Thursday, 13 December 2012

Jehst and Kashmere

Existing as he does, as one of the most respected producers/MCs/lyricists in UK hip-hop, Jehst can pretty much do whatever he likes. Hell, if he wanted to make a concept album with his mate Kashmere based on 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' - Hunter S. Thompson's legendary seedy, corrupted, acid trip to the post-hippy dark heart of the supposed American dream - then who's to stop him? Nobody, that's who. And that very album, 'Kingdom of Fear', is out now on his own YNR Productions label.
Bite My Wire managed to get Jehst and Kashmere in the same place for long enough to find out what the fuck is going on. Perhaps, if they explain things, we'll rest easy...

Kashmere and Jehst on drugs

How did Kingdom of Fear come about? Obviously you guys have worked together in the past...
J: It's something that we both talked about. We were both working on different projects, and it was at a time when rap in this country was starting to get commercial. A lot of people had a lot of business concerns wrapped up in the music, and creativity was getting slowed down by all the politics and the business. We just wanted to get back to the essence of making music in the moment, and enjoying the process, and it actually not being preconceived. Like, what happened in the session is that we'd do a track, and then we were onto the next thing. I remember Kashmere saying at the time, that the reason an album is called an album, is because it's a record of that time, in the way that a photo album is an album. It shouldn't necessarily be a compilation of ideas. I think nowadays, especially in rap, most albums are put together on the basis of box-ticking. "We've got this producer, we've got this collab..." And that was starting to be the case even with the UK underground. We were just bored of everything. We didn't even know what we were going to do. Kash brought the Hunter aspect - that concept - to it.
K: A lot of people probably aren't going to get it by listening to it, but this album was about agriculture. We're just trying to put it out there, to tell everyone to support their local farms. Because without farms, where are you? You know? What can you do? Life is just pointless without farms.

So you just sat down to make an album, then Kash decided it'd be like this?
J: Nah. I won a competition, and I got some free tickets to fly to Los Angeles, and when we got to LA, we thought "Let's do a little road trip", and we actually started living the Hunter S. Thompson lifestyle without even realising we were doing it. Then once we realised it had all been done before, and that we were just biters, we thought that if we were going to be biters we might as well just be true to it. Like all hip-hop goes back to the sample, and we stay true to where the original idea came from, and we just said "Fuck it", and just ran with it. It just became Kingdom of Fear.
K: Plus, it's really expensive to hire cars out there, you know?
J: You know what they say, 'Don't drink and drive, smoke a spliff and fly home'. That's actually where I made my millions. I've got a 25% share in a t-shirt company based in Scarborough, and they were one of the first people to actually print the 'Don't drink and drive, smoke a spliff and fly home' t-shirts. I don't need rap music! I just do that shit for fun. All that shit where I rap about being broke, what I mean is, I'm broke doing rap. Because that ain't paying me. I'm not being silly, I've got billions in the bank, off the t-shirts.
K: He doesn't like to show it off.

Yeah, you actually wouldn't think you were as rich as that.

J: What I'm saying is, rhyme doesn't pay. Crime pays, and t-shirts pay better. Merchandise is the future of the whole music industry. People say that live shows are the future of the music industry, but the reality is, we've got hologram-Snoop now.
K: Tupac.
J: Oh yeah, sorry - hologram-Tupac. Snoop's real, right? I thought Tupac was still alive, and the hologram was just him revealing that. Because Elvis is still alive, you know? He actually rents a room from me in Brockley. I was confused because Snoop has now reincarnated himself as a lion. I think Snoop's maybe been doing more drugs than we have.
K: He kind of reminds me of the eighties TV show, 'Manimal'. Where the guy could transform into different animals. And I think Snoop has really shown people how it's done.
J: But Snoop is frontin', he's not being true. He needs to do a video like Manimal, the way we did Kingdom of Fear, and just say "Look, I'm biting my whole shit. I'm on a Manimal thing". Do you remember Manimal?

I do, yep.

J: What about Trumpton? Do you remember Trumpton?

Hell yeah man.
K: Believer.

Right, Hunter S. Thompson is known for just how American he is. Was it easy to translate that into a UK hip-hop album?
K: It wasn't hard, man. We just went to McDonald's, and got a bunch of Big Macs. Because that's really the main American thing. McDonald's is bigger than Hunter S. Thompson. That's on the real. Starbucks.
J: When I was growing up I just wanted to be a member of the A-Team.

Don't you any more?

J: I am now. I'm B.A. Baracus. I'm Plan A. That's why Plan B's called Plan B. But just look at B.A. Baracus. A lot of people don't realise this, but my make-up artist is a genius. Eminem was blowing up around the time I came out, so we figured out that if I whited myself up I'd sell more records. If you saw my mum, you'd understand that I look a lot like B.A. Baracus. As long as I don't wear the feather earring, then it's cool. If I wear those feather earrings people are just hollering at me in the street, going "Mr. T! Mr. T!" Some people think it's a gay thing. How is that gay, dungarees and Converse? And a mohawk, and feather earrings? And the gold chains?! Eric B and Rakim had gold chains, are you telling me Eric B and Rakim are gay?

So now that we know how wealthy you are...

J: He's on Disability Allowance because he's a drug addict.

Did you take a lot of drugs making the album?

J: He wasn't a drug addict before we made the album! Hahaha! Mainly just Ajax.

When people like you two, and somebody like Dizzee, are obviously multi-millionaires, what do you feel about people like Task Force who are not?
J: I think Task Force should have invested more money in their t-shirt printing. I used to wear the Grafdabusup t-shirt and the Wha Blo t-shirt, but where Task Force went wrong, is that they spent to much time trying to make good music, and writing good lyrics. Whereas if I can refer to the artist you just named, I mean, he doesn't does he? You can just leave his name blank, so we could be talking about anybody. I'm being a bit silly, but let's be real - that's all it is. It's not all about rap, or hip-hop, it's the same for any form of art. Any form of artistic expression. You come into it thinking it's the industry for making money from your art, and it's not. Everything's about celebrity culture, everything's about fucking social-network-following, reality TV bullshit. There's not really that much place for people who are trying to do something from the heart, to make paper. I don't want to get too into the politics. You know what, much love and respect to Task Force. They were a huge influence on me, I love those guys. I love their shit. I don't want to get too much into who did what, and what happened to who, but we're from a time where people still looked at the type of music that we do with the eyes that it would never, ever make anybody any money. So it was never a concern for us. When we started making money it was a surprise. And that spawned the generation that capitalised on the opportunity to make money out of rap music, out of hip-hop culture or whatever in the UK. So you had a generation where some guys came along then disappeared real quickly, and some guys went on to make fortunes. A lot of the guys who did make fortunes did it by changing up their whole styles, and realising it's a business. That's all it is. I handle my business because I gotta pay my rent and I gotta eat, but you know, fuck business, fuck capitalism, fuck the 'indusrty' side of music. It's just an industry like everything else, except you don't put on a shirt and tie. That's the only difference. You put on some skinny jeans and some fucking Blazers or whatever it is. Most of them have got office-job mentality and I hate most people in the music industry. Even the ones that I like. Can we go back to talking about Ajax?

