Date: Sunday, October 25th 2015
Location: The Observatory, OC
Event: Beach Goth 4
Who: Julia Maltz with The Frights—Mikey Carnevale, Richard Dotson, Marc Finn.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of interviewing a band that I am actually a big fan of, The Frights. Originally from San Diego (and one from the east coast) the band has a very relaxed and care-free vibe and I truly enjoyed getting to chat with them. Their music is very 60s garage surf-rock that is very big in the SoCal music scene, and recently branching out into the rest of the country. Apart from their cool sound, I learned how extremely nice and goofy the boys are during our brief conversation following their 12:30 set on the main stage. From the very start the boys made me feel comfortable despite my insecurities over my recently lost voice, and answered every question in such a light-hearted and spirited way. We talked about all things from their new album and second full-length coming out this February (check it out when it does!), to their crazy rowdy game nights—which I’m expecting an invite to next time. So if there is one thing I can’t stress enough, even if their music isn’t your style, you can’t deny that they may very well be the nicest people on the planet.
Julia: So let’s start with the new album coming out, what can we expect from it?
Mikey: Well it sounds a lot better than anything else we’ve ever done. We actually recorded it in a decent studio. It’s good.
Richard: It’s a little squirrely at times, it’s a little crazy, a little kooky. It goes places you’d never expect.
Marc: It’s a record that you’ll turn on when you’re driving and you’ll be like “Oh this is cool, this is The Frights. I like this.” then by the end of the drive you’re in Texas when you were supposed to be somewhere in the middle of California--
Richard: --Mostly because of the Cowboy Troy influence.
Marc: But actually we are really happy with it.
Julia: Is it still the similar sound of your old stuff?
Mikey: Yeah, it’s still a Frights record for sure, but different.
Marc: It’s very different, but it’s still a Frights record.
(Juicy J’s driver comes scarily close to us and we get distracted)
Julia: So what influenced your sound? Is that just what you like to jam to?
Mikey: Sugar Ray. Sugar Ray influenced us. Uh we don’t actually jam. (Laughs from the band)
Richard: We don’t really play together a lot…
Mikey: Yeah Sugar Ray, Sugar Ray, and Sugar Ray.
Richard: We can’t stress Sugar Ray’s Influence enough. It sounds like a joke but they really are a big influence. They are the most underrated band of the 90’s, maybe the 2000’s.
Marc: When you become most underrated, do you become properly rated?
Mikey and Richard: No…
Mikey: Umm yeah, you know we love the California sun and good vibes. Please don’t put that anywhere!
(Laughs from the group)
Julia: Oh but now I have to! (Sorry Mikey)
Julia: So if you don’t jam, what is the process for writing your music?
Richard: We send paintings to Marc, Marc interprets the paintings through sound—
Marc: And then I enter this weird state where I don’t know what I’m doing and then I wake up three days later with a whole album.
Richard: It works for us, it doesn’t work for all bands though.
Mikey: I write the songs. (Collective Laughter)
Julia: Do you get the sound/ instruments first and then the lyrics?
Marc: For this yeah.
Mikey: Well this record was a lot different than anything else we’ve done before, before it was just like we had a song then I went into the studio and made up words while we recorded them. Now this time it was very different.
Marc: We took the songs that he wrote and we brought them into the studio. As soon as we started recording, we decided to take the songs to a crazy new direction which was amazing and something that we’ve never done before. And I guess it reflected into what we’re trying to do after that, trying to keep that sound but not give a fuck.
Mikey: Yeah, we changed a lot in the studio. Just trying to sound better than we used to sound.
Julia: So how do you keep that nonchalant, don’t-give-a-fuck attitude as your fan base grows?
Mikey: Uh…Because we still don’t feel like we’re getting bigger. I mean, we know there is obviously success and there’s cool shit that happened to us but it’s still really cool shit happening to us as opposed to “oh we deserve this now”. Like today we were like “holy shit, why is everyone here to see us?”
Richard: I feel like somebody who walked into the wrong room and nobody noticed I wasn’t supposed to be there. Like this show for example, I feel like we didn’t really belong here –this is just my opinion, not speaking for the band—but nobody questioned us and that doesn’t really make much sense to me.
Mikey: It’s a really humbling thing. I mean it’s super humbling, like we sold the Echo a few days ago and we’re from San Diego so that was super weird being able to sell a place in L.A. Like most people would have sold The Echo and not think much of it, but I thought it was a really big deal and really cool that we did that, so it feels weird to think anything other than “wow this is nuts”.
Richard: At the end of the day we’re just lucky. Well fortunate, lucky is a bad word.
Marc: Because we just did a tour, and it was our first out of state tour as the headlining band for lack of a better term, and each show had more people than I expected. It was so strange because I just didn’t expect anyone to come see us, it’s still the feeling that you think the fact that anyone wants to see you is just weird and really cool.
Mikey: So basically we don’t know how to answer that question (Laughs from everyone)
Julia: No that makes sense. Is it weird seeing people older than you at shows?
Mikey: Yeah that’s the weirdest thing for sure, that people older than us like our music at all. If I see anybody older than us I feel really insecure about those people.
Julia: But they’re listening to you for a reason.
Mikey: Yeah I guess so!
Marc: Who knows, you have to ask those people.
