May 31, 2017 Interview – Jimmy Urine of Mindless Self Indulgence
Some listen to music to pass the time, others absorb it and become the music. Growing up on a steady diet of 8-bit video games, comic books, and whacky ’80s Horror flicks, Jimmy Urine was an imaginative sugar high. Taking his love for the sounds that went with the films and games, Urine would start to compose his own music while a child, soon turning it into his life with his successful band Mindless Self Indulgence. Known to do and say what they want when they want, Mindless Self Indulgence has garnered a cult-like status for two decades now. Still having a love for a good old synthesizer, Urine has been spending his downtime composing music for films, video games, and even starred as Half-Nut in the blockbuster film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Recently we caught up with the busy creator to talk his love for music, the work behind Mindless Self Indulgence, his dabbling in soundtrack music, movies, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music professionally sometime now, and, over the past two decades, you attained a great deal of success with Mindless Self Indulgence. Through the work of Mindless Self Indulgence, other musical collaborations and much more, how would you describe the journey you have traveled as a musician?
Jimmy Urine – Ooh, that’s a good question. I’ve never really thought about it like that (laughs). I’ve just always pointed forward and I’m always doing music. I’m very happy that I’m able to do it, but I never really stopped and thought about the whole journey. I’m still in the middle of the journey. I’ll stop and think about it when I’m dead (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) It is hard to reflect when you are continuously moving forward. If you look back, many would say 2005’s You’ll Rebel to Anything really launched the band in the underground. There were some shifts in style from that point through 2013’s How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence. How would you describe the progression of the band?
Jimmy Urine – I think we sort of do what we want. We kind of have no real rules. It makes for a really sort of fun musical experience because it doesn’t have to be super hard or super weird, it can just be whatever we are feeling at the time. We can just do what we want to do and say we don’t give a fuck. It can be anything from hanging from a chandelier to being chill with our feet up doing a crossword puzzle. As long as we’re enjoying it and satisfied by it, then we’re happy and everyone else is just there to check it out.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, and that is one of the endearing qualities of the band, that ability and freedom to do what you want and the fans really enjoy that. With Mindless Self Indulgence currently on hiatus you have turned your attention to other creative outlets and, back on April 28th, released The Secret Cinematic Sounds of Jimmy Urine. A great compilation of soundtrack music, what was the writing process behind these tune?
Jimmy Urine – Well some of them had come out already on various video games as well as soundtracks and there are about seven tracks that are brand new. Having some time off from Mindless, even though I love being Mindless and it’s a really fun band to be in, I thought I’m going to take some time off, I am going to do something that I really want to do. I love video games and movies and all sorts of other stuff, so most of the stuff I end up being on is anything from cartoons on TV to being comic book related things. That’s kind of where this album comes in, I had kind of wanted to show people that I do other stuff! I don’t think many people realize that, not only have I done stuff for composing, but that I do music that is more related to composing and sounding like some 1980s soundtrack (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – Much of the songs have a very eerie ’80s synth vibe to them; sounds like they could be in an ’80s Horror film, or Miami Vice for that matter. It is very Jane Hammer-like and very cool stuff. Is that a sound that has always interested you?
Jimmy Urine – Yes, even way before Mindless, when I was a kid, I never really got Rock records. I wouldn’t hear something I had liked on the radio, like Rock or Pop music, and go buy the record; I would go out and buy soundtracks. I was a kid that loved movies so I would go out and buy the Star Wars (1977) soundtrack or the Blade Runner (1982) soundtrack. My favorite soundtracks were all the synth guys such as Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, etc. That kind of got me into buying synthesizers and I would try to emulate those soundtracks and that sound, so I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. It just kind of turned into something else for a long time where it was Mindless Self Indulgence as a band. Going back, it was sort of a no-brainer.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool, so it is obviously something you have always had a passion for, for so long. It also sounds authentic and not contrived. It sounds real and that is great, it is really fun stuff.
Jimmy Urine – Some of it is actually from the ’80s. Some of it is stuff I wrote as a kid in like ’83 or ’85 , so some of it sounds retro, but some of it is literally from the 1980s (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – That is a really cool piece of information! The quirkier track “All Together Friends Forever” was in fact featured in the 2015 Horror flick The Hive. Have you been approached to compose any other film soundtracks in the Horror or Sci-Fi realm?
Jimmy Urine – Oh yeah, of course. I’ve had a pretty varied amount of stuff that I’ve composed for and it’s all been things that I’m a fan of, whether it be a video game or a comic book, or what have you. I definitely would like to do some of that stuff, like a Horror movie or video game and such.
