Interview with Old Man Markley: By Joe Dana

Feb 08, 2011

After being to my umpteenth party that ended abruptly when a kid picked up an acoustic guitar and started whatever alterna-rock hit was popular at the time, I decided at the tender age of sixteen that live instruments ruin parties. I would loudly groan and insult any ass-clown that would pick up a guitar and try to woo potential drunken mates for the evening with tortured rock ballads at an otherwise raging party.

Joey Balls, bass player for Old Man Markley, made me throw that rule in the trash. If you’re ever lucky enough to be at a house with a piano where Joey Balls has been drinking, chances are you’ve heard him bang out Descendents and Dillinger 4 songs like they were Billy Joel piano bar songs. If you’re super lucky, maybe you’ll actually find yourself at Markley Manor where at least half the band, Old Man Markley, lives. At Markley Manor, you will see several members of the band and their friends and family leading an all-out rock show in a suburban Van Nuys living room. The entire party will explode into song. If you don’t know the song, you’re clapping or whistling along. If you do know the song, for that evening you’re the forty-seventh member of the usually nine-piece band.

Somehow, Old Man Markley is able to bring this energy to every one of its live shows. There is a party on stage and you’re invited. At the end, you’ll be sweaty, sore, drunk, and hungover at the same time and have eighteen new best friends for life—or at least the next show.

Old Man Markley takes what makes bluegrass sound a little punk and amplifies it. The songs tend to have a stomping pogo rhythm and shouting gang choruses reminiscent of the pop punk most of us grew up on. However, the finger picking of the banjo and the swaying melody of the fiddle makes the listener know that this band has done their traditional bluegrass homework. 

I got to talk to Ryan Markley, John Carey, Joey Balls, and Annie Carey at Markley Manor in their brand new bus. What follows is our conversation.

Interview by Joe Dana
Photos by Rachel Murray

Johnny Carey: Vocals, Guitar—The Boss
Ryan Markley: Washboard—The Puker, The Drunk
Joey “Joey Balls” Garibaldi: Bass, Vocals—Wild Card
Annie Carey: Autoharp, Vocals—The Dirty One
Alex Zablotsky: Mandolin—The Poodle, The Vain One
Blake Behnam: Drums—The Loudmouth, The Funny One
John Rosen: Banjo, Vocals—The Sleepy One
Katie Weed: Fiddle—The Smart One
Todd Fenton: Harmonica—Idea Man (only fifteen percent of ideas pass inspection), the Sausage King of Chicago

Joe: When did you get the bus?
Johnny: About five weeks ago off Craigslist.
Johnny: It was already in the process of being converted into an RV, so we got it for a very good price. We’ve been working with friends, family, and the cheapest labor we could find to keep this thing cheap. We’ve put in a lot of time. Our friend Mel helped us with the welding inside. Now we have a capable vehicle to take us across the country
Johnny: It’s from KingCounty—Seattle, Washington. They still use this bus today, so we’re going to be going through Seattle and I’m curious to see how people react.
Are you going to pick people up?
Ryan: We’re going to try to use their refueling station.
Balls: Joe, Have you seen this? [Pulls “stop requested” cord and a bell sounds.]
Johnny: Yeah, the stop request still works.
Joe: What about the thing where you put your destination in front?
Ryan: We’re going to put the name of the tour.
Johnny: On the marquee, we’re going to have Alex Z (mandolin player, resident artist) do some work. We actually have some billboard holders on the side. We’re trying to sell ads to support our drinking habits.
Balls: Jameson.
Joe: It isn’t a school bus, though.
Ryan: It is diesel. The engines last 400-500,000 miles without any service.
Johnny: It’s been a project. It’s kind of taken over Old Man Markley for the last month. We’re ready to go out and have a really nice place to be rested. We’ve toured with RVs in the past and it works, but this is like everybody’s got a place to actually kick it and sleep.
Balls: We’re a nine-person band. We can’t just jump in a van with equipment. It just doesn’t work. We’ve taken separate cars and we’ve always wanted to do a certain amount of touring. Now we have this beast. The first thing we wanted when we got a record deal was to tour and to have a vehicle to do it in, so we made this beast.
