Silent Uproar: This is probably the only general question, but I think everyone could use a little background information. So how did all of you end up in Self?
Matt: Well in about '94, my brother and I got a deal with Zoo Entertainment, which artist like Tool and Mathew Sweet were originally on, and we put a record together. Then they wanted us to do a show in Huntington Beach, CA, and we need a drummer and we needed a bass player and we needed a keyboard player. I already new Chris James from college because he lived in the same dorm room area as I did. And Jason Rawlings was in a band called the Brian Cuzies, and they had moved to Portland, Oregon and then they moved back to Murfreesboro, and we new that he would be good for it, so we gave him a copy of the record. Chris James basically told me that he would be in the band, he told me that he was going to do it.
Anyway, we got Jason, and the original bass player Tim Nobles, and he toured with us for about 2 years, and then we kicked him out of the band because it just wasn't working out. Then Mac Burrus came to my house after we had done the Halfbaked Serenade, and we originally auditioned him for horns in the band, because we originally wanted to have a horns section with us, and then he just said, 'hey Matt, I can play bass really good too,' so we auditioned him for bass and he has been with us ever since. That is basically it, it has kinda been an evolving process, but I think we finally arrived at a beautiful place.
SU: What was the inspiration or reason for doing an all-toys album?
Matt: I would say it is something that we have always wanted to do. Actually there is some interview in a magazine where they gave us the cover, I believe it is Virtually Alternative, anyway, the quote from that says like 'One day we want to do an all toy instrument album, and everyone will get their little toys and just rock, and we finally had the time to do it. might move as a band.
Mac: And that was a long ass time ago
Matt: Yeah that was in '95, so it was just an idea that we had forever and ever and ever, and with these independent records we do with Spongebath, they are a little more comedic and out there, so to carry on with that tradition of Half Baked (serenade) it was time to do something like that. It has been done before, but not like since 1986. A band called Pianosauras had an album, and we just kinda updated what they were doing.
SU: With the exception of 'What a Fool Believes', where any of the songs on Gizmodgery written previous to the recording of the album?
Mac: We all just got together originally and just sat down while we were recording songs, and re-recording songs for Breakfast with girls.
Matt: We actually scored studio time because this band Fleshpaint, which is a Spongebath band, was suppose to book out this studio, and Spongebath had booked the time for them, but they didn't make it down from Canada. We went ahead and took their time, but we were just basically recording beats to analog and stuff with the toy drums, just getting sounds and doing all kinds of sampling with the different keyboards. Then one night we just sat down and wrote "Trunk Full of Amps" and "Oridnaire" and "You Love my Love" and "Suzy Q Sailaway". "Suzy Q Sailaway" was originally meant to be on the toy instrument album, but our management thought it should go on Breakfast with Girls, which caused us further delay on that album. I am not really happy with the mix of it. I like the performance of Suzy Q on Breakfast with Girls, but I am not really happy with the mix of it. The toy instrument version was really really good, and we also had a remix that the Dust Brothers did for it, which was OK, but I just think it should have gone on Gizmodgery.
SU: What made you want to cover 'What a Fool Believes' with toys?
Matt: It was originally Count Bass D's Idea. He wanted to get together and record it and I never invited him over. SO we just decided it would be a really fun thing to do, those big chords with these tiny little keyboards. That was kinda the point of it, it was like an exercise in recording. Actually, the whole album is pretty much an exercise in recording. I just thanks the songs turned out really good. "What A Fool Believes", I just think is a great song, and I just figured people wouldn't expect something like that.
Mac: I think that song also shows that you don't always have to play whatever keys are offered on a toy. It started out with us thinking that all these songs were going to have to be in the key of C because all the children's pianos are all tuned to C. Then we pulled this one out of the hat, we kinda stretched it, and put it in another key to add variety to the record.
SU: What song on Gizmodgery was the hardest to record?
Matt: That's a tough one, because I don't have a copy of it in front of me.
Mac: Well each one kinda had it's own challenge. For instance, like "Trunk Fulla Amps", we were recording the bass on that, the bass just wasn't coming through, so there were some certain things we had to do in mixing, actually Chris and Matt had to do in remixing.