Of course.

J: Ajax gets your whites whiter than the leading brand. I won't get my payment if you don't print that. I've got an investment in Ajax, along with the t-shirt company, but I don't like to mix up the two businesses. They're two separate things.

Kashmere and Jehst in the Stockwell Arms. Photo by James Thompson.

The album only took two weeks to make. That's not very long. Did you rush it or something?
J: It took two weeks to make, but then we sat on it for about twenty years. And it took somebody about forty years to make a video for it.
K: For real, was it rushed? Nah, it didn't feel like it. I was rushin'.
J: Yeah, we were rushin'! It was fun. The last solo album I did took six years, that wasn't much fun. We produced the Steps comeback album. Take That smashed it with the comeback album, so why can't Steps do it? Because I'm their ghost writer, they've got a lot of new stuff ready to go. And we produced a lot of their stuff with Shock G from Digital Underground, he helped out a lot. And Hammer was our business consultant. Do you remember Ya Kid K?

Yeah, from Technotronic.

J: Well Ya Kid K is now known as A$AP Rocky, I don't know if you know that.

Wow. I did not know that. What are your plans for when this album comes out? Do you just sit back and watch the money roll in?

K: The money has already rolled in, you know what I'm saying?
J: When the album comes out we have to start counting the money. The problem is that we have to pay people to count the money. It's really confusing, because we can't really budget how much we have to pay these motherfuckers to count our money, until they've counted the money.
K: When they start counting the money, that's when counting the money gets serious. Because counting money, is counting money. And you've been to the bank before, they're very serious in the bank. Because they're counting that money.
J: Because of the financial arrangement we have with the money counters, we have had to set up a Fritzl-style basement situation, to keep them motivated to work.

I can understand that.

J: I'm just going to put this out, and this is an exclusive - if you sell this on we'll sue you - when we removed Jimmy Saville's gravestone the other night, we actually took that down into our Fritzl-style basement where we keep our money counters, and showed them, and smashed it up in front of them. We said "Your whole life could go the same as Jimmy. He thought he'd got away with it. But we'll come back for you. Even in the grave". So, you know, that helped to motivate the money counting.

Did you guys have much to do with the downfall of the late Jimmy Savile? I mean, you moved in similar circles...
J: Hold up, I don't know if we can respond to that. We moved in the same circles? I might have to talk to my lawyer about that. You know what, I'm not going to say that we did, but also, I'm not going to say that we didn't. It was crazy times. The seventies was a crazy time. Certain things happened. We weren't aware of everything Jimmy was doing at the time.

So it just didn't seem wrong at the time?

J: You know what, I never saw Jimmy in those kind of scenarios. We only ever went out tracksuit shopping, or for a little bit of jewellery. We'd argue a lot of the time, because what me and Jimmy had to do, we'd ring each other before a night out, and say "You're not wearing that tracksuit, are you?" because we'd always buy matching tracksuits.
K: Listen, Jehst always thought he was cool. I always thought he had a problem.
J: That's because he touched you.
K: I always kept my trousers on.
J: He touched you through your trousers. That's what I heard.
K: I wore a pair of boxer shorts, a pair of tracksuit bottoms, and a pair of jeans. And a chastity belt. Over the top of all of that. And a condom.
J: You did wear all of that protective clothing, but then to put a thong on over the top? I think you maybe gave him the wrong impression, and the chastity belt did look a lot like a red codpiece. You look a lot like Cameo! And I've never seen you both in the same place at the same time. That's an exclusive. 'Kashmere and Cameo never seen in same place at same time - YOU work it out'.

Jehst and Kashmere. Photo by James Thompson.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Torche, of Miami, Florida, recently steamrolled their way across Europe to celebrate the launch of their third album, 'Harmonicraft'. They make this rad, super-heavy stoner/sludge pop music, and are now being adored by the hipster indie press as much as they are by the metal community. Suitably, everybody agrees that they're amazing. The new album is out on Volcom, so I thought I should say hello.

 Photograph by Gary Copeland

OK, introduce yourselves.
S: Steve Brooks. I sing and play guitar.
R: Rick Smith. I play drums.
A: Andrew Elstner. I play guitar and sing back ups. Jon is out eating.

You've been signed to Mogwai's Rock Action label in Europe. How did that compare to a US label? How did you get hooked up with them?

R: In 2005 - or 2006 - we toured with Mogwai in the States, and on that tour we became friends with them. I don't even remember how it came about, but we somehow got an offer from them to do the European version of our first full-length record. And we said "Hell Yeah." It was awesome. I've been a Mogwai fan for a long while now, so when they asked us if they could do the record we were excited about it. As far as the experience goes, working with the label goes, we just let them run with it and do their own thing with it.

Did you record it with them, at their studio?
R: No, we did it in the States and a different record label, Robotic Empire, actually released it in the States first. Then Mogwai released it in Europe after. So it was already a recorded record. Both records they did for us we already had recorded for another label already, they were just doing the European licensed version.

Are you going to do more with them?

R: Umm, at the moment the labels we work with have European distribution pretty heavily, so there's almost no need to, I guess, in some ways. But it was a cool experience. They're awesome dudes, and the label is very cool too. 

Is there a discernible difference between working with a conventional label, run by musicians, and working with a label like Volcom, which has kind of come to be through their dealings in skateboarding and whatnot? Obviously they've been putting out some killer stuff recently...
R: Oh yeah.
S: Yep.
A: I think it's fuckin' awesome, the Volcom thing. Obviously I have no experience - as the new dude in the band - as to how Rock Action was as an experience, apart from total respect. With Volcom - to be blunt - the reach is a little more broad and the pockets are a little more deep. And it's a label that's part of a 'lifestyle' company, you know? They've been selling clothing to skateboarders, snowboarders and surfers since like, the eighties?
S: The nineties I think.

Yeah, the early nineties.
A: Yeah, so they've been fuckin' amazing. There's been no hassle. There's been nothing but positive support from those guys.
S: Especially now, when it's hard to get the support that a lot of bands used to get from labels. They're able to market us in different ways, because of the different aspects of their company.

You're being interviewed for a skateboard magazine right now.
S: Yeah.
A: But they have money coming in from different things other than just records, so there's a little less pressure... In a positive way! It's not like it makes us lazy.
S: They gave us a good deal. And it's the same with all the other labels we've been on, we really know the people we're working with. We're friends with them and we trust them. They're pretty much of the same mentality that everyone else has been.