Johnny: The reality is that if it wasn’t for our recent signing with Fat—Fat Mike can see that it works; punk kids have always totally accepted Old Man Markley—this tour would have been a dream. Now we have some serious tours coming up. I expect to use this a lot in the next coming years. We were able to take what we have and use it wisely. I saw the Bouncing Souls with their setup, but there are just four of them, though, so it was like we had a whole different deal. I can’t wait for everyone to see it. I think they are all going to be jealous, if you ask me.

Joe: I’d like to go through the journey of Old Man Markley because that’s what interests me when I read an interview. I’m going to start way back. What got you into punk rock?
Ryan: Youth Brigade. My sister bought me Sink with California when I was fourteen.
Balls: Blake Behnam got me into punk rock. He introduced me to all these bands. Green Day had just come out. I was already into music, but punk rock—I was already friends with Johnny, but Blake—our drummer—went to our grammar school. He was the most brazen, most asshole little kid. He took me and Johnny to see the Swingin’ Utters in 1995 and took me to see Youth Brigade in ‘95 or ‘97. He really got me into punk rock music when I was a young kid
Joe: At that point did you guys start playing music together?
Johnny: Joey and I had already been playing music together and we didn’t even know what it was to play shows. We were like thirteen and fourteen.
Balls: We started playing in church and when Blake came into the picture, we started playing more punk.
Johnny: We started seeing other bands—like seeing the Swingin’ Utters—and then going, “Whoa. That’s what we could do with this.” We wrote our own songs, went out, and played our own shows. We got ripped off by the Whiskey and Roxy—practically paying to play—because those were the deals that were happening. We were ignorant and young. It was the first feeling of being taken advantage of.
Balls: The first shows that we ever played, Johnny and I were fifteen. We played at Dizzy Debbie’s on La Brea and Sixth. One night, we actually made five hundred bucks. Then we started to play shitty pay-to-play stuff at the Cobalt and stuff. This was in a band called Blue Elvis. This was Me, Johnny, Blake, and this guy named Michael Corwin and that’s how we started off playing punk rock.
Before all that, we were thirteen and fourteen years old playing Nirvana and Beatles covers. Then we were learning about song structure. We have videos of the two of us at twelve learning how to play “Rape Me”. At the time, it was like just bands that were popular: Offspring and Green Day. At the time, for me, Green Day was punk rock in 1994, y’know? We also made a couple of songs that were originals and terrible. Then Blake started playing with us and he was twelve. He was a little more rowdy. He was a huge Youth Brigade fan. We were thirteen learning how to play entire albums. By the time we were sixteen, we had played all over Hollywood with our first band.
Balls: The reason I mention Blake is—I was into music. We had already been playing in a band. We had already been doing what we wanted to do. I guess in the sense of—whatever you want to call punk—like underground punk and the bands I still love to this day—back then, I was not aware of them whatsoever until Blake brought them to my attention. The first show we ever played was at a carnival and Blake stole cigarettes from a 7-11. We went down to the wash to smoke cigarettes. He puked and we played the set and we have videos of it. We played awesome.
Johnny: Awesome and terrible.
Balls: And then we played a show with generators for our family.
Johnny: Not with The Generators, but a show with generators powering our equipment.
Joe: Did Blue Elvis become Blue Collar Special (Los Angeles band before Old Man Markley consisting of Joey Balls and Johnny Carey)?
Johnny: Well, in those years with Blue Collar Special, we met Ryan and Alex. Our band sort of fell apart and in the course of a couple years, Joey had joined Blue Collar with me and Rafe Mordante, who used to do Big Wheel Magazine. We had a few drummers, Chris and Jan. We were together from 1997 to 2006. Almost ten years.
Balls: And, simultaneously, Ryan and Alex Z were doing Angel City Outcasts (Los Angeles band before OMM existed). When did Angel City Outcasts start?
Ryan: 2002.
Joe: You were living in the Redlands. When did you come over here?
Ryan:All I had was a job and nowhere to live and no girlfriend, so I moved to L.A.
