Saturday, September 24, 2022




I've always felt that we have a lot in common, being skaters and songwriters. I once read that you consider yourself to be a skateboarder first and foremost, which I can relate to. When and how did you start skateboarding?

Hey matie. I started skating i reckon about 83/84. I didn’t see a real skateboard though until Bones 1 came out in 84. I dunno if i still consider myself foremost a skater any more. My skateboard mocks me. I love skating so much but I can’t seem to find the energy these days. Ironically, me building my bowl 4 years ago probably is part to blame for this. The Terror has beat me up so bad and really dented my confidence. I’ve broken more bones since building that thing than in previous 35 odd years of rolling. It’s gnarly. 

At what point did you begin writing your own songs, and did you find that being a skateboarder somehow lent itself to this process? 

Songwriting definitely replaced the void of not skating in the early years of recovery. 
I think i first got involved in actually musical composition after the Medallions reformed in about 97 after our tourbus crash (in 95). Me, Christian and Stu were very much seen as “vocalists” and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get the “musicians” to write new material. It seemed like a bit of a constant battle and that we should “know our place”. I don’t mean this in a bitchy way and I understand now the band’s pain having wasted assholes like myself trying to communicate through the drunken fog how we wanted the songs to sound. So i was kinda forced to pick up the bass guitar and write chord progressions myself. This didn’t go down too well so i walked from the Medallions after an Camden Underworld show in 99 where the band refused to play new material. I wanted more from music, i needed it to mean something to me. 

Your style of punk is one that I strongly relate to - there's a folk element to it but it's still very pure in form and in spirit. Do you tend to compose on acoustic guitar the most? Is there a time or situation which seems to bring more ideas for songs?

Pretty much everything comes from the acoustic. If it can’t stand up alone as a well written song then it doesn’t get recorded. The songs writing should stand up for itself in it’s purest form, then anything else that goes on top is a bonus. The exception to the rule is Summertime. That’s a straight dance track. 

The Wonk Unit collective is remarkable in many ways - including the Wonk Fest. You seem very community-oriented in that respect. Do you see yourself as having a community role beyond just creating your art?

I always saw Wonk as a place where the damned of society would be welcome, a place without judgement (as long as you weren’t a fuckin asshole). I’m extremely aware of what i owe our Wonkfam, the life they have given us as a band so i do hold myself to a standard of how i hold myself. I strongly believe in treating others how you’d wanna be treated. I live by that mantra. 

You toured the USA a while back and I recall seeing you at truck stops in places that felt familiar to me but must have been a bit strange to you. How did it feel to be faced with the sort of pervasive Trump-style politics that many Americans hold dear as part of their identity? Do you feel that there are any similarities between the conservative/Republican/Christian contingent in the USA and similar groups in the UK?

The church doesn’t have a hold in uk politics like in the States but the left/right/centrist thing is the same. Bernie Sanders/Jeremy Corbyn- Trump/ Boris. I think as nations, the UK and the US have shown themselves to be the dumbest in the world, politically speaking. 

Something else we have in common is fatherhood. I've listened to your story about having to wait all week to see your daughter and I became emotional thinking about how hard that must have been. My son is 6 and being a father is a very important role that I take seriously. Has it changed you? Has your approach to parenting informed your songwriting somehow?

I have my daughter every other weekend. I moved to the other end of the country to be nearer her. Things are slowly getting better. Aubrey is my EVERYTHING. The 11 days between visits are painful. It is what it is and I’ve found a lot more peace since living nearer her. I’ve processed a lot of anger since Uncle Daddy. That record is extremely personal and an uncomfortable listen in places but it helped me making it. I have hope for the future, something I hadn’t felt for a long time. 

Something else apparent in your story is the prevalence of pain and hardship. I tend to believe that creative types like us often come from painful backgrounds. Is there some truth to that in your opinion? Do you feel that the accomplishments you've collected so far in your journey as a musician represent something more due to having experienced very low points in life?

The best art always comes from pain, it’s our way of processing that pain. When you’re happy, art is the last thing on our minds. You gotta enjoy those moments in their purest sense as they don’t come often haha. 

I am enjoying writing these questions very much, but must confess that I crave a conversation some day. Your mannerisms and personality are both quite excellent in my opinion. Do you feel that your personality lends itself to the roles you've created for yourself in the world of punk music?

I’m just me, on and off stage. This isn’t a character I’m playing. I love people and contrary to the misery of this interview I actually love life. 
I’m always true to myself on stage, you get what you get. I enjoying gigging so much though that even if I’m low, within 10 mins I’ll usually be buzzing. X

"Horses" is a song that I have thought about a lot and find myself revisiting often, as I'm sure many do. There's a certain blend of humor and sadness in much of your writing that really resonates. Do these somewhat opposite emotions combine when you create new songs? There seems to be a bit of magic hidden in the hilarious shirt designs as well.

Yup, folk often miss the sadness in MOST of Wonk’s songs but it’s important we make the most of a bad situation. If you can get a laugh out of something negative then that’s a good way of dealing with it. Is that “pathos”? I dunno, i werent too good at education haha. 
I think a certain amount of my stuff has subconscious meanings which I don’t realise until after they are done. Everything i do is so spontaneous that half the time I don’t realise what I’ve created until it’s finished. 

I have to now share my favorite British skaters to see how your list compares. In no particular order: Tom Penny, Geoff Rowley, Paul Shier, Carl Shipman, and (if I may take it back further) Don Brown since I'm now a freestyle nut. How about you?

Oh wow so ok, i love all the original Harrow locals, the legends, Roger Harvey, Matt Bain, Mick Foster. I’m obsessed with the Harrow pool and skating in those dark days. 
From my generation it was Curtis Mccan, Mike Manzoori, Matt Dawson, Winston Whitter, Tony Lockhurst, Rueben and Lewis Goodyear (basically the class of Southbank 1990-92. 

