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|INTERVIEW WITH SHMOTZ AND PIG BENIS
ARIN: When did Mushroomhead form as a band and how was the band formed?
SCHMOTZ: The band was formed in late 92' early 93' just starting to get together kind of as a side project,
from a bunch of local bands. Everyone kind of came from there own place. We had our little core of maybe three,
Jeff, myself, the drummer Skinny and a guitar player. Then actually a lot of it happened from a jam room that we
used to jam at is how we met Jmann our singer, he was jamming across the hall we kind of hung out later after
the current bands that we were in at the time and it just became a night project.
ARIN: So you were all in bands and then you joined as one band?
SCHMOTZ: Right, we just gravitated towards each other I guess.
ARIN: How did you come up with the name of the group and what does it mean to the band?
PIG BENIS: Don't ask me (laugh)
SCHMOTZ: Oh boy, I'm not really even sure.
PIG BENIS: Its just one of those names that you could take any kind of different interpretations that you want on
it. Its one of those things that's best left just for each individuals owns personal interpretation on what it really means and how you feel about it. It just kind of came up, you know band names are really tough to come by especially if everybody's already been in a band.
SCHMOTZ: Yeah we thought it was a real open-ended name and we all knew about the name so we just chose it as our band name I guess you could say.
ARIN: Do you have a sort of commrodery with groups that are from your area?
PIG BENIS: Yeah for the most part sure. We spent a better part of our career trying to promote the other local bands that have either come up with us or are trying to come up now that we are starting to have some success. Its always been a thing about pushing the bands from Cleveland because its always been a good scene there.
ARIN: Would one of those bands be Chimaira?
PIG BENIS: Yeah, we used to play with those guys and they were going to do a comp. with us that one time. Anybody from our area is ok by us. (laugh)
MIKE: Have you guys heard of Puppet?
S: Oh yeah.
PB: We used to play with those guys. I didn't think their still together or are they?
MIKE: There guitarist was only 17 and his parents didn't approve of him taking the step forward.
PB: That's what it was.
ARIN: Now I'm sure you've heard this question before and your really sick of hearing it...
ARIN, PB, & S: (laughing)
ARIN: ...now how does it make you feel to be unbiasdly compared to Slipknot because of your image?
PB: Its kind of a loaded questions in a way. I mean how your supposed to feel, how should you feel. We
don't feel so bad right now because we're doing our own thing, we've always been doing our own thing.
Obviously at one point in time they were doing a thing that was really similar to our thing as far as visually.
We've changed, they've changed. It is 8 guys and we do wear costumes but as soon as you start listening
to the music, everything is different anyway. You can tell as soon as you put that CD in the CD player, you
know who's who, there is no getting them confused. We don't have no big ill feelings and not any continuing
ill feelings but there was a point in time that we were a little sour from it.
MIKE: Do you feel as if the relation has hindered your ability to get bigger, or do you think that more people found out who you were because of it?
PB: That's also a loaded question. There are two different ways to think about it. They're the ones that had that
look on a worldwide basis first so they had the big first immediate impact of look at these crazy guys, what the
hell are they doing? In the meantime, they've gone on to do a lot of big things and they've made it acceptable for
bands that look wild like Mudvayne to go on and do stuff like that. It lets the magazines know that it's ok to put
people like that on the covers and there still going to sell their magazines. So its done both ways.
ARIN: When and why did you choose to start wearing masks?
PB: Day one.
S: That was day one.
ARIN: Is it when you first formed from the different bands?
S: Yeah just because that was the anonymity of it. Starting out in Cleveland again, we basically didn't want
to be judged. We have this guy from a hip hop band, we have this guy from a metal band, we didn't even
want people coming up with an idea and saying anything. Just take it as it is, its Mushroomhead. Its fun, its a lot of
fun. I think everyone likes to throw a mask on and go to a Halloween party or something like that. When you were
a mask, you feel uninhibited, its a great thing.
ARIN: How would you classify or describe your bands sound to someone who hasn't heard you before?
S: Well just from what I hear from most people, we get compared to Faith No More meets Pantera. It's
keyboard driven sometimes, it depends what song we're talking about. We've got a lot of different hats that
we wear. Sometimes its a heavier metal thing, sometimes its a bland, its a pretty wide variety of sounds. Like
I said before, the Faith No More thing seems to be pretty predominant in the press and stuff like that because
of the keyboards. That sums that up.
ARIN: How did it make you feel to release the new album?
