Horror is the central tenet of Standing on a Floor of Bodies’ grisly grind. Not the cheap corn syrup spray of lazy goregrind and generic slasher films, but the soul crushing starkness of naked terror and unsettling atmosphere. Musical mastermind Mike Stitches wants to be that adrenal itch beneath your epidermis, the prickling hair at the back of your neck as you walk down an unlit street on a moonless night.
“The atmosphere in any convincing horror film is so undeniably massive and encompassing and I've always wanted to capture that in another way,” Stiches said. “Whether I've been successful at this is rather subjective. Depends mostly on the listener and what s/he considers scary. I've always been drawn to movies like Carrie (original), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original), House of the Devil, Calvaire and The Conjuring, where the mood is centered around isolation, darkness, tension, claustrophobia and hopelessness. You just know when Leatherface appears for the first time in Texas Chainsaw that his first victim is beyond fucked at that point. Or when Jack Torrance starts whaling at the bathroom door with his axe. Those moments beg to be matched musically.”
Die! Die! My Darling!
There’s something undeniably cinematic about Standing on a Floor of Bodies’ unique blend of bass-driven grind and the perfectly matched murder scene visuals, which look like they were swiped from the cops’ cold case files or an Unsane photoshoot. Stitches and his wife, musical accomplice and all around survivor girl Bvnny specialize in 45 second fright fests that run the gamut of fight or flight responses on albums like the nightmarish Sacrilegious and Culturally Deficient. It’s a match made in matrimony and the sanguinary aisle of your local videorama.
“In terms of working on a project like this, it's good to work with someone who understands the overall intention and purpose, which she definitely does. So, I don't have to spend all this extra time throwing movies, records and books at her. She's seen all that stuff, which is a relief,” Stitches said. “Now every time we experience something new and interesting, it's usually together. Or if I find something on my own, I usually show her right away. I'll never forget when we watched You're Next. We were at this theater in the desert in the middle of the day and there were probably like 20 people in the place. We laughed our asses off the whole time at these yuppies just getting decimated. Before, I'd usually have to wait for a movie like that to come out on DVD, rent it, watch it by myself and then sample it after a long day at work because nobody I knew at the time would be into it. With Bvnny, she'll usually grab me and be like, ‘Dude, when this comes out, you GOTTA sample that part’ or ‘that would make an awesome album cover.’”
Adding Bvnny to the mix on Sacrilegious and Culturally Deficient gave Stitches an extra sounding board for the music as well as let him farm out the lyrics, something he’d tackled in prior band thousandswillide but never really considered his strong point.
The Sound of My Voice
While she’s the band’s dedicated lyricist, Bvnny gets extra assistance from the duo’s choice taste in samples to bolster their aesthetic. The samples are integral to developing Standing on a Floor of Bodies’ creepy crawly vibe and Bvnny and Stitches have been known to abuse their Netflix privileges in search of inspiring sounds.
“Samples are an on-going process and can be totally random. Bvnny and I will be watching a movie and sometimes won't send back to the DVD to Netflix until I've picked through almost every scene, if it's a really good source,” Stitches said. “The manipulation process is more dependent upon the song writing, of course. It just takes time to figure out what's going to work well. What usually happens is I'll suddenly come up with a few ideas out of nowhere, finally get home and program the drums, record bass tracks over them, throw them on my iPod and listen to my own demos for months before actually recording anything officially. This give me a chance to think things over and make adjustments where needed. Most of these demos don't have any sampling involved until I'm just about ready to record, others will be written around samples. It all kinda depends on what we're working with at the time.”
Given that he puts that much thought an effort into the sound of Standing on a Floor of Bodies, it’s no surprise that Stitches is equally meticulous about finding a visual that perfectly matches the racket.
“Music and artwork on an album can work so powerfully together. I think if you're an intelligent musician that doesn't make the effort to merge those two somehow, you're not really applying yourself. Because a record can have a huge impact the listener, even more so than most people you meet,” he said. “There's always going to be some shithead who hassles you to digest 50 brand new bands that all want to musically, lyrically and visually recreate Napalm Death’s Scum. Nobody needs to listen to that guy. The desired result should be ‘holy shit, this is interesting. Where do I get more?’ Not, ‘okay, cool, I got yet another punk by numbers record with a landfill or mass grave on the cover.’ Find what fucking knocks the wind out of you musically and enjoy it for yourself and with anyone who likes it as much as you do.”
And it’s not like Stitches will ever lack for inspiration.
“I've still got probably hundreds of samples from movies that haven't ended up on any song on any release (yet),” he said. “There's some days where all I do is sample movies and play around with layers and layers of noise.”