MIKE PATTON

3pd1How did you get hooked on rock & roll?

Guns N’ Roses.  I was in grade school, and had a passing interest in music – just whatever my folks listened to or what was on the radio.  Then my dad bought Use Your Illusion I (either trying to find “Knockn’ on Heaven’s Door” , or “November Rain”) and hated the rest of it.  So I got a hold of it, and that was the beginning of the end.  They swore!

Who were your heroes growing up? 

Musically, it’s run the gamut over the years, from GnR (see above), to Bowie, Ginger Wildheart, Johnny Thunders, Stiv Bators, Keith Richards & the Micks (Jagger and Taylor)… Michael Jackson and the Beach Boys when I was younger… I don’t know that they really count as heroes, but I sure as hell looked up to them (and still do).

Otherwise… Fuck, I don’t know.  I was honestly a pretty apathetic kid for the most part.  I don’t remember caring about or being inspired by anyone enough that I would call them a hero.  I mean, soldiers and firefighters and whatnot fit the bill, but I can’t honestly say that I cared while I was growing up.

What was your first instrument? 

The first instrument I learned to play was the piano (not counting kazoos or whatever), but I was just borrowing my folks’.  The first instrument that was MINE, was a trumpet.  Which was great, because when I got hassled by some older kids after band practice one sunny afternoon, I was able to smash them in the face with it and run off.  Don’t know what happened to it… Might’ve been a rental actually?  Next was a horrible blue (with black stripes?) Jackson guitar… sounded and played like crap, but man did I have fun with it.  It got lost when my folks moved while I was in college, which I’m still pissed about.

What was your first rock concert and what was its impact on you?

Technically the Beach Boys when I was like 5, but I was just along for the ride with my folks.  My first show with friends… Probably either Pantera, Alanis Morissette (I know), or Smashing Pumpkins/Garbage?  I’m honestly not sure.  And probably the biggest impact on me was Pumpkins/Garbage – because Garbage opened and put on a killer show, and the Pumpkins went on and were lifeless and boring, even though I liked them more.  That firmly cemented the importance of “the show” rather than just playing.

3pd2When did you start writing songs? did it come naturally or do you have to work at it?

Elementary/middle school… I think my first song was a catchy track titled “Field Trip to Hell.”  It came naturally, but that doesn’t mean I was any good at it.  I definitely have to work harder at it these days (for the most part – sometimes I get in the groove and it just spills out, which is really the best feeling this side of sex but I still don’t know if I’m any good at it.

How did you guys choose the songs for the debut EP?

‘Cause they kick ass.  Why else? Honestly, while PLS was becoming 3 Parts Dead, there was a lot of bullshit going on for JC and myself (the PLS remnants).  Once we started playing with Fitz and Ramon, we were all just having so much fun, and these songs sort of happened, and we were just so stoked on them that we put them out right away.  I mean, we had been playing together for maybe 2 months when we went into the studio.

Any plans to release a full-length follow-up?

Definitely.  We’ve been writing since we put out the EP, and are looking forward to showing everyone what we’ve been working on.  We’ll get into the studio soon, but we’ve been keeping busy playing out around the country in the meantime.  Fingers crossed for late spring/early summer.

Would you consider recording one cover to bring more attention to the band like VH did and, if so, what might be strong candidates for you guys to do?

I’d love to, but that’s definitely a secondary priority to writing our own tracks.  We do some live covers, both obscure tracks and more popular ones.  I guess if we were gonna do a cover for attention we’d have to pick some top 40 track that we all abhor.  But I’d rather do something by the Wildhearts, or the Stones, or the Distillers, or… You know, something else that really speaks to me as a fan and we can just have fun playing.  But that kinda defeats the “pop appeal” aspect of it.  Maybe doing “Do You Love Me” (a la the Heartbreakers cover) would be a good middle ground.

As 3PD you’ve already shared the stage with a number of luminaries as a solid opener, what’s the secret?

We never thought we were a “local band”, and we never acted like one, and so those opportunities have always just kind of fallen into our laps.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we work our asses off to pursue them, write (we think) catchy tunes, and have managed to get a ton of support from some really amazing friends and fans that have helped push us to that next level.

If you could go out on tour with any band this year who would it be and why?

