Photo: Sarah Darby
Shane Michael Sanchez has always wanted to “push it.” Whether that be wearing a Wu-Tang Clan shirt in his fifth-grade yearbook photo, tricking his mom into letting him rent violent horror movies at a young age, or forming a hip-hop-influenced synth-punk band called Ghoul Poon in his early 20’s. The 32-year-old Troy resident and Saratoga Springs native has always been attracted to over-the-top displays of unrestricted artistic expression.
“I always had a very good, positive, cool mom who pretty much let me do and listen to anything I wanted to,” he says during a conversation with The Collaborative. Naturally, as a 90’s kid with unlimited access to explore the intersection of horror and hip-hop, Insane Clown Posse was a formative interest. For Sanchez, like many other teens with a rebellious spirit, the attraction wasn’t merely the content of their music, but the rush of knowing that he shouldn’t have been listening to them.
“This is hands down the most inappropriate thing that I should be listening to at this age,” he remembers thinking. “Those guys sounded scary coming out of your CD player back then, and it blew my mind. . .It’s super fucked up, it literally sounds like serial killer clowns coming out of your stereo.”
He spent his early teens as a full-on juggalo, catching ICP whenever he could and even writing and producing his own raps throughout highschool. But by his mid-teens he had grown out of his ICP phase and made the more respectable pivot to traversing the weirder edges of psych and punk music. He formed Ghoul Poon in 2007 and fronted them until their 2012 disbandment, and then became the drummer for the Troy post-punk band Eternal Crimes. But it wasn’t until the formation of his new band Blood Blood Blood that he’s been able to itch the frontman scratch that’s been bothering him for almost a decade. On top of that, the band is also an outlet for his spooky, experimental, and conceptually provocative tendencies.
“Our whole concept is it’s darkwave, electro dance music but all our songs are about being serial killers,” he says with a laugh. He and his bandmate Chris Brown (no relation) play noisy, experimental synth-punk while wearing creepy monster masks and singing about killing people. Sanchez is quick to acknowledge the absurdity of it, and he emphasizes that it’s a performance art project, one that he consciously aims to separate from his actual self.
“Everything else I’ve ever done before was very personal. Like, about me and my love life,” he says. “I don’t want anyone to listen to [Blood Blood Blood] and put me into it because it’s totally fictional, it’s just a creative project.”
Instead, Sanchez credits the band’s conception to his own Frankenstein’s monster, of sorts, the SUPER DARK Collective. Sanchez and Brown started the project in 2013 as a public access TV series of homemade psychedelic horror films called SUPER DARK Home Video. Eventually, it morphed into a multidisciplinary art organization called SUPER DARK Collective that currently hosts twice-weekly concerts in Saratoga Springs and a monthly concert series in Albany. Sanchez does most of the booking for SUPER DARK, and in recent years it’s put Saratoga Springs on the map as a viable tour stop for avant-garde bands traveling to and from NYC, the Midwest and Canada.
“Our whole thing is like the old CBGB mindstate,” he says. “As long as you’re playing original music, that’s really all I care about. . .It’s important for us to give the opportunity for people to completely be themselves and have freedom to explore their vision of creativity. Whether it’s audio, visual, dance, everything.”
It was through booking and attending these shows that Sanchez and Brown became inspired to start their own band in the vein of some of their favorites. “Why aren’t we doing this right now? We have the synthesizers, we have drum machines,” Sanchez remembers thinking. One band in particular, a Philly witch-punk band called Evil Sword (who are playing the Blood Blood Blood album release show on 11/4), was a direct influence. “We literally formed our band because we saw those guys. . .,” Sanchez says.
The live setting is not just where the idea of the band spurred, but where the actual sound of Blood Blood Blood’s music comes from as well. Sanchez had experience building an electronic track from scratch and then presenting it live as is, but for Blood Blood Blood he wanted to turn that on his head and approach their work as he would a punk band.
“The album itself came from us performing it live and me trying different vocal things and changing words around. I think it’s a really interesting way to approach doing electronic music because I feel like most people make electronic music in their bedroom, that’s what you end up presenting to people. Whereas this has been very organic and the performance is what brings it to life in the music itself. Like, I never would scream or sing the way that I’m singing if I wasn’t trying it out first live and realizing, ‘Oh, wow I didn’t even realize I could hit that note.’”
Blood Blood Blood’s live set is adorned with TV’s playing scary videos, tons of fog, and plenty of bad vibes. As a joke, Sanchez reached out to Upstate Concert Hall to see if they could open for the upcoming Insane Clown Posse show, as an ironic reference to his teenage years. To his bewilderment, the venue got back immediately and hooked them up with management, and before he had the chance to think twice Blood Blood Blood were slated to open for ICP on 10/13.
“Never in a million years was that something that I would think,” Sanchez says. “Even back when I was a teenager making hip-hop music, it was never in my head.”
Although Blood Blood Blood’s music comes from a completely different artistic worldview than ICP’s, and Sanchez clarifies numerous times that he hasn’t felt connected to his juggalo roots in almost 20 years, the experience does feel inadvertently in-line with Sanchez’s description of Blood Blood Blood’s initial intentions.
“I think that everyone has always thought that we were dark people cause we’re called the SUPER DARK Collective, and everyone thinks that all we listen to is horror shit,” he says. “So I think that this time around we were like, ‘You know what? Let’s just do it and go full throttle. Let’s just live up to what everyone thinks that we are.’”
Are they are Juggalo band? Definitely not. But he’s definitely still pushing it.