Tag Archives: American Monsters

157 – Monsters Among Us: Cryptids and More with Linda Godfrey

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Linda Godfrey, the author who first brought the world’s attention to the Beast of Bray Road in the early 1990s.  We interviewed her all the way back in Episode 51, brought her to our cryptid round table in Episode 67, and couldn’t wait to get her back to discuss her latest book, Monsters Among Us. I mean, of course we’re going to love Linda!

linda godfrey
Linda Godfrey
  1. She’s from right down the road from where we all grew up.
  2. She co-authored the book Weird Wisconsin which is sadly out-of-print but it was the Fortean Bible of America’s Dairyland in the 90s.
  3. She is a great storyteller who keeps things believable. I don’t have to mention that there’s a trend in this field to just jump and exaggerate outrageous details to juice up a paranormal story. Linda das managed to keep a good deal of her journalistic integrity for over a quarter of a century, now that’s something to be proud of!

To kick off the show, Wendy and I use our trashed voices to talk a little about our musical weekend, including a show at a haunted club in Middleton, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Fair, and an afternoon show on the Sugar River (which has its own UFO sightings and ghost stories) and then Wendy also tells a couple highlights from her trip to the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas at the beginning of August. Including her two favorite cosplayers as Captain Kirk and Mister Spock!

Then, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins Linda and I for a discussion about the latest news about the Beast of Bray Road, her favorite new cryptid stories,  a little Native American lore from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and even a cryptic preview of what she’s working on right now!

YOu’re going to want to get more info on Linda by checking out her blog and get the latest on the Chicago Mothman, dogmen, werewolves, skin walkers, bipedal canines, and more at her Twitter feed (@lindasgodfrey).

Considering that our first interview with Linda about her book, American Monsters, inspired our EP of the same name, we knew that another conversation with her would spark some musical creativity.  Her titles just lend very well to tracks laden with symbolism. When we thought about “Monsters Among Us”, we thought about our neighbors. Your neighbors seem like they’re great people and you have fun with them, you have them over for a barbecue, and you really like them.  But then you see what they write about on Facebook. You see what kind of beliefs they have and in today’s Internet and political climate, it seemed that writing a song about how people that usually like each other as neighbors who connect through their locations or families or sports teams, might hate each other if they knew all about each other’s political beliefs.

Are other people’s differing beliefs in this world of outrage, forces for and against political correctness, and fake clickbait so offensive that we discount how they are when you’re hanging out with them in person. So we thought that lent itself to an interesting song idea, “The Psychopath Next Door”.

Watching through the windows
Peeking through the cracks
Waiting for their moment
So don’t you turn your back.

They act like they’re your friends,
But don’t you be a cuck,
They’re worshipping the Devil,
And it’s your soul they’ll suck

Sometimes the truth
Is just a metaphor
To think I barbecued with
The psychopath next door

The monsters live among us,
I see plenty everyday.
I don’t know who I can trust.
So I’ll send you all away.

So I don’t want no bumperstickers,
And I don’t want no big red hats.
I’m so sick of disagreeing,
So I’ll just hang out with my cats.

Sometimes the truth
Is just a metaphor
To think I barbecued with
The psychopath next door

Sometimes the truth
Is just a metaphor
To think I barbecued with
The psychopath next door

New Music Inspired By The Podcast – American Monsters!

So this weekend our band, Sunspot, released our latest EP, American Monsters. What we’ve been doing is creating song demos for the podcast for every episode and then after a few months, we pick our three favorites and go into the studio and record them. We’ve always used the paranormal and pop culture as an influence for our music, I mean we’ve made fan videos for everything from Torchwood to Star Trek: Generations, so our love of sci-fi and the occult has always been baked right into the music. We were having a lot of the discussions that we have in the podcast already (usually in the van at 3 o’clock in the morning as we were driving through the middle of nowhere) so we thought we might as well talk about it too!

sunspot music

We called the EP American Monsters because we thought it was a really catchy name and the episode we did wth Linda Godfrey was one of our favorites. She’s one of our favorite investigators and authors into the weird (and bonus, she’s from Wisconsin too!) Since she covered plenty of American monster legends in her book, we thought we’d take the symbolism of the wild creatures that she writes about like Bigfoot and werewolves. While most of us won’t encounter bipedal canines, most of us face outrage and anger on the Internet every day.