Haha, why, do you know someone looking for an opener?  Seriously though, that’s a tough question to answer.  As a fan, I’d love to hit the road with the Wildhearts, or the Supersuckers, or any of those bands that never seems to leave my cd player.  As a professional musician, I’d probably want to hit the road with someone like Nickelback, or Hinder, that’s packing shows, to get in front of some new faces that would dig what we do but might not hear us otherwise.

I hear Motley Crue is doing a “farewell” tour, so maybe that’s the sweet spot in the middle…  Nikki Sixx, if you’re reading this – give me a call if you need an opener!

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DONALD DUCOTE

url1.0 – Labels aside, the music on Tracks is hard to pin down, is that part of your vibe as a dude?

I don’t think so.  Maybe more now than the years previous.  We started recording Tracks in 2010 and you could take one look at me and figure it out.  Recovering hipster/pothead and you can bet the farm he started off in the suburbs.  Is that what you’re asking?  I have an aloof card that I can play pretty well, and I have, but lately I’ve been trying to shut that down; it’s boring.  I don’t think anybody wants to be easy to pin down.

2.0 – It sounds as if Ancient History has, ironically or not, been a real organic evolution of sorts; how did it come together?

I met Jim Smith, Austin Lemeiux and Paul Johnson while managing a cafe off the Morgan L stop in Brooklyn. They were all regular customers. I got to know Jim because he recorded the final record of my previous band.  He was also roommates with a friend of mine.

Paul lived in my building and we had been wanting to play together for a while.  Once things got situated with Jim he was the first person I called and we worked out the first couple tunes in his living room.

I don’t know what this says about me as a person, but whatever, it’s funny, I asked a co-worker with which customer she would most like to copulate.  She said, “The earl grey guy with all the tattoos that looks fucked up every morning.”  That was Austin and I can’t imagine there being a better-suited lead guitarist for my songs than that guy.  The next time he walked into the coffee shop I asked if he was a musician.  He said that he was a guitar player and he listed Jeff Buckley as his first influence.  We clicked immediately.  The first song we cut was ‘She Gave You the Keys’ in a basement art gallery in Dumbo and it was just the four of us, Jim was behind the board.  I believe we got it in about 3 takes and I remember us listening back and just being very pleased with what everybody was bringing to the table.

3.0 – Is understanding your sound as simple as the mix of your southern roots embracing the indie biosphere of Brooklyn?

I’m not convinced my roots are southern. I think, if anything, it’s the other way around. When I was in 4th grade I had a Garth Brooks tape and a Trisha Yearwood tape, but as soon as Nirvana showed up I was out.  I’ve always appreciated a sturdy song and I’ve always respected country music for being such loyalists to songcraft, even at the expense of any significant experimentation, but I think for me it’s always been the songcraftier end of my indie influences embracing whatever genre has a documentary streaming on Netflix.

4.0 – How did you approach the recording process for Tracks?

I had recorded with Jim Smith on my last project and he approached me about wanting to record some songs without a full band.  We put our heads together and decided to buy an old tape machine and record another record.  We didn’t want a clock ticking over our head and we didn’t want to record in a sterile studio environment.  That was it really.  We were going for natural reverb and mic placement.  We wanted to use tape and we wanted it to be warm and ambient.  We didn’t want a band album. We made a rule that we couldn’t use a drum kit and we wanted to focus our energy on a song by song basis.

Jim found the machine he wanted and he drove it from Detroit to NYC and we just hacked away at it whenever we could.  It took about two years.  I can’t tell you how important Jim was to this record. He’s amazing at what he does and because of it he is very busy, so there were long stretches between sessions, months at a time, to prep the songs and figure out over-dubs.

AncientHistory5.0 – As trippy as it gets at times, the tradition of story telling seems an important feature to your stuff; to what other artist, or artists, might you attribute the influence?

Storytelling is something that comes very naturally to me.  Anybody that knows me will tell you that I love a good story.  As a musician I’ve sometimes felt that I should’ve spent more energy trying to repress the urge to over-indulge my personal experiences but still, love and heartbreak are not topics that I write about very often. On the three records before TRACKS there are probably only 4 or 5 songs between them that are about romantic relationships. When it came time to write for this record I just said, “Fuck it.  Here’s all the shit I’ve been saving.”  Not sure I’ll ever endorse such straight-ahead narrative ever again, not because I think the record suffered for it, but because nothing I have left to purge is anything that anyone wants to hear about. Regarding influences, I’ve always been drawn to the more subtle characters of Belle & Sebastian and Elliott Smith. I like songs that can capture ordinary moments and infuse them with something unordinary, but at the same time Pedro the Lion’s Control and Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker are two desert island records for me.  I don’t know, I have an undying admiration for Jeff Mangum and the words he writes. Lyrically speaking, I would like to adopt a more abstract state of mind going forward.

