Jonny- I’ve been playing music for over 30 years, it’s just what I do. It’s not that we just picked up guitars, we never put them down. I started playing music in the 3rd grade and was the lead singer of a punk band with my brother and his friends when I was 8 or 9. We were called Peanut Butter Wolf. I definitely didn’t know any better at that age and just kept going. My big brother Chris later picked that band name (Peanut Butter Wolf) to use as his DJ/Producer name. He founded and runs one of the most respected hip hop indie labels out there called Stones Throw Records.
Neil- I’ve been playing since age 13 . I’m daft and I’m not qualified to do anything else. I also feel it’s important as an older dude to help keep rock and roll alive. Does my contribution matter? Probably not, but I can just convince myself that it does and continue to do this until I’m blowing spit bubbles and shitting myself in the nursing home. I also need this kind of release or I’ll rot like whatever the bubbling ooze is that’s in the so-called “crisper” in my fridge.
It always matters Neil
Thor- I can’t imagine doing anything else, started playing out in San Jose at age 16. My other band FlexxBronco just came off touring and we had a break when I saw Jonny post a random ad looking for a drummer. I’d known him for over a decade from the scene, and everything lined up. We came from the same influences of Southbay Skate/Surf/Punk/Rock, so jamming and writing music just rolls and feels good. Neil stepping into Bass in addition to producing is priceless. I say we play, because we still get off on it. Some people spend their weekends playing golf and looking pretty, we choose to rock and get dirty!
Can you remember the first record you heard that made you think – I want to do that?
Jonny- I remember seeing the movie Back to the Future in the theaters and I wanted to be Marty McFly so bad. On the way home from that movie, we stopped at the store and bought my first real skateboard. The movie kicked off my love for skateboarding and Chuck Berry. Sure, I rode a plastic toy skateboard down my driveway before seeing that movie, but seeing Marty jump curbs and hang onto cars was electrifying. It opened up a whole new world. Skateboarding went from a toy I rode down my driveway on my butt to a legitimate action sport and a lifestyle I live to this day.
.Neil- Meet the Beatles. I was 5 years old and incessantly mimicking the whole album with a plastic toy guitar and waking up my baby sister while doing so.
Thor – Van Halen 1984, I idolized Eddie Van Halen as a kid, this was the first album I ever bought.
Tell us how the band came together?
Jonny- I was playing in 7 bands at the time. I was the town hired gun who played bass, drums or guitar in one band or another on any given night. It was common for a band practice to get canceled at the last minute, so when that would happen, I’d go into my garage and record tracks by myself. It started as a way to kill boredom. I’d write a song on guitar within 10 minutes, play it 4 or 5 times on an acoustic to memorize it, run downstairs to the garage, point a shitty mic in the direction of the drum kit, hit record on my cassette 4 track and I’d play the drums to the song stuck in my head. Then I’d run back upstairs, plug in my guitar into one of those tiny battery powered amps, stick that shitty mic in front of it, hit record on my 4 cassette track and track the guitar to the drum track I just laid down. Then, I’d plug my bass directly into the 4 track and track a bass line. Once I had all of that, I’d play the song on repeat, pull up a word doc and write lyrics. Once I had lyrics, I’d use that same shitty mic and track my vocals on the last open track. I would track the guitar solos on the vocal track between the vocal phrases and a song would be completed on a cassette. This process of having the idea to having a completed recorded track typically took an hour. I made a myspace page (this is 2006 mind you) to host the first song so I can show my friends and one song turned to fourteen in the course of a few months. It was never meant to be a band, it was just a fun activity when I had idle hands. If band practice got canceled, I’d write and track a new song. I was single then and had so much time on my hands, it kept me busy between band practices. People started saying, “this is good stuff man, you should do an album”. So I booked studio time with Joe Clements from the band Fury 66 at his studio The Compound in the Santa Cruz area and tracked the first Depressives record titled Rebound Town. I mainly did this just to see if I could. I was challenging myself while spreading my wings as a songwriter and musician. Once I had a completed studio album done, I put together the first lineup and we started playing shows. There have been many lineup changes throughout the thirteen years, but the current lineup has been together the longest
Neil- Jonny can tell you the story of the evolution. I’m a latecomer who was asked to join and then agreed to be the bass player against my better judgment, but since I was already recording the band and Jonny knew I played bass, both he and Thor asked me to join which I was reluctant to do at first and then said fuck it let’s rock!
Thor- mentioned above already
what about the songwriting who writes the tunes and how prepared were you for the new record?
