John, your stories have been really well received by our readers. Over these
months you have gained a reputation as perhaps the new Rod Serling. You write
some of the scariest and most psychologically disturbing stories I’ve read in
awhile. I’m sure our readers would like a little background on your life. Where
did you grow up and what do you believe were your early influences on your
Ingram: I've lived in several parts of the country over the
course of my
life. Originally, I was born & raised in Kansas City, in the Prairie
Village area specifically. I think that gave me a good dose of that Mid-western
horse sense which sooner or later helped to keep my head on straight. I
lived in LA for a while when I was 22 - but, we'll get more into that later on
What authors, books, or media has had the greater influence on your writing?
Ingram: I like to read a lot, so I have a pretty wide range
matter, and authors that I read and have had a certain influence on me:
Arthur C. Clarke, Phillip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Orwell, Vonnegut, Hunter S.
Thompson, Cormack McCarthy, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelly, Anne Rice, Ernest
Hemingway, Dan Brown, Tolkien to name a few... I could go on for quite a
bit on various authors. Remember, you're not just reading their books,
you're getting small glimpses into where their heads were at... It's
helped me to sort of gravitate towards a darker style in my own reading, and it
seems to have had a great influence on what I write and the way I write.
What are the difficulties in writing in a “horror” genre?
Ingram: I don't know if what I'm writing is true horror genre stuff like
chainsaw massacres or sharks or aliens or what ever eating people you
know. I've written stories about corporate situations and this sort of
(as you might well define it as...) Rod Serling-esque style where I try and
take you 360 into a situation. I've found where I can go down a story
path in a corporate style (look at 'one way conversation' as an example) where
I've watched a guy in a crowded airport and he's almost thermo-nuclear pissed
at who ever is on the other end of the phone - to people at the typical company
Christmas party getting drunk and taking turns shocking each other with a
hunting dog's shock collar ("Electroshock Christmas"). A first
example of where I tried to get more rounded and psychological is
"The Interview" where the interviewee's reflection starts taking her
do like my Anagram page DTLAL puts my writing on, and if you look at my
writing over time it's been an evolution for me. Then I don't know what
took over in my head, but I started writing darker and darker to where I'm
using an external influence which brings out a character's own internal flaw's
and weakness to bring out the worst or monster within - like "The Corridor
and The Janitor" as an example. The well dressed, sophisticated,
Slender Man is sort of a manifest Devil. He tends to bring the
characters' obvious flaws out into the open, and give the character a medium to
display or perform that internal flaw. Other times, I think it's just fun
to bring out a character, give him or her no hope at all, and then have the
character either kill himself or have the character die. I think it's not
too difficult for me to write like this (after all I wouldn't be writing like
this if I didn't like it), but rather, it's trying to weave a story or group of
situations into something people (and thanks to everyone of you for reading my
stuff) would take time out of the their hectic and stressed lives to read.
I know that you have been private about your drummer days with the 80’s LA punk
group The Circle Jerks. How did you meet them and get the position as drummer?
Ingram: I knew Roger Rogerson before when we were kids and
then he ended
up going west with his family. Later he called me about coming out to
play, and I did! I feel at times I wasn't much else except a blip on the
radar for the Circle Jerks over the course of time. I came to meet and
play with them at a time when the band seemed to be having a hard time amongst
them selves internally.
What were the most difficult problems playing with The Circle Jerks?
Ingram: Instead of just being difficult as it were, I would call
it awkward at
times off stage or off gigs with them. There were a lot of issues
I faced while playing. I was from out of town; no one had ever heard of
me; I wasn't the old drummer - who by the way, was really good, but had
moved on to doing other things; I wasn't a lot of things - all I could be was
myself. I lost my 'let's be a rock star' real quick - these guys were out
of a gig at the time, they were hocking guitars, etc to keep afloat. But,
they're pretty tough and smart! We got practicing and back to gigging
pretty quickly. Also, at that point, hardcore punk wasn't a moneymaker in
the shadows of bands like 'The Police' or The 'Hair rock' scene and or it goes
on and on.
though, Punk has left its mark, but I guess it's a lot different from where I
was suddenly thrust into it!
the other side of the fence, it was actually quite a rush to play 39 songs in
45 minutes! Damn! You came out, hit it, and didn't stop til you ran out
of songs to play!
the drum kit, I was in the proverbial 'Catbird seat' as I could watch the
people begin to spin around the front of the stage in what now is called a
'Mosh' where in the day it was still 'Slam Dancing.' I always thought it
was cool to see some guy jump up on the stage, then dive back into the
crowd; awesome to watch, but even more fun to be playing at the same
time. Most people really watch the guitarists, singers, or others who're
up front, but the drummer really see's all from the back of the band...
What were the “gigs” like and the back-stage environment with the band?
Ingram: If you want to hear about some flower-filled dressing
you're shit out of luck! Sometimes you really had to wonder at what was
going on, or about to happen. There was a lot of hanging around here and
there. Some places had a back room, others had no room, and others barely
had a trough to piss in. We'd pull up with a van - and a second car as
well, and do our unloading. We had one guy with us - his name was 'Dream'...
