The Summoner is a Prius-driving, martini-drinking ghoul who has become dissatisfied with his redundant life of playing metal and promoting depravity. Upon realizing his life has become empty, he decides to chase his dream of selling affordable, single family real estate. Thus our journey begins as Brutal Realty, Inc. puts into motion an absurd, gory, and hilarious sequence of events that finds our lead kicking against the pricks – figuratively and literally. Directed by Erik Boccio, from a script written by Joseph Mueller, the short film premiered at Chicago’s Cinepocalypse 2019 film festival to rave reviews.
Best known as the drummer for Glenn Danzig’s post-Misfits band, Samhain, London May also spent time with Dischord Records bands Reptile House and Dag Nasty, the Steve Albini-produced band Distorted Pony, and recorded and performed with the likes of Pat Smear (Germs, Nirvana), Exene Cervenka (X), and most recently, the black metal band Ritual. Over the last seven years, May has begun making in-roads into film and television acting. Though it’s the early stages of his career, his role as the Summoner is sure to go down as a favorite.
Check out the trailer for the film and our interview with The Summoner himself, Mr. London May.
I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.
London May: Oh man, I’m psyched that you want to talk about this movie, because we’re really happy that people have connected with it and want to know more. It’s kind of…it’s your dream when you create something that it will connect with people. So, the pleasure is all mine.
I watched it twice and thought it was great. It’s funny, it’s got the right gore elements, and I’m a metal fan, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.
London May: Well, thank you, and I’m glad for you to inject that you’re a metal fan, because it comes from a place of respect and love for the genre, for black metal. The fact that it appeals to horror fans and to comedy fans, we’re really lucky, and we had a really great script, and it really came together. It’s a collaborative effort, and when it’s all said and done, you look back and you go, “Wow, that is kind of exactly how we hoped it might be.” So, we’re really excited that people from all different worlds, comedy and metal and horror, have connected with it. It’s really a trifecta of a world that we only could hope in our dreams would appreciate it.
Pardon my ignorance, but I got the screener for the film and one of the first things I did was go to IMDb, to just get a little bit more information. I looked at your page and you had actually done more film stuff than I was aware of, including an uncredited role in The Dark Knight Rises.
London May: I’ve been a Batman fan since I was probably four or five years old, seeing Batman comics as a kid and watching the old original Batman shows. When I was 18, I made the commitment to get a huge Batman tattoo and I’ve just been nuts about it. As it’s grown in popular culture, there were times where Batman wasn’t very popular and I still championed that character and it was nice to see it get rebooted and get revitalized in so many different ways. Then to be involved in The Dark Knight Rises was a dream come true. I got to work with Christopher Nolan and do a scene with Gary Oldman, which ultimately got cut, which broke my heart, but I understand how these things happen.
When did you first get the acting bug?
London May: As a child my parents knew that I was into movies and I think at one point they rented me a guitar to give me some sort of hobby and I kind of didn’t connect with the guitar. I was always getting into trouble as a kid and my parents were very desperate to find something that I could channel my energy into. Whether it was mischievous or creative, I was always making stuff and running around, and destroying stuff, and making little movies. They thought, “Well, let’s get this kid into the theater and maybe he will find his people, and maybe he’ll find his passion, and stop being such a rascal.” I got involved with the children’s theater of Baltimore. Then, a couple years into that, I got back into music, and playing the drums was much more natural for me, and the music thing just really grabbed me. It was like the circus came to town, and I left with the circus, and I never looked back until about 10 years ago when I got back into acting.
Back to the film, I saw you were also credited as a producer, I was curious how involved you were in the film development, be it the character development, the script, or maybe on the financial side.
London May: Everything. It’s like that character started…I had played that character, I was that character in a black metal band. I had joined a black metal band that had been around a long time, and when it was time to do a photo session, it was expected to show up with a cool look and with corpse paint. Being a fan of black metal, it immediately made me panic, like, oh fuck, I’ve got to…I come from a lineage of occult music. I like black metal, but now I’ve got to actually…I want to bring something to it.
