John P Begley - I have recorded and performed with various bands throughout my tenure as a bass guitarist, singer and producer for over 20 years. In 2002 I began to periodically release short films. I am a "sleep when you're dead" type when it comes to art. I developed 1890 as a way to celebrate all the men born/worked in the 1890's who dressed themselves "to the nines" while doing some amazing writing, film and art. Peter Cushing, Salvador Dali, Clifton Webb, and George Melies to name a few.
A long time goal was released on Halloween 2019 - Classic Halloween Sounds! For those fans young and old of the nostalgic era of those haunted audio cassettes so popular in the eighties! We studied hard and long to make this release sound authentic!
Music - I have co-founded several Philadelphia and Las Vegas based projects . I was lucky enough to play The Knitting Factory, 313 and CBGB's in NYC and most music clubs in Philly including the TLA and The Trocadero during the 90's/00's. Musical international releases have also been achieved through compilations. My main musical project was titled I Will I. I Will I were a Gothic Rock/Experimental band that played live shows from 1996 to 2002. They were based out of Philadelphia and released one cassette demo (Grasping The Unculture) and one CD . Other releases they are featured on include, The Unquiet Grave, The Goth Box DVD, Beneath The Tides Compilation, and The Tongue Achieves The Dialect (Rozz Williams Tribute). As Bassist and vocalist I was also known as Philadelphia Radio Y100's "Goth Guy". In August 2008 I Will I filmed a video for the track "Wilted Love". The band had two female singers, Brenda Dodd and Sara H. Mike Demonte and Tito Altamar played guitar and my twin brother Joe played drums. The band was also joined periodically on stage by experimental painter Rain of Bucks County, PA. Other artists to join in both stage and studio include Rick Webb, Bill Meck IV, Mark Boudreau, Rob Windfelder, David E Williams, Steve Taylor, Tom Lockhart, and long time friend/collaborator Nicole Bozzomo. Through friendships, various connections or just plain chance I have had the opportunity to create some very original songs and soundscapes. I am very grateful to all the people involved as if it wasn't for their energy and performances I wouldn't have been able to give the universe my own little twist on music.
Other projects I helped create are Live Not On Evil, The Stemcells, Vasarian's Dream, UNCULTURE and DVS2 (Las Vegas). As of recent I have teamed up with singer/songwriter Angelique Zuppo as we released the romantic Pop track "Forced Memory".) A new direction for all you Noise/Experimental fans under the audio guise of UNCULTURE.
DVD - My time as a Line Producer with Music Video Distributors was very rewarding and you can find my Production credits on the back covers of the Christian Death Live DVD, Graffiti Rock (w/ Run-DMC) and in the video credits on T.S.O.L. Live From O.C.
Also the track "Wilted Love" can be heard at the beginning credits for Cult Films on the first DVD pressing of the film Cannes Man which I navigated the chapters for DVD. You can find my claim to fame with the late Dennis Hopper as I miscalculated his chapter and it went to press. The Producer (Stuart Shapiro of Night Flight) was very understanding.
Producer and Writer of Short Film/Music Video/POC-
"Wilted Love" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgpHNCsvEUU .
"The Colony" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_vDS_IT2Cc
"Tooling Around" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtW3X7yvlKQ
"Ritual Day" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YVClqmTXZI&t=19s
Summary of DVD/Film Projects and Production -
Encephalon (w/Director Justin Zaharczuk) - 1997 Sound Mixer
The Colony 1999 - Writer/Producer
Christian Death Live 2001 - Bonus Material Production
Geek Maggot Bingo 2002 - DVD Production
Graffiti Rock and Other Hip Hop Delights 2002 - DVD Production
Operation: Nazi Zombies 2003 - Publicity Director
Unholy Sideshow 2006 - Zombie (uncredited)
Wilted Love 2008 - Writer/Co-Director
T.S.O.L. Live From O.C. 2009 - Bonus Material Production
Henderson Pond 2010 - Writer/Producer (self released trailer)
Deer Crossing 2012 - Street Thug
Sneakers and Soul 2012- Jury Member - (uncredited)
Tooling Around 2012 - Writer/Producer/Actor
Apocalypse Kiss 2014 - Location Scout/Production Assistant
Reichsfuhrer SS 2015- Production Assistant
Ritual Day 2016 - Writer/Producer
Radio - Oddly enough the Philly radio station WMMR went on the air on the day my brother and I were born. I learned to spin the 'wheels of steel" during my college years while hosting an alternative music show at Montgomery Community College. I played the character "Goth Guy" on Philadelphia's Radio station Y100 with legendary morning radio host Paul Barsky.
