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Swingin’ Utters formed in 1987 in Santa Cruz, California, dispersed, and later reformed much like atomic dust in the punk rock cosmos. Filthy Thieving Bastards—the side project of Darius, Johnny, and Spike—debuted its first full length, A Melody of Retreads and Broken Quills when this original Razorcake interview ran in 2001. The Bastards represented a turn of page from the Utters to a rural, unplugged, Pogues-flavored smorgasbord.
The following year saw entrances and exits when the classically trained Darius became father to his second son, Jack. Meanwhile, guitarist Max Huber opted out of the Utters. Despite the changes they released Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones in 2003.
The Utters, only months after touring, then swung into a seven-year hibernation, citing family obligations. The band resurfaced only on weekends gigs up and down California, funneling a bevy of auxiliary musicians, including guitarists Joel Dison and Jack Dalyrmple of One Man Army and Re-Volts.
Vocalist Johnny Bonnel years later assumed blame for the break telling New Noise Magazine, “I think the hiatus was mostly of my doing. I was not happy being away from my family touring. My daughters were at an age that I [didn’t want to] miss in early development… I don’t think my daughters understood what the eff I was doing back then.”
The rest of the Utters kept it local, focused on side projects, and spent time with their families. Darius worked and raised his two sons. Darius, a jack of all trades, made his bread and butter through odd jobs before eventually settling into plumbing. He also managed to carve out time for Filthy Thieving Bastards. Spike put down the bass and picked up the mic for the shape-shifting cover band, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes. Take a Break,issued in ’03, consolidated the Gimmes’ power punk installation of R&B covers, like Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” The following year, the Gimmes released Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah, which was their take on “Hava Nagila,” a traditional song, plus ‘60s–’80s pop tunes like The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” and Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.”
To remind their fans they were still alive and kickin’, the Utters threw out Live in a Dive in 2004, pieced together with roiling live tracks liberally seasoned with acoustic takes on cuts like “Fruitless Fortunes” and the accordion-based “Mother of the Mad.” During that same time, Darius, Spike, and Johnny were tinkering with tin whistles and mandolins under the Bastards’ moniker. The Bastards, not content at being compared to just The Pogues, wrangled Pogues member Spider Stacy into touring with them. Stacy later helped tack down songs for their My Pappy Was a Pistol,released in 2005.
Spike’s Gimmes paid homage to Johnny Cash and Hank Williams plus other country contemporaries the next year with Love Their Country, a fistful of Americana covers. In 2007 the Bastards released I’m a Son of a Gun, earning Spike, Johnny, and Darius a heap of reviews hailing it the band’s best work. The always-in-motion Johnny sired another band, Druglords Of The Avenues during this same time. Druglords debuted its album Sing Songs in ‘08. Druglords copied and pasted members of the Bastards and staked their ground close to the Utters with anthemic, pub rock melodies. That same year, Have Another Ball!, the seventh album by the Gimmes, was cut dovetailing Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah with covers singer/songwriters like Neil Diamond and John Denver spanning the hippy-infused ‘60s to the post-disco era of the ‘80s.
By 2008 the Utters were up to their eye teeth in side projects, but were reminded of their chemistry while haggling over the playlist for Hatest Grits: B-Sides & Bullshit, released later that year. The collection featured nine unreleased tracks and the recurrence of Jack Dalrymple on guitar. In 2010, the focus shifted away from the band members’ not-so side projects and back to the Utters. Brand New Lungs, a three track EP of freshly oxygenated Utters material, brought new life into the band as fans pogoed to their street punk, power pop trademark, with the band promising a proper full length. There was also the 2010 Utters tribute album Untitled 21: A Juvenile Tribute to the Swingin’ Utters with Dropkick Murphys, The Departed, and Off With Their Heads pitching in tracks.
The Utters dropped its seventh studio album in twenty-four years in 2011 called Here, Under Protest. The new album reflected the band’s evolution during that seven-year break and a sageness that only comes with age and experience. When asked if they ever considered disbanding, Johnny replied, “I don’t know about the other guys, but I never thought it was the end… I think now that our kids have gotten to an age that made it understandable to tour and record, we don’t want to stop!”
