April 2009,
Interviewed by: Jillian Abbene Richmond VA/Wash DC

Electric Frankenstein’s 1992 beginnings started in Cedar Grove, NJ with brothers Sal and Donato Canzonieri.  Both were in other bands prior to the emergence of Electric Frankenstein. At that time, Sal had been playing in another band since the mid 1980s:  The Thing — crazy acid / progressive rock combined with punk rock (Prior to that he was in an early 1980s hardcore punk band called The Doom Patrol).  The Thing can definitely take the claim that they were one of the original founding Stoner Rock bands to emerge on the scene.  They originally started out as a Noise Rock band along with White Zombie, Sonic Youth, The Unsane, and many others from the CBGB’s NYC scene of that time. Later, The Thing moved to a more 70’s hard rock direction and began playing what was later called Stoner Rock when other bands started playing in that style as well, such as Monster Magnet, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, and others. With Sal at the helm, the early east coast stoner scene had wild stage shows with strobe lights, smoke, nude vampire go-go girls, fireworks and even pig’s blood.  The Thing were very popular in NYC and in London, where they recorded a John Peel Session on the BBC radio.

By the 1990s, Sal began Electric Frankenstein, which took what he was doing with The Thing and turned it up a notch by adding a much stronger Punk Rock influence into the music. Electric Frankenstein was a meld of many genres.  With musical influences such as Alice Cooper / The Misfits for their horror-shock raw rock; AC/DC/Kiss/Mott The Hoople for their 70s hard rock; The Ramones/MC5/The Stooges/Dead Boys for their punk rock; and the Music Explosion/ Count Five/Rolling Stones for their melodic 60’s garage rock.   Many bands from the early 1990s such as The Hellacopters, The Hives, The Datsuns, Backyard Babies, Gluecifer, and Turbonegro, were soon influenced by Electric Frankenstein and contemporary bands such as The New Bomb Turks, Dwarves, and Supersuckers. EF have made their name alongside big named bands from all genres as well - Social Distortion, Danzig, Marilyn Manson, Joe Strummer, The Misfits, Monster Magnet, among others.  

With the energy of a permanently plugged-in machine, Sal Canzonieri has pushed the envelope of what a band should be, and churned out not only some of the best rockin’ punk n roll around, but are multi-functional and multi-dimensional combining art and modern day technology to create an Electric Frankenstein mecca.  With the success in their art books, tattoo flash book, calendar, and video game, not many can claim what EF has accomplished in terms of genre.  It wasn’t until I spoke with Sal Canzonieri for a telephone interview did I realize how many bands have been inadvertently influenced by EF sound.  Here is the interview:

1. Let’s start out with Electric Frankenstein for a minute…

What is the current EF lineup?  I realize that there have been changes since your brother; Donato is no longer in the band (although he plays with EF occasionally and will be doing the upcoming tour with The Damned):

Steve Miller = lead vocalist
Sal Canzonieri = guitar
Drew Benfante = Bass
Rob Sefcik = Drums

2. What do you think has contributed to Electric Frankenstein’s string of success?

I think enthusiasm, connecting with fans, the internet—and being involved from the day it started, back in ’88-89.  I think also there is a demand for great rock n roll, and in our song writing and records I wanted the band to have the effect of, “Would I buy this if I was 15 again?”  If not, we would redo the song.  I think the live facets bring more energy to the table, and talking to the fans at the live shows makes touring not just important, but enjoyable.  Everything we do is up to us—we man our own merch table.  Even the set list is made up of fan’s requests.  After all, who are the ones that we are playing music for? The fans.

3. You’ve been writing articles in nationally acclaimed, ‘Loud Fast Rules’ Magazine with, “So You Want To Be In A Rock N Roll Band,” and with ‘AMP’ Magazine, “Ranting, Raving and Rocking,” how did this side project come about? Most musicians cannot successfully make that transfer.

It just made sense, since I was a writer for martial arts magazines already.  It started with one article and then it just took off from there.  After I started to write for the magazines, I have now added music consulting for bands and labels. 

So you are also involved in Kung Fu? That’s an interesting mix…

I write for various Martial Arts and Kung Fu Magazines as well.  I write mainly articles on different styles of Kung Fu, how they come about, their history…etc.  I’m more like a Kung Fu detective.  I travel to Spain to teach Kung Fu too in seminars. 