Writing - Back in the days when zines were just branching out I interviewed bands and reviewed albums/tapes/CDs.
A period piece for the classic b-movie BASKET CASE was printed in the #2 issue of Paracinema Magazine. https://paracinema.net/back-issues/.
Personal - I enjoy trying to tackle bass riffs on my 4 string Fender Squire, and Ibenez GIO Soundgear guitars. I prefer Fender for amplification as well.
You seem to be a very eclectic guy when it comes to the arts. You've been a musician, a music and movie producer, a writer... did you always want to do all of these things or would you say one thing often lead you to another?
My parents have always been very supportive of anything artistic that I have ever attempted but it was my Father who told me to always not choose art itself as a main occupation because you have to be extremely lucky to maintain a long career in it. He went to art school for a year before changing gears to pick a “real” profession. My Mother was always also very crafty; and both are very out- going! They had quite a number of parties at the house. I remember a poster we had of all Hollywood scenes and we would watch the TV show Creature Double Feature many Saturday afternoons. My Dad doing make up on my brother and I’s faces to be the band KISS with another friend. This was my first experience with “professional” make-up. And although I had been taking piano lessons at the time, we didn’t have any guitars yet so my Father built them out of wood for our “photo shoot”. This process was repeated over and over from an early age I saw that it took multiple tasks and time to get either on the stage or TV. I think these experiences were my foundation on looking at any project from a “producer’s” point of view.
Would you say there's one job that has been your favorite? Which would you prefer to do on a full-time scale?
Writing is my favorite. It takes a natural course and isn’t influenced by outside personalities, well, not in the literal sense. You get to borrow their personality execute the task!
You said you initially started as a bassist. You were in a lot of bands in Philadelphia and I believe, one in New York. Can you tell us more about that experience?
I did the usual garage band rite of passage with The Creeps and The Incorrigible; each played a show or two after 3- 6 months of practice before disbanding. Then around the time I was 21 I was playing in Love Gutter. We cut a 4-track demo down at Sigma Sound. I only lasted with the band less than a year but I still feel proud to say that I recorded at the same studio that David Bowie did and being a part of that band did give me a chance to get my feet wet doing the live club circuit! After that I decided to try again with Drop Chart. Still a brooding young chap I was taking myself too seriously but did get to play at a music festival of sorts in center city at Temple University and a few party/warehouse gigs. It seemed like I was treading water so I decided to make the move out to Vegas in late ‘93. While there I put together a project called DVS2 with Henderson local Bill Hooper multiple removed guitar pick-ups and attach them to various objects that we would strike with metal batons or drum sticks. That was the first true Industrial band I was in.
After I moved back from Vegas I took a year to get a 3 song demo together on cassette tape. I got a break at a Marilyn Manson concert when I took a demo to the show and left it on the seats of the radio station Y100 while they were away during set breaks. The following Monday morning I am driving to work and hear one of the songs on the radio. Needless to say, I nearly drove off the road!
I never had a band based out of New York but I have spent a good portion of time there. I was lucky enough to have all 3 of my projects play up there a number of times. The Knitting Factory with Live Not On Evil, Alchemy with I Will I were lucky enough to play the almighty CBGBs, We had a great ally in DJ Jason (Jason Ledyard) who was the premier Goth DJ in NYC (and still spins in Miami). I Will I was the main project and the one that gained the most traction. For a time, we were graced with the great harmonies of Sara H. on lead vocals. You can hear her on our studio release Resurfaced Faces and Live at CBGBs.