Take care my friend, I appreciate you and feel a kinship. I hope you enjoyed the "Honk If You Wonk" song I did some Christmases ago. Perhaps we'll link up and play some music together some time. And skate!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The No! (Japan)


The No! (Japan)
Interview with Ken

Many of the people reading this are fans of the Japanese pop punk scene and know some of the current bands. Can you please introduce The No! and tell us how you are different from other bands playing pop punk in Japan?

Hi, this is Ken from The No! This band started to play music in 2015 and is mainly different points from other pop punk bands in Japan are having pop punk and also the flavor of 90's skatepunk strongly. Of course I love pop punk, but I do skatepunk, especially 90's as well. So tried to mix them without reserve, in the end, it gets so complex and hard for listeners to enjoy, but I don't care because I like it. And this band doesn't have songs over 2 minutes, all the songs are in 2 minutes. I've never seen such pop punk bands in Japan but I guess already tons of such bands exist.

Ken, are you the main songwriter for the band? How does the songwriting process work for you guys, and do you do any home recording for demos?

Yes, I write all the songs. I started writing songs with much influenced by Atom & His Package. I tried to do like him, so all the instruments and lyrics by myself and now The No! is. Basically, I make melodies at first with the guitar with unknown language sounds like English. But sometimes start with the drums or the bass, or designing the structure of song.
A few years ago, I recorded demos with multi-track recorder, but now I use Garageband on iPhone. Garageband on iPhone is good because I can program wherever I am.

Can you tell us about the city where you live? Did you grow up there, and what's everyday life like in your city?

The No! is from Saga, Japan. But now I live in Fukuoka. Saga is next to Fukuoka and the both prefectures are in Kyushu region, south Japan. Fukuoka is the biggest city in Kyushu, but not bigger than Osaka or Tokyo. But I think it's good and I like it. My top favorite Fukuoka food is tonkotsu (pork bones) ramen. The best ramen ever. I eat every day, just kidding. 
My hometown, Saga is the countryside, and hardly to get punk records. The best punk record you can get in Saga is Sum 41. Saga is the best place to feel nature and surf the Internet. 

I have noticed that punk rock has a mainstream appeal in Japan, especially catchy fast punk. Do you relate to this more professional, polished style of punk? Or do you prefer an underground scene and sound?

I like both of them, to be honest. Major bands in a mainstream play such great live shows and talk like a comedian. They try to make their fans, especially girls happy and be a friend with their fans especially girls, seriously. Underground bands focus on making really really great music rather than playing good shows. Like talking about their favorite bands and try to spread their favorite bands of course their friends' bands to their scene. Also, have biggest respect to the history, the scene, the old bands and so on. Both bands have good points each other, I guess.

As you know, I am very interested in Japan. One thing that I am curious about - does your family and people in general support playing in a band as something worthwhile? Are your hobbies something that people respect, and do they admire the work you put into creating music?

Yes, my family support what I'm doing. My wife is a big fan of The Flatliners, so doesn't have a bad impression about a punk rock band, but she doesn't like songs of The No! tho, cool! In Japan, idols, anison (the theme songs of anime), program music, k-pops, j-pops are popular as usual and a band music is not popular like them lately. But most of people in Japan don't start a band easily like in US because don't have a garage with amps and drums and no drummers in their school, so a friend of mine is likely to respect what I'm doing because no one do a band in their friends. 

Do you communicate often with bands from other regions in Japan about releases and shows? Is there a community that supports each other, and do you feel a strong connection to the pop punk scene in Japan?

The No! is in south Japan, but I have a strong connection to the other regions because no pop punk scenes or skatepunk scenes is in Fukuoka or Saga. Hardcore is popular in Fukuoka and pop punk scene is not big in even whole Japan. To enjoy pop punk, I'll go to Tokyo and many bands gather there. I call pop punk bands in other regions when I'll hold a show with them in my town. I welcomed The Nerdy Jugheads and The Hathaways in Fukuoka before as The No! presents The No Fest. I'll call Romeorocks, Lext, The Hum Hums, Pelotan and Little Yusuke next. Not many bands in Japan like US, so we have to share a stage with the other genre bands especially if it's a small city like Fukuoka or Saga, so basically The No! played with a grind core, thrash metal band, but I think it's weird, funny, but pretty cool! In the end, my best friend is a metalhead like a ska band from Gainesville said before.  

I noticed that the music of The No! is more complex than a lot of the pop punk I listen to normally. Do you guys have any formal music training, or did you teach yourselves?

We have no music training. This band is almost my solo band on the process creating music. I play all the instruments and create by myself, but it may be the reason why The No! is complex. I wanna make a song what I wanna listen to rather than everyone likes. Japanese are so busy every day for their own work, and some Japanese go to Karoshi (Overwork death). Anyway, Japanese doesn't have enough time to listen to music I thought. So I decided not to make a song over 2 minutes. All the songs are in 2 minutes. But I wanna put many ideas I got from 90's bands in my songs and in the end it will be so complex songs. Especially I like ALL (than the Descendents). Their songs are complex and I may try to be like that. I like Converge with the same reason as well. Their songs are also complex and complex.

I've also noticed in Japan that many people still appreciate cds, but in the USA people seem to only want vinyl. Do you think it's true? Why are cds still important in Japan, and is collecting physical music still pretty common?