The next year Spike announced his departure from the Utters to put his day job and family first. The boys refused to lose steam and picked up Miles Peck of The Sore Thumbs to stand in. Poorly Formed was released in February 2013 to the surprise of fans, who hadn’t expected to hear from the boys so soon. In an interview in The Inertia, Johnny revealed, “Jack, our guitar player, was sending me music over the internet and he titled it “Poorly Formed.” …We thought it would be a good title for the record because I think we’re all sort of poorly formed in a way.” This marked the first time Dalrymple has written for the Utters. Jack strummed out the melodies, while Johnny scratched down the lyrics. Poorly Formed represents a departure from its predecessors and coasts along like a ‘67 Impala. It’s tighter than Here, Under Protest without the galloping rumble of Dead Flowers. The Utters hit their stride with acoustic tracks and a country song making their way onto the bill.
They hit the black top in April, 2013 to head east and share the stage with acts like Dropkick Murphys and The Goddamn Gallows. All the while, the boys water their family tree of side projects. Darius confesses he’s got so much material, he’s working on a solo project. Jack and Spike are working on a new Re-Volts album. Meantime, Johnny’s Druglords Of The Avenues let loose its second album, New Drugs,in June. Darius summed it up best when he said, “I don’t think we’re going to make it big, but you never know… I don’t really care. Even if we get smaller than we are now, we’re still going to keep going, either way.”
–Kristen K, 2013
The first time I saw the Swingin’ Utters live, they played on the deck of a surf shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida. They’d been on tour with The Queers and were filling in an off day by playing to a handful of surfers and skaters on a hot-as-fuck October afternoon. Before walking down to see that show, I had a copy of their first album, Streets of San Francisco, but it was a cassette that a friend had taped for me. The sound was muddy and I listened to it mostly through blown-out speakers, so I missed a lot of the music going on. I’d seen that they had a new album out, Juvenile Product of the Working Class, but I was hesitant to pick it up solely because the title is a reference to an Elton John song. It’s funny the things that make us music snobs.
My whole perception of the Swingin’ Utters changed while I watched the five of them jammed into the tiny corner of that surf shop deck, all of them pouring sweat in their leather and work shirts and boots with three kids running in a circle pit that couldn’t have been five feet in diameter. The Utters played as hard and tight as if they were headlining the Palace. They blasted through ten songs that cleared my head of the muddy cassette memories. Then the cops showed. The show was perfectly legal. The surf shop had gotten permits and everything. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. Live bands played in the area all the time (albeit mostly classic rock cover bands). The cops came to shut them down. I guess punk rock is still dangerous in some places. Johnny negotiated with the cop, though. “Two more songs,” he said, “then we’ll clear out.” The cop agreed and the Utters finished their set. Needless to say, I was impressed.
I picked up Juvenile Product of the Working Class at that show, took it home, put it on the record player, listened, and read along with the lyrics. The songs were catchy and fun, but there always seemed to be a deeper element—whether it was an accordion sneaking into the background, a line like “denial is the loyal vice of the hardest working man,” or “Bigots Barrel” starting off with a sound bite from Martin Luther King, Jr. The songs made sense. I could relate. It had all the elements of street punk that described my life at the time: drinking too much, working too hard, never having any money, and facing what seemed like a futile life. But the songs were also fun and full of hope and I became a fan.
In the years that have passed, I’ve acquired everything the Swingin’ Utters released. One album or another has consistently been in high rotation throughout my life. They’ve managed to release a total of four full length albums, two EPs, a bunch of seven inches, and an album combining an early EP and some seven inches. All of the releases are great; all are very different from each other. There’s a clear progression from one record to the next. More instruments fill in the sound, more emotion adds to the power. I feel like I’ve been growing up a little bit with their lyrics.
