[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sose: I bet. Do you like to
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Due to time constraints and work
obligations, we decided to end the interview on that note. Visit