Yes, it's true. In fact, I'm the one of them. I don't know the reason, but Japanese like CDs. In my reason, I buy CDs because I want to have a master disc. Music on streaming service platforms like Apple Music or Spotify, will be deleted in the future and low quality. If you have CDs, you can listen to high quality music whenever you want and never be deleted. And simply easy to get because Tower Records (still remains in Japan) sells more CDs than vinyl. I don't know any other CD fans' reason, but they listen to music on a laptop or a car and vinyl is hard to listen with such a machine. Import vinyl's a little more expensive than CDs because of shipping, and then they might not buy them easily. I think it's also the one of the reasons. But even in Japan, underground punk fans like vinyl than CDs and they also love a cassette. I buy vinyl as well, but I have more CDs.  

How would you describe your work and family life? Is it difficult to balance your responsibilities with your passion for creating music?

If I have 24 hours for creating music only, I'll do nothing. My passion for creating music is getting stronger when I work, hang out with my child, cook, do the pokemon and do something except music, and during then, I'm making a song in my brain. After that, I'll record them. It's my life, someone will say I create music for 24 hours every day.

Your English is very good in my opinion, Ken. Was learning the English language part of your regular education? Do you have any opinion on the US education system? Since I am a teacher, I am interested in your thoughts.

I'm very happy to hear that. Thank you. I learned from regular education in Japan only, no US education system. You may already know, the English part of regular education in Japan sucks. I think no one will be a English speaker with it. Never. I studied by myself by reading, chatting a pop punk friend in New York on myspace, or talking about Naruto with an international student from Indonesia. Japanese regular education of English sucks, again.

What would you like the American audience to know or appreciate the most about The No!, and what is next for your band?

First of all, please give a listen to The No! and give me feedbacks what you feel about. I respect and try to do 90's US punk, but I know I've never reached, so want to hear a feedback and make it better, but at first anyway give it a listen. I don't have next plan yet, but I want to put out next stuffs, go tour in US, put out from US label. I still have many dreams have not come true yet.

Do you have any people you'd like to mention or thank? And also do you have any closing comments or words of wisdom?

Arigato, Dustin and Little Yusuke. 

Twitter/Instagram: @TheNoJPN

Saturday, May 22, 2021



To begin, it must be said that you've had a long and storied involvement with the pop punk scene for much longer than I've known you. Can you tell us how you initially discovered pop punk, and how it became a central interest for you?

I wish I could say I had a cool story for how I got into pop punk, but really I started listening the same way as a lot of other people, through Green Day. Prior to Dookie, the only punk I knew was The Ramones, who I discovered by pure luck being sick in bed the day MTV premiered the Pet Sematary video, Misfits through Metallica, and Decendents from Wienerschnitzel’s inclusion in the movie Pump Up The Volume. I loved Dookie from the moment I heard it and quickly tracked down their two Lookout CD’s.

But it wasn’t until the Insomniac tour that the floodgates were opened. I watched the opening band, The Riverdales, in awe, thinking, “This is probably the closest thing to watching The Ramones as I’m ever gonna get!”  After the show I bought the self titled Riverdales CD at the merch table and noticed they were also on Lookout. I thought to myself, “I wonder if any other bands on Lookout sound like this?”  I went to the Lookout Records website and the rest is history.

It's easy to lose count of just how many bands you've been in/toured with. Can you give us a complete list, and also indicate which bands are still current for you? Also include any solo stuff you're working on?

Well, I guess the first “band” I was playing guitar and singing in was a group called Tion (pronounced “shun”)/The Lincoln Logs/The James Dean (we couldn’t decide on a finalized horrible band name) back in high school. We played a total of Three times live, once at a battle of the bands where the redneck MC for the night thought we were Speed Metal, once at a service at our drummer’s church in exchange for using the church as a practice space (We played our song “I Still Like Green Day”, but changed the lyrics to “I Still Like Jesus” [coincidentally, in college I also once performed The Unlovables “I Cried For You” as “Christ Died For You” at a religious event lol]), and finally at our high school Valentine’s Day Dance.

Next was a “band” made up of myself and my friend Barry on bass in college called The Tritones. We badly recorded one album in my bedroom on a digital 8 track, and never played a show.

The first real band I was in was drumming for a band from St Louis called The Belushis. Super fast, snotty pop punk. We played a lot of shows and had a lot of fun. We basement recorded an album at our guitarist’s house that really didn’t get much of a chance to be heard since we stopped playing shows shortly after recording it.

It was during my time with The Belushis that I met The Eyeliners and started Talking to them about drumming. I played a couple shows with them, and In the process I ended up meeting The All-Stars from West Virginia and drummed for them for a little while. After that I returned to STL and the Belushis, and started a new band doing my own songs called The Shaniquas. We played a couple shows and then I ended up being asked to tour with The Eyeliners so The Shaniquas fell apart and I did that for a while.  Once my time with The Eyeliners was over I formed a new version of The Shaniquas, and also started drumming in a new band with Teflon Dave called The Fintas. Fintas recorded an album that we self released, and The Shaniquas did a little recording, but both bands ended when I returned to college to finish my degree.

Jump forward about 10 years and I started getting the itch to play music again and replied to a Craigslist ad looking for a drummer and met Corey from Parasite Diet. He was starting a new version of the band and at the time was planning on singing and playing electric ukulele, but right before our first practice he decided he’d rather go back to drums so I became the guitarist/vocalist. We’ve been doing stuff off an on since 2014 including a tour with Paul Collins, and recording several EPs and 3 albums. We’re currently writing a new album that we’re gonna record up in St Louis at Encapsulated later this year.

My first album with Parasite Diet was released by Eccentric Pop and it was through that connection that I met The Putz. PD and Putz had played a few shows together and we had got along pretty well, so when Putz needed a new guitarist they asked if I’d be interested in filling in, which then led to a permanent spot. We’ve recorded two albums and several Eps together and done several tours. We also are about to record anew record at Encapsulated.