Jonny- I write the songs. Writing is only done when warming up at band practice. I’ll pull out my iPhone and record the idea as a voice memo so I don’t forget it. The guys learn it a few minutes later and if it feels right, we set up mics and track it. We’ll use that live recording as the foundation of the song and build it from there with overdubs. Those first run-throughs of the song are what you hear on the album. We write while we record. It’s a simple, organic process. The songs kinda write themselves. The lyrics are a pain in the ass though. I always write lyrics last because I absolutely hate doing it. I usually write the lyrics in the mixing room once all of the instruments and overdubs are done, then immediately walk into the live room and track them. What you hear on the albums is basically me reading the lyrics off my iPhone and singing the song for the first time to the track. It’s pretty hokey, but that’s our process. Neil and Thor can just jump in and start playing along whenever I get an idea and the songs are usually put together in a few minutes. We can read each other like that. It’s pretty awesome having that type of synergy. It’s very similar to the cassette 4 track writing process that kicked this all off in the first place. It’s very spur of the moment with nothing premeditated. We don’t rework songs when the idea is there, we run through it a few times and that’s the song.
Neil– Jonny writes the songs. Thor and I come up with our parts unless Jonny wants to hear something specific for our parts. Prepared? I think we worked pretty much everything up, practiced them in a pre-production sense and sat on them enough to develop our parts over time. Some parts were instantly right for the song some took more thought or were unfortunately over-thought at times. We were prepared in the sense that we knew what we were doing going in, established our parts and tracked the basic tracks live, no click
Thor – we write on the fly. Jonny usually starts with a riff, and we have the basic structure figured out within working through a few takes, Then record immediately (no click, all feel) to capture the initial energy we felt while writing it. Then Jonny writes hooks/lyrics over them about things that are happening in his life at that moment. Straight up no bs punk rock. Live tracking is key. We are becoming a more well oiled machine each time, it’s fun!
The record seems to have gone down well in the punk rock n roll community tell us a bit about the new record?
Jonny- We were just recording tracks as they were being written. We had a handful of songs and we talked to Brett at Gods Candy Records about him releasing a 7″. A 7″ turned into a 12″ real quickly because once we started recording, we ended up having a new song at each band practice. I started to show Brett what we were writing and I said, “we’re almost done with an album, why don’t you put out an album?” He agreed and Anybody Wanna Skate the album was in the works. Neil went through hell trying to mix 12 songs recorded on different days, with different mic placements and track settings/EQs. I know it wasn’t as fun for him at times, but we’re all happy that it’s done and we’re happy with the sound. Mixing took longer than writing and recording actually. Sorry, Neil.
Neil- It was fun, it wasn’t fun, it was exciting to put together at times and at times it nearly drove us mad and made us want to quit music altogether. Literally. For me anyway, maybe a little bit Jonny too. I recorded this record and put a lot of hours into mixing it, Hearing it differently every day is the definition of insanity
Thor- we kept it simple, no cheating, live tracking fast songs for ADHD driven minds that are over before you know it… fuck you, diy, about as punk as you can get
where was it recorded?
Jonny- In my garage on a MacBook Pro. We’re literally a garage rock band. haha
Neil- We have a secret studio named Cup O Pizza. Shhhh
Thor- the infamous Cup-O Pizza by Neil Young, lol. DIY in the garage.
when did you decide you had enough for an album?
Jonny- We decided we had enough material for an album when we got to 12 songs and I didn’t want to write anymore. I always shoot for 14 songs, but by the time we got to 12, I was exhausted and said, “ehhh, it’s 12 songs and over 20 minutes, let’s just call it a day. Fuck it, it’s short, sweet and no filler.”
Neil- Don’t know how it wound up at 12 songs but I guess we just didn’t want to do anymore or didn’t have any more to give
Thor- felt done, so we stopped
was it always the plan to record an album or just get as many tracks down?
Jonny- I like to record albums. Our partnership with Gods Candy started out as doing a 7″, but I’m always writing with the plan to release an album. We have six full-length albums and two 7″ records. The 7″ tracks all appear on albums eventually. They are more or less a way for us to promote the upcoming full length. We’re a full-length band, I don’t like EPs much. Sack up and write an album
Neil- Started as a 7″ project and then our label guy Brett got stuck with a full length LP (to us full length is 12 songs in 22 minutes) as we started hammering out more songs and got excited about how they were developing. Sorry Brett. Hahaha
Thor- with recording as much as possible, constantly being focused on getting it all more dialed in and having fun, albums are popping out. Every time we sit down and jam/write, we’ll have 2-3 ideas that quickly become 12
What inspired the songs on the record?
