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Dead Milkmen Interview

Dead Milkmen Interview

By: Morgan Y. Evans
October 14, 2014

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Check in on the Dead Milkmen more than 25 years after Punk Rock Girl and Bitchin’ Camaro to find out what it’s like to beat someone with a car antenna, how to shout at the millennial who’s pouring your latte to wake up, and why the “Apocalypse Now” approach works.

Spacelab: How are you today? Any nose goblins, tummy rumbles or epidemics near you to complain about or initial tirades you'd like to get going with?

Dean: I’m fine. No complaints really at the moment, though I’m a bit tired of driving my teenager son back and forth to high school for activities…

Rodney: My back hurts and I suffer from ennui.

Spacelab: How was it working with Brian Siano on the video for the title track of "Pretty Music…"? Is this video an apology to fans disappointed that The King In Yellow didn't sweep the Grammys?

Dean: It was great working with Brian because we really had no preconceived idea what would happen. He only came along to the studio because he tagged along with photographer Kyle Cassidy. Once he looked at the first day’s footage he realized that with a little more shooting of the overdubs recording session the next day, we’d have an “Behind The Scenes” style video to show.

Rodney: Brian was quiet while everything else was quite noisy, so - after a while - we hardly notice that we were being filmed. If you’re going to film people, make sure that you’re quiet and that there is plenty of noise to distract the people you’re filming. This is called the “Apocalypse Now” approach (Named after the famous Rom-Com starring James Spader & Cher). As for a Grammy, if someone tried to hand me one of those, I’d beat their ass with it. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming that cars still have antennae and that I could beat the entire Grammy nominating committee to death with one.  

Spacelab: How much worse could the epidemic of low brow vanity online become? Isn't being pretty supposed to be nice? This is a meat market of cannibals.

Dean: People have such a low attention-span that it’s amazing the anything gets done.

Rodney: No. Being pretty isn’t being nice; being pretty is inconvenient to others. It’s also a great deal of work. We should stop inconveniencing other countries by spouting things like “America the Beautiful”. We should start saying things like “America: a great place book an ironic clown for child’s party” or “America: reruns of ‘Airwolf’ are coming up next.”

Yes, this is, indeed a meat market of cannibals, but it’s the best damn meat market of cannibals the world has ever known.

Spacelab:  The experimental and fearlessly bold Dead Milkmen sound is alive and well. Are you hopeful or pessimistic for the current young generation? Is this a call to arms? Is the pen still mightier than the sword or technology?

Dean: Technology marches on. I think it has actually helped us continue to spread the Dead Milkmen “message” more easily than before.

Rodney: I’m hopefully pessimistic, or - as we call it - a “Philadelphian”. The album is indeed a call to call to arms to kill Poptimism (and maybe one or two Poptimists), to replace Smarm with Snark, and to make it, once again, make it safe to shout at the person who is pouring your latte, “You’re twenty-two goddamn years old? Why the fuck are you listening to Beyonce? If I come back here and you’re not blasting Vomito Negro, some serious shit WILL go down! Now toss another shot of espresso in there; I’ve got more people to scream at.”

Spacelab: Would you guys ever be in or contribute music to a celebrity rehab show if they paid you?

Dean: Personally, one of the areas I’d like to get more involved with is movie/tv soundtrack and background music work.

Rodney: My friend Bob Forrest, who used to be in a band called Thelonious Monster, was a counselor on “Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab”. I wanted to get on that show so that I could hang out with him, but the producers said that, although my substance abuse issues were serious enough, by no means could I be considered a celebrity. At first, I was insulted, so I beat the entire production crew’s asses with a car antenna while “I Fight the Force” by Vomito Negro blasted in the background. Later, when I found out that at least five ex-patients had died, I didn’t feel so bad and seriously considered apologizing.

Spacelab: What would your most Spinal Tap epic Gladiator deli tray or rock star Arena M&M outlandish requests consist of?

Dean: Well actually, one of the items on our “rider” has always been a bouquet of fresh cut flowers. We used to get them more often than not when touring.

Rodney: Funny you should ask that, because we used to like to sneak a peek at other people’s riders. Other artists would request things like five pairs of clean socks, or a jar of honey, or no Jews (in the case of Mel Gibson’s Holiday Skating Spectacular). If I could ask for anything on a rider, it would be World Peace. And porn. Used porn.

Spacelab: What's your favorite Dream Theater album?

Dean: I forget the name of it, but the one where they recorded themselves being torn apart by rabid wolves?

Rodney: I was bitten by Dream Theater (is evil) as a child and have been afraid to approach them ever since. Didn’t your Research Dept. mention this?

Spacelab: What ways does a punk rock sensibility still inform the way you approach recording techniques?

Dean: If anything, modern technology has actually made it easier for bands to DIY with computer technology and affordable recording gear. We’re much more collaborative now with the writing and recording. Its a lot easier to make demos and get other input on songs from the rest of the band using online tools.

Rodney: Yes, in that, as a Punk, I tend to be pretty broke most of the time. That’s why I record as much music as I can at home; everytime I leave my house I have to spend money. If we could just do everything - recording, shows, rumbles - from home, I’d be much, much happier, because I’d have much, much more money. And didn’t Gandhi say that money is happiness? You bet your ass he did.

Spacelab: Can't we all just get along?

Dean: No. Conflict and adversity make the world go around.

Rodney: Things are so dull now that everybody is trying to be positive. I can’t even threaten to stomp on another musician's vocal cords without being called a “Hater”...and spending a few days in jail.

Spacelab: I bet there are a lot of "Punk Rock GIrl" era girls who are hot single moms now. Have you noticed this as a social trend or what?

Rodney: I stopped noticing social trends the day the Bilderberg Group conspired to have Airwolf canceled. That show defined us a people, albeit a poorly acted helicopter owning people.

Spacelab: Thank you!!


Rodney: Thank you.
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