There's not much I can say about The Sleaze that Minnesota locals like Eli and Steve from Boys Club/Three Dimensional Records and Andy from Fashionable Idiots haven't already said better in the following interivew and via "press releases" for the records they put out by the band. The fact that the band has managed to release records on four of my favorite current labels speaks to the point as well. They make me think about those kids everyone has in their town, those wasted and unruly youths who just show up out of nowhere at shows all of a sudden, drunk as hell and full of pent-up/pissed off and misguided energy that your current scene seems to be lacking. You find out they have a band and they start opening shows and end up being a hell of a lot more entertaining than any of the other acts on the bill, sometimes due to blitzed antics and sometimes due to the fact that they're just punk as fuck and a lot more fun than anyone thinking they actually are "punk". A lot of times these bands burn bright and fast and you're left with nothing more than the memories after they grow up and go to college. Thankfully, in the case of The Sleaze, their recorded legacy will live on through a string of great singles packed with hits. I never had the chance to see them live, but maybe that's for the best, as they seem to be one of those bands that only those locals who got to see them often and at their best (and worst) were able to fully appreciate and the rest of will have to live with the stories. From "Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs" through "Weird Truck", "PCP" and "Called You Once" I don't think they wrote a song I didn't like, and they even have a few more stunners in the chamber waiting for release on the Total Punk 12" that is forthcoming. I know this intro sounds a bit like a eulogy, and I guess the status of the band is questionable at this point. I'll certainly have no problem if they should decide to continue on, but if not, they certainly left behind some of the best in young and dumb punk of the past few years. This interview was done throughout the first half of the year via e-mail and is long overdue for publication due to my own laziness and incompetence. I hope you enjoy it, and please go get all of their singles if you haven't already because these kids were a hit machine.
TB: How did you guys meet and why did you start the band? How old were you guys then?
Mark: We all met in High School. Conor, Will and Joe had all been friends since 8th grade or something and I kind of knew them, but we ran in different circles until around senior year when I started smoking weed a lot more and hanging out with them cuz they always got stoned after school at this one park in town. Conor had this pipe we called "The Arab." It was this tiny wooden pipe his dad had sitting on his mantlepiece that he had stolen and we would drive around in his mom's minivan and get stoned all afternoon.
We started playing music in the spring of senior year I think, so that would 2005. Will and I had played together a few times with our friend Dave on bass in this band we called The Thieving Bloodgutters. We practiced maybe five times in my parent's basement in the winter and then Will left all his shit there for like three months.
I'm pretty sure we were just bored and stoned one day and remembered that we had all this equipment laying around so we decided to go start a band. Will was already good at drums, I played guitar, Joe brought his brother's guitar over and Conor sang. We wrote "Smokin Fuckin Cigs" and "Machine Hand" that first day in my parent's basement. Soon after Joe went and bought a bass and shortly after that my parents started getting pissed, so we moved to Conor's dad's garage and we practiced there for the rest of the summer and just kept writing songs and recording ourselves on boomboxes.
Conor: I would add that one of the founding tenets of the band was to say the f-word as much as possible in every song. Thus, "Smokin Fuckin Cigs", and the spastic fuck outbursts in "Machine Hand". Also, and ironically, it was only after we had started the band that we really started to smoke a lot of cigs (save Will).
Although we did write a couple of songs in Mark's basement, I would argue that the band became a "real thing" when we started practicing in my dad's garage. The room, (not to be confused with the like-named movie), was a place where we could smoke and hang out while simultaneously playing for hours each day. I cannot overstate how much time we spent together in that 10x10 room. My dad and his neighbors were very generous to put up with our shit.
TB: Were you in other bands before The Sleaze? Steve mentioned a band called The Rubies? What were they like?
Mark: The Rubies is mine and Conor's side-project, which is basically just an excuse to get drunk and attempt to write "THE PERFECT POP SONG," which, regrettably, usually fails. The Rubies were born one night after Conor and I drank most of his mom's gin and stayed up until 9am writing shitty garage songs. Our masterpiece "Ice Skating" has yet to see the light of day. Most of the good Rubies songs turned into sleaze songs ("Called you Once"...drawing a blank on any others - maybe there's only one?!), but this was years later. Rubies practice was basically Sleaze practice when everyone else was busy.
The only pre-Sleaze band I was a part of was Thieving Bloodgutters. Those practices were weird. I had no idea how to play music with other people. Will would come over and sometimes he would bring sheet music he had written on his computer for me and Dave to decipher, although I'm pretty sure neither of us remembered how to read music at this point. I remember Will freaking out on the keyboard while I kinda just played the same chords over and over. This repetitive jam-style became the Sleaze's M.O. There's a tape floating around somewhere that always seems to resurface at my drunkest moments and sounds awesome whenever I hear it. Conor, Joe and Will had other band(s) but I dunno if they wanna talk about them...
