Interview with Jeffrey Nothing - 7.30.03

J4MES S3RRA: Hey, Jeff.

Jeffrey Nothing: Hi, how are you?

J4MES S3RRA: I'm good, how are you?

Jeffrey Nothing: Great. Ready when you are.

J4MES S3RRA: Okay, let's get started then... How did you meet up with the guys in the current Mushroomhead line-up? There's quite an age difference between all of you.

Jeffrey Nothing: Dave and I were in a band called Hatrix. Skinny, Dave's younger brother was in a band called Trelleborg and our drummer wasn't working out. We recruited Skinny... mostly my idea, and after Hatrix was coming apart a little bit I started jamming with Bronson and Shmotz and Dinner at the time... all also ex-Trelleborg members. So there you go.

J4MES S3RRA: Before Mushroomhead I know you were in Hatrix and Purgatory, have you been in any other bands besides those?

Jeffrey Nothing: Before those my first band was an early form of Purgatory called NI4NI and I was in a band in New Orleans called White Heat... not the hair band. Only the second one recorded a demo... very hard to find.

J4MES S3RRA: I heard Hatrix will be playing in Cleveland in August. Will you guys be playing new material?

Jeffrey Nothing: No, just a small set with (216), kind of like last time when it was unadvertised. Maybe a few more songs this time though... we haven't really written anything new... concentrating on Mushroomhead.

J4MES S3RRA: When was the last time you played as Hatrix?

Jeffrey Nothing: 5 years ago, I think... but in the early days of Shroom, Hatrix would open for Shroom or vice versa... very fun shows.

J4MES S3RRA: Cool.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, it was.

J4MES S3RRA: Who was your biggest influence that made you want to become a singer?

Jeffrey Nothing: I started singing around 6 years old, so I wasn't really influenced by much then. Back then I wanted to play an instrument... bad idea, but I got back to singing. I would say Rob Halford, Paul DiAnno, Bon Scott... people like that.

J4MES S3RRA: What instrument did you consider taking up at the time?

Jeffrey Nothing: Guitar, around 12... no bass. Then, 14 thru 18, played in generic bands... no drums, just screwed around a little. Then, seriously singing after that.

J4MES S3RRA: So, basically, you were meant to sing, since instruments didn't work for you.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yes, I believe so. I just always sang every song that ever came on the radio and every record I could get my hands on and the influences just came. It's all about being confident enough to try.

J4MES S3RRA: Any news on your record label yet?

Jeffrey Nothing: No, we are still just kicking it around. Mushroomhead is the main driving force right now, so I kind of have put the label on hold... still talking, though.

J4MES S3RRA: What made you want to start a label?

Jeffrey Nothing: I see a lot of bands I wish I could help get started and I have a wealthy friend who wants to branch out in business, so we came up with the idea and I will basically scout bands while I'm touring and go from there. We have to get a definite name and set up the company and get the right people in place and find good distribution and we'll go from there.

J4MES S3RRA: Ah, so you want to help all those bands who seem to be going nowhere at this point?

Jeffrey Nothing: If I see a talented band along the way, well, sure I would like to... plus, there are some great bands here at home, and I went the long route so it would be cool to help and spread other music to the outside world.

J4MES S3RRA: Since we're on the topic of labels, has Universal set an official date for the release of XIII? I know that release dates have been floating around and changing lately.

Jeffrey Nothing: I've been reading Oct.14th lately, but it's hard to say. A lot of "hurry up" and "wait" really... it's funny though, how it keeps inching closer to the date of our first show, Oct. 23, 1993.

J4MES S3RRA: Cool.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, it is nostalgic.

J4MES S3RRA: Do you have a favorite song off of XIII?

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, it's called "Destroy The World Around Me"... song # 12... 8 minutes long... the epic.

J4MES S3RRA: Wow.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, it was a monster. J sings for the first 2 minutes or so, then I finish it out... very Floyd and dark and different.

J4MES S3RRA: So far, you and the band have produced all your own material. Was it difficult this time around, working with producers as opposed to doing everything yourselves?

Jeffrey Nothing: Not for me. Some of us have differences of opinion on this subject, but with 8 people that's gonna happen. I had a good experience with Johnny K.... some didn't, but it was how you approached the situation and what you took from it. Steve produced the rest of the record, and his stuff shines, but I like some of Johnny's ideas and some we brought to the table, so it was a cool, mutual experience to me.

J4MES S3RRA: Cool, Johnny told me he has a lot of respect for you guys.

Jeffrey Nothing: That's good. I'm glad. He had Soil coming in right after us and he wanted to postpone them and do our whole record. Though I enjoyed working with him, I completely see and believe in Skinny's vision for us, so I didn't want to change plans, but working with Johnny... vocally, especially... was fun and a learning experience. I mostly learned to try for more... not be happy with the original take.

J4MES S3RRA: Oh, the original take of the song or of your vocals?

Jeffrey Nothing: One in the same. I did each line of the songs at least 8 times and found my best performances. It's a very exciting time in recording techniques.

J4MES S3RRA: So you recorded it a bunch of times until you heard one you really liked?

Jeffrey Nothing: No, I sang the songs 8 times and found where I did the most interesting stuff and fixed things if we didn't think we had what we wanted yet and went from there.

J4MES S3RRA: Oh, okay. Johnny also said it was cool that you do your own back-up vocals... usually he gets other members in the band to do it.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, I have a habit of trying what I'm doing in a low voice and then doing the high with it, and sometimes adding an octave accent or harmony vocal can be really fun.

J4MES S3RRA: That 2 part harmony works really well in your songs.