Balls: Can we just use that as song lyrics? Red. Lands. [singing] “I come up from the red laaands.”
Johnny: Blue Collar Special went to Punk Rock Bowling and we jumped in with Epitaph Records on the party bus with Charlie Ackerman. Vegas is where we ran into Ryan.
Joe: Had you been playing in other bands?
Ryan: In the Redlands, yeah. But in L.A., I got a job at a Coffee Bean and I interned once a week at Epitaph. I came in for work one day and Charlie asked, “Why are you here? We’re all going to the Punk Rock Bowling Tournament.” I said, “What’s that?” He told me what it was and I thought it sounded awesome. He said if I had sixty bucks, I could come on the bus and stay with him. I said, “Let me cash my check.” I had to find someone who was twenty-one—I was nineteen at the time—to get me a bottle of scotch for twenty bucks. I cashed my paycheck, hopped on the bus, and I finished the bottle by the time we got to Vegas. Then I met Jan and Johnny and everyone.
Johnny: It was years later, though, when Blue Collar was Flogging Molly’s main support. We got these support slots and we did it two years in a row, playing with them. I was really taken aback. This was a band that could take control with so many members. It moved me. It planted something in me.
Ryan: It did that to a lot of L.A.
Johnny: I was like, “Fuck. I got to get into this somehow.” Blue Collar was a great band and we finished a great album right when we broke up. It’s basically dead unless we put it out and give it away or something. We had fifteen songs and we wrapped it up, in a way. So in 2007, musically, a lot of things were uncertain. Joey was considering moving up with his family to San Francisco. I’d been working at the guitar shop with Annie. Ryan had been touring with Angel City Outcasts. He’d been living with me for support and we were all supporting each other. I bought this house which is our manor now. We practice here, we write here, we record here.
Joe: Who lives in Markley Manor?
Johnny: Annie and I bought the house and Ryan and Joey moved in about two years ago.
Johnny: And the bus and Tubbs lives here.
Joe: Half the band. So you and Ryan and Annie live and work together and play in a band together. Do you ever butt heads?
Ryan: We get along pretty well. At work, I like to contradict everything Johnny says. I like to play devil’s advocate, which drives him crazy.
Johnny: But it’s usually about Joey
Ryan: “Joey’s farts smell terrible.” Actually Johnny… [yelling] “Why do you have to second guess everything I say!?”
I’m really amazed at how nonjudgmental and how non-controlling Johnny is.
Ryan: I’m absolutely amazed at how Joey can keep a straight face while saying that.
Johnny: You guys are both assholes.
Ryan: I love you. I think it’s very easy to live with each other.
Johnny: Living together is just… Annie sort of ends up kind of being the mom of the band.
Annie: “You guys don’t have to bathe today. Save water.”
Johnny: How is it living with us, Annie?
Annie: I’d say Johnny and Joey butt heads the most and Ryan and I make eye contact.

Ryan: If they’re ever being absolutely irrational, I’ll make eye contact with Annie and be like, “Fucking stop. You’re arguing for no reason.” They’re like, “Shut up, asshole.” You have to sit though the whole thing. You can’t get involved.
Annie: It takes a village and our band has a village. We actually have somebody to do everything.
Johnny: If trouble breaks out during tour, I’ll ultimately explode louder than everyone because…
Annie: Because you’re the boss.
Johnny: Because I’m the boss but then we’ll all end up hugging minutes later.
Annie: There’s a lot of male snuggling in this band.
Ryan: I spit on my dick all the time.
Johnny: There are questionable photos that exist and you might look at this band in a different way. You might think we do gay porn.
Annie: I’m actually a madame for gay men.
Balls: But, we save water and save time.
Annie: We drop the soap a lot.
Balls: She doesn’t clean or shower.
Joe: Well, I have to ask, how is it being in a band with your wife?
Johnny: It’s one of the reasons why this is so much fun. I wanted her after all the years of her being a part of it, but not completely. For ten years, she’d come to shows and watch us play or, when I’d leave for three months, be here when we’d come back. Her Dad, my father-in-law, Michael DeTemple, is a huge part of this band, too. He played in a band in the 1960s when he was fifteen. He played in the Lydia E. Pinkham Orchestra. In fact, “Do Me Like You Do,” the cover song we do, we heard their version first. It is so awesome having her in the band. I always laugh at her: “You’ve never really had to play a bad or a shitty show.” I’ll make jokes like, “That’s got to be nice,” but I’m so stoked for her!
