Cryptic Rock – Finding success with your band Broken Hope, you have sustained a career in the arts for over three decades now. From writing books to writing music, briefly tell us how you would describe your creative journey to this point?
Jeremy Wagner – It’s been a gratifying journey. As a kid, I started writing and loved books. I dreamed of being an author – even dreamed of working at a bookstore as a kid! I also loved music, but it wasn’t all consuming… it was later, as a teenager, when music took over my life and I wanted to be a guitarist and dreamed of being in a signed band.
Now after all these years, I’ve been both a signed musical artist, as well as a published author, and that feeling of accomplishment is fantastic. That said, I’d still write stories and music even if I didn’t have any “deals”… the passion is what moves me. I do it all for the sole reason that it all brings me joy to create and work on my crafts. Doing what I love in life, as we all should!
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. It is great you have been able to make a career out of these passions. As mentioned, you did build a solid reputation within the Metal world with Broken Hope. The band has been reunited now for over a decade now. What has the second chapter of
Broken Hope been like?
Jeremy Wagner – Broken Hope has been an interesting journey. We put out albums for ten years, took ten years off, and have now been back for over ten years. This second chapter has been really rewarding. The fans were so happy when we returned and I made a promise to myself to always do BH right and keep it going once we came back. And at this point, I find being in the band more enjoyable than ever… the second chapter has me more grateful and excited about the band than ever.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear. Beyond music, you are also a passionate writer and lover of Horror-themed stories and films. Tell us a little bit about how you became a Horror fan and what inspired you to start writing Horror stories?
Jeremy Wagner – I was always into scary and creepy stuff as a kid. Halloween was, and is, my favorite holiday. I naturally fell in love with Horror movies and Horror culture. As a kid, my mom would buy me Horror magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland, Fangoria and more. So collectively, all that inspired me to write dark stories. I actually started writing stories in grade school, then that grew into a more serious passion for being a writer and telling my dark tales. In my teens, I wrote more and more short fiction and then eventually lyrics – which for Broken Hope, have been ‘micro-horror’ stories. By the time I was in my twenties, I began writing novels and just worked on my craft non-stop.
Cryptic Rock – That is interesting to hear. I think everyone who is a Horror fan has gravitated to the genre since an early age. Your love for Horror has also led you to collect memorabilia for some of your favorite films. Speaking of which, you have a Jaws Museum! So, how did you start to collect Jaws memorabilia and what can you tell us about the museum?
Jeremy Wagner – I’ve always been collecting Horror memorabilia – but not on the level I do now. As time went on, I got more serious about what I wanted to acquire. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and Jaws (1975) are my favorite Horror movies; I’m crazy for those films. So, when I had the means, I’d just start registering for auctions and searching for stuff, and I started getting my hands on rare pieces from Jaws – be it screen-used items or production items or posters… all kinds of stuff. Several years ago, Kirk Hammett connected me to a guy who had an insane Jaws collection and he sold me some items – like one of the yellow barrels from Jaws, Quint’s harpoon tip, an original production shirt… then from there, I was really hooked (pun intended!), and just kept getting everything I could.
Cryptic Rock – That is great. It is like an addiction, but a healthy one because you satisfy a muse to collect parts of history from your favorite films. Your collection will now include a life size sculpture of Quint in the infamous “Town Hall meeting” scene of Jaws. This piece of art was created by famous makeup and effect artist Nick Marra. How did this piece come about?
Jeremy Wagner – I knew all about Nick from his work on legendary movies, and later, I saw the Quint he made for director and FX legend, Greg Nicotero, and I flipped out. I was like, “I want one of those!” Quint is my favorite character in the film. Anyway, I connected with Nick Marra when I bought three Jaws busts he made of Quint, Brody, and Hooper. After he sent me those, he just asked me, “Would you like your own Quint?” Of course, I did! (Laughs) So Nick and I began discussing what I really wanted to do and that’s how it began. I wanted a Quint that no one else had (like Nicotero) and I chose Quint to be from the “Town Hall scene” where you see him on screen for the first time with the chalkboard… when he tells all the Amity business owners and politicians that he’ll catch the shark, etc.
Cryptic Rock – That is awesome. It is even more special that the piece is uniquely yours. The unveiling of this sculpture included the presents of Marra, The Daily Jaws (one of the best Jaws fan webpages), and Charlie Benante of Anthrax (a huge Jaws fan and a good friend of yours). How excited was everyone involved?
Jeremy Wagner – Everyone was beyond excited. It’s such an epic sculpture and as it was being built, we got the same make and model chalkboard you see in the movie and then Jaws production-designer, Joe Alves, redid his “shark sketch” on the chalkboard. It just grew and grew. Anyway, once I got the Quint and chalkboard delivered, I wanted to do a special unveiling and share this extraordinary sculpture with all the Jaws fans and the world. To that end, I wanted Nick Marra on hand, my brother and huge Jaws fan—Charlie Benante—and my brother Ross Williams from The Daily Jaws all involved to partake in the unveiling and to sit and talk Jaws. Moreover, I figured I may as well give a tour of my Jaws Museum for all the fans as well. We pulled it off and it was really great to share this special event with the world.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like a lot of fun and something all Jaws fans will want to check out. So, as someone who is a serious collector, are there any other pieces of Horror memorabilia you collect? And what do you look for when you add to your collections?
Jeremy Wagner – I have stuff from all kinds of movies… The Thing (1982), Alien (1979), The Howling (1981), Piranha (1978), on and on and on. The items I want have to be from movies I really love, and from there, it can be anything – screen-used, production used, posters, collectibles, photos, on and on. There’s no limit to what I’ll collect if I’m really passionate about the movie and if the items are really special.
Cryptic Rock – Maybe one day you can show off your other collection, because it sounds very compelling. Last question. Beyond Jaws, what are some of your personal favorite Horror films and why?
Jeremy Wagner – The Thing is without a doubt my favorite next to Jaws. There’s no movie like it. The story, the cast, the soundtrack… it’s all perfect. But above all that, the practical FX by Rob Bottin are in a class all by themselves. You’ll never see anything on that level. It’s mind-blowing.
Other than that, John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) scared me so bad as a kid, it became an instant favorite just for the fear level – and the score is so damn good and makes it even scarier. For the same reasons I love those other movies (fear-level, FX, original story and cast, etc.), I consider others to be my favs such as, The Exorcist (1973), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986), The Howling, Phantasm (1979), Alien, The Omen (1976), Day of the Dead (1985), Night of the Living Dead (1990), Creepshow (1982), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), and so many more!