Beyond just the Swingin’ Utters, Johnny and Darius have taken on a side project, the Filthy Thieving Bastards. It’s different from the other Swingin’ Utters stuff. It’s acoustic. Mandolins and violins sneak into songs. The mad drumming and sonic charge is absent, but the poetic lyrics and catchy songwriting is strong as ever. TKO Records put out the Filthy Thieving Bastards’ first EP, and BYO will have released the first full length by the time you read this interview. I sat down with the Swingin’ Utters while they were on tour with the Damned. Originally, I’d planned to only interview Johnny and Darius about the Filthy Thieving Bastards, but since all of the Swingin’ Utters were in the room, the interview branched out.
The Swingin’ Utters are:
Johnny Bonnel: Vocals
Darius Koski: Guitar, Accordion, Violin, Vocals
Greg McEntee: Drums
Max Huber: Guitar:
Spike Lawson: Bass, Vocals
The Filthy Thieving Bastards are:
Johnny: Most of the vocals
Darius: Just about everything else
A handful of talented, semi-famous people: Whatever’s left.
Interview by Sean Carswell
Originally ran in Razorcake #5, 2001
Sean: Johnny, I read in an interview a while ago that you had gotten into a fight with a truck one time on tour. Can you explain the circumstances behind that?
Johnny: I don’t remember. [turns to Darius] Was it the van when me and you drank that bottle of vodka?
Darius: There’s two stories. You should tell them both.
Johnny: I don’t remember the truck one.
Darius: We were partying on our first tour and we’re all really wasted and first Johnny cut his head on a window going on a roof or something. So his head was bleeding and he had a bald head, so he looked really gnarly. Oh wait, that wasn’t the night he got in a fight with a truck. Anyway, one of these nights, he was wasted and we put him in the back of the truck to go to sleep and to shut him up.
Johnny: Oh, that was at the Cat’s Meow. Okay. I know what you’re talking about.
Darius: Then he got really pissed and drunk and he started fighting the truck. Just hitting it and freaking out.
Johnny: Yeah, the truck doesn’t fight back, so, you know…
Sean: So you won?
Johnny: Yeah. I won.
Sean: And what happened with the van?
Johnny: The van was me and Darius. We had a bottle of vodka…
Darius: And we drank the whole fucking thing—over a few days, but one of those huge gallon jugs.
Johnny: And he was playing something on the radio.
Darius: I was playing the Pixies.
Johnny: Yeah, he was playing the Pixies and I started kicking in the dashboard because I don’t like the Pixies. I like the Pixies now, but at the time, I was really against them.
Darius: And completely destroyed our dashboard. There was a gaping hole in it.
Johnny: The van lost that one, too.
Sean: You got so much confidence from the truck that you decided to take on something bigger?
Sean: Do you still drink whiskey?
Sean: Does it still make you mean?
Johnny: No, not as much because I stop at a certain point.
Darius: It used to make him insane and violent and gnarly.
Johnny: I think that’s why Kevin (Wickersham, the original bass player) left.
Sean: Did you do anything particular to him?
Johnny: He actually sort of baby-sitted me when I was beating up the truck.
Darius: He just got sick of every aspect of touring, basically.
Sean: Didn’t he also have a serious day job?
Darius: He was a teacher.
Sean: Darius, what instruments did you play as a kid?
Darius: Violin and piano.
Sean: Why’d you play those?
Darius: My uncle played violin and when I was five, he asked me if I wanted to, so of course I said, “Yeah.” So I played classical music for twelve years.
Sean: Did your parents pressure you to play it?
Darius: No, no. They really strongly encouraged me to do it, but I was never pressured. If I didn’t want to do it, I would’ve just stopped. And I eventually did just stop. I was sick of basically playing other people’s music. I was not interested anymore in being a virtuoso type of person who plays things well because I’d rather write my own songs. Classical music is basically virtuoso. And I was really good, but I just didn’t want to sit in a chair in an orchestra for the rest of my life because that’s really boring. And also the whole classical music culture is fucking incredibly snobby and super closed minded and it got boring.
