Artist: Virus Cycle
Interviewer: Phill Bruce
Date: June 20, 2011
There are a lot of good bands out there and it takes creativity and gaul to stand apart from the rest. I had the pleasure of having to have this interview with such a band, Virus Cycle. Johnny Virum is a seasoned and creative musician having played with some of the greatest bands in the music industry. Now doing Virus Cycle his solo project, Johnny took time out to speak to Grave Concerns.
Phill – Hi Johnny, thank you so much for giving Grave Concerns this interview. First can you tell us a little bit of a background about yourself and where in this beautiful world you are from?
Johnny – My name is Johnny Virum and I am in the industrial project Virus Cycle. I am from Boston, MA in the USA.
Phill – At what point in your life did you decide to form your band and why?
Johnny – In 2006, I started the goth-metal band The Shadows Smile and had a good run until 2009 when I decided to leave the band. During those years, I got to share the stage with The Misfits, Gothminister, Carfax Abbey and Thou Shalt Not, who are all big influences of mine. I also got to release three albums, which helps in the ever-growing creative process.
Phill – The Misfits you say, when did you open for them?
Johnny – My band The Shadows Smile opened up for The Misfits during their 30th Anniversary Tour in 2007.
Phill – Any great moments from opening for The Misfits?
Johnny – My favourite moment was actually meeting Jerry Only. For many years he portrays this bigger-than-life character, but he is just a down-to-earth normal guy who loves what he does.
Phill – You have released three albums so far, what are they and have these been solo or with the many bands you have been with?
Johnny – There is actually a total of four albums now. With The Shadows Smile, I released three: Memento Mori in 2006, Ghosts of Olde New England in 2007 and Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors in 2009. In February I released Alice In Zombieland with my current project Virus Cycle.
Phill – And which out of the bands you have shared the stage with has given you the most influence for your music as a whole?
Johnny – That is a hard question, since they all have been big influences on my music in one way or another. However, if I had to pick one, I would have to say I learned the most from watching Carfax Abbey. As soon as Gary Billings hits that stage, he begins to have complete and utter control of the crowd and becomes this sort of weird puppet master. They are awesome.
Phill – So what is the inspiration behind the name Virus Cycle?
Johnny – The inspiration came from the movie “28 Days Later” (which is a great film, by the way). They concluded that the reason for the zombie outbreak was due to a viral disease. The “virus cycle” is how long the virus will last, which is uncertain. It could last for days, weeks, even years.
Phill – So how would you summarize your music as Virus Cycle?
Johnny – It’s for people who like music that you normally wouldn’t find at your local music shop. It’s a little Industrial, a little metal, and a whole lot of strange noises.
Phill – Is there a specific genre you can put your music into or do you feel you have created your own?
Johnny – Although I could categorize Virus Cycle into a few different genres, I really do feel that I have created my own, which I call “Industrial Zombie Tech.”
Phill – Who besides yourself is in the band and what background are they from?
Johnny – Well, it’s pretty much just me, with various additional live members. Besides that, there are a few key contributors to the project – a very talented singer named Damaris McLaren, who actually did the background vocals for “Alice In Zombieland” and “White Zombie” and a graphic design artist named Veronica Carney who does all the artwork for the project and maintains Virus Cycle’s website and its other internet media outlets.
Phill – Damaris’s vocals on Alice In Zombieland are very haunting, so how did you come to work with her?
Johnny – She has been a fan of my music for years, and during that time I came to find out that she was a really good singer. She just seemed like a really good fit. When I asked her to do vocals on the new album, she was very excited and was ready to jump on the opportunity.
Phill – What are your musical influences?
Johnny – I love anything from the Goth, Industrial, EBM, Metal, and Rock genres. My favorite acts are Rammstein, KMFDM, NIN, Rob Zombie, Smashing Pumpkins, Carfax Abbey, Cradle of Filth, Orgy, Combichrist, The Misfits and many, many more. My other big influence is horror movies. They have always driven my writing style. George Romero and Lucio Fulci are GODS!
Phill – Out of all your influences that you would like to share the bill with and how would Virus Cycle’s music complement them?
Johnny – I think the major thing I would bring to the bill is being a solid opener – an act that wouldn’t try to outshine or out-do the other artists or headliner on the bill. I would like to think that my music would pump up the audience even more, all the while remain humble and grateful for sharing the stage with my influence(s).
Phill – So what is the extent to the influence of horror movies in your music?
Johnny – It has always been a majority of all my musical influences. I have been watching them since I was three years old. One of my first memories was watching “Night of the Living Dead” with my parents.
Phill – Is there any songs which are homage to movies and if so which songs and what movies do they pay homage to?
