American Head Charge Interview
This interview was made in Paris the 08th of June 2005.
Benny has met Mr Banks.

The last time you were in Paris was with Slipknot in 2001. How does it feel to be back in France?
So far pretty good its only been like half an hour. Except for traffic, it is fucking worse than New York, its amazing. Last time we were here we were on a bus with Slipknot so you don't really see much driving around. But now since we only have three dates outside the UK we rented a van and we can see where we're going. I'm like "holy fucking shit you drive like an asshole"!! Get me in a car here a wanna fucking drive like this, there's no lines! Its good to be back though because its been way too long, so its good to be back in swing get the machine going.


The last year has been hard for the band, a new label, changes, one divorce, did you wanna stop everything?
Oh yeah, I think everyone in the band quit at some point, I mean I quit for half a day. I called Cameron in the middle of the night and told him in his machine "I'm done I'm fucking done dude", then I got drunk and then next day I was like "aw shit what did I do?" I called him back and said "just kidding"! It was actually pretty rough between 'The War of Art' and 'The Feeding', I know a lot of bands say that but it was fuck hard man, esp. even after the feeding was done and Brian died on us. We just can't shake the curse, there's an AHC curse, it touches everything. I swear your car's gonna break down on the way home! There are definitely times when I thought I was fucking done, and other people quit the band at times, you couldn't get a hold of them for 2 weeks. That's when I was in California and they were in Minneapolis a couple of thousand miles away and we were doing demos for Rick Rubin back and forth just waiting and wait….!! For Rick to fucking listen to it, it took too long.

Where did your courage come from during these hard times?
Well basically this is all I do, I either play bass or I ask the person do you want fries with that? That's all I got. I can write music, play guitar, bass, that's about it, so I can't really quit this cause if I do I'll work at fucking McDonalds. Cause all I do is play music.

Not working in a factory?
No no, I had so many shitty jobs before we got signed so I still remember. There was actually a period of time between records and because it had taken so long, 2 and half - 3 years, the cheques stopped coming in and eventually you got one every once in a while for 200 bucks and you're like "fuck I gotta pay rent, I have to live, I have to eat", so I went and got a job for 3 months.

Can you tell us why you left American Recording and how you got the deal with Nitrus Records?
We left American because we felt we were ready to record a record and we were ready for a long time. We had recorded more than 45 songs and Rick kept saying keep writing songs and we kept asking for notes on the songs, we sent a batch of 10. We were used to getting back notes like: "track 1 I like the intro, not sure about verse, maybe change the bass kick pattern, the chorus great". He would give us direction. This time around, we got notes with one line, like "don't like it so much", or "this is pretty good", there was no direction, he was vague and general. It was hard to get a hold of him, he was producing everybody like NiN and Johnny cash, in the echelon of importance we were down here, we didn't turn out to be the next SOAD, we did not sell 5 million records, at one point I think they were thinking this was what was going to happen and it didn't, so we got pushed aside a little. So we kept writing for a year and a half and we were watching our career fade away and he was doing his stuff, we sent demos and heard from him after 2 months. 2 months is a long fucking time when you're waiting to hear about your career. We were ready to move on and he still wanted us to keep writing. But he was pretty gracious, he held to his word. One of the first things he had said to us was "if a time comes when you don't wanna be on the label or not work with me or if I don't want you on the label and don't want work with you, we'll clean cut, real easy". And once we told him we wanted off American, in three weeks the paperwork was done, it was actually one of the fastest things he's done!
Our manager is actually part of the Nitrus label and nitrus put out the 'Texas chainsaw' soundtrack, the Clutch records, the Lit records. Definitely it's a very small label but in the general musical climate it is harder now to get a record deal than 5 years ago. So we were given this opportunity. So our manager was like "they wanna work with you pick you up", and we were like "Grab that!" Cause its really hard to get a record deal. Labels aren't throwing money at bands like they used to, they're being frugal.
Last time we had like no budget to make the record with Rick, we moved into his house, we brought Sheryl Crow's studio doors from her house, rented every peace of gear known to man to record.
This time we went into the studio we had a percent of money per song we have this much to spend so we have 14 songs. Last time we did like 22 songs. So it was really different. So it was through our manager that we got together with Nitrus.

Are you happy with Nitrus and what they're doing for you?
They were doing ok up to about 2 weeks ago! This whole Mudvayne tour has been planned great. But when we got here in Dublin, the promoter didn't know we were gonna be there! There were label problems, we didn't get the money, someone else gave the money, it was all Mickey Mouse, it was fucking retarded. So I'm a little pissed off with him right now. I cant wait to get back and tear that fucking guy's head off. But up until then its been good!

