Exclusive First Interview: Captain Clegg & The Night Creatures
EXCLUSIVE: BrutalAsHell talks to Captain Clegg from the upcoming Rob Zombie film H2 about the movie and the full-blown record, Captain Clegg and the NightCreatures!
by MATT BARNETTE | July 28, 2009
One thing is for certain: as far as musical alter-ego’s go, the transformation from a barn-burning Telecaster igniting shredder who’s played with everyone from Johnny Cash to Social Distortion into an undead psychobilly down at the Zombie-A-Go-Go doesn’t seem like too huge of a leap, at least not for Jesse Dayton a.k.a. Captain Clegg. Dayton’s performance as Clegg — backed by his real life band (a.k.a. The NightCreatures) — takes the leap from celluloid to the real world, bringing some of the flavor of Rob Zombie’s re-imagining of the Halloween series to a venue near you this Summer. BrutalAsHell.com caught up with Dayton shortly before he and his band departed Nebraska on their current tour through the Midwest.
Brutal As Hell: Captain Clegg and the NightCreatures hooked up with Rob Zombie and the H2 movie that is coming out this August 28. How did that come about?
Jesse Dayton: I had done the Banjo and Sullivan record for the Devil’s Rejects movie, which was a little record me and Rob put out, and Rob called me and said “Hey man, we’re doing this white trash, serial killer movie called the Devil’s Rejects and there are these two characters that are musicians named Banjo and Sullivan in it, and we want you to make a fake record.” and I was just like… “Awesome, let’s do it.” So we put the record out and it did really good. It has a big underground following. I was playing with Social Distortion at a big theater in Los Angeles, and Rob calls me out of nowhere and asks me if I’m in L.A. and I say “Yeah” and he asks if he and his wife Sheri (Moon-Zombie) can come backstage. So he does, and it’s kind of a big deal that they’re there and people are freakin’ out. So he comes backstage and tells me “Hey, I’m creating a new band and I want you to be in this movie.” So I was like “Awesome.” He didn’t tell me it was Halloween 2. He thought it might be another project. So I start getting e-mails from him with song ideas and concepts, and then about a week later I get a call from him just straight out telling me “You’re going to be in the new Halloween movie.” and I was just like “Awesome.“
What are your thoughts on Rob’s Halloween movies? Were you previously a fan of the series?
I grew up with Halloween movies. It’s a big deal for me. So we started putting this band together and the thing with Rob is, he doesn’t just do movies or make music… he creates a whole world. One of the biggest misnomers of this movie is that it’s a remake. It’s a re-imagining. A continuum of these characters and where they are in their lives. I think it’s idiotic to call this a remake. There’s no specific Jamie Lee Curtis type of character. I mean, to me that would be a remake. This, to me, is a continuum of Michael Myers’ life through the eyes of Rob Zombie. One thing I can tell you is there’s a huge buzz for this movie within the industry. If key grips, and camera guys are calling each other and talking about your movie, you know there’s something to it. There’s something interesting going on there. Lew Temple, who’s one of my real good friends — he played the rapist guard in Halloween, and was Adam Banjo, y’know, the guy who puked on the bed in the Devil’s Rejects — Lew introduced me to Rob, and Lew called me after we left the set of H2 and said to me “Man, you must be really excited about this.” and I said “Why?” and he laughed and said “Because I was just talking to some camera guys and some key grips and lighting guys and they were saying that Rob is just…getting away with murder.” And he is. Not to give too much away, but in the scene with the band, they had totally nude go-go dancers.
Like full frontal?
Yeah, man. I mean I don’t know if it’s gonna be in the movie or in the director’s cut, or whatever, but Rob doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks. He’s all about doing what he wants to be doing. I think it makes the movies and the art better.
So do you like doing the whole “fake band” concept? You did Banjo and Sullivan and now the Captain Clegg project. Is it more challenging or is it easy for you to step into other people’s shoes and write songs that way?
Well, it’s pretty easy to put myself into other people’s shoes because Rob has such a definitive idea of the character. It’s kind of a new thing, and it hasn’t been done before. I mean record companies and some cheeseball record companies have together some people, and musicians together, but the deal with this record is that all of the musicians here are really cool guys and really awesome musicians. These guys have all been on big records before. Most people don’t know this but I played guitar for Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, like…the legends of Country music. I’m not just some guy who opened up for them in the Midwest, I’m on their records. I know them personally. I’m bringing a whole new musical thing to it and I think that’s why Rob likes to use me on it, because he loves coming up with new musical hybrids.
Once we did the Banjo and Sullivan record, I’m on tour in L.A., New York, London and Paris and people are screaming out, like, Banjo and Sullivan songs. It’s so funny, man.
When Rob said “We’re going to do a real specific character, and you’re going to write the music and be in the movie” so it will be even cooler than the Banjo thing. We’re also going out around the country and playing “Phantom Jam” shows where we screen the Halloween 2 movie in the theater and then Captain Clegg comes out and rocks the house, playing songs you just heard in the movie right there on stage.
That’s gotta be great, because people just saw you in the movie and then — boom — you’re on stage and you’re like, The Beatles.
Yes! (laughs) It’s great, man. It’s a trip. We’re looking forward to doing a ton of those.
So the record is coming out August 28th — the same day as H2 hits the theaters. What are the plans? Are you just going to be doing Jesse Dayton shows playing some Captain Clegg songs or are the Night Creatures going on a full-blown tour?
