Vision Video: Haunted

VISION VIDEO: Photo by Alexa Jae Eyler

Death is inevitable. It is the natural order that affects every living creature, and sooner or later, it’s coming for everyone.

No two people cope with the reality of the situation the same way. For Dusty Gannon, the singer, guitar player, and principal songwriter leading Athens’ rising goth and post-punk outfit Vision Video, death commands absolute respect.

Gannon is a former Army rifle platoon leader who served in war-torn Afghanistan, and until this summer, he has worked for five years as a metro Atlanta firefighter and paramedic. He is no stranger to death, and fostering a healthier relationship with it is the idea lying at the heart of Vision Video’s latest single, “Beautiful Day To Die.”

The song also offers the first glimpse at what Vision Video has in store with the group’s forthcoming second album, Haunted Hours, set to arrive October 14 — just in time for Halloween.


“Beautiful Day To Die,” takes shape around a simple, powerful melody that’s layered in rich musical textures that open up an emotional evocation of mortality. Gannon wrote the song by pulling together aspects from different stories that he witnessed firsthand to illustrate the sentiments that fill the air when someone dies.

“There is a bizarre energy that happens when somebody has been pronounced dead,” Gannon says. “ A lot of the time it’s terrible, and awful, and sad, but if you look closely at it, and if you don’t shy away from it, you’ll see these beautiful moments that are hidden alongside the grief.”

Pushing the idea forward, Gannon relives the details from one of his recent shifts as a paramedic, when he pronounced an older patient dead on the scene.

“There was really nothing that we could have done, and there was nothing that this patient’s daughter could have done,” he says, while walking through the steps that are taken before a person can be declared dead.

“While we were waiting for the coroner to arrive, I was sitting in the kitchen with the patient’s daughter, and she was telling me all of these stories about this person, about their kindness, and about what an amazing life they had lived,” Gannon recalls. “There was so much sadness, but there was also this small and intimate celebration of this person’s life taking place. It was painful, but it was also beautiful. That is one of the motifs behind the song.”

This is just one of the stories behind the 10 songs that make up the new record. Haunted Hours is stylish, and steeped in shadowy imagery, while remaining existentially buoyant.

Vision Video was born in the summer of 2017 when Gannon and drummer Jason Fusco started playing music together. Singer and keyboard player Emily Fredock and bass player Dan Geller joined the band soon after.

Geller is a co-owner and Chief Technical Officer of Athens’ Kindercore Vinyl pressing plant, and he has a long history of playing in Athens indie, pop, and rock-and-roll bands, including Kinkaid, the Agenda, I Am the World Trade Center, as well as the Booty Boyz DJ team.

VISION VIDEO: Photo by Mike White

The band’s name gives a nod to Athens’ once-great, but now defunct video store, bringing something that they all loved back from the dead — at least in name.

Naturally, after living through his experiences during war time, and then confronting death repeatedly in the civilian world, Gannon needed an outlet where he could exorcize the many traumas that he has endured.

In April of 2021, Vision Video’s debut album, Inked In Red, arrived as a self-released offering. Songs bearing titles such as “In My Side,” “Static Drone,” and “Organized Murder” came out blending grim imagery with a gothic snarl, paired with campy horror film imagery. 


Each of these elements coalesced around a colorful, modern take on a classic goth, new wave, and post-punk musical lineage touching on everything from Joy Division and New Order, to the Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Sisters of Mercy. Each song was propelled forward by barreling dance-floor rhythms and major-chord songwriting.

The group’s cover of “Picture Of You” adds warm tones to one of the Cure’s most charming numbers.


And, of course, not all is so austere with Vision Video. A campy song about Gannon’s affection for the felines who walk among us, titled “I Love Cats,” proved to be something of a viral hit, sporting lyrics such as: “I love cats, so much more than I love humans. They’re adorable, hilarious, and not one of them is a Republican …” and “They might keep you up all night, but they’ll never take your human rights.”


If Inked In Red laid the sonic blueprint for Vision Video’s sound, Haunted Hours builds upon its foundation by slowing down and stretching the group’s ethereal pop drive to a dark and seductive breaking point.