The feeding has been out for 3 months.
When did it come out here, in February or later?

After.
In the States it was released on Valentine's day.

No it was at the end of March here. How did the fans react to it in US and Europe?
You mean live? Oh the record. Its mixed everyone seems to like it, especially the industry and the bands like Mudvayne, Otep, Bloodsimple, DKL. Everyone loves the record, I'm very impressed by all these good musicians saying "its awesome I can't get it out of the CD player". But with fans, they kinda got locked with War of Art cause they were listening to it for 3 years. So the feeling was different. Its not as long as War of Art, it sounds more like a band, it doesn't has the Rick Rubin wall of noise. You can here each instrument, each guitar. It's a mixed reaction but people like. Its not a bad record, but some say "I like War of Art better". And you say "ah shit I was trying", but that's just the way it goes.

What was your state of mind during the recording?
I was a fucking lunatic. It was a hard record to make. It was the tail end of the shit storm for the past 2 years. I was back into drugs really bad. Things were shitty, I wouldn't go to studio, people would not show up, they would walk out. We put our producer through hell. He really had to work for us, crack the whip! My state of mind was not good recording that record so I'm looking forward to doing another one and been present this time. As opposed to being pissed off at everyone not wanting to be there. I had some personal shit going on, I was living separately cause I was living 5 minutes from the studio in Hollywood and all the other guys were renting their own apartment. So I'd get there and they were all like "yeah we all went swimming", I was like "fuck you! Where's the nearest liquor store?" It was rough, it was hard, in the last days there were bottle flying, glasses flying, people screaming at each other.

Can you explain the cover art concept and who did it?
The painting? It's a painting. Our old drum tech did it, Cameron's the singer's roommate, he lived with me for about a year too. We had finished the record and were still trying to figure out what the artwork would be. We went through a bunch of different things. Anyway, a friend of ours was in Cameron's apartment and looked up at the wall at this 4x4 feet painting and said "that's the art cover" and everyone went "DING! That it!" They emailed the pic to me and I said "fuck that's rad! lets do it!"

This record is kinda disappointing compared to the war of art, the songs are more melodic, its more easy to understand, as you say the samples are less aggressive less acidic, the songs have more of a classic structure. What according to you is the reason for this evolution?
Well we became better songwriters. When we first went in with the songs that we had and that we had been playing for years to do 'War of Art', they were very different. Some songs are vastly different. Rick helped us write songs, not that there are rules for writing songs but we would think like ababcdef. Most of the songs we brought to Rick, he'd listen to and say "that is a song, that is a different song". We had a strange way of writing and he helped us write a classic good rock song. So it was more refined. We worked with the same guy the engineer from the first record was the producer, on the feeding who works a lot with Rick Rubin. So he's kinda got the same mentality for song writing. He's like me I'm 33 I grew up listening to Kiss and AC/DC and shit like that, rock songs! So Greg Philman is very much the same way, he's a classic rock guy. He's like "write the fucking song". We sometimes start to go off on our tangents and he brings us back in. But some songs like 'Ridicule' and 'Take' are definitely structurally different, they are not the simple abcd rock song. So it was a natural way of writing songs. And the length of the record is different, the first one was too long it was 75mins of music. People would sit down and listen to half of it then go off and get a sandwich and then listen to the other half when the brain was cleared out. So this one is more succinct, you sit down listen to 11 songs in 45 minutes and take off and have it stick in your brain. I'm proud of The Feeding, it was a bitch to make and I'm amazed its out there and amazed anybody in France knows what The Feeding is. I have gratitude.

I have a question about the lyrics.

You probably shouldn't ask me, I haven't written much on this record. I've written 1 and half or 2 songs.

Well it's a general question, its about the lyrics on the songs 'Walk Away', 'Leave me alone' and 'Take what I've taken'. Does Cameron sing about being dumped by someone or stopping drug abuse?
Its always hard do to answer stuff about his lyrics, he wont give an answer and so I cant either. Our lyrics are ambiguous you have to take them as you will. I've never hear Cameron answer a straightforward question on lyrics. There's a beauty in that. Its like Jane's addiction. I'm not comparing us to them, they are gods. But you can read Perry Farrell's lyrics and not know what the hell he's talking about. Different people find different ways to relate to these lyrics. The statement leave me alone says something, I know what he's talk about but I'm not gonna say, its not about a person though. Its open for interpretation.

Time and fear are 2 concepts used a lot in your lyrics. Do they dictate the band's and Cameron's life?
Yeah probably cause the clock was running out on us. There was a point when we nearly gave up. Time was a factor, we were watching our asses go down the drain, we were trying to fix the problem but it became futile. A larger side of the record is also based on fear of one form or another, and you can take that as you want it.