6.0 – What tunes on the disc are you digging most now that it’s done?

Hmm.  I love four-leafed.  It’s a song that had been brewing a very, very long time.  My buddy PJ (Michael Poulton) played lead for the first half of the song.  I recorded him in my bedroom in the middle of the night.  I remember we were drunk and he was playing slide with a beer bottle.  It’s one of the few songs that isn’t about a female.  And it’s fun to play.  Clover Honey is a sentimental favorite.  I love Austin’s guitar on that one, when it hits the high note halfway through.  He nailed it in one take.  We were working on Subway Dream and I remember telling Jim that I didn’t want lead guitar on the song.  He said ok, then Austin gave me some weed and I went to smoke in the hall.  When I came back Jim and Austin had finished Austin’s guitar part: that warm, burning distortion that just rolls through the song until it spikes into the breakdown.  Jim just smiled at me.  It took them five minutes and it made the song.

7.0 – How do songs come to you: more as ideas or feelings that lead to ideas?

Lyrics are always last.  Melody happens when it happens.  The riff is always first, the progression, the picking pattern, whatever.  The initial musical idea is what puts the key into the ignition.  To turn the engine you’ve got to grab that change, that switch from verse to chorus or chorus to bridge or whatever.  That’s what excites me.  Great changes.  When it comes to lyrics, I draw from the past, which is something I hate about myself.  I wish I could lose the documentarian in me and endorse a sense of fiction, but I find it very difficult to separate myself from what I’m writing, especially if I’m gonna be asked to sing the words over and over again.  I’m still trying though.

8.0 – What was your favorite 3 records in high school?

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona.  It is not a very culturally diverse place.  If you were in your early teens in the late nineties in Phoenix you didn’t have a lot of access to underground music.  Thankfully, there were a few people that knew how to find it and they ended up saving me my junior and senior year, but early high school was alot of Weezer.  Pinkerton changed my life.  Other than that my buddies and I listened to whatever radio hits we heard on the bus ride to school.

I was working as a prep cook in Scottsdale when I was 16 and one of the line cooks gave me Modest Mouse’s Lonesome Crowded West and Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity.  It took me a while to absorb Modest Mouse but Jimmy Eat Word, being from Phoenix, was instant love.   They were a favorite for sure.  Modest Mouse, Elliott Smith and Neutral Milk Hotel were all bands that I listened to in high school but they didn’t really do their damage until I left home.  I remember the line cook saying that he listened to ’emo’ music.  That was in 1998 and I had never heard the word ’emo’ before.  It sounded exotic!  It opened my eyes and got me searching for music, as opposed to just buying whatever I heard on the radio.

So yeah, my favorites in high school were Weezer’s Pinkerton, Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity and probably the second Weakerthans LP.  A buddy introduced me to Left and Leaving right when it dropped and for years it never left my side.  My first week of college was 9/11 and I remember being in my car driving to community college when the first tower fell, and ‘Everything Must Go!’ was on the stereo.  Since then ‘Left and Leaving’ has always reminded me of good ol’ high school and pre-9/11 America.

9.0 – What was the first concert you ever attended? did it leave any lasting impression on you today?

I wish I had scalped my tickets.  My second concert was Rancid opening for Garbage and Smashing Pumpkins and I wish that was my first concert.  My first show was important though.

Earlier I talked about my love for songs with good musical changes; the first concert I ever went to was Cheap Trick opening for Meatloaf at what used to be America West Arena in Phoenix.  I’m not sure I’ve ever said this out loud, but I remember watching Cheap Trick play ‘The Flame’ and I remember the changes in that song blowing my mind. First when he breaks into the ‘i’m going crazy/losing sleep’ part, then the way it pounds into the ‘wherever you go’ part.  I fucking loved it.

As you can probably guess, I’m a sucker for ballads.  “The Flame” really got me, the way the parts worked together to form these really heavy moments.  Those are the moments I look for in music.  Those are the moments I want to create because those are the moments that can change the way a person feels.

10.0 – If you were Grammy level stars what you tour stage design look like? 

Whoa. No clue. But pyrotechnics for sure.