Interview with Scorpion and Alex by Jeremy Saffer
Photographs by Jeremy Saffer
Everyone’s favorite goblin-centric band has been busy with a new album, a cruise, a hit YouTube show, a sponsorship from Chili’s, and even a book deal for their hype man John Goblikon. We spoke to Scorpion (vocalist/songwriter) and Alex (guitar) about all of the above and what is in store for the band and the goblin in 2019.
You guys just got off the 70000Tons of Metal cruise. How was that?
Nicky “Scorpion” Calonne: It was insane! This was our second time, and each time has been insane. You find out two or three days before you end up playing, so they called us that Sunday night.
Alex “Goldberg” Alereza: Yeah, we left on Wednesday, and we had three days to buy our tickets and fly out.
Scorpion: They get away with it because it’s a cruise. It’s like, “Fuck! We have to do this! Drop everything!”
Alex: Yeah, it’s like half work. Not even half work, it’s mostly play. You spend two hours in total playing music, then the rest is complete drunk fuckery, so it’s great! (laughs)
Scorpion: It’s the drunkest I’ve been probably in my whole life. I took it too far. I got excited, I got on the boat, and it was probably 75 percent Germans or Swedes—people who are not American mainly—because I think it’s definitely more appealing to them.
Alex: Yeah, it’s definitely a more European crowd.
Scorpion: So, we went there, we got real hammered, but we had a good turn out and we had fun playing our shows. It was all very concise. By the end of it—it’s like four or five days—we were about as haggard as we would be after a six week tour (laughs). It was very condensed.
Alex: (laughs) Yeah, definitely. It felt like we had come back from a full tour for sure.
Scorpion: I thought they were going to take the bags for us. Then it’s like, “Oh, they’re not taking the bags! Dude, come on!” We’re carrying all this stuff off the boat, we’re all drunk at 6 AM, like, “Fuck! We have to carry these boxes!” (laughs)
Alex: (laughs) The funny thing is we did that last time, too. The first cruise we did we were also that drunk by the night of the last night, and we knew we had to leave at eight the next morning. And it was just like, “We’re going to do that again, right?” (laughs)
“IT’S SO INTENSE THAT IT MAKES YOU QUESTION YOUR WHOLE PERCEPTION OF REALITY AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING WITH YOUR LIFE.”
Scorpion: Yeah, it’s definitely something I’m glad that happened for us at least once every five years or so, because it’s so intense that it makes you question your whole perception of reality and what you’re doing with your life. It was fun, though. Yeah, it was a blast (laughs).
Do you think cruises could potentially replace destination festivals?
Scorpion: I think so, if they could get their prices around the same. I guess people pay to fly to destination festivals.
Alex: What if there was a cruise that was a destination, but when it arrives it takes you to another festival? Like it’s 70000Tons and all these metal bands, then you arrive to an even bigger metal fest headlined by Metallica (laughs). Then all the bands on that played that, too.
Scorpion: That would be…(takes a deep breath).
Like 70000Tons to Wacken?
Alex: (laughs) Right, right.
Scorpion: This is a land ship or something crawling across the fucking thing (laughs).
Alex: Could you imagine if 70000Tons goes all the way to Europe, like how long would that take?
Scorpion: I dunno…a while.
It would be a much more expensive show.
Alex: If they could pay us proportionally for the time spent on it, then I’d be down (laughs).
Scorpion: Well, it seems like with Warped ending, the touring festival is pretty much dead at this point. No one is really doing that on that scale. It seems like destination festivals are just now going to start gaining some traction in the US the way they have been in Europe for a while already. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cruise stuff started picking up, too, because it was full. I mean, there was a lot of people, and they all paid to be on there and there are a lot of bands.
Alex: And they bought tickets before they knew the full lineup, like it was sold out before half the bands were released. It’s just an audience that wants to go on a ship and rock out. People already want to be there for the festivity before they even care about the lineup.
Scorpion: Yeah, I think they’ll end up more of a supplement to a destination festival rather than fully replacing it. Just because of logistics, there’s probably only so many cruise boats at a time, but who knows?