I have a few questions about Brian.
I can talk about him, but I really have to get going we're playing in 35 mins.

We heard a lot of rumours in France and on the net about the day he passed away, can you talk to us about that day?
We were coming form St. Louis Missouri and where on our way to South Carolina we were driving for 16hrs and he passed away somewhere along the route to South Carolina. Brian was an insomniac, he could not sleep on the bus. He had been awake for 5 days, he was getting pissed off because of this. So when he went to sleep on the bus, we usually left him alone and did not wake him or check on him. He had strep throat for the week before that and he was on penicillin and he wasn't drinking cause the alcohol cancels out the antibiotics. He had strep throat for about 5 times the past year, his tonsil was black he couldn't swallow without tears coming to his eyes. So he went to the doctor in Philadelphia 12 days before he died and he got some penicillin and pain killers. However, we didn't know he had a heart condition but he hadn't been drinking. The last time we saw him we went out from the hotel we walked down the street me, him and our guitar tech we had a beer and 2 shots, he wasn't fucked up, then we got back to the bus, he took the pain killers and with that and the booze and his heart and he was on his back, opiates make your stomach turn and they would make him nauseous, so with all that combination it was the classic case, he choked on his puke, there was shit in his mouth and nose, he tried to get something out of his stomach and he just couldn't get it out. When he was found, I don't know we haven't talked about it as a band for a while. It was our tour manager who found him, then it was Justin. I was inside getting dinner with Chad Grey he introduced me to his fiancée, and one Mudvayne technician came and called Chad. I thought it was for him but no it was for me and he said, "you guys need to come to the tour bus right now!" and I said "what?" And Chad said "I'm fucking eating man" but he said "NOW!" he was fucking serious. So we went out he said "dude what your guitar player's name?" I said "Brian" he said "he's in the tour bus and he's not breathing". I haven't run that fast since I was 10, I got to the bus and saw cops, lights, ambulance, coroners van, cop tape everywhere, they would let me on the bus, everyone was freaking out. I just didn't believe it for an hour I was in shock 'til I saw them take the body off the bus, we cancelled the show that day. The weirdest thing was we had to get in the bus and drive it and get to the airport to go home for the funeral. It was fucking weird. That's for the record pretty much what happened.

What did you do in the days and weeks after his death?
Well we took 9 days off, basically we went back to bury him and we got back on a Wednesday and his funeral was the next Wednesday and we were on tour by Friday. We nearly didn't finish the Mudvayne tour. Justin had a hard time dealing with it he was like "I cant fucking go do that right now". I told him I understand, but business wise it's a bad move, I hate to say this phrase, but I would say "go and do the fucking tour, this is what you do. You stayed home for a week and a half now deal with it, fucking go do the tour". That's how what I felt Brian would say. "Stop crying and bitching and go play music", so we were back in 10 days with Benji filling in for Brian. He was in the band that Brian was in from Minneapolis, so we keep stealing people from that band!

Pivot's Questionnary :

What is your favourite word? Cunt
Your least favourite? Happiness
What turns you on creatively? Depression
Spiritually? Really good sex
Emotionally? Really really good sex
What turns you off? Bad sex
Favourite swearword? Motherfucker
The sound you love? Feedback guitar
The sound you hate?
When your eating with you knife and fork goes and it goes eeek!!! I hate that fucking noise, it just made my nipples go hard…that's a bad one!
Your favourite place on earth? L.A.
Your least favourite? I don't really hate anywhere?
Well you worst place to play live?
FRANCE!!! No probably…God it's a hard one, where do we have shitty gigs? I can't answer that. Everywhere we go even if the venue and the sound sucks the kids are great so its hard to say
Last book you read?
Dark House, by Dean Koontz, and Fast food nation, a few books by Al Franklin, I just finished the Da Vinci Code, it was interesting
Last film you saw?
Last new film was Team America, with the marionettes from South Park.
Favourite movie? Probably Willy Wonka
The person who has influenced you most?
Hunter S Thomson, William Burrows, Ace Frehley
Who were your heroes?
Ace Frehley and Evil Knevil probably since I was 7, I wanted to be him
What other profession would you like to do other than your own?
Weird I was just talking about this the other night, helicopter pilot, kindergarten teacher or mortician, fixing dead bodies.
What other profession would you not like to do?
Anything where I have to get someone changed
If heaven exists what would you like God to say at the pearly gates?
Glad you made it.

Interview Benny
Translation Kostas



Copyright Hammerock - Spiritribe 1999