Conor: Before the Sleaze, I had been in the short lived Fat Astronauts with Will, Joe, and my friend Ryan. It was one practice and will just yelled at us because we all sucked (save Will). Joe, Ryan and I then joined up with our friend Jake and played in Fish Keyboard. There wasn't any keyboard and it largely consisted of getting really fucking high and singing songs, namely, "We are the Pirates of the Seven Bloody Seas." We auditioned for a school talent show, but alas, we did not make the cut because we didn't have official lyrics and Joe's free verse ended up being too violent...way too violent. Immediately before the Sleaze, Will and I played in a band called the D's. I don't really know what kind of music that was, or if it was music at all, but we had keyboards and will did a headstand and we made it into the talent show that was denied to us the year previous.
TB: How many songs do you guys think you have wrote/recorded on those boombox tapes? What happened to them? What is The Sleaze song writing process actually like...say "Smoking Fuckin Cigs", how did that one come about for example?
Conor: We lost a lot of tapes, and, like idiots, gave away a master tape to some stupid band that we wanted to play with. I think there are still one or two tapes floating around and like Mark said, they always seems to appear at your drunkest moments. We maybe had written about ten official songs by the time senior year summer was over: "SFC", "Machine Hand", "Animals and Apples", "Stips Nips", "Khubla Khan", "Cream Fucking Soda", "Xerxes", "Pizza Hut", "Vampires" (then "Vamps" into "Pizza Hut"), "Mexican Hat Dance" and probably a lot more. I guess we had kind of a lot of songs but we were stoned and forgot them.
"SFC" is not a good example of how our song process works. "SFC" and "Machine Hand" just happened...it was a Dungeon (Mark's basement) song and that was that. Once we moved into the room we just started to play and play and play and play. No one really came up with songs, we would just "jam" for a half hour, then try and figure out the parts that we played during said jam and piece together a song, while simultaneously trying to come up with different parts to add to the previous jam's parts, and then that task would launch us into another 30 minute escapade and we would forget everything, but then just start the process over again after smoking a couple cigs and a "mini-joint." If that sounds muddled, it's because it was/is and sometimes we just happened to get lucky. With some exceptions, we were never a band to really "write songs" or "practice."
TB: What kind of music were you guys listening to in high school? Who were your inspirations at that point, if any? I get the impression you guys don't have the usual "punk" upbringing, which I think is interesting about your tunes...
Conor: No, musically we definitely did not have the usual punk upbringing. I don't think our influences really played into the sound that immediately came out. We had an idea and then brought that idea to fruition: we wanted to say fuck a lot and to have "punk-style" drumming. Personally, I was listening to a lot of rap and occasionally indie bands that I am loathe to list. Later, we, and especially Mark and I, got really into The Stooges.
Mark: I went through a pretty embarrassing Warped Tour style pop-punk phase in Junior High which I was out of (thankfully) by high school. As bad as all of that "punk" was, I guess I have to credit it for sparking an initial interest in music. So by high school I was aware of and listening to bands like The Stooges, Buzzcocks, Richard Hell, Velvet Underground etc. but there was also a heavy dose of Pitchfork-style indie rock in there. My friend Steve turned me onto that trick with the Columbia CD mailorder thing where you buy one for like 20 bucks and then get 12 free and then cancel your account so I did that a couple times. The selection was pretty terrible but I remember getting some VU, Television, Talking Heads…"classics"…along with The Strokes and White Stripes, who we were all listening to a lot at that point.
There was a period of time - maybe a year or so - when every time I got into Will's car he was blasting Refused.
One of the bands that we all really liked that sticks out still and probably led us into more interesting territory listening-wise is The Ponys. I think all of us went to see them around senior year at the Triple Rock. They opened for The Unicorns (who I also really liked) and blew all the other bands away. I bought 'Laced with Romance' at that show. I think it was one of the first new LPs I bought. I still listen to it fairly regularly.
The summer after we started the band Joe, Conor and I drove to New York. We spent most of the time wandering around looking for drugs and booze. One day we wandered into a record store in Williamsburg - I think it was Academy - and I found 'You Turn Me On' by Beat Happening, which I had just read about in that book Our Band Could Be Your Life. We managed to find some acid after getting ripped off twice and brought some back. We spent one whole day tripping in the room listening to "Pine Box Derby" and "You Turn Me On" on repeat for about 8 hours straight. Total mindfuck.
