San Diego's Mower is an interesting band that fuses hardcore with straight metal and punk to come up with a sound that is really fresh. The energy which the unit attacks the material will really propel their new CD Not For You to the front of your collection. The fifteen tracks on the record really sizzle and it has rarely left my stereo since I got it. I didn't know anything about Mower prior to getting the CD so I turned to vocalist Brian Sheerin for some answers.
antiMUSIC: Who is everybody and how did the band come together?
Brian: The band came together on two fronts. Chris (McCredie - bass) and Dominic (Moscatello - vocals) played together in a punk rock band in Breckenridge, Colorado and Brian (Sheerin - vocals) and Ryan (Toth - drums) started writing songs together in San Diego, California. Chris and Dom moved to San Diego and Chris answered Mower's ad for a bass player. After the first few shows, Chris suggested we have Dom sing on a few songs, which worked really well and we went forth with two singers from there. We've had some lineup changes over the years, but four out of five of us are original members with Matt (Wannamaker - guitar) completing our lineup.
antiMUSIC: Did Mower of the late '90s sound different than the one in 2006?
Brian: Mower always built on a foundation of hardcore. I think in the late nineties we may have tried to stay a little more current with what music sounded like then, whereas now, we could care less what the trends are. The difference is we're able to do a lot more now than if we tried to stick to one thing. We're lucky we did, or we would have wound up in a pile of rap-rock, nu-metal crap.
antiMUSIC: Tell us a bit about your new record. What are some of the cuts that came out of the gate first? And are there any that the band is particularly proud of?
Brian: Not For You came together as a collection of really raw songs from several different genres. There's a common thread of high energy rock throughout the whole disc that frays off into punk, industrial, hardcore, whiskey and even some bluesy lounge stuff. On paper it sounds like confusion, but it all makes sense to the ear. The last thing we wanted to do was track after track of the same style. Why bore our audience and ourselves? Some of the tracks are songs we've been working on throughout our history that didn't fit with our old style but were worth rethinking until we got them right, tracks like "Zone" and "General Admission" have been brewing for years, while "Road Rage" and "The End" seemed to come together in minutes.
antiMUSIC: Your sound is pretty combustible. "Road Rage" is pretty self-explanatory but what else feeds the fuel for Mower?
Brian: Life puts it all out there for us and we don't limit ourselves to any one topic. This album moves from surfing to psychopathic behavior to the war on drugs to simple introspection, and that's maybe four songs. The other eleven go off in different directions. Again, why bore people with one theme or vantage point. Some days you focus on yourself, other days it's the plight of someone else or random thoughts and where they lead you. They all tie together in the big picture anyway.
antiMUSIC: I really like the way you have a variety of sounds on the record but yet there is an overall umbrella of "Mower" holding it all together. At what point did you guys decide to not be pigeonholed into one sound and are you not afraid that some of the knuckle-draggers out there will like one part of you but not the other?
Brian: I think lineup changes may have inadvertently freed us from trying to adhere to one style. I don't know that we ever made a conscious decision to get so
varied. We give people a lot of credit for liking more than one style. Even on the best Slayer album you will have your favorite songs and songs that get less of a grip on you. Not For You gives our fans a chance to cycle through favorites according to how their life is going. Some days are going to need aggressive songs to get you through and other days you've got time to think, chill out and digest a lyric or style that you may skip when things are hectic. At the end of the day, we're happy with the songs and we were trying to please ourselves first and foremost. People will get it. They're not stupid. It's all rock n' roll, so it's all good.
antiMUSIC: All of the songs on Not For You are well crafted. There doesn't seem to be anything that's just thrown on there to fill out the record. How do you guys approach writing in terms of who writes what and how did you go through the selection process of what's on this record?
Brian: Mower writes as a band. Chris, Matt and Ryan typically handle the music while Dom and I do the lyrics and melodies, but there is no law laid down. If someone brings a good lyric or riff to the table that works for Mower, we'll use it. There was a lot of thought put into how this record would flow with so many styles at work. As a band we were never afraid to put all these styles together, and once we started working with Mikey Doling (producer) and Brad Dujmovic (engineer) in the studio, we knew it was going to work. Those guys helped us string it all together.
antiMUSIC: On that topic, "LA Riot" is pretty unlike the rest of the stuff but fits in really well. How did that song develop?