I know the Melvins got a load of socks and suits from Volcom when they did their record. Did you get anything cool? Did you go for a trolley dash around the warehouse?
A: That's exactly what we did!
S: They cut me off! They cut me off because I took too much stuff.
A: When we first signed on with them it was like "OK, cool, we better do some business-y stuff", but then - they have a factory store in Costa Mesa - they just went "OK, take what you want, go crazy".
S: We had to ship stuff home. We were on tour at the time, and there was just so much stuff.
A: We grabbed fuck-ton of stuff. Jeans, socks, shirts, bags, luggage, hats, headphones, underwear, belts, sunglasses, towels...
S: We were broke, and most of the clothes I was wearing were so old, that I just got me this huge bag, like this tall. Like $300 worth. The bag itself, I mean. The bag was about $300, and I filled it. It was like a shopping spree. You put a bunch of broke motherfuckers in there and tell them to go crazy?
A: By the time we were done they were like "Uh, OK. I think we should go now". We had these three huge boxes.
S: We had a pile, about the size of this room.

Photograph by Gary Copeland
What do you think of the UK?
R: I love it. People seem really excited that we make the trip to come out, so as long as people are excited, we're more than psyched to be here. It's been two years since the last time we were out here, so I feel that with these shows, the reaction from the crowd has been awesome. everybody's super cool. I like the vibe. Especially after touring the States so many times in the last couple of years - it's refreshing.
A: During the day is cool too, you get to walk around and see some shit you'd never normally see. Like Nottingham Castle.

It's been four years since your last album. What have you been doing?
S: Every year we've put out something. We did the Songs For Singles EP, we did the Boris split, we did the Part Chimp split last year. Basically we spent last year writing this record. And recording it. And then it took six months or something to get it out. And we tour a lot. In order for us to make a living we have to stay on the road. This time we took a lot of time off in order to write the record, and between recording the record and having the record released we were just sitting at home, and working regular jobs.

Is the band your day jobs now?
A: I want it to be. I'm not good at working in retail. I mean I can do it, I just don't care. I care about this, I don't care about that.

I see you've got some XXXL shirts. Where do you sell those?

A: (Immediately) In the US.
R: It's an American thing because there's a lot of fat-ass people in America. Occasionally you'll get a ghetto-fabulous dude who wants to rock a XXXL t-shirt, you know? Out to the nightclub or whatever. So you gotta have that too.
S: Or some little tiny girl what wants it as a nightshirt. Any time we don't have them, there's always a bunch of people like "You don't have XXXL? What the hell?!"
A: Only when you don't have them, there'll be some massive dude who's 6'8" and 350lbs, going "Aw, dude..."
R: They're fat here too though...

But people are ugly here! And drunk. I'd rather have fat people than ugly, drunk people everywhere.
R: Hahaha! Oh, man...

You make a point of declaring that you're not a metal band. Can you explain this? In what way are you not a metal band?
S: We're a band that's influenced by metal as well as punk, and rock and Middle-Eastern music. We don't think like metalheads.
A: We're just a hard rock band.
R: A very open-minded hard rock band. I think bands like Bauhaus and Swans are some of the heaviest shit ever, and they're not metal bands.
S: I love stuff that's influenced by Hüsker Dü, but I love eighties metal and thrash - stuff I grew up on. I grew up listening to Sabbath and Priest and Maiden and all that, then in the mid-eighties I got into thrash. A lot of the San Fransisco Bay Area thrash bands, then the whole rise of the underground and Florida death metal. Then in about '88 I started venturing off and listening to different things. After Clandestine by Entombed I was like "Everything great has been done". In metal. For me. There are bands now, like High On Fire, and that's the kind of metal I like. Really raw, powerful metal.
A: The new High On Fire record is, to me, a fuckin' masterpiece. Dude it's so good, it's just so right. It's super powerful, and it's kind of meathead-ish without being stupid.
S: The drums sound unbelievable. They sound like a fucking locomotive. Or if you're riding a wooden rollercoaster. It's like DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF.
R: It's cool when you hear a recording of them, and they're playing metal, but it doesn't sound like they went to the same studio that every other metal band went to, and had the same drum preset triggered in on their drum kit, and the same guitar tone... It's unique. It sounds like them. It has room to breathe, it's not prog-y for the sake of being technical, you know?
S: That's what killed metal for me.
R: It's a pissing contest. It's "Look how complicated we can be" but that shit's just not brutal anymore. You don't want to hear this brutal song then all of a sudden this guitar solo comes in and it's this beautiful thing, with all these sweeps, and all that shit.

Who else is doing metal right just now?
You did that split with Boris, do you consider them to be a metal band?
R: No way. I think they're a total rock band. They're an interesting band too, they're kinda like the Melvins, they're a band that can do anything they want to do. It's never the same thing. You can tell someone to check out Boris and they'll pick up one of the drone records, and they'll be "What the hell is this?!"
A: I think we're all of a similar mentality. We're all influenced by the Melvins. I saw the Melvins in like '91, and they had the power of a punk band, and they were just heavier than any band I'd ever heard - part from Swans of Godflesh or something like that - as far as a rock band, they were so fuckin' heavy. They changed everything for me. You can be heavy without having this strict black and white. There's this huge grey area in what they do. And with what we do. A lot of our newer stuff is kind of Krautrock-y
S: Very driving, very repetitive, very psychedelic. It's all over the board, but still sounds like us.

Is this change a reflection of the things you've been listening to more recently?
S: Just trying different things, and just progressing as a band.
A: It's about keeping yourself excited as well. There are certain bands who can do formulaic stuff really well, like AC/DC are still just crushing faces all around the world. It's the obvious example, but when you're writing songs and playing live you do it to please yourself.
R: We haven't changed that much as a band. The production's changed, and maybe the songwriting slightly, but we haven't changed as much as people make out. People are like "Oh, you guys have turned into a total pop band now" but we were kind of a total pop band before.
A: When people say that, I'm like "You didn't hear that from the beginning?!' It's always been there.
S: You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. People want you to write the same record over and over again, but then when you do, they're like "Aw, it's the same thing!" But we've been pretty lucky to have such a dedicated fan base. Everyone has a different favourite record, which is cool. We don't want to be one of these bands that writes the same record over and over.

Like Mogwai...

A: It's a similar vibe. I don't know what their MO is, but maybe they're still trying to perfect a certain ideal, and they want to try it again, and try it again. Some of the reviews for our new record were all "It's cool, but it's just the same" and some were "It's cool, but shit's totally changed".
S: Vice magazine said we'd changed too much, then Pitchfork said we hadn't changed enough.

What's the best band you've played live with?
S: Harvey Milk is one.
A: Big Business.
R: Part Chimp. Boris. We've been lucky, we've toured with a load of great bands.
A: We toured with Jesu.