I do agree with Conor though, in that we definitely didn't have any idea in mind when we started. Our influences were there subconsciously maybe, but I don't think any of us had heard much in the style we were playing. Maybe that sounds like I'm giving ourselves a pat on the back for being "original" or whatever, but it's true. None of us had heard "Don't Talk To Me" until long after we wrote "Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs".
TB: When did you guys decide it was time get out of the garage and start playing shows? What was the Sleaze's first gig and how did it go?
Mark: We were billed as The Dragons for our first show. This emo kid at school was handing out flyers for a show in his garage that he was calling Tom-apalooza so we asked if we could play and he said yes. We took one of his flyers and crossed out Tom, rebilled it as Dragon-Palooza and then threw a bunch of flyers around at school. The show itself sucked so we decided to have a show at Conor's dad's garage and asked a couple of other "punk" bands to play. We flyered the high school again and this time I would guess maybe 75 kids showed up in this tiny garage. Both of the other bands got to play and then the cops came and shut it down before we could go on.
Our first real show was at this pizza place in Minneapolis. When we all moved to Minneapolis we didn't have the (practice) room anymore so we couldn't play as much and when we did we couldn't seem to write anything good. It was pretty frustrating so we decided to take a bunch of drugs and spend one day writing in the basement of the house Conor and I were living in. We called it "Return to the Dungeon" and all the songs were seriously, seriously bad. I had recently bought a delay pedal which turned out to be a terrible idea. We played the Return to the Dungeon songs once at that show and never again.
The show that actually helped us start playing real shows was some off night at the Turf Club that a friend asked us to play. There were maybe ten people there. One of them was randomly Brian from The Fevers who came up and asked us to play later that week at the Hexagon with his band Skipper and Boys Club. After that we started playing shows with the Boys Club/Retainers/Sinks crew pretty frequently.
Joe: Our actual first show, aside from the Dragon-Palooza and The Room show, was at the Red Sea on the West Bank. It was a day show starting at what seemed like 3:00 pm. We were all really nervous and I remember us all trying to quell the feeling by sucking down as much of a half bottle of Grand Marnier (or was it brandy?) as possible. The show went down about as well as the liquor. We were waiting for our friends to show up and the sound guy was yelling at us to play... this was before we knew the beauty of telling them to fuck off and conveniently not being found, so we started to play, half drunk and pissed and nervous. We were playing for about six people, most of which were probably just trying to lay a base for the rest of their day. We started with "Machine Hand" and our friends showed up about three songs later. "MH", being a crowd favorite, was called for for a second time; we obliged. I'm not sure if we got booed by the neighborhood drunks but by the end of the show there were at most ten individual hands clapping.
Mark: I forgot about the Red Sea!
Will: I think we opened for Ripsnorter and Corpse Show Creeps. I remember hating this.
Joe: We all hated it...
TB: Did you guys have plans on releasing records from the beginning? How did you end up getting the offer to do the first single?
Mark: Yeah we definitely wanted to, although we had no idea how to go about doing it. I don't remember if Andy asked us or the other way around. Either way we got really lucky with it. Eli from Boys Club had sent some of our recordings out to some labels for us and no one had responded and then the Fashionable Idiots thing just kind of came together. Someone else should expand on this. I didn't really have much to do with the first single coming out.
Joe: Maybe we should have Eli answer this one...
Eli (from Boys Club/Real Numbers): That version of "Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs" had been out there for quite some time. It was at least two years old when our friend Phil said he wanted to release it but then ran into a money shortage. But this got me to re-listen to that version, which I hadn't jammed in ages. I'd always thought it was too rough to release on a single but clearly the passage of time had warped my memories of it because it was, and always was, ready to go. Shortly after that there was some show at the Alamo House where I grabbed Andy and said he had to do The Sleaze single. It became the sole output from that early, teenage era. I like the sleeve they designed but kinda wish they'd used a picture contemporary to the recording since their completely stoned, nitwit baby faces truly capture the essence of what "Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs" is all about.(Ed. - Eli is referring the pic directly above this question.)
Will: As far as I know, I dont think I really had much of anything to do with putting it out...
Conor: There was considerable effort to get Andy to put out the first album! Mark and I asked Eli send out demos to a bunch of labels and I was incessantly pestering Tony (Sinks) to have Andy to put out our album. Despite Eli and Tony's best efforts, the demos failed and initially, I don't think Andy was super hyped on The Sleaze. I don't know what Andy would have to say about this, but I think we got the record put out because after a show one night Andy pushed me over Tony's balcony and nearly killed me. I think "Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs" was a sympathy release. There were no hard feelings, Silver Wolf and Vault can make a man do mad bad things, and I don't know what Andy would say about this theory (I would be interested to find out), but things started to look up after I fell down.