Brian: It's Mower re-engineering "Long Awaited Riot" from the first Mower album. We used to screw around in practice and took those old lyrics and laid them over new music. The fact that the lyrics are so brutal and yet the song sounds like something you'd hear in a Holiday Inn lounge appeals to our sense of humor.
antiMUSIC: How and where did the idea of covering "California Dreaming" come from? It turned out fantastically!!!
Brian: California Dreaming is such a great song. To do a hard rock version is really a crime, but we got a great response at Rock 105.3FM in San Diego from a demo version that made its way to them. They played it a lot and used to get a lot of calls from people asking where they could buy it. When we put this record together we did a proper recording for all those people who wanted it. You either love it or hate it, and again it speaks to our sense of humor. It's funny to watch people get agitated because they think we're dead serious about the song. It started out as something we'd do to amuse ourselves at practice and mutated from there. It's great that you're enjoying it. It's a great song with a new twist and a lot of people really like it.
antiMUSIC: What's the story with the voice message on the end of the record?
Brian: Four people in our hometown stole our trailer full of gear and then used the trailer in a string of burglaries. It cost us thousands of dollars, a couple members and set us back for months and months. Basically the theft grinded our whole train to a halt. Turns out later that a Mower fan wound up in jail with one of the guys and we got ourselves a very interesting voicemail.
antiMUSIC: From the sound of the band, I guess you guys have pretty diverse influences. Who individually and collectively do you look up to?
Brian: Here are the ones we tend to agree on: Slayer, Snot, NOFX, and Jane's Addiction. Day to day, member to member, you'll get endless answers. Chris likes Gang of Four, Ryan digs Megadeth, Matt goes for Satriani and Dom can spend a whole day rattling off old punk rock bands he likes. I'm into it all from Mastodon to Jay- back to Led Zeppelin, and ironically, a couple new favorites The Locust, As I Lay Dying and Divided by Zero are great bands from different scenes in our hometown of San Diego. Mower's down with pretty much anything but new wave country.
antiMUSIC: What influence did Mikey Doley have on the recording?
Brian: Being that Mikey was a founding member of Snot, a band we have so much respect for, he brought a sense of accomplishment to the table before we recorded note one. If nothing else, we were going to record Not For You with one of our heroes, so to speak. We brought a lot of completed songs into the studio, but we tried different things at Mikey's suggestion. He pushed us just far enough, and then we'd put our foot down on ideas we wanted on the record. Our ideas for what Mower should sound like were very close, so there wasn't a huge struggle. For the most part, Mikey added to the CD by what he took away, redundant parts or great parts that were being used in the wrong way or in the wrong song. On top of all that, Mikey is a character and a great guy to be around, and Brad is a wizard at the board. You're going to see a lot more about Mikey Doling in the future, he's really found his calling. We're already talking with him about doing the next Mower CD.
antiMUSIC: From the sound of things, your stage show must be pretty corrosive. What's been your best show as a band so far? Why?
Brian: There isn't one best show, but opening for Slayer was a highlight. One of the great ones was a sold out night at the Ogden Theatre in Denver and another was at the Sunshine Theatre in Albuquerque. Both were situations when the audience only needed one little spark to go off and we showed up with a flamethrower. We've been blessed with a lot of great shows over the years.
antiMUSIC: Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
Brian: Maybe have a beer or a Jager shot, get the guitars and drum sticks going, get warmed up. We don't do anything too exciting right now, no human sacrifice or anything.
antiMUSIC: Brian you sound really Jim Morrison-ish at times (LA Riot), which for me is a good thing. Do you listen to The Doors at all?
Brian: I did book reports on "No One Here Gets Out Alive" from the fifth grade on, so it's safe to say I'm a fan. It's probably just the deeper voice thing though, and really only on that one track. No one will accuse me of sounding like Perry Farrell but I'm a major Jane's Addiction fan too, you know? We have, one rare occasions, covered "Break on Through" live. You might get off on that.
antiMUSIC: Obviously your kind of music doesn't lend itself to Regis and Kelly and most MTV shows. Where do you hope to be as a band in a couple of years and who would you most like to tour with?
Brian: MTV and Regis are going to indulge their audiences. If people decide that Mower is what they want to watch, you'll see us right alongside the rest of them. For example, our video for "Road Rage" was submitted to MTV, and if enough people ask to see it, there you go. You never know - this is America, right? Mower has already been on national television - nothing's shocking to us. Tell Regis to keep the beer cold.
antiMUSIC: Anything you want to tell us that I didn't ask you?
Brian: You didn't ask what our favorite candy bar is. Snickers.
antiMUSIC and Morley Seaver thank Brian for taking the time to do this interview.