Matt: Well, "Oridnaire". The drums on that had to be redone...Twice. Also, "Pattycake", the funny thing about that was we originally recorded the drums and handclaps too analog tape, in a big studio. We took that, dumped in into my computer, brought my computer home. Then I sampled the beats and the hand claps and recorded the rest of the song in a program called "Logic Platinum". Now, I got everything in Logic Platinum, and had it rolling, but I couldn't mix it in Logic Platinum, so I had to transfer it back to Pro Tools. And there is no really easy way to sync up Logic Platinum and Pro Tools, therefore I had to label every single file, and sometimes that's just a word on a vocal track, so we are talking hundreds of files. I had to label every single file on a piece of paper, and dump that file in piece-by-piece, and piece the song together in Pro Tools like a puzzle.
So it was constantly opening up Logic Platinum, looking at a specific section, seeing what went where, and closing that and opening Pro Tools again, because if you have them both open, your computer crashes, well mine did. And then opening up Pro Tools and synching everything back up, and making it groove like it did in Logic (Platinum). And I still don't think I got it right. Like if I opened up the Logic session, and played that for you, you would be like "wow", it just grooves so much more. But it was the only feasible way to have control of these tracks during mixing. I think I also had to do that with "Five Alive". And "Hi My Name Is Cindy" is actually a rough mix, because when I backed up all my files, to that, they didn't backup to my backup software. So the rough mix that I, fortunately spent a little time on, is the one that ended up on the album, because the files no longer exist. Because they were never backed up.
SU: So do you use Pro Tools a lot when recording?
Matt: Not now. Subliminal Plastic Motives was done analog, Half Baked Serenade was done on D-88s. Breakfast with Girls was done all analog until I did "Uno Song" which was the first thing I ever recorded in Pro Tools, because I had just gotten it. And we did part of Gizmodgery with it. We tracked most of the drums analog, and then dumped them into digital, and then did the rest of the tracks at my house with Pro Tools. So I think the next Self record will be all Pro Tools, other than drums. I generally like to do drums analog, and sometimes guitar. But Pro Tools I think is wonderful and I it is an ever-evolving platform and I think it sounds better all the time.
SU: I think there is so much more you can do with it too, as far as rearranging stuff, and if you have something one way, and you decide it doesn't fit quite right and you want to re-arrange it, it make sit a whole lot easier.
Matt: Yeah, Pro Tools is a wonderful thing, and it can be used for evil as well, but we choose to use it for good.
SU: Did you have any problems trying to get Spongebath to release an all-toys album?
Matt: They were all into it, but it is generally hard to get Spongebath to release anything, but they were all into it.
Mac: We worked our asses off to really get it going.
Matt: Yeah, they loved the marketing value of it.
SU: So do you know how the sales of Gizmodgery doing?
Matt: They are doing great, we pre-sold 5,000 and they just ordered another 5000. 3,000 went to retail, or maybe more than that, and then 2 or 3 thousand went to press. So it is getting out there, and it is pretty amazing for how small the company Spongebath is right now.
SU: So are you doing full-on distribution? Will it be in the major chain stores and everything?
Matt: Yeah, distribution through 88.
SU: Do you think you will ever record another toy instrument album?
Matt: Yeah, we could make it a series, if people want it.
SU: I think they would.
SU: How were the crowds at the in-store and the Sebastian's shows?
Matt: They were really good. The one at Sebastians was really hot, and full of crazy people. The one at Tower Records was full of younger kids, and was kinda like playing in the middle of Wal-Mart. But it was interesting.
SU: I talked to some people about the in-store, and they were saying, that it was cool that you guys did that show because that way people under 18 could get a chance to see you.
Matt: Exactly, we need to do more all ages shows.
Mac: Too bad they had to see it in Wal-Mart, but still it was good that we got to play for other people, fresh faces.
SU: Matt, so how is it being back in Murfreesboro?
Matt: Well it's cool. I don't know, I pretty much know my way around. I have lived here since '91, and only lived in L.A for 4 months, so. I want to go back and see my dog, that's for sure.
SU: So what made you decide to move out to L.A.?
Matt: More opportunities in rock n roll out there. You have all the rock divisions of labels, and all the urban divisions of labels, and all the hip-hop divisions of labels out there. And when you are working on something, you always have A&R people stopping by the house because they are right down the street, and there are wonderful studios to record in, that aren't catered to country music.
