Sidecar by Sose

[Note: Sose, (Danny Larson) died in a skateboarding accident July 4, 2001. RIP]

What can I say about these guys? Where to begin is a mystery to me.... I'm convinced I first heard Sidecar at a skatepark, contest, or some kind of demo in the mid 90's without having any idea who I was listening to. I first got 'online' about 2 years and some odd months ago and all I did for awhile was look up music, skate shit and chat with retards in AOL chat rooms. I later came across the website for the label What Else? Records and what do you know, I heard again the same stuff I skated my ass off to a few years before.
      Between you and me, these guys' music is so beautiful and powerful that hearing it again raised emotions very few bands do for me. Soon afterwards I found myself ranting and raving in some chat room about how incredible Sidecar was and, little did I know, somebody there knew the lead singer and felt I was worthy enough to give a way to contact him.
      His name's Brandon, he currently plays both drums and sings for the band. I sent a message, just to tell him how amazing his music was to me, and we've been in touch ever since. This guy, to say the least, is cool as hell! And, aside from playing music, he's been skating for countless years, way before it was 'the thing' to do. Given the fact that I can't compose words or feelings for shit, I'd like to close by saying there aren't many bands (less than a handful) in my 15 years of love for punk music that I can safely say
I like everything I've ever heard them produce. This band is definitely one....

Sose: How did you get involved with the band Sidecar?
Brandon: 3 of us have been playing together since 1992 in a few different bands. In 1995 I auditioned to be the drummer for Down By Law. They picked a guy who already lived in LA and a day later we had the first Sidecar practice.

Sose: Damn, Dave Smalley's one of the all time greatest, what was it like chilling with him?
Brandon: He's become a good friend and we still might work with him on the next record if we can work it out. It's been great, we stay at his house in Virginia when we tour through there. I've learned a lot from him. One of the coolest things about being in a band is when it allows you to meet and/or become friends with some of your personal heroes.

Sose: Man, that's amazing. Tell us about what you play and the other members of the band.
Brandon: Well, I drum and I sing, however we're now looking for a drummer so that I can move up front. Steve has always played bass. Brett is the original guitarist and we have a new guy, Pete, who plays guitar and does a lot of backup singing.

Sose: Do you prefer to sing as opposed to drum?
Brandon: I like both. I'll still drum for a side project if I move up front. But my voice has become the sound of the band, so it's best for us if I sing.

Sose: Right on, your vocals definitely rip.
Brandon: Thanks, singing is the one thing I've had to work hardest on to become happy with my performance.

Sose: Do you have a stage name?
Brandon: Yeah, it's Brandon Mercury.

Sose: I know from talking to you that you skate too, how long have you been into skateboarding?
Brandon: I got my first real wooden board in '86. I was heavy into the scene 'till about '90 when I got a drumset. After that I'd still skate but it took a back seat to music.

Sose: Do you work?
Brandon: Yeah, I'm a graphic artist.

Sose: Cool, how old are you?
Brandon: 26. Born in July of '74.

Sose: When did you get into punk music?
Brandon: I always liked it from the first time I heard it when I was about 12 years old or so, about the same time I started skating. Older skater friends would play me Agent Orange and stuff. But I didn't start buying my own records 'till I was about 15. Uh... 1989 or so.

Sose: Tell us about some of your early skating and music influences.
Brandon: Early, mostly 60's soul, R&B and 70's rock. I grew up on Queen and Aerosmith. With skating, I've never really been influenced, I just sorta did what I thought was fun. I never had aspirations to skate pro or anything.

Sose: Right on. Where are you from?
Brandon: I'm from Mentor, an Eastern suburb of Cleveland.

Sose: Any childhood idols?
Brandon: Freddie Mercury, man. I used to sing into a yard stick.

Sose: Haha, fresh. AIDS definitely isn't good though.
Brandon: Well, when you're like 8 years old, you don't notice all the flamboyant things! haha. He knew how to rock better than any straight guy, that's for sure. I later noticed how as a kid I loved flamboyant singers. Like Elton John, Davie Lee Roth... I mean, DLR is as straight as they come, but he was never afraid to throw on a pink feather boa and pout his lips for the camera.

Sose: Haha you know it. What's your earliest childhood memory?
Brandon: Man, that's rough... maybe being 5 years old and getting soap in my mouth for calling a neighbor a "fucker."

Sose: Oh damn, that's harsh. Where did the band's name come from?
Brandon: We just had a list of names that either all sucked or were already taken. I like simple names that are easy to remember but so many are already used. That's one that just kinda popped into my head and stuck. It sounds a bit too happy to me nowadays because our music is getting angrier as time goes on, but at least it doesn't have a number next to it. Later I just started telling people it had to do with being the 3rd wheel and things like that, just to come up with a better reason.

Sose: That's some cool shit right there. Tell us about some bands you've played and/or worked with.
Brandon: Damn, we've played with a ton of bands. Lately there's been Samiam, Apocalypse Hoboken, a bunch more. There aren't many punk bands left in Cleveland so we end up playing with a lot of the touring bands. We're much more focused on getting on the road though. There's not much of a scene in Cleveland. The kids who show up every time are great. But it's just a rough scene.

Sose: I heard your music was featured in a Stink video, how did that come about?
Brandon: I bought their board cuz I could tell the tail from the nose. I wrote Bill Danforth a letter to tell him how much I appreciated a company who made boards like that and sent him a CD for the hell of it. A few months later I got a call asking if they could use something. He's called since then and we've hung out and he really turned out to be a big fan. He has new material we've done that he's using for his part in the next video. It's tough to get used to. I used to see him at contests and back then I would have loved an autograph. 12 years later we're drinking a beer in a hotel in Cleveland. Wild.