Songs like “Cruelty Commodity,” “Death In A Hallway,” and a muscular reworking of Joy Division’s “Transmission” are so voluptuous that their hazy textures become tangible.

Gannon’s vocals meld perfectly within a lingering atmosphere marked by reverb and space. From the sinewy title track and “Nothing Changes” to the lingering reflections in “Unwanted Faces” and “Burn It Down,” the album strikes a balance between simplicity, urgent pop melodies and contempt for the failing world.

As such, the album is an assured follow-up that entrenches Vision Video’s stature as more than a flash in the pan for Athens music.

For this album, the group returned to Athens’ SubVon Studio to write and record with producer Tom Ashton.

Ashton is, perhaps, best known as the guitar player for Leeds, U.K.’ early ‘80s post-punk outfit the March Violets. He also did a stint performing live with Xymox, the early ‘90s iteration of Dutch darkwave act Clan Of Xymox.

Ashton has also served as Vision Video’s live bass player for several shows surrounding the Haunted Hours sessions, and continues filling in when he’s needed.

Before recording, Gannon wrote most of the music’s skeletal parts including the melodies and the chord progressions for the guitar and the vocals on his own time. As a result, the rest of the group had months of lead time to consume the demos while thinking about their parts to add, which were written while they were in the studio, working out the songs.

“That allowed us to edit on the fly, and there were no set opinions about any one piece,” Gannon says. “If something didn’t work, we changed it then and there. If somebody had an idea, we would field it. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. But it was crafted in a malleable way where, on the fly, we could say, ‘That part doesn’t jive, let’s change it to this,’ and that’s part of the reason it’s so different from the first album.”

Ashton agrees, adding: “It’s just a more mature and spacious expanse. Dusty brought in a different writing approach which really paid off.”

Vision Video may prove the ideal outlet for Gannon to deal with anxiety and darker subject matter, as it relates to sadness, misery, warfare, inequity, and mortality — things that he’s witnessed personally — that can be expressed through aggressive lyrics and performances. But what has garnered equally as much (if not more) attention for Gannon is the Tik Tok character that he has created, called Goth Dad.

“The idea behind Goth Dad,” Gannon says, “Is to create a pure and wholesome character who makes people feel comfortable, safe, and accepted. There aren’t a lot of good father-type figures out there. My dad’s awesome,” he adds. “I was fortunate as a kid to have a really good, positive role model as my dad.”

The Goth Dad character that he plays has gone viral on social media via a series of short video clips that touch on everything from make-up tutorials to corny jokes, such as “What do you call a goth lawyer? Siouxsie Sue!”

“I have been trying to cultivate this place where people can bond and commiserate, and speak their mind about things safely and respectfully, hopefully positively,” Gannon says. “But even if it’s not, that’s cool too. It’s about finding a place for like-minded people to feel like you’re not alone. That’s like the worst part of having post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or anything like that. When you’re feeling like you’re totally in your head and alone, and even if you understand that people are there for you, sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to relay that to anybody,” he adds. “Those are the things that I’m working toward, and I hope that I foster that sensibility.” 

Still, it’s the music, and creating a spectacle during live performances with Vision Video that encompass the most important aspect of everything Gannon does.

“It’s like the difference between Twilight as a vampire series and Near Dark,” he laughs. “They’re both about vampires, but they have very different tones, they fulfill very different purposes, but they both fulfill something that’s meaningful in people’s lives.”

Despite Goth Dad’s popularity online, it is onstage in the material world with Vision Video where Gannon is at full tilt. Live, he takes cues straight from the Cramps’ vocalist Lux Interior’s playbook, imbuing high-energy rock with elements of an undead drag cabaret show.

“Of course, I want you to be in the message of the music when we play live, but I also want it to be fun, I want it to be a party,” Gannon says. “That’s the most important thing above everything else: Did you have a good time? Was it safe?” he asks.

When dealing with so much darkness and confronting mortality, levity plays a key role in bringing such death-afflicted music to life.