In 2015 I ended up with a lot of time on my hands thanks to life events, so I decided to take a chance and talk to Joe Queer about playing with him. A few weeks later he called me up and asked if I’d like to do some shows with MTX and Screeching Weasel. Of course I said yes! I did three east coast shows on bass, and 3 west coast shows on guitar. After that I ended up playing bass for a few more Queers tours, and had a blast getting to play these songs I had loved for so long.

It was through The Queers that Dave Parasite approached me about filling in on bass for a tour, so I figured, “why not?”  I ended up doing two unforgettable tours with Dave.

I also did a short span of time drumming for The Independents, with Jack from Parasite Diet on bass. I’d known those guys for years and loved having the opportunity to play with them. Great guys, and a great band!

That brings me to current bands. Here, locally, in the Nashville area, I play bass for a ramonesey band called The Rip Taylors. We recorded most of an album just before the pandemic and it’s finally getting mixed now, so hopefully that’ll be out soon, and we threw together a cover song for the Ramonescore Records Mutant Pop Tribute.

Teflon Dave, Billy Putz, and I have talked for years about doing a band together and that’s finally coming together. We did a track on the Ramonescore Records Mutant Pop Tribute as Teflon Dave and The Eccentrics, but we’ll have a different permanent name for our next release.

Also with Billy Putz, I’m drumming in another new band, along with Chad from Covert Flops, called The Pembrookes. We’re well on the way to having our first album and ep written, and also had a track on the Ramonescore Radio Mutant Pop Tribute.

And then there’s my solo stuff as Classic Pat and The Coruscants. I’ve got tons of stuff in the works on both of those fronts.

This isn't a question but rather a statement: your skills are extremely underrated. You write great songs, you play every instrument, you sing really well, and you can handle all production duties on recordings with impressively high quality standards. How did you become such a seasoned renaissance man of pop punk?

Necessity. I like to do things at my own speed and sometimes that means not being able to wait on other musicians’ availability or interest. I was playing guitar before drumming, but was a percussionist in band and as a music major (eventually minor when my interests changed lol) so drumming came along with that. And the pandemic has given me a lot of time to begin learning how to record stuff at home, which lets me explore some of the sillier projects without thinking, “I’m wasting how much money on studio time to record this joke song?”

Speaking of your one-man-band superpowers, how did this whole "Classic Pat" thing start? Where would you like to take it next, and do you think you'll continue doing the covers as a side project?

Well, as a joke within The Putz for the last couple years we’ve discussed the fact that I just go by my real name on our releases while Billy is Billy Putz, and Dougie is Dougie Tangent (sorry to break it to you, but those aren’t their real names!). I have a lot of old reliable jokes I fall back on and Billy always replies, “classic Pat”.  I wanted to work on some cover songs, mainly to learn more about home recording, and I needed a name once they were done, so I just decided to embrace Classic Pat.

I’ve got a few more covers already done and coming soon, I’ve started a solo album of originals that will be out in December, and I’ll have another set of originals out before that probably (just waiting to see which ones end up on the new Parasite Diet album first). I’ve also got a couple sillier cover albums planned and/or started, and a few other surprises.

How did you come up with The Coruscants? And what kind of feedback have you received from your two albums so far?

While killing time in the studio back in 2014 with Parasite Diet one of us jokingly came up with the idea of Riverdales covers about Star Wars and the title “Storm Trooper the Streets”. In typical me fashion I took the joke way further than the other guys and went home and wrote the lyrics for the whole record. It was never a high priority for the other guys so eventually I just decided to do it myself.  It was fun, I love Star Wars, and I love The Riverdales, so I decided to keep going with it. I’ve already got most of Phase Three (haven’t decided on a title yet) written, which, following the pattern of the first two, will be based on the sequel trilogy.

Two of the bands you're currently in - The Putz and Parasite Diet, are probably two of the best pop punk bands from "our" era and also two of my favorites. What have you learned from working with Billy and Corey - two amazingly talented songwriters?

I’ve learned A LOT from Billy and Corey.  Billy and I think a lot alike when it comes to writing an album and working with someone who shares similar sensibilities in terms of sequencing, pacing, and just overall feel has really helped me fine tune a lot of my tastes. I also have a tendency to try to add too much to things sometimes and Billy is really good about knowing when to put on the brakes and just let things breathe.

And Corey is a master lyricist. He thinks of lyrics in ways most people never begin to. Rhymes, not just at the ends of lines but in other strategic places throughout the verses, word play, crazy metaphors and double meanings. Not a single word goes into one of Corey’s songs that doesn’t serve a purpose.

I’m extremely fortunate to get to work with and learn from both those guys.

You're also really knowledgeable about comics, movies, etc. and have a pretty official collection from what I gather. Has that always been a passion for you? Do you find that it crosses over well with your pop punk interests? Seems like plenty of inspiration can be found from one outlet and then transferred to your music.

I’ve always been a collector, starting with my action figures as a kid, getting into comics in the late 80’s, then movies, records, books, more toys as an adult. These days I’m addicted to Gunpla, or Gundam model kits.

All of those things and the franchises that go with them are a huge influence on the stuff I write or listen to in terms of music. I mean, The Coruscants should prove that right off the bat.  I just wish I could get my songwriting to the level of someone like Horror Section, where you know the song has to be about something horror nerdy, but it’s done so tastefully that it’s almost a game trying to figure out what movie is being referenced.

I know you're also pretty into metal - and I tend to ask this a lot: Do you see a connection between metal fandom and pop punk fandom? What is it about metal that makes people like us need it just as much as we need the sugary, snotty pop punk stuff?

I was a metal head long before I was into punk, and I think punk appealed to me because it brought that fun sugary element into a harder edged style. People need outlets for different emotions, and sometimes something darker or angrier like metal is just what the doctor ordered. 

