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Ice Nine Kills Frontman Spencer Charnas Talks Halloween and Frightening Horror Films

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Spencer Charnas, the horror enthusiast that leads the horror-themed metalcore/post-hardcore band Ice Nine Kills. We talked about Halloween, all of his favourite horror movies, and The Silver Stream. Yesterday, Ice Nine Kills released their second live album of the year I Heard They KILL Live!! that debuted alongside their Livestream experience The Silver Stream, all in time for Halloween.

Promo band group photo of the Metalcore/Post-Hardcore band, Ice Nine Kills.

What made you love horror growing up? What was the thing that made you drawn to the genre? I think for me, I was so scared of it as a kid, I was so scared by Michael and Jason and Freddy and Leatherface and I thought that if I could dress as one of those guys, they wouldn’t be able to get me. So it kinda started out of like necessity as a coping mechanism to deal with being so scared.

What would you say is your favourite horror movie? You know, it’s like trying to pick a favourite child, even though I don’t have children. It’s difficult…obviously, I have to pay respects to the stuff that got me into the genre, Michael Myers, Jason, Halloween, and Friday the 13th kinda kicked it all off for me, in terms of loving that franchise slasher thing. But the one that really pushed it over the edge was Scream. That came out in ’96, it was the first horror movie I saw in the theatre because I was so young, only 11 when it came out, I was too young to see those others in the theatre -nobody is gonna bring like, a 1-year-old, although maybe they would, to see Friday the 13th or something like that- so, that experience really was powerful, seeing it on the big scream. And also, I think what moved me about that movie was that it was so self-referential, I’m sitting in the theatre, and the killer is referencing these other movies that I already love! And I had never really heard those movies talked about in the mainstream, certainly not by stars on the movie screen, so to see a major studio movie, and the killer is talking about Michael or Jason, it just solidified my love for the genre.

Stephen King is one of my favourite authors and Ice Nine Kills has several references to Stephen King’s works. What is your favourite Stephen King story? That’s a difficult one too, man. I would say instead of talking about just his books because Misery rings a bell, but I think my favourite Stephen King stuff is the stuff he did with George Romero with Creepshow. It just has this sort of tongue-in-cheek vibe that, you know Stephen King has a great sense of humour, and I feel like they really leaned into it in the collaboration with that movie. So that’s probably my favourite of the stuff he’s done, it’s obviously not one of his books, but something with his stamp on it.

How do you feel about the recent news that the TV series Dexter is coming back? Is that exciting to you, or are you planning on skipping it? Well, it’s funny. It’s a fair assumption that a lot of people think I would love Dexter, it seems right up my alley. I’ve just never really got into it. I think it’s a cool concept and I would love to dive into it at some point, but I don’t know really know too much about it besides the basic premise. It’s something I just need to devote a few rainy days to at some point. I’ve heard it didn’t go out in the best way, or something.

Tell me why we should be hyped for The Silver Stream? It was extremely fun to put together! And I think at the end of the day, it’s something different that I don’t think I’ve seen any bands really do. Just on a cellular level, it’s a really cool presentation of this live show that we played about a year ago at the Worcester Palladium in Massachusetts, a venue that has a pretty unique history with the band; it’s where I decided to form the band, and where the band played its first show, and this is the world broadcast appearance of that performance, and we spared no expense. The production value is really cool, we have eight cameras going, we got the same people who did the Killswitch Palladium DVD that they filmed there years ago. In conjunction with that, we tapped Bill Moseley, whose one of my favourite horror actors, famous from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and all the iconic Rob Zombie films, he plays Otis. He’s just one of those guys that steals the show with every scene he’s in. I don’t want to give away too much because it’s kind of a surprise, but you could say we have a bit of a horror film of our own that goes along with this performance.

What was it like getting Bill Moseley involved in this project? It was amazing! I’ve been a fan of his for years, he’s the kind of actor whose dialogue I want to memorize and recite to annoy my friends with. To be working with him and be in the same room as him and work on stuff that came from my brain, to hear him talking about it, it was a little of a dream come true for me, to be honest. He was such a nice, gracious guy and it’s funny that the more sadistic of a person you play in the movies, the nicer the actual person is, I’ve found.

Is there a horror movie, book, or concept that you’ve wanted to write a song about in the past, but it’s been put on the backburner or you just haven’t found the right way to tackle it yet? I’ve always wanted to write a song about American Psycho, because that’s one of my favourite movies and I like the book a lot, and I just feel like we could do it justice. So that’s one I always think about paying homage to.

I love that movie, Christian Bale is incredible in it. I agree, I think he should have won an Academy Award for it. Honestly, that’s still my favourite one of his films.

The fans want to know, do you guys have a theme in mind for the writing of the next album? Have you started writing it yet, or are you just seeing how it goes? We are writing new music now, but I never want to give anything away in terms of what an album may have in store. But you know, a lot of people are talking about a sequel, maybe, and in good horror fashion, there usually is. So we’ll see what happens.

What is the favourite Halloween costume you’ve ever done? Well, other than dressing up on stage, it’s kinda funny because I kinda celebrate dressing up for Halloween whenever we take the stage now. So not going with any of those, but a couple of years ago, I wanted to go with something a bit more obscure. It’s not really an obscure movie, but you don’t really see anyone dressing like this person, is the killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer. I made the costume that day from some stuff I got at a thrift store, this big fisherman trench coat, and a hat that I painted black. And I found this hook, and at the time, I was living in Salem. So I was just kinda walking around Salem, scaring the shit out of people with this fish hook. I would follow people and had my friends record it, so that was fun. That was a really famous movie, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t marketed with the iconography of that killer. I don’t know why, I always thought it was a scary costume. It’s very similar to a costume worn by a killer in a slasher movie called Pieces, from I think 1981, that’s extremely brutal. Maybe it was an homage to that?

You guys do exceptional music videos, with every single one you can really see the care and attention that goes into them. What music video are you proudest of, or was your favourite to shoot? It’s difficult because I really love most of them. I think for me it’s a toss-up between “Hell in the Hallways,” which was from Every Trick In The Book, based on Carrie. That was fun for a lot of reasons, we filmed it in my home town high school, we had all of our fans there dressed up for a 70s style prom, and it was just a really cool experience and it turned out beautifully. And the other one I would say is “IT is the End,” which was a wild experience, taking over an amusement park in the cold New Hampshire weather. We’re actually putting together The Silver Stream with the guy who edited that video, his name’s Myles, he’s very talented.

Assuming that someone, as a horror fan, has seen most of the classic horror films, what would you recommend for them to watch this Halloween season that’s maybe not an A-list horror film? My recommendation would be When A Stranger Calls Back. It’s a 1993 made-for-TV movie that is a follow up to the cult classic When A Stranger Calls, which was released of course in 1979. It’s just really disturbing, I think it’s better than the original. It predates Scream by three years but has sort of a Scream-Esque opening sequence that really sets the tone, and I just think it’s a movie that needs to be reintroduced to horror fans. It’s done incredibly well, the director, Fred Walton, is just a genius. He reminds me of John Carpenter in regards to his sense of dread, suspense, and timing. And I just can’t say enough good things about that one. Check it out, man. It’s really good. It fits in the slasher genre, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a slasher. It’s more of, I don’t want to say a psychological thriller, but it’s a straight stalker movie and it’s just so creepy.


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