He, was always there to set stuff up for us...
have to get a hotel room sooner or later... We'd have to send one person
up to get a hotel with a couple of beds, and we'd try and get a room with
double beds. Then the beds would get moved around into four mattresses on
the floor to sleep everyone. It's what you did to make it with what
little money we had. It was just part of the adventure of it all!
had to have been there... There was one place we played in downtown where
all the amps, lights, everything, were connected to one single plug and a power
strip! It was a disaster as at points someone would hit it when
stage-diving, or Morris hit it with his head, while jumping up and down, and
the power would go off everywhere! What a mess! But, it was so
cool! You had to be at a gig like this to understand what the underground
scene was all about... Even if I tried to explain it - I couldn't.
you had to have been there.
In 1983 you recorded what most punk genre music critics say was the Circle
Jerks best album ever recorded, Golden Shower of Hits. How difficult was the
recording session with band members?
Ingram: It was one of those records which looked to me like
it was going
to get made, then it looked like it wasn't going to get made, to finally
getting made. We had different sessions in a couple of different
locations. There were sessions where we as a group would record, then of
course, we'd have sessions where we'd add overlay for vocals, lead guitar,
etc... Recording can get quite repetitious as some things get one or two
takes, and then others get recorded over and over until they're right.
was a studio on Sunset Blvd we used, but it's been so long for me that I can't
remember it's name. Again, I think there were points where the band
looked like it was on shaky legs internally. I think the difficulty was
where I didn't get along with Morris, and it's after the final recordings -
which at that point I didn't know if it was going to get made, Morris let me
go, and I had to move on. I didn't even know the album (yep still on real
vinyl at that point) had been made. It wasn't until an old friend of mine
showed it to me that I believed it - though that was long after I was
gone. There I was... There they were... It was pretty cool.
There were some reported difficulties between you and lead singer Keith Morris.
Would you elaborate on that relationship, and what were that difficulties?
Ingram: I just never got along that well with Keith, and I
think that was
apparent in public! He and I were just destined to not ever get
along. There were times we could happily put up with each other, and
other times where we'd have knock-down drag-out arguments verging on fights at
a couple of gigs. Whatcha gonna do? I couldn't please Morris, so
there wasn't much else to do. At the end of the day it is Keith's
band. He was a legend sort of from his Black Flag days, and I will hand
it to Keith that he knew what he wanted; but what that was, shit, it was
and I didn't always see eye to eye, and it came to a point where we couldn't
agree on what the color of the sky was. It didn't matter, I started to
get the idea I wasn't going to be around that much longer - towards the end of
our recording sessions. I played with these guys just about a year. I
think he was having a rough patch in his personal life and at times it
showed. We just always seemed to rub each other the wrong way, and it
started to really show. I think in the end I had my own ideas on what I
wanted and it wasn't going along with what Keith wanted.
What finally prompted you leaving the Circle Jerks?
Ingram: That was easy! Keith told me I was out...
simple... He was trying to move the band into his own direction. At
some point after I was gone, Rogerson left or whatever as well. That's
where you see Morris evolve the Circle Jerks with Hetson. Hetson was
gigging with other bands as well. Oh well, so I played a couple of extra
gigs at that point for them and then moved it on over. After that, like I
say, I didn't even know 'The Golden Showers of Hits" had made it out to
vinyl, and that was many months later...
What are your best and worst memories of your time with the band?
Ingram: I really enjoyed gigging in various venues around
LA and other
places and cities. I got to play with a lot of different acts over that
time, and met a lot of different people. It was great. I was in my
early twenties and was doing what I thought I wanted to do. It was pretty
awesome at that age... I'd do it again - even if Keith didn't like it or
not, and never look back! ...
wasn't just getting let go, it was trying to find other things to do.
Suddenly, you're not in any circle of people, you're out on the streets!
That was hard for me. I didn't know what I was doing and was not a
thinker at that point either... I was young and stupid, and didn't have
my ducks lined up for the day that it would end. I think it was an
eye-opener for me. It does color you a certain way in your future actions
as you can take the experience for what it was, or take the little lessons out
of it so you have some building blocks. It dawned on me that it was all
about me - what do I want to do with myself? So I had to pull myself up
by the proverbial bootstraps and change.
So John, there you are in LA, alone, no longer with the leading edge Punk band
of the ‘80’s, and you are “on the street”, what did you do next? Did you try
out for other bands? Did you go through a period of “burn out”?
think I sort of just burned out, or better said, I just had enough. I
even tried getting a regular job -if you can see me in a regular sort of job-
but even that didn't seem to work for me. So I just left the area and
attempted to move on. Maybe if I would have gotten more creative or
really though about how to do things I might have still been playing somewhere,
somehow. You know the old saying of 'woulda-coulda-shoulda' right?
None the less, here I am now. Like I say I wouldn't trade the times or
the places. I did what I wanted to do. I think few people really try to
follow something they want, and even fewer ever really get what they
want. I found I wasn't destined for the band business - no, really
Ingram? This is a point in my life where I turned to writing as an outlet
I have a great outlet here in the
pages of Downtown LA Life. I've had a lot of encouragement in writing, in
all directions, like development, like mentoring my style. I've been
fortunate to have the 'Anagram' section here. It's great!