Jeffrey Nothing: I'm not sure how I started that. It just always seemed like it should be there.

J4MES S3RRA: It definitely adds so much more to a song, especially in "Sun Doesn't Rise."

Jeffrey Nothing: Thanxx, that's kind of a set of 2 high and 2 low voices with the answer tracks in spots I like, creating a full sound.

J4MES S3RRA: Which of all the Mushroomhead CD's do you think showcases your best work as a vocalist?

Jeffrey Nothing: XIII, by far. Superbuick, 2nd. I just seem to be a late bloomer, vocally, and I try more with my voice. I've kind of grown with each record, except I was going through some things during the M3 sessions, so it wasn't my best stuff... but I'm better now.

J4MES S3RRA: Oh, no wonder... to me it seems that M3 is mostly J. He even has "Xeroxed"... usually you each have a song of your own.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, pretty much. I think there's been a sort of shift of power in a way, but we still try to balance things out.

J4MES S3RRA: Earlier this year Mudvayne ditched the face paint and costumes because they felt that people weren't taking them seriously as musicians. Do you think it will ever be necessary for Mushroomhead to do the same thing?

Jeffrey Nothing: I don't think we ever will. We have always done this. We didn't come up with this idea to compete with anyone... of course I'm not saying they did, but this was always who we were and it feels right and works for us. I think there are plenty of bands doing normal.

J4MES S3RRA: Normal is boring. Speaking of costumes and face paint, what do you prefer to wear onstage? Face paint or a mask?

Jeffrey Nothing: The paint by far. It was Dean Karr's idea for our video for Solitaire/Unraveling to show more emotion in my face... and it's so much better onstage... I can see, I can hear , and I can sing without a latex mask in my mouth or covering my eyes. 8 years of that was enough!

J4MES S3RRA: Wow... so it was Dean Karr who started you off with the face paint??

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah... to show facial expressions in both singers instead of an emotionless mask... good idea, I would say.

J4MES S3RRA: Very good idea!

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, and he's an amazing director... he's also responsible for my haircut in the video, which I deemed "The Director's Cut."

J4MES S3RRA: I was just about to ask about your hair in the video.

Jeffrey Nothing: I still remember returning to the hotel after the shoot still half covered in makeup. I looked like the "Human Match." Very crazy responses.

J4MES S3RRA: I would imagine.

Jeffrey Nothing: Very funny.

J4MES S3RRA: Is a video for "Sun Doesn't Rise" in the works?

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, but it will be along the lines of a Tool non-performance video directed by Vincent Marcone of mypetskeleton.com fame. Very cool, creepy stuff. I'm thinking of getting some ink of some of his work. The video should be very different... plus, we're working on an in-house DVD for next year.

J4MES S3RRA: Yeah, I heard that you were working on a DVD... what can we expect to be on it?

Jeffrey Nothing: The last year of our lives in machine-gun-fire pace, crazy stuff that you'll wonder if you really saw, and just Shroom in general. It's about f**king time! ...or at least that's what our fans around here will be saying.

J4MES S3RRA: Yeah, I know some fans who have been itching for another Shroom home video for years.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, it just has to be right... and we've seen some cool attempts from interested parties over the years, but now we have the technology and it's looking very promising.

J4MES S3RRA: I know you released one in '97 right? ...with the 5 live performances and that weird doll thing at the end?

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, the Bronson doll complete with balloon and whipit tube. That was okay, but not quite right. Dinner was limited in his talent and now we're a lot better, so expect the quality to show... as in the early release cover change and us in general... addition by subtraction.

J4MES S3RRA: Speaking of dolls, will the 8infinite.com dolls be on the DVD? Just wondering.

Jeffrey Nothing: You never know... we have quite the collection from stuff you guys have sent and humorous stuff our crazy minds created.

J4MES S3RRA: I can't wait any longer for the DVD!

Jeffrey Nothing: We have been waiting too. I hope it smokes the excuses for DVD's some other band puts out. "Poor" is the word that comes to mind... or was it "phony?"

J4MES S3RRA: Both would work.

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, I have to agree.

J4MES S3RRA: Mushroomhead has something in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, right?

Jeffrey Nothing: Yeah, I donated a complete old school outfit and everyone contributed something. It's an Ohio exhibit, so my boots and one of our pumpkin masks ended up there, but I gave them my stuff to keep, so anytime in the next 25 years it could be displayed maybe after our next album explodes... no confidence here.

J4MES S3RRA: Yeah, XIII will definitely blow up.

Jeffrey Nothing: I believe so... it is just a complete album to me: heavy, slow, dark, hopeful, fast, hyper, stoner... everything. I can't wait til it's out there. I'm glad fans like you guys make pouring out my soul for all the world to see worth every minute. I mean that and I'm sure that's how the rest of the guys feel too.

J4MES S3RRA: I'm sure I'm speaking on behalf of all Shroom fans when I say "thank you."

Jeffrey Nothing: You're very welcome. Thanxx for all the cool, creative stuff you make and caring enough to put all the time in too. I always wondered if people outside Cleveland would embrace us and you sure have... it means everything to all of us... we just play what we feel and say what we mean and it comes through in our songs... I can see everybody else feels it too.

J4MES S3RRA: Thanks. Any last comments or statements you want to make to all your fans out there?

Jeffrey Nothing: NEVER LET IT GO and believe in yourselves, you can do anything!

J4MES S3RRA: Awesome. Thanks again for doing this interview.

Jeffrey Nothing: You're welcome, J4MES. Say "hi" to your brother for me. Take it easy and thanxx again.