Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mean Jeans Interview

Had a nice summer?  
Us too.  
Check out this Mean Jeans interview.  
Thanks dudes!

First things first:  Names of players and what they play?
Billy Jeans (BJ) sings and plays guitar
Jeans Wilder (JW) sings and plays drums
Junior Jeans (JJ) plays bass

How did y'all get together as a group/where did the name "Mean Jeans" come from (I heard it was a reference to an ex-girlfriend spray-painting someone's house)?

BJ:  Yeah you heard right.  Once upon a time there was an ex-girlfriend spray painting 'Mean Jean' all over the town where we grew up, in the suburbs of Washington, DC.  We figured if we took the name for ourselves we'd already be notorious.

JW: I ran into BJ at a Weird Al concert and asked him if he wanted to start a balls2thewall punk band ala The Red Hot Chili Peppers. He said "no doy". The rest is history.

JJ:  That was my ex....whoops.

What kinda groups inspired y'all to play music in the first place?  Like what was the first thing you heard that made you go,"I can do that!"

BJ: for me that was minor threat and operation ivy. i got those albums the same day in 6th grade and it changed my perspective on shit. Then Junior Jeans and I decided to start our first punk band, The Dirty Rats.

JW: I remember I was listening to the radio late at night back in '94 under the blankets so my parents wouldn't hear, when all of a sudden Crash Test Dummies "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm", The Cranberries "Zombie", and Ini Kamoze "Here Comes the Hotstepper" came on, one right after the other. I remember thinking to myself "I can do that!"

JJ: BJ called me the day he got the Minor Threat discography and said he had something next level to show me.  I remember listening to the whole thing together on a shitty boombox and both of us were sold.  We had to do it.

Have any of y'all been in other projects past/present?

BJ: I've played in a lot of shitty bands over the past 15 years.

JW: Apparently Gnar Tapes and Burger Records are going to put out a tape of my "solo project" The Hound of Love. It's a bunch of crap I've recorded over the past 6-9 years, coming out any day now I think. The cover looks cool, but the music itself...

JJ: I have a reggae project called Jr. Membah.  JW does all of the music with me.  Keep your eyes out for the gahdna frum da ghutta debut.

Just a quick look at "On Mars" and the first thing I noticed, even if trivial, was that the lengths of most the tracks on the new outing where double the length of most tracks on "Are You Serious?" is this something that just ended up happening or was it on purpose?

BJ: None of us ever said "let's write songs that are longer now", but we did make an effort to push our songwriting style beyond verse/chorus/verse/chorus, as every song on our first album is.

JW: It's actually a lot harder to write a short/fast/stupid "punk" song ON PURPOSE than one might think. The idea of trying to emulate the type of songs on the first album just because we felt like we had to seemed completely Ludacris. So we just did what we felt like doing.

I feel like "Are You Serious" as a record, was kinda like a perfect debut album in a sense that it was a complete package (sparse arrangements, goofy but heartfelt lyrics, equally goofy artwork) and the songs just ripped at you for 30 minutes or so and then it was done.  "On Mars" feels almost a little more intimate, is that a vibe y'all wanted to create during production of the album?
BJ: I'm not sure what 'intimate' means when describing music.  I figured some people would want us to write another Are You Serious album, i.e. fast, catchy, stupid, simple.  Just the idea of having some kind of expectation for what we should do bums me out, so we decided to try to make the songs different.  On Mars has songs with weirder parts, weirder instruments, weirder song writing, but we were just trying to have fun and be the Mean Jeans.
JW: Yeah I personally wanted to do something more than just go in the studio and try to get it done as fast as possible. Which is essentially what happened on the first album: record drums, bass, guitars, vocals then get the hell out of there. When we went into the studio for "On Mars" I was listening to a lot of ELO and had these illusions of grandeur that we could make a more intricate album with all sorts of crazy flourishes and nic-nacs all over the place. In the end that didn't really happen because we were recording with friends for not a lot of money; it's not like we got a bunch of money to go in to a big studio for months and go nuts. So we tried to do as much as we could with what we had, and as much as our laziness, impatience and ADD would allow.
JJ: When BJ was first showing me the songs, just demos with no vocals, I thought there was a lot more to them then the first record.  They were more structured and had melodies to draw you in.  The more i listened to them, they we still just punk songs though.  The lyrics came and they were just as party infused and self-deprecating.  The style is the same, BJ and JW just got deeper in to writing complete songs, not just verse, chorus, verse, chorus, done.

Hearing records being made like "On Mars" and "Are You Serious" is sorta nice compared to all this apocalyptic/depression minded stuff.  Do you guys have any opinions about all this gloom in our culture/society/music right now?
BJ: We try to be a fun band but alot of our lyrics are about hating life too.  We play music to have a good time, and want anybody who sees us to have a good time, but I wouldn't give any of us an award for being optimistic or positive.  We're all unsatisfied, but try to make the best of it. Mostly by partying on, which is the best advice you can get.
JW: I am at my parents' house right now and they have cable. I was up all night watching new music videos on all the different MTV stations and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. There was a pretty good Pink Floyd doc on VH1 Classic though...
JJ:  The Jeans have more then enough gloom and depression to spread around but thats not really the point.  We aren't trying to connect with an audience through a like minded feeling that the world is terrible.  Everyone knows life is shitty sometimes.  Not everyone knows that you gotta say fuck it and rage on.

A lot of punk bands seem to try to be as aggressive and fast as possible and the Mean Jeans kinda dip back to a time when the Ramones were just a pop band trying to write songs instead of stand for anything in particular, am I reading too much into it or is there a dissatisfaction within the members of the band with that sort of aggro approach?

BJ:  We play our songs at least twice as fast in our live set.  It's more fun for us that way.  I don't know who you are referring to when you say bands are being as fast or aggressive as possible; i love fast and aggressive music.  But you are right to say that we care more about pop songs than fast punk ones.  All Mean Jeans songs are pop songs, why wouldn't they be!

You guys have opinions on gear?  Or you just plug in to whatever is around and crank it? (drums too!)

BJ: I don't think any of us cares about gear or owns anything nice.  JW's drum set is from 6th grade or some shit.  Maybe it's our loss for not caring, and sometimes (always?) sounding like shit, but I think it's annoying when bands are primadonnas about gear and their sound.  This is punk! There's nothing serious about it.

JW: Yeah I've had the same drums since 1996. The head on my bass drum has been there since 98. Ride cymbal and hi-hats I've had since 97. I absolutely hate buying new shit. I had to buy a new cymbal about a month or two ago and I think I am still depressed from the whole experience. In fact I know I am.

JJ: Pretty sure we'd all rather use other peoples gear always.  I don't even own a bass.  Thanks JW!! 

C-Rex:  Are you serious?

BJ: No

Whats next for Mean Jeans?

BJ: We're on our way to Chile.  Then Florida, and Fest 11.  Have a couple split 7 inches in the works.  Everything else is a secret.

You guys wanna tell us about any cool new shit coming out of your area or bands that you guys have been really digging on lately?

BJ:  My favorite bands playing right now are Bi Marks, Dancer, Primitive Hearts, Therapists, Pangea, and Boom! 

JW: I can't stop listening to this Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers record. 

JJ:  all uh dat

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