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The Weekly interview: Mindless Self Indulgence’s Jimmy Urine

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Mindless Self Indulgence plays Extreme Thing on March 30.
Chris Bitonti

The last time I saw you, you were emceeing Chantal Claret’s residency at Vinyl …

Yes, I was her hype man, intro’ing her at the Vinyl shows, which were fun as hell. That was some Vegas action going on there. It’s a great venue and she has a nice little sh*t-kicking show.

Have you ever thought about a Mindless Self Indulgence Vegas residency?

No. I have thought about a world residency, where I just play in one place and everybody comes to me instead of me going to everybody else (laughs).

That’s what Vegas is for!

Yeah, it sort of feels like that. When we were doing the Chantal one it was amazing how many people either were just going there by accident. People that we wanted to go to the show, whether friends or family or industry or whatever. Or were like, “Oh, I was looking for a good excuse to go to Vegas and gamble and do crazy sh*t.” So they were like, “Yeah, I’ll be there next week.” (laughs)

I didn’t realize how many people go that residency route until living there for a month. Every time we’d come into the hotel, we’d look at the pamphlet and be like, “Wait, Guns N’ Roses? Def Leppard? Chris Tucker? What the f*ck’s going on?!

The Details

EXTREME THING
March 30, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., $17-$20.
Desert Breeze Skate Park, extremething.com.

Your new record title, How I Learned to Stop Giving a Sh*t and Love Mindless Self Indulgence, is a nod to Dr. Strangelove, right?

It is but it’s also kind of a nod to how we feel. We’ve been having fun naming them, and I think the last two were very deep, in the sense that they actually did have a lot more behind the scenes. The other ones are a lot more in front of the scenes, like You’ll Rebel to Anything (As Long as It’s Not Challenging), which was sort of aimed at the people who were buying everything, all the records, like it’s packaged rebellion. Just because you dress up in a metal uniform or a punk uniform or a rave uniform or a goth uniform, it’s still a f*cking uniform. You might as well be in a f*cking cubicle on Wall Street.

And Frankenstein Girls was just, we were crazy. So it was very pure MSI. And If was just very, we didn’t know what was coming up. We were like, if this record blows up and is really big, then we will tour forever. If this record is a failure, then what are we going to do? (laughs) Do we want to become moms and dads and have kids?

And then, this one was really, ya know, we had cleaned house. We’d gotten rid of our manager—he was a real cock bag—and, we had all kind of determined we still wanted to be … you know, we loved this band, we really liked each other and we loved our crew and a lot of the team. And, once we got rid of a couple who were kind of a pain in the ass, we were really like, oh, f*ck it, it’s Mindless Self Indulgence, let’s be Mindless Self Indulgence.

We’ve been 10 years ahead of our time and now it’s 10 years later and now the world has kind of caught up, so let’s not try to reinvent the wheel, let’s just be us. You know, like The Cramps are The Cramps, and the Ramones are the Ramones. We’re Mindless Self Indulgence. People come to an MSI show, they want to see an MSI show, and we deliver an MSI show. So let’s enjoy that and really embrace the sh*t out of that and not worry about anything that anyone would have made you worry about. Like, radio or press or any of that sh*t. Let’s just make the most f*cked-up MSI record that we want to make, like extreme f*ck you, from minute one. And, the first song we made was “Witness,” which starts off with “This son of a bitch.” Right in your face. And that pretty much set the tone for the record and the whole project.

Whenever you do Mindless Self Indulgence, the funny thing we’ve learned is, when you try to burn the whole f*cking thing to the ground, it gets bigger. When you care too much about it and you’re like, “Oooh we’ve got to get it on the radio,” then it doesn’t quite work, then it just sits there. So we we’re like “F*ck it, let’s just burn it down all the way and see what happens.” And the more we burned it down, the better it became.

The record came out amazing, and it was because we were like, Who gives a fuck? A really good example is a song like “F*ck Machine,” where we could have easily had a manager saying, “You can’t say that on the radio, but it’s a really great melody, so change the words to ‘Hug Machine.’” (laughs) Instead we were like, no, this is Mindless Self Indulgence, its supposed to be “F*ck Machine.” So it was a very pure record.

