We had a chance to sit down with the Adam from the band Mongrel. We talked about the band, pay to play shows, music and members.
YB: What's the origin of the band name?
Adam: Mongrel started in 2003 when myself (Adam Savage) and our first singer Matt "Death" Rowe set out to start a new band that combined a variety of influences including rock, punk, metal, and anything else that inspired us. Matt proposed the name Mongrel, and it was perfect since it by definition means a mixed breed, and had that implied aggression we were going for in the association with the name. When Matt left the band in early 2004 he gave his blessings to keep going with the name and we have ever since.
YB: What does everyone do in the band
Adam Savage (guitar/founder)
Dave Kazukiewicz (drums)
Jessica Sierra (singer)
YB:Who are your major influences?
Adam: For myself, major influences would be Guns N' Roses, Pearl Jam, The Doors, Misfits (Danzig and Michale Graves eras), Black Sabbath, Amen, The Bronx, Dead Boys, Sex Pistols, old Metallica, Dead Kennedys, old Marilyn Manson, System of a Down, Slipknot, NWA, Public Enemy, Fear, etc.
YB: How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
Adam: Rev auditioned for the band about 5 years ago I believe in response to a craigslist advertisement but he had seen Mongrel a good half dozen times prior just happening to see us opening for other shows he went to, he even bought an extra NIN ticket off me at one point before joining the band. Jessica we've known about 4-5 years as Mongrel and her prior band played a bunch of shows together in the local scene so she was an established friend when she joined the band this past summer after I called her up to see if she'd fill in for us after our singer left and we had a big show a few days later to cover. Dave we met when he auditioned for the band this past May after his girlfriend who was a fan of ours recommended him to me and he clicked into place great!
YB: What inspired you to make music together?
Adam: I was inspired to play guitar when I first saw the videos for "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" from Guns N' Roses. Jess, Rev, and Dave were fortunately the right people to cross my path at the right time and I was very happy to recruit them for the band.
YB:What bands did members of mongrel play with prior to joining up?
Adam: Our current singer Jessica was the singer for a band called Affliction (they still exist on a part time basis actually), our singer right before her was the frontman for Graveyard BBQ, our drummer Dave still plays part-time with his side band Polluted Remains, and Rev actually picked up a side project called the Evil Streaks but that was after he joined Mongrel.
YB: Do you have a record label?
Adam: We were previously on Screaming Ferret Wreckords (Nuclear Assault, Meliah Rage) but amicably parted ways with them in the Fall of 2009. We are currently releasing our music under our own Immolation Records until something worthwhile comes along. We are members of ASCAP and are signed to the Inner Light Agency (Destrophy, Hell Within) for management.
YB: What can you tell me about your instruments and gear?
Adam: I play Agile Guitars (les paul copies) and Marshall Amps pretty religiously at this point. The guitars I use are really reasonably priced, sound and play like Gibson/Epiphone guitars at a fraction of the cost and really take a beating. Being such a Slash junkie, the Marshall amp was really the only way for me to go amp wise. My only pedals I use are a Boss tuner, a line boost for leads, and a channel switch for my amp. I like to keep my set up nice and simple.
Rev has a Peavey bass head, plays through a Pod processor, and typically plays Epiphone Thunderbird basses. I'm not sure what cabs he uses.
Jess usually uses her Shure microphone.
I'm not sure what brand Dave's drum kit is, his cymbals previously have been your usual zildjian/sabian ones i believe but we recently picked up an endorsement from TXR cymbals so I'm sure he'll be switching over to theirs over the next few months.
YB: What are your favorite venues?
Adam: My favorite places we've played are CBGB's (RIP), Worcester Palladium, Middle East in Boston, Whiskey Dix in Philly (RIP), Webster Theater in Hartford CT, and Tammany Hall in Worcester MA
YB: Do you have any upcoming shows?
Adam: We just opened for the Misfits this past week, we have one more show left for 2010 and then in mid-January after we take a break for the holidays and to shoot a music video we'll start playing out again.
YB: Do you have an opinion on "pay to play" shows?
Adam: I wish it wasn't a necessary evil of the music business but I kind of accept them as a fact of life. We have done those shows in the past, but we typically only get involved in those situations when we know its a show we can actually move the tickets for and not just be buying them out of pocket. I don't think a lot of less experienced bands realize that you need to be wise in picking those situations and which times it makes sense vs those times it doesn't make sense to do it. Obviously this wouldn't be the case in an ideal world but we obviously don't live in an ideal world either.