Nekrogoblikon had the opportunity to play the final Warped Tour. How was that?
Alex: It was crazy.
Scorpion: Yeah, it was bizarre. It was a lot of fun, though. A lot of the time when a tour stretches more than a month, you go into it and you’re like, “Oof.” But on this one, you hardly even noticed because there’s so much going on even for people who are playing it. There’s so many different people, so many different bands that if you’re ever bored of one thing, you can just say, “Hey, who are you?” and meet someone else. There’s something special about it for sure.
Alereza: Summer camp vibe.
Scorpion: Definite summer camp. You had the catering and stuff, which was cool, too.
Alex: Yeah, I loved how they made it so no band really had an advantage over another band, so there’s no egos. I don’t feel like I ran into anyone on that tour that rubbed me the wrong way. Everyone was really cool.
Now that you guys are back and you have an amazing new album, what’s next for Nekrogoblikon?
Alex: We’re doing Europe with Rings of Saturn in May.
Scorpion: Right, which we did in the US last March and was a lot of fun, so now we’re taking it to Europe.
Alex: Then we have other things in the works for this year, other tours that aren’t locked in yet.
Scorpion: Nothing ready to announce yet, but we’ll be out on the road for sure, and we’re working on some new tunes as well.
Scorpion: Yeah, we’re going to be putting out a single, which has no name as of yet, but that will be a good little tide me over for people. We started Welcome to Bonkers in late 2016, then you have your production process and all things said and done, it was maybe a year and a half later when it came out. So, if we start working on stuff now, then a year and a half from now, two years, maybe something’s gonna come out.
Alex: Yeah, we’re starting to realize that everything takes longer than we think it’s going to, so we’re like, “Okay let’s get ahead of where we think we should be right now.” (laughs)
Does the writing and recording ever get in the way of touring, or do you do it at the same time?
Scorpion: We don’t do it at the same time, and it hasn’t gotten in the way so far because we make our own schedule. I think in your more traditional set up where you have the label telling you what to do, there’s going to be like, “You’re booked in the studio for March, you got a tour coming up in April, you go back to the studio in May,” and all that, but we’ve worked around that so far.
Alex: I mean, there are definitely some exceptions.
Scorpion: Yeah, like if some opportunities came up while we were recording.
Alex: If Iron Maiden wants to take us on tour while in the middle of a record, we’ll drop everything we’re doing and go (laughs). But it’s good to just be in one mindset, get something done, and then move on.
Scorpion: The creative part of it is a different headspace than the touring part. The touring is you’re like a soldier grinding just getting through your month or whatever. Where as recording, you don’t have to approach it in an aggressive way. It’s more vulnerable and you want to be able to take your time if possible.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform live now?
Scorpion: Well, we’ve been playing some new ones, which I’ve been enjoying. I think “Darkness” is fun. It’s a hard one for me to sing sometimes, but it’s a lot of fun, too. It’s more straightforward than some of our older songs, and there’s just something fun about pumping your fist to four-four (laughs).
Alex: I like playing “The Many Faces of Dr. Hubert Malbec” a lot. It’s a nice, little, bouncy fun—the verses.
Scorpion: Ah, that one’s fun, too. Yeah, that one’s a blast. “Skin Thief” is actually one of the highlights for me. They’re all pretty solid.
Alexa: Yeah, “Skin Thief” is just so different from everything else in the set. It’s so intense, and I think people who have never heard us before, when they see us are like totally didn’t see that one coming, which is the fun part of it. On the other side of it, I love playing “Magic Spider” a lot because it has that effect but in the completely opposite direction (laughs).
When you played “Magic Spider” on Warped Tour, people who had no idea what Nekrogoblikon is, they were videoing “Magic Spider” and posting, “It’s the ‘Magic Spider’ song. Super stoked to hear it everyday at Warped Tour.”
Alex: I met people on the boat who had never heard of us, and they checked us out. And the first song they heard was “Magic Spider.” Then they told me, “At first, it sounded silly that a band would make a song like this. And then we kept listening and were like, ‘This is really good. We should check out this band.’” I’ve definitely never heard a song that’s like that song, so that makes it really fun to play, because you feel everyone’s attention immediately. It’s a neck turner.