PB: Stunned. Shocked and stunned. (laugh) We had it out since April then it was re-released in December, remixed and re-released. Its mostly a compilation of songs that we had from earlier albums that we had on our own independent labels.
ARIN: Oh, the Indies?
PB: Yes. Some of the songs go back a ways and some are fairly newer. Obviously its not necessarily a best of, its
just something that seemed like the songs that we were playing at the shows. We tried to make it seem like you were at a show. If you listen to the album from start to finish, you can really feel like you've been somewhere, like you've had an event. You don't just cut in to track 10 and that's the only one you need to listen to or just the first one and that's it. We really wanted to make it feel like you could listen to the whole thing from start to finish and enjoy all of it. Now if you don't fuck off! (everyone laughs)
S: We wanted to bring a live show feel to an album if that's possible. That's what we try to do and all of our albums
have been that way pretty much. Even the back catalogued Mushroomhead Self-Titled, Superbuick, and M3. They're all produced the same way by ourselves and our drummer Skinny.
MIKE: So it sounds to me as if the bands main goal is to have fun?
S: Yeah, what else is it about? That's what it is. I'm trying to have fun. I'm trying to succeed, trying to be able to do
this and to continue to do this for awhile. It's all that wrapped up together. The bottom line is fun and we do have a lot of it. (laughs)
ARIN: What is it like to write lyrics with two vocalists in the band?
PB: I don't think its easy but it can't be any harder than writing music with 8 musicians. Your talking about a drummer, keyboard player, two guitar players, bass player, and two singers that are all trying to get some of their ideas in there together. It's a real give and take kind of a thing. I think what we have learned over the years is to back off and let the other guys say what they have to say and do what they have to do and then step in a have a little something something every once and awhile.
ARIN: So the rest of the band does have an influence on the lyrics?
PB: Well no, as far as the lyrics go, the two singers handle all that.
S: They plan out, I'm going to do this sentence and you do the next sentence, they switch off. Sometimes its not planned out and they end up slamming over the top of each other. There's a lot of that in the record where they're both singing at the same time, maybe not as much as the prior records but that's part of what we are and what we do. Sometimes they read the lyrics from what Jeff wrote to what Jmann wrote and they're not even the same song but they kind of sort of blend together. It's a weird thing. It's very organic.
MIKE: How do you guys go about writing your music?
S: We do it a million different ways.
PB: Yeah, no song is the same.
S: Sometimes, someone will bring there own idea down as a finished product which just gets ripped to shreds. It never
ends up the same when you walk back in the door because you've got 7 other people to contend with that are going to
put their ideas on top of it too. So it starts out like that. Sometimes we just stand in a jam room for three hours and then listen to the tape. If we hear something cool, we edit it, clip it down, and try to make it into a song or we'll just save it for later. There's a million different ways to write a song in this band.
ARIN: Cool. What was the concept for the video for "Solitaire/Unraveling" and what is the song about? I recently saw the video about two months ago and it is very cool.
PB: Unfortunately one of the vocalists aren't here to describe the lyrics better but mostly as you can kind of see, it's about the struggles of life and what a person has to atone for what they do during their life and also just a struggle of coming to an atonement for what you do ...And it has nothing to do with the big rabbit...(everyone laughs) ...But that was just showing in there that we're not all 100% about everything has to be serious. Everybody's life is not just about the hardcore struggle of everyday, the grind, and blah blah blah. It is part of it for sure but there are other aspects to everyone's life and that includes us and it includes having a good time and being yourself. I don't have anything more to add about the video. It was our first real video and we tried to have a couple of really cool looking scenes.
ARIN: It was a very very cool looking video.
PB: Yeah? Great. Glad you liked that and you can be guaranteed that videos from this day on are going to be more intense. We're going to have a lot to do with it and we're going to make them just as cool as the music.
MIKE: I love the website by the way.
PB: Which one? The Universal one?
S: Which one? Mushroomhead-music?
S: Yeah that's a bad ass site. That's because Universal is running it. (Everyone laughs)
MIKE: I am really impressed with it.
PB & S: Cool.
ARIN: What bands would you consider to be your biggest influences?
PB: In life? (laughs)
S: Right now?
PB: The ones that are popular now or the ones growing up?
ARIN: Last couple of years or timespan of you guys being a group as Mushroomhead. What were your biggest influences for writing music?
PB: Well...(Mike interjects)
MIKE: Or if there was one band that you really liked growing up... (PB interjects)
PB: Absolutely not...(Mike interjects)
MIKE: ...That inspired you to play music?
PB: There's never been one band for anything.
