When we heard that a meetup for hearse enthusiasts (known as Hearse Fest) was coming to the lovely Livingston County community known as "Hell" on Sept. 20, we figured we'd ask MT alum Robert "Nix" Nixon for a playlist of hearse-inspired jams to go along with a convoy of coffin carriers.
"The Dead Sled" | Kreeps
Back when this was written, I had owned two hearses, a '67 and a '68, both Cadillac Superiors. One was the donor car for the other (engine swap). At the time, Dom Kreep still lived in the U.K. and he'd come over for weeklong visits. During said visits, we'd bomb around in the '68 Combo (which had jump seats in the back like an ambulance), and even just sit in it while parked, doors open, music playing and just relaxing, enjoying the fall weather while drinking cheap beers. He'd take notes, write things down, then, when he returned to the U.K., "Dead Sled" was written (but never released on Dead Sounds). It was then rerecorded and used in the "Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare" expansion.
"Hearse Drivin' Man" | The Memphis Morticians
Another band I'm very fond of (and friends with — shout-out to Von Erickson and his Von Erickson labs!), these guys rolled through Detroit a whole bunch of years ago all the way from NYC, and I made damn sure not to miss them. Even did a rock poster for the show. They were about as dirty-rotten horrorbilly as you could get. Fang-tastic. They rolled through a second time a few years later (and I did yet another poster nobody asked for), and it landed me a job doing artwork for their final LP, Bereave It or Not! Another Album from the Memphis Morticians. When my wife and I visited NYC, Peter Von Erickson and his lovely wife showed us around town for a few days, and thus, a fiend-ship made in a monster lab was properly forged.
"Hellbound Hearse" | The Casket Bastards
A bunch of local boys who come from various bands (Bump-N-Uglies and the Amino Acids, to name a few), the Casket Bastards only come out at night (read: Halloween time) to spookify the local landscape and belch their brand of fright, monsters, and hot rods across the land. Davey Taylor, lead vocalist and guitarist for the Bastards, officiated our wedding (in full zombie style, with a top hat, no less). Also, as far as theme songs, this is pretty much spot-on for Hell's hearse-fest.
"Hot Rod Hearse" | 3-D Invisibles
Another of Detroit's monster bands that usually only emerges from its grave during Halloween season, Rick Mills and company have been rocking graves since 1981 with their brand of horror schlock and EC Comics-style gore. Spooky garage at its finest. I saw them perform a few years ago on the same bill as the Casket Bastards (dressed as skeletal mariachis no less) at Small's; to this day, that's one of the best shows I've ever seen.
"Haulin' Hearse" | The Ghastly Ones
The Ghastly Ones constitute one of the tops names in the surf-rock game, a mainstay of people like me who adore their spooky-time music with a retro flair and cheesy, vintage-style visuals to go along with it. They haven't put out a new record in quite some time now. But here's hoping that changes soon and that something new will come screaming out of their crypt. — Robert Nixon