For more than two decades now, Dave Bird has continued to relentlessly play in band after band after band. Dating back to the early 90’s (maybe even before that?) he’s maintained an important position in Louisville’s punk and indie rock scene playing in bands like Hedge and Out. early on, going on to play with other Louisville staples like Sean Garrison and Will Oldham. In the early/mid 00’s Dave was in one of my personal favorite bands VRKTM, a criminally overlooked group whose Excess/Defect record has maintained a solid spot in my rotation over the years.
Recently Dave has been spending his time playing in weirdo rock band Rude Weirdoand throwback hard punk band American Lesions, who have a badass new 7inch out now via Self Destruct. The title of the release is Woundlicker, and on it you are offered five songs of hard-hitting punk rock that can only be properly digested at a high volume. If you haven’t already, listen to this beast of a record here. Get a physical copy of Woundlicker at Modern Cult Records, or if the brick-and-mortar approach ain’t your thing you can find it online as well, tangibly and digitally.
I reached out to Dave to see if he’d be willing to talk about one of his own personal favorite horror films as part of our LOUISVILLE LOVES HORROR series; thankfully he was kind enough to not only respond with a brilliant write-up, but he also submitted a bizarre photograph of himself as an apparent centaur, or maybe a ram. Either way, I love it. The picture was taken at a Rude Weirdo show that apparently had a barn yard theme. Cool.
Read on as Dave, in his own words talks about one of modern horror’s most chilling, and most talked about films…
Even more than the crescendoing sense of dread, grief, and fear that permeates every masterfully paced moment of The Witch, even more than how the film strikes to the very core of American conceit, intolerance, and naive arrogance, I love this movie as much as any I have ever seen for how it so elegantly embodies my two absolute favorite self-contradicting terms: Instant Classic and Real Mythology. This thing shot right to the uppermost echelon of movies I’m glad I caught on the big screen the very moment it all came to a head in its flawless and simultaneously tragic and triumphant final scene.
The Witch is up there with the big boys in that regard, y’all. I’m talking about The Empire Strikes Back (first time I saw cosplay! I was 9, I thought that was Luke and Leia for real!), Aliens, Predator, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Piranha 3D. The Witch may not have a two story high severed penis floating right up in your grill until it gets eaten by a fish, but that is literally the only strike against it. I knew walking out that this is a movie to obsess over for decades, the very definition of an instant classic.
The subject matter and dialogue come directly from historical records of American witch trials in the 1630’s, and yet there are shapeshifting hags, and…warlocks? Demons? Lord Satan himself?, and even more discomfitting supernatural shit that goes down in the ultimate scene I already mentioned. That’s real mythology right there. OUR mythology. Breathe deep, it is to be relished and savored. It is delicious.
The core fear at the heart of The Witch is the fear of being abandoned and alone, and damn, does it ever hammer that home relentlessly. When the tribunal of a frontier fortress asks William, the patriarch of a family of unflinching religious literalists, if he would give up their protection and have his family confront the wilderness alone rather than stop being such a judgmental prick, he replies that he would be glad of it. What a fucking idiot!
Enter a world of the most gorgeous forest cinematography I’ve ever laid eyes on, and interiors that evoke the dark desperation of Van Gogh’s “The Potato Eaters”. I want to post up in the witch’s earthen mound home for the rest of my life. That’s just another masterful aspect of the film, you understand and sympathize with the seduction. You want to float away from the horror of life too, don’t you? When William weeps and prays for his children you want to revel in what he has brought down on himself and scream “Where is your God now!?!”. Welcome to a world of vanishing babies, starvation, poverty, helplessness, and malevolence, William. Welcome to Hell.