Vision Video makes their Atlanta debut on Thursday, July 14, with Vincas and Blood Lemon. 7 p.m. (doors). 8 p.m. (show). $15 (advance). $18 (day of show).

This story originally appeared in the July issue of Record Plug Magazine.

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Tom Ashton of the March Violets on the goth and post-punk legacy behind SubVon Studio

Tom Ashton at SubVon Studio. Photo by Mike White

In December of 1981, guitarist Tom Ashton co-founded the gothic and post-punk outfit The March Violets while attending Jacob Kramer College of Art in Leeds, U.K. Throughout the ‘80s, the band landed several singles on the U.K. indie and club charts, including goth classics such as “Snake Dance,” “Walk Into the Sun,” “Crow Baby,” and “Turn to the Sky.” The latter number earned The March Violets a cameo appearance in the 1987 film “Some Kind of Wonderful,” written by John Hughes. Over the years Ashton has also done stints playing guitar with equally lauded acts Clan of Xymox and The Danse Society, and most recently filled in on bass with Athens’ rising goth luminaries Vision Video. Ashton has called Athens home since 2001. Recently, a new generation of post-punk, gothic, and otherwise darkwave bands have all released music bearing the mark of Ashton’s SubVon Studio, where he’s also found a niche composing scores for various independent films.

What brought you to Athens from the U.K.?

I met my wonderful wife of 29 years, Rachel, an Athens local, whilst touring the US, playing guitar with the Dutch gothic rock band Clan of Xymox — or Xymox as they were known at the time. We met when the band was prepping for our tour at The 40 Watt, supporting the album called Phoenix on Mercury Records. I originally came from Scotland, where I grew up in a small town called Alva in an area called the Hillfoots. From there I moved to Leeds to play music. Years later, I moved to London for nine years before making the move to Athens in 2001.

When did you start recording at SubVon Studio?

SubVon kinda started around 2012-2014. I was recording March Violets stuff and working on a bunch of film scores for people up in Michigan and in Los Angeles. I built a room in our basement purely as a production suite, but when we later finished building out the rest of the area I realized there was room to fit in a whole band with a full kit. After a month or so I started mentioning the space to anyone who might be interested in coming in and joining the experiment. It was christened on January 1, 2018. The name just kind of popped out from nowhere, although the word Von is a nickname for Andrew Eldritch from The Sisters of Mercy, so maybe it’s a play on that for some reason.

The March Violets in 1983: Simon Denbigh (from left), Cleo Murray, Tom Ashton, Loz Elliott

Andrew Eldritch’s Merciful Release label released The March Violets’ “Grooving in Green” and “Religious as Hell” 7-inches. Did you ever join The Sisters of Mercy?

At one point in ’81, Andrew did try to filch me from the Violets, and I did play one show with them playing guitar. It was a great time, and later he said, “If you want it, it’s yours.” I would have loved to do both but I felt I couldn’t do it under the circumstances. I had moved from Scotland to play music with my best mates, and I didn’t want to screw them over. At the time, we were all good mates — I was mates with Craig Adams and Gary Marx from the Sisters. We used to all hang out at Andrew’s house. He was the only person that any of us knew who had a VCR, so we’d all get high and watch “Alien” over and over again.

There is an identifiable scene emerging around your studio work. Bands like Tears for the Dying, Hip To Death, Entertainment, and Vision Video come to mind. What’s the underlying thread that connects them all?

This scene kind of reminds me of the special time back in Leeds and West Yorkshire in ‘81-’82. Bands like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Sisters of Mercy, Danse Society, Southern Death Cult, Skeletal Family, and The March Violets all combined and developed our own take on punk, post-punk, and goth. Most importantly, we had our own way of doing it. I am lucky to be in the right place at the right time not only once but twice. And I would certainly add We Hunt Kings — Henry from Entertainment’s project — to that list. Pale Pose’s Doorways; The Exiter is another notable album which I mixed and mastered, definitely some dark and beautiful poetry there. And although not strictly gothic in nature, T.T. Mahony sometimes enters some very dark territory with his French People album which I mixed last year.