Volcom had a 'Name a Metal Band' competition on the Sidewalk forum. What do you think of some of these? (I show the band the list)
R: 'Necropaedophilia'? Is that fucking dead children? Jesus, God...
A: 'Haha! 'Endoscope Periscope'!
S: I like 'Rectal Suffocation'... 'Dangerwankk Mumfukk'! 'Pout at the Devil'! Hahahaha! Oh, God... 'Frozen Mammoth', 'Stillborn Grandma', 'Chainmail Sexbeast'? Haha... 'inFANTASYde', that's clever. 'Cradle of Milf'! Haha!
A: 'Prison Jism Power Shower'! Dude... That can be Steve's side project. Those are fucking amazing. This is so good.
(A member of venue staff comes in, and immediately leaves)
A: He was offended.

What did you listen to in the van today?
R: The Chameleons today. Trans Am.
S: Rectal Suffocation...
A: Amps For Christ, Psychic TV...
R: Godflesh. It's all over the place. Japanese noise punk - Attack SS
S: Cock Sparrer, Black Flag, Deicide...

Do any of you skate?

R: Absolutely. I don't skate so much now, what with all the touring and stuff... I'm just scared of hurting myself now actually. I kinda had to stop when I broke my finger. I broke my finger and I realised I couldn't play. There were a couple of dudes down in Florida when I was growing up that used to skate for Element, so they'd always have product in the trunk. That was how I used to get a lot of my stuff. It's hard for me to not get on a skateboard and mess around when somebody has one, but I just can't right now. If I hurt myself I'm out of work.

What two musicians would you like to see fight each other?
R: I want to see Dale Bozzio kick the shit out of Lady Gaga.

They're both men, anyway...
S: Haha!
A: Aw, dude! Dale's awesome. Lady Gaga sucks.
S: I think just Madonna and Lady Gaga would be satisfactory. I just want to see Lady Gaga get the shit beat out of her. I feel I want to see a lot of musicians get the shit kicked out of them, by anyone. I want to see a bunch a metalcore bands fight each other and kill each other off. I hate those flat-ironed haircuts.

What's the best non-musical thing you've bought on eBay?

S: I don't think I've ever bought anything on eBay that wasn't music related.
R: 'The Orkly Kid', with Crispin Glover in it, on VHS.
A: I collect - when I have money - old tobacco pipes. It's the most Spinal Tap shit ever. You can buy them all crusty and beat up, and I'm pretty good at fixing them up, and making them look new-ish. Then you sell them and make money. I had fifty or so before I moved from Atlanta to St. Louis. Made a bit of loot...

Torche are recording a new album for Volcom this Winter, for a late 2013 release, and are touring Europe again in June.

Monday, 8 October 2012

39 Rad Balloons - A Skate Video Music Mix

I made a mix of some of my favourite tracks from skate videos.
Jason Lee - Freestyle (Blind, Video Days)
Archers of Loaf - Lowest Part is Free! (Dan Wolfe, Eastern Exposure 3)
Danzig - Mother (Zero, Thrill Of It All)
Tortoise - Tin Cans and Twine (Stereo, Tincan Folklore)
Fugazi - Waiting Room (Big Brother, Shit)
McRad - Tom Groholski (Not actually in a video, as far as I know)
Kirk and The Jerks - To Be A Hero (H-Street, Hokus Pokus)
Beastie Boys - So Whatcha Want (Blockhead, Debbie Does Blockhead)
Casual - Me O Mi O (Plan B, Second Hand Smoke)
Sizzla - Haunted and Nervous (TWS, Sight Unseen)
Diamond D - Best Kept Secret (New Deal, Whatever)
Method Man - Bring The Pain (World Industries, 20 Shot Sequence)
Nena - 99 Luftballoons (Blind section, Trilogy)
Earthless - Jull (Emerica, Stay Gold)
Bad Brains - I (Toy Machine, Brainwash)
Beastie Boys - Time For Livin' (Plan B, Questionable)
Mike Ternasky and DJ Dek - Am Rap (H-Street, Hokus Pokus)
Sub Society - The Isolator (H-Street, Next Generation)
Bob Dorough - Three Is A Magic Number (Girl, Mouse)
De La Soul - Keepin' The Faith (FTC, Finally)
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes - Home (Lakai, Am I Am)
Morrissey - Speedway (Alien Workshop, Mindfield)
Black Sabbath - Killing Yourself To Live (XYZ, Stars and Bars)
Iggy and The Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog (Flip, Sorry)
Milk - The Knife Song (Blind, Video Days)
David Bowie - Panic In Detroit (101, Falling Down)
Tommy Wright III - On Da Creep (Palace, Tres Trill)
Sebadoh - It's So Hard To Fall In Love (Foundation, Art Bars, Subtitles and Seagulls)
Stereo Total - Movie Star (Alex Craig, H'min Bam)
Ice and The Iced - We've Had Enough (88, Destroy Everything Now)
Althea and Donna - Uptown Top Ranking (FTC, Penal Code 100A)
Daniel Johnston - Casper (Justin Pierce (RIP), Kids)
The Pastels - Nothing To Be Done (Chris Mulhern, This Time Tomorrow)
New Order - Age Of Consent (Osiris, Subject To Change)
The Odd Numbers - Little Kings and Queens (New Deal, Useless Wooden Toys)
Rites of Spring - For Want Of (TWS, Transmission 7)
Ish Marquez - Gin Is Not My Friend (Landscape, Horizons)
Dinosaur - Little Ethnic Song (Lots of Alien Workshop videos)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Jereme Rogers

BITE MY WIRE, your top-selling skateboard gossip monthly, was able to negotiate this WORLD EXCLUSIVE print interview with the HOTTEST new rap talent on the block - the enigma that is JEREME 'J. CASSANOVA' ROGERS! Jereme spoke candidly to our man, revealing his innermost thoughts, from personal philosophy to his sleazy secrets as a bed-hopping SEX ADDICT! We get the scoop on Jereme's SENSATIONAL move into music, how it is to OWN his own company and his remarkable REFUSAL to retire from professional skateboarding after his SHOCKING split from Girl!

How are you finding it being a musician, a pro skateboarder and a company owner?
I eat, though I am not an eater. I talk, though I am not a talker. I am not what I do, nor confined to what I do. I am a human being. At the core, I am formless... Skateboarding, music and good business are just some of the few things I do as a human. My strength and identity is inside and comes from nothing external.

Hip-hop's coming back into skateboarding. It was all shitty indie rock for a while, but now people are skating to hip-hop again. Obviously there's Lil Wayne putting his rap career on hold to skate. How do you think this change came about? You were kinda ahead of that.
First off, thank you... Secondly, change always comes about. I have definitely noticed skateboarders more openly claiming to make music, rapping, etc. I was definitely the first from skating to actually openly pursue music so head on with the ambition I did... But if anything, what I wish is that all things I do to inspire in man, is freedom from fear.

What's the longest you've gone without stepping on a skateboard since you started?
One year. When I retired in June of 2009, I didn't skate once or even own a board until the following June, 2010.

What's the longest you've gone without fucking a girl?
It's been a while... I don't fuck anymore, I make love. That does not mean that it's slow with candles lit every time, or that there must be wedding vows or commitments, but that it is pure; an act of Love. There's married men who've never made love to their wife. The only difference in the act, is the internal experience, whether one is viewing their partner in a derogatory fashion, or purely; with Love. One leaves you feeling unfulfilled, the other; inspired.