Sean: Along those lines, when you guys did Streets of San Francisco, it was really at the forefront of street punk coming out in the U.S. and you were the guys doing it. You really inspired a lot of bands. Then, everything you’ve done after that, with the possible exception of the Sounds Wrong EP, has gone in new and different directions. Why is that?
Darius: What I would say is that Streets of San Francisco would sound a lot more like these newer albums if we had the time and the money and if we played as well as we do now. We didn’t play quite as well back in those days, too. So I think it’s always been with us, but that record was recorded and mixed in a week.
Sean: And I hear a lot of people say that Streets of San Francisco was your best album. Does that piss you off when you hear that?
Darius: I hear people say that constantly, but I totally disagree. I like that record a lot, but I like the last two (Five Lessons Learned and the self-titled album) a lot more. Way more. Just stylistically and sonically and everything. I just like them better.
Johnny: I like Streets of San Francisco. Just because it’s got a lot of songs on there. There’s an urgency that I feel is pretty potent.
Sean: Why are you re-releasing it?
Johnny: Fat Mike wanted to and we’re happy about that. Better distribution.
Darius: New Red Archives (the label that originally put out Streets of San Francisco) is… You couldn’t even find that record in San Francisco. Nobody fucking heard it. The label is just too small and their distribution sucks and I’ve been praying for Fat to buy it forever. They did it and I’m really, really excited about it. It’s great.
Sean: Why do you think your songs aren’t played on the radio?
Max: Because ’N Sync is played on the radio.
Sean: But even college radio stations and smaller radio stations?
Johnny: They play us on college radio stations…
Darius: But not a whole lot.
Johnny: It’s just not in certain areas. I think that the smaller towns, for some reason, they have more say in what they play.
Darius: Maybe we’re not poppy enough for the pop punk audience and if you’re not pop punk, then you’re pretty much not gonna get played on the radio. And we’re not rap metal, so…
Johnny: And we have curse words in our songs.
Sean: And your songs are pretty complex, too. Do you think if you wrote simpler songs…?
Darius: I think we write really simple songs, actually. I don’t think we’re complex at all.
Johnny: I think so, too.
Darius: Sometimes the instrumentation gets a little complex. There are a lot of instruments going on but, otherwise, our songs are structurally really fucking simple. They’re basically just like folk songs.
Sean: How did the Filthy Thieving Bastards come about?
Johnny: Down time. Once we had kids, it was less touring for the Swingin’ Utters and we wanted to keep busy. We sort of had this idea to do this Pogues-style music.
Darius: And I also want to be playing music constantly. I don’t want to sit around waiting for the next Swingin’ Utters record or the next album because it’s not enough for me.
Johnny: And this way, we can be at home and do this stuff. We don’t tour as the Filthy Thieving Bastards.
Darius: And it’s not quite punk. That’s a big part of it. It’s not that different from the Swingin’ Utters kind of stuff, but the thing that’s different about it is that it’s primarily acoustic. That’s the biggest difference. Swingin’ Utters songs, the recent ones that have been on records and are kind of acoustic tunes, that’s what the Filthy Thieving Bastards sound like. I want to play as much as possible and I want to release as much material as possible. I have a lot of material and Johnny has a lot and we just figured we should keep busy.
Sean: Is it true that you have a whole drawer full of songs that you’ve written and never recorded?
Darius: Me? Yeah. I’ve got a lot.
Johnny: I don’t.
Sean: Every time I see you play live, you’re opening for someone else. Tonight you’re with the Damned. Last time I saw you was with the Dropkick Murphys. I saw you a few years ago when you were touring with The Queers. Why do you always tour as a supporting act?
Darius: That’s a good one for Max.
Max: Just because, when we get on these tours, it’s better shows for us. It seems like every time we try to do our own show, nobody takes it very seriously. And, this way, someone else is taken seriously and we reap the benefits of having bigger crowds and getting our name out there. Ideally, someday we’d like to go out and headline and stuff, but until people start to take the band more seriously, I don’t see it happening.