And of course there’s also the musicianship side of things. Don’t have the chops to play the metal you wish you could? That’s okay, you can still play punk. Or, on the flip side, sick of so much seriousness and remembering a billion different parts to songs? Here’s punk to simplify things and let you just enjoy playing music.

You've released quite a few gems on Laptop Punk Records recently, including a killer original tune. Do you have a routine for working on your own songs? When could we expect an official album of your own songs, and why hasn't that happened several times already?

I tend to work on things in spurts. I’ll get an idea for something and I’ll just dive right in and knock it out, and then I’ll go days without even thinking about music. Just last week I suddenly had an itch to cover one of my favorite albums from the 80’s and by day’s end I had the guitars tracked and bass tracks started. Should have that album wrapped up soon, so you won’t have to wait long for more info on that.  I don’t like to overthink things, and just jump in and do it.

The only other thing I tend to do when in writing mode is to write with an album in mind. I write a song and then I say, “Okay what would sound good as the next track on the album?” Most of the time I don’t even have to think about sequencing by the time everything’s recorded because it was written in order already.

Like I mentioned earlier, there should be two albums of original material coming later this year. And I’ve got most of the songs ready for the more power pop/80’s rock style album that “Change My Tune” would fit on standing by. I’ve got a particular guest vocalist I’m trying to lock down for one of the songs and I don’t wanna do it until that happens.

You and I have enjoyed a resurgence in the pop punk scene in which we've both been welcomed in ways that probably wouldn't have been possible a decade prior given the place and time. Do you reflect on that much? What do you find especially encouraging about our weird little digital internet pop punk bubble?

I’ve always found the pop punk scene very welcoming and open. That’s a big part of what has kept me interested. It’s such a huge and diverse community, with its own little cliques and sub-groups, but at the heart of it all we’re all into the music. I’ve met so many amazing people throughout the years and made the greatest friends, all thanks to pop-punk.

Any final words of wisdom? Thanks Pat!

Bah Weep Granah Weep Nini Bong!

Saturday, May 15, 2021




You've recently emerged from a 15-year slumber only to re-enter the pop punk scene with renewed interest and ambition to contribute. What happened to Mutant Pop the end it the last time around?

In 2008 people were telling me that vinyl had “come back” and that I should try to do Mutant Pop again and so I dove back in focused on trying again to achieve one of my original goals — putting out 100 seven-inch records. What I discovered, to my chagrin, was that my mailing list had “gotten old” — many people had moved, others were starting families and migrating away from the music scene. At the same time, record stores everywhere were in trouble and the network of wholesale distributors had contracted mightily. Interest in Japan was not strong, the one distributor that I was trying to push as an exclusive was lukewarm. So I couldn't do a proper mailorder and I couldn't get sufficient support from distributors and expenses very greatly exceeded income. A repress of the Dillinger Four record sold out but I still managed to lose something like $5,000 in six months in getting the MP-31 Catalogs record done properly and three new titles out the door and some “last pressings” made. It was a bloodbath — I gave away one project at the test pressing stage (!!!) and never did press another for which I had already released 50 test pressings. Other projects were canceled.

So that was it, there was no way in hell i was going to get to 100 titles. I was done with doing a label.

What have you been up to for the past decade and a half? 

I have a shoe store to pay the bills but I’m a historian by avocation. I dove into research on a book project on the history of American radicalism from 1916 to 1924 and building a personal library to support that effort. At some point Paul LeBlanc, a historian from Pennsylvania, noticed my research website in a cul de sac of the internet and intuited that I was one of only about, shit, I don’t know, maybe half a dozen people that knew or cared about the 1930s political faction headed by Jay Lovestone, the defrocked head of the American Communist Party. So he drafted me into being the co-editor of his current book project, which was finally published in 2015 by Brill in the Netherlands as The “American Exceptionalism” of Jay Lovestone and his Comrades.  I learned a great deal about book research and publishing doing this project.

In the course of my book research on American radicalism in the 1910s and 1920s I typed up dozens of articles and speeches by Eugene V. Debs, the Bernie Sanders of his era, an icon of American radicalism. The vast majority of these had never been published in book form. A friend in California had a contact on the editorial board of the Chicago publisher of the paperback edition of the Lovestone book and he — after years of pushing — convinced me to put aside the general history of radicalism and to focus on Debs. We pitched the publisher, Haymarket Books, for a six volume series The Selected Works of Eugene V Debs. They were enthusiastic. I’ve been working absolutely full out on that project, with the first three fat volumes now on the street and the fourth manuscript about ready to be submitted. I churn out about one 700-page volume a year.

So what re-ignited the flame for pop-punk?

I’m not sure there was any one event. Matthew from Something to Do Records in Seattle knew about my untouched wholesale inventory in the shoe store basement and conned me into digging through the rubble to pick a couple orders for him over the years. I guess that at least got me thinking about music again beyond the CD player in my car. I became intrigued by the whole Bandcamp model which had emerged, in which bands were at least theoretically able to bypass the old-fashioned label-based music industry entirely, making their own stuff and selling it to fans. And I bumped into a few of the Mega-Massive Digital Compilations put out by Ramone to the Bone Records — over 100 bands on a comp, easily downloadable, for "Name Your Price.” Think about that! It’s revolutionary.

But nobody wants to listen to a seven-hour compilation, so I started toying around with sequencing these things down to “normal” 30 to 45 minute compilation albums. Whoops! Holy shit! The best of the best of these bands were great! Pop-punk wasn’t weak and dying, it was actually strong and things were accelerating! My old labeldude juices started to flow again...

I still have book commitments for the next couple years. I can not go all-out with the label immediately like I did I April and May 2021. But — I'm on the hook again. We’ll see if I can temper my tendency to be monomaniacal with my hobbies!