Balls: Johnny and Annie have this really functional relationship that just makes sense. Johnny is kind of the main songwriter and the driver of this ship, but, Annie, she handles a lot of the day-to-day duties. She brings a lot of the functionality out of him. I worked at a Band Camp and anyone who knows me knows that in the first minutes I’ll say, “This one time at band camp.” Band Camp was basically getting a bunch of people together, having them write songs, seeing what the band experience is like for kids and younger teenagers. I came home from it and didn’t want to have a job. I had all this money saved. We just all started jamming together.
Ryan: I had come off of tour and didn’t have a place to live and I put up a Myspace bulletin and I said, “I need a place to live. I’m coming home. I’m homeless.” Annie, who knew me less than Johnny did, said “Come live on our couch.” So I moved in with Johnny and Annie. When I was staying there, they had a birthday party for me and Johnny brought out every instrument they had in the house. Mandolin, guitars...So he brought everything out. Joey had recently turned us on to Old Crow Medicine show. We were just starting to listen to bluegrass and old country. So we decided to have a Bluegrass Old Country Jam for my birthday. I ate a gram of mushrooms and pulled out a washboard. It was kind of born that night.
Johnny: “A washboard player, yeah! Yes. Now we’re talking. Let’s go that route. Let’s go somewhere completely different. Let’s figure out another way to play,” and I knew Alex was a bass player. I saw the twinkle in his eye like, “I wanna do this too.” Mandolin is similar to a bass. It is. If you have the theory behind it, you can totally figure it out.
Balls: Alex is just a good musician.He’s just a weird dude. We’re pretty sure he’s from a Russian prison and they gave him several instruments and many years to practice.
Johnny: I knew Joey was going to play bass and Alex would be mandolin player. At that party, a lot of people jumped in. A lot of what was Old Man Markley in the first year or so was just jamming. Bring beer, bring a good attitude and whatever. Todd comes by and brings a harmonica. Annie just said, “I want to learn autoharp.”
Ryan: We’ve gone through some members.
Johnny: Our first show was so amazing. We woke up the next morning because we all lived together. Remember Ryan?
Ryan: Fucking six AM.
Johnny: We were just, “Dude!” There was something about playing with these guys like I fell in love instantly.
Balls: It might have been really good coke.
Johnny: It may have been coke, but it was amazing! Now we have the kickass band you see now. Joey plays this washtub bass named Tubbs who joined OMM after the first show. I came across these plans to build this bass. I’m a luthier, so I saw these plans. I obsessed and I built it in two weeks. I brought it home and said, “Look at this.”
Balls: [gasps]
Johnny: I put a pickup in it and everyone was like, “Wow! This plays.” At our second show, Joey plays Tubbs, I play a 1969 Buck Owens guitar that sold at Sears for a couple years.
Balls: It’s a piece of shit guitar. I’ll pontificate on Tubbs a bit. Johnny first wanted me to play a washtub with a single string with a stick coming out. I didn’t want do that so I didn’t say, “Hell no,” but I said, “No, thank you.” It took him about a month. I look at Tubbs like the Bible because, all of a sudden, it was just there. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever played. It has more character than anything I’ve ever played. But John’s guitar is a piece of shit…We had to get a new fiddler player. Johnny found Katie on Craigslist.
Ryan: Johnny really likes Craigslist.
Balls: Johnny can find anything on Craigslist. He has made three amazing Craigslist finds.Katie and John are tied for number one and two and the bus is number three. We had just lost a member. We were very skeptical about getting anyone else and in walks this girl with a twelve pack of Blue Moon and we were sold. Her name is Katie Weed and I was like, “Oh my god, do you smoke weed?!” but she declined to partake.
Johnny: She’s been playing fiddle since she was a little kid with her parents. She’s traditionally trained.