American Monsters: An Interview with Linda Godfrey

While I’m not a fan of the phrase “political correctness” (it’s mostly just a code word in the culture war), I do believe in diversity of opinion and that unpopular opinions (even ones that offend people) have a right to be heard, not shouted down just because some people don’t like it. You don’t win the war of ideas through crushing dissent, you win by convincing people you have the best idea. That’s the essence of our “American Monsters” and it’s a track that’s very classic Midwestern Power-Pop (think Cheap Trick, we even do a sly play on  “Dream Police” in the song.)

Silver Screen Saucers: An Interview With Robbie Graham

“Seeing Is Believing” was inspired by our conversation with the author of Silver Screen SaucersRobbie Graham. It’s a synth-rock Disinformation Age conspiracy anthem about media manipulation. Of course, the song is about how the UFO mythology of the past fifty years was exactly what the CIA wanted us to believe (something even the new X-Files embraced), but it really could be about any story that we get distracted by to take our mind off something that would enrage us.

Alien disclosure would be awesome, but I don’t know if it’s as important as knowing the food pyramid we grew up with was heavily influenced by the meat and dairy lobby, that the Drug War is necessary (and hasn’t destroyed millions of lives), or that the NSA has an actual Artificial Intelligence program named after Skynet from The Terminator. More people know the domestic grosses of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice than know these things.

Have an Out of Body Experience: With Luis Minero

I’ve never had an out-of-body experience but one of these days I’m going to, dammit! Dr. Luis Minero gave some simple steps to attempt an OBE in our podcast interview and one of the things that struck me was when he said you once you reach the right state, you just “push yourself out of your body” and that seemed like a cool thing to express in a song.

Have you ever been in a situation so traumatic that you would do anything to escape but you couldn’t physically leave? Something terrifying or horrible? A lot of people say that when something like that happens, they get that detached feeling of being somewhere else, watching the thing happen to them  – that’s called “derealization” and it happens often during traumatic moments. That’s “Push”, a song about escaping those moments, forcing yourself out of your body to be able to face what you need to.

Anyway, we just thought you might like a little background on the tracks. You can download the new EP for free at http://www.sunspotuniverse.com right now.

If you’re interested in learning more about our band, Sunspot, we have won the Wisconsin Area Music Industry‘s Artist of the Year (an award won by other cheese state luminaries like Violent Femmes, Garbage, and Bon Iver) and have won also Best Rock Album from the Madison Music Awards three times. Some of the latest reviews we’ve gotten are:

“Sunspot learned to embrace its charming weirdness… the band members are making some of the best music of their career.”
– Isthmus, Madison, WI

“They sound oh so, familiar and like nothing you’ve ever heard before.”
– Power Play Magazine, UK

“A perfect piece of Pop Rock.”
– Get Ready To Rock Blog 

We’re really proud of the new music and if you enjoy it, please let your friends know about the songs as well (you can find a bunch of ways to share it on social media right here). Most of all, thanks for listening!

51 – American Monsters: An Interview With Linda Godfrey

With books about Dogmen, werewolves, Bigfoot, skin changers, and the rest of the stable of American monsters, Linda Godfrey took an unlikely route into becoming one of the nation’s pre-eminent researchers into strange animals. This week, I interview Linda about how her journey took her from being a reporter for a small-town Wisconsin newspaper to becoming a chronicler of cryptozoology with appearances on Sightings (man, I miss that show all the time), Coast to Coast AM, Monster Quest, The New In Search Of… National Public Radio, and many more shows.