A notable happening of late was the simultaneous release of two Mutant Pop tribute albums, consisting of tributes by many of the active contributors of the current scene as well as some notable MP alumni. What were your thoughts when you heard this was going to happen? And how did it feel to kick back and listen to both albums?

The planets are aligning weirdly this year is all I can say. What are the odds of two different projects happening simultaneously? I adored every single aspect of both of these projects. One of them was a last minute surprise. For the other, Grath Madden, one of the principals of the 44 Golden Greats! project, was in communication with me fairly early on. I ended up whipping up a little prize for him to include with physical copies of his comp — watch for that, ha ha! Both comps turned out fantastically! seriously, I had been listening to 100+ band comps in which about half was bilge. These two together, there were no more than about three tracks that were not solid efforts. It was really touching, really inspiring to kick back and listen to those. They are a great testament to the songwriting ability of the bands I was lucky enough to put out.

As you've been meticulously combing through the sand that makes up the last 15 years' worth of pop punk releases, what has stood out to you as being particularly relevant/good? 

It is hard for me to identify releases from my Rip Van Winkle period that stand out. I have learned the bands and their work, but the big events, the watershed releases, are absolutely outside my consciousness. Let me just say that The Briefs are one of the best bands in the history of American punk rock and leave it at that, ha ha! See, I left everybody out that way!

But I will say this: the thing that intrigues me right now are the home recordists, people such as yourself. Some, wonderful, wonderful sounds are being created in home studios. There are a couple of these home recordists who are doing harmony-forward pop-punk and I’m all over that like a duck on a junebug. That’s the exciting part of today’s music scene.

And how do you take this new approach in which digital releases have become a priority, and physical copies are now often very limited or made-to-order?

Fuck streaming. Seriously, if you think $9.99 paid every month to the Very Big Corporation somehow absolves you of support the underground network of music creation, you have forgotten everything and learned nothing. Don’t think the $1.63 of your subscription — or whatever — that trickles down to 10,000 bands somehow absolves you of your duty to financially support the scene, whether that be bands selling their stuff directly or labels doing their thing.

We can get into a discussion of the made-to-order model, which is a rational thing — but the reason the world is devolving into LP pressings of 300 in three colors for $25 a throw is because labels have lost all hope in doing anything else. And it is because of the idiots who do nothing but stream from Spotify. That has got to change before labels can become vibrant and fun again.

Mutant Pop's legacy has, among other things, inspired many would-be songwriters to actually do it. Your role as a permission-giver and DIY example-setter have also inspired many would-be label owners to go for it. The result is now a very vibrant and connected International scene where communication and collaboration have never been easier. Do you feel proud to have contributed to pop punk's lasting vitality?

I appreciate the nice words. Our music is much bigger than any one of us, obviously, but I am happy and proud to have done my part. It’s wonderful seeing so many of the kids who cut their teeth on the dorky Mutant Pop catalogs doing their thing moving into middle age, either as musicians or label dudes. This is your prime time. The next wave of pop-punk starts now. Reach the next generation of kids.

As someone who's clearly a connoisseur of good songwriting, and as an author, what has your own experience been with songwriting specifically? Are there T. Chandler demos locked in the vault? How would you describe the differences and similarities between literary writing and songwriting?

Me, a songwriter? Oh, no no no no!!! Here is an old joke: “What do you call a person who goes to shows and hangs around with musicians? Answer: A drummer.” That’s me or it was when I actually played drums a little many years ago. Songwriting starts with a guitar. I wouldn’t know a barre chord from a barcalounger. 

Here are my top skills: (1) identifying top-tier harmonies pop-punk bands; (2) sequencing CD programs; (3) coming up with goofy ideas to appeal to collectors; (4) getting people to notice what I am doing and convincing them to care (2008 catastrophe notwithstanding). Oh, and from back in the day: (5) doing daily mailorder properly. Here’s what I do badly: (1) Everything else.

One observation I couldn't help but make as you returned to conversing with old friends and new allies in the current scene is that you've emerged from cryogenesis without knowledge of the negative stuff that invariably happens in any scene - the feuds, the blacklisted bands, the rumors, the in-fighting, the "untouchables", etc. It's definitely a thing and perhaps it's human nature. What has your response to that been?

We are all on the same team. Factionalism has been the historic bane of American radicalism and that applies to our community equally. The music scene is already factionalized more than enough by genres. We all need to pull together against the real enemy — the corporatization of music. 

Stop dissing the fucking Kobanes. If they were idiots fifteen years ago about something or other, forgive them. Move along. A couple of those dudes are the truest, bluest, purest pop-punkers on the planet. True fact. And stop dissing Ramone to the Bone Records. There’s not a single fucking label, none, zero was screwed over by unauthorized downloading harder by the old Ramone to the Bone than Mutant Pop. The new guy, Markus, is honorable. He is doing things right and he is working hard and building things for bands. Get over it.

Do your own thing but remember — you are not competing with anybody. We need to build together. 

You've apparently embarked on the adventure of preparing the first MP release in a very long time. Can you tell us about it - how did the idea first come about, how did you end up choosing this particular band, and what are the official plans for this release?

Let me quote the incessant blabbermouth T. Chandler, writing the essay on the back of MP-1028, Nerd Gets the Girl: Soda Shop Romance SRCD... “Then, suddenly, completely without warning, on New Year’s Day of 2002 my interest in punk rock returned. No, more than that, my passion for poppy punk had roared back, totally unexpectedly, as fanatical as it ever was. Eighteen months’ worth of demos were excavated from my dung heap of a room. Two bands in particular were astonishingly brilliant: The Teen Sensation Glasses and Nerd Gets the Girl.”