Balls: She has a Master’s degree in screenwriting and she’s never seen TheGoonies.
Johnny: [laughs] Nick was our banjo player for the first couple years. He ended up moving to San Diego. So we had to find someone new. We find John. In L.A., to find a banjo player is tough. I think I emailed sixty people. Teachers. Students. Retailers. Anyone. John had gotten this email and had recognized our name from an early show we did with a band that he was a part of. He loves what we’ve sort of brought to bluegrass because we come from punk. We try to pull this off because we love the music so much, but John really comes from more of that bluegrass world.
Balls: He’s a jack of all trades. He has a Master’s degree in Russian. He’s lived in Russia. He’s also an animator because Alex Zablotsky, the real Russian mandolin player, is also an animator. He’s from the Ukraine. He’s actually not even Russian, which is the funny part. John loves ‘70s rock like Bowie and Elton John. He’ll play any of that stuff at the drop of a hat.
Joe: That’s kind of what you do; I mean the drop of a hat thing.
Balls: We go back and forth. The good thing about having this sort of party vibe is that we definitely started off as having fun but we started taking it seriously. We stopped playing just covers. We started playing our own songs. We wrote and recorded an album with Joby Ford from the Bronx.
Approximately, how many of your songs were covers when you started?
Balls: When we started, everything was a cover. The first real song we wrote was, “For Better for Worse.” The first time we ever played it was at Jenny Stench’s party and our friend Analisa was already singing along at the second verse.
Joe: It’s a hit! You mentioned John coming from a Bluegrass background. You come into this from a punk background, but you’re playing bluegrass with this energy. You get gigs with hippie festivals, punk festivals, bluegrass festivals. How are the crowds different?
Ryan: We’re well received everywhere we go. The crowds are different. Playing the Phoenix Theater with the Devil Makes Three was bizarre because we got a giant circle pit. When we play Topanga Days (a festival) and what not, it is more dancing. Regardless of where we play, drinks flow aplenty. We are a drinking band.
Johnny:It is cool because, for the first time, my parents understand our music. My mom is Columbian and she loves folk music. My Dad loves folk music. Everything we’ve ever done hasn’t been able to cross over and here you have kids who are jumping on stage to rock out with us and they’re there with their grandparents. Even at those family festival shows, we’re rocking out. We’re performing like a punk rock band but old folks get it.
Ryan:This is the only band I’ve ever been in or seen that a twenty-two year old punk rock kid can bring his mom and they both have a good time together.
Balls: We’ve played at carnivals, street fairs, night clubs, bars, and biker bars. I think one of the first punk shows was with Youth Brigade and the next one was with Guttermouth. People were just ready to have a good time and accept us right away.
Johnny: Street fairs are great because you get a crowd who are just not going to go to the night clubs. The outdoor festivals we play always go over great.
Balls: I think we sound best in a night club, but I think older people, like our parents, like us because they can hear the lyrics. They can hear what we’re saying. I don’t think there is a lot of difference between punk rock bands and “whatever” bands in what they are saying. I think pretty much everyone says the same thing, but it’s the way they say it.
Ryan: It helps that Johnny has a very clear voice.
Johnny: It’s funny that Joey says that because on the B-side of our 7”, we recorded a Screeching Weasel cover (“Science of Myth”). The recording is our version and you can really understand the lyrics. Even Fat Mike was like, “I never knew what that song was saying. I really like the lyrics.”
Joey: [Pretends to sing the song like Ben Weasel.]
I had to look up the lyrics.
Balls: I knew what the lyrics were.
Johnny: It is cool because my mom is like, “That’s such a pretty song.” It is partly in the style, too. We have an advantage over bands like Screeching Weasel when they recorded “Science of Myth.”

Ryan: We have an advantage over our own bands from five years ago.
Johnny: Yeah. Even five years ago! I have a ProTools studio in my garage and we have the time to really think about arrangements. That’s what went into this song.
Balls: My dad was a jazz musician and he would always say, “The tune is good.” The fun thing about this band is that we have so many instruments that we can do so much with the arrangement. The tune is there: the chords, the progressions, the words. It is just the arrangement.
