Sunday, July 01, 2012

Interview with Woody from Mighty High


The last time I interviewed Woody from Mighty High was around three years ago . Now that they have a new album out I thought it was time to see what the band was up to.  So here you go.

MM-You have a new album out called “Legalize Tre bags”. Tell us about it.

Woody-It's 11 songs in 34 minutes. If you like The Rods or Eddie & The Hot Rods you'll dig it. If you like both of those bands you'll love it.

MM-What are some of your favorite songs on the new album and why do you like those songs?

Woody-I love all the songs equally but "I Don't Wanna Listen To Yes" deserves special mention. It was a very spontaneous group effort and a message we all stand behind 100%. "High On The Cross" is another favorite. Kevin sings the intro and everyone thinks it's me.

MM-How did the writing process on this album go? Was it done over a long time or do you all just sit down and say let’s crank out this many songs and work from there?

Woody-Some of the songs were written as long as 4 years ago and a few others were written specifically for the album last year. Long story short, in 2010 half the band quit and we had a quite a few songs recorded with them but not enough for an album. When Kevin Overdose (guitar) and Labatts Santoro (bass) joined, they learned all the songs. We went into the studio and erased the old parts and replaced them with new & improved ones. I was prepared to scrap the old recordings but figured it was worth trying. It turned out great, way better than I expected. So even though the majority of the album were songs that had been around for awhile they were given a new life.

MM-The artwork for your new is great (as always). Who did the artwork? Did you give them an idea to work with or did they just go with it?

Woody-The artwork was once again created from the twisted mind of Wayne "Braino" Bjerke. We've been friends for over 30 years. I can just give him a title and he'll take it to it's most ridiculous extreme. We have so many inside jokes together that the only suggestions I ever have is to add some kind of minimal element that only the two of us understand. We're both big fans of the unique artwork Cal Schenkel did for Frank Zappa, that Joe Petagno did for Motorhead and Pedro Bell did for Funkadelic and try to carry on in that tradition.

The title "Legalize Tre Bags" was conceived at the same time as our 7" single "Mighty High Drops A Deuce." In the spring of 2008, not long after the release of our first album "Mighty High…In Drug City," we got to attend an early screening of the Anvil documentary. Before the movie I was telling him about how I intended to put out a two-song single and a full length album and blurted out both titles. We were high.

MM-How did you come to be signed by Ripple Music? Are they easy to work with?

Woody-Signing with Ripple was inevitable. They're the only ones dumb enough to want to run a label in this day and age. I'm dumb enough that I keep wanting to put out records. We're all in the same age group (old) and have the same values and cultural references. I originally got in touch with those guys when I was promoting the first album and that evolved into me writing for their blog on a weekly basis. When they told me they wanted to start a label I said they were nuts but it's worked out great. And it's an honor being affiliated with awesome bands like Poobah, Grifter and Stone Axe.

MM-You were on a split seven inch and a compilation in recent years.  Any plans in the near future to do contribute anything else like that?

Woody-We did a split 7" with Stone Axe in 2010 ("Don't Panic, It's Organic" was our side) and were on the Heavy Ripples double 7" compilation with Stone Axe, Grifter and Sun Gods In Exile in 2011. Doing another split single would be cool but I really want to do a collaborative single or EP with another band like what Motorhead and Girlschool did on the "St. Valentines Massacre EP." It would be awesome to go into the studio with another band and lay down a cover song that we all love and then come up with something unique for the flip side. 

MM-I know you are playing in New York all the time. You ever play any shows outside of that area?

Woody-Playing outside of the NYC area was a goal of mine ever since I started the band in 2002 but none of the former members would ever go for it. Once Kevin and Labatts joined we started going to Philadelphia, Rochester, Albany, Boston and Columbus, OH. We're all old and have hectic lives but we plan on doing some more road trips in the future. We're going back to Philly in August to play some insane keg party in a barn. 

MM-What are some of the most memorable shows that your band has played?

Woody-In March of 2011 we played in a weird little venue called Motel Hell in south Philadelphia. It's a totally illegal spot and there was a lot of underage drinking going on. That's always a good thing. A recent show in Rochester was really special. Two of the guys are from there and I went to college nearby so it was like a big family reunion. Probably the most memorable show was July of last year. We played a dumpy little club in the East Village on the hottest day of the year and there was no air conditioning. As we were playing we noticed all these people showing up in weird outfits. There was some sort of bisexual Star Wars fetish party going on after the bands were done. There was also some guy wrapped up in a carpet laying down in front of the bar with a sign urging people to stand on him. I was glad to see that there are still a lot of freaks in the city but I was very glad to get out of there after the show.

