Dru DeCaro on the making of vampire rock popera “Blood/Love” and the viral success of “Numb Little Bug”

Oshkosh, Wisconsin may seem like an arbitrary location for a vampire rock popera, but for songwriter and producer Dru DeCaro, it made perfect sense. “We just need the whole thing to suck you in,” he tells AP. “This little town does that. It’s way spookier than LA.” 

Hosted by the “haunted,” historic Howard Theater is Blood/Love, a modern vampire musical experience helmed by top pop hits and raucous punk music. Co-written by DeCaro and Carey Sharpe, the two-night-only event transforms the aforementioned venue into “The Crimson,” a gothic nightclub teeming with vampires. The story blends vampire lore and the thrill of nightlife to create its own brand of theater experience. 

Read more: Jamie Campbell Bower on embracing darkness, the joy of sobriety and why we don’t need to gatekeep classic songs

For DeCaro, the songwriter behind Em Beihold’s viral hit “Numb Little Bug” who has collaborated with Miguel, Vic Mensa and FLETCHER, this has been a thrilling passion project. 

Ahead of the two performances Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, we spoke to DeCaro about the spooky subjects that inspired Blood/Love and how the success of “Numb Little Bug” changed his life.

How did you come up with the concept behind Blood/Love?

Carey Sharpe, my writing partner, owns a haunted theater, for starters. We knew we were going to put some big, elaborate story together; it was the beginning of lockdown, and everybody was trying to occupy themselves. Anyway, we kept throwing paint at the wall, just writing to write. When we stepped back, it looked like beautiful blood splatter, and real stylized. Somewhere along the way, it started to write itself like a damned Ouija board. It still feels pretty out-of-body.

How did the success of “Numb Little Bug” change things for you?

I signed a publishing deal with Position Music. I love them. The circle is expanding, and I’m finding people in those places that I genuinely care about and lean on and who I wouldn’t have allowed myself to trust even recently. The success of “Numb Little Bug” started a lot of people reaching out. 

Can you tell me about the premise of Blood/Love?

A trio of vampires terrorizes a bustling city, and one dusky nightclub especially so. This fateful night a band performs, whose singer has his own dark secrets and unnatural powers, and whose path should never have crossed with the toothsome threesome. There is love, there is death, there is dance and rock ‘n’ roll and all manner of devilry. Ultimately, the vampires must resist their inescapable humanity, just as the rock star is questioning his godlike fame and cultural immortality. Will surrender and sacrifice save all these unholy souls? Or will urge and addiction condemn that they do not go gentle into that good night?

Why choose Wisconsin for the rock popera?

The theater has an immaculate vibe. Last year around Halloween, we were looking at places to run the show in LA, and nowhere came close to what we wanted. I think when we take the show to New York or Vegas or wherever is next, we’re going to have to build a whole spot in our image. 

Why did you choose this specific house to host the rock popera in?

I wish I could just show it to you. You’d get it. The Howard is exactly where anybody would want to do this. When I first moved to LA, I got a job bartending at Viper Room. For years, every week I’d be serving drinks, booking shows and playing sets there, just super home-field advantage. I’d be the one at the end of the night hanging off the roof, putting my own band’s name on the marquee for the next night. Even touring all over for years after that, it’s still my favorite venue in the world. The Howard is like that now.

What was the process of making Blood/Love like?

We didn’t really watch a lot of horror flicks or listen to a lot of musicals or anything. Carey and Erin Boheme were already coming from a theatrical, fantastical kind of place, and me and co-producer Snakechild were already punks who relished an opportunity to break in and spike the punch of a scene that otherwise wouldn’t invite us. So, it was a perfect storm of opposites attracting. We hardly agree on anything, so when we unite on Blood/Love details, we know it’s good and new and probably magic. Mostly Carey and I sit around late at night and try to tell a story that we’d want to go see.

[Photo via Dru DeCaro]

What other vampire media/entertainment inspired the production?

I’ve never properly watched one of the Twilight films, so I don’t have much to draw from there. But I love Bela Lugosi, Blade, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and weird, dark East Coast writers like that. And Elvira and Lily Munster? I mean, come on. So much style.

Which artists were you inspired by when creating this?

I listened to a lot of Bauhaus and Danzig. We’ve been at it for two-plus years, so I listened to a lot of music. I think maybe it sounds like that, like a whole journey. We didn’t know how it ended until we got there. I got to write a lot of songs. All the stuff I dig made it in there somewhere.

Do you have plans for the rock popera to hit other cities?

You know I want Broadway so bad. I want the East Coast energy. I want the gothic shit. I wanna kick in the door. So, that definitely looms out there. But I just read recently that Dear Evan Hansen started in D.C. That’s where I’m from. I wouldn’t mind an excuse to go back home and scare the hell out of everybody.

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