Sose: Awesome! How do you feel about the punk/skateboarding scene today?
Brandon: Well, I'm glad the two things seem to be back together pretty well. I got into both at the same time and it always made sense. When skaters started listening to rap and riding around in huge pants, I was really confused. I just think aggressive music and aggressive skating should go hand in hand. Nothing wrong with rap, I own a few Public Enemy records, but nothing I can skate to. Both punk rock and skateboarding really go in waves. It'll get mainstream, played out, then go back underground.

Sose: No doubt. Outside of music and skating, tell us about some influences.
Brandon: That's tough, there's not much else I do! I'm a graphic artist, but I'm not much into fancy art. I've always loved really witty comedians.

Sose: Yeah, like Carlin and his 'stuff' bit, good shit.
Brandon: Totally. I run a recording studio on the side, but that's music related so I'm not sure it counts.

Sose: Cool, what's the studio's name?
Brandon: It's called The Day Old Bad Ass Recording Studio. I've recently decided to downsize though and go back to doing 8 track recordings. If I were to keep doing it I'd have to keep pouring money into it and I just can't afford it.

Sose: Right on. What have you produced?
Brandon: I've done a ton of local bands. Right now I'm working on the new Integrity record. Me and Brett (our guitarist) are writing and playing on half the record. That's been fun doing something so different than Sidecar.

Sose: Tight work. When did you realize you were musically inclined?
Brandon: Hmmm... Like I said, I grew up idolizing singers and bands. I knew I wanted to play the drums in about '87 but didn't get a set 'till 3 years later. By the time I got the set, I had it figured out in my head. I'd study people playing in videos. I started singing basically because no one else wanted to. It didn't come naturally at all. I had to suck for 4 or 5 years 'till I finally figured some things out. It just started to click.

Sose: So you never had any formal training?
Brandon: No, not with drums or vocals. Vocal training would be a good thing in my future though. Just some tips on how to keep the voice healthy while on tour. I'm sure that'll get easier if we find a drummer though. Doing both on the road really takes it's toll physically.

Sose: I bet. Do you like to travel?
Brandon: Yeah, I love it. Driving overnight is the best.

Sose: Where has playing music taken you so far?
Brandon: Shit, before traveling in the band I'd been on vacation like once. So Cleveland was all I knew. Now I've been to like 40% of the country. I've met Glenn Danzig, which was so rad. After this next tour I'll have probably been to more than half the country cuz we're going West for a change.

Sose: Danzig, damn! Another legend. Man, you're way too cool to be talking to me.
Brandon: Naa man, we're both cool!

Sose: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Brandon: Man, I hope by then we're actually making some money! I can never see myself not creating music but who knows whether I'll be lucky enough to have it be my living. I'd like to have met Madonna by then. I bet she'll still look good. I'll either be escorting fuckin' Madonna to the Grammy's, or I'll be working a dumb job and recording songs in the basement. Fate is a funny thing.

Sose: What are you guys working on now?
Brandon: Right now we're shopping around new material to labels, booking a tour and writing more songs. We've got enough stuff for a record, but we don't want to rush it. If we can write 5 more great songs, then we can get rid of some of the less-than-great ones.

Sose: What have you guys released so far?
Brandon: There's been 7 releases. 2 actual full lengths, although both labels that put them out have gone under. So we're kinda starting over and hoping that this next record will be done right and give us a second chance to make our first record I guess, if that makes sense.

Sose: Right on, I picked up a fastmusic compilation with some of your stuff on it. How did you get involved with them?
Brandon: That's a little thing called bad luck. Actually, it started out great. For a short time there was good promotion and things were headed in the right direction. I don't know when or why, but that company just went nuts. Started doing some weird things, spending a lot of money on the wrong things, not taking time to push each band and record and eventually we just said "we're leaving." Now it's a year later and they're no longer a company.

Sose: Damn, that sucks. What other labels have you worked with?
Brandon: What Else Records out of Dayton, OH did our first few things. Steve who ran it is a great guy who we got along well with. No contracts or complications but as time went on we both knew we needed something more serious.

Sose: Are you looking at all to put out your stuff on your own label?
Brandon: Naa, we'd only do that if we had the money to do it right. We've been talking to a few labels about the new stuff. I'm confident something will come of it soon. But we have to not rush into it and make sure it's done right this time.

Sose: Right on, you guys are way too good to not have it work out. Sorry to change the subject but do you have a favorite skater?
Brandon: Hmmm... I've seen some of the newer videos and there are people doing things that are really impressive. But they don't look like they're having as much fun as someone who's happy with 6 straight hours grinding a curb!

Sose: Haha, definitely. How about an all time favorite?
Brandon: Talent-wise you gotta go Tony Hawk. I mean, if not for him skating wouldn't be what it is today. But I can't wait to skate with Danforth this Spring cuz I know it'll be a blast riding around with a guy who throws on his black All-Stars, a pair of jeans and just goes nuts. So I like both ends of the spectrum. It's the same with music really. I love Queen for playing to stadiums and being so dramatic. But I equally love watching a poorly recorded Samhain bootleg where they play in a warehouse.

Sose: Fuck yeah!
Brandon: Like when great punk bands try to write radio rock and fail. Like Bad Religion, who were one of the best punk bands of all time, are just not that great a rock band. You always have to set high goals. Staying in one spot gets boring. It's good to progress and change with time. That's great. But you gotta remember who you really are...

Due to time constraints and work obligations, we decided to end the interview on that note. Visit Sidecar's Website.


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