Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Static Jacks interview

Right before Halloween, I had a chat over the phone with The Static Jacks' guitarist, Henry Kaye before he played a sold-out show at Johnny Brendas opening for The Wombats. The New Jersey band recently released their debut album, If You're Young on Fearless Records; for a taste of their music, check out the new video for "Into the Sun" above!

Take Aim Zine: How was CMJ?
Henry Kaye: It was good, though pretty brief because we had to leave right away to start the tour we're on now with The Wombats. We played two shows, both went really well.
T.A.Z.: One was with We Are Scientists, right?
H.K.: Yeah, that was a really good one! It was a party for our management company, all these incredible bands. Quite the show to end on before starting this tour.
T.A.Z.: I know it's only a day in, but how is the tour going?
H.K.: Incredible! Last night we played in D.C. at the 9:30 Club. It's a pretty funny story, it was an early show, our start time was at 5:30, so the morning we left Jersey for D.C. we had van trouble and couldn't leave until the afternoon. After flooring it down to the show, we pulled up to the venue at 5:32, two minutes into our set, ran onstage and immediately started playing. The place was already packed with loads of people, we played a great show and everyone loved it. It was a crazy, whirlwind day. An interesting start, but so far, so good!
T.A.Z.: Oh phew, glad you guys made it! So, you guys are signed to Fearless and have a very different sound than other bands on the label.
H.K.: Oh, definitely.
T.A.Z.: What was the reaction when people found out you signed with them?
H.K.: I think Fearless fans don't mind. So far they seem to be into it, because we pull from early punk influences that a lot of these kids seem to like... We've gotten a number of new, younger fans at shows that treat us really well, give us candy bars and stuff. *laughs*
T.A.Z.: Had you heard of Fearless or were familiar with any of their bands before you signed to them?
H.K.: I never really listened to any of their current bands, but I love their earlier bands like At the Drive In. That had an impact on me. Oh, and Eve 6, who I really liked when I was younger.
T.A.Z.: Fearless is pretty famous for their 'Pop Goes...' series, would you ever do a cover for one of those in the future?
H.K.: Oh wow, I never really thought about that... It would be fun, but we never talked about it.
T.A.Z.: One of The Static Jacks' t-shirt designs is a play on The Misfits skull logo, are you big Misfits fans?
H.K.: They're one of our favourites, especially since they're from New Jersey as well. Ian, our singer, his voice always gets compared to Glenn Danzig's vocals and it's the greatest compliment ever.
T.A.Z.: Heck yeah, New Jersey! Is that how all of you met, in high school there?
H.K.: Myself, Nick (our drummer), and Ian are from Westfield, New Jersey. We started playing music together when we were 14, Freshman year of high school... Then after we graduated high school, we brought on Mike, our bass player who grew up a town over from us. So we're all from the same county in New Jersey.
T.A.Z.: Did you come to Philly a lot or were you more the New York type?
H.K.: We got our start playing in New York, but we went to Philly plenty of times. We're at Johnny Brendas now, we've also played World Cafe Live a few times. New York City is closer to us, but Philly is still only an hour and a half away.
T.A.Z.: You said on your Twitter that you're a big fan of Halloween, what are some of your favourite scary movies?
