Monday, November 29, 2021

DJ Interviews: The Negatrons

 Here's my interview with the band The Negatrons

How'd yo get started in music?

I first got interested in music when I saw the video for Nirvana's "Smell Like Teen Spirit" premiere on MTV. I was 11 at the time. I assume the raw, aggressive nature of the song spoke to a lot of pre-teen and teenage boys in a similar way.

For months, my older brother begged my parents to get him an electric guitar for his 13th birthday. He got a blue Yamaha RGZ11p, basically an HSS Strat-copy. I got a black version of the same guitar two months later when I turned 12.

Initially, we both took lessons from an old lady who played piano at our church. But after a few lessons (i.e., after we learned the basic chords), she couldn't teach us anything more. Then my brother convinced our parents to let us take lessons from an older kid at his high school, who wasn't mentally stable and was really into Rush. The guy was really good at guitar, but he was terrible at life, so my parents figured we'd be better off if we'd just stop taking lessons.

Anyway, my brother and I entertained ourselves by writing joke songs and recording them on a boombox. Evenetually he and his best friend decided to start a band when they were about 15. As the lead singer's younger brother, I was naturally recruited to play bass - so we begged my parents to get me one for my 14th birthday. Birthdays are great time to ask for musical instruments...

Anyway, we found a kid who was willing to learn to play drums so he could be in the band and started learning covers. Then we entered a school talent show, where we ignored the rule about performing for five-minutes and played a cover of "1979" before busting out a 9-minute version of "Rockin' In The Free World." As a result, we lost to a little kid who did a lousy Elvis impersonation.

After that, we figured we might as well write our songs. And we played a lot of shows wherever we could. We rented out various spaces like the local middle school gym, VFW club and even the senior citizens center in our small North Dakota town and played for three hour gigs for our friends.

We started playing gigs out of town (where we played our original songs) and made some 4-track recordings, before our basement demos eventually went multi-platinum and we embarked on several very successful world tours.

Joking, of course. We broke up once my brother went to college. I went back to primarily playing guitar and began writing songs on my own. I wrote all of the songs on our debut album, "Stumblebum," when I was 18.

In college, I played in a couple of different groups, but walked away from music for awhile, before getting back into it several years ago.

Who are your inspirations or influences?

I think everything one is exposed to can inspire creativity. Our debut album, "Stumblebum," is most often compared to bands like Weezer, Green Day and the Ramones. And yes, I listened to a lot of pop-punk at the time I wrote those songs. But I also listened to a lot of Nirvana, Pixies, The Replacements and other "alternative" rock bands back then.

In college, I discovered other guitar-driven rock bands, like Alkaline Trio, Against Me!, the White Stripes, Sunny Day Real Estate, and the Get Up Kids, while also getting acquainted with bands from the 60s and 70s, like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and thr Clash.

But, like most people, I've "mellowed out," as I've gotten older and am now just as likely to listen to Elliott Smith, Wilco and Jason Isbell.

I think all those bands - and many more - have probably "inspired" me, to some degree, even if it's subconciously.

As a result, I think the songs I've written within the last few years don't really fall neatly into one genre. The one commonality is that they are all guitar-driven, whether they be electric or acoustic.

How do you set yourselves apart from other bands or singers?

Mohawks, face tattoos and pyrotechnics.

Also, we just write songs we want to hear and try to be funny on social media.

Any new gigs or albums in the future?

We just released a new song, "Summer Isn't Endless," on November 22nd. Like Stumblebum, it probably falls into the pop-punk genre, but unlike our debut album, the lyrics are written from a much mature perspective - since we're not teenagers any more.

"Summer Isn't Endless" is one of about three-dozen other songs we're sifting through that will ultimately be our second album.

A lot of songs don't sound like Stumblebum, so it might throw some people who think they know the Negatrons for a loop.

The plan is to release a single every four to six weeks before we drop a second album sometime in 2022.

Spexial thanks to them for this interview & to Tommy Negatron for answering the questions. I wish them lots of luck in their music. So until then I'll catch you on The Flipside! Stay awesome & rock n roll!

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