We’re gonna do a full on Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures tour. I’m not gonna say any names, because we haven’t got it all signed yet, but we’re talking about going on tour with some really, really cool big bands. Plus we’re doing these Phantom Jams in Chicago with Fangoria, and we’re talking about doing a show in Atlanta with the folks who do the Atlanta Horror Fest, because those were the people who were actually in the crowd for the Captain Clegg scene we shot for the movie.
How long did it take to shoot your scene in the movie? How much real estate do you guys take up in H2?
Well, we were actually written into the script. They’re actually going to see Captain Clegg at a Phantom Jam in the movie. You’ll hear us on the radio, and you’ll see us on T.V. and you’ll see us at the Phantom Jam.
Oh, wow. So you’re all over the place in it.
Yeah, it should be really cool. I keep hearing all these people saying (in mocking tone) “What does this have to do with Michael Myers??” and I’m like…
Because other things happen in horror movies, besides murder!
Exactly! Yeah. What a bunch of fuckin’ whiners! It’s like…shut the fuck up, man! He’s throwing one cool band in for a little cameo and all some people want to do is just watch Michael Myers and hack people and jack off or whatever they do.
Yeah. Can we get a two-hour murder scene, please? That would be greaaaaaaat.
Yeah, yeah. Exactly! Fuck that.
The people who complain about stuff like that are the ones who don’t get Hitchcock. The build-up is the best part of horror movies to me, personally.
Right. It’s all about tension. The build-up. Exactly. You gotta think, all the people who are bitching about this must be really shitty in bed. Let’s just get it over with!!!! (laughs)
So, anyway, we’re talking about doing this thing and taking it on tour. It’s weird. My manager is getting phone calls for Captain Clegg shows. It’s so strange.
All these people that are calling from all over the place are asking about us playing on Halloween night.
You should just put a bid up on eBay. Highest bidder gets the Halloween show.
The difference between us and a band like Tito and the Tarantula from From Dusk ‘Til Dawn is that we have a full record coming out.
Was that the original plan? Or did you guys just do a few songs for the movie and it came out so good that you all decided to do a full album?
It was his (Rob’s) idea. I’d love to take credit for it, but he had this whole concept for a whole record. I have my own record label called Stag Records, and he asked me how my label had been doing, and I told him it’d been doing great. We’re totally indie and doing our own thing, and he said “Great, let’s put your label together with Zombie-A-Go-Go and I’ll relaunch Zombie-A-Go-Go records and we can put our teams together and put this thing out.” It was such a cool thing for him to do, and he totally didn’t have to do that.
It’s just nice because Rob has been successful for twenty years and he is just all about the art. None of the other stuff even registers. It’s just about the art.
That’s the key. Don’t worry about the business aspect of it. Just do what you love to the best of your ability and success will come eventually.
Exactly. We flew into Covington, and into Georgia twice. The first time we went to a Civil War graveyard, and the sun was coming down behind us, shining through the trees and the graves and it looked so cool and Rob was freaking out. We’d do a song, and Rob is like “Let’s do another one! Let’s do another one!” Then we did the Phantom Jam scene, and we were doing fifteen hour days. It was cramped with like four hundred extras and it was just hotter than hades, and I didn’t hear one person complaining all day. People were just happy to be there and a part of it. You hear about how some directors like to make people uncomfortable and off-kilter to keep them on their toes or whatever but Rob is completely different, I guess. He likes to keep them relaxed so they do good work. Before we knew it we’d filmed every song on the record.
That’s pretty cool. So you basically have music videos for every song on this album already in the can?
Yeah, man. We have a video for every single song on the record already shot and directed by Rob Zombie. It’s so cool.
Speaking of videos, I saw the video for Zombie-A-Go-Go and I have to say those are the most well behaved zombies I’ve ever seen.
(laughs) Well they’re kind of slow. That’s why you have to shoot them with a big dumb shotgun to take them out.
I particularly liked the dancing skull helping you to sing along with the lyrics.
That was Rob’s idea. We sent him a copy of the video to get his notes and he e-mails back with “needs a bouncing skull.” How hilarious is that? Getting e-mails from Rob Zombie after you ask him what he thinks of the video and getting responses like “more gore. Needs bouncing skull.” (laughs)
So Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures was the European title of the 1962 Hammer film Night Creatures. What are you taking from that movie or is it just a in-name only kind of tribute?
That was just Rob throwing a name out from the top of his head. I thought that one was cool so we just ran with it. We’ve taken some of the style. I love Cushing and I love that movie. People are saying “We’ve seen that before with The Ghastly Ones, or the Damned…”, but we’re just having a good time with it. But Captain Clegg can be anything we want it to be. This is just the beginning. We’re getting some full on 60’s Honky Tonk suits with skulls on them and it’s just going to be fucking insane. I can’t wait to see them finished.
Anything else before we finish up?
I’m excited for this movie and the record and everything else to come. We’re doing webisodes where we’re in the hot rod and running over zombies. It’s gonna be hilarious.
Also, man, and you can print this if you want. This is the first real Clegg exclusive I’ve given. There’s much bigger stuff coming later today. Like, we’re doing a bunch of mainstream newspapers later today, but this is cool. This is the first site we’re really talking to and we just wanna let you guys and your readers know we’re happy for the support and we look forward to seeing everyone at the Phantom Jams around the country!
Halloween 2, and Rob Zombie Presents: Captain Clegg and the NightCreatures’ album both come out August 28th