So, the first photo session for this black metal band, I showed up as that guy, and they were like, “Fucking cool. Wow, that’s awesome.” It was just something I made up on the fly just with a whole tornado of influences, with punk rock and metal, and black metal, and horror movies. I was just like, “Okay, I am The Summoner,“ and this is what he looks like. So, I would do shows like that, and then I ended up being asked to be in some short films, and I would show up as that character, just as something different. They’re like, “Yeah, we need a rocker guy.” I would be like, “Okay well, I might bring a little twist to that,” and I would show up in corpse paint. They’d be like, “Fucking, wow. You are really a strange dude.” Then they were like, “Hey that guy’s really funny” or “He’s really interesting, I want to know more about him, and maybe we should think about doing a movie with this character, instead of him being a little co-star as a funny little bit.” I said, “Well, if I ever find somebody to write a script for this character, I will let you.”
Then, I met a kid who was 19 years old, who is from Bellingham, Washington, and I pitched him the idea of writing script for this kooky, funny, scary character. He wanted… I found this out later, is that he really did not want to make a straight up slasher film with an obvious scary character. He wanted to do something different and unique, and to throw him into an absurd situation. He really rolled the dice with us because he was afraid that he was going to send back this story about this black metal demon becoming a real estate agent and we were going to freak out, and we were going to ball it up and throw it in the trash and fire him, and we loved it! We loved it, and I loved it, and it was such a…It was so out of left field and it was so funny, and it was so endearing. It had all the elements of horror and metal, all together, and it was the role of a lifetime, playing a drummer, playing a bullied kid, or a bullied adult, playing a David and Goliath character who actually gets to stand up and fight back, which I was occasionally able to do as a punk growing up in the 80’s. And the violence that was shown to an outsider in the 80’s, and I’m sure in this climate, it’s being felt all over again.
So, being different was something that I identified with, and being called a freak was something that I identified with. So we got the script, and it was immediate that this had to be made. I looked at Erik, the director who had said, “Hey, if you ever get a script, we should do something with this character.” I showed him the script and we both just looked at each other and went, “Wow, I guess we’re fucking making a movie.” We decided that the only way it was going to get made, and the only way that we could protect the reverence for the genre, and the reverence for the character, was we had to protect him, we had to keep it close and the way that you do that is, you do it yourself. You don’t take something that’s that special and take it to a bunch of Hollywood dicks.
The last thing I want is for people to think that I am exploiting black metal. I’m very reverent, and these things are very important to me. The only person that I thought could do it right was me and Erik, because he’s a metal guy and I’m a metal guy. So then, yes, it was our money, and the amount of work…It’s been a year of my life that has been put into making Brutal Realty come off the page onto the screen, and then talking with people about the movie is such a dream come true.
I don’t know if it could work, but I think it would be rad if it spun off into a TV show.
London May: Well, it’s funny that you should mention that.
London May: Yeah, we are in development for the Brutal Realty feature film now.
Right on, congratulations!
London May: Thank you. Yeah, we won, “Best Kill” at Cinepocalypse, which is a big film festival in Chicago. We were the Spotlight Short in New York at Tromadance. The great thing is, so far the core of Brutal Realty, which is me and Joseph the writer, and Erik the director, we’re still connected with this. We have a script, which is an expanded story of Brutal Realty the short film. It’s really catching on and it has really connected with people in a bigger scope than we ever dreamed of. It’s like putting out a single, your band putting out a seven inch. The thing is Kevin, is we would’ve made another Summoner film by ourselves. That’s why at the end of the movie it says, “The Summoner will return.” That was just motivating ourselves, you know what I mean? Sometimes you’ve got to promise yourself something, so you will actually follow through on it.
What stood out to me is that it’s just really well made. All the shots, the cinematography, etc., I totally think it deserves more attention and a large audience, so I’m thrilled to hear that.
London May: Well, thank you. We were so lucky to have a cast and a crew that was better than we could ever expect it. I got to say this, and it is all credit to that little 12 page script, because without the script, we could not have gotten the people involved to work at the prices that they worked for. When you read that script, the original script, people were like, “Yes, I’ll do this.” “Well, we can’t promise you much.” They just said, “We want to do it because of the script.” If you like the short, the feature film is going to kill you. There’s a 94 page script that is magic, it is absolutely…It’s funnier and even more bloody, and more outrageous, with more characters, the whole Summoner universe is opened up. It’s a game changer for this genre.
Well, obviously this has happened very recently, do you have any idea when you are going to go into pre-production for the film?
London May: Not yet, but it seems that things…I mean, really, this has all happened in a month. This has all happened very, very fast. No, I don’t, but I would imagine something… We’ll have a better idea in a month. In the meantime, the festival season kicks up again in the fall. So, we’re going to be out on the road promoting the film in festivals like we did in Chicago and New York. The next couple of months are going to be so crazy. Right now is kind of the business side of things and then we go back and promote the short, which leads right into the feature film. So, it’s going to be very exciting and we had no idea. We believed in it, but we weren’t sure anybody else would get it, because it is really…it’s a crazy, absurd idea.