Sean: People like who? Fans?
Max: No, not fans.
Max: [laughs] No. Promoters, booking agents, record labels. Everybody who’s involved in the end of setting up the show and promoting it, basically. They’ve never done a professional job of supporting us.
Sean: What’s the worst thing about not being the headliner?
Darius: Not being the headliner.
Johnny: Not getting paid as much money. Not getting as much beer as we want.
Max: Sound checks.
Darius: The level of general respect for you kind of goes down.
Max: We get treated pretty well, though.
Darius: I’m not even saying that’s wrong. It’s just the truth because you’re not the headliner. You’re not who everyone is coming to see.
Max: Support bands never get to do a sound check. Just because of time constraints.
Sean: Is it true that Fat Mike brings you on tour with NOFX partly because he likes to party with you?
Darius: We have a really good time with him on tour.
Max: Yes. That’s the only reason he’ll take any band on the road.
Darius: We get along with him really well and have a really great time with him on tour.
Sean: I heard you guys ran into some trouble in the South on your last tour with NOFX.
Darius: What kind of trouble?
Sean: I don’t know. I just heard a rumor that you got into some kind of trouble.
Greg: Is this the gay party thing?
Darius: I have no idea.
[Greg remains silent. No one else has anything to add.]
Sean: How difficult is it to be married and in a band that tours all the time?
Darius: Right when I got together with my wife, when we were going out—I got together with her and a week later we started to record the first record. Then, really soon after that, I went on tour. So our whole relationship has been me touring. So it’s hard and it sucks, but we both understand that that’s the way it is. It’s something that we’ve gotten used to.
Johnny: Yeah, it’s a little bit more difficult for me. We talk about it a lot. It’s just kind of like a thing that I need to do. I’ve been in the band for a long time and she doesn’t want me to quit. But then again, whenever I leave, it’s totally horrible. When I get back, it’s nice. Now we have a lot more breaks in between tours, so it’s not as bad as it used to be.
Darius: We don’t go out more than four weeks at a time any more.
Sean: Is that a compromise with your wives?
Darius: Yeah, it’s like a rule now.
Sean: Have you ever done any collaborations with your wife?
Darius: I have, yeah. She’s written lyrics to two of our songs. She wrote most of “Five Lessons Learned” and then she wrote pretty much all of “My Glass House.” She sang backups on the Filthy Thieving Bastards thing. I want to do more with her in the future because I went away on tour one time and she wrote like three or four songs on a 4-track while I was gone. It’s really weird because she’d never written a song before in her life.
Johnny: Those were good, too.
Darius: She plays guitar a little bit. But two of the songs she wrote were fucking really good. I try to encourage her. She has a total career job that she hates, so she needs some kind of outlet. I want her to do more of that kind of stuff.
Sean: Besides just the touring, what other changes did you have to make in your life and as a band when you had children?
Darius: My life hasn’t really drastically changed, because when I go home, I don’t really go out much. So when I had a kid, that part didn’t change much. Sometimes it just sucks because you can’t go and party with your friends all night. There’s nothing good about that. But having a kid is better and a lot more important than that.
Johnny: For me, every day needs to be planned out. Even on tour. It’s got to be, like, phone call at this time. It’s changed a lot. It’s just a little bit more hectic and I’m thinking constantly about my kid—how’s she gonna look when I come back.
Darius: That’s the worst thing: missing them. They change so drastically in a minute. That part of it sucks. It’s kind of lame. I have a three-month-old right now. I doubt he’s really gonna remember me a lot when I get back. That sucks, too. But I talk to my three-year-old on the phone, so that’s good.
Sean: Nardwuar wants me to ask you this. Who’s the prime minister of Canada?
Darius and Max [at the same time]: Jean Chretien.
Max: Tell him that Max said that.
Sean: Johnny, why do you take on a British accent when you sing?
Darius: I don’t think he does anymore.
Johnny: I think I was influenced by The Clash so much that I try to be Joe Strummer. I think it’s gone now.