So yes, it is a nod to Strangelove, and a lot of Kubrick stuff is very influential on us, as well as a lot of other things, but its also a 100 percent how we feel. We do not give a f*ck and love the job we have. It’s like, we don’t realize how lucky we are. To be in a band where we love everybody else in the band, everybody loves the band, we love the project, nobody is like, ugh, this is a paycheck and I f*cking hate this music. No, we love it. We have a great time, we go out on tour we have a blast. We’re all friends, no one is, like, a crazy f*cking drug addict or a f*cking diva or anything weird like that. We all get on the bus and it’s like hanging out in your mom’s basement, with your best friends playing a f*cking Sega Genesis all f*cking night. That’s what it’s like being in Mindless Self Indulgence. It’s as good as it sounds.

Well, you touched on something I wanted to talk to you about a bit more—funding it through Kickstarter …

Once we started making the record or even just kind of playing with the idea of a new record, we were like, let’s just keep cutting sh*t out. We got rid of the manager—we didn’t need him. This is an era in which you don’t really need a manager … you can pretty much do it with Siri and a f*cking iPhone, so it’s just another dude taking 20 percent. Then we were like, let’s cut out more people. Why do we need a record label? And, originally, before Kickstarter came around as a platform, we had the idea of—actually, [guitarist] Steve Righ? kind of came up with the idea of—Why can’t we just hold the f*cking record hostage? And like, Give us money and we’ll make the record. He solved the mp3 problem way late, but he did. He was like, how could people not steal this record? If they don’t have it. If they don’t have the record, they can’t steal the record, So why don’t we just hold it hostage?

And then Kickstarter came around and we noticed it was actually kind of working for certain people and was doing pretty well. And, we were like, let’s continue with the same idea that we’ve had from the beginning. Like, f*ck all the, “Oh, we can’t do it without the fans and I’m a poor artist.” We were like, “F*ck you, give us money if you want this music. We’ll give you the music—we’ll give you a nice CD, we’ll manufacture it, the cost will be on us. Yeah, we’ll get a little money to f*cking pay our rent, but, we’re not gonna get $10 million and going to f*cking Tahiti.”

Kickstarter needs to rebrand themselves, man. Because they started out as a f*cking donation, but it’s not donations; you’re buying sh*t. Whether it’s Veronica Mars or f*cking Joe Schmo’s f*cking high school classroom wants to f*cking redo Les Mis, they’re still giving you something. You’re buying something. … So it was a perfect venue for us to do “the hostage situation,” and it worked great. We ended up with the second-highest Kickstarter in music, which is f*cking amazing.

The freaky thing is, I thought everybody was going to be like, “Okay, that record is spoiled. I mean, you did it yourself but you said f*ck you to the record industry. Well, the record industry doesn’t like you, f*ck you.” But it was the total opposite, ’cause when those motherf*ckers smell blood, they come out of the f*cking woodwork. (laughs) As soon as we were the second-highest Kickstarter, my phone was off the hook with people like, “We want to license this in Australia, we want to license this in this.” And, I’m like, “You know it’s already gonna be just out, before you get it on your label.” And they’re like, “We don’t care; you did an amazing thing all by yourself, and we love that.” And we’re like “All right, here you go.” We licensed it to Metropolis Records.

So now, Kickstarter people get their Kickstarter version. It is a special, beautiful version that you will never get anywhere else, with special tracks. Then we’re gonna go on tour in a couple days, and there’s a version that we’re gonna sell on the road that has different artwork, different bonus tracks. And then the Metropolis version is going to come out, and that’s a very nice home for it.

So would you use Kickstarter again?

I don’t know what will happen in the future. We do records when we feel like doing records. I might do other projects with Kickstarter. I’ve got a lot of projects I’m working on with other people, and if they want to Kickstarter that I’m fine with it.

If I do a record three years from now, like a full Mindless record, is Kickstarter gonna be the venue? Who knows. Is it corrupted by majors now that you have the Veronica Mars thing? We have Warner Bros. being like, “You all like Veronica Mars, we have millions of dollars, but we still want your millions of dollars to make this thing.” I think everyone who is now smelling the blood in the water is going to start to infiltrate Kickstarter. It’s just like Twitter. In the first year of Twitter, on my birthday my wife made my name trend. After that, f*ck that—you had to be Kanye West shooting someone in the face in Columbine to make anything trend. (laughs) But until then, yeah, I’d use Kickstarter again.

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