Well, speaking of the Cinepocalypse premier, coincidentally, your former band mate, Glenn Danzig premiered his Verotika film.
London May: We did, yeah. I’m in Verotika. I have a cameo role in Verotika. Now, both Glenn’s movie world and my movie world are intertwined and we will be working together on more stuff, I’m happy to say. It has really brought a new dimension to our relationship, because we’re both following our dreams of taking our passion for film and movies and making stuff, you know? I’m so proud of him, and he’s been very encouraging for Brutal Realty and it is really a treat to have both things at the same time.
When I saw that you both had a film premiering at that festival, I was just like, “Wow, what a coincidence.“
London May: Absolutely a coincidence. We would film a day on Brutal Realty, and then two days later, I was on set with his film. Then, I’d go back to Brutal Realty. It was very different, his was very professional and very…ours was…it would sound like we were putting on a show in the barn. Our films are very, very different. His film has gotten a lot of hype, and a lot of acclaim. I’ve seen it twice and I think it’s a gas. It is really enjoyable, and I hope people get a chance to see it in theaters because it is really something that needs to be shared with an audience. Seeing Brutal Realty with an audience was something that I was so scared and so terrified of. To hear people laugh and to ooh and aah at stuff was an experience that I never thought I would live to see.
That’s really cool. Well, I assume that your answer to my next question is “no,” but I’m going to ask anyway.
London May: Sure.
I know you just have a cameo, but is there much difference working with Glenn on a film versus in a band?
London May: You said it, no! They’re very similar, they’re very similar. As much as I’m a fan, there’s also a dynamic of employee/employer that becomes quickly evident when we’re working together and we’re not hanging out together. When we’re hanging out together, we are friends and equals, and buddies and pals. When there is a working situation, it’s a different dynamic, as you would expect. He’s very serious and he knows exactly what he wants. He gave me one note on set that was very similar to the note that he would give me in Samhain, which was, “Calm the fuck down. Calm the fuck down.”
(Laughs) Right on! That’s kind of what I expected.
London May: Calm the fuck down, because I love acting, and I love playing, and when somebody goes, “Action,” I fucking freak the fuck out. Usually, it would be like, “Hey, too much, just play the fucking song. Don’t go crazy on the drums, don’t fall off the stage playing bass, just fucking do your job.” I think at one point, I was a little over zealous in the small cameo that I had and he was like, “Calm the fuck down.” That’s me, I love that about me, because I’m still as excited and enthusiastic as I was as a kid, you know? I’m very shy in real life, and I’m very quiet and I’m very reserved, and very serious. But, when the lights go up, that is my chance to just explode.
You mentioned that you all were going to hit the festival circuit in the fall, do you have any idea when the film might be available on streaming platforms or elsewhere?
London May: Well, we’ve already been approached to stream it on one platform, which was very flattering. I mean, this was immediate between somebody interested in making the movie, and then streaming the short, we want to exhaust all the festival possibilities. At the moment, we’re submitted into 23 festivals here and around the world. The chance to see it in the theater, the chance for me to actually be there as the Summoner, in character, which is how I’ve done the other festivals. I’ve gone up and introduced the film. Once that makeup goes on, I am the Summoner, I am that character and I’m live in person, and it is an event.
So, the Q&A’s and all the interacting with fans is as the Summoner and I want to keep that alive because it is so fun and I get such a thrill about doing that and performing that live that I want to do that as long as possible. It depends on, if the feature comes out first, the short may be a bonus on the DVD. I mean, the trailer’s up, we’re looking at doing an exclusive clip from the movie on one of the horror movie sites. We’re kind of caught off guard, I got to be honest with you, Kevin, we’re kind of over our heads at the moment. We’ve got a producer on board who’s helping us navigate the stuff, but we’re really caught off guard with all the attention. What I’m telling you is ideas that we have, what actually comes to pass, I have no idea because we didn’t expect this.
Sure, fair enough. I understand that.
London May: It’s just a surprise. So, the things that you’re asking me, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation, it’s so incredible. I can’t believe that people are calling me to talk to me about this movie, it’s so incredible. We got a good message with this film. It’s more than just some entertainment bullshit, there’s a message about standing up for yourself and not taking any shit.