Around that same time, I became friends with Gitane Demone and since then did some recording with her and the great percussionist Juan Sermeno of Raven Claw Hammer. We have an experimental piece recorded that is in the works to be released later this year.
In the mid 00s I recorded a studio project called The Stemcells with another local producer/guitarist Mike DeMonte; a fun piece called Harvesting Ourselves.
As for influence, whatever genre you play in I believe it to be extremely important for you to make sure you check out other types of music. I have always granted time for non-rock players like Michael Manring, Tony Levin and Philadelphia legend Tom Hyatt who are far beyond my comprehension of the fret board and dexterity for that matter! But I have been fortunate enough to have met a number of people in the industry that I highly respect and got some great insight from them when it comes to keeping your head in the game. R.Carlos Nakai, Nivek Ogre and Les Paul come to mind but it was actually the great stunt performer Evel Knievel who gave me the advice that sticks the most. He said “whatever you find yourself 12 hours a day and wake up the next morning and want do it all over again is what you need to pursue as a career not matter what anyone says”.
By being open minded I have been extremely lucky with some of the people I had the chance to work with musically. I will never forget their talent and time that has continued to keep my flame a glow!
I last performed live in Philly in 2012 with Live Not Evil at the Trocadero. After that, I’ve done a few impromptu songs at John and Peters and a few covers with my friend Rick Smyth at the Black Bass Hotel.
These days I keep busy with studio work. Songs like “Black Picket Fence” that was cut at Left Hook Studios in Washington Crossing, a Pop track called “Forced Memory” and a first attempt at a classic Halloween Sounds recording with my friend Iggs Scheuer. I try to put out at least one audio project every year if the wind blows the right way.
I also thoroughly enjoy teaching my step son guitar. I’m very proud of both the boys I am lucky enough to share my life experiences with them! It’s very satisfying to be able to “pass the torch” of music along with the stories!
You were in bands in the 90s. The music scene has definitely changed since then. Would you like to talk about that? Are there ANY similarities we can still find from the 90s?
I don’t think that any scene, at any time, thrives unless there are various front runners who care about their local communities and others like record store owners and promoters have a financial interest and are willing to spend marketing capital on a regular basis in that community. And by that, I mean all wheels turning. The band/DJ, the promoter, the club owner, the radio station and the local music site covering the show; all have to work as a team. Only when that happens do you have “a scene”. They go through tides just like the ocean.
Obviously, the internet was starting to really pick up in the 90s and now a days anyone can be “recording artist” online and perform a “live show” in front of your computer. But the 90s were great times for live audiences. There seemed to be that vested interest that gave that vehicle to the audience to drive in! Nowadays the labels are trying to sell tickets a year in advance of the shows. And if you don’t choose to venture out to a live tour then the music and merch and the venue are all held in your hand. A concert experience while sitting on your back patio isn’t an experience. It a video viewing with a shopping trip to the kitchen. Technology has turned the tables on everyone and it’s just not the same experience.
Now that I have moved an hour and 20 minutes North West of Philadelphia I am hardly ever there and I have become more of a homebody unless I’m ready to research or execute a project.
Doylestown has a small but determined few venues driving its music scene with MOM’S being the most open to local music (and it helps that they have great food)! There are also some chaps that I know who are definitely the driving force in the New Hope/Doylestown area. Joe Montone, Joe Ujj and DJ Alex Vance and Blair of Siren Records. Each of these gentlemen has put their own twist on the scene and it shows! You only need a few caring people in the right spots to keep the ball rolling.
My twin brother Joseph who himself is a drummer always says “The world has a way of washing those who belong together closer to each other.”
Your company is 1890 Media. I love that name because one of my favorite performers, Groucho Marx, was born that year. You said you named your company this as, “A way to celebrate all the men born/worked in the 1890s who dressed themselves to the nines while doing some amazing writing, film, and art”. You named Peter Cushing, Clifton Webb, and even Salvador Dali as some of these men. Why do you draw inspiration from these people and this decade in particular?
