Icons of Fright’s WRITING MIXTAPE, PART ONE: Jerry Smith

With Beyond Fright, we like to focus on things somewhat on the fringe of horror. Whether it be great music or just  films that might be on the tip of something based in genres that might not be considered “horror” by most standards, but still have that great genre vibe. While brainstorming ideas for articles, it occurred to me that I write with rituals in the back of my mind. Now before you jump to conclusions and picture me with a black and red robe on while sacrificing a virgin, let me clarify: I don’t mean rituals in that sense, but in the terms of specific things that i find myself doing before and during the actual writing of an article, review or various other forms of doing what I enjoy: creating. Music has always played a huge part in my life, and when sitting down to write something for Icons, I first put together a playlist of songs that kind of put my mind into the zone of feeling a specific tone and feeling. While that sound easy, it’s not, being that my taste in music is so all over the place, that it ends up being a clusterfuck of weirdness, full of ups and downs and everything in between. I’m always enthralled by the musical choices of people I dig, so I figured if there are any music fans out there in Icons of Fright reader-land, then this here “Mixtape” (the fact that I still call playlists mixtapes shows what generation I grew up in) would be a fun one to write about, so sit back, put on some headphones, and get ready to get weird.-Jerry Smith


1.) Trash Talk – “Explode

This song is from Trash Talk’s “Eyes & Nines” album, and is a firecracker of a track. I tend to use this one to be the musical equivalent to five Red Bulls, getting my adrenalin going and making me energetic to write. It’s a hardcore anthem as far as I’m concerned, and never fails to get my brain moving in the right direction.Not for everyone, but as you’ll see with the rest of this list, most of the songs I dig tend to be a little out there.

2.) Leonard Cohen – “Waiting For the Miracle

Following up a Trash Talk track with a slow-paced Leonard Cohen song might seem really odd to some, but after getting hyped up and energetic, I like to switch it up and listen to something that instantly gets me into that somber-like mood, ready to dive into the dark genre that I love to focus on. “Waiting For the Miracle” is an excellent track from both Leonard Cohen’s album “The Future“, and the soundtrack to Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS soundtrack. It’s a slow-moving song that takes a little while to get going, but once Cohen’s trademark voice comes in, you’re instantly drawn into a melancholic bliss, something that is always easy to get into if you’re a fan of Cohen’s.

3.) The Ataris – “Secret Handshakes

While The Ataris were mostly known for being a pop-punk band, after most of the band went their separate ways following the “So Long, Astoria” album, the band went through an interesting change in not only members, but tone and genre as well. Instead of songs about girls with that pop-punk feeling to them, they came out with the “Welcome The Night” album, featuring three guitarists, a cello player and something more in tune with the shoegazer genre than what they were known for.  “Secret Handshakes” is an emotional song with lyrics telling the eerie story of a cult-like Freemason group burning down a former member’s house. It has a slow-tempo to it, which continually builds up to a really awesome chorus/bridge that gives the song such an epic feeling, perfect for a night of writing.

4.) Chris Alexander – “Organ Grinder

This track is from Fangoria Magazine’s editor in chief, Chris Alexander’s recent album, “Music For Murder“. It has a very industrial-like feeling to it, and is able to put you into a dark and dreadful mood, perfect for a horror-based article, or better yet..the perfect soundtrack to reading something horror-based. The whole album has that dark and completely frightening tone, putting some scary ass thoughts in your head and making you continually watch over your shoulder.

5.) No Motiv – “Audition

Audition” is a track that makes me think of fall weather, with brown leaves and the wind blowing through the night. Streetlights, candles, a dark mood that for some odd reason invokes images of cults and various other dark images. Weird, I know, but it’s one of my go-to songs for writing. Definitely different than No Motiv’s earlier material, but it works perfectly for a late night writing session.

6.) Every Time I Die – “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space

Just when the tone of whatever I’m writing is heading into somber territory, I like to throw a wrench into the mix, and what better song than what it my favorite song by Every Time I Die? “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” has one of the best opening lines, with “I want to be dead with my friends” being yelled over and over until the track hits hard, leading into a three minute assault. I absolutely love this band, and typically listen to them a lot while doing most things, whether it be writing, or hell, even cleaning the house. It’s a good track to get you pumped again, sending you into the kitchen for some coffee and making you write as fast as the thoughts can come to your brain.

7.) Joy Division – “Atmosphere

The title of this song pretty much nails it. After something heavy, I like to go to one of my favorite bands of all time, Joy Division, to give me what I need: some atmosphere. I don’t really believe that I can trust anyone who doesn’t appreciate a good Joy Division track, and “Atmosphere” is definitely that: a fucking good song. The combination of the tribal-like drumming, the faint guitar in the background, the keyboards and the unmistakable voice of Ian Curtis really sends you into a haze of creativity.

8.) Concrete Blonde – “Everybody Knows

Another Leonard Cohen song, but this time being Concrete Blonde’s cover of Cohen’s “Everybody Knows“, taken from the PUMP UP THE VOLUME soundtrack (as well as their b-sides/rarities album “Still in Hollywood“). I dig the original Cohen version, but I’ve been completely in love with this version, from the moment I first heard it, when PUMP UP THE VOLUME came out in 1990. A perfect song in general, it only adds to any experience, whether you’re sitting at a desk writing, or taking a late night drive. While Cohen’s original version tends to stay on the same plateau throughout the whole song, Concrete Blonde’s cover really hits hard towards the ending, giving it a boost that really makes the song shine. Great stuff.

9.) Ours – “Fallen Souls

To put it as simple as possible: this song is absolutely perfect. It’s a song that gives its listener an epic, completely tense experience pretty much throughout the entire track. Taken from the “Distorted Lullabies” album, “Fallen Souls” builds up, right before a drawn out yell kicks the song’s second half into even more epic territory. The whole album is one I find myself listening to quite regularly, but “Fallen Souls” is the track that really adds to a good writing mix.  Jimmy Gnecco’s one hell of a vocalist, and his great vocal range, combined with the constant build-up of the song really just knocks the experience out of the park.

10.) Throne of Anguish – “The Crypts

Like Chris Alexander’s “Music For Murder“, this Throne of Anguish track, “The Crypts” comes from the newly formed Fangoria Musick, the newly formed record label subsidiary of Fangoria Magazine, and like Alexander’s instrumental work, it’s one hell of an experience listening to it. Perfect background music, and very reminiscent of the score work of John Carpenter, “The Crypts” shows how important it is to give a certain dreadful feeling to instrumental horror music. The entire “Watchers in the Shadows” album by Throne of Anguish is solid, and this track really makes for the perfect companion to a night of writing. It sinks it’s teeth into you right away, with ominous choir-like sounds in the background of one catchy piano cue. A great way to end this musical mixtape.

What about you fright fanatics? What are some of your favorite songs that you listen to while creating? Let us know!


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  1. […] Music For Murder, was critically acclaimed and one of my favorite discoveries of last year (see this piece about music I like to listen to while writing). An album fourteen years in the making (it was […]

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