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Interview with Agrokulcher

2.20.00

As friendly as I have been fortunate enough to become with the members of this band; things are still new between Agrokulcher, and myself and there is much to be learned about the individuals and their personalities. Matt (vocals), Gordon (drums), Jesse (guitar), Bill (bass/vocals), and manager Ken Kiefer were kind enough to powwow and let me in on what makes them laugh, and what makes them tick. I met with the band, in their element, prior to what would be an amazing practice session.

Although there was a torrential rainstorm outside of the soundproofed room in the South Bay; the only evidence of it would have been the leak in the ceiling of the hallway inside the practice studio, because once they began to play the crushing songs that have now become all so familiar to me, all of my senses had surrendered to the sounds of Agrokulcher.

Shall we take roll call? Is Matt here?
Matt: Present.
Is Bill here?
Bill: I’m in the bathroom.
Is “Uncle Fuckah” here? (…that’s a inside ‘South Park’ joke between us. “Uncle Fuckah” is actually Gordon.)
Gordon: Heeeyah! Present!
Is Jesse here?
Jesse: Here.
All right, we’re all here. First question. What’s cool?
Matt: HeMan.
He-Man is cool?
Matt: Mmhmm.
Bill: The weather.
What sucks?
Matt: This rehearsal room.
Bill: When you run out of toilet paper and you have to use your hand.
Gordon: Spilled bong water.
That’s incriminating, you know. We’re going worldwide.
Gordon: That’s all right. I don’t mind.
Who came up with the name for the band?
Jesse: Bill did.
Bill: I did it.
You’re the guilty party?
Bill: Yeah. I was inside a pizza shop that I always go to and I looked up at the fan by the door and it said Department of Agriculture; and we were trying to find a name for like, a week, and I got a crazy idea to switch it to Agrokulcher. So, I called everybody and they liked it and that’s what it was.
Were there ever any other ones considered?
Bill: Jesse had a pretty good one.
Jesse: Butter King?
Gordon: Supersonic Fatty.
Jesse: Butter King.
Gordon: Although, we did call ourselves Nebula for a while and we made shirts and everything until we found out about a million other Nebulas.

What would you tell someone who asked what kind of band you played in?
Gordon: Good.
“Hi, I’m Gordon, I’m in a good band.”
Bill (to Matt): I don’t know. Would you call it metal?
(Matt ponders)
Matt: Trouser chili.
(Everyone laughs.)
Thanks for the visual. That was really descriptive.
Bill: Thumb stripe.
(Everyone laughs some more.)
Was it cool to play at Camp Ozzy?
Jesse: It was cool to play with all the bands we like.
Did you meet anyone major?
Bill: Matt got to meet some.
Jesse: Yeah, Matt got to go backstage.
Who did you meet?
Matt: Slipknot. Joey, Corey, Jim…
Masked or unmasked?
Matt: Uh… both.
Did Corey still have his mask on?
Matt: Yeah.
Dammit. I wanted to know if he was good-looking or not. He was one of the only two I didn’t meet. Corey had already left and Mick was getting a massage.
Matt: But I’ve seen him without his mask.
Is he really scary or is he a rad-looking guy?
(Only then do I realize that I’m asking this question of Matt…but of course, great sport that he is, Matt plays along.)
Matt: He’s hot.
Is he hot?
Matt: He’s hot. If I was a girl.. (laughs) Naw. He’s just normal. The only one I didn’t see was Sid. Other than that, I didn’t meet many other people. I just saw a lot of people. Even though we were put on through Avalon Attractions, it was actually separate from Ozzfest. It was the night before. But it was cool. To be affiliated with that name even though that’s little as possible.
A couple of the bands that played with you guys that day have since been picked up.
Matt: Yeah. I’m jealous they got picked up and I didn’t. But that’s okay.
I think it’s going to happen sooner than you think.
Matt: Yeah. Slaves on Dope rule. So does Medium.
So do you guys.
Matt: We rule. We rule this room.
(laughter)

