Interview with Mean Jeans vocalist/guitarist Billy Jeans, vocalist/drummer Jeans Wilder, and bassist Junior Jeans | By Kayla Greet
Some may argue that bands like The Riverdales were a bit too on the nose when aping the Ramones, but Mean Jeans embody the group Joey and the guys would have evolved into had they not broken up. After several releases on Dirtnap Records in their home base of Portland, Ore., the trio have signed with Fat Wreck Chords and it’s a perfect fit. “Staying true to the idiotic approach that Mean Jeans have always taken with everything, we emailed firstname.lastname@example.org and asked if they would put out our new album,” vocalist and guitarist Billy Jeans says. “They said yes.” Sometimes, that’s truly all it takes.
Mean Jeans weren’t unhappy with Dirtnap in the slightest, but had simply decided to try something different. Billy assures, “Dirtnap has been great for us and we maintain a lot of respect for the label.” The band officially hooked up with Fat just before Halloween in 2015, and have since released a 7” single called Night Visions, which served as a precursor to their new full-length, Tight New Dimension.
In a similarly chill, fly by the seat of their pants fashion, the band reached out to Andrew Schubert in Los Angeles to record their LP, mostly because he does quality work, but also because he has a Mean Jeans tattoo. Of their recording sessions, Billy says, “We stayed up really late. Chugged a lot of soda. And a lot of alcohol. Schubert is a maniac and a constant goofer, so it was an easy match.”
Vocalist and drummer Jeans Wilder relates how Schubert loves using the word “pitted” and tucking in his shirt. “‘Tucked up, Fucked up,’ we call it. We love him,” he says.
The recording process for Tight New Dimension included a good deal of tomfoolery, even in the technical aspects. “[Schubert] was down to do stupid shit like place room mics 69 inches away from each other just for the hell of it,” recalls bassist Junior Jeans.
Tapping into Wilder’s affection for synth, closing track, “Are there Beers in Heaven?” has a sick keyboard intro. Billy says that the drummer—whose real name is Andrew Bassett—even has “a solo album on Burger Records as The Hound Of Love, [2013’s Careful Houndy], that is predominantly synthesizers.” Those electro-pop tidbits have found their way into a good deal of Mean Jeans’ discography over the years.
“I’m surprised I haven’t pushed for more whacky synths on our songs, but maybe it’s because keyboards just aren’t that punk?” Wilder says. He is also quick to correct me when I mistakenly call the track “All the Beers in Heaven” by saying, “It doesn’t matter either way, because if there are beers in heaven, we will chug all of them to be sure.”
At this point, Mean Jeans were just a day into their tour with NOFX, the largest they’ve ever played. “We’re not used to playing 2000 capacity sold out shows,” Billy says, “but the first show was a blast and we’re stoked for more.”
Wilder describes it pretty much the same. “The first NOFX show in Berkeley, I just slammed a buncha beers in the green room,” he says. “Then, I didn’t even notice it was 7:45 p.m. when we played, and there were thousands of people there.”
This is the band’s first tour in a support slot, and Junior reflects that “everything about it is way different from how the Jeans usually roll. But it’s rock ‘n’ roll, not rocket science. I think we’re pretty good at having fun wherever we are and in any situation, so we are just gonna party on through it.”
When asked if they’re planning on any split releases with their new labelmates, Wilder jokingly responds, “We met with the Fat crew Face To Face to discuss this, but they have a very Hi-Standard, so they said Good Riddance to us, because we weren’t up to Snuff.” He then adds, “But, for real, I’m tryna do a split with Frenzal Rhomb, the Australian punk maniacs who also love guzzling the beers.”
Mean Jeans will tour the Midwest in May before heading to Europe in July and August, and will hit up a few well known fests along the way. Aside from touring, their favorite summertime activities include toobin’, reminiscing, chuggin’ beer, and grillin’ and chillin’. Mean Jeans just might party harder than you.