Punks On Mars is Actually From MarsBy By Vincent Brunetto, Photos by Fianny Martinez
The members of Punks On Mars have a lot of things going for them right now. Making a seamless transition from life on another planet and creating one of my favorite records of this year, they have figured out a way to combine contrasting musical elements into an extremely well thought out and cohesive new record Bad Expectations.
I made my way to the Punks On Mars headquarters to talk with the band (and their friend Charlie) about their new sounds, twinks, and food on Mars.
Noisey: So for those who don’t know, what is Punks On Mars?
Ryan: Well it’s been a bunch of different things but currently it's our live band and we have a power-punk record out. It used to be a solo project of just me but it has evolved into sounding like a real band, once it became a real band I guess.
I was going to say this record sounds a lot different thing past Punks on Mars releases. I grabbed Pimples In 3D about a year ago and that didn’t sound like a full band?
Charlie: That was, and is Ryan’s deposit for his perverted pop fetishes. We were living together at the time and I watched him slaving away on it. He was working on a cover of The Beets from Doug.
Ryan: I covered “Shout Your Lungs Out,” but I really want to cover “I Need More Allowance.”
So how did you make the transition from the Pimples in 3D era to getting a full band?
Ryan: Basically at a certain point I realized that I had to get down with a real band. Basically, doing live karaoke was like why am I doing this? It sounded bad and didn’t translate well. Eventually I knew I had to have a band, and mostly these people know what’s up or something. It wouldn’t require me teaching full songs or any of that.
Charlie: It’s already people he has spent a excessive amounts of time with.
Ryan: Basically I needed people to be able to get the reference points or whatever.
Charlie: No hired guns.
Ryan: Yeah, only the purest devoted souls.
So is this live band the same that is on the record?
Ryan: The new record was recorded in a studio where we spent two days doing the live tracking.
Veronica: It was a different lineup.
Ryan: Yeah it was a different lineup a few months ago. It was a five piece, now it’s a four piece. There was a different drummer and a different bassist. They were like the studio musicians I hired to do it. They were the hired guns basically. Veronica is an original member though.
Veronica: Yeah I play keyboard and sing.
How was that process?
Veronica: It was really fun, we got to camp out and add little trills, swishes, and orchestras. Basically it was a bunch of MIDI crap.
I was thinking about that today. The record almost feels like a futuristic French aristocrat would listen to it.
Veronica: That is exactly Ryan’s vision.
Ryan: That is the kind of aristocratic ethos of the project. Ideally there would be servants waiting in the wings right now. The other lineup for the band weren’t into that; they weren’t aristocratic enough.
Nick: They were very lowborn.
Ryan: Yeah they were a working band.
Where did you find those keyboard sounds?
Veronica: On a DX7 and in the Pro-Tools orchestra bank.
Ryan: I have always kind of indulged in the cheesy hyper digital soundscape. It was kind of amazing doing that with a live band that was performing and then saying like well now we are going to delete what you recorded and put in this fake orchestra on top of you. We tracked everything for two days and then I brought it home and redid a ton of the guitars and did the vocals over the course of a month or two. Pimples In 3D is all done on tape in my living room. That record is pieced together and a total random experiment. Getting back to the aristocratic ethos though, Veronica is the overseer of the twinks, which is Nicky and Jo, she keeps them in line.
What’s a twink?
Ryan: You don’t know about the twinks?
Veronica: You don’t watch like gay porn or anything?
Ryan: It’s like a boy toy. They’re like the airhead hot boy. They have their own quarters and she checks in on them at night.
How did you guys go about translating what Ryan had done into a full band?
Ryan: I had everything demo'd out myself. I was playing like drum machine drums and all the instruments, then I just gave everyone the demos. Everything that’s on the album that wasn’t previously recorded on a 7-inch is all demo'd and then we kind of played it live and figured it out. Once I had the recordings from the new record, I brought them to the new band and it’s awesome because it sounds all cool and different. There is one less guitarist so the keyboard is a legitimate part of the sound which is always something I have been interested in. When you are playing in a burly rock band and you have a little keyboard coming out of the PA, it fills it out but it’s not really there. Now it comes through nice and loud.
Who is putting record out? I know you have your own Ratgum Records imprint, are you putting out yourself?
Ryan: Ratgum is pretty much just a way for me to put out my own stuff like the tapes and digital releases. This newest release is out on Zoo Music which is a way more legit label. They are kind of based in New York but they are in bands that are always gone.
Where did you guys meet?
Ryan: We met on Mars.
Nick: We are all from Mars originally so we go way back.
Ryan: That has been a big struggle for us. The sort of transition from Mars to Earth because we were like number one on Mars.
Nick: It’s kind of been a fall from grace.
What’s been the hardest transition?
Nick: The food and the press.
Charlie: On Mars the paparazzi focus mostly on how the body looks at different parts of the day.
Ryan: During the day your skin is like covered in boils because of the crazy atmosphere.
What is your favorite Mars food?
Ryan: Liquid beige and double beige. There is a bunch of vendors on the street and you just ask them for double beige.
What would be the closest Earth food to double beige?
Nick: It’s like a Twizzler stuffed marshmallow.
Veronica: Yeah but if it was dipped in this sort of buttery cheese. Things you think you dip in chocolate, you dip in cheese on Mars.
And you guys went from playing on Mars to playing on Earth?
Ryan: We haven’t played too much as a band. The project has been around for maybe three years now and I think we have played less than fifteen shows or something like that.
Veronica: We are playing new years eve at Cake Shop.
Ryan: Yeah we are playing the day before as well so it will be a back to back.
Veronica: We aren’t even going to change makeup.
I noticed on your Facebook when you posted the new record you asked for people to tell you what you’re doing wrong or something like that, has anyone responded?
Ryan: Yeah, there has been a lot of reports. It’s like you can play guitar or whatever, but where is the content? They say shit like that or like this is a Ramones song, you sound like the Ramones.
Veronica: Well we’re not human.
Where do you see Punks On Mars going?
Ryan: The new vision is almost completely different as I’m recording it now by myself. It’s more Baroque. There is more overture and weird chords. Right now we are also working on some videos and we would like to do another 7-inch. In terms of where we are going though its like boulevard sleaze meets Bach.
Punks On Mars’ Bad Expectations 12" is out now on Zoo Music!
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