Mikey: Yeah that’s a weird thing, we don’t see that as much as we see teenage fans, but it’s really funny to see that people older than us like it. It makes us feel better.
Marc: It’s going to be interesting with the new record that comes out, because it’s a different sound, to see if we get an older demographic which would be cool also.
Mikey: That’s what I think the new record does, it keeps The Frights that the younger kids like but then there’s the new production that the older people can get into.
Richard: A little something for everybody. It’s like the value meal.
Mikey: That’s a good analogy.
Julia: Are you going to continue to progress to an older sound, because obviously you guys are getting older?
Marc: I think the worst thing that we could do as a band would be to try to revert to what we did before.
Mikey: Yeah, there was somebody who reviewed us and said something about how we’re not growing up or we’ll never grow up. It’s funny because even when people see us today they only really know us from our first record, which came out about two years ago.
Richard: A lot changes in two years man.
Mikey: Yeah a lot changes in two years, it’s a long time.
Julia: You can drink now.
Richard: Yeah we can drink now, that’s one change.
Mikey: People who don’t think we’re going to change are going to be very disappointed. Because it’s definitely very different, we’re not just singing about high school kid stuff anymore.
Julia: Then you have the people who get mad at you for changing.
Mikey: Yeah, fuck ‘em.
Marc: I’d rather get those people mad than get the people who don’t think we would change.
Mikey: I mean I used to look at bands I liked that no one knew and say, “Man they got big they sold out” and that’s going to happen for sure.
Richard: It’s natural, any artist is going to change over the years. If it ends up becoming something you don’t like any more than whatever, it’s your own progression.
Marc: But at the same time it’s still our shit, but better.
Richard: Yeah, it’s not even that out of the ordinary. It’s not a hip-hop record…or maybe it is.
Julia: So what do you want people to take away from your music?
Marc: That’s a good question. I want people to turn on our record and listen to it all the way through and feel like they’ve seen one of those movies that they’re always going to not quite remember the name of, but years later be like “that was that movie!” and that’s it. Actually I have no idea.
Mikey: I think it’s a really personal record. I think people would connect to it and like it. It’s personal and broad at the same time, like a lot of the first record was all of these teenage problems and now it’s 20 year old problems so I think people will connect to it. I don’t know what they will take away but they will connect.
Julia: Whatever they want.
Mikey: Yeah I mean there’s a lot of little funny moments where you can hear us in the studio and that’s always fun. So I don’t know, I have no idea.
Richard: (While miming the whole thing) They should take our music and look at it like a mirror like a self-reflective, introspective type of…up to interpretation… kind of mystical. A little mysterious, no one knows anything about it, no one knows anything about us at the end of the day.
Julia: Well what do you want people to know about you?
Richard: That’s the thing, I’m glad you asked…Rock n’ Roll is here to stay! (More laughter)
Mikey: Yeah that works. Rock n’ Roll.
Marc: As all of our favorite band AC/DC once said…you know I’m not even going to quote it.
Julia: So you said you don’t really jam so what do you do when you’re together?
Mikey: Well we practice for shows, they live in L.A and I live in San Diego so we don’t get to hang out as much as we used to.
Richard: We just hang out, we’re not really fun. We just play video games maybe, we played Risk the other night for six hours.
Marc: We dressed up as diplomats and played Risk to classical music.
Julia: That sounds fun.
Richard: Mark and I live together, we do homework sitting next to each other.
Julia: So I have to ask, any crazy tour moments?
Richard: There’s this one moment where I ask the band what their favorite band is.
Mikey: Put on the record that Marc’s favorite band/artist is Prince!
Richard: Oh no no, not favorite, what the best band ever is expecting like you know, Led Zeppelin or The Beatles, but no. Marc said Prince. What do you think about that?
Marc: I mistakenly took that as most influential or talented. My first mistake was that he is not a band, he is a solo artist, (laughs) and my second mistake is that these guys don’t appreciate good funk and symbols as names. Even though it was a little too much ammo for these guys to give me on tour, I have to stand by it or I’ll look even worse.
Richard: Solid defense.
(Here Richard spends a solid three minutes putting the phone charger back into my bag for me)
Mikey: Yeah it wasn’t a cool tour story but it’s fun to make fun of Marc in that way.
Julia: Yeah you guys sound rowdy from that.
Mikey: Oh we’re fucking nuts.
Richard: I read like 30 pages after a show one night. We’re really boring.
Mark: Your 21st was fun…
Richard: We’re not going on record about that.
All I understand is that at some point a certain someone’s butt was out. They kept their lips tight.
Julia: So what’s next other than the album?
Mikey: We’re breaking up tomorrow.
Richard: This is exclusive to you, first dibs on this info.
Marc: Oh yeah, there are several reasons.
Richard: We can’t get into that now, I think the interview is over. Sorry.
Mikey: But really it’s just the album, we’re doing a couple of shows leading up to the album then it comes out in February.
Richard: We’re trying to merchandise some new items as well like aquariums or bobble heads.
Here we wrapped up our conversation and I got some goofy shots of the boys hanging off some barbed wire and each other. Overall The Frights are just a group of really humble guys playing some super rad music. We got to share a lot of laughs and it’s great how they don’t take themselves too seriously as often occurs in the entertainment industry. Check out their current stuff (For Sure- EP, The Frights, and Death Frights- EP) and keep an eye out for the upcoming album, You Are Going To Hate This, this February!