Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wretched. Filthy. Ugly.

I used to be in a punk band called Calibretto 13. At that time I was a Christian, and as a result, most of my lyrics were based on my religious convictions. As the band toured and I got older, I began to outgrow Christianity and regain interest in my first love: horror films. I began to write more lyrics based on horrific situations, death, and murderers, which ultimately caused Calibretto 13 to get kicked off our record label. The band dropped the 13 and joined a new label only to break up shortly afterward. While Calibretto was still playing shows, I was brainstorming about a horror based project I wanted to pursue called Harley Poe. After Calibretto disbanded, it’s members helped me record the first Harley Poe album. After that, we went our separate ways and Harley Poe found new members. The roster for Harley Poe hasn’t changed for some time and our new album and fourth release Wretched. Filthy. Ugly. will be available in a couple days from Chain Smoking Records. I’ve decided to give some explanations for my lyrics from the new album. Feel free to comment or ask questions.

1. “Gordon” was initially a poem I had written and illustrated for a book that never got published, so I thought it would make a fun song. I used a familiar melody that has been used numerous times for hymns, but it might be hard to tell since we speeded it up and added a bunch of stops to make it punk rock.
2. I discovered the Tiger Lillies through Rue Morgue magazine a few years ago and have since acquired several of their albums. I love their song “Terrible.” It’s so offensive and fucked up; Harley Poe just had to cover it. I decided to put it on the album because it felt so natural for us to play. Of course, we don’t do it as well as the Tiger Lillies, but I think we’ve made it our own.
3. “Kokomo” is simply a song about the giant landfill I call home. There really is nothing to do around this factory town except get high and bitch about all the religious trash, low-lives, and bigots who make up the majority, unless you’re into cruisin’ around the mall with your stereo blasted like an asshole. This is the place where those with potential flee at the moment an opportunity presents itself. I’ve never known anyone to come back to this shit-hole after they’ve escaped, and most of my scumbag friends have moved away. So why am I still here? I guess it’s because it really doesn’t matter where I live; people are everywhere. No matter what city I live in, I’m surrounded by them, and as much as people need people, I’d sure like to burn up most of them.
4. To people who don’t really know me, I might come off as pessimistic or bitter, but in my mind I’m a very positive, happy person. I love my wife and kids, and I’m grateful for the life I’ve been given. I’m such a happy person that the possibility of this world ending sounds likes a beautiful idea. I think the problem with me is that since I view life with such a positive outlook and innocence, I have no tolerance for abusers, religious bigots, chauvinists, irresponsible parents, and stupid, rude, inconsiderate, greedy, and mean people in general. Maybe I’m a prig, or maybe I just expect too much from the human race. Either way, come the Zombie Apocalypse, I’ll take it as a sign that God also has lost tolerance for those people and is ready to start over again. I welcome that day with open arms. After all, it’s only the end of the world.
5. “Suckers” is about a schmuck who has no respect for women and gets what he deserves when he runs into a girl a little too eager to get her mouth around the blue vein. Listen to the lyrics.
6. “That Time of the Month” is about my wife. Every time she’s on her period she turns into a werewolf.
7. If you couldn’t tell, “Everybody Knows My Name” is a declaration from Death. After the chorus, it’s no longer Death speaking but one of Death’s victims crying out to God.
8. I like surf music. I arranged a surf song with the boys. The sound clips come from old horror films.
9. “Maria” is my remake of The Exorcist in lyrical form. One day I’ll direct it.
10. “Stick It in the Man” is an autobiographical song about reaching my dreams and telling the skeptics and those who would get in my way to fuck off. It’s about feeling good about what you’re doing and taking what you want, and in my case, being in God’s will. Many people think because I’m not a Christian anymore that I’m no longer in touch with God, but I think those people are silly.


  1. Thanks for puting out the songs that help me get through the day (I get a lot of mileage from your t-shirt as well); thanks for all the hard work and congrats on being in RM#100!

  2. It's my pleasure. Thank you for listening!

  3. I use to listen to your music when I was younger probably 13 - 16 the years until calibretto disbanded and actually i still love all those tunes. my old buds and I jam them with the windows down driving across indiana all the time. You really had a lot of influence in my life in those years and i would like to thank you for that and am really curious about what you are doing now.

    I came across this blog because I google searched your name because i had randomly thought about you and the impact you had on me. And I'd love to hear about more about what you believe and your harley poe adventures. I know that this may seem odd just commenting on your blog with this heavy shit, but i was wondering.

  4. Shane, thanks for listening to Calibretto. It makes me happy when I hear that I've had a positive influence on someone. Stay tuned, I might blog about this topic soon. I get inquiries like yours often. If you have a specific question for me, then feel free to write my email, though it may be awhile until I get back to you. Thanks.

  5. I loved Calibretto 13. I am the only one I know that still listens to the music. I wish things wouldve turned out better for you guys. Even though you dont hold the same beliefs you did back then, the music is still out there and it still means a lot to me.
    I can relate to expecting too much from the human race. I also come off as bitter. If only there were more people who held these beliefs as well.
    Good luck with the horror films, I like the pics!

  6. Jennifer, I'm glad you still listen to Calibretto and that it means something to you. That means a lot to me. Things turned out just the way they were supposed to.

  7. I too still listen to Calibretto... And yes, it's still out there for all to hear. The lyrics you sang were sang with heart, and to this day it encourages me in my faith and reminds me to not be the Pharisee that Jesus came to correct. Thanks Joe. I wish you all the best.

  8. I ran a Google search for 'Filthy Art' - clicked on Images and clicked on a further four pictures. One of which led me to your blog. I was hoping you could tell me about what mediums you used to create ones of the weird-looking gene wilder zombie character... ink pens / coloured pencils?