Nate Smith interviews everyone from A Clever Con
If you took a samurai sword and cut a robot in half then the sound of A Clever Con would fall out. I was immediately drawn to their unique sound, honest lyrics and overall musical composition.
Enoch Magazine ) A Clever Con really has a unique sound and it immediately drew me to your music. Where does your musical influence come from and did anyone play a part in it?
Mike ) Our musical influences come from everywhere, but personally, my main influence comes from everyday life. As a construction worker in New Jersey I’ve seen the ‘bottom-of-the-barrel’ places. I look at people struggling with drug addiction and the fact that it’s so goddamn important to look skinny and have plastic lips and big tits!! A huge part of my inspiration lies within these fucked up false beliefs; there has to be a certain way or no way at all. I’m here to say fuck all that and just be your self.
TJ ) My musical influences come mostly from the music I am exposed to on a daily basis, along with a lot of the famous drummers that I idolize.
Bobby ) Mostly Rx Bandits
Ryan ) My influences run the gamut from personal experiences, to world events, to politics, to being in a band itself. I started off and have always been writing music and poetry as a cathartic device- to vent out my feelings, frustrations and express my opinions. I’m a bit of a sap in that sense, but the personal aspect of music got me hooked to it, so it’s what I know, and need.
Enoch Magazine ) I love the band photo with your band mates holding weapons and your album artwork. Where did the inspiration for the photo and artwork come from? Do you have an all time favorite album cover?
Mike ) There’s nothing cooler than ninja assassins. ‘Specially ninja assassins wearing green ties!!!
TJ ) What Mike said … as far as my all time favorite album cover, I never really paid attention to the cover. I usually buy something for the songs not for the artwork, but I do have to say our CD cover of “The Robot EP” is pretty awesome!
Ryan ) The pictures kind of came into themselves. We didn’t want to do the cliché things and take our press shots at train tracks or next to a haggard building. Why do what everyone else does? So I remembered the sweet ass bamboo forest at Rutgers Gardens in NJ. Once Mike heard about it he said, “Hey, we need to bring ninja weapons with us. When I think of a bamboo forest, I picture “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. Let’s go buy some dangerous toys!”
As far as album artwork go. First off, I need to say that all artwork looks best on vinyl packaging, period. I have two favorites. One is the White Album” by the Beatles, because it cuts to the damn chase. It’s about the music, now listen to it. Two is “Nevermind” by Nirvana, and no, it’s not because of the naked baby on the cover. I truely feel that it’s one of the most effective visual depictions of an album’s statement and message. It just reminds me of the corruption of innocence by means of greed, materialism, marketing, corruption, and kleptocracy.
Bobby ) : Go to: http://www.bagofdonuts.com
Enoch Magazine ) Our magazine works with the homeless on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles where there are over 10,000 homeless living on the streets. Many of the homeless on Skid Row are addicted to heroin, crack, etc. I know that lyrically the album touches on your ex who was addicted to Heroin. Can you please share about this situation and what can people do to help people who interact or have friends who addicted to drugs.
Mike ) Basically, the honest truth is that there is nothing you can do. The only proper way to handle it is to be harsh and wicked towards them. It’s a hard way to be, especially if you love them, but unfortunately people respond better to pain and anguish. I’m not saying to beat the drug out of them, but in my personal experience I tried everything and there is nothing more sad then loosing a loved one to a drug addiction. They have to want to help themselves; dragging them and forcing them to quit their addiction never works. How many times do you tell your friends to quit smoking? “Do you no it causes cancer?” Of course we know heroin causes death. They do it because it makes them feel good. You can be there for them lovingly but no wear to tow the line. Don’t let them steal your shit and beat you up – trust me it’s not fun.
Ryan ) Hey Mike…
Mike ) Yeah man?
Ryan ) Did you know that smoking causes cancer?! You should quit!
Mike ) Shut up!
TJ ) I have never been in a relationship with someone but I do have a few friends who are addicted or know/are in a relationship with someone who is addicted and it is tough being friends with someone who is, ‘cause you can tell when they are on the drugs, yet you really can’t do anything about it. No matter what you say, they are right and you are wrong and most of the time it’s not until it’s to late that they realize they have a problem.
Bobby ) Communicate. Don’t assume anything.
Ryan ) Easily said, it sucks. My best friend lost both of his uncles to addiction. I can’t imagine what that would be like to go through such a tragedy. I think that the best way to combat addiction to dangerous narcotics is to make sure that the opportunity to become addicted ever happens. This means that the person has to either be smart enough not to try it or isn’t given access to it. Unfortunately, that may never happen because drugs will always be around- they make the wrong people too much money. Drugs have and always will be an important commodity in the world economic system and a geopolitical hot topic. I’m talking from the Opium Wars on to the recent Mexican drug cartel conflicts. So teach your loved ones to say no and if they don’t listen, at least you know you tried and can use the lesson to teach other. I remember in high school, I had badgered a friend about him starting to smoke cigarettes. His other friends kissed his ass and appeased it, telling me to back off and saying that he would be fine. Well, that cool fad became and addiction that is killing him slowly every day.
Enoch Magazine ) Most of the homeless on Skid Row are at the lowest point of their life but they often claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. What is your perception of Jesus and how did you get that perception?
