An Interview With `The Roadie’ Writer Tim Seeley
by Tom Smithyman
In Tim Seeley’s newest series, The Roadie, long-time heavy metal band stagehand Joe D. gets pulled back to his old job, where he doubled as a demon hunter. In an interview ahead of the series’ premiere issue on September 28, 2022, the Hack/Slash scribe discusses “the love of music” as well as his own lack of musical prowess.
Tom Smithyman: How did you come up with the idea of a former heavy metal roadie who moonlights as a demon fighter?
Tim Seeley: I suppose it’s not a super far jump for associating heavy metal with demons and dark magic, since the bands have always done it themselves. But I was interested in the fact that none of these bands were Satanists or anything in real life – they just knew the imagery and lyrics would piss off conservatives, and that’d make kids love it even more.
So, part of the inspiration here is that for Joe D, the demons and black magic is just kind of a side effect. You sing about Satan, you conjure a few demons. And Joe, who loves the music, steps up to send those side effects back to hell. And that kind of mirrors reality, where these road crew guys were often superior musicians to the bands, but they remained in the background as support, never really getting the glory.
Smithyman: Have you ever been a roadie in real life? Why does their work seem so glamourous?
Seeley: Hah, no, I haven’t, and honestly it DOESN’T seem glamorous at all. I’ve been backstage – worked live art or hung out with rocker or rapper friends…and the amount of work these guys do for nothing but the love of the game is inspiring.
Smithyman: In the premiere issue, you write lyrics for the band Mass Acre’s song “Satan for Sale.” Have you written lyrics for other songs? Did you have a melody in mind when you wrote the words, or were you just focused on head-banging glory?
Seeley: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been writing lyrics, and most of my comics have a song in them somewhere. I once wrote a Harley Quinn comic that was a 10-page rap battle, and I wrote every line of those rhymes.
But here’s the thing – I have no musical skill whatsoever. I could never PLAY the songs. I can hear the songs in my head though so, I know what “Satan for Sale” sounds like. You’ll have to make up your own – or if you’ve got the skill, make into a tune!
Smithyman: The band keeps dedicating its sets to “the love of music,” but then one musician says that “music doesn’t love you back.” What are you trying to get across with that line?
Seeley: Every creative person I know will tell you the same thing; musicians, actors, comic book creators – we get into these fields because we were touched at some point by art. But when you work in the field, mostly it’s pretty thankless, if not downright brutal. Making stuff, at least in a capitalist society, is chasing a love that will never be returned. Joe’s life is the epitome of that.
Smithyman: You’ve had a lot of success with your horror series Hack/Slash. What do these two series have in common beyond the supernatural aspects?
Tim: Well, I suppose the ’80s homage’ thing. I was obviously pretty profoundly affected by the media I grew up on, and I can’t help but return to that era, or at least, pop culture from that era. I mean, I’ve worked on G.I. Joe, Transformers and Masters of the Universe too! I think, if I’ve got a schtick, it’s the effort to “elevate” or “humanize” some of the stuff deemed trashy from the 80s.
Smithyman: Fran Galan provides the artwork for the limited series. Have you given any thought to drawing and writing at the same time, or is it too much work?
Seeley: I’ve done it a few times! I wrote and drew Ant-Man for Marvel and did some Hack/Slash stuff as a cartoonist. It’s not so much the amount of work as it is the timing. Publishers don’t really like giving over their schedule to one person. Makes ’em nervous.
Smithyman: At one point, the band references Tipper Gore. After more than 30 years since she made headlines complaining about “objectionable” rock lyrics. Did she have a point or was it taken too far?
Seeley: Tipper Gore wanted to essentially moderate a certain kind of speech, and what it comes down to is…it was swearing. I mean, that’s it. The Parents Music Resource Center wanted to label albums with “profane” words. I would call that a poor use of free speech regulation.
Now that I’m older though, I would say, there are a lot of profane ideas that I’d really like to keep away from kids: hate speech, conspiracy theories and outright lies disguised as news.
So, I think a better version of Tipper’s idea could maybe be applied to YouTube and other social media. I’m not quite a “free speech absolutist” when it comes to radicalizing people into monsters, I guess. I am when it comes to whether it’s okay to say “motherfucking cocksucker” though.
The Roadie will be available for purchase on September 28th from Dark Horse Comics.