Interview by Alexa T.
October 22, 2009
Estrella: Could you please state your name and what you do in the band?
Than: My name’s Than and I play drums and sing back up in Black Gold.
Estrella: Could you give me a rundown of how your members met?
Than: Eric and I met through our friend Jacob, who suggested that we hang out. Jacob recruited me for a tour that Eric was on which was for Ambulance LTD. That’s when we met, actually on tour. We met on the road and here we again out on the road. Jacob suggested we both meet because he though we were both good dudes and so on the tour, we met and bro’d down and that’s how it went down.
Estrella: Right now, you’re currently on tour with Girl In A Coma. How’s the tour been? I know it’s a long one, how long have you been out on the road?
Than: We started this tour in Europe, opening up for Neko Case. Then we played a festival in Singapore and then did 5 more weeks. About eight weeks… two months of tour. We’re ending it with two Pixies shows, so it’s even a little more than a two month tour. Tour’s been great. Girl In A Coma are just amazing, amazing people and we love them. We became the closest knit family that I’ve ever seen on the road. They’re just very warm and welcoming people. It’s like the Brady Bunch, they’re the little girls, and we’re the little boys. It’s been nice.
Estrella: Were there any favorite places that you picked up on that tour that you really liked playing?
Than: It’s been good all around. Some shows are more packed then others. I particularly, from a performers perspective, enjoy playing in New York because it’s a packed house and some of our friends were there. It was that kind of situation where it was pretty, pretty crowded and everything just felt really loud and intense, so every note that you played – everyone heard it and felt it in their bones, so I will have to go with New York. Brooklyn.
Estrella: And like you said earlier, you were on tour with Neko Case and you also went out to Singapore. How was tour like over there? I’m sure the scenes over there were a bit different than here.
Than: Well when we were in the UK, it was a very very different kind of tour. We got to play in all of these old, like hundreds of years old churches that were converted into venues. We would go to these amazingly, beautiful English towns and then play in these old, haunted, crazy beautiful churches that were leaking water and musty and all of this religious iconography around. Neko’s scene, over there, she’s still kind of new and considered Americana, so some hipsters are out there, but it’s a lot of older kind of people too. You’ll see a few British hipsters and then mostly like 30 or 40 or sometimes even 50 years old music fans. We were just kind of rocking out and thinking, “Wow, how are they going to take this?” But the crowds did receive us very well. In Singapore, it was just random. We played this festival, Formula 1 Festival, we were playing opposite No Doubt so we didn’t have that much of a crowd but the crowd was into it. We also had drunk strippers dancing in front of us and everything. It was pretty fun. The scenes couldn’t be more different. Here, in the states, with Girl In A Coma, you get a lot of rock and roll lesbian fans, God Bless them, coming out and regular rock fans who just appreciated us because we rocked out and they liked our songs, so the fit was there. This two months tour has really taught us this, that we can kind of perform in everybody. Well, I mean, I don’t know, maybe not a hip hop crowd but we’re doing alright. It has given us some really great confidence that we can just approach any situation and just make people happy.
Estrella: I saw you have a few dates with the Pixies after Girl In A Coma. Is that just a two night thing and how stoked are you?
Than: If there was a stoked-o-meter, it would have been busted, because I would have broken it. It’s such a dream come true that we can even play one show with them. It started off that we were just going to play at the Hollywood Palladium with them and then they said, “Hey, we need another opener for the show in Oakland at the Fox Theatre” and it was double Christmas for us. We’re incredibly excited. We’re also excited because we’re already starting new songs for our new records and Joey Santiago plays on one of the songs called, “Heaven Come Back”. It started off in the studio with him. He came to one of our small club shows in Hollywood and he came out one night and checked us out and it was a bad P.A., it sounded like a club show but he caught the vibe and really liked us. The relationship started that way and stayed in touch with us and now we’re playing a couple shows with them, it’s just been so amazing that it could even happen. We are insanely stoked. As we head back into California for the end of tour, I’m thinking, “Please don’t let us get into a car accident” or one of us breaks our fingers or something so we can’t play a show and coincidentally, Al, our guitar player, broke one of his toes. He’s been playing shows with a broken toe for a few days. As long as he doesn’t break it off before the Pixies shows I’ll be happy but I’m watching him every night saying, “Don’t break that toe anymore!”
Estrella: While on the road, have you picked up any crazy tour stories that you’re willing to share?
Than: I was just saying this the other night, it seems every night we come out after shows and we always just meet some interesting characters. There’s just been so many. Every night on this two month span, there’s been very very cool, loving, and quirky people on the tour, just people who are really into music. People who are just not vanilla people. They are just mad interesting and quirky and cool. When you hang out with them at the end of the show and learn their stories, that’s a whole ‘nother adventure in itself. It’s been cool. I don’t want to get too into the dirt of it but it’s been a good time.
Estrella: What’s the sketchiest town you’ve ever played?
Than: Toss up between Kansas City or Detroit… We embrace the shadiness, an element of danger always makes everything feel more satisfying after you have survived it. It’s like when you’re on a eco-vacation or you go sky diving or you hike up a giant mountain where there is a cliff that you could fall off of, that’s my favorite shit because if your life is on the line and you survive it, it’s the best feeling ever and when you get into your bed that night, you think “Man, I survived it.” Sketchy is good.
Estrella: So I guess we’ll say Detroit? Unless there’s any other times that you can think of in the back of your head.
Than: Well, the reason why I mentioned Kansas City, when we were mentioning characters.. there was a band that was on the bill that night that played and they were basically all… there were two dudes dressed in womens… It was mixed between a homeless person, the Golden Girls, and Billy Corgan at his most gay, and those were the dudes. They have this amazing woman drummer who I suspect is a lesbian but it was awesome. Dangerous flavor, as well as some amazing cross sexual bit that made it fun. So honorable mention, Kansas City.
