Q&A with Mickey Avalon at Set This Saturday, August 1

Categories: Q&A
Mickey Avalon.jpg
Ever the teller of cinematic stories drawn inspired by his own dark life experiences, listening to Mickey Avalon's music is like watching a movie with your eyes closed -- part Drug Store Cowboys, part Wonderland with some Boogie Nights (you know the parts), and a little Trainspotting mixed in for good measure. It's not a pretty story, but it's not one he shies away from either. Instead he plows headlong into it, confronting both past tragedies and fears of the future with equal aplomb. It seems almost as though he relishes recounting in his music tales sordid enough to make the most depraved whores blush.

Even if he doesn't share that same enthusiasm for doing it in interviews. Still, in a recent phone call with New Times from his tour bus as he hits the road, he shared with candor (and, unexpectedly, the politeness of a boy scout) his inspirations and the obstacles he faced in preparing his as-of-yet untitled sophomore release, the life changes for a street walker/urchin turned underground sensation, and even his bet on who's win in a smoke out between Snoop Dogg, Slightly Stoopid and Stephen Marley.

New Times: Let's talk about your new album. We heard you worked with Travis Barker?

Um, the album is pretty much done. It just needs to be mastered. I just did one song with Travis Barker, and hopefully it'll make it on the album, which I did about six months to a year ago, and he just finished that. It's a good song. I think I'll be performing it on tour [this summer].

What can you tell us about the album? How's it different from the first?

Whenever people do a second album, they say, like, "Everything's bigger and better," I think. We got like a bigger producer. We were working with this guy named Doctor Luke, who's done a bunch of pop stuff and whatever, but it's definitely not pop. It's, you know, like my life's changed, and I always talk about things from personal experience. So just 'cuz it's changed I don't talk about stuff that isn't relevant anymore. Like 50 Cent talking about selling crack, and you know he hasn't sold crack in 10 years 'cuz now he's a multi-millionaire, and that's kinda silly. I don't talk about living on the streets or anything like that.

When I wrote my first album, I didn't know I was writing an album. I just thought I was having fun making songs and so I hadn't really played any shows live, so I hadn't thought about how shows would be performed or anything like that.

So if anything, I'm more hip to how songs will be in a live setting. So there's that and just talking about new stuff. It's still like a movie, and all the characters are still sordid people, like hookers and drug addicts and pimps and thieves and whatever. So it's still my shit, but just more sonic, I guess.

Bigger and better [laughs], but the same!

So it'll still feature that edge you're known for, but you're not necessarily waiting to die anymore.

Yeah, I mean, I think if anything it's more like, when things get better and you get a little bread, and then sometimes that's even a little bit scarier. I think when you're just in survival mode, you don't really have time to think about anything fucked up. You're just running around. And now I have a little more time on my hands -- I mean, not much time -- but I've got a place to live and I've been doing my job for a few years, and it's the first time I've had a job. So just, things I've never really had in my life before.

But I made sure I leave all of the politics out of it. I mean, politics in general, but all the record label politics, 'cuz I know no one wants to hear about all that. So, I mean, it definitely has the same edge.

Yeah, you haven't led an easy life, and you put it all front and center in your music. Is that something that's easy for you to do?

I never really struggled with it. Sometimes when interviewers ask you about certain things you've done, you get more uncomfortable.

So you prefer to put these tough stories on a record than have some dick over the phone go, "Yeah, Mickey, so tell me about the most fucked up thing you've ever done."

It's like, if you try to come off like perfect, people try to tear you down. But it's always been, the easiest way for me to deal with my own shyness has been just to jump into it. So it's always been easier to show warts and all. When you try to hide stuff, it seems like that's when people can kinda come after you. It seems the more you put stuff out there, people can't really do anything, 'cuz you take the power away from them.

It's kinda like in 8 Mile or whatever, that scene where he raps and he's just dissin' himself, and then he's like,  "Alright, well now what're you gonna say that I didn't already say?" You know?

Well, but have you ever recorded anything, then listened to it after and been like, "Okay, what the hell did I just say?"

Uh, yeah, that's usually if you're real fucked up or something. Yeah, sometimes just jokes that maybe people don't really find funny. Or like, I said before I don't like to talk about politics, but then once I did something like, "Why would I vote for Obama, when the dope that I smoke comes straight from Osama?" And people misinterpreted it, for one thing thinking I'd vote for the other side. And I don't vote for anybody. But I didn't really have time to write up a note to explain it, you know? I just thought it was a good line and it was funny. You know, stuff like that.

I never really made racial jokes, or gay jokes. I mean, I've used the word 'faggot', and I got a hard time for that, but I don't really care. I'm not gonna be like, "Oh, I've got gay friends." You know, anyone who knows me knows about my life and the things I've been through. So if people wanna give me a hard time, you know, that's up to them. The record label wanted me to change that, and I was like, "I'm not gonna do it."

So that's probably the closest to something that wasn't appropriate.

Have any of the things you've learned between the last album and this album made the process any easier?

No, maybe more difficult. Like, when I'm recording it's always been, not necessarily for fun, but just going to different friends' studios and just do it. It's like, now we start paying a producer and I've got to be there at certain times and it starts to feel more like a job, and more like a pain in the ass. And [laughs] that was a pain in the ass, you know? But, people would just tell me different things, like it's gonna be better. And after everything was said and done, and running out of the studio, and after everything, the album did turn out really good. I'm glad--I mean, not like quiting was ever an option--but I'm glad I hung in there.

Let's talk about your upcoming tour schedule. You've got several dates, and of course, you're on the lineup for the Blazed and Confused Tour with Snoop, Slightly Stoopid and Stephen Marley, which unfortunately is no longer coming down here, though you and Snoop will have separate shows on that same date. Are those the majority of your stops, or do you have other gigs, like the one at Set here in Miami on the 1st?

Um, I think they're all stops on that tour except the one in Miami and one at the end, but I'm really excited to do it. Tonight's the first night, and we actually just pulled up in Primm. And, you know, it's something new for me. I've just toured by myself in the past, so it'll be cool to play some bigger places, and play with Snoop and Slightly Stoopid. But there's all these buses and I'm sure we'll get to mix it up with everybody.

It's all been like a big adventure, and if you don't stop to appreciate it, it kinda passes you by. I mean, this is what makes our job fun, and better than other jobs.

Yeah, it's a cool mix. Very varied, but not just slapped together. Who do you think will smoke the most chronic on that tour?

Hmm. Just to be stereotypical, I'd have to guess Snoop or Stephen Marley. I mean, Stephen is Bob Marley's son, and I know Snoop smokes a lot. But for all I know, Stephen Marley doesn't smoke any, but that'd be crazy, 'cuz I think he's a Rasta. Hopefully, we just won't have any cops bothering us, because that's always a drag. That was the only thing that made me nervous about signing on [laughs]. But I think everything will be okay.

Mickey Avalon performs at Set (320 Lincoln Road) on Saturday, August 1 at 1:30 a.m.

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