If ever there were a band to completely play by its own rules, it is Mindless Self Indulgence. Their DIY mentality has allowed them to develop a following and a musical style that singer Jimmy Urine describes as a, "really cool, crazy art project."
The electro punk quartet-- featuring vocalist Urine, guitarist Steve, Righ?, drummer Kitty, and bassist Lyn-Z-- is the bi-product of New York City in the late 90's and a collective appreciation for art, belligerence, masturbation, in-your-face flare, and "a huge geek thread that goes through the whole thing," as Urine would put it.
The front man, Urine, himself is one of the most eccentric and animated characters I've had the pleasure of speaking to. Listening to him talk, it is apparent that he is equipped with a sharp mind, which runs faster than he is sometimes able to get the words out.
He is passionate about his music, and he doesn't dance around questions when asked about promoting their upcoming tour ("in this modern era, everyone needs their fuckin' hand held. They are completely retarded"), or describing MSI's live performance ("it's basically just a big jackoff on stage"), his cult following of fans ("they could be bankers and lawyers, but they'll probably end up being hackers"), and the pitfalls of a record company ("you have your entire life to make your first record. When you have to make your second record, especially if you've had some success, you only have five seconds to make it, and it better be fucking good").
Last year, MSI released their fifth studio album in their 17 year existence titled How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence to both fan and critic success. In the spirit of playing by their own rules, the band held the record hostage until they raised enough money via Kickstarter to justify recording it.
Recently, the band went one step further by taking the single "Fuck Machine" and remixing it 11 different times by various artists, including Combichrist and Mustard Pimp, and releasing it as a stand-alone remix record. Why the song "Fuck Machine"? According to Urine, simply because "I love a song that says 'fuck' in it," he declares.
Fans have also enjoyed the recent short anime video released by the band that looks like the intro to a MSI themed Saturday morning cartoon, if such a thing were to ever be green-lit, and the song that was chosen for the soundtrack to the anime video-- none other than "Fuck Machine".
After this upcoming tour, which kicks-off tonight at Marquee Theatre in Tempe, MSI plans to go on hiatus for a while. So, before any of that happens, Up on the Sun took the opportunity to speak with Urine about his fans, his music and doing things the MSI way.
Why did you pick the song "Fuck Machine" to remix? I love a song that says "fuck" in it. There's a lot of "fucks" on that record. It probably has the most "fucks" on any record I'd say, except for maybe something gangster. It's probably the most "fucks" I've heard in a long time.
Can you elaborate on your statement that you made saying you are going on hiatus after the March tour? Yeah, yeah, well, the number one thing is that it is not a break-up. We all get along very well, and we love each other very much. Unlike a lot of other bands where people meet each other with wanted ads and then all of a sudden they write "Welcome to the Jungle" and then the next minute they're like, "holy shit, this guy's a heroin addict," or "holy shit, this guy's bipolar." We are totally not that. We're a bunch of art school students who love hanging out. We got together and we made a really cool, crazy art project called Mindless Self Indulgence. We're not going to break-up unless somebody dies.
The hiatus is really more of a heads up, because a lot of times I think people get lazy. They think, "Mindless is coming to town, oh they'll be back next month, or [in] a year and we'll see them then." Well no, we don't know when we're coming back necessarily. We're going to take some time off for family and other side projects. Who the fuck knows-- I might get hit by a car. I don't know what that length of time is; it's an ambiguous length of time.
Also, I don't know what it is, but in this modern era, everybody needs their fuckin' hand held. They are completely retarded. I can be Tweeting about coming to your town like, "I'm coming to Phoenix, man!" Then, they can be following me on Twitter and replying to me, or I can be taking Instagram pics saying, "About to go on stage, let's do this!" Then, literally the next day, I'll get a million tweets saying, "When are you coming to Phoenix?"
I'm like, "are you fucking kidding me! What the fuck?" It's really weird, and it doesn't matter what I do. In the last three to four years people are fucking really dumb on the internet. It makes me sad, because I've always had an image in my head that young kids know how to use the internet and the computer and technology.