Andy (Fashionable Idiots): So there was this great house venue in town, The Alamo, it was a house but it was pretty big and Fashionable Idiots built a nice $200 stage there. Anyways, our bud Phil moved in there because he was buds with all the previous tenants: Off With Their Heads, Rivethead, Pretty Boy Thorson, etc. The Sleaze started playing there a lot, especially FI shows Eric and I were doing. Phil has a label (Rock Bottom) and wanted to do the first Sleaze vinyl release and he asked us to split it with him, but we kinda brushed it off and again, Tony (Retainers/Sinks) and Eli (Retainers/Real Numbers) kinda hipped us to them. We booked them a few times, the best being them opening for the Vivian Girls at a 27-head house show and then we started talking. Vivian Girls stayed down the street at their house that night, and it was the first time I hung with 'em outside a show. Connor and whichever member lived with him, I think it was Mark or whoever wasn't Joe? Real fun night! Their record collections consisted of shit from their parents like CCR, Neil Young, Mamas and the Papas, and maybe the occasional Black Lips record snuck in. PERFECT! Finally it became clear FI would do their first single long as "Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs" was on it.
A few months pass and they play another show we did at The Alamo with TV Ghost, also featuring Sinks and Condominium. Afterward there's a big party at Tony's and for whatever reason Connor used to have a weird Napoleon complex and always wanted to fight me when he was drunk. Tony was a more worthy opponent, but they were friends, so it was me. At this point we had agreed to the record. Connor was shit-hammered and attacked me, naturally I laughed it off but he kept coming. Finally we were outside and he charged me on the porch, I flipped him over the rail and he landed on his neck, a real ugly mess. All the other Sleaze members started yelling at me, "You killed Connor! Fuck you!" while he was balling and trying to adjust his neck...I ran home right then and there thinking, fuck, I killed the Sleaze, we'll never do a record. Well luckily that all passed, we are friends, and the record happened. "Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs" is the jam!
TB: Did you guys know the whole Minneapolis "scene" existed involving the labels and bands (like Andy's and Eli's) that you ended up releasing records/playing with before you met those guys via that one show? I'm also interested in seeing how that got you in touch with Rich at Florida's Dying and Ian at Leather Bar...
Mark: No, we didn't know anything about the "scene". That first show with Skipper and Boys Club was kind of our introduction and then a week later we went to see Retainers at the Alamo House and that was it. It was hard to go to shows then because we were all underage (unless they were in basements) so we could really only see shows if we were playing them and the people that were asking us to play were usually some faction of the Boys Club/Retainers crew. The Three Dimensional record was actually pretty difficult to get out. Steve had talked about putting out one of our records for awhile but I don't think the songs were right until recently and Eli took some wearing down. It was the result of 3 or 4 years of us asking them to do it. The Leather Bar record was pretty easy to deal with in comparison - Ian just messaged us on Myspace and we sent him a couple songs. At that point it had been awhile since we had released anything and we didn't even play "Crush" or "PCP" live anymore. Actually I think we all hated those songs but wanted to put something out so we just sent those. As for Rich, Conor and I sent out a four song CD from our last recording session to a few labels last year and he emailed us a week or two later and said he would put out a single. I wish we would have been more on the ball with sending stuff out to labels when we were actually still playing shows but even now it's cool to see our stuff released.
Will: This would be better answered by Conor or Mark I think. I will say that I have a hard time remembering even going to shows before we started playing them. I also remember, however, that once we did start playing a lot there were a handful of people who were very adamant on perpetuating that activity and on involving us in said "scene." One booker warned us "Dont play too many showz, the 'scene' will chew you up and spit you out.." I remember thinking this was a dorky thing to say.
Conor: I think this is dead on.
TB: What exactly was on the demo Eli sent around? Dungeon recordings? Did all of the songs from it end up being released?
Mark: I don't remember exactly. For awhile Conor was handing out these CDRs with "SFC", "Machine Hand" and "Birdies" on it. We had recorded "SFC" and "Machine Hand" with a friend from high school the summer we started the band. Those were the only good sounding recordings we had for a couple years. "Birdies" was done on Garageband so it sounded kinda shitty but it was one of our best songs at that period. I kinda hate it now and am glad it wasn't released. None of the Dungeon recordings were released and they never will be because they suck.
Conor: Again, dead on. I kind of like some of the Dungeon recordings, and two songs, "Small Jingle" and "So Cold," were released on tape, (side note: Limited to 10(?) because of laziness and Will, unbeknownst to him, painted a tomahawk eagle that looked like a Nazi eagle on the tapes), along with some other oddball tracks. I don't know what became of those tapes. I think Will is the only person that has one? Although it overstayed its welcome, I also like "Birdies".
