Seratones have two gigs in NYC this week (the first being tonight at Mercury Lounge, and the second being tomorrow night at the Knitting Factory), and then they make their way down to DC for a performance at DC9 on Thursday. You should catch AT LEAST one (if not all), but to tide you over until showtime, you can internet-eavesdrop on a recent conversation I had with frontwoman AJ Haynes; we talked about skulls ‘n sage ‘n other ghastly hot button issues in honor of Halloween vibes, so prepare to get REAL SPOOK’T, and of course grab tickets to the shows and download a copy of Get Gone, which is out now on Fat Possum. HERE WE GO:
So I heard that you have a little horse skull, is that right?
I do! It’s a baby horse skull. I was seeing this guy a while back whose friend Carl (who I still adore) found this burial site for a family of horses, and he showed up at our door with this cooler full of horse skulls that we had to clean. There was something about the baby horse skull that I really liked, so I just named it Cow-Cow. I don’t know why. It was a weird comfort item.
How tiny is it?
It’s about the length of my fingertips to my forearm. That’s also part of the reason that it felt like the right thing, because it was like, “Oh, this fits on my body somewhere.”
And you also have a cat vertebrae necklace?
Yeah, my friend Lydia (who’s now based in Seattle) makes jewelry out of found objects, and in our neighborhood in Shreveport there are cats everywhere, so inevitably there are a lot of dead ones, too. So she found this cat vertebrae and made this really cool necklace out of it, and I saw it and had to get it from her. I also have a piece of bone that I found in Brighton; it’s from a medieval butcher’s block, so hopefully I’ll be able to get to her to make a piece of jewelry out of it for me.
That’s rad! Brighton, England?
Yeah, we were in this really awesome vintage doodad shop, and there was this collection of bones, so I just went through it and found a piece that fit. I always go for things that fit in my hand, you know? They kind of speak to me in this odd way.
The historical stuff in Europe really trips me out. I mean, clearly there were people living here in North America, too, but just all of the castles and things that are over there and are just part of the landscape…we obviously don’t have as much of that here.
Yeah, it’s insane! Like, medieval bones?! We’re such a young country that it’s hard to conceptualize that kind of time and space.
Totally. A couple of years ago I was interviewing a paranormal investigator, and I asked him if there was anything you absolutely shouldn’t do to provoke a ghost, and he said you should be careful buying certain kinds of antiques, like mirrors and hairbrushes and children’s toys.
Yeah, I do know also that people are pretty careless with their use of burning sage. In my old neighborhood, I lived next to Miss Becky, who’s one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met. She’s part of a paranormal society, and we’d hang out after work to have cocktails (she makes a damn good martini) and we’d watch Antiques Roadshow and she’d tell me weird stories of how spirits from the afterlife kind of speak to her, or have spoken to her before. She was telling me that a lot of people don’t realize that when they burn sage they need to open up the windows and let stuff out; you can’t just burn sage and let it sit there. I think a lot of people, especially new age types are like, “Oh, I’m just going to burn this and make everything better!” No, that’s not really how it works. You’ve got to let the old out and the new in.
So true! I’ve heard about people who’ve done it improperly, and after they do it things will get better for like a day, and then things will get bad again.
Yeah, probably worse! You’re pissing the spirit off! Like, “Why are you burning this combustible material? You’ve annoyed me, and now it’s go time.” [Laughs]
Exactly! Now, you haven’t had any personal experiences with ghosts, but if you were able to co-write a song with any musician who’s passed, who’d be the number one ideal?
I don’t know, maybe Thelonious Monk? That’d be epic. I’d love to see what he has to say about things today, because he was really able to use his craft to speak about injustices in the world, and I’d say we’re definitely in that sociopolitical kind of climate right now, so that’s who I’d like to work with.
That’s a good one. And if you could pre-plan a place to haunt in the afterlife, what would be your go-to?
I’d say a garden, but you can’t really haunt a garden, can you? I like to be outside, so I guess that’s slightly problematic; I’ve never heard of ghosts haunting outdoor spaces.
I’ve heard of like, haunted woods, though.
Mine would definitely be a garden area. Or it’d be the Reina Sofia in Madrid, but I don’t think it’s that old.
I always wonder that. Does it have to be an old space?
I don’t think it does. But yeah, it’d either be a garden space somewhere because I love being outside, or the Reina Sofia in Madrid so I could hang out with art all day. Who doesn’t want that?
Exactly. Now, this is a slightly less supernatural question, but do you remember your best and worst Halloween costumes of all time?
I didn’t really have bad costumes. My favorite costume was the Little Mermaid, and I had really long hair as a child. (It’s too much for me to maintain now, but it was down to my butt and huge as a kid.) But the costume was this really cool sea foam green color. It was by far my favorite.
Was the trick-or-treating scene pretty solid down there?
Yeah, I grew up in a really small town, so we’d have this really cute Halloween fair where you could bob for apples, and there was a “haunted” house that you could walk through. It was adorable.
But no ACTUAL haunted houses that you know of?
Well, the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport is definitely haunted. There are doors that open that go to stairways that go to nowhere, and there’s a spooky vibe in all the dressing rooms. It’s freaky. But I actually feel like my mother really protects me from any kind of malevolent spirits. My mother passed away when I was ten, and anytime I have any kind of reading, it’s like, “Oh yeah, your mom is close to you. She’s around.” So I definitely have a guardian spirit, and maybe that’s why, even as someone who’s sensitive to that kind of stuff, I haven’t really had any run-ins.