How did the band form and become the line-up that exists now?
Jesse: We formed uh.. how long ago Bill?
Bill: Three years ago.
Jesse: Yeah. Me and Bill were in a band with a couple of other guys called Mr. Bill; and that transformed into Agrokulcher with a new drummer and a new singer. From there, we were together for about a year and then that’s when we found Matt.
You found Matt or Matt found you?
Jesse: Or..we found him through Ken. One of Ken’s buddies.
How do you know Ken?
Ken: You want me to answer that?
Yeah, sure.
Ken: I had known Rich [Agrokulcher’s former singer] through a friend in the South Bay, a mutual friend that we went to college with at San Diego State, a guy named Dave Masuda; and I was just over at his house one day. He was just talking about his music and the new sound they had, and that they had acquired a new drummer and he played much heavier music. I sat in on one of their rehearsals that same day and talked to the guys, and decided to come on board as their manager. They had an album, but in about 7-8 months, Rich decided it wasn’t working out for him, and I had already talked to my buddy about Matt. I got Matt to come to one of the shows, the one we had with Puya at the Roxy. And then a couple of weeks later at another show, I hit him up with the possibility of coming in to the studio and rehearsing with the band and halfway through the rehearsal we were sold. The rest is history.
Matt: Half way?! You told me it was one song!
Ken: Yeah, but I wanted to keep you humble.(laughter)
Gordon: It actually took a lot longer for me to come around.
Why?
Gordon: Oh, I was just being very cautious, you know; being sure that we got the right guy.
And now that he is?
Gordon: Oh, I’m completely satisfied now.
Good. He’s happy and satisfied by you, Matt.
Matt: Look at that grin on his face.
I know! That’s a satisfied grin! It is.
Is everyone from L.A. originally?
Gordon: I’m from Phoenix, Arizona.
Jesse: L.A.
Bill: I’m from the East Coast and moved here when I was like 10 years old.
Matt: I was born on the East Coast but I’ve lived in L.A. pretty much all my life.
Do you guys hang out as friends or do you just get together for shows?
Matt: We try. It’s easier for these three to hang out because I live in the valley and they live here in the South Bay.
No roommate situations?
Matt: Not yet.

What other bands have each of you played with prior to Agrokulcher?
Gordon: I played in a couple of bands. One called Bass Ackwards. We were a Primus cover band.
Matt: Holy crap!
Are you finding out things that you didn’t already know, Matt?
Matt: Fuck yeah.
Cool. Good.
Matt: We ought to do an interview every week!
(laughter)
Hi. I’m your shrink. Nice to meet you. Therapy sessions are $65 an hour.
Jesse: Me and Bill were in Mr. Bill for a few years.
Matt: I’ve been in a ton of bands. To keep it short, the last band I was in was called Stem. We were together for like, six years. Did the whole Hollywood thing. After that I was in a band called Full Throttle Jacket which was a studio project.

Do you think you’re happiest with what you have going now?
Matt: Yeah. Of all the bands I was in, I always wanted to get heavier than everybody else, and do a little bit gnarlier stuff. That didn’t happen with any other bands I was with.

I remember seeing you for the first time and comparing your vocal style to Lynn Strait, and you said others had done that. Now that I know the music better, I don’t think the band sounds like anyone else; but are those types of comparisons flattering to you?
Matt: When people compare me to Lynn, I see what they’re talking about. I mean it’s mainly on some of the yelling parts. Other than that, I don’t see a great big similarity but it’s totally flattering. I knew Lynn. Snot was one of my favorite bands; they still are one of my favorite bands so it’s definitely cool when people say that. I appreciate it but I don’t see it as much as I think, everybody else sees it.

What other bands has Agrokulcher been compared to?
(Jesse starts to laugh.)
Matt: A lot of people want to try and compare us to Korn because they have no creativity in their heads. It’s like every single band that’s heavy, someone yells “Korn!” There may be guitar parts that sound like Korn, but every time someone hits a distrtion pedal it’s “Oh, you sound like Jimi Hendrix”. So, I try not to even pay attention to that.

Other than music, what inspires you?
Matt: Korn.
(laughter)
Gordon: Bill and Jesse are surfers.Surfing inspires a lot of people. Surfers may not get a job, but they’ll get up at 6 every morning and throw themselves into ice cold water.
Matt: The idea of not working at a job inspires me.

