Billy JeansFat Wreck Chords
By Ashley N. Milholland on June 17, 2016 at Email
The Mean Jeans are no strangers to partying. In fact, the Portland three piece never stop and now with Tight New Dimension hitting the airwaves – I doubt they ever will.
We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Billy Jeans to discuss their unique way of approacing Fat Wreck Chords, the new album and the importance of having fun.
You’ve said before that you got signed after sending an unsolicited email with MP3s to the main firstname.lastname@example.org email – what did you write in the email?
BJ: ‘Hey, wanna release the new Mean Jeans record?’
What other records label did you guys hit up besides Fat and what was the response you received from those labels?
BJ: There wasn’t a substantial amount of thought put into the solicitation of labels. We wrote one email to Fat and one to Sub Pop. Fat was into it. Sub Pop was not. We couldn’t think of any other labels.
Do you remember meeting with Fat after they heard your unsolicited email with the attached MP3s?
BJ: We first met Fat’s publicist, Vanessa at a show of ours in New York. She’s super cool and gave us a warm welcome. Every person from Fat Wreck Chords we’ve encountered since has been awesome.
What made you decide to start your Fat relationship with the three song EP, Nite Vision?
BJ: We had a lot of new material and thought it made sense to get a single out before the album.
The band has been described as both “cool punk” and “dumb punk.” Describe “cool punk” and “dumb punk.”
BJ: Those are both borrowed terms from journalists who wrote about Mean Jeans. I suppose they didn’t know what genre we best fit into and invented Cool Punk and Dumb Punk to capture it. We found both to be hilarious and proudly adopted them.
What is your perspective on reality altogether and how does this perspective play into the music and videos the band creates?
BJ: Our approach is all about fun, so hopefully that comes across in our music and videos. We started the band for fun, write songs for fun, play shows and party for the sake of having a good time. If listening to Mean Jeans or watching our videos or seeing us play isn’t fun, we should probably just stick to pizza delivery. But we’re gonna have a good time delivering those goddamn pizzas.
The new album, Tight New Dimension, contains a lot of comedy and absurdity, as in the titles of the songs themselves. Where do the ideas for your songwriting come from?
BJ: Good question. I’d imagine Jeans Wilder came up with the concept for “4 Coors Meal” while drinking for Coors Lights instead of eating dinner. “Croozin” came about while we were all watching Mighty Ducks together and appreciating the fact that Emilio Estevez’s character was a party boy. The whole reason he had to coach the team was to fulfill his community service for getting a DUI. “Michael Jackson Was Tight” speaks for itself. No one else is writing songs about this shit, so I figure we should make it our lives’ work to do so.
Why is humor an important part of Mean Jeans regarding your music?
BJ: If it’s not funny, what’s the point?
Do you consider it important to keep the lyrical content straight forward and to the point rather than covering everything in metaphors and similies?
BJ: With Mean Jeans, what you see and hear is what you get. The song titles are what the song is about. You could probably just read the tracklist instead of listening to the album.
What other punk acts could you compare your music to?
BJ: When we started out our biggest influences were The Riverdales, The Queers, The Crumbs, The Dwarves, Turbonegro, Plastic Bertrand. I think those bands are punk.
The music is Ramones-core in its style. Tell us about the development of your sound?
BJ: Jeans Wilder and I were listening to Riverdales ‘Storm The Streets’ and Queers ‘Love Songs for the Retarded’, which are albums I guess people call Ramones-core? We wanted to imitate the bands that were imitating the Ramones. Oh yeah, and we were listening to Ramones ‘Subterranean Jungle’ a lot, living in our moms’ basements. Also it’s very easy music to play.
What was the new recording experience you guys were trying to reach with Andrew Schubert?
BJ: We’re just always looking for something new. It’s boring to do the same thing over and over – that goes for record labels, tours, songwriting, and recording. I liked an album Andrew Schubert had recorded, talked to him on the phone, and drove down to LA and went into the abyss with him. It was fun, and that’s what we wanted.
In what ways can Fat help your band reach the goal of having the most fun possible?
BJ: Convincing Keystone Light or Coors Light to sponsor us 😉