Matthew (aka Shakey Lo the Kreation Kid) interior but comic Im probably not the best role model for your children.
John e. Necro exterior but dark I have a lot to accomplish before I die so I have to get work done while I have the energy.
Casper (aka Geoff Turney) the Buddhist It sucks when your old lady starts hiding the drugs. Ah, she knows me too well.>
OPM Matthew (aka Shakey Lo the Kreation Kid), John e. Necro, and Casper (aka Geoff Turney) brings tales of rebellious youth, altered states, and skate-illogical perpetrations to the unexpected MENACE TO SOBRIETY. The California trios home-studio-born Atlantic Records debut is a sonic brunch buffet, defying categorization in its mind-melding of rock, hip hop, dancehall, pop, dub, and Latin into a cohesive musical statement.
Uniquely capturing the quintessential Golden State experience, the albums songs incorporate the states natural beauty, its pervasive alienation, dysfunction, myth propagation, and at-sea youth into a virtual California Dreamin for the millennial moment.
California is a weird place, says Matthew. As much as its laid-back and everyones mellow, theres also this looming police presence and pervasive unease that exists. Its the oddest contrast. And within MENACE TO SOBRIETY, contrasts abound: from the defiant, bass-propelled Stash Up to the taggers tribute of Trutcha; the joyous party ska jolt of Unda to the old school hardcore stretch of 15 Minutes; the autobiographical, hip hop styled Reality Check to the reggae inspired Undercover Freak complete with additional production from David Kahne (Sugar Ray, Sublime, Super Cat).
As we were making the album, we were very much thinking about what turned us on to music in the first place, says Casper. I kept remembering how excited I was when I first heard NWA and Run DMC and those old Slayer and D.R.I. records. Just like with those groups, to us, OPM is all about the attitude.
MENACE TO SOBRIETY was completed at the bands own MNO studio/gallery space in L.A. with producer Michael Patterson (Biggie, Lil Kim, Beck) with whom the band shares production credit on a number of tracks (the band also did some recording in New York City with producers Josh Deutsch and Craig Kallman). Additional collaborations come courtesy of Janes Addictions Eric Avery (who brings guitar to Stash Up), Angelo Moore of Fishbone (who adds vocals to Better Daze and sax to Unda), Asdrubal Sierra and Ulises Bella of Ozomatli (who add vocals to Trutcha), renowned jazz bassist and former Rollins Band member Melvin Gibbs (Sonny Sharrock, Power Tools, Defunkt), celebrated solo artist/multi-instrumentalist and Size 14 founder Linus of Hollywood (Smashing Pumpkins, Lil Kim), Mickey Huidos Huidobro of Molotov, DJ Swamp (Beck), bassist Sean-E Demott (Famous), and DJ Malcolm Micheles (Garbage).
The songs usually start out as a concept, says Matthew, detailing the OPM process. I dont want to say high concept, because theres nothing too complicated going on. Ill come up with a beat or a little melody, John e. and I will come up with the words, and Geoff will write the guitar parts. Its that simple. Such was the case with the chiming, skaters dope anthem, Heaven Is A Half Pipe. We wanted to write a song that felt good, says Matthew. But if you really listen to the lyrics, theres something dark about it. Theres something kind of twisted At least in heaven I can skate. Its a morbid thought, right. Its this kid thinking, Id rather be dead than living in this shitty world. Still, its kind of a goofy song. Never let em see you sweat thats what this albums is all about, adds Necro. Were not trying to blow up your brain. Were saying, Hey, cool out a bit. Yeah, we only have a few things that are over 120 bpm, continues Matthew. Everything is in the 80 to 90 bpm range, so its all pretty chill. Casper (aka Geoff Turney) and John e. Necro met in 1996 on a bus ride with mutual friends on a Camel cigarettes-sponsored bartenders trip to the Las Vegas Strip. The girl that I was dating at the time was a bartender in a club and was good friends with a bartender that John e. was dating at the time, explains Casper with a laugh.
We spent the whole time pretty much laughing and joking around. I was playing in some local bands and he was working at Island Records, so we also talked a lot about music. We really hit it off, right off the bat. It was in early 1997, after John e. came out one night to see Casper play guitar in his band Alpha Jerk, that the idea of working together initially gelled. I remember after the show John e. said to me, You know, Ive got this friend that has a little studio set-up. Were going to be working on some songs. He lives up in Oakland now, but you should do some recording with us. I was like, Sure, sounds great. Of course, it took another two years before I finally met the guy, but he was talking about Matthew. Necro and his now-brother-in-law Matthew (aka Shakey Lo the Kreation Kid) had met in Santa Cruz on New Years Eve, 1996. John e.s sister, Heather, had brought her brother up from Los Angeles to celebrate the arrival of the 97 baby new year with a Bay Area Latin acid jazz outfit.
Heather, as it happened, had a huge crush on the bands singer/trumpet player who turned out to be her future husband Matthew, aka Shakey Lo. After the set (highlighted by Matthews Portuguese vocals) Necro and Matthew toasted in the new year, and discussed music and art. Ive talked to a hundred different people who told me that they did music and wrote songs and blah, blah, blah, says Necro. But Matthew clearly had something cool happening so I said to him, Yeah, lets get together and do something. Still, I had no idea whether anything would actually happen. Casper continues the story: I remember John e. called me up and said, Remember that guy I told you about? Well, hes in town for a week. Lets get something going. The three got together for the first time in January of 1999 at an art opening that John e. had staged at his MNO gallery, where he was also hosting regular after-hours DJ parties.
It was that night Matthew presented the guys with a tape of some rough song ideas. Within a few days, the trio had completed work on the four-song demo which included Better Daze that would eventually bring them to Atlantic Records. A series of winter, 99 weekend creative sessions followed, with Casper and John e. traveling up to Santa Cruz to visit Matthew. More songs soon came into being, among them, Heaven Is A Half-Pipe and Stash Up. When we first wrote Heaven Is A Half Pipe, we were thinking, Hey, this song could be good, says Matthew. We werent thinking of getting signed or getting our asses on the radio. Im used to the process where you and your band slave away through hours of rehearsals and take months and months before you ever play a show, says Casper. And here we spent a total of whatever 50 hours writing and recording and we were getting offers for record deals. I was standing there thinking, How did this happen?! We are totally ninety-nine per cent inspiration, one per cent perspiration, adds Matthew with a laugh. With their recording budget in hand, the guys put together a small Pro Tools set-up in their Hollywood gallery space and began work on what would become MENACE TO SOBRIETY.
After youve played in bands for a long time and dealt with the frustration of trying to find all the right musicians, it ends up being easier to get a sampler and play your own drums, says Casper. You know, kids really got excited about punk rock when it first came around. It was so basic. Youd hear a punk song and think, I could do that. The Sex Pistols were about that same thing for so many people. I think hip hop is almost the same thing today: Hey, if I have a sampler, I can make a hip hop song. Instead of it being a couple kids messing around in their garage with guitars and drum set, now its a couple kids messing around in the bedroom with a sampler. We look at OPM as being a 2000 version of a punk rock band. To us, its a natural.