TJ ) Me being someone that has gone to church since I was a wee lad can say this… The teachings say that Jesus will forgive us for our sins. This does not mean to keep sinning and asking for forgiveness, but be forgiven for the ones you have made and move on with your life and make it better!
Bobby ) Everyone needs a Phronesis (see: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics for context) to self actualize. For Christians, Jesus is a great Phronesis. But people of all faiths can benefit from having a Phronesis.
Ryan ) I’m actually Jewish so I don’t believe in Jesus… but, since Jesus is the pretty much the most famous Jew ever, I’ve studied his history and what he’s quoted to have said. From a secular standpoint, the morals, lessons and virtues attached to the story of Jesus still make sense and hold truth and ethical validity no matter what religion you practice.
Enoch Magazine ) If A Clever Con could put together the ultimate tour lineup who would it be and where would you tour?
Mike ) Rx Bandits, Dispatch, Miley Cyrus, Bob Marley
Bobby ) Our friends in Burning Jersey, other fun bands, and a famous band. Europe or Asia.
Ryan: What they said, haha! – As far as the where… I’d like to be the first to play in space. I’d like to be on the Moon, but the space suits but aren’t really conducive for guitar playing. A spaceship will suffice I guess…
Enoch Magazine ) I used to love watching the wrestling when I was a kid. Were you ever a wrestling fan and if so who is or was your favorite wrestler. I can tell you that my favorite was Jake the Snake or Legion of Doom.
Mike ) The Bushwhackers all the way. Dude I couldn’t get passed their crazy cool walk they did as they entered the ring. They were huge biters, I remember thinking as a kid, “I don’t want to get bitten by a Bushwhacker!”
TJ ) Never really got into wrestling, however my favorite one was The Undertaker ‘cause he was a big mofo, so I could relate to the guy!
Bobby ) Owen Hart, of course.
Ryan ) For this question I just pulled out my old WWF, when it was the WWF bed sheets. Let me see…. Oh, cool! It’s got LOD, Snake, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, The Macho Man Randy Savage,– OH YEAAAH!! I had a love/hate relationship with The Ultimate Warrior. I got scared of him once so my parent bought me one of those mini plush figures of him that I could beat the crap out of.
Enoch Magazine ) You seem to write lyrics that revolve around very personal things. Many singers write about nonsense or make it funny. Do you feel you connect with fans more if you music is full of true honesty?
Mike ) Well, yes and no. I’ve come to realize that people can relate to anything. If you have to stop and think about what you’re writing about then it’s definitely not going to be good. I will always connect with fans because I know I can speak for us all when I say we are tired of hearing about break ups!!!
TJ ) I don’t write the lyrics but I agree with Mike saying that I think everyone out there is tired of hearing about “My girlfriend dumped me” or “I caught her cheating”, or “She’s a b**ch, waa waa” on and on. You get the hint? I think the lyrics to our songs connect with the crowd on a more personal and serious note!
Ryan ) My thing is this – I’ve enjoyed my share of good breakup songs. Sometimes you need that song to get you through the experience. But when it’s done correctly with breakup subject matter, then I can enjoy it. I frequently revisit GlassJaw’s album, “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence”. That record actually got me through a breakup, haha. But, when an artist just blatantly whines about over and over then I lose interest and respect. If you want to write about your girl, fine. Just try to be somewhat creative about it and stop singing out of your nose. You sound ridiculous!
Certo ) My favorite songs ever are the most honest.
Enoch Magazine )Who are some of your favorite bands? Are there any releases you are looking forward to in 2010.
TJ ) To name a few: Paramore, A Day to Remember, Coheed and Cambria, Rx Bandits, Lostprophets
Mike ) See the bands that I’d like to tour with, haha!
Bobby ) Moneen, Hey Mercedes, Folly, Blink 182, Whippersnapper, Millencolin, Cruiserweight, Midtown, Less than Jake, All & Descendants, Catch 22, One Cool Guy, Thrice, Bayside, and so on and so forth. The new blink and new Cruiserweight CD coming out this year,
Ryan ) I can’t wait for the new GlassJaw record to come out, if it does some out… Also “Revolutionary: Volume 3” by Immortal Technique, whenever that may come out. I’m looking forward to see the guys in Burning Jersey hit the studio and finally release some music. As far as bands go in no particular order: GlassJaw, Thrice, Rx Bandits, The Offspring (their older stuff), Say Anything, Muse, Skindred, The Beatles
Enoch Magazine ) If you were granted 3 wishes what would they be and why?
1: Challenge Mike Tyson to a hot dog eating contest.
2: Cure Epilepsy- My sister and I have it and its needed a lot of people have to live their lives handicapped because of the brain damage it causes.
3: I wish I had a tail!! What are tail bones why do we have them?? It only makes sense.
1. Eternal happiness for me
2. Eternal happiness for everyone else (including my genie)
3. Infinite $ debit card (or debit RFID implant for convenience… hahaha)
1. I could be a few inches shorter in height (not a lot just 2-3)
2. Ryan would stop taking his shirt off!
3. Mike would pull up his pants!
1. First off, I would take those extra 2-3 inches from TJ. I could use the lift.
2. Infinite success for the band.
3. More wishes.