By Rebecca Bulnes
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"Honestly I'd rather fuckin' be drawing a comic strip like Garfield and have it be syndicated," laughs Mindless Self Indulgence frontman Little Jimmy Urine. "I'd just draw one joke every day and collect giant wads of cash."
For now, though, that dream will have to wait, because Mindless Self Indulgence's steady trawl through the working-class echelons of success has kept Urine and the rest of the MSI gang plenty busy. Originally falling together rather casually around Urine's circle of friendships in the mid-Nineties (Urine doesn't divulge exact dates), the New York city band comes to town with its fifth album, If, just more than a week old. And while If sees MSI continuing to work with the frantic, stylized, punk/electronica hybrid that first turned heads, the album also reflects Urine and company's search for growth.
Although Urine (real name: James Euringher) is an excitable, outspoken guy famous for penning songs such as "Bitches" and "Faggot" and drinking his own piss onstage, don't get the wrong idea. It's not that Urine doesn't like music — he just isn't very fond of musicians, who he says take themselves too seriously.
"I would much rather see Bette Midler than Interpol, because I know Bette Midler's going to have a show. There's going to be singing, girls are going to be dancing; it's entertainment. Sammy Davis Jr. was an entertainer. I don't give a fuck about noodling on a goddamn fucking guitar," he explains.
To listen to Urine tell it, you might not realize that MSI actually places a high value on craftsmanship and song construction, which is arguably more apparent on If. Although Urine is generally averse to songs that clock in over two minutes, the band is allowing itself to perform longer songs, and he concedes that the newer material benefits from letting the ideas play out more. "I'm tired of shooting myself in the foot," he says flatly.
Unabashed since day one about wanting to make a buck, MSI nonetheless feels no need to sacrifice its aesthetic standards, which Urine insists are high. And in order to entertain, he says, ripping people off is perfectly fine — as long as you put your own new spin on things. "You just have to be a good thief. Prince is a brilliant thief. So is David Bowie. I don't think Interpol is, or Gym Class Heroes," he says.
For Urine, part of his clever thievery involves unorthodox gear choices: "I use all outdated equipment that no one will ever be able to find and put together. I'll buy an old Speak & Spell and have it modified, or an Atari computer and use it with programs that no one would ever want to use, or Commodore 64s and stuff like that."
Urine goes on and on about how unoriginality rankles him. And he can afford to talk, because MSI, love it or hate it, sounds like nobody else out there. "It's like [other groups have] studied one band and said, Let's rip off the sound they have, but let's not have any good songs. I think the press are really the ones to kill on that ... all of a sudden, like, Oh, they're geniuses coming from another world. And I'm like, Yeah, a world of, like, 10 years ago. What, did you fuckin' sleep through it?"