Do you ever fuck the same girl twice?
I have, but naturally this question is slightly cancelled out by my last answer.

What was the first album you owned? Do you still like it?
It was a Memphis Bleek album that I won mixed in with some other stuff at a skate contest. And no. Hahaha!

Picture by Andy Smoke.

Do you go to shows?
I've been to some, but definitely don't make it a point to go.

People look at stuff in the street and think about how good it'd be to skate. Do you check out which rooftops would be good for getting naked on?

It's the only way to do it right.

Who do you want to do a song with? Have you asked them? Anybody cool asked you to work with them?

Everybody good, no, and yes... But I'm gonna work with everybody I want. I'm in control of my destiny as much as a man has ever been.

Would you be happy for some people to see you as a skateboarder, and for some people to see you as an artist? Or should everybody appreciate that you're both?
There's nothing that everybody should, only things that everybody could, and I would be happiest if people saw me as I am. But vision is clouded by fear, and opened by Love. People can only see me as they see themselves. It takes doubt in self to doubt someone else; love of self, to love anyone else; and hate in self, to hate anyone else. All starts with self, and ends with everyone else.

Which gets you most girls?
Freedom... Freedom from fear attracts all humans, men and women alike.

You're smarter than a lot of people think. Does it depress you to see some of the reactions to stuff you do? Or do you do stuff to wind people up?
Nothing outside of me has power over what's inside of me. If you let external circumstances affect the state of your internal life, you'll have no power over your external life. Internal power is the leading cause of external power. You must first feel you are, before you are... If you let what's outside of you have any effect on what you feel you are, you'll never be what you want. By saying "You made me upset" - or made me anything, you're forfeiting your power over self, and giving that power to someone else.

What's Pink Dolphin? Nobody in the UK knows what that is.
I don't either, it's just some brand that gave me free clothes and I wore them over dirty ones.

Who else do you think would be a good fit on Selfish?
I don't... I think little, plan less. I live in the moment; present. What matters most is feeling, and my thoughts are aligned with my feelings. When someone feels right, it will be because they are.

Why did Selfish go to France, and not the UK?
I've been to the UK, more than once I believe...I've filled three passports. My travel exploits are quite a blur, all of which I'm grateful for and have had a positive effect on my internal make up.

What set up do you use for making music?
Pro Tools... Industry standard shit

How long does it take you to make a track?
One sitting, whether it takes 30 minutes, or several hours, it's still done in one sitting. I come back to tracks for mixing and tracking, but never for vocals or writing, that's all done in one sitting or not done at all. And I don't actually write, I let it come to me naturally... It never sees the light of day on a pad or phone or any other place outside of my own mind.

How much music are you sitting on? Is there going to be a J. Cassanova album?
Of course. I'm always steps ahead of whatever content I got out. That's just how it goes for anyone who wishes to continue doing what they're doing. You must remain ahead of what you're perceived as or they'll stop caring to make any perceptions of you at all.

Did you ever prank call a shop and pretend you were your own soundboard?
No, but I did listen to some of the prank calls made with it, and all bias-ness aside, they were thoroughly entertaining.

Why did you say you weren't getting royalties from Girl?
I was getting my cheque, just not my actual royalties. I got a three thousand dollar guarantee a month, which operated as a minimum; meaning I get that no matter what, but if I sell over the minimum, I get the extras - royalties kick in. Thing is, everyone on the brand got that same minimum, I believe on Chocolate as well. But everybody wasn't breaking that minimum, which means it costs them money... Which is wrote off as marketing costs. Though some of us were breaking it, myself being one of them. Zumiez (big U.S. skateboard chain-retailer) told me I was one of their top three sellers for years. So what had happened was, they were letting my royalties fall back into the company to cover their overhead, which helped keep a boat afloat that had some leaks. For two years I apparently didn't break my three thousand dollar minimum, yet Zumiez alone - who I was a top three seller for those same two years - had over three hundred stores in the U.S. If I sold ten boards a month to each of their three hundred locations - which is not a lot of boards for one of their top three sellers to move each month in a mall shop - then that would equate for six thousand dollars a month at two dollars a board, just off Zumiez. Don't forget, we're taking about Girl here who sells all around the world. So clearing a three thousand dollar minimum was not an issue. I was rookie of the year that year, 2006... I was also the highest rank street skater. Yet somehow, I was still not clearing my, what was at the time, measly minimum. So I inappropriately blurted out at Tampa 2007, after getting second to Koston, who had a flawed run, against mine which was flawless, that all I wanted was my royalties, when Rick Howard asked what I wanted after doing so well. The following month I got a six thousand dollar cheque... The first time I broke my three thousand dollar minimum, "apparently", and on top of that, it was April; tax time. Coincidence... Sure.

How much do you pay your team?
We give them double the industry standard... Which is two dollars a board. We give them four.

I heard you lurk on a certain skateboard forum... Would that be right?
I don't lurk. I don't kill time, I cherish it. But God bless you guys, I hope the forum is awesome, and I will gladly read every comment after this to see what you magnificent humans have to say.

Can people send you beats?
People can do whatever they want if they apply the right mind, principles, and passion to it.

Jon Horner made this into a brilliant comic. See the full-size version here.

 Cheers for doing this Jereme. Massive thanks also to the brilliant Andy Smoke and Jon Horner for the illustration and the comic. Andy drew Jereme's last Selfish graphic, and loads more of his work can be found on his blog, here. Jon draws all sorts of amazing things, and his blog can be found here.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Danny Garcia and Matt Costa

Pro-skateboarding guitarist and friend of this column, Danny Garcia, was recently in the UK to record an album with his friend Matt Costa (and half of of Belle and Sebastian) at Mogwai's Castle of Doom studio. Matt's signed to Jack Johnson's Brushfire label, and while he gets used to playing bigger and bigger shows, Danny is finding ways to split his time between skateboarding and musicianship. I caught up with the two of them to talk about music, skateboarding and life.

Danny Garcia and Matt Costa, Glasgow, 2012. Photograph by James Anderson

So what are you up to?
D: It's Matt's record. It's pretty much fully his thing. He lined it up, and figured it all out, and just invited me out. We've been out here for a couple of weeks. We went to Amsterdam, for a week, just to hang out, then hit it here.

Amsterdam can be cool if you avoid the centre.
D: It was crazy. We didn't know it was 'Queen's Day' out there. It's basically their big national holiday. The reputation is that you can do whatever you want in the street, but one this one day people go really crazy. It's packed, and everybody's fucked up. It's pretty interesting! We were gonna leave that day, and we couldn't leave, because you can't move around.

How do you two know each other?
M: Through Raymond.
D: Yeah, through Raymond Molinar.
M: Raymond would always show me stuff that Danny was working on, and he'd be all "Yeah, Danny, he's pretty good", and then we ended up being in the same place at the same time and we just sorta got along, and gradually started hanging out.

