|I interviewed Jonathan Bates, the singer/songwriter of Mellowdrone, one of my all time favorite bands last Friday October 10th at his show in Santa Ana, CA. Check it out, thanks! |
Wark: What did you have for breakfast today?
I had a banana and macaroni and cheese.
Wark: What kind of Gear do you use when you play live by yourself?
I have an Electrics Loop Repeater, which was discontinued, I have a Pod-Pro, a Line 3, and a delay unit for my voice, and a keyboard.
Wark: What kind of guitar do you use?
I had a ’72 Tele-custom. That thing was my pride and joy, and some fucker took it, and now I don’t have it. This one was probably the best sounding guitar I’ve ever owned and now it belongs to somebody else. Now I use a Rickenbauker, and I have a Telecaster for a back up.
Wark: I have some information that your EP “Go get ‘Em Tiger” was supposed to come out on January 13th on artistDIRECT.
Yeah, probably not. My label doesn’t really exist right now. I mean on paper they exist, but it’s an awkward situation. It’s a label that doesn’t do anything “type of thing”.
Wark: So how are you going to release your music?
I’m putting some demos up on my website, and as long a kids come to shows and buy shirts we’re alright. I don’t care if the music’s free or not, just as long as they come to shows.
Wark: Was it your decision to sell your EP for 99 cents?
Yeah, we tried to make it as cheap as possible and it is on my website for free.
Wark: What are “Lovely Jubilees”?
A friend of mine is married to this lady from London, and we were talking about jubilees one day, and how Kindergarten kids sing songs about jubilees, and I thought jubilees were women’s breasts. So I was in the studio one day and I started playing that “lovely jubilees” song. That’s how it came about, it’s just about women putting their breasts in your face.
Wark: What are your favorite movies; new and old?
Fuck, that’s a good question. Aliens. Edward Scissorhands, (anything by Tim Burton), any David Lynch film. New movies, I really want to see Kill Bill, I haven’t seen it but I know I’m going to love it. New ones, fuck. Any Monty Python movie too.
Wark: What are your favorite records currently?
The new Cardigans record and the one before that are probably in the top five best records I've ever heard, and The Faint’s “Danse Macabre”. Those two are the only ones I’ve been listening to pretty much.
Wark: What are your plans for the future?
Well, since I don’t have label support, all touring comes out of our own pocket, but we have been up and down the West Coast, and a little bit more eastwards. As you get more recognition you get paid a little more, and then you’re able to go farther, but we’re technically always on tour if we can be, you know?
Wark: What books do you recommend?
Anything by Kurt Vonegut, especially Siren and the Titans. It’s really good for the times right now, and The Fortunate Son, very enlightening on George W. Bush. The guy who wrote it mysteriously committed suicide, but he was fucking murdered.
Wark: Any excellent tour stories?
Nothing like “Rock and Roll” like that you would expect, but it usually revolves around being heckled…and then fucking with the person back, and making them almost cry, when we were in New York, it was me a Scott (drummer) and we were playing in The Mercury Lounge, and the place was like the size of this couch, and we’re at the front of the stage, and some guy was like “Yo when is this fucking kid gonna get off”? So I proceeded to loop my voice and just calling him all kinds of fucking names, and everybody started laughing at him and he had to leave the fucking room.
Wark: What did you say?
I was like “I’ve got the fucking mic dick…you paid to get in here so fuck you.” And he was all “Nice trousers”… and I said “Who the fuck says trousers…FUCK OFF?” And it just kept saying, “Fuck off… Fuck Off…Fuck Off.” and I looped it and harmonized it and made it louder. I guess you had to be there. Either that, or we played Eugene, Oregon and we played for three people and they were hippies, and probably on “E” or something like that, and they were SO not into it. I’ve never played a set where like after, there was DEAD silence. It was fucking awesome. We were like “Holy shit, they really don’t like us, this is cool”!
AbsolutePunk.net, did you design it?
Wark: No, Jason Tate designs everything, I just help contribute to the website by posting news, doing CD reviews, and interviews. Why have you been there?
I went there today, I was fucking blown away. I was really impressed.
Wark: Yeah, it looks awesome. So next question, your full length was supposed to be recorded in Europe?
Yeah, I worked with this guy named Mark Stent, that mixed all the Bjork records, Massive Attack records, and he did the new Madonna record. We went over there, and he was one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. Then halfway through the trip artistDIRECT goes “we ran out of money, you have to come back home”. And he was like “Fuck It, I’ll work on it anyway.” He was cool, and we mixed all these tracks and came back home, and that was like 6 months ago. That was the beginning of the end with artistDIRECT. So yeah, there is a full length ready to come out, but since we’re constantly writing and coming up with hopefully better shit, we’re like “oh well, let’s put this out instead”. We’re gonna play a bunch of new stuff tonight.
Wark: Yeah, you have three new demos up on your site, so that’s cool to let kids hear your new stuff.
Yeah man, I mean what’s really important to me, is like I said… kids come to the shows and they buy merch, and that keeps us going. If they sing along and like the words, or they know what songs we’re playing, that means like so much to me, and I know that sounds gay and stupid, but that’s what I get off on. You don’t become a musician for money. I’m just as broke as everybody else out here man, and you don’t do this job for the money. We’re all sleeping in a van, you know what I mean?
Wark: Yeah I know what that’s like, especially when everyone else gets a seat and you have to sleep on the floor.
Well, we bought inflatable mattresses 14 bucks at Target, and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made. We inflate them, and we’ll rent like a motel 6 right, for 40 bucks a night, with 2 shitty beds, and two guys sleep on the bed and two guys sleep on the inflatable mattress on the floor. It makes for a lot better.
Wark: How many songs did you record for the full length?
Potentially like 30.
Wark: You recorded 30 songs?
Parts of them, like some songs just didn’t get finished. But I would say about 15 to 17 full songs and about another 15 are just in demo mode, or whatever.
Wark: When do you think people are going to be able to hear your songs?
Sooner than later.
Wark: Okay, let’s wrap this up…What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck, (haha) I guess.
Wark: What turns you on?
What turns me on? Hmm…Probably lack of sex.
Wark: What turns you off?
Lack of sex.
Wark: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Uh, “you didn’t do so bad”.
Wark: Any last comments to kids that are reading this?
No, not at all.
(We started having a conversation about music and he mentioned the deftones which reminded me of Finch, since they are Finch’s inspiration, and I was with my friend Dan Pappas because we’re both huge mellowdrone fans, so this is why this happened).
Wark: His brother is in the band Finch. Have you heard of them?
Little Pap: Yeah.
Oh really? We fucking all love Finch!
Little Pap: Really?
Our drummer Scott used to be in theSTART, and he used to be in the band when they went out with Finch.
Little Pap: TheSTART’s awesome!
I remember before that record came out, the new one, a friend of mine gave a demo of it, not a demo, but a friend of mine produced it, so he played it for me. Mark played it for me and I was just like “Fuck! This is great, they’re a really good band. They’re on Drive Thru right?
Little Pap: Actually, now they’re on Geffen, the whole MCA thing, MCA died, and now it’s Geffen.
Wark: You guys should tour together, I know Randy and his entire family loves you guys!
Little Pap: Yeah, I went to Lou’s in San Diego, and I saw your E.P. for 99 cents, so I bought one for everyone in my family.
Thanks man, I appreciate that.
Okay, check out his website @ www.mellowdrone.com, and download all of his songs, his music is fucking amazing!
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