TB: When/where was your first out of town gig and how did that go? Tell us about your tour as well, and what you remember from it or what you learned from it? Did that go well or even as you planned?
Mark: We played three dates - Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago - with Real Numbers and Black Time whenever they were here for their last tour. The night before we left for Milwaukee we played at the Hexagon and Conor drank like 18 seabreezes. He was so hung over the next day we had to pull over every half hour on the way to Milwaukee. The drive ended up taking close to 7 hours instead of the usual 4.5 and by the time we got there everyone was pretty pissed at Conor who was still sick. We played the early show at The Vault and sucked. No one was drunk enough and we kinda just fumbled through our set. I don't think we impressed too many people that night.
Conor: Don't drink seabreezes. That mini-tour was cursed, the guy from Black Time got the bedbugs.
Mark: Our only real tour was pretty hit or miss as far as shows go but was a real good time. The best shows were Omaha, New York and New Haven. In New York I got blackout drunk and called everyone hipsters and was being a douche in general which got me into a bit of trouble with Kevin from Pink Reason. The next day I apologized and he asked us to play the day show at Silent Barn with PR and Homostupids. I think we were hungover from that point on. In Albany we were booked because they thought it was a different Sleaze. They were a local hardcore band in the 90s, I think. We later ended up drinking beers with one of the dudes.
Will: I almost ran over a dalmatian in Ohio. We ended up in the woods one night in Pennsylvania and the car was crashed into a tree somehow. Everyone was very nice and accommodating. Saw Niagara Falls...
Conor: The Silent barn show was really fun. So too was Omaha, us losing Mark and Mark losing his glasses at the first stop. Will, Joe and I were eating at Mcdonalds and were just like, fuck...For me, New Haven was rough. We were really excited to play with the Estrogen Highs, but I had spent the night previous doing drugs and earlier that day we had played the Silent Barn day show and I drank too many "road sodas". By the time we got to New Haven I was in no mood. That said, Stefan was a gracious host. Albany was hilarious: having a big crowd show up expecting something different, and then us not delivering on that...I like that.
The tour itself went more or less as planned. The four of us have been on extensive road trips before, (although not touring), and knew what to expect. I knew that we would have a blowout at sometime (Pittsburgh, where we also crashed the car trying to go night swimming), and that I would get too drunk one night (Akron, and with hilarious consequences: Joe and I almost coming to blows over ONE tortilla chip while eating hot dogs with Folded Shirt), but in the end we're friends and I loved the tour.
TB: I'd like to ask you about a couple songs, and what they are about lyrically or what inspired them. And any other notes about recording them,etc...start with "Weird Truck"? Who played the solo on this one by the way? It's hottt...
Conor: I'll be the first to admit that my lyrics are not lyrically inspired. This sounds silly to put into print, but the lyrics for a vast majority of our songs are not premeditated or finalized. If I like a song, I become passionate and the words come to me. As the song gets more and more play and practice, the lyrics slowly form. Sometimes this takes a couple of shows, sometimes the lyrics are never done, save the chorus. Choruses are very important and are always finished by the time a song was show ready. If you don't have a good chorus, you don't have a good song. But in general, the ideas for songs come from recent events in my own life, my immediate surroundings, or an inordinate intake of cherry liqueur. Mark played the solo.
Mark: "Weird Truck" was written at the end of a long practice in Will’s
basement. I think it’s one of the last songs we wrote before
recording our last set of songs. Our writing style was always kind of
schizo but I think this is a good example of how most of our stuff was
done. Practice was always very drunk. After “jamming” for a while we
would shotgun beers and then start playing again. Nothing productive
was done before most of the beers were gone and we were fed up with
whatever shitty songs we had come up with. At that point one person
would freak out in the middle of a cig/shotgun break and come up with
something good. It’s weird but I would say most of the stuff we played
in practice was in no way related to the music we have released. More
often than not it was some fucked mixture of stoner/spazz/occasional
black metal/turd rock that we would play over and over again until it
fell apart, usually after about 30 or 40 minutes per song. Towards
the end of most practices someone would say “fuck this, let’s write a
‘punk’ song” and then something would come together. For "Weird Truck"
I remember playing the riff and then the song sort of worked itself
out in a fairly short amount of time. We wrote it shortly before our
summer tour and it became our best live song because we could fuck
with the timing and Will could rep D-Generation X. As for the solo I
kind of figured it out on tour. We rarely practiced songs that had
already been written – usually practice was only for writing new stuff
- so tour was really good for tweaking small things in our set. I’m
not very good at guitar so my go-to soloing technique is to play one
note really fast and then bend a bunch of strings. I guess it works
alright here. Oh yeah, I think this song was heavily influenced by the Sinks. By
which I mean I think we ripped them off. Sorry Tony.