S: No, its always been everything. A little cross-section of everything. I listen to everything and anything. If it's good, I listen to it.
PB: Everybody in the band has been around a long time but they've all grown up favoring a certain type of music or another. So you have 7-8 different people that have 7-8 different influences. Some are the same but a lot are different. Then you throw them altogether and that's how you get our music which is kind of cool because were not just (in funny, close-minded deep voice) Yeah fucking Slayer and Pantera (everyone laughs) and that was it and that's how we sound and that's how we are. Now you have the Korn and Limp Bizkit guys but we grew up listen to of course all the old 70s and 80s metal, the R&B, the rap, the rave/techno stuff. We went through all of the phases. We've been through it all and we like a lot of it so it really
does come across.
S: Its hard to pick any one specific band that's an influence because everything is an influence.
PB: One band that's really cool that's out there right now I think is Tool. Just because they've played their own type of
music throughout their entire existence and they never had to change to get on the radio but everybody is starting to listen to them and like them now. If you've ever watched any of their videos, they have 100% to do with them and their so fucking kick ass!
PB: When you watch them, you really get a sense of what their brains are thinking as they're writing the song and the music. So I don't know if they're a big influence but I can definetly say I admire what they're doing.
ARIN: Are any of the members in the band working on any side projects or have recently?
PB: Well there's a hundred side projects out there for us which is another thing. The fact that because we all like so many styles of music, you can't always express everything you want to in this one band. I guess there's a list of them ranging from hardcore metal to rap to funk...
S: Fucking grindcore. I don't even know what you call half the shit. (Everyone laughs) Its crossed over 6 different ways.
PB: Ideas just start to flow and you have to let them out some way. If your an artist, you have to paint and when your a musician, you write and you have to play. Not everything is going to make it into a Mushroomhead scenario so there has to be offshoots and there is a lot of them out there. You'll see that on our website, either Mushroomhed.org or Mushroomhead-music.com. There is a list of cds of bands that are out now.
ARIN: Is 10,000 Maniacs one of the bands?
PB: 10,000 Cadillacs is one. 10,000 Maniacs is another band. (Laugh)
MIKE: Whoops. (Everyone laughs and PB starts singing a 10,000 Maniacs song, everyone laughs again)
ARIN: From your touring experiences, where would you say the craziest place to play is and why?
PB: We sure like playing in Cleveland. The kids there cycle around every couple of years and we get new waves of fans coming in. We've been playing a long time obviously for 10 years almost and they know where we're coming from because they've seen a lot of it and they know how to full appreciate a show. Now what we have to do is educate the rest of the world on how to fully appreciate a Mushroomhead show. (PB & S laugh) But the fans there are crazy and its a great feeling, a perfect feeling.
MIKE: Hometowns are always the best.
S: Fuck Yeah.
ARIN: Best vibes, yeah. He's telling me we have to wrap it up soon (pointing to Mike). Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans at the moment?
S: Lets party. (Everyone laughs) Meet me at the corner (everyone laughs)
PB: One thing we know with a band like ours is we're not going to get the best radio play. Your not going to see us on TRL or anything like that. If you do someday that would be really crazy. (Everyone laughs)
ARIN: Yeah really.
PB: But fuck Carson Daily! (everyone laughs)
MIKE: Unless your doing a du-et with Justin Timberlake or something. (Everyone laughs)
PB: Maybe with his chick, what's his chicks name? Britney.
S: O yeah. (Laughs)
PB: We'd do something with Britney Spears.
MIKE: I think everyone would do something with Briteny Spears... (everyone laughs)
PB: Yeah really! (everyone laughs)
S: I always do stuff with her. (Everyone laughs)
PB: What if she's not there? (everyone laughs) What was the question again?
S: What we'd like to say to the fans,
PB: We'd all like to do Britney Spears. (everyone laughs)
PB: Try to hook it up.
ARIN: I'm cool with that. (Everyone laughs, PB cracks up!)
MIKE: I think the fans would agree to that.
ARIN & MIKE: Thanks guys! Have fun!
S & PB: Thank you guys, we appreciate it.
12 QUESTIONS ASKED TO SHMOTZ
chocolate or vanilla?
cd or vinyl?
Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath?
Spiderman or Batman?
Faith No More or Mr. Bungle?
Faith No More
tattoos or piercings?
Coke or Pepsi?
Ginger or Mary Anne?
book or movie?
cat or dog?
cake or pie?
boxers or briefs?
12 QUESTIONS ASKED TO SHMOTZ