SU: So was it a move for Self, or was it a move so that you would have other stuff to do too?
Matt: It was a move for Self, and it was a move for me as well, to get more work. I love doing Self records, but I also just love recording. I kinda ran out of people to record here.
SU: Do you have any future plans to produce anything else?
Matt: Not as of yet, I have sent some tracks to people, but nothing in concrete, because I am leaving my schedule open for the next Self record, which we are going to start probably next month.
SU: Mac, hat have you and Jason been up to since Matt and Chris moved to L.A.?
Mac: Well, Jason and I did a couple shows with Count Bass D, he kinda asked us to back up his vocals with whatever we could do. We do shows where he plays keyboard, and it's like a trio. It is a little more jazzy, and a little more…garage band, hip-hop scene. We have done a couple of those, and uh, I just sit around and write songs like "Cock In the Morning" and try and record. This past month I just got a DS-1680, so I have been learning my way around that and trying to record. We set up shop underneath the basement, and Jason and I get together and do a bunch of experimental recordings under there. Basically, anything that I do, I kinda look at it like a reserved product for the next Self record if anything is needed. That's kinda how Gizmodgery was, a couple of tracks on Gizmodgery were put together from stuff I already had in the back of my brain, and when we all got together, we kinda played, and whatever came out we turned into a song. So that's just kinda how I look at it right now.
SU: And you're moving too.
Mac: Yeah, I am on my way to move to San Diego so I can be a little bit closer to the recording process. Maybe record some San Diego bands, we will see what happens.
SU: So is there any particular reason why San Diego?
Mac: Well, the reason I am moving there is because I don't really feel like up am up to living in Los Angeles. I think it takes a certain type of super-human to live in L.A. and I am just not ready for that. San Diego is only like and hour and a half away, or a $30 bus ride, and plus it is a little cheaper. But that way I will be closer to LA to go help work on the album or whatever.
SU: So are Jason and Mike just going to stay in Murfreesboro?
Matt: Yeah, they are gonna hold down the fort here. They just bought houses, so they are going to stay around here.
SU: Each 'Self' album seems to have its own distinctive sound but still retains the 'Self' sound, do you think that the new album will display another side of 'Self'?
Matt: Yeah, I am ready to do something more rock and roll, after doing 3 kinda off albums in a row. The reason I wanted to do those was because when Subliminal Plastic Motives came out, I had all these radio DJs and everything wanting to take me to strip bars and stuff, and I just wasn't into that. So that's why HBS had almost no guitars in it at all. That is where I wanted our sound to stay for a while. But now I think Rock n Roll is so bad that it can't go anywhere but up. Bands like Eve 6, I just think they should all just die. I mean how many times can you redo Green Day, and call it new music. So yeah, I think we will do something a little more rock and roll on the next record.
SU: Are there any song ideas for the new album yet?
Matt: Yeah, I have some stuff, just nothing I am really happy with yet, and I am sure Mikey has some stuff, and McBurney has some stuff, and Jason's got his stuff. Everybody's got stuff. We just plan to sit down and brainstorm some.
SU: Are there any plans to release "Self Goes Shopping" either as MP3s, or as a real release?
Matt: Yeah, we might give it to Dreamworks. I have a whole other CD of stuff like Feels Like Breakin Shit that I might give to DreamWorks. That's more if the next album takes a while to put out, so that the fans have something to listen to when they get tired of Gizmodgery.
SU: Is there any music out there that you think people should hear?
Mac: I think everyone should go to mp3.com and type in Spike and Mallets. It is a band that Seth Timbs of the Fluid Oz is in, and my roommate is in. They only have two songs up there, but they have a whole bunch of stuff, they just haven't recorded yet, so check that out.
SU: Ok, one last question. Which is a better movie, Goonies or Back to the Future???
Matt: Good question.... Matt and Jason say Goonies.
Mac: Yeah, I will go with Goonies.
Matt: Goonies just had better music and better characters. They didn't even mess the Goonie up and make him like some 6-year-old kid. That movie is pretty much the ideal kids fantasy world. The only thing that didn't quite work out was, if those townspeople built that well, wouldn't they have known that whole underground thing was down there.
Mac: Maybe the well was old as hell.
Matt: I guess so.
SU: Well that's all I have, is there anything you wanted to tell everyone?
Matt: Just tell everyone hello!