Is this the first time you guys have played together?
M: The last record that I'd done was the first time we'd done any playing and recording together. Actually, we played together with Mothers' Sons, a band Danny was in. They're not together any more.

Why did you come all the way to Scotland to record?
D: Matt talked to a load of different producers. I think he talked to the guy who works with the Flaming Lips in upstate New York or something, and he knows Tony (Dougan), so he passed the songs over to him. He thought Tony would dig it, and that it'd work out.

It's a long way to come. It must be expensive to stay here, just because it's where one producer is.
D: Yeah... I think when you get into it, that's the thing though. You get the opportunity to be somewhere else and work with different musicians. We're recording with a few of the guys from Belle and Sebastian - Bob (Kildea), Stevie (Jackson) and Chris (Geddes) are playing too. Matt's a big fan of the music that's come out of this area. He's a big Donovan fan.

Donovan was born in Glasgow, but I don't think many Glaswegians think of him when they talk about Glasgow musicians.
D: Maybe Bert Jansch?

Yeah, more so. I think Bert Jansch fits with what people think of as Glaswegian music more.
But anyway, are you going to be touring this record with Matt?
D: Probably. For the last couple of years it's been pretty easy for me to get in when I want, and get out when I need to.

So it suits your skateboarding?
D: Yeah. It's kind of the other way around. I make music to suit the skateboarding. But I've been concentrating on music more lately.

                               Danny Garcia and Matt Costa, Glasgow 2012. Photograph by James Anderson

Your Habitat shoe is out. Does that mean you're gonna have to be deep into skateboarding as soon as you go back?
D: The Habitat thing was pretty easy. I had a conversation with Joe Castrucci, and I said I didn't want to go crazy with it, and skateboard all day every day... I mean I skateboard every day, but I mean more like doing the whole thing, playing the game, although I still want to be a part of it it. Basically the conversation went, "We'll give you a shoe, and here's the very minimal list of things you have to do", you know? They're not going to pay me a bunch of money, it was a minimal agreement. Which was nice, because that's why I did it. And because I had left éS to free up my time.

So you'd left
éS before 'the announcement'?
D: Yeah. I didn't know if they were gonna can it or not.

So had it been discussed?
D: Yeah... I dunno, I think they were probably struggling, but I always hear that - that companies are struggling. So you never know what's gonna happen. So I'd left to free up that time, and when Joe asked about the shoes I was like "Nah, I feel pretty good right now, where I'm at". But then... Not that he talked me into it! But he kinda talked me into it. And it's Habitat, so it's kinda the same sponsor I've had all these years. It's not a weird shift, or some shock to get used to new people or anything. It was easy.

Easy to skate for your board sponsor's shoe division.
D: Yeah, I'd just dealt with them before. You start stacking up sponsors, and then you have like four or five jobs. Not like it's crazy, but you're dealing with four or five different groups of people, and you have different responsibilities to them, and sometimes they get in the way of each other. It's always been easy riding for Habitat. I've always been off on my own thing, you know?

What did you think about the reasons behind why Sole Tech pulled the plug on éS, and about Nike and adidas being in skateboarding?
D: It's interesting. I don't know what to think about that. It's kind of happening now, that shift, into those big brands. I don't know if I like the idea of it, but it seems to be happening nonetheless. I think you can keep peeling the layers back, and find positives and negatives about it. There's multiple sides to that coin. They're supporting a lot of good skateboarders, and keeping them in the game, keeping them around. It's a difficult one.

So you left éS without a shoe sponsor to go to. Was that not difficult?
D: No, it was kinda nice. I wanted to make time to tour, and just play music. I just wanted a little bit of time for myself, and financially I was able to get by. It's nice to get those pay cheques and things, but I'd gotten them for a few years. I wasn't completely well-off, but I was able to get by.

Talking of money, do you predict changes at Habitat now that Dyrdek's bought DNA?
D: I don't know. I wonder. I just had a conversation with Joe, and he said something about how it's back to Carter, Hill and Dyrdek. I think it'll still be a year or so before they fully transfer the thing over. I don't even understand how these things work, or how much change there's going to be. I didn't notice any change when Burton came in, you know? I'm kind of detached anyway. I think it's cool though. I'm backing the story. It's a good story. And I like Dyrdek, so it's alright.

Matt, you're signed to Brushfire Records, which is Jack Johnson's label. How did that come about?
He's pretty big.
M: I met him through Emmett Malloy, who does music videos and films. More music videos, really, but he did some surf films too. They wanted to use one of my songs for the soundtrack to one of their films, which led them to hear more of my music, and then they asked me if I wanted to go on tour. At the time I didn't know what I was getting into, because I didn't know we'd be going and playing these huge outdoor shows. I didn't know how big he was. So anyway, it was after that that he asked if I'd want to put the record out through their label. Up until then I'd just planned to put stuff out on my own. I'd even put it out myself, independently. Before that I'd just done local shows around LA, around Orange County. But it afforded me so much opportunity. Which is what you want when you're making music, but you never expect it to happen.
D: Was the label new?
M: It was relatively new. It was maybe a year or two old. They've expanded a bit since then, they have a load of different artists now.

What's your background in skateboarding?
M: Oh man... I started skating in Florida, when I was about twelve. Eventually I moved out to Huntington Beach which - at the time - was like the Mecca. It was at the time when the park was there, so it was like the meeting point for the whole world. I ended up meeting a lot of people, and I wanted to get sponsored and do the whole thing, and I guess I did. I worked my way through some different sponsors, and filmed a bunch and everything. I think I even met Danny at the Brea park, around by his house...
D: For some reason I thought we first crossed passed at that gap...
M: What gap?
D: In San Diego, the parking lot to parking lot one. Maybe it wasn't.
M: The big one?
D: Yeah, the big one. Have you never been there?
M: Yeah, I've been there. Maybe we did. I don't remember. So anyway, I just wanted to skate a lot. I dropped out of school to skate, and it kinda kept me out of trouble. I eventually broke my leg skating, so I couldn't skate any more.

More time to play the guitar?

M: Yeah... I'd gotten an electric guitar when I was twelve as well, and when I moved to Huntington and was skating a bunch I actually ended up trading my guitar to Brian Sumner for a pair of shoes and a board, 'cause he wanted to learn how to play guitar. The shoes and the board lasted about two weeks... When I finally broke my leg he'd been playing a bunch and he'd got a nicer guitar. Mine was just a janky Japanese guitar, and the frets would fall out if you got too high up. So it was kinda useless. But when I broke my leg, he'd call me up and ask me over to show him how to play certain songs. I think, randomly, he gave that guitar to Jim Greco, and it ended up somewhere, God knows where.
D: It probably ended up at the Whiskey A-Go-Go.

In pieces.
M: In pieces, or burned or something. But yeah. Of all people.