Darius: What I think is funny is that nobody ever mentions how every fucking British band sings with an American accent. Like Mick Jagger sounds like he’s from Alabama. What the fuck is that? It’s funny because, most of the time when people talk about Americans singing with British accents, they talk shit about them. It’s weird. I don’t think we do that anymore, but we used to.
Johnny: And I don’t really know how to sing. So, it’s like, you try to mimic your heroes in music.
Darius: It’s not a purposeful thing. We don’t want to be English. I really don’t want to be English.
Johnny: Make sure the Damned hear you say that.
Darius: [raising his voice] I fucking hate English people.
Sean: Is it true that you two (Darius and Johnny) and Greg were friends in high school?
Darius: Yeah. We had American Government together. The whole band goes back a long way.
Greg: Johnny wasn’t in high school when we had the American Government class. He was already out.
Johnny: I was like the guy in Dazed and Confused who hung out with all the high school kids.
Darius: And Max was a buddy of ours long before the band started, so we’ve all known each other a long time.
Sean: What were you like in high school?
Johnny: I was a nerd. A quiet, nerdy guy.
Darius: Yeah, I was a nerd.
Johnny: I was a good student, though. I made As and Bs. Now I’m dumb as a brick.
Sean: Greg, I’ve heard that you’re kind of a loser magnet— whenever you play a show, the dopiest skinhead or the dopiest girl corners you.
Greg: All right, who told you that? Who put you up to that one?
Sean: Is it true?
Greg: Is this for real or is it a joke?
Sean: No, I’m just asking a question.
Greg: I think you got half of it right. Half of the losers go to me and half of them go to Johnny.
Johnny: Yeah, I’m a magnet too.
Sean: Why do you think that is?
Johnny: I’m a nice guy. I don’t ever, ever shun away anyone.
Greg: Me and Johnny will go party with people under a bridge or after show all night or something like that, so yeah.
Johnny: If someone buys me drinks all night, yeah, we’re friends.
Sean: Greg, why do you wear the red, white, and blue vest when you play?
Greg: Why do I wear the vest? Because it looks cool.
Max: Says you.
Sean: Max, when did you get rid of the liberty spikes?
Max: I can’t remember, I think, in ’96 or ’97.
Sean: Why’d you get rid of them?
Max: They were a total pain in the ass. Plus, I don’t want to have the same hairstyle for the rest of my life. It’s a do. It’s always fun to have some sort of a funny haircut. It’s fun to go back and forth between them. I think there are certain types of people in the world who like to alter the way they look and there are certain types of people who don’t care about the way they look, and I fall into the category of wanting to fuck with the way I look. It’s fun for me.
Johnny: It’s a Gemini thing.
Max: Maybe it is. I don’t know.
Sean: Did people treat you differently when you got rid of the liberty spikes?
Max: No. I had a mohawk after I got rid of them, so it was like the same kind of thing.
Sean: What about when you got rid of the mohawk?
Max: I died my hair jet black and my eyebrows black. You know, I’ve been doing it since I was thirteen years old and it’s always been kind of fun. It’s a complete whim. It’s something that, one day I think’ll be a funny thing to do. I’ll live with it for a while.
Sean: How did you guys get a song on the Tony Hawk video game?
Darius: Fat hooked that shit up. They asked us and we said, “Okay.” We didn’t really set it up.
Sean: What thought went behind the pictures on Our Fathers Sent Us (the first Filthy Thieving Bastards EP)?
Johnny: Our influences. It was originally gonna be like one of those Andy Warhol pictures with a different colored faces. And then this one guy from TKO said, “I’ve got a feeling of this record that it’s got an old vibe to it, so I want to make it look like a yearbook.”
Darius: He didn’t really get what we were going after, anyway, so we just kind of went with what he did. Hopefully, we won’t get sued for copyright infringement or something.