Johnny – Just from Alice in Zombieland alone there are five songs dedicated to horror movies. “White Zombie” is about the 1931 movie with Bela Lugosi. “Horror Hotel” is a lower budget movie with Christopher Lee. “Cemetery Hill” is about “Night of the Living Dead.” “The Last Man on Earth” is about the movie with Vincent Price of the same name. “Alice In Zombieland” is about the movie “Resident Evil.”
Phill - Where do you see your band in five years and what are your hopes for the future?
Johnny – I just hope to still be here and doing what I love to do. Writing music is a passion that just won’t go away for me.
Phill – You have an E.P. coming out this summer what can we expect to hear on this?
Johnny – More of the same, I hope. I was very happy with Alice in Zombieland. Out of all the albums I have done in my musical career, that one was my favorite because it came out exactly how I wanted it to.
Phill – You have a few remixes on this E.P. from various artists. Can you tell us who’s remixing your tracks?
Johnny - So far I have talked to the following artists: Devil-M, 8 Digital, Pixel Pussy, Duffy Laudick, Schultz, Detuned Destruction, Paresis, Lykquydyzer, Otto Kinzel, Droid Sector Decay, Ghost in the Static, Blütenasche, Flesh Eating Foundation, Streak, dreDDup, Traumatize, Primary Sector, and a few more.
Phill – Remixing is a good way to hear a different angle on music and sometimes adds different dimensions to it. Is there anyone out there that you would love to remix one of your tracks, if so who and what track would you like them to remix?
Johnny – I would love it if Angelspit remixed either “Rest In Peace” or “White Zombie.” I have so much respect for them.
Phill – You have a few gigs lined up this summer. Where can we expect to see you and are you headlining or who are we going to see you on the same bill as?
Johnny – This summer is still up in the air a little, however you should expect shows around Boston and as far down as New Jersey. I hope to get to share the stage with Primary Sector. I know that I’ll be playing with Krazen somewhere in Worcester, MA. I also hope to have a CD release party for the new E.P. with the usual suspects from The Shadows Smile days: bands like Streak, Lucretia's Daggers, Mortuus Ortus, and my new favorite band Voigt-Kampff.
Phill - Is there any place or venue you would like to play at and why?
Johnny - The one event I would love to play is Dracula's Ball in Philadelphia, PA. All the great acts play it, so when you get the opportunity to do so, you know you’re doing something right.
Phill – Apart from the big acts being there is there anything truly special about Dracula’s Ball?
Johnny – The truly special part is that everyone wants to be there for the sole purpose of being there and enjoying themselves.
Phill - Without giving too much away is there any instrument or program you wouldn’t be without and why?
Johnny – My fuzz pedals and heavy gauge guitar strings are the favorite parts of my physical instruments. My favorite program that I could not live without is my ARPPE 2600 – it’s a funky program with some awesome sounds
Phill – A question I do have to ask being a Fulci fan myself, what’s your favourite film from Fulci?
Johnny – I have many, but my two favorites are “The House by the Cemetery” and “City of the Living Dead.” I love Fulci because he uses the same kind of imagery that H.P. Lovercraft used in his stories.
Phill – Who is your favourite horror actor and what’s the magic they hold?
Johnny – I can’t choose one as my top favorite, but I do love Vincent Price. He could play any role and be totally believable in it. He has a way of grasping his audience’s attention and always finds a way to keep them intrigued.
Phill – I notice you use some samples from old film especially on the track White Zombie, it contains quotes from the film of the same name staring Bela Lugosi. What is your favourite period of movie horror is it the old days of black and white or more recent?
Johnny – I love all horror movies up until the 1990's. Today there are only a few good horror movies being made, which is a shame. My favorite eras are the black-and-white/silent era, the 1970's Hammer era, and (of course) the 1980's which was an awesome time for horror.
Phill – If you were given the chance to play a horror monster in a movie what monster would you choose to be and how would you play that role?
Johnny – It would be Dracula. As much as they try, they can never get rid of him.
Phill – Who is your favourite horror author?
Johnny – Being from New England and loving history (which I do since I hold a B.A. in American History from Framingham State University – a lot of people don't know that), I would have to say H.P. Lovecraft. He was not only a great horror writer but he associated current events into his works. That made his stories a great read if you’re a horror and history fan.
Phill – Thank you so much for giving us this interview Johnny is there anything you would like to add?
Johnny – I want to thank you for taking the time with me and picking my brain (mmm… brains… sorry) and everyone who has supported me in any way in my music. Thanks to all the DJ’s, writers and everyone who has downloaded the album and left words of encouragement via Facebook or anywhere else.
Thanks again Johnny. Everyone look out for Virus Cycle touring this summer and also keep an ear open for their forthcoming E.P. release. If you want to hear more of Virus Cycle’s music you can download the album Alice In Zombieland freely from
People I advise you to download Alice In Zombieland, it’s a killer album and to make it even better it’s free. http://www.megaupload.com/?d=J5F6B33P
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