Johnny: It is the most recent recording of us. Already, in a year, we’ve developed so much in knowing how we should play. I’ve seen a lot of bands with a lot of members and it is critical that bands are on the same page and how the arrangement is. So many times at practice I lose my place because I’m listening and listening. That was part of the reason we went from eleven members to nine. It just can so easily sound like a mess.
Ryan: Johnny does a great job of composing people and producing people. He’ll tell someone that maybe they are overpowering someone here and there. I don’t think we’ve touched on any of the questions.
Joe: Joey, at what point did you become famous for playing Descendents songs, Billy Joel style on the piano?
Balls: You know the guy that John Belushi grabs the guitar from (in Animal House)?
Joe: Yeah.
Balls:We’re kinda like that guy but our pot’s really good, so everyone kind of leaves us alone. Actually, Fest 4, Aaron Lay (Billy Reese Peters, Gainesville gentleman) tackled me off a piano. We were at Katy Kirkpatrick’s house. I was sitting at a piano and Aaron Lay yelled, “Play ‘Tiny Dancer.’” I started to play it and Aaron tackles me. I say, “Why’d you tackle me?” He says, “Because you started to play ‘Tiny Dancer!’” I said, “You asked me to!” He said, “I didn’t know you could do it!” After that, people knew I was fond of playing piano. I played piano at Davey Tiltwheel’s old house where there was small pool and we would have good late night jams. I found a piano at Sam’s Town once during Punk Rock Bowling.
Joe: Probably. I also remember that last time I was here, you played “Putting the F Back in Art” by Dillinger 4 on the piano.
Balls:When I hear music, I hear music in piano like when people hear language, they hear it in English.
Joe: What are your day jobs?
Ryan: Day jobs!
Johnny: Annie, Ryan, and I all work at DeTemple guitars. It’s the family-run business.
Balls: Joey Balls refurbishes sports optics for the Nikon factory, sometimes delivers pizzas, and always is peddling…. burrito enhancers.
Johnny: John Rosen is a banjo teacher and used to be an actor. Alex Zablotsky is a background animator. He’s done amazing stuff on the Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad. Katie Weed. She edits lot of our tour videos.
Balls: She’s never seen any of the Lethal Weapon movies. Todd went to Brown on a football scholarship, has a degree in political science, and is super smart. If you ask him, he’ll tell you exactly how smart he is.
Blake is a director. He just finished directing our music video.
Ryan: He cuts trailers for a large company.
Balls: This reminds me that Johnny and I used to work in a voiceover studio for Clerks: The Animated Series. Johnny had to get Richard Dreyfuss a coffee. Richard Dreyfuss comes up again later in this conversation.
Ryan: Is it about how Mr. Holland’s Opus is awesome?
Balls: It is awesome, but Richard Dreyfuss is an asshole. You made a bad iced coffee for Richard Dreyfuss, right Johnny?
Johnny: [nods]
Balls: He nodded. Johnny nods. Now Blake saw Richard Dreyfuss pull up to a hot dog stand that he used to work at, right after a prostitute gave a blowjob to one of Blake’s co-workers. [Everyone laughs.] She was paid with a bag full of hot dogs and chili, so it was “Chili Dogs for Blow Jobs.”
Joe: Where’s this hot dog place or can we not say?
Balls: This is in Sherman Oaks at the Wiener Factory. We’ll leave the name of the Wiener Factory employee who got the blowjob out of it.
Ryan:Joey Garibaldi!
Balls: I didn’t work there. His name was Joe Something.
Ryan: Joey Jojo Shabadoo.
Balls: Joey Jojo Shabadoo got a blowjob in the bathroom. The hooker leaves the bathroom, walks outside. Richard Dreyfuss pulls up for his clockwork two PM Saturday Chili Dog. He can’t park in his spot because the spot is being obstructed by a working girl. She approaches the car with the chili dog she just earned and says, “Would you like to party?,” chili dog in hand! Richard Dreyfuss sucks.
Joe: Did he get the blowjob?
Balls: No. He was an asshole.
Joe: Did he get the hot dog?
Balls: Nuh-uh. He ordered the hot dog and was an asshole to everyone who worked there.