4. I understand that in the past couple of years, you have started up another band, Kung Fu Killers—which posses a more rooted 80’s old-school style.   Please give me a brief history and was this sound a conscience effort or just something that evolved on its own?

Well, the band started in 2000.  We had some amazing reviews, but getting the music out was postponed due to touring with Electric Frankenstein. Also, I was working on other band projects as well: Maggott SS and re-issuing all the recorded material done by my previous band, The Thing.  Maggott SS was more of a doom grind metal band – for my metal head, it was influenced by Bolt Thrower, God, Morbid Angel, Godflesh, Napalm Death, and all those Earache Records bands.   [chuckling] It was an all-star band, it featured people from Sepultura, D-generation, and other bands. The Thing…which was stoner rock, which actually we invented in the mid ‘80’s.  This kind of Indie music didn’t have a name then.  We would go see bands like Jesus Lizard, Killdozer, Honeymoon Killers, Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Live Skull, White Zombie, Angel Rot. Later the sound changed and at that time it was called psychedelic punk.  Within 3 years, there was only a few doing that—The Thing, Bench, Hed and The Blood Farmers.  That was it.  Soon after that Monster Magnet started and then Kyuss and Fu Manchu on the west coast and then it became called Stoner Rock and then it grew and grew into a huge scene that is still going strong today. All the songs recorded by The Thing are being re-released next year, everything that was ever recorded.

As far as if it was a conscience effort…yes, because there was not only a change in the industry with the internet age, but I started to want to go back to my early 1980s hardcore punk roots and the Kung Fu Killers songs came out of this.  Here’s the Kung Fu Killers lineup:

KFK lineup:
Yung Main-iac = Vocals
Jo Mah Ma Main-iac = GUEST back up vocals
Chow Main-iac = lead guitarist
General Tzo-Wat = Bass
Hung Lo = Drums

5. What bands have influenced the KFK sound?

Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Adolescents, Germs, Rik L Rik / F-Word, Negative Trend, Necros, Bad Brains, The Misfits, and other bands from the early 1980s.  What has influenced KFK is: martial arts—which I began in 1975; and my guitar—which I began playing when I was 15 years old.  I guess I’m a leader not a follower, and I encourage others to do the same.  You can’t be a follower and think that your sound will be different from the rest.

6. Where does Electric Frankenstein stand now that the Kung Fu Killers have emerged?  Is this the end of Electric Frankenstein? [hope not!]  And is there a new CD out for the Kung Fu Killers for 2009?

As far as EF, there will be a new recorded split with a band you’ve written a review on, ‘The Hip Priests,’ out by fall of this year.  Since things have changed and there is less of everything—places to play, and people not out as often, we are probably going to hit Europe and England to promote the EP.  You can pick up the new CD on  As far as the KFK, we are playing in the NYC area at hardcore festivals and shows.  My brothers are in KFK with me. We have recently released a set of five vinyl 7” singles from the album that is going to come out.  The artwork for the covers all interlock into one cool fight scene!

7. Thus far, what has been your most memorable gig?

Playing at with EF and The Fillmore in San Francisco—the place had perfect sound…better than any record.  We opened for The Dwarves-it was also a sold out show. Metallica came to see us play that night. Yeah, Metallica!

8. Why is it that almost every album released, there is a different label?  Was this deliberate?

Yes, it was deliberate.  There are two reasons: 1) we wanted to approach this from a strategic point of view—1 to have at least one record in every record store all over the world (which we succeeded in doing!), having about 20 different distributors selling our records worldwide at a time.  2) To help boost the profile of the smaller labels.

9. Are there bands today that have influenced you in creating new songs?

No, no one from today influences me to create new songs, but I like some great bands from today a lot such as  The Wildhearts, Dollhouse, The Hip Priests, The Clams…to name a few. 

10. Let’s go back for a minute—I find it interesting that you have been through 4 “waves” of rock.  From the late 60’s to present, how do you think rock has noticeably changed?

Well, there are always going to be bands that are cool.  There was a whole generation of phony baloney where the music had changed for the worse—just filling up space and selling up product.  This was the era of the non-rock generation…You know, the emo/screamo bands about dysfunctional families.  That was then.  Now, the new rock kids feel they are equals with their family.  They grew up on the computer.  They are the internet generation.  They are all rock and roll people.  These are not the kids that would say, “I USED to listen to that music.”  What does that mean? The real rockers stick to their roots.

