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Mayhem Fest- Interview with Skinny of Mushroomhead

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Mayhem Fest- Interview with Skinny of Mushroomhead

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Editor’s note: Our Multimedia Editor, Mary Bove, was able to attend the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at The  Pavilion at Montage Mountain on 8/2/14. 

 

During my day at Mayhem Fest, I was able to sit down with the drummer for Mushroomhead, Skinny, and ask a few silly—and serious— questions. Mushroomhead is a metal band based out of Ohio who is known for their masks and costumes that they wear on stage. They recently released an, in early May, titled ‘The Righteous & The Butterfly’ and embarked on their journey to Mayhem Fest at the start of July.

Skinny: Hi. Skinny from Mushroomhead. I’m not really skinny; it’s just a clever nickname. I put on some weight over the years.

MB: I know you guys played Mayhem in 2009. How do the years compare?

Skinny: It was very different because that was something that we just got to fill in a few shows. Bullet for My Valentine had other obligations so we were fortunate enough to fill in. We were first on the main stage versus third on the Coldcock stage and I’ll tell you what…I actually like playing earlier in the day. I like being on the festival side. It’s great being on the main stage and all, but the vibe is different. The festival side is just more fun and Mushroomhead has the ability to get out there and be a fun, entertaining band.

MB: And I saw that everyone loves you guys—the crowd is so intense during your set.

Skinny: So far so good! They start to wake up as soon as we come out there and by the end of it we got a lot of hands in the air and I think we are doing everything we possibly can— and it’s showing.

MB: I saw quite a few people with their own masks in the crowd. What do you think of that?

Skinny: I think it’s awesome. We actually have a site, Mushroomhead masks and memorabilia, on the Facebook page. There is a whole mask community. When we’re not touring, we’ll make individual custom ones or when we come off of a tour—like this one— I’ll sign it and put it on there as “stage worn Mayhem 2014” and kids will bid on ‘em and go to town.

MB: How much does a mask usually sell for?

Skinny: They go… they go for some loot. So you know it just depends on how hard these kids are that are buying them— I shouldn’t even say kids. These are forty year old men buying the stuff, you know? And I’m there too cause some masks, after tour, I won’t get rid of it. Nope. Mine. I still collect, too.

 

mask

(Skinny’s Mask)

 

MB: Are the masks hot to wear on stage or are you just used to it by now?

Skinny: Yeah, twenty years…I’m definitely used to it. I was just saying….when I put it on I definitely take on a little bit more of an attitude. I’m a little different. It’s a Fiona Apple reference, but it’s definitely a better version of me.

MB: Do you, individually, come up with the mask ideas or is it a process as a band?

Skinny: For this album we have a sculptor out of Cleveland named Jason Kisner. We get our head cast done and then they’ll put clay on and we get a rough idea and he’ll come over…some of us are really more hands on then others. It’s very individualized.

MB: Do you guys ever get called by the wrong names because of the masks?

Skinny: All the time. Without the masks we definitely get confused. You know what I get all the time? “Oh you must be the tour manager!” Because I look normal I guess. I don’t know. They don’t expect that…when you take the mask off it’s like, “Oh, he seems nice enough.” I don’t know what they’re expecting.

MB: Now, going off into a silly question…a ‘would you rather’. Would you rather have tentacles for hands or a mermaid fin for legs, and why?

Skinny: Tentacle arms. I could reach WAY more drums and I could probably do more things.

MB: What has been your favorite venue to play at and why?

Skinny: That’s a tough one. We did Gorky Park in Moscow, Russia recently. That was pretty dope. It’s an infamous place. And even the Soundwave tour in Australia. We did Adelaide this time around and I have never been there before. That was a pretty cool little city. You know, I’m just going to say this tour, Mayhem 2014, is my absolute favorite tour of my life.

MB: While you’re touring Mayhem…if I were to open your fridge right now, what would I find?

Skinny: Nothing. Well, right now, there is probably beer in there but at two in the morning there won’t be anything. Not even scraps left.

MB: Is there anything that you have to have with you while on tour?

Skinny: I’m a gear junkie. So I have computers and rigs and microphones…and I just bought myself my first remote control car. It goes thirty miles per hour: I’m like a giant kid out here. As much as I hate it I need my phone. I like to be able to create and get an idea out, whether it is a keyboard or a drum beat or a drum program. I’ll wake up with an idea and turn the computer on. It doesn’t matter if it is three in the morning. When the inspiration strikes, just get it! Yeah, I’m a gear junkie.

MB: When you’re touring do you have any family or friends or pets that you bring along?