MM-What bands have you not shared a stage with, but would love to?

Woody-Motorhead, but that's not realistic. If anyone has a time machine I'd love to open for Grand Funk Railroad and Humble Pie at Shea Stadium in 1971. I'd also love to see if we could rile up a Twisted Sister crowd circa 1982. It's worth mentioning that Mighty High is the only band to have played with both Thor and Valient Thorr.

MM-You seem to stay busy with recording and playing shows. How do you keep yourself motivated? Does it ever get old?

Woody-Shit gets old all the time. It's a constant struggle for everyone to carve out a small amount of time to practice a few times a month and play shows. I've financed all of our recordings single handedly and it's caused me enormous amounts of grief. I think about stopping all the time but once I plug my guitar in, turn up the amp and start playing with the rest of the guys all that shit goes out the window. Being in a band at my age is a dumb thing to do but I have TONS of pent up hostility and aggression. Playing music is the best way to get all that out of my system. 

MM-What are some of the best albums you have heard so far in 2012?

Woody-I love the new album by Cortez from Boston. They're heavily influenced by Black Sabbath but incorporate elements of all my favorite classic rock bands. Corrosion Of Conformity's latest album is also a real favorite. I was a huge fan of Animosity/Technocracy and I think it's awesome that the original COC recipe is back together, still kicking ass and making great new music. I just discovered a band called Superchrist that has a killer new album called Holy Shit that's a must hear for fans of Motorhead, Tank, Raven, and The Rods. The reissue of VoiVod's 1984 demo To The Death this year made me very happy.

MM-If you were stuck in a room for one month and could only pick three albums to listen to for that time then what three would you pick? Why?

Woody-Does the James Brown box set Star Time count as one album? Either way, thats mandatory. I'd definitely bring Black Saint & The Sinner Lady by Charles Mingus. That's such an incredible piece of music that you don't want to listen to anything after that for awhile. That would help me cope with the lack of choices. For my rock choice, Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. That would keep cover my metal and classic rock interests until I could be reunited with the rest of my collection.

MM-You can have any back patch imaginable to put on your denim jacket, what would it be?

Woody-Acrylic paint is the only thing allowed on the large portion of my denim jacket. Motorhead's Overkill would go in that spot. A small Black Sabbath patch under it would be acceptable.

MM-How many games do you think the Orioles will beat the Yankees by when the O’s win the division this year?

Woody-Ha! No idea and I don't really care. The only reason I pay attention to baseball is to make fun of my friend Brucie who loves the Red Sox and hates the Yankees. Is Boog Powell still playing for the Orioles? I always thought he was cool and had a great name.

MM-Pick the bands from the following match-ups that you prefer and tell why you picked them.

Woody-Oh jeez, you saved the hard questions for last. 

The Stooges or MC5

Very difficult. Two of my all time favorite bands that have taken turns at #1. Today I'll go with the MC5, but tomorrow it might switch. I've been listening to the live MC5 album called Thunder Express a lot lately. Too bad they never got to make a fourth album. There's also been some killer live Stooges shows from 1970 and 71 released the past few years. Another band that should have made a fourth album.

Cactus or Humble Pie
Humble Pie. Both bands studio albums from their classic eras have some filler but Humble Pie's studio albums are stronger. Plus Steve Marriott's hard to beat. Humble Pie's Rockin' The Fillmore is one of the best live albums of all time. I recently heard there's going to be a box set coming out of all the shows recorded for that album. Their King Biscuit Flower Hour show from 1974 is unbeatable. Jim McCarty of Cactus would have been a good replacement for Frampton when he quit the Pie, but I like Clem Clemson a lot, too. Those live Cactus CD's that came out a few years ago ("Fully Unleashed: Live Gigs") are excellent. Rusty Day was a killer harmonica player.

Misfits of Ramones
Finally, an easy one - The Ramones. I saw them well over a dozen times in the 1980's. Love the Misfits, too, though.

Raven or Saxon

Good lord, another hard one! Saxon's classic run of albums in the early 80's has the advantage but as a live band in 2012 it's impossible to top Raven. 

MM-Is there anything else that you want to add about your band, music or anything else?

Woody-Stay high & survive! Many thanks to you, Mark, for all your support over the years. Your blog has given me a lot of laughs over the years and introduced me to some cool music, too.

***Thanks to Woody for doing the interview. If you have not heard Mighty High's new album then you seriously need to.
   - Metal Mark

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