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Interview: Billy Jeans of Mean Jeans

We are thrilled to present an interview with Billy Jeans from Mean Jeans! We had a chat about their killer new album, “Blasted,” where we delved into everything from songwriting, themes, inspiration behind the cover artwork, recording process, etc. Enjoy! The new album, Blasted, captures the essence of Mean Jeans’ wild and wacky world. How […]



Photo courtesy of the band.

We are thrilled to present an interview with Billy Jeans from Mean Jeans! We had a chat about their killer new album, “Blasted,” where we delved into everything from songwriting, themes, inspiration behind the cover artwork, recording process, etc. Enjoy!

Our writing process is pretty much the same, both myself and our drummer Houndy write songs on our own and then get together and sprinkle some silly ideas on top. We recorded by ourselves – without a producer or engineer – so that process provides a certain freedom to fuck around, which we love. 

Houndy had some toxic waste barrels in his backyard, naturally. So we hopped in, had a buddy take a photo on a phone, and then I spruced it up with some color and texture. I do design work, and have done most of our record covers. Three aging knucklehead rockers still hanging out in a bucket of slime; there’s the album’s theme in a nutshell. 

We did a lot of touring in 2022 to make up for time lost to the covid pandemic. And we had a damn good time doing it. Live, we perform our songs faster than the recordings, always have, but I think that wild and fast energy translates more to this record than some of the past. We got off 10 weeks of touring after the covid pause and were like “ok I missed this, let’s bang out a new record”.

Plenty of references, we just can’t help it. The album closer Pop Punk Casualty makes lyrical reference to screeching weasel and blink 182, and then ends with a collage of classic pop punk melodies on a piano. See if you can recognize any of them! Blasted to the Moon refers to a Tom delonge-endorsed UFO/UAP documentary rabbit hole, Something’s Going On is made up entirely of plot points to the 1986 film Class of Nuke Em High. Look What Punk’s Done To You mentions Tim Armstrong’s appearance on the X-Files (which I recommend) and Took Too Much is in part an homage to Mike Schank of American Movie and his insatiable reaction to overdosing on PCP. 

It’s possible that it had a negative impact on the sound! But we opted to have fun with it, which is in general our approach to everything. So some songs got goofier. Possibly all of them. That’s us.

You mentioned that studio time is more fun when no one’s in charge. Can you elaborate on how this dynamic played out during the recording process and if any unexpected moments occurred?

Sure. Songs tend to develop more freely when there’s no pressure from someone else’s time and patience. We pepper in backing vocals and harmonies that are written on the spot. Lost My Mind was an even shorter song originally, but we improvised an outro in the moment. Houndy improvised a drum fill nod to blink 182 in Pop Punk Casualty that cracked us up. The aforementioned piano collage of pop punk melodies was just a goof that we wound up liking. It’s in our nature to fuck around, and that comes easier when we’re laid back, having fun, and can go late into the night. 

The lyrics begin “I used to stay up lying in my bed frozen in a panic like a knucklehead”. The song is about reaching a point where you can’t be bothered to care anymore, and turning a corner on anxiety, self analysis, overthinking. All shit I’ve spent plenty of time doing. But I don’t give a shit anymore. 

That’s always been my writing style with mean jeans, more or less. Every song can’t just be about what a great time we’re gonna have tonight. So I always pepper in some reality check, some sadness, or whatever. I’m a sucker for the sad ones by Ramones, Thin Lizzy, Rancid. 

The movie is goofy and fun, involving buckets of toxic waste, out of control youth, contaminated weed, pretty much everything you could want out of a low budget 80s film (and a few things you could go without). Ive always equated mean jeans with it, and have always wanted to write a song about it. This time I finally got around to it, gave the VHS a spin and this is what came out. 

There’s something hilarious to me about defining punk, out-punking one another by being less materialistic, less reliable, etc. What’s the punkest thing a band can do? Overdose before writing their first song? Write unsolicited jingles for corporate brands? Have Mohawks and play power chords? It’s also hilarious to me that we’ve chosen to play this style of music that we love, whose relevance is questionable 50 years after its inception. We’re having fun with it though, just taking the piss out of these ideas.

You got this okay, yeah?

We just have fun with it. It’s the only option for us, and if it isn’t fun you probably won’t find us doing it. Musically we like to skate on the edge of what’s good rock n roll and what is corny adolescent pop punk. For example, to us there’s a forbidden chord progression, but we’re always tip toeing around it. 

We don’t overthink it. I strive to be able to write a song that I think is good in the moment, then revisit soon after with a willingness to throw it in the trash. It helps that the songs are mostly 4 power chords. Nothing precious!

We’re stoked to be doing a bunch of shows and festivals this year. Come party with us!


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