Portland based party-animals, the Mean Jeans, have recently signed onto Fat Wreck Chords and are hitting Europe riding the wave of their first major label release. Their newest album, Tight New Dimension has taken on a more mature tone, but don’t worry, they’re still the same old ‘pop punk morons.’
Unfortunately, they’re not hitting the UK or Ireland this tour, but they’d love to come, so I hope you promoters are reading this! But never fear –Heatwave’s throwing a free Mean Jeans gig July 28 at Pacific Parc in Amsterdam. Since you don’t have to pay for a concert ticket, might as well buy a train ticket instead, right?
But for those of you that still can’t make it out to catch the Mean Jeans on tour, don’t worry, we recently caught up with guitarist and vocalist, Billy Jeans, drummer and vocalist, Jeans Wilder, and bassist, Junior Jeans.
Heatwave: Tight New Dimension takes a different tone than past releases – it has a somewhat more ‘mature tone.’ How did your influences and creative processes differ on this album compared to your past releases?
Billy Jeans: I can assure you none of the band members are more mature now than when the other records were written and recorded. I think it’s natural that over time your tastes and tendencies evolve, so this record is where we’ve ended up. Our first releases were more like ‘hit record, let’s go,’ whereas with Tight New Dimension we put a little more energy into making it sound slammin’.
Heatwave: How’s the transition from Dirtnap Records to Fat Wreck Chords been for you all?
Billy Jeans: Fun! Everybody at Fat has been rad to work with.
Heatwave: How has working with them differed from working with Dirtnap?
Billy Jeans: We did a tour with NOFX, which wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t working with Fat. It’s a different scene than we’re used to and the NOFX crowd was a whole different demographic for us. It was still really fun. Certainly not all Dirtnap or Fat Wreck fans dig Mean Jeans, but we do our thing and hope some people are into it.
Junior Jeans: Working with Dirtnap was always super easy and convenient. I lived ten blocks from the headquarters, so any time we needed anything I just walked there and talked to Ken. Fat has also been super easy. All the Fat-heads have been cool to us.
Heatwave: I’ve seen you play before in bar type venues (Metro Gallery in Baltimore was the last time). You’ve have played much bigger venues since joining Fat Wreck, right? How’s that experience compare to shows you’ve played in the past?
Billy Jeans: We book our own US tours, so that’s still mostly the same kind of venues. The NOFX tour was mostly 2000+ capacity places, which was a big change for us. I thought it was a fun challenge to try to entertain 2000 NOFX fans every night, none of whom came to see our band. We’re on a plane to Europe right now, our first tour there since joining Fat. I’m curious to see what these shows will be like.
Junior Jeans: The NOFX tour was a good experience. I’d have to say that playing on big stages at concerts run by multiple different promotion companies is kind of a crapshoot for the opening band. Some nights the sound guys would forget to turn on our monitors or just generally goof the whole thing. But I guess that makes sense. No one is there to see us.
Jeans Wilder: Plus it was a fun new challenge trying to get drunk enough to play by 7pm, which is the usual time we played on the NOFX tour. We are more used to playing between like 11pm and 2am type sets.
Heatwave: I know you’re all originally from the DC area (Baltimore’s my home scene, so naturally I think it’s better than DC, sorry guys), what made you decide to drop DC for Portland? How’s the Portland scene treating you all these years later?
Billy Jeans: I prefer Baltimore to DC as well. I’ve always had more fun there. We started the band and played our first show in a basement in Baltimore with Nobunny. There were less than 15 people there, for sure. It became immediately clear that starting a band in the DC area was going to be a pain in the ass and that we’d be much better suited in a cheaper city with a better scene.
Portland was exactly that and was a great place for us to start this thing. For me it’s lost a lot of its charm, but what else is new.
Junior Jeans: I moved to Portland to get drunk with my boys. DC was such a bummer by the time I left eight years ago. The music scene was garbage, it was expensive as shit, and bands were skipping the city entirely.
Portland has changed a lot in eight years – oversaturation of people, bands, and everything now. I guess getting wasted anywhere for a decade will jade you.
Jeans Wilder: We are all gonna relocate to Sparks, Nevada based on tightness of name alone
Heatwave: I’ve noticed that quite a few Mean Jeans songs have this upbeat sound, while having slightly pessimistic lyrics – Why’s that?
Billy Jeans: The music is made for fun. We have fun writing and playing it, and hope that it’s fun to listen to and watch live. I love pop and want all of our songs to be catchy and to the point.
We have the reputation of being a party band because we’re dedicated to partying hard, but a bunch of the songs are about failure, not fitting in it, being a loser. It’s only natural!
Heatwave: Mean Jeans are known for their party attitude, which cities have shown you guys the best parties, and what happened?
Billy Jeans: I’d love to see a list of every city that we’ve completely flipped our wigs in. It would be lengthy! My favourite party cities are Stockholm, Vancouver BC, Austin and Chicago. Last time we were in Tubingen we spent most of the night diving in piles of trash.
On our first trip to Europe, we played a festival on a boat in Stockholm during the week where the sun never sets with Marked Men and Apache. That story takes four days to tell.
Jeans Wilder: There’s something about Calgary that I love.
Heatwave: What are your favourite party tunes/bands?
Billy Jeans: Speaking of Apache, I just heard their new record and it smokes! Great rock ‘n roll band out of San Francisco. Their last album Radical Sabbatical comes with instructions to a drinking game where you have to consume a substance every time the singer says ‘Yeah.’ Which he does a LOT.
Recently when I’m wasted I always want to hear Hello’s ‘New York Groove,’ to the chagrin of everyone I’m hangin’ out with.
Jeans Wilder: My recent faves are Barreracudas and Guantanamo Baywatch. I listen to the latest Carly Rae Jepsen album a lot when I am alone.
Heatwave: What made you guys decide to skip out on Ireland and the UK for this Euro tour, and can we expect to see you over here any time soon?
Billy Jeans: We’ve always been advised that we’d lose money adding the UK to our tours, is that true? As you can maybe imagine, the three pop punk morons behind the Mean Jeans don’t have or make any substantial amount of money. We’d love to go.
Jeans Wilder: Please take me, I must go.
Heatwave: What’s next for the Mean Jeans after your tour of Europe ends?
Billy Jeans: Album number four, baby!
Remaining Tour Dates:
07/25/16 Copenhagen, Denmark Underwerket
07/26/16 Berlin, Germany Bei Ruth
07/27/16 Bremen, Germany
07/28/16 Amsterdam, HOL – Pacific Parc
07/29/16 Hasselt , Belgium De Witte Non
07/30/16 Rotterdam, Netherlands V11
07/31/16 Mannheim , Germany JUZ
08/02/16 Vienna, Austria Arena
08/03/16 Munich, Germany Kafe Kult
08/04/16 Heilbronn, GER – Bierkrug
08/05/16 Frankfurt, Germany ExZess
08/06/16 Duffel, Belgium Brakrock Ecofest