Wednesday, 12 February 2014 10:38

Ari Lehman of 'Friday the 13th' fame comes to West Michigan with his band

Written by  Sean Murphy
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First Jason First Jason Courtesy Photo - Syd Destructo Schlemer

Bonekawk, First Jason (ft. Ari Lehman), Red Bush, Boring People
The 411 Club, Kalamazoo
Feb. 15, doors 8 p.m.
$5
the411club.com, (269) 276-9240

Friday the 13th, Q&A with Ari Lehman
Alamo Drafthouse, Kalamazoo
Feb. 15, 5 p.m.
$5
drafthouse.com/kalamazoo, (269) 532-7990

Ari Lehman isn't your normal, run-of-the-mill former child actor. After playing the first Jason in Friday the 13th, he's currently in a band playing with the likes of Chimaera, Gwar and even horror movie icons, Goblin. He doesn't just play some lousy guitar, though. Ari Lehman plays his keytar, the Electric Machete.

"Nefarious (Charles Lescewicz) from the Chicago death metal band Macabre told me to bring in my keyboard to play," Lehman said. "I found a cos-play sword and attached it as a joke as first. ... The Brothers Rich designed what it is today."

The Electric Machete is the world's only keytar designed to look like a machete/keytar hybrid. (If the kids out there don't know what a keytar is, it's time to educate yourself). Lehman plays his magnificent instrument in First Jason, which he founded based on the fact that he was, in fact, the first Jason.

There's a moment in the first Friday the 13th film, where main character Alice is sitting in a canoe, looking out at the lake's calm waters. Sweet music is playing in the background. Her nightmare is finally over. She killed the psychotic mother of the boy who drowned in that very lake, who spent the preceding night murdering all of her fellow counselors. It's time for her to go home, and she knows it.

Suddenly, a deformed and decaying boy lurches from the depths of the lake, shattering Alice's and the audiences serene disposition, adding fuel to the nightmarish fear of water Jaws created, and birthing one of the most iconic mass murderers in cinema history: Jason Voorhees.

"That ending was inspired by Carrie," said Lehman, who gloriously brought the deformed child to life. (Spoiler: Carrie ends in a similarly shocking manner). "Originally, it was going to end after Alice kills Mrs. Voorhees. ... Sean Cunningham (the director) wanted to add that in last minute."

Lehman got the unenviable job of bringing this monstrosity to life in a round-about way. He was first cast in Cunningham's earlier film Orphans, which Lehman describes as "Bad News Bears with soccer." When they decided to add in the extra ending, they tapped Lehman for the part.

After acting was over, Lehman decided to take his talents into the world of music.

"I originally studied jazz piano," Lehman said. "The kind of music we played was mostly West African and Reggae."

That was, until one fateful day, when he discovered the increasing market for horror movie memorabilia. A boy approached him about an autographed picture of Jason on Ebay. Having never done any autographs, his interest was understandably piqued.

"It was then that I discovered this whole world of horror memorabilia that I never knew existed before. ... I decided that I wanted to get more involved," Lehman said.

Keeping with his eccentric journey, Lehman also now has his own line of hot sauce. The sale of the sauce helps fund Scares that Care, an non-profit that helps prevent childhood illness.

"It's called Slasher Sauce," Lehman said. "It's my own original ghost pepper recipe."

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