THE MUGSHOTS are a really cool band that I had the opportunity to interview. Read what they have to say for themselves. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-We would like people not to focus their attention on the search for a precise musical genre and its peculiar implications. Back in the days bands like The Damned, The Clash, The Stranglers or even The Beatles before could record and sell albums without worrying about being accused of not keeping faithful to a kind of music or another. We are not playing Crossover, we simply mix the Rock And Roll ingredients known to people in the last 50 years in order to create a new “recipe” using old stuff that shall not be wasted!
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-Not hard at all: back in 2001 I was in NYC in a small YMCA room, reading a biography of John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer clown. Suddenly I stumbled on a mug shot of him and that was the moment which saw me choosing the name for my new band. Back then I used to write lyrics about real-life serial killers, so the name perfectly fit. Nowadays I am less focused on true crime stories, yet Hugh Cornwell, formerly with The Stranglers, once told: “The Mugshots…isn’t it such a great name for a band?”
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-The Mugshots were initially intended as a mix between Alice Cooper and The Stranglers. Through the years we included some other influences such as The Lords Of The New Church, The Damned, Joy Division, Killing Joke, some Norwegian Black Metal, some Police and Horror movies OST and a bit of Mike Patton’s weirdness. Today we are inspired by nothing than ourselves. No bragging intended: we just try to be faithful to the peculiar sound we managed to create in many years of hard work.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-The name came along with the decision to form a band: in the early days the ideas were very different from today, we even started out as a Garage Rock band with a female singer but it lasted no more than a rehearsal night! It was clear that I was going to be the singer and the composer of the songs, since then I tried my best depending on the influences I was “victim” of!
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-I don’t know. Maybe it’s not digital that killed the physical form, it’s just people, fans that lost curiosity towards new bands. Digital, the Internet, they are just media that helped the process thet brought to such a “crime scene”. Nowadays it is nearly impossible to amaze people and it takes loads of money to spread a good idea so that it can become popular. The band Ghost is a prime example of this: a good, very simple idea of imagery with a solid and professional marketing background that guarantees the popularity of the band among the new and old generations of music lovers. It’s all about a good idea and advertise it, nothing more than this. Big bucks are thus necessary.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-The visual side of our project is definitely important: thanks to our label, Black Widow Records, we even released a limited edition LP with lots of bonuses plus an amazing graphic layout. Onstage we wear a bit of make-up and every member of the band has a recognizable look, since we think that making music and playing live are a sort of a ritual that detach you from everyday’s ordinary life. It would be stupid to walk onstage dressed as we do every day, the same would be to live our everyday’s life dressed as The Mugshots.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-Yes, the rules have been changed. Back in the days only the bands that could take advantage of labels investing in promotion could reach the audiences. The underground bands did struggle for a few gigs and reviews. Nowadays, The Mugshots and Metallica can potentially reach the same amount of fans for free. The one big difference is what we were talking about in the previous questions: tons of money are necessary to rise above the huge mass of bands that can steal the scene. As told before, money plus a few good ideas are the darwinian way of choosing the fittest, the ones who’ll survive and go on.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-Not me. I mostly look for the approval of artists I love, the ones which inspire me. This is way more important, in my view, that having a large audience of fans. Who know The Mugshots know how important is for us to collaborate with artists that traced the path we are walking on.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-We do a very few gigs every year. We are definitely tired of playing around in every single small pub that doesn’t fit our requests. Better to choose a few venues and organize unique events that could be unforgettable, either for the band and the audience.
What will the future bring?
-I don’t believe in the linear, christian, way of looking at time: from the beginning ’til the end. I do believe in the eternal moment where everything happens without worrying of what has been and what will be.