TB: Same thing for "Machine Hand"...
Conor: "Machine Hand" is an exception to the aforementioned lyrical process. Like "SFC", Machine hand was written down and practiced over and over and over. It is equal parts trying to say "fuck" a lot in the lyrics and high school angst about the "system always winning." Lyrically, it was inspired by computer hackers. Mark played the one chord. When Mark and I were writing Rubies songs, this was also the process. "Called you Once" is an example. Of released material, "SFC", "MH" and "Called you Once" were written down and the rest were not.
Mark: Will wrote the guitar part for this song. As far as timing goes, I
really like the fact that this is the B-side to "Smokin’ Fuckin’ Cigs"
because they were both written on the same day at our first practice.
TB: "Retro Sexy In Blue"?!
Conor: I love this song. It is really simple and I think encapsulates a general feeling of my life at the time the song was written. It slowly builds and plays on the dichotomy of lie, as in lie upon a bed, and lie as in to tell an untruth. Also, general confusion, the world was doing a lot of spinning in my lyrics around this point. See: "Weird Truck". Mark played solos one and three, I played solo two.
TB: In the song "Crush" who is the "Lou" constantly referred to in the lyrics?
Will: I have no idea who Lou is. Conor knows I suppose.
Conor: Lou is an every-woman. Plus, Lou rhymes with a lot of other words, so it is a very convenient word. "Crush" is a weird song. It never really had lyrics, just a general direction.
TB: Steve insists I ask you to tell me about something called RATS OF NIMH?
Conor: If Steve wants to put a little spot in about RON, he should have at. It was my birthday and we were playing with a bunch of crappy bands and had decided to "jam." Or we were just too drunk to play our songs and went into Plan B, I forget? We were all fucking wasted and apparently played a great show. Thankfully, I don't remember. Others should expand on this.
Mark: My memory of this is very dim. Joe and I wrote a riff at practice and
then I think we all decided we would just play that because we were
probably going to be too drunk to play any of our actual songs. We
called this "Plan B". Best part of the night was before we played and
someone bought Conor a shot of Bailey’s with lime. It curdled in the
shot glass. I believe he is lactose intolerant.
Young Steve (Boys Club/3D Records): Rats of Nihm was performed at a Sleaze show in commemoration of Conor's 21st birthday. From what I can remember it started with Mark and Joe playing this heavy riff that was not unlike a Sleaze attempt at playing Funhouse era Stooges. Conor was totally pissed on another planet at this point and was making up the most hilarious/genius freestlye lyrics ever, largely mocking the audience. Me, Eli, and Tony from Sinks were all looking at each other with disbelief on our faces and cracking up at this shit because it was just too funny to be real. You could literally smell the booze on Conor from ten feet away. At one point he got on his belly and did the most pathetic attempt at a worm in the history of Western Civilization while he inched over to Mark's feet and eventually tore his moccasin off with his bare teeth. Sometime before or after that I got a little too excited and poured some beer down the back of Conor's pants while he was shaking his ass at the audience and he turned around and bitch slapped me in the face. The scrawny bastard could hit hard and I was legit pissed for about thirty seconds. I kept trying to egg him on into coming into the crowd so I could at least put him in a headlock and give him a noogie or something, but then I realized that I deserved it, he was my friend, and it was fucking punk as hell to boot. Anyway, I've never seen a more visceral, Dionysian performance in all my years of going to shows. Rats of Nihm was simultaneously confrontational, hilarious, agitating, retarded, and genius. Never for a second could you take your eyes off the spectacle unfolding on stage. Well those of us with more discerning palates couldn't at any rate. About five minutes into the set I looked back and at least three fourths of the once respectably sized crowd had fled for higher ground, with some scattered rubes left plastered to the wall; their jaws slack in nonplussed masks of utter disbelief. There was another band on after the Sleaze and they went well past their allotted time, but eventually Will, Joe, and Mark took the sound guy's hint and got off stage. Not Conor though. He proceeded to drunkenly attempt to put his guitar back on, which looked like it took a truly Herculean effort in his addled state, and tried to keep playing and singing while the other band was setting up! Needless to say that one went over like a turd in a punchbowl full of Vault and Silver Wolf. I might not have ever seen the Stooges at the heights of their powers around the time of Funhouse, but I truly feel like I saw something equally important and revelatory with the clown car ride to hell and back that was Rats of Nihm. It was so fucking raw my brain felt like it was made of ground chuck for weeks after bearing witness to it. The only shame is that it wasn't properly documented on tape. At least its legend will forever live on in the memories of those of us lucky enough to have been there.
