The road-worn Mae Shi take on Batman and Miley Cyrus The road-worn Mae Shi take on Batman and Miley Cyrus
It was almost a year ago that the Mae Shi marched into the now-defunct Crux Artist Collective and scared the living shit out of everyone in attendance. In a good way, of course. I think four or five new bands were conceived that night … maybe a baby.
The LA band has been on the road pretty much nonstop for the better part of a year, having just wrapped up a blurry four days in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest. The Mae Shi are still touring under their sophomore full-length HLLLYH, a concept record that could be considered hazardous to anyone with a heart condition—a record ballsy enough to contain an 11-minute techno mix of the album … right in the middle of it.
The beauty of the Mae Shi is that when wading through the band’s jittery noise pop, you can never quite pinpoint the influences (drummer Brad Breeck lists everything from Andrew WK and Melt Banana to Electric Light Orchestra and Outkast). “Run to Your Grave” is the band’s best representation—big guitars and big choruses. And while HLLLYH was released more than a year ago, the Mae Shi are still bringing spazzy new inventions into the world, including a cover of Miley Cyrus’ “See You Again” and the latest—“R U Professional”—a loving nod to the prima donna rant of Christian Bale (with attendant Bale-montage video).
And there are more to come(!)—sometime(?)—in the form of a new EP.
Breeck caught up with the CN&R via e-mail from the road to talk about how the new songs are coming along and seeking inspiration in hamburgers.
CN&R: How did “R U Professional” come about?
Brad Breeck: It was a late-night, spur-of-the-moment experiment. We heard the Bale thing, wrote and recorded a song in about two hours, posted it to the Internet. That’s it!
HLLLYH was about the end of the world and Christians. “R U Professional” is about the end of sanity … and Christian. What are the new songs about?
No consistent theme has emerged yet. One song is a love song to psychedelic drugs sung from the perspective of someone who’s never done psychedelic drugs. One song is about the perils of unchecked laissez-faire capitalism. One song is about STDs. There will probably be a song or two about aliens because Jon [Gray] is obsessed with aliens and Dan Ackroyd right now.
How have the lineup changes changed the songwriting?
Drastically. We try to force everyone in the band to contribute as much as they want/can to the material—this way everybody’s voice and color gets mixed in a little bit. The way the songs are written hasn’t changed so much as the ingredients that go into the songs. We also try to rewrite our old songs sometimes, kind of sample ourselves. This is fun with new people, because they might have a different understanding of the older material than the people who wrote it. Comedy ensues.
How’s the EP coming along?
Very slowly. A few songs in the can. Hopefully it will be done by May. We’ll see!
How does living in LA influence your songwriting?
We always eat bro surf tacos when we write songs. We go to In-N-Out whenever we need inspiration. It’s rarely gloomy here, and there’s lots of good, cheap food to eat, so we don’t have many complain-y songs.
How would you prefer to be known—as a live act or a studio band?
It’s difficult to choose one, as we like to have our cake and eat it, too, pretty much all the time. Personally, I’m most interested in the studio aspect, but I don’t speak for the rest of the band on this at all. I’d be really sad if we were a boring live band.