Scorpion: It’s funny, the merch people at Warped Tour started to get into that song. All the merch people had their own culture, because they had to be up before everyone and they would have to pick out their plot and all that stuff. So, they were all stoked on it by the end.
Alex: Yeah, they named it “the song of the summer.”
Scorpion: They were like, “This is the merch song,” and so I dedicated it to at least one merch person on various occasions. It was funny, though. Just to have the merch people be excited about it was fun
You were saying you really like playing the new songs. Is it because the new songs are better, or is it because they are fresh?
Scorpion: A little bit of both. We definitely played the old songs that we’ve played so many times, so it’s nice to have a little change.
Alex: I also feel like in addition to that these songs are way better, in my opinion.
Scorpion: There’s always going to be the charm of the old stuff and what it meant then and everything, but it feels good to feel like you’re moving forward sometimes in life. There’s always the thing of you’re going to have some people who are just going to say, “Oh, I only liked the old stuff,” or everyone’s like, “That’s okay,” but there’s probably going to be a lot of new people who like the new stuff more, so that’s nice, too.
How do you see Nekrogoblikon moving forward in the next couple of years?
Scorpion: It’s going to be sweet. Continue the Bonkers aesthetic, but the songs are getting weirder, maybe. A little prog-ier, but still structured. Hopefully, vast wealth. That’s what I’m banking on.
Alex: Yeah, we are going to become extremely rich. That’s the plan.
Scorpion: Yup, we’re going to be on tour with Maroon 5.
Alex: No more metal touring. We’ll still make metal, kind of.
Scorpion: Right, everyone’s going to realize they need the Goblin, and we’ll play off that. We’ll say, “Well, with the Goblin comes the band.” (laughs)
There you go! You get all the residuals from the TV show Right Now with John Goblikon, don’t you?
Scorpion: Right (laughs).
“WE’RE GOING TO RENT THE GOBLIN OUT TO THE HEADLINING BANDS, TOO, AND HOPE THAT THE GOBLIN DOESN’T JOIN THOSE BANDS”
Alex: And we’re going to rent the Goblin out to the headlining bands, too, and hope that the Goblin doesn’t join those bands (laughs).
Scorpion: You see this guy? $400 a day at least (laughs).
Alex: They’ll have no choice. They’ll have to do it. They’ll have to take that deal (laughs).
Scorpion: No, it should be cool. We are going to make more songs, and hopefully people like them. There’s definitely stuff that’s metal, and I think for the next album I have a concept that is I want to make it both the most extreme Nekro ever and the least extreme just at various moments but still not have it be to mishmashed. I really want to make an album that’s an album that tributes the 90s a bit in terms of some 90s alt rock inspired stuff and even 90s power metal. It’s just time for that to come back around I feel like. It’s not going to be excessively 90s, like we record it on analog consoles or anything, just the melodies and the vibes. The goal is to make metal that is both extreme and some power ballads maybe and some 90s stuff. That’s the melting pot that we are trying to get going.
I heard some rumblings of a possible cover at some point?
Scorpion: Oh yeah, we wanted to do a cover for years.
Alex: Yeah, we talked about it. We had a lot of different ideas, but there is a particular band that I feel like really sums up our influences.
Scorpion: Like something everyone in Nekro agrees on, but the thing is I don’t know if I should say it just in case we don’t end up doing it.
Alex: Let’s say it to commit to it. It’s System of a Down (laughs). They’re Armenian, and Nicky and I are part Middle Eastern, so I feel like that’s part of why…inevitably (laughs).
Scorpion: Yeah, we’re a little ethnic. Alex is more ethnic, though. I’m just a bit.
Alex: Yeah, I’m fully Middle Eastern.
Scorpion: Yeah, that’s why we’re friends—the sand (laughs).
Alex: (laughs) The Sands That Bind Us. That’s the title of the next album (laughs).
Make sure to check out season 3 of RIGHT NOW w/John Goblikon on YouTube
Keep up with all thing Nekrogoblikon on their official website