H.K.: It's not a movie, but I just downloaded all the Simpsons 'Treehouse of Horror' episodes.
T.A.Z.: Oh man, those are the best!
H.K: Yeah! I just like all those cartoon Halloween specials from the 90s. And the 'Boy Meets World' Halloween episode, you know, where it's a 'Scream' parody.
T.A.Z.: Yes! The one kid's name is Kenny and he gets killed with a pencil through the head!
H.K.: "They killed Kenny!"
T.A.Z.: The best line in the whole episode is where Corey points at the mark the pencil left behind and says, "We'll always remember he was this tall!"
H.K.: Classic television.
T.A.Z.: In one of your music videos, it shows you busking on the street, do you do that a lot?
H.K.: It's been a while, but there was a year or year and a half period where we would busk at Union Square in New York on a regular basis, like a few times a week. We just thought it was a really good way to get the word out and have people exposed to our in a different way from usual.
T.A.Z.: It is a pretty unique way of being heard.
H.K.: It's a great community and we got good responses. We did it when we were down at SXSW and in Montreal, we try to do it as much as we can.
T.A.Z.: I read a while back that The Static Jacks did a Daytrotter session, but I can't find it. Did they have to scrap it? What happened with that?
H.K.: *laughing* What happened was we got there to do it and unfortunately, after three hours of set-up and whatever, the engineer spilled coffee all over the mixing board, ruining all the tracking and everything we'd worked on.
T.A.Z.: Oh no!
H.K.: I can say though, that on Halloween we're doing another one in Austin, where they set up a new studio. So we're going back to do another one that will hopefully not have any problems and that will be online shortly.
T.A.Z.: Are you doing a show that night too?
H.K.: Sadly, no. We tried to get a Halloween show.... We're playing VooDoo Fest in New Orleans, so we're going to celebrate that weekend.
T.A.Z.: Are you working on any new material?
H.K.: Right after we made the album, we recorded an EP together, so it was around the same time of the creation of If You're Young.... I'm not even sure what the plan is for putting that out, but I imagine it'll be in a number of months and that'll be our follow-up. We're already prepared and one step ahead.
T.A.Z.: Another thing I saw on your Twitter is that you guys went to Marvel Comics headquarters. I'm super jealous! How'd you manage to get in there?
H.K.: Their website director, the editor for, he got our CD somehow and Tweeted about it as a thank you. We just got to talking and our publicist put us in touch, so we got to go to the headquarters and hang out for the day. Ian and I went over and did a short interview with them, got to meet the staff, and got a lot of free comics. It was one of the best days of my life.
T.A.Z.: Who's your favourite Marvel character or what's your favourite series?
H.K.: I have to say I like Spiderman best. There's one volume called 'Spiderman Blue' by Tim Sale, that's the best. And the early stuff with Gwen Stacy that Stan Lee wrote. So, I'm excited about the new movie coming out.
T.A.Z.: Oh yeah, because she's in it. Have you seen the preview for 'The Avengers?'
H.K.: Yes I have, they showed it to us when we were at the headquarters that day, before they prepared the world for that.
T.A.Z.: Wow, before anyone else! Well, that's about all the questions I have for today, thanks for talking with me and have a great show!
H.K.: Thanks, take care!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back from the Morgue - Mad Sin in Australia