I think sometimes it all comes down to a quirk of timing and geographical location. The law of averages dictates that at one place and time a similarly minded group of people will cascade together and feed each other their energy and ideas. Once it’s realized it becomes acted upon and is further enhanced. Leeds circa 1982 felt like this, and to me, now Athens and Atlanta have a similar sense of purpose and amount of talent to throw it out to the rest of the world successfully.

Aesthetically speaking, I’d say there is a wide range of styles and influences in the mixing cauldron of these bands, and I see it as my job to capture and collate, collaborating in a way that enhances each individual voice.

Do you have creative input when it comes to the musical choices that these bands are making?

Yes, but it can vary quite a bit according to each individual track. Sometimes a reimagined backing vocal, or subtle orchestrations in the background. I’m very much an ears-and-mind-are-open kind of producer, and I’ll never get in the way of someone else’s vision. I’m just there to help it flow and wrap it in the sheen I always like to hear.

VISION VIDEO: Dusty Gannon (left) with Jason Fusco (drums) and Tom Ashton filling in playing guitar during Historic Athens Porchfest on October 10, 2021. Photo by Mike White

How did you start working with Vision Video?

Ashton: In pre-COVID days, Dusty Gannon ran — and will again no doubt — a fantastic night called Make America Goth Again. I was there one night when Dusty was DJing. We’d never met before. He played “Snake Dance,” and a mutual friend pulled us together and said, “This is the guy who plays guitar on this song!” We hit it off, and he sent me some music he was working on in 2018, I think. I loved it! Even back then it sounded like Vision Video. The track was called “Organized Murder.” Basically we just hit it off with too many similar interests to count and hung out a lot and got drunk!

Are you currently working on any projects with any of these groups?

Dusty from Vision Video is already sending me some wonderful sketches for the next album, and we are discussing ideas and approaches on how the progression will go. I’m still in the middle of mixing We Hunt Kings. Tears for the Dying has a new lineup and are sending me the demos for their next album which sounds fab too.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on various masters for a March Violets CD box set for release in the near future through the U.K. label Jungle Records. There will be never-before-heard material included, and some classic Violets tracks that never had a proper release. Vision Video will be in to record the next record in January or February, and Tears for the Dying start recording their next release with me in mid-December. Until recently I was working on a score for a film called Dwarfhammer by a Michigan-based director named Daniel E. Falicki. I also recently began mixing and remixing tracks for Tennessee-based band Palm Ghost. I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into the future!

Read the print version of this story in the December issue of Record Plug Magazine.

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Vision Video: ‘Organized Murder’

Vision Video is back with a new video for “Organized Murder,” taken from the group’s debut album, Inked In Red.

This one ain’t for the faint of heart! “Organized Murder” is the fourth video released by Athens’ gothic rock luminaries, following videos for “Inked In Red,” “Comfort in the Grave,” and “Static Drone.” The song also bears the sharpest teeth when it comes to wrapping the group’s stylized mastery of darkness, light, and melodic hooks around a poignant statement. 

The song opens with a chilling bit of dialogue taken from make-up artist Tom Savini’s reimagining of the classic horror film Night of the Living Dead. Ben, a character played by actor Tony Todd, delivers these particularly chilling lines while coming to terms with the zombie apocalypse that’s unfolding around him: “This is something that nobody has ever heard about, and nobody has ever seen before. This is hell on Earth… This is pure hell on Earth.”

Set to director Erica Strout’s visual accompaniment, “Organized Murder” leaps into action as a fitting metaphor for what the group describes as America’s fetishization of “violence, force, and warfare on behalf of ‘the greater good.’”

A statement released with the video goes on to say that: “This is a representation of my experiences watching systematic violence used on behalf of morally bankrupt political ideologies to meet their ends and economic hegemony by military domination across the third world.”

Press play and let it sink in.

Read the Flagpole Magazine feature story, “Inked in Red: Vision Video Processes War, Trauma and Loss Through Goth Rock.”