TB: What is the difference between The Sleaze at a bar show vs. at a
Mark: I've always preferred basement shows. I think we play better and
they're more fun and chaotic because no one gives a shit. On tour we
had a basement set and a bar set. In general the main difference is
the jam aspect I guess. We had a few songs ("Pizza Hut", "SFC", "Retro...")
that would go on for way too long. Will would just never go back into
the chorus so they ended up being ten minutes of confusion and retarded
jamming. It was more like a practice. Sometimes it worked (see the mink
show) and sometimes it was a disaster but they were always more fun.
Bar shows were more orderly most of the time.
Conor: House shows/non-bar shows were usually crazy. Nobody cared and someone, if not everyone in the band, was either way too drunk or just fucking off hard.
TB: What effect did Conor learning to play guitar have on The Sleaze sound?
Mark: This is a total bullshit answer but I think it did and did not change
our sound. When we started playing none of us except for Will were
any good at our instruments so everything was kind of dumbed down -
nothing was too complicated to play because technically we couldn't
pull it off. Then a couple years went by and Joe and I got better and
for awhile we had a really hard time writing songs. At first it was
so easy to put together some three chord bullshit 4x4x4x4 structured song
but eventually it started to feel like a cop out. When Conor started
to write guitar parts it brought back the old style (since he could
not play at all) and then suddenly it seemed ridiculous to be
attempting to write these overly complicated, bullshit songs.
Conor: I'd probably agree with Mark, I don't think our sound changed that much because of my guitar playing. Live shows definitely changed, and maybe for the worse, because I couldn't really be a showman and play a guitar. That said, I think the songs we started writing got us out of a slump in songwriting and were, in general, better. Our sound as a band had changed a lot over the years, and by the time I started playing the guitar, our sound had already changed. Plus, where do you think the one note solo on "Smokin Fuckin Cigs" comes from!!!
TB: In the press release on the 3-D Records website there's talk of
"dead minks, crying brides, shoe bites, practice space break-ins,
pulled hair, balls in mouths...."? Please elaborate on any or all of this...
Mark: Man. The dead mink is probably the most entertaining story from that
list. Our friend Mike used to have shows at his house every once in
awhile so one night we were playing with Boys Club and someone else I
forget, maybe Sinks. The crowd was fairly sparse because it was
thrown together kind of last minute but we had a keg and enough people
showed up for the night to devolve into a giant kegstand contest
fairly quickly. I don't recall if this happened before or after we
played but it is significant because it later inspired the Minneapolis
(insert sarcasm here) SUPERGROUP The Kegstands. Anyway, the crowd was
blitzed and so were we by the time we played. Mike lived with some
art kids who had discovered this website where you could buy preserved
dead animals so they were buying mice and lizards or whatever and
doing weird things with them. So there Joe, Will and I were grinding
out some drunken version of "Crush" or something when Conor briefly
disappears to the laundry sink and comes back with a dead mink. Here
is the point where I should I admit I have no memory of any of this
and really should not be telling this story, but from what I heard, a
dead mink was abused, and probably molested that night. Apparently
Conor wielded that thing like an elven blade, slicing through the
crowd until the mink and everyone there was sufficiently rocked. For
me, that night ended in a near beating after mistakenly pissing into a
box of Mike's roommates high school artwork that I thought was a
toilet. As for the mink, another kid that lived there ended up taking
naked pictures of Conor and the remains at some point. They should
probably be the cover of our next record, although I've never seen
them and don't know if they exist anymore. Any additions to the mink tale? Like I said, my memory is hazy…
Oh, here's a youtube from Fever B from that night complete with photos
of me with an asshole in my drunk face and an extended "jammy" version
Conor: I forgot you peed in the artwork that day! And I don't think those naked pics ever need to see the light of day (until I become a republican politician). Either Joe or Will can elaborate on crying brides, as I wasn't there. Practice space break-ins: a little known fact is that the Sleaze owes Eli from Real Numbers a lot of money. After Mark, Joe and I had all moved out of the house we were living and practicing in, we didn't have any place to practice. For awhile we just didn't practice, but eventually, we convinced Eli to let us practice at his space for money. Like any good bad tenant, we paid the rent for the first three months and then slowly started to not pay. After about a year of this Eli, like any good bad landlord, evicted us. Again, we didn't practice for a couple of months and kind of broke up. However, we still had a couple shows to play before I left, and needed to 'tune-up' beforehand. Will had somehow managed to acquire a key to the space and so for the months before I left, we would wait for someone to leave the practice building, then we would hold the door, load all our gear, practice, smoke a bunch of cigs and shotgun beers, load out, and then leave, thinking that Eli was none the wiser. As it happens, he was, and we still owe Eli lots of money, (except that lil brat Mike).