Is there a tour planned for this album? Is that something the label would deal with?
M: Touring and stuff is more at my end, with my manager and stuff. It's up to us to sort that out, but it is much easier when the label's there to help with promotion, and to let people know that you have a record out. That you exist. There's no tour planned, but it's in the works. I didn't get a chance to travel to the UK with the last record. It'd be nice to do that this time, especially since we made the record here.

If you could have a band made entirely of skateboarders, who would be in it?
D: Based on the music or the skating?!

Based on the music! So you can't just say "Cardiel on drums" or whatever.
M: Ha! It could be fun, if it wasn't based on the music...

But look at, say, Blacktop Project. Or 'Blktop Project', as they're actually called.
D: Who's that?

It's Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, Matt Rodriguez and Chuck Treece. And they're awesome.

D: Ah, that's their thing? I didn't know that's what they'd called it. Those are some of the guys that are pretty awesome. Umm... Stefan Janoski can play. He's a pretty creative guy. He plays the same way he skates. He just tries it, and just stumbles into being good. He played a little bit when I was staying with him in Sacramento, and I was like "Just buy a guitar!" He'd kinda mess around with my guitar but we went one day and got him a guitar. He's pretty good. Raymond can play. I'm just naming the Habitat team for you! I don't know Leo Romero that well, but he plays music.
M: I know Don (Nguyen) has a full rock band, they put something out.
D: Don, really? I know Ethan Fowler can play, of course.

L'il Wayne or J. Cassanova?
D: (Immediately) L'il Wayne. Do you know who J. Cassanova is?
M: No, I don't know who that is.
D: Jereme Rodgers. It's like his rap pseudonym.
M: Oh, man. I'm not up to date.

It's so bad you could almost believe it was a joke. If it was somebody else, you might believe he was... I mean, you might think it was a pastiche.
M: Were you about to say "taking the piss", but you didn't? You adjusted it for the Americans.

Ha! Yeah.
D: The music's pretty screwed.

TNT or Rob Welsh?
D: I'd go Rob Welsh. From years ago, I was into that, Mad Circle and everything.
M: "There's panhandlers in the street", from that Mad Circle thing. He was doing this whole Kerouac thing. That was rad. Remember the screen was all green, it looked like night vision or something?
D: What, in 411?
M: Yeah, it was the Industry section. With Justin Gerard in it.

Talking of something like Mad Circle, what companies just now do you think are doing things right?

D: I don't pay too much attention to stuff like that... Slave, I like that. Not so much the company, but some of the artwork's pretty cool. Some of the Roger stuff's cool, I like some of their riders. It's cool how they splice together all the video clips. It's a kinda Workshop vibe.

D: Timecode.
M: There's a Vonnegut short story that springs to mind. A story in Welcome to the Monkey House. Sorry I can't elaborate any more than that!

Hieroglyphics or Gang Starr?
M: Oh, Hieroglyphics. But they're close.
D: I think I listen to Gang Starr more. But yeah, it's close.

 Matt Costa and Danny Garcia, Glasgow 2012. Photograph by James Anderson

What skate videos do you think have really benefited from the music? Or are there any where the music ruined it? Like the Rhythm video, maybe...
D: Yeah, that's the one that popped into my head. But it's funny, because now that I'm 'in' skateboarding, you can be biased towards certain things but when that video came out I was totally fine with it. I was just a fan, and I don't think I latched onto the music, but I still didn't question it. (FTC's) Penal Code is a reference for great music. That turned me on to a load of stuff. But the Rhythm video, it hung around - we're talking about it now, you know? You either want to be offending somebody or pleasing somebody. Maybe you need to go either hard left or hard right.

I thought it was weird at the time, but at the same time I figured they had a reason to do that, and therefore it must be the right thing to do.
D: Yeah, it doesn't always have to agree with you. Skateboarding's so abstract that you sometimes forget you can do whatever you want. Even on a skateboard. But it's human nature that you create these walls, and these rules, almost to a pinpoint where it's like, "This is it." I might not agree with it, but I don't mind widening those rules, and opening it up a little bit.

Everybody just skates to indie now.

D: Yeah. It's just... Rock. And even on your skateboard. Not that I'm backing it, or that I would do it, but it's funny that you just can't push mongo. It's just an unwritten rule. These rules are just kind of created out of the air.

Or like 360 flips, if your back foot's too far off, then you're doing it wrong.
D: Yeah, you're wrong! There's tons of rules like that,
M: Going back to what we were saying, I think a by-product of Penal Code was kids listening to their parents' record collections. They had two Procul Harum songs, right?

Yeah, 'Conquistador' and 'Whiter Shade of Pale'.

M: And Van Morrison. That was how I found out about 'And It Stoned Me', because I was looking for 'Caravan'. I went through my dad's records and I found that. The first time I heard 'Domino' was in an old Sophisto video. It was the first video I bought.

That was Andy Howell's company?
M: I don't know... Jamie Thomas was on them, and I think Drake Jones was on 'em. They had that 'Get Thy Bearings' song on the video too, way before it was on Reynolds' part in the Baker video. I thought that was, like, a reggae song! Eventually when I got that record, 'Hurdy Gurdy Man', I was like "Holy shit, this is that song!" and I freaked out.

Plan B videos were good for music. Like the Steve Miller Band in Virtual Reality, that was rad.
D: Plan B got me turned on to Cream. Jeremy Wray in Second Hand Smoke.
M: It's a crazy one, but Aerosmith for Rodney Mullen! I remember loving that!

Why do you think that people are so pedestrian with their music choices these days?

D: It's hard now because everybody has to pay for everything. It's trickier to get what you want. Video makers these days can't even get half way with it. It's just "Shit, we can't use Cream". Even if they have permission, they're just scared to do it. These big companies like Nike are so scared of lawsuits. Even if it was agreed they'd need signatures, they'd need pictures of the artist signing it... They're so scared to do it that it's not worth it. Like, "Who cares if it's a good song? We just don't want to get sued".

You skated to a Françoise Hardy song in one of the Habitat Field Logs. Are you a fan?
Are you a fan of any music that people might consider 'exotic'?
D: I didn't choose that song, I didn't know we were gonna do that. But I listen to a lot of British stuff, sixties British stuff, and a lot of American stuff, and a little bit of South American. The Brazilian Tropicalia thing.

You're South American.
D: I was born in California, but my Mom was born in Peru, yeah.

Is there any music you love that you'd never skate to?
D: Probably most of the music I listen to. I've never been able to have the ability to hear songs in the skateboard video context. I don't think like a video editor, things just appeal to me sonically. Most of the music I like wouldn't be proper for skating.

John Lennon or Jim Morrison?
M: John Lennon.
D: John Lennon. I never got into Jim Morrison. It's cool, but I never got down with it.

Sonic Youth or The Sonics?
M: I don't even really know The Sonics.
D: The Sonics are a garage band, sort of like a 'Nuggets' band. I never really got into Sonic Youth.
M: I'd say Sonic Youth, because I've heard of them. Just from Ed Templeton.