11. What other projects have you embarked on within the year? Wasn’t there a book released just released entitled, “A Fistful of Rock ‘n Roll?”  What can we expect to read?

There are also new books out now such as ‘The 50 Best EF Posters’ and ‘The 50 best EF Record Covers!’ – which features a 8 inch by 8 inch sized book with amazing art done for our very best record covers from albums and singles, many very rare ones.  The first 100 copies will be signed by me.  There is also the ‘Fistful of Rock n Roll’ posters book ready in June 2009.  ‘A Fistful of Rock ‘n Roll’ book is a compilation poster art book like the series of compilation records I did of the same name. The book features 400 pages of cool artwork that was done for great Punk Rock & Roll bands from the last 10 years. Some of the artists are Johnny Ace, Alan Forbes, Coop, Art Chantry, and many more.

12. Do you have a crucial message you’d like to pass on to the younger generation? [Besides to stop generating bullshit bands!]

Learn from the great bands of the past.  Make it better—make things exciting again.

13. Although The Damned had previously cancelled their tour with [Electric Frankenstein] for a good reason - due to Dave Vanian’s sudden illness, is it to my understanding the tour will restart back up again beginning May 8th and will be in the DC area on May 12th @ the Black Cat?  Clue me in… 

Yep, the tour in November was cancelled because Dave was sick with the same thing that was going around in the US at the time, a very bad stomach flu. They rescheduled the tour from May 8 to May 18.  Now the Bell Rays were added to the tour, so it will be an even better tour than before! EF is going on first, then the Bell Rays, then The Damned each night, so if people get there late they are going to miss EF, we only have a 30 minute time slot to play.
Lots of new EF stuff happening now:

 - EF / Bell Rays / The Damned May Mayhem Tour – touring the east coast from May 8 to May 15!
- New release of a new amazingly drawn Electric Frankenstein comic book, by the legendary artists Mike Hoffman!
- 2 new EF art books: “50 Best EF Record Covers” and “Best EF Posters” with new never seen material in both books.
- Split EP with The Hip Priests, with 3 brand new original songs, and two cover songs
(one of which is “Young Savage” by the Hip Priests, who covered EF’s “Electrify Me”).
- The formation of ELECTRC FRANKENSTEIN RECORDS label, manufactured by Zodiac Killer Records and distributed by Bayside. The label will feature everything I have ever recorded, from my first band, 1980’s The Doom Patrol, 3 different double CD sets of material from The Thing, from 1986 to 1992; a “Best of EF” CD, Reissue of the whole Fistful of Rock & Roll compilation series, a SECOND new Fistful of Rock & Roll compilation series, every EF album re-issued brand new, and eventually a new EF album of all new material.
And finally…
I really love the new EF songs we are working on. We went back to the drawing board, from when we first started and drew new inspiration from those songs on the first 2 albums. We revitalized EF to again create a new sound that wakes up the Rock & Roll dead. Our new songs are really exciting to me.  They completely get me recharged about our new sound.  Fans of the early EF will love these songs and fans that want to hear something new and more exciting will be happy too. Like the original EF sound that popularized a whole new genre of music called High Energy Punk Rock & Roll that soon spread all over the US, Europe (especially Norway and Sweden), and elsewhere, so will the new EF songs start a whole new thing as we rev up EF’s sound into something even more powerful and melodic at the same time! That’s all I can say right now, as I will again spark a new sound for punk rock. Whenever I play demos of the new songs for people that they are trying to come up with a new name for the sound, “Heavy Metal Garage” or “Speed Stoner” or “Super Garage Punk” or “Garage Punk Metal”  or “Stoner Punk,” and so on, have been some of the descriptions.  I think “Speed Stoner” is the funniest one so far.  We’ll see what winds up sticking, but it is definitely EF MARK 2! Even people that weren’t that interested in EF that heard the new stuff said “wow, I finally like your songs”, now that is saying a lot, considering the very picky people I was playing our new demos to! Yep, I am very excited about our new songs and the impact they will have.

EF fans will get to hear 3 songs with the new EF sound on the EF / Hip Priests split record! After that we will continue in that vein when we work on a brand new full length EF album on our own label.