Hello again, Brothers and Sisters of the Psychotronic Video World! You might remember last week when I put up my review of TROGLODYTE’s new album, Don’t Go In The Woods. Well, no one responded more positively to the review than TROGLODYTE‘s own Jeffrey Sisson, a man who doesn’t just sing in an ape mask, but also created all the cover art for Warlock Home Video and has a pretty impressive acting/special effects resume to his credit as well! When Jeff reached out to us in gratitude, Wes and I knew what we had to do — request an interview with the man! Jeff was more than happy to oblige us, the results of which you can read here.
First of all, Jeff, I’d like to thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about the man behind the ape-mask?
Pretty laid-back guy. Husband. Father.
I enjoy music and the films of Klaus Kinski.
Where did the idea for “Neandercore” come from?
I couldn’t buy the domain “troglodyte.com” because it was taken. Some squatter. I thought, I have to come up with something. So I kind of “branded” our music with some ridiculous, made-up genre of music… “neandercore.” Music for the contemporary caveman.
How did TROGLODYTE come together?
A mutual friend had introduced me to Chris Wilson. He was making this crazy basement produced music…volumes of it. Creating artwork for these CD-R releases that he wasn’t even selling or trying to make publicly available. When the idea to record music about Bigfoot was blossoming, it was a no-brainer to ask Chris if he was interested. I was very inspired by the movie THE PIT. A boy finds a pit of pre-historic cave-dwelling “trogs” in the woods. He leads some people back to the pit and pushes a few in to feed the creatures. I just thought “Troglodyte” was such a great name for a band. It technically has little or no relation to the Bigfoot creature, but it certainly leaves an impression, which was what we wanted. We worked on music for a long time before I leaked out some pics of us in the masks. I thought, if the music sucks, what’s the point of going to all this effort to makes masks and costumes/stage gear. Hahaha.
So far TROGLODYTE has written and released 26 songs dealing with violent, sociopathic Sasquatches. Where do you find your inspiration for composing these?
People say we’ll run out of ideas for songs eventually. I disagree. While they are technically laced with Bigfoot, some are more esoteric. A song like CRIPPLED FOOT CAST is very grounded, based on thousands of tracks left in the snow and discovered in Bossburg, Washington in 1969. 352 is a reference to the famous frame of the Patterson/Gimlin film, where the creature turns and is looking at the camera in the 352 frame of film. With two studio albums and even more music we haven’t released, we’ve only had one song with the name “Bigfoot” in the title. I’ve always been a pretty avid “crypto” fan, so I have quite an arsenal of material to mine!
What’s your favorite Bigfoot movie?
NIGHT OF THE DEMON. Amazing film. The movie is a flashback. And there are even flashbacks inside the flashback. Just jaw-dropping. LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS are close runners-up!
What’s next for TROGLODYTE? Any tours in the foreseeable future?
I am putting together a collection of rare, unreleased music called ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES. That will come out after the first of the year. It’s our first Asian release…I am excited to finally have an “import” release. Everyone knows you aren’t shit until you have a Japanese import! We’ve been talking to a couple bands about touring in the coming year, so we’ll see how that goes. I think we’ll make a push to get out to some festivals and some more one-off kind of events. We would love to get out; it just comes to down the right place and time. Without the support of a label, it can be interesting getting out on the road. But we have a couple bands who shown interest in taking us out…so again, we shall see!
Do you think Sasquatch is really out there?
For me, it’s the excitement of the unknown and “what if.” Not everything has to be all spelled out, tied up and served with an explanation. There is a part of me that thinks/wishes that it is never proven either way. It keeps the magic alive of what it is…unknown. Which to me is scores more fascinating.
In addition to your work with TROGLODYTE, you’ve been both in front of and behind the camera in films since 1995. Which do you enjoy more, being an actor or being a special effects technician?
I enjoy the “process” for sure. Whether it’s acting, FX, directing…I find a lot of pleasure directing. Acting is fun, but I am really stingy about that…it’s got to be something really special to get me involved, typically. The FX stuff I will always love, but like the acting, it’s got to be something special to get me involved. It is such a HUGE expenditure of time. And it’s really tough to make a living doing it. SO many other people doing FX…it is a constant hustle to survive. I’ve directed some music video stuff. I would love to shoot a feature. I have a couple things I’ve been working on. My main push had been to get the music stuff off the ground, which it still is, but I need to switch gears, to keep that fresh. So a feature is definitely something that will happen in the very near future.
How did you get started doing special makeup effects?
When I was a kid I always had an interest. There were no schools then, so you scoured through FANGORIA or found the occasional “how-to-book” on the subject. Corsen’s Stage Make-up teaches a lot of fundamental stuff. I had a copy of Dick Smith’s Monster Make-up Handbook as a kid too. Everything else I taught myself or others were kind enough to share. I’ve always been able to sculpt. I spent time with anatomy books. My dad told me a lot of stuff about mold making. LOTS of trial and error.
Do you have a favorite movie you’ve worked on?
Probably would be CHOP, even though I only acted in the film. I think it’s a solid effort. Especially considering some of the other drek that gets dumped out on the market.
To top it all off, you’ve done the cover art for every Warlock Home Video release. How did you and Chris Seaver encounter one another?
I’ve known of Seaver for years. When I was working on a film called DEAD AND ROTTING, Debbie Rochon and Trent Haaga turned the crew/cast on to his stuff. I guess it was a year and a half ago; I had heard the concept behind Warlock and reached out to him. Seaver is a real pleasure to work with. He pretty much gives me a title and a synopsis and I go to town. It reminds me of the Empire Picture/Full Moon heyday, when Charlie (Band) would commission art, take it to AFM in the spring, shoot in and have it ready to go for a summer release. What Chris is doing is dependent on a certain kind of art. A certain “look” and “feel” and he knows I get it. That stuff is a blast to do.
Jeff, thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions for us here. We really do appreciate it, and it’s always our pleasure to support the independent guys out there carving their own niche.
Hey, again, thank YOU!
Keep up the good work!