Every time Emmy Lazarus and the Recently Deceased arrives at a venue to set up for a gig, storm clouds gather seemingly out of nowhere.
“It’s always a dark and stormy night wherever we go,” lead singer Emmy “Emmy Lazarus” Beach, said. “It’s very on-brand.”
The four-piece garage rock group consists of Beach, her husband and lead guitarist Eric “Eerie Eric” French, bassist Michael “Maniac Michael” De Bonis and drummer Corey “Creepy Corey” Gillen. The band likens itself to a hypothetical Munsters or Addams Family house band and specializes in all things ominous, spinning upbeat 1960s-esque rock songs about death and Dracula into a web, with stage names and costumes to match.
Beach said the group puts out tracks that feel freaky, yet fun, and aims to keep it campy and not too gory while experimenting with different sounds such as punk or rockabilly to mix in with its traditional rock ‘n’ roll mode of operation. The band’s latest six-track EP “Get Haunted” was released in November 2019.
The band first came together on Halloween in 2017, when Beach and French had a spot to fill for an opener at the house show they were hosting. Beach said she threw out the idea to write a few songs with French and play them, and after looping in Gillen, with whom French had played before, and WOSU Public Media coworker De Bonis, Emmy Lazarus and the Recently Deceased came to life.
Gillen said the decision to dress up for their shows came the following year.
“It was still sort of new, and we were a little hesitant. We just were sort of more comfortable being characters,” De Bonis said.
A pair of black aviators, a white baseball cap and the occasional mummy wrapping is how De Bonis said he takes the stage for a lot of shows.
“It usually just helps me with my nerves a little bit playing in front of people, just to have a little bit of a mask, either metaphorical or actual,” De Bonis said.
For Gillen, the commitment to character is slightly more difficult from behind a drum set, but he said he still enjoys the experience.
“It opens you up to exploring parts of your personality you may not explore being yourself,” Gillen said.
Though the musicians’ characters and stage names can vary from show to show, Beach said hers always stays the same, and playing into that has helped her feel more open on stage.
“Initially, I was just stuck on one spot on the stage, I had my mic, that was it. But now I feel a little more comfortable and confident and can kind of take on almost, like, the spirit of the character that I kind of envisioned when I started, so that’s been really freeing for me to kind of be a different person,” Beach said. “I’m not Emmy Beach singing songs about love. I’m Emmy Lazarus singing songs about zombies, so it’s like I can be a character and let this part of myself out that doesn’t normally get to come out.”
French said the Halloween theme sprang from the members’ shared love of horror.
“We watch scary movies all the time, and scary shows, and I think that there are other people that do that too,” French said. “So we’re trying to tap into that audience of people that doesn’t want to just wait for one day a year to be creepy.”
Taking the writing in that direction has helped the band keep its music from feeling forced, Beach said.
“I love the original monster movies — ‘Dracula,’ ‘Frankenstein,’ all those sorts of things — and when I can write songs about them and not really write about how I actually feel, it’s more fun,” Beach said.
Although the band sticks out from the general Columbus, Ohio, music scene, Beach said the city has been nothing but welcoming.
Performance opportunities for the band pop up organically and often, De Bonis said. He added that he has never been a part of something that has felt so effortless.
“We’re not out there pounding the pavement, but we’re just doing what we love and it seems like people are finding us and responding to it,” De Bonis said.
Because of the group’s niche theme, Beach said it typically only plays shows on or around Halloween or at other fright-focused events, such as Spacebar’s Horror Prom, where the band made an appearance in February. Since Halloween is several months away, the focus right now is on writing, Beach said.
“I just want to write more spooky songs,” Beach said. “You think about how many different horror movies there are, and spooky movies, it’s like you can’t even count them. There’s so much fodder to write music, so I guess I need to just watch some more horror movies and get inspiration.”
Emmy Lazarus and the Recently Deceased’s extended single “Halloween” and EP “Get Haunted” can be found on all major streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music.