Interview: The Violin Monster

The Midwest, as werewolf enthusiasts will tell you, has always been lousy with werewolves. Michigan has its Dogman, Wisconsin has the Beast of Bray Road, and Ann Arbor, a city in Michigan, has its own werewolf musician.

He is the Violin Monster. He plays the violin.

The Violin Monster has become a much-loved part of Ann Arbor, and he can often be seen wandering the streets of Ann Arbor, playing a cheerful Irish tune on his violin amidst howls. He has been featured in local art guides, on radio, and occasionally on television. He’s become something of a fixture. Lately, though, he has been traveling more often, and I finally (despite some minor technology issues on both sides) managed to catch up with him briefly to talk to him about his life and how he came to become the Violin Monster as we know him today.

Lycanthropology 101: So, I read on your Facebook page that you were a little worried about the recent full moon on Friday the 13th. How did you hold up?

Violin Monster: Everything turned out well, as far as I know. I play my violin to soothe me, and curb my desire for human flesh. I just didn’t know if it would be enough to counteract the power of Friday the 13th Full Moon. I’ve been a full time street performer for three years now, and I’m trying to leave tragic events in the past and start a new life.

That’s fair enough. You have lived through more than one of those, though, and they don’t happen very often… Which begs the question: just how old are you, anyway?

VM: I’m 493. I was born October 3rd, 1520 on the isle of Inis Meáin, Galway Bay, Ireland. I was bitten in London in 1546.

Have you met the werewolf who bit you since then?

VM: Yes, Lord Cosimo I de’ Medici. I blacked out from the bite and awoke on turbulent waters barely clinging to life. We were heading to the Isle of Elba, where Medici’s fortress was being assaulted by barbary corsairs. We arrived just at the next full moon, and that triggered my first transformation. I couldn’t control it at all. Those memories still horrify me.

It’s getting a little uncomfortable for me to talk about, so perhaps we can move on to something else.

Certainly. When did you first start playing the violin?

VM: When I was a young boy. Most of us in our village played to some extent. I still have a fondness for traditional Irish tunes, and that’s what I mostly play on the streets. It reminds me of happier times. But over the centuries, I’ve taken many breaks from playing, sometimes not picking it up at all for decades long stretches.

Part of me wants to embrace the wild beast, and truly accept myself and become this primal monster. And the other part, the more human part, wants to do good in the world, and use my power to help others. Right now the human side is winning. But it’s only been three years. I don’t know how long it will last. I don’t know if I can prevent myself from lashing out forever.

Well, you’ve been doing a good job at it thus far; I haven’t heard of any werewolf attacks, myself.

VM: Yes, so far so good.

You’re right that three years isn’t a very long time when you’ve lived almost 500, though—what made you decide to start playing the violin on the streets of Ann Arbor of all places?

VM: I was at one of those points in my life where I was just wandering, with no purpose. And I found myself traveling through this city, and it just felt so peaceful to me. I felt the little joys of life again, and it’s like a giant protective bubble. It’s the perfect place for me to be right now, and I feel like I can finally start to heal
some of my emotional trauma.

The humans in the area have been treating you well, then?

VM: Yes, they’ve been really kind to me and have given me numerous honors, which is cute. Most recently I was named Washtenaw County’s favorite street musician by Current, a free monthly arts and entertainment guide. My most noteworthy achievement here is Arbor Brewing Company’s Violin Monster Autumn Ale, which debuted last September. It’s their new autumn seasonal, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

It’s certainly not every day that a werewolf gets his own ale brew.

VM: I appreciate all the love that I’ve been shown. And I’m working hard for street performing to be sustainable for me.

You certainly picked a werewolf-heavy part of the country to do it in, with the Dogman in your own state and the Bray Road beast in Wisconsin. You haven’t had any trouble with either of them intruding on your turf, have you?

VM: No, and at this point in my life I’m embracing being a lone wolf. I’m not interested in meeting other werewolves. I’m just trying to live as low key as possible and sort out the demons from my past.

Fair enough. Do you have any plans in mind for the future? More traveling, more performing?

VM: Always traveling. It seems that when I finally get settled in Ann Arbor, too soon I must move on for the next cold season. New Orleans has been my main destination the past three years, but this year, I’m planning on traveling to Florida and all the way over to California. And hopefully I can spend a few months in South America.

I’m sure all the humans there will be delighted to see a werewolf violinist.

VM: That’s always my hope. But first and foremost, the performance is for myself, to soothe me. Thanks for running such a fantastic blog! I just demanded Wolfcop to come to Ann Arbor. It would be a dream come true. :)

The Violin Monster can be found most frequently roaming the streets of Ann Arbor. For more detailed descriptions of his play times and locations, you can follow him on his Twitter or Facebook page. To see more pictures, videos, and press about the Violin Monster, or to send him tips/donations, you can visit his website here.

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