I was able to put out one but not the other in 2002. In 2021 some songs done by Ryan of TSG landed in my lap at precisely the right moment. He hadn’t done anything pop-punk-wise since 2005. Like I say, the planets are aligning strangely this year...

MP-523, The Teen Sensation Glasses: Focused CD will release July 1. So will MP-2001, The Teen Sensation Glasses: Fuzzy CD. There’s your scoop!

How do you find the scene in general since you've now become more familiar with current goings-on and the significant happenings that led us to where we are in 2021? How does it compare to the 90s in terms of community, quality, and overall vibes?

I think the 1990s were better musically than the 2000s, that the 2010s was slightly better than the 2000s, and I can feel the earth moving in the 2020s, just like I felt it in the 1990s. The market is different and the new generation of kids haven‘t arrived yet, but I can feel it. Can’t you?

What is it about discovering new (and specifically homegrown pop punk) bands that gives you such a thrill? Do you feel that this kind of music is universal and timeless in its own right?

I believe all label dudes are drug addicts. We’re addicted to adrenaline. There’s absolutely no bigger thrill than discovering something great and bringing it to the world.

 Thank you T. Chandler!

My pleasure. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021



Tell us about this new project The Mitochondriacs. What inspired it, who

are the personnel, who is doing what, and what are the overarching goals

for the project?

John “Genome” Jughead - Guitar & Vocals

Eddie “Membrane” Pignataro IV - Drums & Percussion

Maria “Intercellular” Surfinbird - Backing Vocals & Bass

Marky Kobane produces and engineers from Bunker Studios

Eddie contacted me to just have some fun and record a song in Marky’s

studio. Eddie is a huge collector of music and we have had a music

exchanging relationship going for quite awhile. So I agreed. It was that

simple. We recorded a song in one evening. We had so much fun we did it

again a couple weeks later. We had not talked much about overarching

goals in the beginning, but I may speak more to that in the questions below.

But I will say here that I did mention to all the band members, and Marky,

that I felt I needed to donate any money made from these songs to some

kind of cause beyond us, I’ve been needing that in my life. They all agreed!

So that sparked me to think of this as a longer term project.

The songwriting on Love/Hate is compelling and fun - it is a great mix of

old school punk and 90s melodic punk with nods to the greats. What was

your songwriting process for this? I recall you saying that the songs were

written fast by design without lingering too long on particulars?

I have never called the work I have done unique, but when I write for Even

In Blackouts, I do not think of a type of song or style. I think in terms of

new chords I am learning, new strumming patterns, how I want to challenge

Liz, and I try to emulate whatever emotions and experiences I am having at

the time. With the Mitochondriacs I have decided to think of style first. I

always say that I don’t feel comfortable writing pop punk songs because I

have worked with people like Vapid, Kody Templeman, the Manges, and

Ben Weasel that do it much much better. I could never be that good. The

Mitochondriacs helped me to realize that I was chopping off a large section

of my more spontaneous creativity in its simplicity. I was cutting off my

ability to grow and get better at something that has been important in my

life. So now I try to put those feelings aside and just commit in both

emotion and structure to a more simple, melodic and aggressive form. I

still hate the songs once I am done with them, because I think they lack the

skill needed to pull it off and I don’t really enjoy hearing my voice, but they

are fun to write. And I can only hope I get better... because that’s the point.

Also the name came along while in the studio, it just popped into my head,

“Mitochondriacs!” I like it because mitochondria are the organelles in cells

which create energy. And I wanted to create bursts of energy with these

songs, so it made sense.

What was behind your idea to debut with a "digital 7-inch" release? What

does that concept mean to you? I was stoked to put out your digital 7" on

my mostly digital label!

I thought actual vinyl 7inches first. I looked into a couple small labels, who

all said yes, but that the time scale they had to deal within was too long for

what I wanted to achieve with this project. I wanted the release of the

songs to be almost as quick and spontaneous as I had written the songs.

When you have piles of cash that is a more likely scenario, but we don’t

have money, so the band camp digital idea came to me. But I never write

anything without it having to have levels in concept, which sometimes gets

tiresome because most people just don’t really care. But I do! I wanted the

two songs to speak to each other. And since records have two sides I

clung to the idea of them being opposite, so the record itself becomes the

“gray” area. So it is not a perfect fit to put it in digital form to hold this

concept up, but it is what we have so we are using it. The idea is once we

get a trilogy of these we WILL print them into a box set of actual 7inches

and their cover art and call it The Gray Box, which is a reference to my

favorite artist Marcel Duchamp.

You're donating the proceeds from downloads and purchases to charity.

What motivated you to do this?

For almost a decade now I have had this itch to donate income to help

causes throughout the world. For most of my life I have been a teacher, so

that helped to fill that gap, but I have not taught for about 10 years now,

and I feel that lack in my life to help others. Since I can barely get through

a day financially it didn’t seem realistic to donate my income like people like

philosophers Peter Singer and Sam Harris propose, so I figured my meager

way of helping out could be to donate money from special events and

projects I do. I created a non profit called The Punk Heart which sponsors

events and donates money to social awareness and treatment for mental

health. That has been going pretty good although very infrequently. So

with the Mitochondriacs I decided to go more global and donate to a Peter

Singer inspired foundation that collects some of the best and well used

causes internationally and they help to put your money where it can best be

served... so that is what we are doing.

What I should say, is that we DO somehow have to make some money

eventually. Marky is donating much of his time and studio to the project but

Me, Eddie, and Maria feel we eventually have to pay him something if we

continue on, so we are thinking of printing shirts where we can donate

HALF of the profits instead of the whole of funds brought in to international

foundations. Then we can feed the rest of the money to any bills we


This digi-7" showcases your playing and singing in ways that are unique

to your catalog. You've got the Weasel guitar crunch with some EIB-vibes

in the lyrics and vocal delivery, but there's an altogether new element as

well. How would you compare The Mitochondriacs to your past projects?