CrypticRock.com – That is something to look forward to. Speaking of movies, you actually star in the hot new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 film as Half-Nut. Being someone who appreciates comics, what was this experience like for you?
Jimmy Urine – It was amazing, I really have to say a huge thank you to James Gunn, because now not only am I part of The Guardians Universe, but now I’m also a part of the Marvel Universe. I grew up collecting comics and to be a part of that universe is fucking mindblowing. It’s such a great movie. It’s great to be a part of it and a lot of my friends are also in the movie. They’re fucking out of control and awesome. They did an amazing job producing, directing, acting, and doing stunts on it.
CrypticRock.com – That sounds like an great experience. James has really done well with it. He has come a long way over the years working on Scooby-Doo in 2002 to his remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004 to now. What was it like working with him?
Jimmy Urine – Yeah, it was really interesting to go down to Atlanta. There were these huge sets and there’s a ton of people. You get ready to go and your friend is just like, “Okay, I want you to do this, you stand here, go across the screen here,” you’re like, “Okay, cool man!” That was the day. It was kind of fun!
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it would be a blast. The film is doing exceptionally well and it seems fans are very pleased with the second volume. That is something that, especially when it comic book films, fans are pretty fickle. As someone who loves comic books, you know that there is a lot of hit or miss with these type of films.
Jimmy Urine – Oh yeah! Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. definitely stands out as a really clean, good comic book movie. There’s comic book movies where they come out and people go, “That’s not how the character was in the comic,” or “Why did you do this to this character?” But with Guardians, it’s so fresh and he did such a good job with it that everybody’s super happy. It’s such a great angle on that whole cosmic universe of Marvel and it is so amazing!
CrypticRock.com – That is what everybody is saying. Could you foresee this as an open door for you to dive into more acting in features in the future?
Jimmy Urine – I’m sure that I’ll get some calls just because it was a huge, successful movie. Someone will call me up and say, “Hey, you wanna do this? You wanna do that?” and I’m up for just about anything. Like I said, I’ve been very lucky that a lot of projects that have come across my table have been things that I happen to be a fan of. I love Horror and Sci-fi movies, I love composing and comic books, etc. Usually that’s what comes across my desk, so I’m sure that something will pop up just based on the fact that it’s such a huge movie. Someone will be like, “Hey, do you want to be the villain in this Horror film,” or, “Do you want to compose a piece for this TV show?” That’s great, it’s an amazing opportunity.
CrypticRock.com – Again, it is something to look forward to and to expand your repertoire. Being that you have worked with Mindless Self Indulgence for so many years and you have done soundtrack composing, how would you compare the two as a creative entity? They are obviously two different things.
Jimmy Urine – I think they’re different in the sense that with Mindless Self Indulgence, you have no rules. It’s really whatever we want to do as Mindless Self Indulgence, to please ourselves and make a statement. Whereas in composing, there really are a lot of parameters because it’s still other people’s visions that you’re being pulled in to. Whether it’s a movie or a video game, there’s a director or a creative controller or someone producing it. There are certain parameters and I find that pretty fun coming from a band where I have zero rules and I don’t have to worry about TV, video, radio, or anything. I can say and do whatever I want. It’s a very cool, underground Punk band. It is kind of fun to do something that has rules and parameters set up where people want it to be a little lighter, or a little darker, or a little shorter, or a little longer; they really know what they want for their vision.
CrypticRock.com – That said, how do you go about it when someone says they want you to write music for their film? Do you watch scenes and figure out how you want it to sound?
Jimmy Urine – For films, and even video games, I like to see something that has a little bit of movement so I can kind of pace it and figure out what the tempo is. Sometimes it’s an early render of a video game or an early shot from a film that still has green screen in it. I like to know what the movement is going to be on screen, that way it really sets the pace.
CrypticRock.com – That makes sense. You look at John Carpenter, he composed most of the music for his classic films as well. Seeing you are quite busy with all these projects, are there any immediate future plans set for Mindless Self Indulgence?
Jimmy Urine – We’re just sort of chilling right now. We all hang out and see each other, so there’s nothing weird going on, so we’re just taking a quick break. I’m sure we’ll get back into something in the future. Same thing with composing, most of the stuff that I’m talking about is out and you can talk about it. That’s the problem about Hollywood, if you’ve got something coming out in the future it’s kind of hard to talk about it, because it’s like, “I can’t talk about it, it’s a secret, it hasn’t been announced, etc, etc.” I’m just sort of pushing the stuff that I’m pushing right now and waiting for stuff to be revealed.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. So there is more on the horizon then. As far as Mindless Self Indulgence, you have been in the band a long time, so one can imagine that it is good to take a break and try something else. Not to say you are unhappy with the band, but it is nice to just be able to expand your horizons.