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Vision Video: ‘Static Drone’

Vision Video’s singer, guitar player, and principal songwriter Dusty Gannon’s story follows a trajectory from listless teenager to Afghanistan War veteran to a firefighter and paramedic on the frontline of an ongoing pandemic. It’s an arc that’s perfectly illustrated by the euphoric pop and melancholy of the group’s latest single, “Static Drone.” 


Taken from the group’s forthcoming debut album, Inked In Red (out April 16), “Static Drone” carries an intense release of physical and emotional angst; a real-time experience of grappling with deteriorating mental health while adapting to life and confronting mortality while working at a Metro Atlanta fire department. “I wrote ‘Static Drone’ in the middle of some intense manic episodes where my mental health had completely unraveled,” Gannon says. “There was this peculiar month-long period of time at my fire station when we were dealing with a death almost every shift, and it was mirroring my internal sentiment that I was beginning to feel like everyone was tragically fated to die alone.”

In light of confronting such heavy existentialism, though, “Static Drone” also brings with it a sliver of hope, and an outlet for exorcising these personal demons. “It’s one of my favorite songs to play, because I still feel that dropping panic when we shift to the chorus,” Gannon says. “It’s an intense, but cathartic track for me, and I feel like it truly set the pace for this record.”

In May of 2020, Vision Video’s “In My Side” b/w “Inked In Red” 7-inch stirred up an ethereal post-punk exuberance, underscored by new wave and goth-tinged pop melodies. The lead single, “In My Side,” is a direct descendant of New Order’s “Age of Consent” from the 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies. On the B-side, “Inked In Red” channels the baroque and romantic pop atmosphere of the Cure’s ‘89 album Disintegration. Singer and keyboard player Emily Fredock, drummer Jason Fusco, and bass player Dan Geller pushed their burgeoning sound to bold and stately places.

Soon after, a cover of British post-punk outfit Ski Patrol’s 1979 anti-war anthem “Agent Orange” followed, capturing Gannon’s most vexed performance yet—made poignant by rich sonic flourishes courtesy of producer Tom Ashton (The March Violets, Clan of Xymox).

“Static Drone” raises the bar on all fronts. The song pops with shimmering confidence, energy, and a dramatic vocal attack that borders on the sublime while ascending to an ecstatic state of a macabre inward journey, further cementing the group’s place as the most exciting dance-rock act to sprout from Athens’ storied musical landscape in quite some time.

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Faye Webster: ‘Better Distractions’

Faye Webster is back with a new single, titled “Better Distractions.” The song was recorded at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, and produced by long-time cohort and engineer Drew Vandenberg. It’s also Webster’s first offering since her 2019 album, Atlanta Millionaires Club (Secretly Canadian), and the single, titled “In A Good Way.”

The “Better Distractions” video is courtesy of Matt Swinsky and Eat Humans.

Drifting through lyrics such as: “Got two friends that I could see, but they got two jobs and a baby. I just want to see you,” the song builds on Webster’s signature lush and melancholy indie rock delivery.

“I wrote this song kinda without knowing I was writing it,” Webster said in a press release. “It’s a kind of free association, just thoughts running straight from my head onto paper untouched. I also think it’s [the] best my band has ever sounded on record.”

On Tuesday, October 6, Webster and her band , featuring pedal steel player Matt ‘Pistol’ Stoessel, drummer Harold Brown, bass player Bryan Howard, and keyboard player Nick Rosen are playing together for the first time in 2020 at Chase Park Transduction. The show is streaming live via Noonchorus, and will be rebroadcast for the following 48 hours.. $12 (+fees). 9 p.m.  Buy tickets.

‘The Lost Boys’ actor Tim Cappello is the real Sexy Sax Man

Tim Cappello still believes …. Photo by Steve Dolinsky.

For decades, Tim Cappello served as a sideman and multi-instrumentalist sharing stages, recording, and acting with a laundry list of celebrities, including Tina Turner, Ringo Starr, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Billy Crystal, Carly Simon, Gregory Hines, and more. He studied at the New England Conservatory of Music with renowned improv jazz pianist and instructor Lennie Tristano. His early ’80s shock-rock band the Ken Dolls were banned from playing Manhattan’s famed CBGB punk dive due to the softcore porno flicks he created to accompany their live shows.