Joe: So Joey, Is it true that you once took a swing at Shawn Stern because you were wasted and in love? (When not playing in Old Man Markley, Joey and Johnny both play in Youth Brigade.)
Balls: I wasn’t in love, but I did take a swing at Shawn Stern because we were on tour and we both stumbled upon a girl who would go for a guy like me and/or Shawn Stern. I found her, took her backstage, and left her unattended. She then advanced on him, which made me very angry, like a child or like an idiot. I was screaming drunk backstage. Just pathetic. The Bouncing Souls are back there laughing at me because I’m making a scene out of it.
Ryan: Weren’t you banging on the bathroom door?
Balls: I was screaming at the bathroom door, “Shawn Stern and your whore; how are you in there?”
Johnny: And they weren’t in there.
Ryan: [laughing] There was some dude in there.
Balls: [laughs] Yeah. They weren’t even in there. There was like a Bouncing Souls guy in there changing his shirt. I went outside and I saw Shawn walking down the hallway with said trollop. I took a swing at him and shoved him. I went for a punch. He stopped me and we talked it out. It was really funny and the conversation ended with him wiping his finger under my nose.
Joe: Is it true, Joey, that you were once in a Behind the Music for Eminem?
Balls: It was a Court TV episode dealing with Eminem’s legal battles. I think it was in 2002 or 2003. I was working for Destroy All Monthly (a now-defunct Los Angeles-based zine). Tom Buckles, this friend of mine who used to do graphics for Destroy All, had these neighbors who had been working with Court TV detailing these celebrities’ legal dramas. There was an episode about Eminem and they needed to fill the spot with some sort of journalist. My friend knew I wrote for a punk rock magazine and loved Eminem. So on my lunch break, I got super stoned and went to this house in the Valley. They recorded me and I was wearing this maroon shirt that I wore at the Fest that year. All these people came up to me at Fest and said, “Oh my god. I saw you and I recognize you from your maroon shirt. ” I say something like, “If Eminem thinks you’re a sucker, he’s going to call you a sucker.” That is the sound bite they use. I’m getting texts from all over the country—but no one from California—people from Florida texting me saying, “Dude, I just saw you on Court TV. What the fuck?”
Joe: I didn’t know that many people watched Court TV.
Balls: Neither did I.
Ryan: Joey’s famous, man.
Joe: Tell me about smoking pot with some notable folks.
[Much discussion erupts on what Old Man Markley can or cannot talk about.]
Balls: If anything, we can say this: Shia LaBeouf definitely smoked a joint at one of our shows. My girlfriend was there with a camera. He kind of gave her a weird look and she said, “I’m not here to take pictures of you,” and he said, “I love you.” He hung out, talked to all of our friends, started smoking weed, and was super cool.
Joe: Is everyone in the band vegetarian but you, Joey? Or is everyone in the house?
Balls: Everyone in the house.
Joe: Where do you stop to eat on tour?
Johnny: We eat well. We’re smart about it. We’ll go to the market.
Annie: Or Taco Bell.
Ryan: We do a lot of diners where there are a lot of options.
Ryan: Like a Waffle House or something. We did a lot of Cracker Barrel on the last tour.
Annie: Whenever possible, if we know someone in a town we’re playing, we’ll stay with them and make breakfast.
Ryan: Also when we get to the venue, we all split up and look for options, but we all have breakfast together. Usually everyone can find something for breakfast. Me, particularly, I don’t care for eggs so I will get lunch or a garden burger or a veggie sandwich. Sometimes I’ll get biscuits and gravy.
Annie: But he still won’t eat the eggs.
Ryan: Sometimes when I get biscuits and gravy, I’ll throw up outside. That happened twice on the last tour and once in Long Beach.
Annie: Ryan throws up a lot. He’s the puker of the group.
Ryan: I’m the puker. I don’t puke because of alcohol. I puke because of hangovers.
Joe: I like how “he’s the puker” has replaced the “he’s the mean one” or “he’s the pretty one” in bands.
Ryan: Annie wants to be a Budweiser girl.
Annie: I love the bud. I have to live with these three.