Ah, yes, the Gay Nineties! 1890 is the decade I went with because I believe it to be a pivotal decade in American history. It was the birth of the silent film and the footings of old Hollywood. It was the last decade of the Victorian Era with all its fashion etiquette, séance popularity, unique and splendid funerary monuments and don’t forget badminton (very popular at my house growing up)! I enjoy the idea of how most men were “in disguise” as artists.
A conservative look to an extraordinary and flamboyant person. Each person had to hold their own as etiquette was king yet some of the most fantastic ideas came from this era. Clifton Webb was a dancer early on even before he played in the “flickers” and he also was on stages like the Shubert and Broadway countless times. He could dance, sing and act. It’s a rarity to see someone excel at all three. Salvador Dali had a great outlook on how to bend the thought process of society. He was a true creator. His film work with Luis Bunuel proved that in Un Chien Andalou. Whatever that film was reaching for in 1929 compared to what others were doing at that time blows me away! A good number of pictures of Dali next to his works are of him in a suit.
Speaking of Groucho he was an improv genius and speaking of comedy you just reminded me of Charlie Chaplain and his abundance of alms to the industry!
You were just as eclectic with films and you were with music. You've been a writer, producer, location scout, and even did a little acting! How did you make the transition to the film industry over from the music industry?
My first experience outside of music I still have on VHS of me and some high school friends going across the street to the cemetery and made a couple of scenes with my parents brand new camcorder. But as time went on and the band didn’t get signed to a big label I realized that my creativity as a bass player and lyricist would only go so far. The creativity needed a bigger vehicle to get on to the highway.
I developed a friendship with Justin Zaharczuk, known for his work later on the films Phantasm: Oblivion and Bubba Ho-Tep as Art Director. He needed sound for a short film and I supplied it with some help from my friend Bill Meck IV.
Justin and I shared a number of fun excursions together before he went out West to work with Don Coscarelli. We were both horror fans so Justin kept me in the loop about work on set and how Don would get around a certain problem to pull off a shot. Just hearing the excitement he had in his voice about anything about film just roped you right in!
Another long-time friend and past bandmate, Rick Webb always has been into shooting film. He helped me flesh out my ideas I had for another piece that he directed for a London Film Festival. Rick is a powerhouse for knowledge and is definitely a go to guy when I have questions about television production.
Between their lessons and my own experiences with music videos it occurred to me that I could assimilate even more ideas on film than just what the 3 minutes of eight verses and a chorus that a song was offering. That same year my band I Will I played their last live show.
In 2003 I was Publicity Director for Maplewoods (now distributed under the title Nazi Zombies) as we held a premiere at the County Theater in Doylestown and attended panels at horror conventions. Director Dave Stewart III, actor John Martineau and I held a great party out at the Cinema Wasteland Horror Convention out in Ohio. It overflowed out of our hotel room down the hall; we met a lot of people that night and the sales the next day for the film were out of this world!
In 2008 Justin and Special FX aficionado David Gechman agreed to take on the filming of my script for Henderson Pond which was signed on by Prophase Music and Film. It was headed in the right direction but personal problems between the actors and crew halted the production which is a shame because we had 17 people and a small bank roll invested. But life is life, and Justin headed back out to California as Dave and I pieced together what footage we did have and developed it into the two-minute trailer that we are actually currently revisiting. I’m lucky to have a working partner like I have in David Gechman. He’s been a great friend to me. Unfortunately, we lost Justin in 2018. He is missed, talked about frequently and his work resonates through ours.
Where would you like to see 1890 Media go from here?
I would like to be able to actually make a full-time decent living at writing that would help! LOL! We need to find some financial partners that would be willing to help us exercise the steps that need to be taken to get our proof of concept and short film projects to a higher level. We have an arsenal of material and even the distribution for the music and the film when it is ready.
If you like to roll the dice and you want to boast that you actually have a product in the film market then I invite you to contact me. Outside of that we will keep chugging along with the scripts and short films.
Is there anything you would like our readers to know more about?
A full-length novel will soon be released for Ritual Day. Here is the trailer that was shot based on the original script:
Where can our readers check out your work?
www.1890media.com – Thanks for this opportunity Harlow Dean, Tally Ho!