The Left Hand plays not-so-silly love songs with its touchy-feely horror punk
If you want something done right, do it yourself.
At least that’s what the Left Hand vocalist Victor Salazar told himself while searching for the ideal singer for his band. A New Jersey transplant packing a heavy accent and an adventurous personality, Salazar comes off—at least at first—as a bit intimidating. As a teen growing up on the East Coast, he admits he developed an “indestructible” attitude and a tough-guy persona.
Writing music, however, helped him eventually tune into the man beneath the exterior.
“Growing up where I did, you always had to have this bravado that you put on, like, ’I’m bulletproof, I’m tough as nails and nothing can really breach me,’”Salazar said. “It took me a long time to get over the exterior I had to put on. So, writing love songs helps.”
Love songs, sure, but there’s always a twist to Salazar’s music. His lyrics do not revolve around the generic pop scenario of boy meets girl, girl breaks boy’s heart, boy then locks himself in a room with a guitar and writes the next addition to the Monster Ballads glam-metal compilation.
No, no, no. Rather, the Left Hand is a horror-punk four-piece with songs influenced by EC Comics’ Tales From the Crypt, B-horror flicks and Stephen King novels—not to mention a nod to vocalists such as the Misfits’ Glenn Danzig and Michale Graves.
“Love and horror go hand in hand because in a lot of cases, love has the potential to be great or horrible, depending on what you or the other person puts into it,” said Salazar. “Instead of being generic about it, you can use a monster to tell a story … or a movie.”
The Left Hand is scheduled to release its first album in February, an eight-song self-titled disc recorded with Bastards of Young guitarist Patrick Hills at Earth Tone studio in Rocklin. In addition to the album, the band also made a video for the song “One Monster After Another,” filmed by the local production company Sucker Punk Productions. The video, recorded a couple weeks after Halloween in the Cemetarium Haunted House in Fair Oaks, evokes The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and the song also stems from Salazar’s love for the classic Mercer Mayer children’s book of the same name. Here, Salazar’s crooning vocals bleed romantic with a pulse of tortured soul, making Mayer’s tale bloom into a story of man who’s witnessed many frightful things.
“I’ve found a lot of horror in myself,” said Salazar. “I had a really bad childhood growing up, real traumatic … [and] I never had tools to deal with those emotions.”
Salazar says he’s found solace in music and in the family he’s made with wife Vanessa and their three children.
Now, when he performs, the singer’s voice bellows clear between fast-paced, full-bodied punk rock. Onstage, Salazar’s presence—accentuated by a thick, slick pompadoured hairstyle and aviator sunglasses—is perhaps best described as a dark Elvis Presley who’s been possessed by the Damned’s Dave Vanian.
The sunglasses, Salazar said, aren’t just for show. Sometimes, he explained, his teenage-cultivated tough-guy persona fails him.
“I have to wear the glasses because I sing with my eyes closed,” he said.
“It gives me more confidence to actually look at people, [but] it’s hard for me to express my heart while making eye contact with strangers, so I put the glasses on, and it gives me that barrier.”