Estrella: You’re on Red Bull Records. How did that signing come about? I saw it’s just you and the band Twin Atlantic.
Than: Us being signed was not just because we were courted by Red Bull, we were pretty much courted by all the major labels, and some cool indies like Downtown and stuff, but when push came to shove and the time came really close and everyone was showing everything they had to offer… it came down to Red Bull and Atlantic Records. It came down to what would be the best for us and what we wanted to accomplish and at the last minute Red Bull came in with an aggressive offer and our lawyer who introduced us to all the labels suggested we take Red Bull up and we liked the people, so we were down. It wasn’t like you know we were at a bar drinking Red Bull and someone approached us asking to be on our label.
Estrella: Who would you say some of your personal influences are?
Than: That could take days to answer because I’m really into everything right now and I have been for many, many years. I’d say James Brown, The Carter Family, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, just to name some of the top 10. Hank Williams…
Estrella: Who are some bands that you’re currently listening to?
Than: Really, it’s sort of just those. It’s funny, it’s like you always keep going back to your favorites. Yesterday in the van, I was in charge of the Ipod because I was driving for once, I’m pretty lazy about driving. So I had the Ipod, it was pretty much, it started off a 1939 live recording of The Carter Family. Then it went to Hank Williams, then to Michael Jackson, so that was basically our drive from Boise to Seattle.
Estrella: I saw your recent post on your Myspace about having a song featured on One Tree Hill. How did that come about?
Than: Sort of through normal channels that came about. We have this amazing lady in London who’s in charge of coordinating our songs if we want them to be in TV and movies and commercials and stuff like that. She happens to be the daughter of the keyboard player of Neil Young and Aretha Franklin, her name’s Roxanne. That sort of came about organically, they were interested in the song and then they used it on the air. I didn’t catch the broadcast, I don’t know how it came out but it’s kind of fun when that happens.
Estrella: Rush was released this past February and I’ve seen your extensive touring schedule. How long do you want to tour to emphasize Rush? Any plans on heading back to the studio again to lay down new songs?
Than: So the plans for the tour of this record are going to continue into next year. We started off sort of slow and that was the overall plan. We were just going to take it slow this year and do a few tours and next year is going to be more touring. We’re touring for a good part of 2010 and while we’re touring on our off time, we will continue to start writing and recording for the next album. We’re already 3 songs into the next album, which we’re excited about, and for the next album there’s going to be a shift because we added two new members – Al Paxton and Kerry and we’re writing with them as a four piece, we’re excited to see how that will come out as well. For the next album it’s going to probably be a little different flavor. It’s going to be more like our live show I think. We’re going to start recording live in the studio with minimal overdub, as well as recording tracks like we did on Rush but it was track upon track and adding overdub, doing electronica stuff. We’re excited. Next year’s going to be a good one, packed full of touring and recording.
Estrella: Do you plan to release another single off of Rush and if so, what song will it be?
Than: We’re about to shoot a video for “Shine”, we’re excited for that, it’s going to be a fun video. In the UK and Europe, we released “Breakdown” as our first single and the cool thing about this, is that the taste is slightly different and the next single over there is going to be the track, “Idols”, which I don’t think is going to be released here as a single. It’s cool, I like it, it’s a different flavor, you know Europe versus here, releasing different things in different places.
Estrella: Since it’s October, what are your plans for Halloween and do you plan to dress up as anything?
Than: I haven’t found my costume yet. For a while I’ve been tinkering with dressing up as.. you’ve seen Kill Bill part 1?
Than: You have to check out, in the movie she gets attacked by these ninja style, sword carrying, shaved head Asian dudes in black suits. I was thinking about going as one of those dudes. Not sure if I’ll do that. Last year, we dressed up for our show on Halloween in New York, we dressed up Karate Kid and Cobra Kai. Eric was the Karate Kid, our guitarist and bass player were the Cobra Kai and I dressed up as Mr. Miyagi on drums. It’d be cool to do a group dress up like last year, but we haven’t decided yet. And as far as plans for this year, we’re going to being in LA, we’ll probably go around town from party to party, take lots of drugs, get retarded, the usual.
Estrella: What year do you think a Zombie Apocalypse could occur?
Than: I thought it was going to be 2000 but we survived that, so I’m going to say 2010. Maybe we’ll play a glorious show at some amazing venue and then the world would blow up, because that would be the perfect way to do it, to go out while we’re playing a show.
Estrella: What would be worse a shark attack or being mauled by bears?
Than: I think because I love to be in the water, I would prefer to be attacked in the water. So being attacked by a bear is worse.
Estrella: What is your favorite kind of ice cream? And if you were made of ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Than: If I was a flavor, I would be banana flavored because I’m an Asian dude who talks like a white guy, so I get called a banana sometimes. My favorite flavor… that’s a tough one, it’s a tie between.. there is this thing they have at Friday’s called double chocolate crunch or something like that. Tie between that and the five ingredient Haagen Dazs vanilla because it tastes so rich and classic.
Estrella: What are three things that can always be found inside your fridge?
Than: Sparkling water, tempeh, and some Polaroid film.
Estrella: What are your plans for 2010?
Than: Keep on, keepin’ on. Doing more music and eating lots of good food really. It is a big year. 2010 is a big year. I still have until the end of the year to figure out what my resolutions and real goals are, I’m working on it, I think I have a couple of grand slams, if we talk again before the end of the year I’ll probably have a better answer. But for now, I’ll say eating, thrifting, and making music.
Estrella: Any closing statements?
Than: Closing statements… as quirky as your questions are I really like them and I say keep them going for future interviews and thank you!