INTERVIEW: Johny Walker Keeps It Real About The Louisville Stigmatorium, Punk Rock, and B-Horror Movies!

(Pictured Above: Johny Walker and his super-friend the dinosaur skeleton.)

You may not know Johny Walker, but you will. As a musician, Walker has fronted a number of bands, most notably Spiders4eyes, which he sang and played bass for. Walker also writes and directs horror movies like Super Hell (which can be rented on Netflix!) or the Corpsanova series, to name a few. Most recently Walker became affiliated with the Louisville Stigmatorium, an oddities shop/part-time venue located in Louisville’s west end at 1722 Maple St, that among other things hosts a monthly movie viewing ever second Saturday of the month. After a little controversy over the venue’s booking dictates, I decided to clear the air with Walker and give him a forum to get his side of the story, and more importantly to hear a different prerogative on the Louisville Music Scene. Never shy, Walker was kind enough to type words back at us, and didn’t pull any punches. For booking at the Stigmatorium contact can be made here. Read on now.

Never Nervous: Tell us about the Stigmatorium. How did it start, who runs it, etc.?

Johny Walker: The building is a Marine shop, owned by Andy Harpole. He had an idea to dedicate part of it into an Oddities shoppe. He gave me a call, (we kept in touch since he’d bought a coffin and human skull off me on Ebay, a year prior) and asked me if I wanted to partner up, and make it happen, I jumped at the idea, and here we are. So we are just cramming as much weird shit into one space as possible, before we are forced to expand. The Oddities shoppe is run by us both, comprised of both our private collections, myself being able to work there, while Andy does his boat gig. There is a commercial on youtube that I shot, with more info about what we do. We are both old school creepsters, just kind of doing what we’ve always wanted to do. We also host b-movie nights on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Andy moves out all the boats, and we have a large space in the back for all that insane fun. Also, I am trying to do an all ages venue that is (and should be without mentioning) exclusive to rock….

NN: I understand that there was a bit of concern over what types of bands play there. What is your criteria for what types of bands to book and why? For example, the Brycc House was very selective about what types of bands that they let play, but they were also very clear as to why. What would you say?

JW: There has never been any concern from myself, or from Andy, about what type of bands play there. We are huge Motorhead fans. But we like tons of other shit, too. But loud and fast is a no brainer to us, so it’s only logical to embrace the path that is most enjoyable. If I didn’t enjoy it, why would I waste my time, you know? But It’s probably the coolest place to play in town, and I am very happy to be able to books shows there, for anybody who wants to play.

NN: By your standards, define rock or punk music.

JW: The Squirrel Bait demo.. next question…

Punk is expressionism, with rough edges. It’s just pretty much about staying true to yourself, and living the way that makes you most happy. It’s something that I believe is much bigger than any one of us, and cannot be defined by one. It is a way of life that belongs to all who love it.What punk is not, however, is an image, a popularity contest, or who can be the most obnoxious. And anybody doing anything that they believe in, has a punk rock attitude. And I choose to surround myself with them. The music cannot exist without the attitude behind it.

NN: It seems like you have a lot of animosity about the local scene. Is that an accurate assessment, or a misreading? If so, why do you think you feel that way?

JW: It’s because everything seemed much more accepting and real when I was growing up. And there is less passion involved than I believe, there once was. I genuinely remember a time where you used to go to shows, and most of the people were very nice, and eager to make new friends. Now people just hang tight to their small group of people, and kind of just talk shit behind your back to their friends. The integrity is lacking, and it’s disappointing. I think people have forgotten that an outstretched hand can go much farther than their reach, and that what they say and do, can have a strong impact. There is just too much indifference, and it bothers me to think that I am not so different. That I can be just as worn out from life, and sucked dry of motivation.

NN: Tell us about your music. I know you were in Spiders4eyes, but I believe you’ve moved on to new projects. Any details?

JW: Um, well, I’m wrapping up a project now called Ex-Oe, which started out kind of a tribute to the old alternative / punk stuff from the 80’s, namely Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, Lemonheads, Pixies.. And am doing this project now called 78/87, where I just sing. I started playing bass because I just wanted to make some cool punk songs, and I couldn’t find anyone to play with me, so I wrote them myself, and went from there. I didn’t know what I was doing, just like when I started making movies. I only knew what I wanted to achieve, and put some effort behind it. Anyway, now that I know a few like minded people who want to make music with me, I’d like to step aside and let someone else play, because I am not a very good musician. And shit, I never tried to be. But I did get to make some pretty awesome noise, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Now I just want to jump around, and bust my lip open with microphones. My good friend, Neil Dyer, and I, put out a 7″ not so long ago, under the name Dyer Walker, and that was a cool project that was a lot of fun! I also collaborated on something called The Spider Gods, which probably has more of a local sound to it, and that demo is free on bandcamp. There are other things that I’m leaving out, and I look forward to more. As long as it means something to me, I’ll keep doing it. I’m living a childhood dream, and I am very, very grateful.

NN: What is your ideal show and why?

JW: I never got to see Empathy. Jay Palumbo is a hero of mine, and someone I am lucky to call a friend now.

I’d say Empathy, Squirrel Bait, and Blangk reunion. That’d be my idea of perfection. Scab or Advance would be cool, too. .. I know, stuck in the past.

NN: What are your non-musical interests? I feel like I heard that you have worked with film some. Can you tell us about any past, present, or future projects?

JW: I have made seven films, and am now writing a shot on video 80’s style slasher, chock full of gore and nudity. Also, I am throwing around the idea of a creepy children’s movie with demons, magic, and all that stuff. I have been all over the country shooting movies, and promoting them. I make films for the b movie enthusiast, because that’s who I am. I basically just make what I’d like to see. I make the music that I’d like to hear, and I don’t do it for anyone else. If people tend to like the things I do, then I am truly honored. But I don’t think I could be happy unless I was making myself happy. Nobody could do it for me.

NN: What do you think about using Kickstarter to fund art? What about business endeavors?

JW: I don’t know anything about that. I’ve always funded my own endeavors. I figure if I’m to be able to say that I’ve put all my effort into something, then going broke doing what I love is part of it. It can really suck, and be nerve racking, not to mention depressing, self defeating, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

NN: What do you see as the difference between older and younger crowds? Do you think one could learn from the other?

JW: You can learn from anybody, as long as you’re willing to listen. It would be silly to think that all human experiences are the same, and I always thought it was our job as a community to understand, and to sympathize. I think with the younger crowd, it’s more about poking fun and making jokes at the expense of others, which is really not cool. But that does not apply to all young people. Actually, some of the older people have just never grown up, either. It’s okay, but if someone just has no willingness to see from another person’s point of view, then they contribute nothing, but to give the rest of us a bad name. As for other folks, that I feel make up the majority, the learning and the smiles never have to stop, and that’s where it’s at. Although I feel more and more of these people, who have a lot to offer, are just staying home more now. Probably fed up with too much ridicule, and gang opinion. It is something that you can’t dwell on. But I believe that the young and old should mingle. And that stories should be shared.

NN: What have you been listening to lately?

JW: Ramones, Motorhead, Beltones, Marked Men, Hex Dispensers, Germs – things that I keep at work. I’ve been meaning to have a home day and listen to all my records, but when I’m home, I am usually watching movies, or editing video. What I have been listening to the most are the voices in my head, who just tell me to go and hang out with friends. I just left my girl of 7 years, and it’s been an adjustment. But I have an urge to put on the Seaside Panel 7″ right now…