Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chief : Mike Moonves

"On their debut, this shaggy quartet conjure classic West Coast folk rock like they were baptized by David Crosby and reared by the members of Love." – Rolling Stone

A long time ago, in a city not far away at all right now because I'm home, I met the wonderful group of studs that happen to be in a kick ass band called 'Chief.' I've written about them before, maybe even multiple times because I found something rather pleasurable in listening to their music. The guys are super rad, and I kept in contact with a few of them over the months, and our dear friend Mike, who plays bass for Chief, agreed to do an interview for me! Such a nice guy...

Explain this to me in detail. You all met at NYU, but happened to be from Santa Monica, CA? How did that work out.
-- Well, something should be cleared up before we begin. I'm not from Santa Monica, but an area nearby. Also, I have known the Fujikawa family since I was 5 years old, and I'm pretty sure that Mitch and Evan knew eachother in high school as well. Now that that's cleared up, when I moved to New York to start school, Chief had already been around for a little while and I met Evan after going to catch some shows with Brady, the youngest Fuji brother who is an old friend of mine.

How long did you know the other guys before you started getting serious about Chief?
-- I've known Dan and Mitch since I was a very young man and Evan since I moved to New York and went to my first Chief show. I was very serious about Chief from the first show I played with them and will be serious about Chief until our last. I'm a very serious guy.

Did you drop out of NYU to continue in the bands development? Was your family supportive of your decision and do you or do you not regret that decision?
-- Yes, I did drop out of school to continue working with the band upon our move back to LA. I was about to finish my junior year when my manager dropped the news on me that I wouldn't be attending school the year after. A few heavy conversations later, it was set. My parents were definitely uneasy about it and gave me some shit for it, but I think it helped having the Chief team telling them that it would be worth it and a strong move. I don't regret the decision in the slightest and am secretly relieved that I got to leave school without having to bullshit an excuse.

Differentiate between the atmospheres in LA and NYC when you guys are performing. Which city/crowd/fan base do you prefer and why?
-- There's nothing like playing for a NY audience, but I know that all the madness that goes along with playing a show there makes it a bit stressful. Cabs are a shitty way to load gear around. I think I enjoy NY crowds a lot though, but its hard to say.

Honestly, is it hard going back and forth between coasts and all in between? I know people always say its great cause you get to play your music for all types of people, but be real…do you ever just want to stop and do your own thing?
-- Touring is incredible. But fatigue is imminent at some points while on the road. I understand people that can't tour for very long or just can't handle it, but I am not one of those people. If I were to stop and do my own thing, it would be so I can get back on the road as soon as possible. But I already do my own thing on the side, so I never have to stop doing anything. Which is nice.

What evokes a more emotional pull in you, lyrics or music?
-- For me, I can't really say. There are musical pieces that can tell you so much more than a lyric can about the way someone is feeling. But you need the lyrics to explain that. Its the marriage between the two that creates the emotional pull. I guess if I had to pick one, its music. Some idiots write the worst lyrics ever but the music is so great that you can overlook it. The opposite does not apply.

On MTV2’s Subterranean, you mentioned that you would love to collab with Wilco. You guys have a semi similar ambiance. Do they inspire you as a band/are they your favorite? Who else would you want to collaborate with?
-- I did mention that. I love Wilco more than any other band around these days. They do it for me. If Jeff Tweedy signed on to produce a Chief record, I think I would probably have an anxiety attack and quit the band. I love collaborating with friends, I think doing a joint record with either Dawes, The Morning Benders or Portugal the Man would really kick ass.

You seem like you just like to have fun, at the shows and in the interviews I’ve seen. You’re really laid back and seem like you kinda just flow with everything…which is super rad. But do you think that’s going to last if you guys keep going at the speed you are going? You guys are getting pretttttty big.
-- I appreciate that you've caught my vibe. That's all I really hope to do; spread a solid vibe to the audience that they can feel subconciously. I'm sure if I reached Bono level I'd end up being kind of a prick, but anything before that will be the same old Moony. I've been like this since I was a tyke.

How does that feel actually, getting super popular? You’ve had a baby spread in NYLON mag, on MTV’s Subterraneans, I’m pretty sure one of your songs premiered on One Tree Hill…and tons of other interviews published. Are you ever scared you guys are going to lose the quintessence of Chief and sell out?
-- Selling out just means your finally making money. I hope we sell out soon.

5 favorite poets/authors?
--Hmm, this is tough because the only author I read is Michael Connelly. So that's my list.

You and Evan wrote Night & Day, yes? Do you two write most of the music or, how does that pan out within the band? Do you guys usually agree with the lyrics and flow of the song, or do you disagree ever?
-- Yes, Evan and I wrote Night and Day. However, that is the only large contribution I've brought to the songwriting process for Chief. The way things usually go is very different, with either Evan or Danny bringing in an essentially completed song and the rest of us filling in the blanks and finding the right arrangement. With Night and Day though, I brought in a chord progression and a drum idea (the verse section) and then we jammed on it until we came upon the other sections. Evo came up with a really great melody and then he and I had a writing session at his old apartment on 10th st. This is a very rare collaborative process for us.

My fave off your album is Stealing. That song is bomb, especially when played live. Which song thrilllllls you to play? Like what reaches inside your gut and pulls out something dark and illicit...
-- I may have to agree with you on that. That song in particular went through so many changes to get to the place that it is now and we have a great time with it. Night and Day similarly has a great energy and playing the live version is really exhilirating because most people know the album version and always get surprised when this short tune becomes a little under seven minutes long with a ripping jam at the end.

If Chief didn’t exist, what would you hope to be doing in life right now?
-- I'd still be making music, either working on my solo project (entitled Moonytown) or scoring films. I love it.

If you were completely incapable of playing music what would you hope to be doing…?
-- I was a pretty serious actor in high school. I've always thought of that as a great backup plan.

What do you do in your free time when you are on breaks from playing?
-- I play a lot of tennis and hit the gym a lot. I also tend to rage pretty hard. Which is probably the reason I hit the gym so hard. I like having fun.

Where do you go to find most of your inspiration?
-- I play pool by myself and listen to music that I've just recorded or I just think of a song I just wrote. Once I've finished a song, I can pretty much hear it in my head whenever I want, which makes it easy to arrange and change tunes I'm working on while I'm shooting pool or doing whatever. My pool room at my mom's house is my dojo.

Guilty pleasure?
-- "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. But I don't feel guilty about it at all. So its just a pleasure.

Check out their music video for Night & Day HERE

Thanks so much, Mike. Hope to see you and the guys soon!

1 comment:

  1. i personally feel a little guilty about "Dynamite".. Al, awesome interview. Hope we see them play again sometime.