Skinny: Absolutely. The first two weeks of this tour my oldest son, James, was with us.  My fiancée, Jackie LaPonza, from the band UnSaid Fate, is actually on the new Mushroomhead album. She was with us the first day [of tour]. Mushroomhead is very family oriented. It’s family and friends that get you through life, period, and without them you’re going to be lonely.

MB: Is everyone in the band from the same area?

Skinny: A majority of us are Cleveland, Ohio based. I have had to wise up and hire out of state a couple of times. I got a new crew guy from Pennsylvania. Waylon, he has been with us ten years, he’s a North Carolina boy. Tommy Church, our guitar player, he’s a North Carolina boy too. They all transplanted to Cleveland, so we’re all about twenty minutes away from each other. It makes it very convenient. We have our own studio so it’s non-stop.

 

mushroomhead1

(Tommy Church of Mushroomhead)

 

MB: So what is a typical band rehearsal or recording session like at your studio?

Skinny: Well, rehearsal is pretty much dictated by touring. Writing is a whole entirely different process. It could just be me one day, it could just be Tommy one day. It’s very much a collaborative effort. Everyone just kind of feeds off of the next thing and the last thing done and it’s just like pass the baton. It just turns into a giant piece of artwork.

MB: Do the other members ever change your ideas without you knowing?

Skinny: Oh I know. And I’m like “Hey why’d you change that? Oh actually, you know what? That’s a pretty good idea. I never would have thought of that.” So you gotta stay open minded.

MB: Any fights?

Skinny: Always.

MB: Punches?

Skinny: [laughing] Ohhhh lots. Lots of teeth through lips. Lots of black eyes. You split someone’s face open, you super glue ‘em shut, say sorry and start drinking.

MB: Have you ever had any problems on stage?

Skinny: Oh we’ve had all kinds over twenty years. Literal fist-fights on stage. Been there, been through it. Hopefully not too many more of those moments and if it is, hopefully it is someone besides me.

MB: What was your most memorable moment on stage?

Skinny: Every day I throw that mask on and I walk out there and I sit down. It’s that first thirty seconds. It’s every day. And I still get high off it. I’m still a little kid back there. There is nothing like it in the world.

MB: Do you have any celebrity crushes?

Skinny: They’re all girls. I mentioned Fiona Apple earlier, Bjork, you know I like a lot of electronic programming. I like Peaches, she’s great. Lou Rhodes from the group Lamb. Yeah, I got tons of them.

MB: Were you ever star struck by anyone that you’ve met?

Skinny: No but I met Jesse Jackson recently and that was kind of cool. Mushroomhead and Jesse Jackson in the same room, pretty cool.

MB: Do you have any songs on your iPod that you’d be embarrassed for someone to find?

Skinny: No. I’m proud of listening to completely different stuff. I think music is so diverse and you should branch out and listen to other stuff. It’s just like colors…it’s just like moods…it’s just like days… you know, not every day is sunny, not every day is rainy, not every day is happy and not every day is sad. Live life: there’s a lot out there. You’d be surprised at what you end up liking.

MB: When you were a teen, what were your aspirations? Did you think you’d ever be doing what you’re doing now?

Skinny: No I was a lazy stoner. I didn’t start playing drums until I was sixteen. I started late in the game.

MB: Was that difficult for you?

Skinny: Yeah, it was very hard to learn. I’m thick headed, I’m stubborn, but once I work at it and I learn it I’ll never forget it. I’m self-taught. I’m not the greatest drummer, but I know my place. I don’t over-play. I do what the song calls for. I say it all the time…Mushroomhead is a group of artists, not rock stars.

MB: When you were younger, what did you listen to?

Skinny: I definitely started off pretty heavy metal. I was a huge Kiss fan, Black Sabbath fan… Kiss definitely had an influence as far as the makeup and flames and just the whole stage show. There’s a band called The Residents that I was huge into, just because they were weird. No one sounded like them or looked like them.

MB: If you could tell your younger-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Skinny: Shut up and listen. You don’t know it all, I promise. And if you did, you should have done it when you knew it all because the older I get the less I know. Now I know I don’t know, so I just stand back and pay attention.

MB: One last question. Does Mushroomhead have anything planned for after Mayhem wraps up?

Skinny: Actually, in November we are supposed to go back to Russia, we are going to do some dates there. But right after this, in October, is Avatar, Three Six Mafia, Mushroomhead and ICP. We are going to go tear up the country and party.

MB: That just sounds like one giant fun ball.

 Skinny: [laughing] Absolutely!

 

After the interview, Skinny got up and asked if I’d like to take a selfie, and how could I say no to that offer (see photo below)? I was also able to take a photo of his awesome mask (in the interview, above).

skinny

 

For more Mushroomhead, check out their website here and make sure to check out Mayhem Fest when they are on the road again in 2015!

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Mayhem Fest- Interview with Skinny of Mushroomhead