I hinted above that I am more open to stealing styles with this band. As a

matter of fact I have been conducting interviews with some pretty famous

punk musicians over this last year who have admitted to stealing from me

and Ben and Vapid, so I thought it was time I started stealing from my own

former band too. So when I am writing I try to think back to the early days

of writing for Screeching Weasel, like Boogada Boogada Boogada days.

But back then I only thought in rhythm guitar and melody, Ben was the

lyricist. I did not try to attach lyrics. That is the element I have learned

since those early days (Mostly due to The Mopes and EIB) so I have added

that to the old punk style mix too. The Even In Blackouts feel you may hear

is only accidental, probably because it is me, and me writing them on my

acoustic guitar, since I don’t own an electric these days.

What's your general feeling towards the digital era of music? Do you

think we are doing a good job in the pop punk community of keeping up

with it while still cherishing the value of physical artifacts and releases?

I am glad that vinyl has returned so strongly. I think the younger

generations started to feel the lack in just having music digitally. There is

something important about music to make a mark on your soul, and I

personally feel that it needs to be made tangible in order to make a bigger

affect, whether that means collecting actually hardcopies or seeing bands

in person and buying merchandise directly form them, even though the

benefits to having a whole collection in a small piece of metal in my pocket

that used to take up a whole room is astounding! I have been feeling very

old and useless lately, which is devastating for me, but also in ways since I

can look past myself I see that I am seeing actual progress in music and

creativity, and to feel old is just a product of realizing that things move on. I

still feel there are things to learn from the past in order to not repeat our

mistakes but I am warming up to accepting all the progress that is being


I was out with Eddie last night and he started bringing up all these new

forms of music and how people are recording together but apart over time

and space and releasing them in strange ways, and it boggles my mind.

There is now so much I can never know, I have to get myself to place

where I am comfortable enough just to bathe in it and dab my fingers and

just be content with making small ripples instead of far reaching impacts.

Luckily our pop punk scene has shrunk since the height of Green Day

many years ago, so a sense of smaller community has come back, it is just

that there are so MANY of them now.

What was the recording experience like for Love/Hate? Had you worked

with Mark, Eddie, and Maria on any projects before? Did you play Mark's

guitar on the recording? He has quite a collection from what I hear.

I did play one of Marky’s guitars. I have no idea which, I have never

thought too deeply about what guitar is in my hands. I happen to like a light

body and a thin neck so that is about all that is important to me. I know

what I don’t like. I despise Mosrites and also fake Mosrites.

The studio is just fun. Marky has it arranged so everything happens in one

room, it has its drawbacks but it also has its perks. It helps to quickly form

a bond between the band members and the engineer and what they are

creating. It may be hard for me to listen to my own new songs with this

band, (but I do obsessively anyway, that’s just what I have always done.)

yet when I do listen to these songs I can relive the fun we had through the

sound... and that is a nice thing to have.

Did the songwriting bug bite you again after recording these songs?

Where is your inspiration these days - you work in a variety of mediums so

it's interesting to know how songwriting fits into your overall role as an


Brendan Kelly and I touched on this a bit with his interview. All the

creativity, all the projects are connected, whether you want them to be or

not. You can give into it or fight it but it will always be there. I have always

given into being not a master of one form but a dabbler in a plethora of art

and performance. At times it gets frustrating that I am not a master in any

one over the other, but perhaps I am a master at making connections

between the many.

Will there be any visual accompaniment to The Mitochondriacs, such as

a performance video or music video? Or perhaps something weirder?

I am at the beginning stages of weaving all of our intentions with metaphors

about mitochondria, so I am still at work making sense of it all. I do know

that I don’t like bands that have too much of a “character” to their band

personae, like Masked Intruder or The Jasons or The Residents, even if I

like their music, which I do, the approach to that kind of form just doesn’t do

anything for me, so I am trying to figure out how to balance the interest in

creating a world that is through the eyes of Mitochondria speech with the

reality of who we are. I imagine, since it is me, when it does come out it will

be considered weird or incomprehensible or needlessly complex...

especially for such simple music! (If you have noticed another form I am

playing with in The Mitochondriacs that has been in punk rock for ages is

Self Deprecation... And I hate that I even said that. How stupid of me!)

Coming off of your very cool series "The Horror of the Polycephala

Aporia" which combined elements of horror and humor, are you feeling

similar whimsical vibes for The Mitochondriacs? Where will it take us next,

lyrically speaking?

The idea like I said above is always to imitate or steal preexisting old

school punk forms, so I guess it could go in any of those directions. I don’t

think it will always be funny. I actually don’t think the HATE song is funny,

even though it has funny words like Testicles in Receptacles. I don’t like

the concept of HATE but it is perceived as the opposite of LOVE in most

cultures, I have some disagreements with this idea of opposing those two

concepts but it is what it is. I had to embody that feeling of hate to create

that song in the moment and it is a place I don’t like visiting. I had to

accumulate feelings not from any one specific person but from feelings I

had to dig up from events over my life just to accumulate enough rage to

put those words down. So to answer your question, I guess, it won’t

always be whimsical, but I can say it will be made quick and with as much

spontaneity as I can muster.

Any other "R4RE" details you'd like to reveal? Or appreciations! Good

luck with what's next and keep it coming, Mr. Jughead!

The next Horror Of The Polycephaly Aporia will be released very soon, with

guest Dr. Daryl Wilson from the Bollweevils. Jughead’s Basement Podcast

has really been taking off and I am dedicating most of my day to make it

better and better and to keep it frequent. That’s it!

Thanks Mr. Deeds!