Linda started out as an artist and was looking to draw cartoons for a syndication deal when she offered her drawings to her local newspaper in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, the Walworth County Week. Those cartoons turned into articles soon enough and after a short while, she found herself as a local reporter.

While there had been reports of a werewolf-like creature sighted by drivers on Bray Road near Delavan, Wisconsin (where Wendy and my band, Sunspot, just happens to be playing this Friday!) in the late 80s (with some perhaps related reports stretching back to 1936), it was when the reports came to the attention of Linda after Christmas in 1991 that the story took off and her articles started getting at first attention of Milwaukee news, but then even international news agencies picked up on it and the story exploded. As Linda was the journalist who launched the story, she became the face of it.

Beast of Bray Road
Does that seem like the description of a lost dog to you?

And after becoming that face of the Beast of Bray Road, it led to people sending Linda other weird reports of sightings of mysterious creatures, not just in Wisconsin, but from all around the country. She continued to work at the paper and also developed her first book, The Poison Widow, about a murderess who killed her husband and then tried to kill her four children in Whitewater, Wisconsin on St. Patrick’s Day in 1922.

After the release of that book, she wrote the work that she’s best known for, The Beast of Bray Road: Trailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf. Linda elaborates for us the different kinds of beasts that she speculates are out there, from dogs that can walk on hind legs, to skin changers and shamanism, as well as the difference between these creatures and the clinical form of lycanthropy (a psychological condition where you actually believe that you’re turning into a wolf, but you’re really just running around naked and howling at things.)

We even talk about the movie The Beast of Bray Road, a b-movie that  came out in 2005, but Linda had zero participation in. However, it looks like it was written by a guy from Milwaukee, so at least it has a local connection. However, when they say “Based on a  true story”, well, that’s stretching it a lot.

Linda continued to release books throughout the 2000s (including the for-awhile-ubiquitous Weird Wisconsin and her own fantasy novel set in our little paradise of Madison, Wisconsin called God Johnson.)

But even if she delves into fantasy and other kinds of high strangeness, she can’t shake cryptids (and really, who can?) American Monsters her latest book has her leaving the Midwest and going nationwide in the lore of strange beasts. Of course, the most famous American beast is Bigfoot, and Linda gives us the skinny of her own encounter with a maybe Sasquatch right in the Kettle Moraine forest in 2012.

And finally we talk in more detail about the Milwaukee Lion. That’s right, we’re back to discussing the beast that’s been terrorizing the city for a couple of weeks now. I know last week, I told Wendy that I thought it was all hooey, but after my initial disbelief, I come around to grudgingly believing in it and Linda schools me as to why I should. First of all, there have been mountain lions spotted in Wisconsin several times and Linda’s husband almost got mauled by one not too long ago, just in the Kettle Moraine, not too far outside of Milwaukee. Plus there’s been sightings in Waukesha and Chicago in the past few years. It was fun to theorize with one of America’s strange beast experts on where the Milwaukee Lion might be headed next!

This week’s song is “American Monsters” by Sunspot.

While we were wondering what’s under the bed,
there’s been something growing we should dread,
and it’s getting bigger all the time.
Hairier than Bigfoot’s paw,
scarier than Wolfman’s claw,
there’s pitchforks out looking for a Frankenstein.

So scream your lungs out,
and look for a way out,

they’ll set out your insides out for a little bait.
A chilling effect,
when lives are wrecked,
by a mouth starving for something to hate.

Be careful what you say,
be careful not to wake,
the outrage of a beast with a million heads.
These American Monsters will eat you whole,
take your life from your control,
and won’t be satisfied until the trolls are fed.

Someone’s listening,
so say the right thing,
but the right thing changes every day.
The mob always wins,
Needles and pins,
You better watch what you say.

So scream your lungs out,
and look for a way out,
they’ll set out your insides out for a little bait.
A chilling effect,
when lives are wrecked,
by a mouth starving for something to hate.

You better watch what you say.
You better watch what you say.