YB: Could you briefly describe your music-making process?
Adam: I've been the primary song writer over the years. Typically I'll bring a song to practice (typically ranging from 80-100% done) and we'll jam on it, if it needs another section we'll figure that out, and then Rev and whomever our drummer is (we've had a few in the last 5 years) will come up with their parts that make sense for the song. With Jessica in the band now that may change a little as I know she can write as well so it will be interesting as we go forward how the writing evolves in the band.
YB: How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Adam: I think my writing has gotten a bit better over the years and our upcoming full length album (Spring 2011) will reflect that I believe. Jess has certainly brought a much more melodic and interesting vocal style to the songs than they've had previously and Dave has brought a much more streamlined, feel based and hard hitting rock/punk approach to the songs than our prior long term drummers (one was a very tribal improv oriented drummer, and our last one was much more of a metal drummer).
YB: What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
Adam: I'd say finding the right people for the band, dealing with departures, and persevering in the face of situations that would kill many bands have been the biggest obstacles.
YB: What's your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
Adam: We are looking to take the band as far as we can and we're not afraid to work hard for it. We are certainly working towards doing some UK/European touring and more extensive US touring this next year. It's not about "fame and fortune" - if that happens, cool, but we all just want to be able to tour and do the band full time. We don't need to get rich doing it, just to be able to survive at least.
YB: Your band has been around for a number of years. What is the secret?
Adam: Be stubborn/determined, persevere, always be promoting, and always remember its the "music business" you need to pay attention to both sides of that.
YB: You have had a number of members come and go. What is it that makes it hard to keep members in the band? Are you particularly hard to work with? Drugs?
Adam: 5 different drummers and 5 singers too! This is a tough band to be in, we play out a LOT and it takes a toll on jobs, relationships, social lives, etc. It's not a casual hobby type band and a lot of people just can't handle the demands of it over time. We've had band members last 1 month, we've had band members last 5 years. Thankfully we haven't encountered a lot of drug issues in the band as we're pretty clear up front that it's not a hard partying situation. We have witnessed the negative effects of alcoholism which is not fun. The crew we have now though seems to really get what it takes to last in this band and when everyone is on board and working hard it is a very nurturing and family like atmosphere which is really cool. When there's a lot of negativity as we've had in the past, things don't run nearly as smoothly.
YB: What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands or are in bands?
Adam: Be friendly, be persistent but professional, meet other bands, meet potential fans, support the scene, and don't give up no matter how shitty it gets at times.
YB: What is the craziest thing to happen at a show.
Adam: Getting involuntarily crowd surfed after a set, having a kid tell me it was fine and worth it that i accidentally hit him in the head with my guitar during a set, bruised cheek bones, bruised ribs, being joined on stage by Dr Chud (ex-Misfits drummer) for a cover of the Misfits song "Bullet" at CBGB's....
YB: Are their any local bands that you are really enjoying right now?
Adam: We recently met the band Fifth Freedom out of Maine who are an excellent hard rock band in the Gn'R/Velvet Revolver vein, Mindset-X out of NH are a really good band (think Rush meets System of a Down), Broken Neck Lullaby are an excellent industrial band in the area, Scarecrow Hill from southeastern MA are always good (more on the rock/metal to nu-metal side), Tung from Rhode Island (amazing frontwoman, very solid bluesy aggressive rock oriented band), End of an Era from NJ (NIN meets old Linkin Park ??), Acey Slade & the Dark Party out of NYC (dark rock with electronic elements), and Haley out of Philly (very cool hard rock), etc.....
YB: How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
Adam: Absolutely! People can check out our music at http://mongrel.bandcamp.com (you can also get real cds or mp3s there), www.myspace.com/mongrel , www.reverbnation.com/mongrelband , www.facebook.com/mongrelband or they can find our ep "The New Breed of Old School" on i-tunes and amazon.com.
YB:Is there anyone you'd like to acknowledge for offering support?
Adam: We're very appreciative of all our friends, fans, zines, internet radio stations, websites, radio stations (regular and satellite radio) and everyone who's been very cool to us and who "gets" what we're doing even though it doesn't fit the cookie cutter mold.
YB: Any last words?
Adam: You're going to kill me after the interview??? WTF!?!? I know exclusive "last interview" things with band members are highly prized but that's taking it too far!! ;)
YB: Yes, kill you I will.
Mongrel - aggressive punk/rock/metal