Interview with guitarist Matt “Mauz” Parrillo | By Tom Crandle
You’d be hard-pressed to find a band with a more impressive punk pedigree than Kicker. Guitarist Matt “Mauz” Parrillo is best known for his stint with the long-running crust punk band Dystopia. Bassist Dave “Dave Ed” Edwardson has held down the low-end for post-punk heroes Neurosis for more than 30 years. New drummer Dave Mello played with ska punk favorites Operation Ivy. All are Bay Area legends in their own right.
Despite all this, most of the attention is reserved for Kicker’s vocalist, Pete The Roadie. Roadie, as his bandmates lovingly refer to him, is an original ’77 English punk who roadied for Subhumans, Amebix, Chumbawamba, Fugazi, and many other touring bands and U.K. locals. After relocating to the Bay Area in the early 2000s, he continued his work with notables like Jello Biafra and Neurosis. He also happens to be quite a character. The band he now fronts released their third album, Pure Drivel, through Tankcrimes on Feb. 8.
According to Mauz, the other members of Kicker don’t mind that people tend to focus on Roadie. “He deserves every bit of it,” he claims. “He’s attended and worked more gigs than anyone you know. He’s kept a ledger, and I believe it’s close to 5,000 at this point. He got into punk in 1977 and never looked back.”
While Roadie made a name for himself backstage, he doesn’t work for other bands very much anymore. “Not as much as he used to. He now lives out in the country, about two hours north of the Bay Area,” Mauz says. “He still works from time to time with Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine.”
Mauz knew Roadie needed to be a frontman the first time he heard him sing. “I forget what he was singing, but it stopped me in my tracks, almost like déjà vu or something,” he recalls. “He sounded amazing. The rest of the night, I kept thinking, ‘Why the hell isn’t he in a band?’”
Before joining Kicker, Roadie has simply refused. When asked, his standard mantra was: “I’ll never cross over to the dark side.” Against all odds, Kicker managed to get started back in 2010. Mauz never expected them to still be at it nine years and three records later. “Hell no. Originally, I figured we would’ve lasted about nine weeks!” he exclaims. “I assumed we would write a few songs, maybe release a demo or EP, and do a few gigs.”
For Mauz, playing in Kicker has been different from his previous experiences. “I can’t speak for others on this one, but for me, it’s way less drama and almost zero arguing compared to other bands I’ve been in,” he says. “It’s been awesome to jam with people who are not only amazing players but [also] aren’t ripping your ideas to shreds whenever you bring new riffs to practice.”
Pure Drivel draws from exactly the influences and attitudes one would expect. It’s 11 tracks of classic U.K.-meets-East-Bay punk. “We’re stuck in the past, as our influences are primarily ’80s U.K. anarcho-punk, UK82, and ’80s U.S. hardcore,” Mauz explains. “It’s got our usual cheeky humor at times, but it’s also a bit darker than our usual lyrical content, because, well, the world is way more fucked up right now compared to when we recorded our last albums.”
The process of making Pure Drivel was different too. “It’s our first record with our new drummer, Dave Mello, who fits us like a glove,” Mauz says. “We also spent a little longer on this one. We recorded all the vocals and a few other things in my basement and took our time with those. So, we were under less pressure to finish everything on time and on budget and had a lot of fun in the process.”
Kicker just wouldn’t be Kicker without their signature wit and self-awareness, and apparently, it makes for a fun working situation. “Roadie has an amazing sense of humor that never shuts off, so I think it’d be impossible for us to do things any other way. It wouldn’t be genuine without some cheekiness,” Mauz reports. “Band practice, for us, is just as much about hanging out and having a laugh as it is actually playing music.”
The future of Kicker appears bright, but they’ll continue to take a laid-back approach. “We’ve got loads of ideas and things in the works, but we’re taking it as it comes,” Mauz concludes. “Pressure, deadlines, or expectations don’t mix with what we’re doing and having fun with. I hope we’ll continue doing this for many years to come.”