Tell ’em Evil Ed sent ya.

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