Mindless Self Indulgence are the most recent members Soundwave’s Class of 2013 that we at The AU have had the pleasure of interviewing over the past few months. Having been away from Australia for quite some time now, the band have been spending the last few years expanding their families, delving into side projects, all the while preparing to break back on to the live circuit as if they never left.
With 2012 marking an excellent round of return shows for MSI, the Soundwave crowds can definitely be expecting some high-octane sets of music from the New York synthpunk/industrial/techno/punk/hip-hop/every other genre you can think of group. The band’s lead vocalist, Jimmy Urine, takes a break from video gaming to chat with me about what’s been up with him during MSI’s recent break from touring.
Thanks for having a chat with me Jimmy!
What an incredibly cool name you have, Sosefina!
Oh well thanks!
It’s very nice.
Thank you! Have I caught you at a busy time? What are you up to?
No, I’m just playing video games and talking to interviewers, that’s my day today!
Excellent. It’s been awhile since Aussies have heard and seen Mindless Self Indulgence; what’s been happening over your way?
Well yeah, I think that [Australia] was one of the last tours we did before we got off the road for a couple of years. We went around and did Europe, came back and did America and Canada, and then we went to Japan and came to Australia and then came home. We took some time off because we wanted to do some family stuff, so we did that. I took some time to do some side projects; I did some soundtracks for film and for our video game, Lollipop Chainsaw, which was kind of cool. We then decided that we were ready to go back on the road again, so we went and did one this year in March and then we did the UK and Europe. We did Russia for the first time this Fall and now we also kick-started our new record over then as well, that’s almost done. Now we’re just going to come over and see you guys for Soundwave!
I read that 2012’s been a huge year of touring for the band – if the world was going to end this month like so many are still believing, would you be satisfied with what you’ve done?
Yeah, actually! I kind of think about that every couple of years; I’m like, ‘If something happened and I died, I think I did pretty good. That was pretty fun!’. I’m a content kind of guy and you know, I hang out with a lot of people who really hit it big and everything and I feel like I’m in a nice spot where I can still go down the street and go to the store and not be recognised, you know? Nobody will be stopping to take my picture or do anything or put me in a tabloid or anything like that. It’s kind of nice. I can do what I want to do; I’m paying my rent and I’m doing it the way I want to do it. I’m not sitting in a cubicle, working for someone else; we go out and we run around and scream like maniacs and we make money! We come home, we pay our rent and that’s it! I can’t complain.
In terms of records, it’s been a decent amount of time since Mindless released If. What was the main reason as to why it’s been so long in between that record and the upcoming one, set for release next year? A matter of a long touring cycle, or did you all need a bit of a break?
I mean, there’s never really a set timing with Mindless. We never really had anybody crawling up our asses being like, ‘You’re making another record now!’. We always do stuff how we want to; with every release, there’s always a certain amount of time, whether it’s a year or two or five or whatever. It had been a while and we had a lot of material that we wanted to get out there. I haven’t necessarily stopped the writing, there just hadn’t been any Mindless material; the other material I’d been writing had been for soundtracks or other side projects. For Mindless though, there really hadn’t been anything recently. We’ve never really followed any set schedule, we just kind of write when we want to write and take breaks when we want to take breaks. That makes for a fun dance!
Have you been involved with any other music projects that have perhaps influenced what you’d like to do with Mindless Self Indulgence recently?
Mainly just so far as sound design, but not really anything else. I follow parameters when I work with other people, which are kind of different and interesting, but it always makes me come back to Mindless, where there are zero fucking rules. It is kind of fun to go and do a soundtrack, where they want a certain thing and a taste and a build-up here and all of that. You then come back to Mindless and you’re like ‘Oh, I can do whatever the fuck I want!’ you know? Sound design is really the thing that I end up getting. Sound design or tips from people who are working on the same program or software; they’ll be like, ‘There’s a hot key for this’ or ‘You can do this on this program’ and I’ll be like, ‘Oh shit, I didn’t know you could do that’! It’s all a learning experience.
I noticed the next record was announced via a Kickstarter campaign. It’s a platform many people are using these days to fund their projects; what were your thoughts on it all before Mindless became involved themselves?
I mean, the thing I liked about it was the fact that you’re cutting out the middle man. It’s nice in this day and age. It’s kind of high time because the music industry has always been full of like, 50 middle men, you know? Even if you’ve got a great deal from somebody, there’s always a trickle down period and the end cut that you and the artist, got at the end of it was always kind of small. You took your expenses and the person investing in you and then the kids were still buying the record, so the money’s going back to the investor and so it gets all convoluted. It’s become almost like a stock market than it is about making a record. We’re doing it to sell a product to somebody.