What do you guys do to pay the bills?
Matt: I’m a private investor.
Bill: I’m the guy that collects the golf balls.
Jesse: I’m a chicken delivery man.
Gordon: I cut meat …and cheese.
You cut the cheese?
Gordon: I cut the cheese.
(laughter)
Jesse: He’s a scammage man.
Prep cook?
Gordon: Oh you know, I slice it. I make it. I deliver it. I sell it.
Bill: Beats it.
(laughter)

Who would you most like to be endorsed by – if you could have anyone throw you stuff?
Matt: Dickies. I’m sick of paying for all the Dickies.
Bill: Mesa Boogie. It’s hard to get endorsed by them and they have great bass equipment.
Gordon: Duct tape.
(laughter)
Jesse: I’d like Mesa Boogie and Paul Reid-Smith.

Who is responsible for the lyrical content in your songs?
Matt: Me. Unfortunately.

Are there any blatant misinterpretations of your songs that people have come to you with?
Matt: Yeah, but honestly I can’t remember. There are always lines that people question me about. But I don’t think anyone really knows what the songs are about because my standard answer is “I don’t know”.
(laughter)
Choosing to remain mysterious on that one?
Matt: Yeah. I am. Some of them have meaning, some of them don’t. I don’t know, sometimes if you find out what a song really means, I think it can kill it if you love a song for what it means to you. So, leave it open.

Any favorites to play live?
Gordon: ‘All Inside Me’.
Bill: ‘Song Number 5’.
Matt: ‘Bleed For Me’.
Jesse: ‘Renee’.
Gordon: ‘Run’.
Jesse: Or ‘Run’, yeah.
Well it’s cool that you guys genuinely like your material.

Any songs you’re sick of playing yet?
Gordon: ‘I Suppose’.
(long pause)
Jesse: That’s one of my favorites, too.
(laughter)

Does the idea of being signed have any less appeal to you with the knowledge of potential pressure and corporate bullshit?
Ken: It’s inevitable.
Matt: I think if anybody’s not excited because of corporate bullshit, then they shouldn’t start it in the first place. I mean, if you didn’t know that it’s gonna be like that; you’re in for a rude awakening. I’ve known that it would be that way my entire life and I still can’t wait.

Would it bum you out that it would become your job, or that things weren’t on a smaller and more intimate scale anymore?
Matt: No. Not at all.
Gordon: No, I hope it does become a job! It’s better than cutting the cheese!
(laughter)
Matt: I think when you get to a level where it’s no longer an intimate setting, and you’re playing these big arenas you’re obviously big enough that you don’t have to play the clubs in Hollywood, but I’m sure we’d do it.I’m sure it would be a very large homecoming party, too.
Matt: Yeah.

If you had your choice of producers, who would it be?
Gordon: Who’s that guy that did Faith No More?
Bill: Andy Wallace?
Matt: I plead the fifth.

Anyone in the industry you’d totally steer clear of?
Matt: I plead the fifth.
(laughter)
Bill: Ronald McDonald.
He’s not in the business, not the last time I checked. He’s just a clown.
Matt: I’d steer clear of Puff Daddy, actually.
Well, yeah, that might be a good idea, now that you mention it.
Matt: Unless somebody’s got a bullet-proof vest.

Local bands that you like a lot..
Matt: Fuck. How much tape you got there?
Plenty.
Jesse: Slaves on Dope.
Matt: Yeah! Jesse!
Jesse: 20 Dead.
Gordon: Blind By Choice.
Matt: Livid, Ghoulspoon, Flambookey, Carcinogen, TriggerPimp.
Bill: Medium.
Jesse: Chapter 23.
Gordon: Droid, Two Hit Creeper.
Yeah, Two Hit is ‘an acquired taste’.
Gordon: I like Two Hit Creeper.
Jesse: Fractional Importance.
Matt: Oh, uh.. fuckin’… Apex Theory.

How much new material is being played that isn’t recorded yet?
Gordon: 5 songs.
Jesse: We got about 5 or 6 songs that haven’t been recorded yet.

What are the plans for this year?
Matt: Uhm.
Jesse: We’re kind of holding off for now.
Matt: Yeah, we are. We were gonna rush back into the studio, but we’re gonna wait and see what happens. The band is not in debt whatsoever, we don’t owe anybody. We don’t owe the studio, we don’t owe anybody and I think that’s a really good position to be in right now. Just to hold off and try to use the CD we have now to get more label people to the shows.

What’s the connection between you guys and Chiller’s?
Ken: We’ve played some shows there and we’ve done well as far as pulling people in. They’ve been pretty good to us. They’ve held up their end of the bargain with what they’ve promised us.

