Jonathan Wilson has been writing and performing his own music for well over a decade now. As the creative force behind Musical Holocaust, John has quickly become a performer that I just cannot define. When he’s not making music, John is creating content for his highly successful YouTube channel, Thriller Bad Productions. Honestly, I can’t say enough about this guy. I grew up with John, I (arguably) love comics because of this guy and I can’t help but be inspired by what comes from this man’s brain.
I have been writing for years, but I’ve always found writing songs being hard as hell. What is your process for writing a song? How long does it usually take?
Yeah, it is for sure a pain in the ass when looking at a blank piece of paper or struggling to play a melody that inspires you. I remember when I was 10 my dad bought me one of those plastic echo microphones from Hooks drug store. My friend was staying the night and the two of us stayed up until the morning making up lyrics and passing the mic back and forth to sing them to one another. It was the first time I felt the rush of creating something. I still can stay up all night working on music or editing videos without caffeine or uppers of any kind. Just the adrenaline and excitement of creating art.
I didn’t start writing lyrics again until I was 14 or 15 years old and full of punk rock aggression. Mostly songs about heartbreak and fighting the system. Real cheesy shit that I still have, so I can cringe while reading them whenever I get the guts. Since I didn’t know how to play an instrument. I would write lyrics to the music in my head and just remember the melody I wrote to. I used a lot of profanity and my stepmom found my songbook and threw it away. Can’t say I blame her, but it sucks that I lost all my first songs I wrote as an angsty teenager. I believe I was 18 when I started teaching myself how to play the bass and from there it was just a snowball effect. I learned guitar, keyboard, and the ukulele soon after. I figured if I couldn’t play an instrument, then how was someone going to understand what my songs sound like? I began recording songs and I haven’t stopped since.
The main trick is to not overthink about what you are going to write or how many changes must happen in the instrumental melody. These will only thwart your creativity and make you frustrated in the end. Nobody is perfect, so don’t expect to write a perfect song. That has become my process now when approaching music. When a song needs some deeper meaning or poetic justice. I take time and write the lyrics that are needed to tell that story. Now, I mostly freestyle my lyrics and clean them up with detailed writing afterwards. The flipside of that is a page that has one or two killer lines in a notebook that you have yet to do something with because your freestyles shit that day. In all honesty I would say, just have fun! I truly believe there are no rules to art and let your art be your own. Whatever the fuck that might be. Share it with some friends and let them see it. I know I want to see it! Unless it’s crush porn or something, then keep that shit to yourself and your creep friends.
I really love the NBKIA podcast, what is it about a film that makes you want to explore it further and provide something of a commentary on it?
If music was my first love. Then movies are for sure my second. There is something about getting lost in a good film and the way it makes you feel. That being said; There is something about watching a bad film and wondering who the fucked paid to make this?
The NBKIA podcast was kind of a fluke to be honest. I just wanted to start a new podcast about movies and Simon and Ryan had nothing better to do. I know personally I like listening to the commentary tracks on DVDs and I have traveled down the rabbit hole of film reviews on YouTube for years now. When watching or listening to other people talk about films, I started to realize that they did not bring up talking points I would have, and I believed I could offer something different in an over-saturated genre. We have a good time making the episodes and we have had a lot of positive feedback, so I hope we continue doing it for as long as we can.
When we were younger, we were both massive comic book fans, have you kept up with the industry at all, and if so, what’s your take on the steady decline of comic book sales?
It seems strange to me that the entire time we were reading wizard magazines and asking ourselves why they weren’t making comic books into movies. Now, we get to enjoy those fantasies come to fruition as adults which is fucking awesome. I think like metal music or horror movies, comic books will have a point where they are riding high and laying low. As a fan of comics, I am thankful when I see a comic shop. I’ll typically stop if I have time and take a moment to reminisce about the 90’s heyday of the industry. Of course, they made so many prints of the issues that they are not worth anything, so I just cut them up and make collages nowadays.
I absolutely love your grindhouse trailers, ‘Merica in particular. What is it about the low-budget, splatterhouse style of film that you are inspired by?
I love the no holds barred style of the films during the 1970’s in the U.S.A. They got away with sex, murder and extreme violence that a person cannot capture today. The remakes of the films are always a let down and do not compare visually or story wise. The I Spit On Your Grave remake was a fucking joke! The same with The Last House on the Left. Trying to remake films that have no boundaries in the day and age of censorship Is like puritans making H.R. Giger art. I dare anyone who has not seen the original I Spit on Your Grave to watch it and tell me how you feel afterwards. Then watch the remake and compare those feelings after digestion.
So, how did Musical Holocaust start out? I seem to remember seeing you perform at the Coachlight Bar back in Chesterton about a decade or so ago.
“Coachlight, where the bathroom always smelled like Fruity Pebbles”.
Musical Holocaust gave me the freedom to create whatever the fuck I wanted to, my own music, my own songs, and on my own terms. But, I do still love to collaborate and create content with artists that share my passion. My vision for this project was to be as experimental and as creative as I could be with no limits. The name represents how I feel about the current state of music and art as a whole. We live in the day and age where people take art for granted and anyone with a smart phone is a photographer. You turn on the radio to hear the same few songs played repeatedly throughout the day. In my opinion we are witnessing the end times of music and seeing it be destroyed on a massive scale. And that is why I went with Musical Holocaust as my solo work.
If you had to choose, music videos or film making, which one would you settle on?
Oh shit! I love the art of filming music videos, but I would have to just stick to films if I had to choose. There is nothing better than when you find people that believe enough in your art to cover themselves in blood and act in front of a camera.
Still got a massive comic collection?
Does a bear shit in the woods?