Sean: I noticed you had some writers on there, like Kerouac and James Joyce…
Darius: We just figured to put all our influences on there. I almost think that we shouldn’t have added the writers because I could’ve gone on forever with writers that I love. Then we could’ve gone with the jazz thing, and Louis Armstrong was as far as we got. But we could’ve gone on endlessly with jazz guys. It kind of sucks that we only came up with two women, so we were like, “Let’s not have any women.”
Johnny: Plus, it’s called, “Our Fathers Sent Us.”
Darius: We had Chrissy Hynde and Exene on there, but we just kind of nixed them. I didn’t want it to look like we had token women on there.
Sean: The writers who influenced you, I can almost see traces of them in your lyrics.
Darius: Well, they were poetic. That’s why they’re on there.
Sean: How much do they affect you when you write lyrics?
Darius: Kerouac does for me. All of his writing is rhythmical.
Johnny: Stream of consciousness stuff.
Darius: That’s mostly why stream of consciousness writing influences me—I just kind of write whatever comes up. I don’t like to sit there and work on lyrics for a long time.
Sean: Johnny, where has your artwork appeared?
Johnny: It’s on the Beltones’ record, On Deaf Ears (the front cover). It’s on one of the singles that we did early on, “No Eager Men.” On the back of More Scared. It’ll be on the Filthy Thieving Bastards full-length—there’s a linoleum cut on the back and a drawing on the front. That’s another thing that’s an outlet for me. Art.
Darius: Yeah, we’re probably gonna do every cover with one of his drawings.
Sean: So you’re still working on your art pretty steadily?
Johnny: I’m not. I’m lazy when it comes to that. I really don’t have a lot of time because I work and when I come home, I want to spend time with my kid. But I’ve got garage space now where I live, and my easel is out there, so hopefully I’ll get back into it when I have a little bit more motivation. I need someone to say, “We need this now.” Then I’ll go, “All right.” And I’ll spend like ten hours drawing.
Sean: It’s amazing how a deadline helps. The extra pressure.
Johnny: That’s what I need.
Sean: A lot of your early songs have a strong blue collar influence, songs like “Petty Wage” and a lot of songs on More Scared. Where did that come from?
Johnny: Working all these jobs we’ve had. That’s just the way it was back when we were writing those songs. I’m the type of person who works a job for a long time. I think I got that from my dad, because he worked in the same place for thirty-five years and retired from there. Once I’m settled in, I stay. The worst thing about working is looking for a job. So when I get a job, I stick with it. I don’t want to lose it. And it’s pathetic in a way because I’ll keep a really horrible wage just for the sake of the friends I’ve met while I was working and having steady pay.
Sean: What about you, Darius? You’re different about that?
Darius: Yeah. I’ve worked pretty steadily since I was fifteen. I counted about ten years ago, and I’d had over thirty jobs. So I’m probably at about forty, now. I get bored doing one thing for a long period of time. I’ve had three jobs at once a few times. But I guess the songs come from that, because I hate working. But I’ve only been fired once.
Sean: Was the song “No Eager Men” inspired by a real person, like an ex-girlfriend?
Darius: It was inspired by two different people who bummed me out.
Sean: Is there a story behind it?
Darius: Yeah, but I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s bitter stuff that drove me insane.
Sean: What circumstances led to writing the song “London Drunk”?
Darius: The English tour. We drank a lot and I puked a lot. I wrote it on the plane coming back from that tour. I puked all over the van one night and it’s just a stupid song. A song about getting drunk on tour.
Sean: Did any particular event inspire you to write the Filthy Thieving Bastards song “SSS”?
Johnny: Yeah, it was a show in Belgium when we were on tour with Rancid. And there was a guy sieg heiling—going around going, “Sieg heil, seig heil.” And Lars (Fredrickson from Rancid) was on stage and he grabbed the mic and said, “No, no. Punk rock. Punk rock.” And this whole mess started. People were grabbing this guy. Finally, the cops came in and grabbed this guy and escorted him out. I was like, “You guys shouldn’t be sieg heiling.” It almost sounds like a silly song to me. It almost sounds like a joke, but the message is pretty serious.
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