What can fans expect here in Tempe for your tour kick-off show? It's basically just a big jackoff on stage, with four people really trying to enjoy themselves. You just watch, and enjoy the high energy and fun.
I also want to make the set special for every town. So, we're doing a band's choice, which is basically playing some new songs off of the new record, and then play some old songs-- the favorites. Then, we're going to stop, and every band member gets to pick whatever song they want to pick. That'll make every single show unique, because who knows what everybody is going to pick. We strive for sort of randomness, but we also like to nail stuff. So, we're all moving independently, but somehow it makes sense when you watch the whole thing. There's a lot of anarchy, but it works, which is how we've always been.
Is there a specific place that stands out to you as having the craziest fans to play for? Every place is different. New York is our hometown, so we always get a good crowd. Most cities of that nature, like London and New York, you get a large vibe. If you go to somewhere like the middle of Ohio, or Detroit, where everyone is like, "fuck this place" then you're looking at shit where they're actually pulling the place apart. [laughs] That makes for a little more intensity from the audience when you're in the middle of nowhere and they're like, "Thank God you're here!" And if everybody hates you're town, you're like, "yeah, I fucking hate everything, and I hate my fucking town-- let's fucking burn this place!"
We have that sort of vibe on stage, so to have that vibe be out-vibed by the crowd, you know it's gotta be a place like Detroit.
Describe the MSI fans to me. MSI fans are pretty much too smart for their own good. [laughs] They could be bankers and lawyers, but they'll probably end up being hackers. There's definitely a huge geek thread that goes through the whole thing, and there's definitely a creative side too. From the beginning of the tour to the end of the tour, we get nothing but presents, which is great. It's usually like drawings or something artistic. By the end of the tour, the back of the bus looks like a shrine to us, because we take it all and put it in the back and hang out with it and check it out.
Tell me about the anime video you guys just released. I've always wanted to do a cartoon that was Mindless related, like that. I really like anime, and a lot of other geeky things like comic books. Usually, the stuff that I like is the kind of stuff the fans like, because we have similar tastes whether it's sci-fi movies or the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wanted to do this anime and it really came out pretty cool. To me, if you can get a great idea for four minutes to a video, that's great, but I think honestly if you're not entertained by a video in the first thirty seconds, you're one click away from saying, "okay, I'm the fuck out of here."
To me, it's about making something the length of cool. So, if the length of cool is four minutes, there you go, or if it's one minute, there's the video.
How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence has been out for almost a year now. How do you feel about the fan and critic reception? I think everybody liked it. I mean, I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed making it. It was very cool with everybody behind the scenes, and the fans have said, "Hey, you made a really cool record." It was surprising how many people liked it critically, like the press or people behind the scenes.
Explain the Kickstarter campaign and you holding that album hostage? We had some of it half-ass done, but I didn't want to get totally into it until we had done the Kickstarter and we had passed the goal. Once we did that it's like, "oh shit, now I gotta get to work. I have two months to finish it." If it didn't reach the goal, I would have just hung on to it.
We held it hostage and were like, "fuck it, we want the money."
If we get the money, then you can do whatever you want with it, because you're going to rip it off and put it on Spotify. That's just how it goes, but if it's in my head and you don't have it, how are you going to rip it off. So give me the money, then, I'll give you the product. [laughs] It's like a drug dealer.
We became the second highest Kickstarter at that time.
In 17 years, MSI has released only 5 studio albums, is that because you prefer to approach your music with a quality over quantity mindset, or something else? Yeah, that's pretty much it. It's like Addam's Family, man, "do what you wanna do, say what you wanna say."
With a lot of bands there is a cycle where they do a record, go on tour, do a record, go on tour year after year after year. For us personally, I want to say what I want to say when I have something to say. I don't want to force myself to say something. We make up our own rules, and we've always been very independent without a label breathing down our neck. It's usually licensing deals, or we do it all ourselves.
You have your entire life to make your first record. When you have to make your second record, especially if you've had some success, you only have like five seconds to make it, and it better be fucking good. That's why they have the sophomore slump. We've always been lucky with opportunities and time to hone what we want to hone, and say what we want to say.
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