Above; The CD cover of his CD "Banned on Vulcan". Obviously, this guy's not "Prince".

   Show of hands; How many of you have heard of Voltaire? Not the philosopher, I'm talking about the animator of the infamous "Bud Bowl" superbowl commercials, who also makes comic books, and a line of clothing sold at "Hot Topic".


   He also moonlights as the king of underground "Gothic Folk" music in New York, and has created characters that have set the Sci-Fi channel aflame.

   Still no? Well fuck you, he's bad-ass, you shoulda heard of him.

   Incase you hadn't figured it out, I'm a fan of the man's work, and just the other day I said to myself; "Self, What good does having a mildly successful website do you if you can't use your minor celebrity to let you talk to people who actually matter, and disguise it as productive work?" So I contacted Voltaire, and he agreed to answer some questions for me. Here's how it went.

EgoDriven: While fusion in music is not an unheard on concept, rarely do you hear almost Sinatra-esque crooning, set to the tune of gypsy-violins, on topics ranging from the joys of being evil, to necrophilia, to the fun times that come from killing ex-girlfriends. Top that off with genuinely heart-felt love songs, and a good cover of “Caught a light sneeze” by Tori Amos… You have a very distinct style of music that really deserves a lot of attention. What were some of your musical influences when you were younger?

Voltaire: Heh heh.. well maybe your set up was unusual, but then you asked me the single most common interview question! Heh heh! But nonetheless, I will answer it… I grew up listening to 80s brit pop, New Wave, Goth, that kind of stuff. David Bowie (also a crooner!) was definitely one my first and greatest inspirations as a singer. But around the house my mother played a lot of lounge music, stuff like Perry Como, and I think that must have really sinked in! heh heh..

EgoDriven: I’ve seen you perform live, and I’ve read your postings on your website… For being a demigod of the “Goth scene”, you seem damned happy, and are anything but antisocial… While I myself am not a big player in the teenaged goth scene, I think I speak for confused disillusioned youngsters everywhere when I ask; “What’s up with that?”

Voltaire: Goths who pretend to be sad ALL of the time are suckers! LoL (Laugh out loud)!

   Hey, I am depressed too! Life sucks! People are evil! I will never try to deny that… and I fully understand that in our culture, we are surrounded by phony people claiming to be happy all of the time. I too have rebelled against that by seeking out the darker side, or the more romantic side of human nature. But if I were to pretend that I am sad ALL OF THE TIME, then I would be just as phony and moronic as those pretending to be happy all of the time. At the end of the day, THEY would win! So I embrace life in all of its shittiness and mine it for all of the good I can find in it. And I’ll be damned if I won’t find reasons to laugh! It is after all, the best medicine.

EgoDriven: I hear you’re a dad! Have you had to field any uncomfortable questions from your son, due to your style of artist expression? For instance, is your son allowed to listen to all of your music, or do you avoid letting him hear the tracks where you’re crooning about, say, necrophilia?

Voltaire: My son is a 6 year old New Yorker, which makes him a 12 year old anywhere else. ; )

   But yeah, there have been some awkward moments. But I believe in treating children like people, so I have explained things to him much the same way I would to anyone else. For example, we frown upon cursing at home. When I let a bad word slip, my son, who I call the BAD WORD POLICE will jump out of his chair and correct me. “Ooh! Papa!” he’ll say, “ You said a bad word!” At one point I took my son to a convention with me where I was performing. He stayed up late to see my show at midnight. As you may know my show is pretty bawdy. He was sitting in the front row and every time I cursed I could hear him yell! After words he told me, “Papa, you said a lot of bad words!” I explained to him that there is a time and place for that kind of language. I told him, “Please don’t ever use these words at school while you are in class because you will get in trouble. But I’ll tell you what…. If you are ever at a SciFi convention after midnight, be my guest!”

EgoDriven: What did you eat for dinner the night before the day you woke up and said “You know what? I think I’ll write a comic book about a deranged cosmically evil teddy bear that comes to earth to torture and enslave the human race!” Was it a pizza? Were there funny looking mushrooms on the pizza? Or crack? Those New York pizzeria’s are shiesty sometimes…

Voltaire: Actually, I know exactly what it was…. It was Japanese food in Seattle. I was playing a little northwestern tour and that night I had dinner with the promoter, Mike from Musicwerks and his wife.
I had just signed an apparel deal with Mighty Fine to create a line of T-shirts for stores including and primarily Hot Topic. I was told that my designs should appeal to girls, about 12 to 15 who are very very cute but also very very naughty and see themselves as rebellious. I found myself that night sitting in Mike’s kitchen doodling on napkins. ( I was TERRIBLE company!) When I get fixated on something.. there’s nothing that will stop me. In any case, DEADY was born there. And in time I grew more and more attached to him. I started dreaming up stories about him, his origin, etc… and before I knew it, I wasn’t really thinking about T-shirts anymore… and my focus had moved to making a graphic novel so that I could tell his tales, so to speak.