Cappello’s life and musical career are the stuff of legend, yet everything he’s accomplished pales in comparison to the notoriety he gained from the mere 12 seconds of screen time that he landed in director Joel Schumacher’s 1987 teen-angst vampire classic The Lost Boys. With his pro-wrestler physique, wailing saxophone and a pelvic thrust that registers on the Richter scale, Cappello is a pop culture icon known to most as the real Sexy Sax Man.

Since releasing his 2018 debut CD, Blood on the Reed, Cappello has been touring the country as a one-man act. At 64 years old, it’s his first real endeavor taking the stage as the star of the show. Along the way, he’s encountered an overwhelming response from audiences, surpassing anything he could have possibly anticipated.

“No one seemed to care about me when I was their age,” Cappello says. “Then, no one gave a shit about me when I was their father’s age. But now that I’m their grandfather’s age, I’m meeting all of these young people that have tattoos of me,” he laughs. “Since I’ve been out on the road, I must have met 150 people who have a tattoo of me on their bodies.” Continue reading at Flagpole.

Classic City Wax compilation captures a moment in Athens hip-hop

One of the more popular numbers from Athens rapper Squalle’s repertoire is a song called “Til We Fall.” For the artist born Torrance Wilcher, and raised in the Rolling Ridge and Pauldoe neighborhoods, the song is a hardcore statement of purpose.

“I’ve been on my mission from my birth,” Squalle rhymes. “My ambition I would like to give to the Earth/ And since you’re Mother Earth, you can share it with the world/ I wanna be the truth that our boys and our girls see/ I learned I was created from the dirt, so I gotta show these trees where they started from first.”

Squalle’s words are a community rallying cry—a decree to set an example by always remembering where you came from and never forgetting where you want to go. “Til We Fall” is one of 12 songs featured on a new compilation LP titled Classic City Wax, Vol. 1. The record is a survey of Athens’ brightest hip-hop artists, from Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Linqua Franqa to rising artists LG, Motorhead 2x, Son Zoo, LB, Kxng Blanco, DK, Cassie Chantel, The YOD, Caulfield and elder statesman Ishues. Continue reading at Flagpole Magazine.

Oh-OK, Love Tractor feature story in Flagpole Magazine

Oh-OK photo by Mike White

Love Tractor and Oh-OK are two bands inextricably linked by time and space—meaning, of course, that they both played hands-on roles in shaping Athens’ hallowed alternative rock scene at the dawn of the 1980s. Both groups shared practice spaces and stages and even brandished the mark of Atlanta’s DB Recs alongside the B-52s, Pylon and the Method Actors. But despite coming of age amid the same college town music scene, stylistically speaking, their sounds could not be more disparate.

Read the full feature story in this week’s edition of Flagpole Magazine.

‘Flagpole’ feature: Magnapop comes full circle with sixth LP

Magnapop photo courtesy Crashing Through Publicity.

Speaking over the phone, Magnapop’s Linda Hopper and Ruthie Morris sound remarkably crisp for our 9 a.m. interview. Oh yeah—they’re in South Holland, a full six hours ahead of Georgia time, waiting to soundcheck before the evening’s show at Bergen op Zoom’s famed music venue Popmonument.

Magnapop is in Europe playing shows and preparing for the arrival of the group’s sixth album, The Circle Is Round, out Sept. 27 via Athens’ HHBTM Records. Belgium, Holland and the rest of the Benelux region have been Magnapop’s home away from home since the early 1990s, when Hopper passed the group’s Michael Stipe-produced demo tape along to a pair of Dutch journalists at a New Music Seminar.

“None of us are good networkers,” Hopper says. “I had two tapes with me. I gave one to someone’s dad and the other to these two guys. After that, we started selling out shows over here, which is really kind of miraculous.” Read the full story at Flagpole.