Mindless Self Indulgence (often identified using the abbreviation MSI) is an American electronic rock band formed in New York City in 1997. Their music has a mixed style which includes punk rock, alternative rock, electronica, techno, industrial, hip hop, and breakbeat hardcore. The band was playing at Trabendo, Paris (FR) on December 7th. Just before their coming on stage, we interviewed guitarist, Steve.
The record « Fuck Machine » is a collection of remixes which will be out in January. Can you tell us more about it ? From all the remixes, which one is your favorite ?
Steve : What can I tell you about it ? Let’s just say that it is gonna be quite unexpensive (laughs)… Hum, « Fuck Machine » is actually a track that we gave to several bands who made it their own. In other words, they remixed it (laughs). Then, we gathered all the songs together on a CD. We put an artwork on it, and there you go, we can sell it now. Seriously, I really cannot tell you more about it, I cannot tell you which remix is my favorite for the simple reason that I haven’t heard the songs yet. I have to wait for January 14th to buy the record. Don’t look at me like this. I am not joking you around, I am dead serious and sorry for not being able to answer your question.
The industrial / electro-goth community has shown you so much support the last few years. The album « Fuck Machine » will feature the collaboration of KMFDM, COMBICHRIST and so on, while the latest studio-album « How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence » was made available on Metropolis Records. How would you explain that ?
Steve : We have a lot of different sounds happening, there is so much going on with MSI, and I think that is exactly what attracts electro-goth listeners. I think they are open-minded when it comes to music and art. They like what’s bizarre, odd and unique. Plus, the more we make music, the more we use electro beats. Our fanbase, however, is not only made-up of electro-goth listeners. I cannot label our fans into a specific genre. It’s got to the point where I am pretty amazed and surprised by the people who come at our shows… People I would have never, ever, imagined. Our fanbase is very mixed ! We take so much from different musical scenes that everybody can get something out of our music. We ain’t part of any specific scene !
What is your main or favorite source of inspiration ?
Steve : Everything, anything at anytime. Pop culture ! Inspiration just crops-up unexpectedly. It can come from movies to television ads. Everything can be a source of inspiration. Wathever pops-up, whatever happens in front of my eyes, can draw my attention and become a source of inspiration. And you know, we are thiefs, we steal everything from everywhere. I like spending time on Youtube before getting on stage, and things I see influence the way I perform. The other day, I watched The Runaways movie, and when getting on stage, I think I tried to look like them in a way. Of course, it turned-out very different because obviously I am not a sixteen year-old girl (laughs). Other times, I would watch videos of metal bands or movies, like Candy, which would affect the show diffrently.
When you guys are in the studio, are you one of those bands that jam together and then sort out the good bits, or do you all work separately and then come together and assemble the pieces ? Could you briefly describe your music-making process ?
Steve : No, we are definitely not a band that jam ! Jimmy writes stuff that would never come-up if we jammed, you know what I mean ? Each time, one idea comes from one guy on a computer. Most of the time, we work separately. I mean, it’s never the situation where we all gathered in a room and play together to see what comes-out. However, what we sometimes do together, is taking a theme as a jumping point. For the last studio-album for example, it was Staney Kubrick. I really cannot tell you what is our music-making process like, it really depends on so many factors. It is just never like (starts singing) : « doo doo doo… Holy shit, we have a hit ! Let’s write it down » (laughs). It is never like that. Plus, last time I was in New-York when the others were in different parts of the US.
How would you said your music has evolved since you first began playing music together ?
Steve : Hum, that’s a good question. In a lot of different ways… Our music got better with time, and when it gets better, it means that you care more about it. It changed, for sure. We do not want to repeat ourselves over and over again, that would be boring and MSI can be anything but boring ! We have more steady beats because we want to see people dance at our live-shows.
And, on a personal level ?
Steve : God, you are gonna need days for that ! I have changed, a lot. Firstable, you don’t need to tie me down to do this interview (laughs). Ten years ago, I would be outside uncontrollably messing things around (laughs). We got smarter. When you are in this business, you either get smater or dumber. I think we got smarter, which is great. We still mess things around though. But, we know what we like to do and we try our best to keep control over it. You know, that is why we launched a Kickstart page for the latest album.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band ?
Steve : Hum, that is another good question ! What’s with all of those good questions ? (laughs) You told me this was gonna be a soft interview. Hum, let me think. The biggest challenge we had to deal with is misconception. Some of it has been brought by ourselves. I mean, we like to joke around, do stuff that makes us laugh, we don’t take ourselves too seriously but on the other hand, I consider our music relevant. It’s a pretty hard balance, we would like people to understand, even if we make it difficult to make them understand, you know. I sometimes get freaking angry when Jimmy does not get enough credit on his talent and skills. The biggest challenge to overcome is making people understand us, we don’t want to be considered as a joke. We would like to be given credits, and not only from kids and teenagers, but people from the music industry.
What would be the greatest strength and weakness of MSI ?
Steve : Probably what I just said and also the fact that we are smart enough to surround ourselves with good and smart people, which is very important in this business. I do not think that the band has any weaknesses, though each individual has weaknesses. You know ? The band is our strength.
So far what has been the biggest highlights in your career ?
Steve : Each time I play somewhere unexpected. Hum yeah, every situation I find myself in a place I didn’t expected, a place I would never imagined to be. Most people I grew-up with in New-York didn’t leave the town even once in their lives. So, I guess the success of MSI is the biggest highlight of my career. Being able to live from your passion is truly awesome. I am really grateful for that.