Will: Concerning crying brides: Joe and I went to a friend's wedding. The
friend was the bride and the wedding was at her parent's house, the
reception was also there. We all got drunk and everyone was setting up
tents in the yard like it was some sleepover wedding, which it was.
But personally, fuck my wedding being some sleepover, my wedding's gonna
be in the middle of some bridge probably. Long story short, Joe and I
were rolling around wrestling each other at like 4:00 am collapsing tents
and screaming at each other. I kept repeating "Get outta me!" but I
dont remember what Joe's equally repetitive reply was, all I know is
that we screamed it in each others faces literally 100 times until I
guess we made her cry but I don't remember that part actually
happening cause I'd been guzzlin' too many beers, but in the morning
everyone was like "Oh my God, you guys ruined her wedding, you're such
jerks..." and was thinking "Oh sorry, maybe you shouldn't have had a
'sleepover wedding', fucking noob." What were you screaming, Joe? Mark
was also at this wedding. Oh! Joe was screaming "Suck my ass!"
TB: I see that Rich at FD is now doing a 12" - how many songs will it have on it? Will it be the remainder of the last recordings or just a select few cuts?
Will: It's gonna have ten songs. "Tektonik Girlz" is for sure going to be on it. We're still debating which other songs we will include but they are all from the most recent recordings (~2 years ago?). The idea of a one-sided 12" was being thrown around for a while but Eli said no, so we can't now. I think Mark was in the most direct contact with Rich so he might have something more to say. I am really excited about this record coming out. Rich seems like a cool guy.
Mark: Not ten songs, pretty sure it's gonna be eight. It's going to be mostly
songs from our last recording session plus an odd track or two. We
will hopefully be getting everything remastered and then it's off. As
of now it's going to be called "Tektonik Girlz and Other Hits". We
are still debating the tracklist, but two versions of "Tektonik Girlz"
will be on there as well as some older jams. I'm pretty happy about
the whole thing, as we had just been sitting on all this shit for so
long. Seems like things are finally coming together and then we can
be done. So many on-again off-again records and shows have happened.
I think it's gonna be nice to wrap it all up.
Conor: We have the 12" figured out: it will be eight songs with two versions of "Tekktonic Grlzzzz". I hope it is well received. Rich is a cool guy for putting up with our idiocy/laziness. Eli was really hounding us.
TB: What is the status of The Sleaze now? Are you guys broken up? Is
it all over? What else are you guys doing then?
Mark: We don't really know. I guess the problem for the past few years has
been that either Conor or I have been gone for extended periods of
time. Usually we would start playing again after we all got back into
town but for now I am not in Minneapolis and my plans are kind of up
in the air. I'm guessing if we are all back in the same place we will
probably at least practice because it's fun and we are all still
really good friends. I dunno if we would play shows though.
As for records, we have more songs from our last recording session
that haven't come out so that might be a possibility. I'm not sure it
should though. Someone offered to do a 12" with them but we kind of
hesitated and that was quite awhile ago now. My issue with it is that
I would hate to fuck up our last release with a bunch of leftovers.
Then again, out of the 15 songs we did at our last session only 4 of
them have been released so maybe we should put some of them out? I
really don't know. I haven't done any music lately. Will is in like ten bands. You
should talk about your bands Will.
Will: Mark, don't tell me what to do. At the moment I'm playing in a two piece weirdo gloomy punk band called Rollerblade with my girlfriend and a black metal band called Clump with two bearded people and one
non-bearded person and sometimes I have a beard, but not right now.
In the past, when we have noticed that we all live in the same city again,
getting together to practice or shotgun beers (same thing basically) happens
naturally and has always (twice) led to a "last show ever" where everyone that
shows up is mentally retarded drunk and a venue is destroyed and defaced pretty
seriously. I certainly would say that something like this happening in the
future is not out of the question but like Mark said, no one really knows plus
Mark's in France and has a beard now and I heard he started a new band by
himself called Beard Butt where he tapes a beard to his butt and it's not punk.
Conor: I think Mark and Will did a great job on this question: It's not over, but maybe it doesn't start again.
Musically, I am not doing much. I had played in other bands, but it was too structured and I prefer fucking off.
THE SLEAZE DISCOGRAPHY
"Smokin' Fuckin' Cigs" 7" (Fashionable Idiots)
"Crush" 7" (Leather Bar Records)
"Weird Truck" 7" (Three Dimensional Records)
"Called You Once" 7" (Florida's Dying)
"Tekktonik Grrlz" 12" EP (Floriad's Dying - upcoming)
The Sleaze on the web here.
Pics provided by band and M.Kadrmas.
Interview by (RK), 2012.
To read other TB interviews, go here.
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