Q&A with Mickey Avalon at Set This Saturday, August 1
Ever the teller of cinematic stories drawn inspired by his own dark life experiences, listening to Mickey Avalon's music is like watching a movie with your eyes closed -- part Drug Store Cowboys, part Wonderland with some Boogie Nights (you know the parts), and a little Trainspotting mixed in for good measure. It's not a pretty story, but it's not one he shies away from either. Instead he plows headlong into it, confronting both past tragedies and fears of the future with equal aplomb. It seems almost as though he relishes recounting in his music tales sordid enough to make the most depraved whores blush.
Even if he doesn't share that same enthusiasm for doing it in interviews. Still, in a recent phone call with New Times from his tour bus as he hits the road, he shared with candor (and, unexpectedly, the politeness of a boy scout) his inspirations and the obstacles he faced in preparing his as-of-yet untitled sophomore release, the life changes for a street walker/urchin turned underground sensation, and even his bet on who's win in a smoke out between Snoop Dogg, Slightly Stoopid and Stephen Marley.
New Times: Let's talk about your new album. We heard you worked with Travis Barker?
Um, the album is pretty much done. It just needs to be mastered. I just did one song with Travis Barker, and hopefully it'll make it on the album, which I did about six months to a year ago, and he just finished that. It's a good song. I think I'll be performing it on tour [this summer].
What can you tell us about the album? How's it different from the first?
people do a second album, they say, like, "Everything's bigger and
better," I think. We got like a bigger producer. We were working with
this guy named Doctor Luke, who's done a bunch of pop stuff and
whatever, but it's definitely not pop. It's, you know, like my life's
changed, and I always talk about things from personal experience. So
just 'cuz it's changed I don't talk about stuff that isn't relevant
anymore. Like 50 Cent talking about selling crack, and you know he
hasn't sold crack in 10 years 'cuz now he's a multi-millionaire, and
that's kinda silly. I don't talk about living on the streets or
anything like that.
When I wrote my first album, I didn't know
I was writing an album. I just thought I was having fun making songs
and so I hadn't really played any shows live, so I hadn't thought about
how shows would be performed or anything like that.
anything, I'm more hip to how songs will be in a live setting. So
there's that and just talking about new stuff. It's still like a movie,
and all the characters are still sordid people, like hookers and drug
addicts and pimps and thieves and whatever. So it's still my shit, but
just more sonic, I guess.
Bigger and better [laughs], but the same!
So it'll still feature that edge you're known for, but you're not necessarily waiting to die anymore.
I mean, I think if anything it's more like, when things get better and
you get a little bread, and then sometimes that's even a little bit
scarier. I think when you're just in survival mode, you don't really
have time to think about anything fucked up. You're just running
around. And now I have a little more time on my hands -- I mean, not much
time -- but I've got a place to live and I've been doing my job for a few
years, and it's the first time I've had a job. So just, things I've
never really had in my life before.
But I made sure I leave all
of the politics out of it. I mean, politics in general, but all the
record label politics, 'cuz I know no one wants to hear about all that.
So, I mean, it definitely has the same edge.
haven't led an easy life, and you put it all front and center in your
music. Is that something that's easy for you to do?
really struggled with it. Sometimes when interviewers ask you about
certain things you've done, you get more uncomfortable.
you prefer to put these tough stories on a record than have some dick
over the phone go, "Yeah, Mickey, so tell me about the most fucked up
thing you've ever done."
It's like, if you try to come off
like perfect, people try to tear you down. But it's always been, the
easiest way for me to deal with my own shyness has been just to jump
into it. So it's always been easier to show warts and all. When you try
to hide stuff, it seems like that's when people can kinda come after
you. It seems the more you put stuff out there, people can't really do
anything, 'cuz you take the power away from them.
like in 8 Mile or whatever, that scene where he raps and he's just
dissin' himself, and then he's like, "Alright, well now what're you
gonna say that I didn't already say?" You know?
Well, but have you ever recorded anything, then listened to it after and been like, "Okay, what the hell did I just say?"
yeah, that's usually if you're real fucked up or something. Yeah,
sometimes just jokes that maybe people don't really find funny. Or
like, I said before I don't like to talk about politics, but then once
I did something like, "Why would I vote for Obama, when the dope that I
smoke comes straight from Osama?" And people misinterpreted it, for one
thing thinking I'd vote for the other side. And I don't vote for
anybody. But I didn't really have time to write up a note to explain
it, you know? I just thought it was a good line and it was funny. You
know, stuff like that.
I never really made racial jokes, or gay
jokes. I mean, I've used the word 'faggot', and I got a hard time for
that, but I don't really care. I'm not gonna be like, "Oh, I've got gay
friends." You know, anyone who knows me knows about my life and the
things I've been through. So if people wanna give me a hard time, you
know, that's up to them. The record label wanted me to change that, and
I was like, "I'm not gonna do it."
So that's probably the closest to something that wasn't appropriate.
Have any of the things you've learned between the last album and this album made the process any easier?
maybe more difficult. Like, when I'm recording it's always been, not
necessarily for fun, but just going to different friends' studios and
just do it. It's like, now we start paying a producer and I've got to
be there at certain times and it starts to feel more like a job, and
more like a pain in the ass. And [laughs] that was a pain in the ass,
you know? But, people would just tell me different things, like it's
gonna be better. And after everything was said and done, and running
out of the studio, and after everything, the album did turn out really
good. I'm glad--I mean, not like quiting was ever an option--but I'm
glad I hung in there.
Let's talk about your upcoming tour
schedule. You've got several dates, and of course, you're on the lineup
for the Blazed and Confused Tour with Snoop, Slightly Stoopid and
Stephen Marley, which unfortunately is no longer coming down here,
though you and Snoop will have separate shows on that same date. Are
those the majority of your stops, or do you have other gigs, like the
one at Set here in Miami on the 1st?
Um, I think they're all
stops on that tour except the one in Miami and one at the end, but I'm
really excited to do it. Tonight's the first night, and we actually
just pulled up in Primm. And, you know, it's something new for me. I've
just toured by myself in the past, so it'll be cool to play some bigger
places, and play with Snoop and Slightly Stoopid. But there's all these
buses and I'm sure we'll get to mix it up with everybody.
all been like a big adventure, and if you don't stop to appreciate it,
it kinda passes you by. I mean, this is what makes our job fun, and
better than other jobs.
Yeah, it's a cool mix. Very varied, but not just slapped together. Who do you think will smoke the most chronic on that tour?
to be stereotypical, I'd have to guess Snoop or Stephen Marley. I mean,
Stephen is Bob Marley's son, and I know Snoop smokes a lot. But for all
I know, Stephen Marley doesn't smoke any, but that'd be crazy, 'cuz I
think he's a Rasta. Hopefully, we just won't have any cops bothering
us, because that's always a drag. That was the only thing that made me
nervous about signing on [laughs]. But I think everything will be okay.
Mickey Avalon performs at Set (320 Lincoln Road) on Saturday, August 1 at 1:30 a.m.
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