This week Mad Sin kicks off their long awaited Australian tour with their first show in Brisbane on Thursday night featuring Casino Rumbles, Mouthguard and The Vampers. The German psychobilly legends are playing six shows across Australia which are sure to be wild and with a possibility of pyrotechnics. I spoke to singer Koefte de Ville about 'Burn and Rise', Psychobilly and Adam Ant.

Angie Hurlock

Released in 2010, 'Burn and Rise' is the eleventh album from Germany's Mad Sin. With an aim to return to more of a rockabilly sound with this latest album, the songs 'Nine Lives' and 'Sex, Love, Blood'n'Death' firmly cement the rockabilly roots of Mad Sin. “We started working on it [Burn and Rise] and it was our plan to get back to our roots which are more rockabilly and early punk stuff. The album we did before we went a little too far with the sound and it was too fast.” During the writing of the album, Mad Sin suffered the loss friends which affected the album making it very autobiographical and influencing the title. “A lot of shit happened to us, a lot of people died, shit happened in our private lives when we were in the process of writing the songs. We didn't want to do a dark album with depressive sort of stuff. We thought the people that we lost wouldn't want that, they would want us to have a big fucking party. So we came up with the idea of calling 'Burn and Rise', burn the old shit and rise up again”.

Despite most songs on the album being written in English, there are a handful of songs in Koefte's native tongue, German. Mostly Mad Sin songs are in English to reach a larger audience however, with the emotive nature of 'Burn and Rise', Koefte found the words for some songs felt more organic in German. “There is one song, 'Für Immer' which is really a love song. I split up with my girlfriend when all that shit was happening and I wrote the song in German because it came from my heart, it came naturally. Geisterfahrer, I always wanted to do that song because we just love that title. Geisterfahrer, which is the word for the guys that drive on the wrong side of the road, its kinda a metaphoric song and it kinda had to be in German. I think on the next album there will be some more songs in German, because people enjoy it here”.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Mad Sin and their influence on modern psychobilly, but the scene was almost non existent in the early 80s when Koefte first became interested in the rockabilly scene. “ I started when psychobilly wasn't even there, as a rockabilly teddy boy. That was like 1981 and in Germany there were no psychobilly bands. I was listening to a lot of old rockabilly stuff, I was eleven years old when I started and I had no money. From there on it kinda evolved, it was like Psychobilly was the new thing with rockabilly an old style and there was new rockabilly, those cat kinda bands which were a little more soft. But then the Meteors came with their very first album. We started to be at first very rockabilly and psychobilly came later. We changed our clothes from traditional teddy boy gear to jeans and boots and stud belts and stuff like this and we had the flat tops, you know stuff like that. Berlin was a big underground scene at the time, a lot of street fights between the gangs, but everyone was into music”. On the 20 years of Sin album Mad Sin cover Adam Ant's 1985 hit, “Vive Le Rock”. Despite Koefte finding Adam Ant a little too mainstream during the 80's, it was a song they had wanted to cover for a while. “I always liked some [Adam Ant] songs, I like when he was still with the Ants, 'Stand and Deliver' and 'Goody two shoes', the early stuff that was more new wave punk. But the 'Vive Le Rock' album we always liked because it had that certain rockabilly influence. You know more of the songs sounded a mix between old rockabilly and T. Rex or something like that. We just covered it and it turned out great. We just did it and we never released it really, it was just for us and somehow it never seemed to fit on anything. But we thought with the 20 years thing we could put it on there because it had never been released”.

This November hails the first time that Mad Sin have come to Australia and they're looking forward to putting on some great shows to some wild audiences. “It's kinda surreal for us to go to Australia. We started here in Berlin and now we've evolved and seen half of the world, but we never expected Australia so that's a very big thing for us in a way for making it with the music. Also we like a lot of Australian people we've met here in Europe, America and Japan and we're friends with The Fireballs and Zombie Ghost Train. They [Zombie Ghost Train] are good friends of ours, we've known them a long time. When they first came over here I tried to get them a record deal when they only had the demo tape going on and it kinda worked out. So you know all those people we've met from Australia are really cool, so we're really looking forward to partying after the shows. We will have some days off and we definitely want to see the beach and all that and also the nature there”. Australian audiences can also expect an amazing live show from Mad Sin with each show different to the last. “What we give is what we feel and what we are. Unfortunately I think we cannot do our fire show cos we have some things going on where we set fire to the bass at certain parts of the show, but I don't think we are allowed to do this in the venues over there as far as I know. We're going to try to do it. But anyway its going to be very wild and spontaneous and different. We're not one of those bands where the audience expects the same things at each show. So you better come to all the shows. If you want to see the whole picture you have to come to all the shows”.

Mad Sin are doing six dates on this Australian tour heading down the east coast and even making it to Perth, so make sure get a long to at least one to experience and celebrate the legendary psychobilly of Mad Sin. “I just want to say after 25 years we are ready to go over and if you're into this type of music, we hope to see you there and I would appreciate to see you there. Offer us some drinks after the show, if we're not too tired, we're going to be there and will party with you guys”.

3rd November | Hi-Fi Bar, BRISBANE 18+
4th November | Shed 5, GOLD COAST All Ages
5th November | Annandale Hotel, SYDNEY 18+
6th November | Cambridge Hotel, NEWCASTLE 18+
11th November | Hi-Fi Bar, MELBOURNE 18+
12th November | Rosemount Hotel, PERTH 18+