Steve Stevens talksto Yahoo Entertainment's Lyndsey Parker about horror movie-inspired Billy Idol videos.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Steve, what-- what was your-- I know you're a big horror buff as well. Obviously, everyone on the panel is a big horror buff. What was it for you that sort of lit that spark?
STEVE STEVENS: I just remember when I was in grade school a horror soap opera called "Dark Shadows." You know, you'd get home from school, and you'd, like, watch "Dark Shadows." It's pretty great.
- Abigail, what are you doing here?
STEVE STEVENS: The golden era of Universal in the '30s with, you know, Frankenstein and, you know, all of the Wolfman, Dracula. But those Hammer horror films, the English Hammer horror films, I've seen them recently, and they still visually just look incredible. They really, really look amazing to this day. I think seeing the 1931 "Frankenstein," you know, as a kid, it just-- just the look of it was so Gothic. And the concept of bringing back some body or pieces from the dead still to this day scares the crap out of me.
LYNDSEY PARKER: What's, like, kind of the-- the movie that sort of had the most direct effect on-- on what you do musically or visually, like aesthetically?
STEVE STEVENS: I mean, I'm dating myself here, but when we did the first Billy Idol record, "Mad Max" had a huge effect on us. And for all the gear we wore, we kept saying "rip it up," you know, to people, just rip up your gear so it looked like "Mad Max."
LYNDSEY PARKER: That's pretty cool. Well, wasn't Eyes-- "Eyes Without a Face" inspired by, like, a weird French horror film that came out in, like, 1960s?
STEVE STEVENS: It was, yeah.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I think it's, like, a weird, like, body horror plastic surgery movie about someone with no face.
STEVE STEVENS: A lot of Billy's lyrics were always inspired by films and whatever information we could take in. Actually, Billy's very first video was directed by Tobe Hooper, which is the "Dancing with Myself" video. He was actually the first, I believe, to actually use a film director as opposed to, you know, MTV rock music directors. He had done "Texas Chainsaw." And actually, there's a--
LYNDSEY PARKER: There you go.
STEVE STEVENS: --there's a scene in the video. There's a guy who's swinging an-- a hammer, and that's one of the props from "Texas Chainsaw." And I think there's other little things that they kept putting in the video that are actually from "Texas Chainsaw." There's a-- a dummy in it, a ventriloquist dummy or something, that might be something else. Yeah, there's a couple of little things that-- that I know were props from the actual movie.
LYNDSEY PARKER: What about the "White Wedding" video? That video had a lot of, like-- I don't know who directed that one off-hand, but that video had a lot of Gothic imagery in it.
STEVE STEVENS: Yeah, I mean, you know, the-- you know, a lot of people read, especially the-- the Christian right, they were so anti-rock or, you know, MTV. Oh, it's going to pollute the minds of, you know, the youth. But-- yeah, exactly. That was our point.
LYNDSEY PARKER: It was. They weren't wrong, but that's fine.
STEVE STEVENS: Yeah, but they read into that video with a lot of things that really weren't, you know. It was just-- just cool imagery. But they-- I remember they had a real problem with the scene where he puts the wedding ring on Perry Lister, who was his girlfriend. She's bleeding from it, and they-- you know, it was just like a cool imagery. And they-- oh, it's, you know, anti-marriage and all this kind of stuff that none of-- nobody really-- none of us thought that.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Oh yeah. Maybe not in Halloween costume, but do people, like, come to-- ever come to your shows, like, dressed up as you guys? You have any stories like that?
STEVE STEVENS: Yeah, it-- it seemed like the-- at the height of the '80s when Billy Idol first when-- certainly when "Rebel Yell" came out, you'd look out in the audience, and you'd see at least 50 Billy Idols and Madonnas. You know, people always wanted to fantasize that they actually were a couple, whereas in reality they weren't. And I was-- I'd look at Billy, like, thinking, you know, that's got to be a little bit weird for him, you know? It's weird for me, but.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Well, I'd love to talk about music, musical artists that sort of draw from horror as well. You know, Kiss gets mentioned, but, you know, like, obviously there's Alice Cooper, there's, you know, The Cramps, bands like that. Are there any artists like that that sort of, you know, obviously have a horror aesthetic of some kind that, you know, you have gravitated towards?
STEVE STEVENS: All of those artists owe a huge debt to Arthur Brown who did "Fire." He used to come out with a-- like, a bucket on his head or some kind of chalice, and they'd fill it with gasoline. And somebody-- one of the roadies would light a match and throw it. And it-- and he-- but he was the first to wear the death mask, which is-- looks a hell of a lot like what Gene Simmons eventually adopted.
But I think he was the first of what I would say shock rock artists. And then the first I can remember seeing as a kid of that, I guess, was Alice Cooper. He obviously had the-- had the-- the makeup and everything. And then, you know, really that first Black Sabbath record, even the cover. You know, parents didn't let kids--
LYNDSEY PARKER: Yeah.
STEVE STEVENS: --have that record in their collection. It was like, oh, that's-- you know, that's going to warp your mind. And, yeah, that's what I'm hoping, you know? But, you know, it's a-- it was incredible to think that it was such a different time that an album cover could-- could, you know-- your parents would be up in arms about it. Now it's-- you know, it's accepted.
But, yeah, I'd say-- I'd say for me, you know, it was the early, you know, shock rock, you know, of Alice Cooper. And Black Sabbath carried that theme throughout their whole career. They based their whole thing on-- on that kind of dark side of-- of the world.
LYNDSEY PARKER: What is the scariest thing you've ever seen in a horror movie, like the scene or the-- that just gave you nightmares?
STEVE STEVENS: Most recent thing that I've seen that's really genuinely scary was "Get Out," which, you know, combined racism and-- and horror. I hadn't seen-- I don't know anyone who would combine those two elements in a way. That-- that film really screwed me up for a while. It's pretty-- pretty scary.
- Get out.
- Sorry, man.
- Get out!