What do you guys think of composed music for skate videos? Obviously there was the Flip video, but it goes back to Mr. Dibbs doing the music for the Habitat section in Photosynthesis. Do you think there's a future in that?
D: Yeah, why not? Especially if it was skaters. I've even talked about doing it. It'd be fun to really do it. I've never gotten the chance to make music for a video, it's always just the case that you get a call one day before they need it. If you're a skateboarder who is a musician, and understands a little bit about the video thing, it might be interesting to see. If they took it seriously and had time.

You skated to one of your own tracks in a shoe ad, didn't you?
D: Yeah. But once again, everything that's ever been in a video, they needed it so quick. Usually I don't even 'do' it, I just find something that I've recorded already. I've never actually had an opportunity to actually spend time with it and think about it.

Do you think there's too much music available, on things like Soundcloud? It was much easier to be selective with MySpace.
M: Yeah, but I think the ratio of good and bad is still going to be the same, because it's still humans making it. There's always going to be taste, and there's always going to be reaction to things that are popular, or other things that have been done. The idea of what constitutes 'music' is the same thing that makes humans human. It's something that comes from us. Even if it's just pushing a button or something.

Do you think there's more of a nobility to being a musician than to being a skateboarder? A lot of people would.
D: Like it's a hierarchy? No, I don't think so. Maybe it's more romantic. But it's the same thing. You're just playing with a toy, you know? That's really it. You're trying to create something out of this piece of wood, and people connect to it, and that's why they'll back you. Somehow they connect to it because they do the same thing. Who knows? It's a funny idea when you step back and look at it.
M: For me, personally - yes. I remember skating with people who were just really natural at it, and I always felt I had to work extra hard to do some things that maybe someone could learn in a day. As far as songs go, I feel a lot more comfortable doing it.

Skateboarding's dangerous, and it's hard. Do you think that's an equivalent value to the emotion that goes into writing a song?
M: Obviously there's an artistic side to skateboarding, but it's more of a physical strain than music. Physically, you could be really dexterous and play lots of crazy scales, but writing songs takes a much more introverted approach than skateboarding. I find that anyway. But there are so many parallels. It has a different validity to each individual. I definitely have less anxiety when I'm about to write a song compared to rolling up to a handrail!

But being signed to a label is similar to filming for a section. Now people are expecting something good from you.
M: Oh yeah. The expectations are always being raised.
D: It's internal stuff. It's always made up by yourself. You kind of give yourself those pressures. It's nice to do that, but I find the with the people who are a little more carefree, it comes out more naturally. Delivering something with less anxiety seems to be a little bit nicer. More natural.

So how does the satisfaction vary between writing a song and learning a new trick?

D: It kinda is the same thing. It's that funny sense of accomplishment. I don't know why the hell I strive for it. Most of us need a little bit of that every day, whatever it is we do. I get the same feeling if there's a big load of dishes and I finish the dishes. I just feel that I can go to sleep at night and feel comfortable. It's the slight obsessive compulsive thing that everyone has. I little amount is healthy, a crazy amount not so much.

It's a healthy thing to have if you're a musician or a skateboarder. When you need to discipline yourself to get stuff done.

D: That's the thing. I've seen it in people where it's so too much. If you're so obsessed with making music where you stay in all day, it's like being in jail. There's a certain point where I feel bad for people who are so obsessive, because they're kind of imprisoned in that obsession.

Danny, do you see yourself - at the moment - as a professional musician?
D: I don't know. I don't think so. Trying to make a living off it is kinda tricky. Any time I'm doing something like this, I'm paying for it. I spend a lot of money, you know? Skateboarding kinda allows me to do it. I could do it, but I don't know if it could be a living. I mean, that's a living for a really small amount of people. 

Do you think you will, eventually?
D: It's kinda hard. I don't know. I mean, I could do. I don't have any ties, you know? I'm single, I don't have a family, so as far as going out on the road, I could do that. To make it as a musician you have to constantly do that. It just depends if you could be away most of the year. I guess I could do it for a little bit.

But you were just talking about the parallel between being a professional musician and a professional skateboarder. Would that not make the transition easier?
D: Yeah, maybe. Maybe with the lifestyle. Yeah, it's really similar, so it's just a matter of if I want to do it. Maybe that's why I find myself playing with the idea, and being here, experiencing it. I'm benefiting from my skateboarding, which allowed me to do it; and benefiting from being able to do it because of my friend doing it. It's the experience that I'm comin' after.

What things inspire you to make music, besides music?
M: One thing I'll say, is that when I was growing up, watching skate videos, that was the first time I actually 'placed' music with movement. I think that spending so much time watching sound and motion together played a lot into how - when I started writing - it was more of a visual thing than it was an aggressive thing, or whatever. I was always going to this visual place for it. I think that had an impact on why I started songwriting.

A visual sound...
M: Yeah. That was the goal.
D: I've never thought about it like that. For me it's the feeling of accomplishment, the need to get something done, day-to-day, and feeling kinda good for the day. Not just to get it done and out the way, but to feel good about something. Almost posterity too, for some reason. To log these things, and have 'em. Just like how you would take a picture.

That's the skateboard mentality talking.
D: Yeah. I would go out and shoot a photo, just because it felt good and it would put me in a good mood.
M: It makes your place on the Earth feel worthwhile for a little bit longer.
D: Because we're humans, everybody's doing something all day. Pecking away at something, whatever the hell it is. Everyone's got their own version, but that's my version.

The basic need to create and evolve.
D: Yeah, that's it. Especially to kind of pass along some sort of tradition. And to live longer. We all know we're going to die, so in a weird way, I think that informs the way we act sometimes. We're going to die fairly soon, so in a weird way you're always trying to live a little bit longer by fuckin' painting on walls or things like that. Trying to communicate longer.
M: For me it's almost like a barometer of who I am. Like I'm getting to know myself every day. Placing yourself and gauging yourself. If I don't have it I almost have a self-crisis. I need it to reflect myself, almost like a mirror. Even just to know how far you've come. It's the closest thing to perceiving yourself from the outside, and a lot of times it helps you learn what you need to improve about yourself in other parts of your life. Interpersonally, or maybe things about yourself that you've neglected in the past.
D: Gaining perspective, and being able to look at yourself objectively.

Who inspires you musically?
D: There's been a lot, and it changes over the years.
M: I like Dando Shaft a lot. I've been listening to them a lot lately. We're gonna go see some Chopin today.
D: I get into stuff sonically, like the way things sound, and sometimes I get into songwriters. Sometimes you just get into the attitude of something. It's usually American music of the last hundred years. That's what I always go back to.

Danny's solo album - as Reverend Baron - is available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify right now, and it's great.

 Thanks to Danny and Matt for the drinks. See you guys next time. Massive thanks to James at North Colour for taking the photos.