   But yeah, I love the little bastard. And now there’s a line of toys…. Go figure. I can’t really explain it. People just seem to take to him.


Proof that Jesus doesn't Love you?

EgoDriven: You’ve done a lot of TV commercials, including a few that are considered some of the most amusing things ever try to sell you shit. Case in point, the “Bud Bowl” spots that ran halftime during the superbowl a few years back. Do the companies that approach you for these spots have these ideas in mind when they hire you, or do they come at you with an open mind and tell you to use your imagination?

Voltaire: It depends on the client and what they are selling. I directed a Poptarts commercial a few years ago with some cherries taking a dip in a swimming pool full of cream cheese or some shit. Every frame of that spot was spoon fed to me of course because Kellogg’s is a huge company and they are VERY concerned about how they are represented. On the other hand, The Sci-Fi Channel will just give me a bunch of money and say, “Go do something cool”. Needless to say, those are the jobs I love. And because I’ve earned a reputation over the years of being “the spooky guy”, those are the only jobs I get any more because Poptarts and the like don’t want to be associated with my spooky ass. Heh heh.. it works out okay.

   Everybody’s happy.

EgoDriven: It’s common knowledge amongst your fans that you don’t like people asking your real name, so I won’t waste both of our time by asking anyway. But I am curious, outside of your family, do you tell anyone your real name, or do you hold that as a true off-limits thing?

Voltaire: What do you mean, “real” name” ; )

EgoDriven: You’re a trekkie! I was raised a trekkie, and while I am not as far into it as many, I do have several seasons of “Deep Space Nine” on DVD, and I can, thanks to my father, recite a short plot summary of any “The Next Generation” episode, just from hearing the title. So, I have to ask, has being so well learned in the vast worlds of Star Trek helped you get the babes, as I know it has helped me?

Voltaire: Dude, if you being a Trekkie is getting you laid, I’m not sure I want to SEE the women you are sleeping with!!! LoL! I don’t know about it getting me laid… but I HAVE been known to get “friendly” with the tribbles now and again. He heh..

   And hey, Klingons invite me to parties… so I must be doing SOMETHING right! ‘Cause I’ll tell you right now… nobody knows how to party quite like the Klingons! I always come home from DragonCon in Atlanta with a couple gallons of bloodwine.

EgoDriven: You’re such a big fan of Star Trek that you actually released a four-track CD with just Star Trek Parodies. One such song, “The Sexy Data Tango”, talks about sexual relations with Starfleet’s android Lieutenant in graphic, trekkie innuendo. This is very, very funny, but I have to ask, how did you decide to make a CD based entirely on these ideas?

Voltaire: Getting back to DragonCon, the root of all evil, one year, I was sitting by the pool trashed off of my ass after having played about 4 shows in one day… when a guy walked up and asked me if I was into “filking”. I explained to him that while I am very liberal, I try to never stuff gerbils into my lower intestines. He explained to me that filking is essentially the act of writing folk songs about sci-fi topics and shows, like Star Trek and invited me to a “filksing”

   I walked in and the blast shield was forevermore lifted from my eyes! There, my love for music and Trek collided and I went about writing those songs.

   I am now working on a collection of Star Wars songs! The Mos Isley Cantina Buggery Blues is a hoot! Wait till you hear it. You will NEVER see Hammerhead quite the same way ever again.

EgoDriven: Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to share?

Voltaire: My coffee table book, What Is Goth? just came out a couple of weeks ago and is doing really well! You should check it out. The publisher calls it “a humorous but compassionate look at the goth scene!” heh heh.. you can find it at just about every book store.

   I am now working on the second DEADY graphic novel. In the tradition set forth in the first issue of having great guest art (Clive Barker contributed a 2 page story in issue one), there is some really exciting guest work in #2. Notably, James O’Barr did an amazing 3 page, "DEADY MEETS THE CROW" which I’m really excited about.

     As I mentioned, there are some DEADY toys headed to the stores. One is a 10 inch plastic DEADY figure that will be sold at Tower Records. It comes with a “best of Voltaire” CD strangely titled, “DEADY SINGS!” heh heh..
Issue #3 of DEADY is getting started now. The guest art line-up is insane:

  • DEADY MEETS LENORE by Roman Dirge

  • DEADY/Gloom Cookie crossover by Serena Valentino.

  • There’s work by Crab Scrambly and Gris Grimly

  • And a DEADY story by Neil Gaiman!

     That will be out in early 2005

   Then there’s my new CD, "Then And Again", which comes out October 26th. Just lots and lots of stuff happening… it’s kind of dizzying

EgoDriven: Any closing thoughts?

Voltaire: Too tired to think of anything right now.

EgoDriven: One final thing; You probably don’t know this, but I am the worlds foremost AntiPants Activist. Basically, I believe that pants are evil, and not in the good way. What are your feelings on pants?

Voltaire: I am internationally known to HATE my pants! Especially after the 4th drink. ; )

EgoDriven: Thank you for your time, and for answering my questions. Maybe we can do it again sometime.

   -   Voltaire


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