This is so much easier; it’s like when we go on the road and sell T-shirts, we bring the T-shirts out and we sell it to the person. The kid gives us the money, we give them the shirt and everybody is happy. I think this feels like that; it’s like, we’re making this stuff, we’ve always made it before but the only difference is that we’re doing it online now. You’re getting a record and we’re getting to make the record; it’s a pre-order, basically, when it comes down to it. Some people convolute it with some of the films that they do, but for the record stuff, it’s really simple, it’s literally a pre-order. You’re pre-ordering a record and you’re getting exclusive stuff that nobody gets anywhere else once it goes all over the world. I think it’s really cool and for now, it’s definitely a really good way of doing it.
On the album itself, can you tell me how it differs in any way to the material your fans may be expecting from the band? Obviously, you’ve had some time away to work on music and the album making process itself.
We’ve released two demos already to show the kids what we’re doing and it’s been received really well! It’s shown the direction we’re in; it’s not that far, I mean, we’ve been around since 1996 doing crazy, fucked up punk rock, hip-hop, synthesiser stuff! All we had to do was stand still and the world kind of caught up; now, kids are like ‘We get it, we get it!’. Back in 1996, we were doing anti-everything that was going on at the time; everything was really boring, grungy and crappy bullshit and we didn’t like it. We were like, ‘We don’t like guitar solos, so no guitar solos’ and ‘We don’t like ballads, so no ballads’, you know? Now, everybody caught up so we’ve just stayed still. I mean, we’ve adjusted the sound slightly; the sound quality has gotten a little better! [Laughs]
The songs are still crazy, the beats are still crazy and the ideas behind the songs are still things that people don’t necessarily want to write about. That’s where we come in!
That’s a really cool way of thinking about it; it’s almost like you’ve laid the groundwork heaps far in advance for yourselves.
Yeah, I mean, that’s what we were always told! It’s funny, every time people would pass on it or radio would be like, ‘We’re not going to play this’, it was never in a nasty way. They would always say, ‘You’re too far ahead of your time, we can’t play this. It’s not rock and roll, it’s not hip-hop and it’s not synthesiser music’. Now, all of that stuff is fused; pop, dance and hip-hop are all one thing and rock and roll is kind of dead. We’re the only people doing crazy, fucked up…I mean there are bands who are doing electronic and rock and roll, but they kind of fall into two categories and we fall into the ‘everything all at once’ category. The whole ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ mentality! It’s interesting to lay back and think, ‘Oh I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we’ve already kind of invented the little wheel that we’ve already made so let’s just hang out and see what happens’. It’s nice.
Now, on the band’s appearance on the Soundwave line up in Australia next year…can you tell me a bit about the shows you’ll be bringing? I read somewhere you’ll be rolling out a mixture of crowd favourites and some rare tunes?
Yeah, I mean, that’s what we’ve been doing with these last couple of tours. That’s how we’ve approached it; we made a list of every Mindless song ever and everyone was like, ‘Well, what are the songs we have to play? We have to play “Straight to Video” and we have to play “Shut Me Up”, but what are the songs that we hate?’, so we’d list all those songs and then we’d list all the songs we love. We were like, ‘Cool, that’s a great list’ so we slammed them all together and those have been the songs that we’ve played in the US and the UK, now Australia and everywhere else. Because this is going to be a festival slot, I’m not too sure about how long we have, but we’ve got quick fucking songs! I mean, we’ve got a few that are about three minutes long, but most of our songs are like, a minute and a half or two minutes. We’ll probably get through a bunch even if we only have a 45 minute set. We’ll probably be playing some new stuff; we’ll try to squeeze one or two in.
Awesome stuff. It’s going to be such a massive festival of music, but it’s going to be particularly great to see bands who, like yourselves, haven’t been to Australia in some time, make their return.
It should be fun for everyone, it’s a nice line-up! Hopefully we can get some sidewaves together; we’re talking to agents and bookers and everything, so hopefully that comes through because I want to play some sidewaves. I think it sold out really quickly, so a lot of kids were like, ‘Oh shit! You’re here, but I can’t see you’ because it’s all sold out. I think we’re going to try and get some sidewaves and play our own thing. It’s a great festival we played last time and we’re glad to be back!
Oh definitely. Well, best of luck with everything over Christmas and New Year’s. I’m assuming you got some down time coming up over the holidays?
[Laughs] Actually no! The actual Christmas Day and maybe Christmas Eve and New Year’s, I’m writing a record! We’re recording it right now; Kitty was just here and we just did drums. She tracked them and Steve’s [Righ?] tracking guitars right now and we’ve got a couple more songs to finish and then hopefully we can mix it in the New Year, in January. We’ve got to shovel it all in before the year is up, so it’s a lot of stuff!
Wow! Well in that case, best of luck with that! It’ll be great to see how it all comes together once the New Year comes round. I’ll catch up with you in Adelaide for Soundwave, it’ll be a great day!
Cool thanks! Oh yeah definitely, Adelaide it up! Come by and say hi!