What’s your favorite club to play?(Unanimously, the Troubadour comes in first, with a close second by the Coconut Teaszer. Other clubs are mentioned afterwards.)

Best place to grab something to eat after a show?
Jesse: Big Mike’s.
Matt: It’s not in Hollywood though.
Ken: It’s in Hermosa, next to a club we go to all the time.
Gordon: The Teaszer Tacos.
Matt: And those quesadillas.

Who in the band, would get the vote for biggest partier?
(long pause)
Matt: Ken.
(laughter)
Ken: I’m not in the band!
Gordon: Everybody has their moments, individually. I’ve seen Jesse pretty tossed, man.
Jesse: Yeah. (sheepish grin)
Bill: What about Gordon on his birthday!?
Aha! And Gordon is trying to avoid the attention…
Bill: He was in the street, on his back, during the earthquake!
Matt: Actually that’s a sweet, endearing story. He was trashed.
Gordon: With my pants down! It was my 21st birthday!
Matt: He was trashed and passed out, all fucked up on his birthday. October 16th.
Gordon: 3:00 in the morning.
Matt: These guys were trying to get him out of the house, because of the earthquake, but he was passed out so they were dragging him out of the house and down came his pants.
Awww..
Gordon: And they left my pants down, and I pissed in my bed. The next day, I had no idea there was ever an earthquake or a pissing. (laughter erupts) And the next day, I went surfing and fed the fish. I went to McDonald’s before, and went surfing and blew chunks and fed the fish.
Bill: What about that time we were drinking 5-grain Chinese liquor?
Gordon: Yeah, Bill shows up for practice the next day still hammered from the night before.
Bill: Had a couple of accidents. Pissed my pants.
Gordon: We don’t party that much.
Oh yeah, let’s clear that up. Right.
Bill: We need to be endorsed by Huggies.
(laughter)
Ken: That’s it! You guys need to wear diapers onstage!
(laughter)

Brian wanted me to ask you a question that I believe is an ‘inside thing’, so you’ll have to clue everyone in. “Anymore Playgirl cut outs on cars, lately?”
(Everyone loses it.)
Matt: It first started when Ken and his roommate were gone to Europe for a while. Myself, and Ken’s roommate’s girlfriend and her cousin stayed at the house the night before we went to pick him up at the airport. They got trashed and we had been up way too long and came up with this stupid idea to just put Playgirl photos all over the apartment. They were hidden just.. well.. Ken, you got back how long ago?
Ken: I got back in late August.
Matt: Okay, so they just found another one that I put up, finally! That was the last one, and they just found it like, a month and a half ago! So then, when we were in the studio, recording the demo; the magazine ended up somehow over at the house. I won’t comment on that. I have no idea how! Anyway, so it’s gotten totally out of hand and we just cut out pictures and put them in drum cases, in people’s glove compartments, on the back of Gordon’s truck…and he had no clue.
Gordon: I ended up going all the way home with a centerfold on the back of my truck, all the way home on the 405! When I found the one in my glovebox, I
(laughter)
Ken: I think I took it the hardest, though. About three months later, I grabbed my skateboard out of my closet and here I go, skateboarding down to the beach to meet my friend who has a bunch of Brazilian girls we were supposed to hook up with. And I’m walking down the sand with my skateboard in my hand, and I’m walking by people and they were all laughing at me, and I get to the girls and they’re pointing at the bottom of the board and I flip it over and there is a big centerfold right there.
(laughter)
Matt: And people say Playgirl isn’t cool. Most fun I’ve had in years.

Say something to the fans!
Matt: I would just like to thank all the bands in Hollywood for accepting us. And for coming to all of our shows. A lot of bands don’t do that. They don’t go out to see other bands, and all the bands come out and see us and it’s cool of them. And definitely to all the people who have been supporting us in Hollywood, Simi Valley, and the South Bay and …
Gordon: You two. (Meaning Brian May, and myself.)
Ken: Yeah.
Thanks!
Matt: I was gonna say, www.unearthed.com! Which is, by far, the coolest site that I go to on a daily basis I go there every day to see what’s going on, and the site just keeps getting better and better. There’s always new crap on there. Cool interviews. Which, now we’ve completely screwed that up, but..
(laughter)
I wouldn’t worry, Matt. I think you’ve done just fine. Thanks, you guys.

Lesa Pence

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