Jonny- Quitting drinking and dusting off my skateboard.
what next? Is there a chance of tour dates to support the record? what about further afield?
Jonny- We’ve been playing lots of out of town weekend shows since the album came out. We’re doing some shows in Mexico in September at a Turbojugend event. This is more of a hobby for us as we all have families and day jobs. It would be nice to play Europe or Japan, we definitely have fans there, but it wouldn’t be very realistic at this point. We are 3 dads having fun, playing in this band is our “bowling night.”
Neil- Well, we have jobs and careers and families and such so any extended touring is going to be out of the question. We have been weekend warriors on the west coast California and for the right situation would do a fly away weekend in the US as our schedules, families and money allows
Thor- have fun, keep building out our catalog and playing as much as possible
Are there any other bands that inspire you to keep playing rock and roll?
Jonny- The Sonics! They’ve been at it for almost 60 years, still playing shows, still releasing amazing, relevant records. I hope to be doing the same when I’m in my 70’s.
Neil- For me there’s just so many of them right now. When I see Radio Birdman still out there doing it (albeit obviously without the classic line-up) and sounding as great as they sound these days, I’m inspired. Any of our grey headed peers out there still doing this and doing it well and without compromise inspires me. hahahah I love The Hip Priests for their uncompromising, unwavering, single minded commitment to what they do which is just full on scorching 21st century garage punk and of course their work ethic, our Houston brothers Satanic Overlords of Rock and Roll who are also amazing and undying in their lust for rock and roll. Everybody’s contribution is inspiring right now and makes it feel like there is still a rock and roll mission to accomplish, which I think there still is
Thor- newer bands like Giuda (from Italy), The Schitzophonics (from SD, not sure i spelled correct), events like Punk Rock Bowling (Vegas), and with bands like Turbonegro, The Hellacopters and Gluecifer playing festivals across Europe again. Other up and coming bands like the Hip Priests (UK) and Against the Grain (Detroit). Besides for venues closing everywhere with less people going out and the cost of touring being so high, it’s a pretty rad time for rock.
the artwork on the last two records has been superb tell us how that came about? an old fav of mine The Disconnects from Jersey had similar artwork from the pork guys how did it come about?
Jonny- We were lucky to be put in touch with artists who get our vibe, know what we’re going for and just made amazing art for us. We feel the artwork almost tells the potential buyer what to expect without even hearing us. I am a huge fan of monster/rat fink art as well as early 80’s skateboard art. Our artwork is basically those two worlds mashed together.
The video for Anybody Wanna Skate looked like a lot of fun you all still skating? if so who’s the best?
Jonny- I’m doing most of the skating, my son JD who was 6 at the time has some clips in there as well as the park locals, my crew of friends, we call ourselves The 9 O’Clock Crew.
Neil- No comment N/A hahahaha
Thor- we are lucky to have access to an ex-pro skater ;), and some bad ass artists and videographers
you must get a buzz outta seeing some guys in Germany or the UK pick up on your music – you played with our good friends the hip priests a few years back how about you coming over this side of the pond for some shows?
Jonny- It’s very exciting for us. The Hip Priests rule! I would like to give a shoutout to Austin Rocket’s mom ;).
Neil- Well, excited and grateful to see we are getting web traffic, spins and reviews worldwide now. I’d love if we could hit Europe for a shorty, but I’m not sure it will ever happen. I’m at least hopeful hahahaha. Anybody want to book us for festivals? Anyone?
Thor- Hip Priests new album kicks ass, happy to see them getting some buzz. Would love to play Germany, UK and across EU, hit us up, let’s make it happen!
what next for the band?
Jonny- Keep writing and releasing records until we can’t physically play. We’re always writing and recording.
.Neil- There’s more shows lined up, but I think it will be writing time again pretty soon. Don’t know about after that. Keep putting out records I guess. Stay warm. Stay friends. continue to do whatever it is that comes up next
Thor- keep rockin with my friends and putting out music we like
finally anything you wanna say? heres your chance
Jonny- Thank you RPM for the love. Thank you to my wife Mandy, my daughter Zoey and my son JD for the love and support. They understand I need to play music to stay sane, so big thanks to them for understanding when I’m in the garage practicing or out playing shows. Thank you skateboarding. Thank you, Neil and Thor, for being the best friends and bandmates a guy could ask for.
Neil- This band is a fun band to be in and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play with 2 of my best friends. Buy our records, spread the word and thanks to those who already have and support what we do
Thor- I love this shit. Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years, especially our very understanding families. It takes a village, and we are lucky to come from a cool hood.