The Oily Menace come oozing out of Michigan eating kale, borrowing lyrics, and grinding your mind. Interview by Will T. and answered by Kevin and Dylan of The Oily Menace. They can be found online at http://theoilymenace.13bels.net/ and theoilymenace.bandcamp.com and facebook.
How did you get started?
Dylan: Well Kevin has a soft spot in his heart for things that are smelly and cold and I was both of those things. But really I was homeless in the midwest in early november so he let me stay on his couch which turned into us building a loft over the kegerator in his dinning room. Also Travis already lived there, it just so happens that we got along. Anyways we all love grindcore and D.I.Y. Music so I guess it just made sense.
Kevin: Well I own a house in Lansing, and I was renting a room to my buddy Travis. Our friend Dylan found himself homeless so I let him stay on my couch and he stayed for almost two years. Dylan plays drums could practice on my kit so I strong-armed both the dudes into starting a band to force them to have fun. So to recap: save Dylan from life of crime, and forcibly entertain Travis. Pretty much zero success rate. And its going to end the same way but in reverse. Travis and Dylan will move away but I will be stuck with this fucking house forever because its in the god damn buckle of the rust belt. Fuck you Wall St. Sorry, this is how I open every interview, even job interviews.
What are your thoughts on the demo? It got a pretty terrible review in Short, Fast, and Loud if I remember correctly. What’s changed since then?
Kevin: Demo has some awesome greasy atmosphere, lyrics against Facebook, selling out to Scion, and drinking corporate beer, but man its sloooow. Dylan has practiced so much since then, and is a one-foot blasting monster. Its a good mix of fast hardcore, grind, and death metal with nasty production. Short Fast and Loud named checked a bunch of bands and then called our music nu-metal with blast beats, stating that it had “weird 2010 pro-tools grind” production. If that is what the reviewer heard then so be it, but the exact same text was printed for another review as well so it may have been a misprint. Anyway SFL rules but I doubt they would read this because I’m pretty sure they didn’t listen to the demo. We did get some strange criticism for putting the original song explanation text that Heresy used along with our cover of Make The Connection. Lyrics, song explanations, and the ideas behind the music are super important to me so I wanted to include that too. I get so bummed when I get a ripping demo and there is just a facebook address for the band, and then you find out they have stupid homophobic lyrics and you are forced to get real and take it to the next level by posting about it on an internet messageboard. Yeah thats right! Put the lyrics in your shit or you are gonna get the 2013 version of an angry letter to MRR…a brutal keyboard lashing from me on the To Live A Lie message board with a straight up DEVISTATING use of emoticons. (V) (;,,;) (V) THE MUSIC IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD!
Dylan: Nothing changed really, I know I got better at my instrument but I mean… not that much better. I dont ever really pay attention to that kind of stuff. I really appreciate it when people have kind things to say but at the end of the day you got to be real about this shit, we are playing grindcore and its not for everyone. Also just for the record were not a pro tools grind band, kevin use logic pro so snuts to you S.F.L!!!!
Are you all really into folk music, or you just find the lyrical themes appropriate? It’s certainly a refreshing take on an old tradition of reworking folk tunes to your own style, and a far cry better than doing the same old grindcore covers.
Dylan: I really like the artist’s we choose to “cover”, but Its hard to say, I don’t think I heard a lot of these songs or artist until Kevin brought them to my attention, does that make me a poseur? I kind of hope so. Anyways, these folk songs have some of the most brutal lyrics around, just check out “Ludlow Massacre” by woody Guthrie.
Kevin: Yes we are all legitimately into folk music to varying degrees. My grandmother collected folk art, and some folk music, and my grandfather on the other side of the family played it professionally. So I grew up listening to folk and bluegrass alongside pop music but never really knew it by those names and didn’t really understand the distinctions. I didn’t get into the protest folk that we use as a source of lyrics and ideas until much later. Dylan wrote most of the lyrics for the demo because I’m not very comfortable with that aspect of music, never have been. So when it came time to write more music after that I thought that using the lyrics to the Tom Paxton spoken word piece “Mr. Blue” would be sweet. It worked well enough and we got some of the only positive feedback we have ever received to we decided to make it our gimmick. Some ideas are taken from the music of the originals, but mostly its just fitting the lyrics to our own grind songs. Why not utilize these lyrics and ideas? No one needs to hear another middle-class white man grunting about how much he just don’t give a fuck over alternating fast and slow riffs. By using these lyrics we are standing on the shoulders of giants, but unfortunately I think we are pissing into the wind instead of lofting the words to unrealized heights. I had a band before this that wrote all the lyrics from the point of view of bears that were killing hunters so this has to be an improvement.
How did you decide on the name The Oily Menace? What’s the meaning behind it?
Dylan: I hated the name at first but it made Kevin really happy, now I’m pretty indifferent. I think Kevin better explain this one.
Kevin: There is no good answer to this so I will just make some shit up: The Oily Menace conjures a mental image of some low-level Lovecraftian minion doesn’t? Like some kind of shitty dime store shoggoth or perhaps a sick or injured mi-go covered in its own secretions, kinda of laughable yet at least a little dangerous. Or perhaps a drunken Turkish oil wrestler who was wandered into a gift shop, ruining everything he touches, smearing all the cards, knocking over the figurines. Really I needed a name for this band, and I had just looked at a poster for the old kung-fu movie The Oily Maniac. I have terrible, terrible handwriting, so by the time this made it out of the wash in whatever pair of pants I was wearing I was like “The Oily Menace, Totally.”
On the 3-way split you did with Cloud Rat and Wolbachia, I loved the idea of each band having their own section on each side of the record. That’s the best way to do a 3-way split I’ve ever seen.
