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|interviewed by robby sumner|
Ryan Grisham - Vocals, Guitar
Joe Asher - Vocals, Guitar
Brandon Chappel - Bass
Heath Metzger - Drums, Vocals
| Interview with Joe
May 18th, 2004
|E: So Mock Orange has been playing for several years, and in this time you've released a series of records. Joe, would you say that you are happier with each new release than you were with the one preceeding?
Joe: Yes, I guess so. Heath still pines for Nines and Sixes, but yes, I think the upcoming LP is our best. I sort of think of the first few records as us trying to figure out what Mock Orange sounds like. On Mind Is Not Brain, I feel like that record comes the closest to having a unique sound.
E: What sort of alterations or transitions have been made within the band's structure? How often is the change intentional?
Joe: Well, a lot of people seem pretty shocked at the change from record to record. But The Record Play came out in 2002. In between 2002 and 2004 we had a lot of time to play songs. There are dozens and dozens of songs that were never recorded or finished... more than that. Really, a ton of music. If people could hear all those songs, they would understand the transition. Also, a lot of it can be accredited to our just slowly becoming better at playing guitar, and understanding that the only thing a song has to do to make you feel cool... if you play three notes, and make it sound cool, then you're done. You don't have to play a million notes. Recently there have been a lot of intraband talks about leaving the past material behind us. I think Ryan and I would like to just play material from the first EP to present. But I know we will always have to throw an old song or two into the set.
E: How easy or difficult would you say it is to compose all of the songs needed to fill an album?
Joe: That's not a problem for us. I say this without an ounce of bravado... but we have enough material for the next two LPs after Mind Is Not Brain. Writing songs has peaks and valleys... when it's coming easy, you try to take advantage and do it as much as possible... when you have to fight a song to come out... usually I just let it go. I'm only speaking for myself--Ryan writes constantly.
E: Is the band more active now than it was a year ago?
Joe: Totally. In 2003 we hardly did anything. We recorded MINB in January and then spend the next eighteen months waiting for the label [Lobster Records] to put it out... which they never did. The highlight of '03 was Japan in December. Since Silverthree [Records] picked the CD up, we've been back on tour in booking mode. And also, we've got the home studio stuff that is always in different stages of activity. But yes, we are very involved in playing music together at this moment.
E: Would you say that the basic structure of a Mock Orange song is distinctly different from that of other bands' songs?
Joe: No. We have verses and choruses and solos and all that. There are only so many components in a pop song. The trick is to find a distinct way to assemble them.
E: In 2002, you guys covered "Only In Dreams" for a Weezer tribute. The album contained several other artists of note, but your song is often credited as one of the best on the record. What was your approach to doing a tribute and why do you think it was so successful?
Joe: Well, at first I thought the idea of doing a Weezer tribute song was pretty cheesy... but at that point we were pretty much like, "why not?" But we wanted to make sure that we f*cked the "structure" up in a Mock Orange kind of way. I guess if people like our version, it might be because if you're going to do a straight-up Weezer cover... it's not going to compare to the original. You can't top the creators. One more thing...
E: Go ahead.
Joe: Well... no, nevermind. Done.
E: Oh go on. Now I'm curious.
Joe: Okay, well, I don't want to sound like I am bashing on the other bands on that comp. I'm not. Every band has a right to do whatever the f*ck they want to do... but maybe some of those covers were boring because it was obvious the bands put zero thought into what they were doing. Bands should be creative. That's all I was going to say. If you're going to be in a band, at least try to be creative. I really don't want to sound cocky. I'm an affable guy.
E: Within the band, is it ever difficult to turn everyone's ideas into songs?
Joe: MINB was written by Ryan and myself. We write the songs and four-track them, then Heath and Zach take it from there. The only song that was written as a band is "Payroll." Ryan is definitely the principle songwriter, and he is a decent drummer, so usually the four-tracks paint a fairly clear picture of what the final song should sound like.
E: Do you usually write all of the songs and then go into the studio and record them all at once? Or do you record as you write?
Joe: Up to this point, all four releases have been recorded all at once. To record as you write would be very expensive. Also, it's also good to sit on the songs for a period of time before recording them so you are sure you have all the kinks worked out. Already I hear sh*t all over MINB I wish I could do over... but the next record is starting to look like we will be recording most of it ourselves, so at that point we will have the luxary of doing it either way. But it's kind of early for me to be daydreaming about the next LP when MINB still isn't out.
E: So would you say that the career of Mock Orange is still escalating?
Joe: God, I hope so, because we haven't gotten very far. I would say the careers of the members of Mock Orange are just beginning.
E: Where is it you hope to go?
Joe: I don't want to put expectations on our music. I just want to play the guitar and be happy. If playing the guitar allows me to be happy... then lucky me.
E: Well, good luck. Thanks for talking.
Joe: We leave June 10th and are going all around. Check the site for dates.