We shouldn’t need to tell you just how frickin’ awesome Dorset sludge-doom titans Ramesses are – after all, we pretty much demanded earlier this year that you go see them play live. And those among you that heeded our advice might’ve spotted that the band’s drummer, Mark Greening – also a former sticksmith for the mighty Electric Wizard, no less – not only has Billy, the puppet from the Saw movies, emblazoned across the front of his bass drum, but also has the marionette’s visage tattoo’d onto his very flesh. Yep, you guessed it – he’s a bit of a fan.
With Saw VI released on DVD and Blu-ray this week, we thought it was high time we sent Marek Steven to catch up with Mark to delve the depths of the drummer’s obsession with what is – believe it or not – the most successful horror movie franchise of all time.
First thing to ask, I guess, is when you first saw Saw?
“It was a little bit after when the first film came out. I remember my girlfriend borrowing a DVD off one of our friends. And I was like ‘What’s this crap about? I don’t want to watch that!’ I wasn’t up for it at all. But when I put it on I thought it was different and I was into it. I’m more into 70s and 80s horrors than the modern ones so I thought it’d have computer animation and shite in it. But I was quite impressed basically. The Saw puppet ‘Billy’ stood out the most for me. I’d always been quite a big fan of ventriloquist dummies. It generally seemed quite eerie and with the way it was structured it stood out quite a bit. It was interesting how the John Kramer / Jigsaw character got to where he was, appreciate life and do these tricks on other people. I thought it was a great film and that’s how it all started and how I got into it.”
Heavy metal and horror films have a long-standing relationship. Why is it do you think that the two fit so well?
“I guess heavy music is doomy, twisted and nasty sounding and that’s how a horror film is. It’s meant to be nasty. You wouldn’t get The Beatles to soundtrack a horror film. Heavy metal and doomy music has always been associated with horror for that reason.”
Watch the trailer for Saw VI here…assuming you’re not a massive pussy
I guess it goes right back to Black Sabbath’s first album?
“Yeah definitely. Sabbath and stuff like that could be actually used as a soundtrack to horror films. A lot of the music on the Saw soundtracks is quite heavy bands. Some of it’s a bit naff but the actual score is pretty cool. Is it Charlie Clouser that does the music for Saw?”
Yeah, he’s worked with Nine Inch Nails a lot I think.
“I have got all the soundtracks actually. I was hoping that one day we could get a Ramesses track on the soundtrack. That would be amazing. I don’t reckon that’ll ever happen but you never know.”
Maybe you could make it on another horror film if not a Saw one.
“It’s funny actually. There was this guy who made a horror film and used a lot of early Electric Wizard music. It was on a cheap DVD but it was quite mad actually. I think it was a lot of songs off Let us Prey or something like that. I had a copy but I lost it so I wonder now what the hell it was called. But yeah it would be great to get Ramesses on some kind of horror soundtrack. I play some keyboard and some eerie Hammond myself so it would be good to do something alone or with Ramesses sometime.”
The music of Ramesses is steeped in occult evil and references older horror films from the 70s.
“Adam [Richardson, vocals & bass] deals with a lot of the lyrical side of things. Him and Tim [Bagshaw, guitar] are into the early British horror films so some of the references come from there. We like to make our sound quite like a horror soundtrack. I’m into all sorts of horror. The old stuff, 70s, 80s and obviously todays stuff too.”
Can you tell us about your Saw tattoos?
“Yeah, I have Billy, the puppet, tattoo. That was the third tattoo I had. I remember at the time trying to do a Google search on the puppet and there where no images at all of the full character. It was all dribs and drabs. Now I look back on it I wished I’d done it bigger, I feel like that with a lot of my tattoos. At the time I remember having a little portable DVD player. And because I couldn’t find a picture I liked we found the bit in the first film where the detectives are in Jigsaw’s lair and pull the cloth off the puppet. We had to pause it at that bit and my mate had to put paper over and sketch over the screen. It was quite a nightmare because the DVD player kept buggering up.”
That sounds like hard work!
“So I’ve got that one and I’ve also got the red spiral thing tattooed on one of my arms – the image the puppet has it on it’s cheeks. I do want to get the pig-face one as well but I’ve not yet done that. I’m sort of running out of room now on my arms. It’s a bit of a pain.”
And your bass drum also has Billy on it.
“Yeah, I picked that up from Forbidden Planet. I always wanted a sticker thing like that. They’re designed to cling onto windows I think but I put it on the front of the drum. I wanted to design it and get it printed and all that stuff. But because of the plastic of the bass drum it’s quite hard to do that. So I stuck that on there.”
It looks like it’s been painted on there actually. It looks really good.
“Yeah, no it’s just a clingy sticker thing. I was quite chuffed to find it. It stuck on there quite nicely. I have the same sticker on my scooter as well, it’s quite mad. So yeah, most horror films that are around these days are just remakes of old films. Saw is original and it keeps going. Some people are getting a bit tired of the films. People I talk to say ‘Oh, it’s all about the gore now’. I think that although they’re churning them out it’s still got it basically. They’re only doing one or two more films right?”
They say the upcoming seventh one is the last one. And it’s going to be in 3D.
“Yeah, oh right. I don’t know about this 3D stuff. A lot of the time they worry too much about how something’s going to look in 3D. Rather than thinking about what the actual film is going to be like. I’m into the Friday 13th series as well, and I remember seeing people interviewed for Part 3. They said that half the time they were too busy trying to point things at the camera to be bothering with the acting or the script.”
Yeah, parts of it are quite funny if you watch in on TV or something not in 3D.
2Yeah, I hope the next Saw won’t be ruined by stuff like that. But I do like Friday 13th Part 3. When I was younger that was a film that stuck in my mind. Obviously it’s the one where he gets the hockey mask. I looked forever to try and get the film in 3D. I managed to finally track one down in America. I got it with the 3D glasses and all that. And then about a month later it was on bloody TV! They had a 3D season on TV. It was actually on twice for two nights running. I track it down for all these years and it’s on bloody TV.”
It seems like a lot of things that used to be really rare are easier to get hold of nowadays.
“Yeah, with things like Friday the 13th a lot of kids are into it so they re-release stuff. Dig it out and keep churning it all out. I’ve got a lot of Saw stuff as well. I’ve got a lot of puppets and puppet figures and all that. I’ve got a couple of the Saw puppet masks. But I always wanted to the life-sized doll. I had one but it was not quite as big as the proper doll, which is about the size of a small boy I think. But obviously the puppet’s changed during the films from a sculptured item to a more manufactured one.”
Check out some of Mark’s Saw collection
If you personally where the subject on one of jigsaws tests what do you think your sin would be?
“Sometimes I don’t appreciate life sometimes myself. I’m always like moaning. My girlfriend says one day you’ll be old and you’ll be wondering why you were moaning. I moan about silly little things.”
That works. And what would be the worst test or trap to be put through do you think?
“Maybe being eaten by sharks or something. That would be pretty bad. Or tarantulas eating your eyes out. That would be nasty. It’s crazy how they keep coming up with all the tests.”
They’re pretty creative. Aren’t they?
“Yeah, they are creative.”
Ramesses will release their second album, Take the Curse, this Spring. If you don’t buy it, we won’t break into your house, abduct you, and subject you some obscene Saw-esque punishments, but we will be shaking our heads in dismay at your obvious lack of taste. Saw IV is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate – for more grisly details about the movie, point your browser over to the film’s official website at http://www.saw6movie.co.uk/