Dylan: Thank you.
Kevin: Perhaps no one else will remember it this way, but I’d like to take FULL FUCKEN CREDIT on this one. Cloud Rat asked us to do a split 7”, and we also wanted to do one with Kursk who became Wolbachia. I am a lazy man, and do not like to get up and flip a 45 every few minutes. Most people who are into grindcore have a huge 7” collection, but I have totally lost out on releases because I have the irrational idea that maybe just maybe all those will be collected on an LP someday with sweet liner notes, an 80s thrash style collage of pictures, and maybe even sweet anecdotes about that one time with Matt Damon. So I asked everyone involved if it would be cool to do a 3-way like that, and no one said no. I think really it just caught everyone off guard and then enough time went by that no one was willing to say no at that point. One person told me it was a bad idea and that no one would buy it because Cloud Rat was too emo, but now they are touring Europe and that dude is living with his mom.
I have Kevin to thank for turning me on to hugelkultur. Around the same time, I saw it in a Sepp Holtzer book. I’m working on implementing it in my garden. Are all of you into gardening?
Kevin: Hell yes gardening fuck yeah! We are all very into it! Especially permaculture methods like no-till, hugelkultur, rain gardens, and global buckets. I actually got into the rotting-wood-in-a-berm via permies.com, which is a forum I highly recommend! Only later did I get a copy of Sepp’s book from a buddy out in California. Sup Travis! The gardens were fucking sweet in Rockford, IL when Dom Del Pan set us up with a show last summer. I can only imagine how cool the Connecticut garden scene is. Well, food is the most important decision you make every day. It determines the health of yourself, your community, and the planet. So many sick people in this world and it all relates to shitty western diets. So many farmers being crushed by Mansanto. Food riots, modern dustbowl situations, food deserts in Detroit. Food security or local food and not relying on industrial mechanisms for food production is at the heart of this. GM crops have saved how many lives in Africa? Well they have also fundamentally transformed those people via diet and the techniques of the green revolution that the food system is broken. END CORN SUBSIDIES! REVOKE SEED PATENTS! BOMB MONSANTO!
Yes I like to garden.
Dylan: Food is so important, three times a day we are making choices that literally have a global impact. I think food independence is really important to all of us. I’ve worked on a couple of vegetable farms over the past four years and I helped Kevin with the garden while I lived with him. But summer 2012 was my most concerted effort at gardening with varying degrees of success. Eating food from your front yard is so rewarding its unbelievable!! as I’m sure you can relate will, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a day then rolling around in the dirt!! (grinding is a close second!)
The kale seeds in the 3-way LP was a great idea. I had the same one, but you beat me to it. My kale seeds didn’t germinate, though. What the fuck? Is there a reason you favor the Lacinato type over the curled scotch varieties?
Kevin: I’m sorry for your loss, I saved some of those black petaled sunflower seeds you wanted so I will send those to make up for it? Lacinato has a higher germination rate for the seeds I bought (sorry, didn’t collect those ourselves) than curly kale. I also think its easier to chiffonade, and generally work with in the kitchen. One of my friends told me that people are always asking her which green “has more nutrients”. Technically Lacinato is darker, which as a rule of thumb means it has more chlorophyl but we of science know that is bullshit. I know Dylan has some very strong views on this subject.
Dylan: All kale rules hard, but lately I’ve been favoring vates collards, this has been a huge debate within “da menace” camp and if anything is going to break up the band it will probably end in a fist fight over kale VS. Collards. Fucking seriously. Collard leaves are just SO FUCKING BIG!!!!
I’m really excited about your split with Infanticide. How did that come about?
Dylan: Infanticide makes the grind sound good, but I’ve never actually had any contact with those dudes so I think kevin is better equipped to answer that question.
Kevin: Johan from Infanticide wrote me about it. I’ve been a fan since he posted on the old Relapse board about his band so it was an honor to be contacted kind of out of the blue about it. He got in touch with Jesse from End Theory (turns out I know Jesse’s roommate since forever ago) and made that happen! Thanks dudes! We also have a split with Cogs and Sprockets due out soon. Our side is a bit of a collaboration with Derek Fucken Jones, a Muskegon, MI artist of the highest caliber.
(EDIT: PUMPED ABOUT THE COGS AND SPROCKETS SPLIT, TOO!)
You seem to be relatively inactive as a band. What’s the hold-up?
Dylan: Kale VS. Collards… FIGHT!!!
Kevin: We are very passionate about the ideas and music of this band, and love playing live but speaking for myself I don’t need that to complete myself, boost my ego, or to define who I am…So I am the primary impediment to the band. Touring and traveling is so expensive not just in dollars, but in burned fossil fuel, and time spent away from my cats. Like I said, I do love playing live, but I don’t think the world will stop spinning if we don’t go out and play. Polar bears that are drowning from lack of ice due to anthropocentric climate change aren’t like “At least the drummer doesn’t cheat with two feet and you can hear the snare during the blasts.” We stacked our last tour with visits to family, and a summer vacation to see Michigan’s upper peninsula to maximize fun and we tour in a tiny station wagon to minimize impact.
Do you have any plans or intentions of touring out to the Northeast again? I didn’t have any clue about you when you came this way the last time.
Kevin: I’d love to at least once again. It would be great to grind some of the sleepier towns instead of the usual Brooklyn shows where people send a lot of texts and tweets and sexts instead of participating in the show.
Dylan: I sure hope so! But can’t rightly say when. Just keep on eye out for the kale signal in your town, or if I have my way the collard signal.
Travis, our bassist, abstained from this interview because he was on an ice-climbing expedition in Canada. He did send this picture: