It’s takes a real guts to get on stage with Chico horror-thrash crew Season of the Witch
“We’re definitely the nerdiest band in Chico,” the grown man who calls himself The Hand of Doom declared proudly, surrounded by evidence supporting the truth of his claim.
To one side sat his four bandmates in Season of the Witch, to the other a 2-foot-tall statue of Leatherface, of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame, at the base of a bookshelf filled with action figures of Freddy Kreuger, Jason Voorhees and other horror-movie villains. A rusted chain hung from the ceiling, and the only decoration most people wouldn’t find macabre was a poster of Prince and the Revolution.
This is the living room of Jared Glenn The Irish Cannibal, guitarist and founder of Season of the Witch. Glenn and company—keyboardist Baron Sarnath, bassist Joe Dredd, singer Delbert Grady and aforementioned drummer The Hand (known to their mamas as Jared Glenn, Tommy Diestel, Joe Bertram, Jodi and Jamie Lively, respectively)—craft slabs of horror-thrash using elements of punk, metal and hardcore.
They also play in full makeup, masks and costumes designed by Glenn, a graduate of the Tom Savini Special FX School in Pittsburgh, Penn. Savini is an actor, stuntman, makeup and effects designer beloved by hardcore horror fans and best known for his award-winning FX work on George Romero films and his role as Sex Machine in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk ’til Dawn.
Glenn started the band in 2006 upon moving to Chico to assist another Savini School alum filming a low-budget horror film called Waning Solstice. Prior to that, he also did some film work while living in North Hollywood and working at a Halloween factory called Cinema Secrets, including a movie for the Sci Fi Channel called They Are Among Us starring Allison Eastwood (daughter of Clint) and Bruce Boxleitner.
“I helped put together this Ed Wood-style creature,” he said of his Hollywood experience. “The thing was huge and mounted on a platform with wheels. My friend Andrew was inside controlling the tongue and jaws, and I had these preying mantis arms mounted on rods.
“I could hear the wheels screeching behind me on this thing, and I had to creep forward toward Bruce Boxleitner with the dumb hands while he was screaming ‘Ohh, nooo!’ It took everything I had not to laugh.”
The band members, who cite influences from The Misfits and Samhain to author H. P. Lovecraft, spend about four hours transforming into their undead counterparts before every show. “We always play in full makeup,” Glenn said. “Whether there’s three people or 300 people watching, we try to put on the best show possible.”
The pre-show prep makes for interesting public interactions. All of the members have hilarious stories about talking to police, liquor store owners and other unwitting passersby while dressed like zombies nowhere near Halloween. Some strangers are so impressed they ask to take pictures with them, and the makeup occasionally earns them a few free drinks, as well.
“We went to Thursday Night Market dressed up once to promote the Blue Room’s Zombie Prom, and they gave us some beers at the Beach Hut Deli,” The Hand said. “‘Thriller’ just happened to be playing as we walked by.”
“The best is confusing children,” Glenn added, explaining that they don their costumes before driving to out-of-town shows. “We’ll be driving down I-5 in a van full of corpses, and the looks on kids’ faces are priceless.”
The band’s Aug. 25 show at Monstros will mark a new beginning as well as an end: They are releasing their third album, Bonedust, recorded at HTX by Brent Warr, and it will be singer Grady’s last show.
“I’m only leaving the band because I’m leaving town,” he said. “Being in this band has definitely been the best experience I’ve had here. I’ve had my ups and downs, but no matter what, I could always look forward to hanging out with these guys at band practice and getting all the frustration out.”
While sad to see Grady go, the band is no stranger to change. He is the third lead singer, and the current line-up is the band’s fifth incarnation … in California (Glenn kept the band going when he left town for stints in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and said he plans to continue until he is an actual corpse instead of just playing one on stage).
In fact, Season of the Witch is actively searching for a new singer. Prerequisites include an unhealthy obsession with horror, science fiction and, as Baron Sarnath put it, “general nerdery.” Vegetarians need not apply.