Jimmy Urine – Totally, and we’ve always been a band that sort of takes things at our own pace. The spaces between our records are usually three or so years apart because we just sort move at an art project pace where it’s like, “Well, what do we have to say this year?” Most bands, I think, make a record then they tour it, then get back in the studio and make a record and tour it, whether or not they have something to truly say. They keep the conveyor belt rolling. We’re lucky that we have the sort of luxury to say what we want when we want. I think that’s great, because we’ve not put out any records that just felt like things that we were supposed to put out, they have a lot of weight behind them.
CrypticRock.com – You are correct, creativity really cannot be forced. When you are on the conveyor belt pace making record after record every two years like a lot bands do according to record labels, it can be stale. It can come across as insincere.
Jimmy Urine – Yeah, totally! You can definitely end up with record where it’s like, “That wasn’t their best record,” or, “That really only had that one song,” or “They just put out a half-assed greatest hits to sort of get out of their deal,” or whatever their business aspect is. We’ve been lucky where we’ve been really self-sustaining, culty, and done our own thing at our own pace. That’s kind of a crazy, lucky thing for us.
CrypticRock.com – It is definitely something that you are fortunate to have. It is great for the fans because they have really been dedicated throughout the years. Your fans really are some of the most dedicated and that is definitely a positive. My last question for you is pertaining to Horror films. What are some of your favorite Horror films?
Jimmy Urine – Well the one movie that I watch every year because I just really think it’s the greatest and it still stands up pretty well, every single Halloween, without fail, I always watch 1982’s The Thing by John Carpenter! I think it’s pretty much a perfect movie and it’s probably his best. It still holds up, those effects, even though it’s very practical and they were made in the late ’70s, early 80’s, it still holds up. Today a kid doesn’t look at The Thing and think, “Oh, it’s fake!” They’re usually like, “I’m really fucking terrified!” (laughs)
The other movie that I always watch every Halloween is 1985’s The Return of the Living Dead, which was written by Dan O’Bannon, just because it was kind of like the real good Punk Rock version of zombies. Zombies started sort of running after you, they first started eating brains. It sort of introduced the eating brains thing. It was just really well done and dark. I don’t know why but I just really love it. It’s a great shot of culture at the time. You have a misfit band of people; a New Wave girl, a Punk Rock dude, a hardcore dude, a straight dude, and they’re all just sort of hanging out together. That’s kind of how it was. I kind of grew up like that in high school. There was the skater guy, the Punk Rock dude, the Metal guy, and we’re just all friends even though we were in these different kinds of clicks.
CrypticRock.com – That is so true. Return of the Living Dead is probably one of the best Horror Comedies ever made, and also one of the best Zombies films ever made. It is fun, beginning to end. Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988) was okay, but it was not nearly as good.
Jimmy Urine – The second one wasn’t as good, but the first one was fantastic. Dan O’Bannon is amazing, he wrote Alien (1979) and a whole bunch of other fucking amazing movies and he was involved in the ’70s with trying to make Dune, which never happened. Return of the Living Dead was amazing and the soundtrack was real Punk Rock. It wasn’t like some bullshit Punk Rock, but they had The Cramps, The Damned, and TSOL on the soundtrack. The soundtrack introduced me to real Punk Rock where I was like, “Who the fuck are The Damned?” and I’d go out and buy a Damned record or a Cramps record, and I was like, “Whoa, this is the real deal. This isn’t like some fake Punk band for a movie.”
CrypticRock.com – You are right, and it is so funny that you mention the soundtrack because that soundtrack is killer, and for so long it was so difficult to find.
Jimmy Urine – That soundtrack was the first soundtrack that I ever bought that had dialogue from the movie in-between all the tracks. I love that, I thought it was the coolest thing ever! So when I ran out and bought the soundtrack, I had all the best lines of the movie and I was like that is totally cool! Nobody does that shit anymore!
CrypticRock.com – No, they do not. It is a great movie for sure. Did you know, the scene where Linnea Quigley (Trash) is dancing nude in the graveyard, they actually had her wear a prosthetic on her private areas because they could not show it?
Jimmy Urine – (laughs) I always wondered about that! I was like, “Why are we getting basically full nudity here?” but if you look at it, yeah, I guess it’s kinda weird. They have a great documentary about the whole thing.