How did the band get together, given that you all come from other bands?
Well, originally we were not from other bands. I was in Queens [of the
Stone Age] at the time but I've known Zach since I was eleven years
old and Tyler and Zach went to College together and so they weren't
actually in bands at that moment. So this whole we're in lots of bands
thing developed over time, originally it was just like we're starting
What has the tour been like so far? How are you finding playing such
It's been really fun, I wish a lot of these venues had a little bit
bigger stages because... this is the first tour cycle we've done with
a real drummer so we used to just be able to play any venue, open up
for any band and it didn't matter at all. Now we have a real drummer
and we need the space and I need space to run around and be a monkey
up there. So we just did a tour opening up for Arctic Monkeys, literally
monkeys, and we were playing arenas and we had a whole stage to do whatever
we want and we've been used to that. On the small stages I can't really
go anywhere or do what I want to do except like hit someone in the face
or get right up in them which is really fun. You don't get to do that
in arenas with a f*cking ten foot barrier. You don't get to touch anyone
or feel their presence. I've enjoyed sweating on people.
Have you been to Cambridge before and how have you found it?
I have been to Cambridge before. I can't remember in the last ten years
having been here, I might have. I don't think Queens have ever played
I remember playing here, we had a seven week tour in the UK. It was
God awful and I remember coming here but that's the only time.
What are Sons of Raphael like to tour with? Do they put on a good
Yeah they're great, they're hilarious. They're these two brothers, Zach
found out about their band...it's hard to describe them and I think
their future is very bright. I don't think they're doing what they're
gonna do and they're gonna prove it to people later. They're also very
easy to tour with cos there's only two of them and no drummer.
The new songs sound a lot more danceable, was that a conscious decision
or did it just happen that way?
It's just what happened with what we were writing at the time, maybe
there was a bit of 'this record should be a little bit more upbeat'
but it was a pretty natural progression. Me and Tyler write separately
and write all kinds of songs, punk songs, ballads on piano and weird
songs and abstract songs. Then we just go through them all and see which
are the best for Mini Mansions.
For this record I was in a mental zone that I was kinda writing all
about one thing and they all had to go on the record.
Do you write on the road?
Usually it's really hard to write on the road, you always think 'I'm
gonna bring out my mic and my acoustic guitar and write' and then it
ends up not being like that. A lot of these songs were actually started
on the road because I was at a point in my life where I had to get these
things out...they needed to come out immediately, some were started
in the UK, some in Australia.
What was the feeling you were trying to get out on the songs?
I was in a relationship. Literally when we started our last record cycle,
I'd just met this woman and fell pretty hard. So the record is actually
in chronological sequence. We kinda wrote and recorded it in real time,
so the first songs I wrote are song one and two because I was falling
for this girl...and then the last songs on this record are the break
What would you say your stylistic influences are for this project
rather than you would bring to QotSA?
What I'm inspired by never really changes, it's more just the choice
of songs. I was recording 'Villains' [for QotSA] at the same time we
were recording this record...there was a few demos I brought to both
of them. The great thing about Queens is anything goes, our records
are pretty diverse, there's rock songs and quirky songs. Although we
sound very different because there's totally different people...[Josh
Homme's] point of view is very different from our point of view lyrically.
As far as musically, we all love everything and I think that is a misconception.
We get a lot of metal or rock guys at Queens shows and they don't understand
that we like everything.
It'll restrict what you can do creatively.
Yeah, who wants restrictions? Actually sometimes restrictions are good
when it comes to the process in the studio like when you use digital
recording you can have an unlimited amount of tracks and I think that's
a problem and you should have restrictions. Tape is really great because
you only have 24 tracks and you have to make choices.
Who are some artists that you are really interested in at the moment?
I'm really bad about new music, you could say I'm jaded or I don't have
the time or mental energy to be playing shows and recording everyday
of my life and then wanting to go and listen to new music.
But I really like the band The Viagra Boys, they're doing a great job
of being a punk rock band yet having this quirkiness that you don't
see in punk rock everyday. It's like a six-piece band, they have a saxophone
player and a keyboard player and you don't see that from real punk rock
bands. So they're like dance-y as well.
What advice would you give to new up and coming bands?
I used to say just don't ever quit, because for me it's like people
start bands and then they realise how hard it is and they start dropping
off like flies and it's like 'cool, more for me...go ahead, it's more
space for people that don't want to give up.'
Nowadays, it's tough out there, even for us. Even though we are successful
with other bands, this band is still a new band, we're growing and it's
hard. We're not making money out here, we're losing money, thousands
of dollars we're losing to be here.
I'd say learn the business as well, learn every part of what goes into
touring and making records. You gotta be disciplined and practice your
instrument every day and be the best you can, but also be smart...so
you can make the right decisions so you can tell your managers and agents
and labels what to do. Because sometimes they f*ck up and you should
be in control of your art and your destiny.
Do you think you need labels anymore?
They're definitely on the decline, the music business is over. It's
over. I came up right when it was at the end so my first band signed
to a record label and it felt good and they did stuff for us but now
labels are very scared to spend money and put money to a new artist
because most of the time it's not going to work out.
Labels for us are needed cos I'm at the point in my life where...I
don't want to be emailing radio people and promo people everyday, I
just can't do it anymore and so I need that infrastructure and I do
think you need that infrastructure because they have connections that
you just don't have. That being said, you don't need a label anymore.
It's apparent from...Billie Eilish and all these YouTube artists. You
can do it all yourself, put your sh*t on YouTube or whatever format
and build your fanbase and then the labels are like 'oh sh*t, you have
ten million views on this. We'll give you all this money, please sign
Pic by Laurine Payet
What I've seen a lot of bands doing recently is signing to a label
for their first couple of records and then going independent once they've
made some contacts.
Yeah, once you've built your fanbase up you don't need it anymore. After
'The Great Pretenders' record, we were signed to Capitol Records in
the US. They didn't want to do the next record with us and we didn't
want to do it with them, so we parted ways. Before we could get the
deal done with our new label Fiction, we didn't have the money and we
were ready and we wanted to go make this record. So we put out the B-Sides
from our last record on this thing called PledgeMusic and it's a great
format, big artists do it...we went directly to our fans with a record
we pressed...and we made enough money from our fans to make our record.
So that's how we did our last record and then we signed with a label.
Read Ryan's review of the gig here
Thanks to Michael for his time and to Simon Neal
and Charleigh Egan at Chuff Media for arranging the interview