The Muslims started in San Diego but moved to L.A. over the last few months and played their first show as a local band at the Echo in April. Their self-titled LP is out on 1928. The covers are full of bullet holes. They speak over beers and pizza at Masa.
Who is the cop that shot holes through your record covers?
Matt Lamkin (guitar/vocals): Our good friend’s dad—he’s fairly to very conservative—
Brian Hill (drums): We didn’t wanna say gun-toting—
ML: —in political views. It was my idea. I got a bunch of these blank gatefolds here, so what is the artwork gonna be? We can do one-color silkscreens—or fuck that—let’s shoot ‘em!
Do you solve a lot of problems that way?
ML: Yeah, we had a couple bass players and drummers before these guys. But seriously—our friend was telling his dad, ‘Yeah, I’m putting out my friend Matt’s record and we’re planning on shooting it.’ ‘Oh, God! OK, son—‘ He took him under his wing because his dad is totally a card-carrying Republican who’s pro-gun violence.
BH: He wept when Chuck Heston died.
ML: So we had a quote/unquote ‘professional’ handle the job for us. Though it would be cooler if we did it.
Could you do it yourself?
Dave Lantzman: It’s a toss-up.
Is there anything else you asked him to shoot?
ML: Fill in the blank.
How did Lenny Bruce, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray influence the band?
ML: Speaking for me and Matty—this has been a common thread. We’re all into comedy absolutely—when we discuss the best performing art forms, it goes from stand-up to rap and then rock.
Because it needs the least stuff?
ML: The least shit, and rap is still tied to music—stand-up is a man talking. Or a woman.
Matty McLoughlin (guitar): Paula Poundstone might read this. And you can always hide behind guitar or a distortion pedal—to just walk up there is the hardest thing to do. And when you see good comedy, it’s more inspiring. Ideas start jumping around, as opposed to—‘Hey, have you heard this Jesus and Mary Chain? Yeah, it’s good… I’m gonna lay down and take my shirt off…’ Ideas don’t start happening—ideas go away.
Who puts ideas in your head?
MM: Rodney Dangerfield is definitely one—the ‘no respect’ riff is the same as the blues. One of those things that you can just build things on. Or Steve Martin.
ML: He’s the smartest dumb comic. He’s a bad-ass because he comes off as a schmuck and makes it look simple, and you get behind the scenes and you realize it’s crafted that way.
Did you read that autobiography he just put out?
MM: Yeah, I did. He took a scientific approach to it—really intense. An awesome book. I lent it to a girl—I was meaning to give it to these guys.
DL: You were supposed to give it to me.
ML: You were supposed to give it to me!
Who do you find funniest between Alex Chilton, Paul Westerberg or Mark E. Smith?
MM: I’m a Westerberg whore—I’d say Westerberg.
DL: I don’t know anything about Chilton.
BH: That’s the deal—nobody knows anything about Chilton. I’d say Chilton just to be an asshole.
When was the last time you got paid in cigarettes?
MM: That was probably the best show of the tour. Some parts were quasi-miserable. We booked it ourselves. We played some kid’s house party in Berkeley—it was the best show we played, but the donation thing came along and between the other band and us there was like $6 and nine cigarettes, so it divvyed up easily.
Did you break the odd one in half?
ML: I don’t smoke, so I smoked the one.
MM: We’re excited for this tour—we think people will go.
BH: We’ll get more than three cigarerttes.
ML: Maybe a pack.
Why did a drug dog eat your burrito in Arizona? They’re not supposed to do that.
MM: He’s still sore.
DH: I was in peaceful sleep at five in the AM, and the guy rips us out of the van—I didn’t even have a jacket on and it was probably forty degrees and they were totally fucking with us. Long story short—they took us out of the van, searched through the car, and said the dog smelled something. We knew we didn’t have anything.
MM: They put us in the immigration jail van for like an hour and 45 minutes, and the way the guy presented it was a little funny—‘Hey, are you guys cold? You wanna step into the van?’ And then he locked the gate on us!
ML: And they had us stand in front of the table and empty our pockets.
What was in them?
ML: Lint, keys, a wallet—Dave dropped a condom and a Rolex—and then there was a piece of a shrub like sage or something in front of mine, and they were like, ‘You know what? That’s a stem!’
DL: ‘That’s a contestable amount in the state of Arizona! We’ll take you in right now!’ And when we got back in the van—I had half a burrito and supposedly the dog ate that thing!
MM: And Dave had left papers and a Big Youth record out.
ML: ‘Where’s the marijuana? We saw the papers and the dub record.’
What did you leave behind in San Diego when you moved here?
ML: Our old jobs. And racism.
Why did you say everything in San Diego is safe?
ML: There’s no drug dogs.
BH: There’s military all around us.
DL: Camp Pendleton to the north, the navy in Coronado…
ML: The KKK on the east side. The fucked-up thing—as you’re driving up to the border checkpoint in Camp Pendleton, there’s an adopt-a-highway that’s like THIS HIGHWAY KEPT CLEAN BY THE MINUTEMEN! It’s the most racist thing!
DL: We litter there purposely.
Is this your first band that made it out of the garage?
ML: It was a bedroom. Garage sounds cooler, though.
MM: Brian had been in a band before, but Matt and I had never been in a band that played a show. Well, one show—
ML: I wasn’t in that band!
MM: We played a show at a baseball field at an elementary school at midnight—
ML: And they arrested his brother—
MM: And I was drunk! I had my shirt off and was like humping-slash-wrestling my brother on the middle of the baseball diamond. They arrested my brother and my mom had to come pick me up! So we picked him up and got him drunk and went home—that was my first show.
Where can you go from there?
MM: We’ve gotten tighter as musicians.
Is your brother cool with you?
MM: Yeah, he’s cool.
ML: His brother’s real cool.
How do you reflect on the time spent with Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee at SXSW?
BH: I learned there is such a thing as aging gracefully and that guy didn’t do it—I can’t believe he could get into party mode for that long and just keep going.
MM: He came on stage at Mika Miko and Jennifer goes, ‘Get this fucking old guy off the stage!’
BH: We just went to any bar that was open with any band playing, and he’d go in and try and jam with them. Bowling For Soup, the guy was like, ‘Ah, man, I don’t know,’ and just kept playing.
Who let him play?
BH: Nobody! That was the saddest part.
What does it mean when you call your high school ‘Huey Lewis as fuck’?
MM: Basically at our high school there weren’t a lot of good bands—no one really tried. We just went to a douchebag high school. Our mascot was the Falcons. And they’re kind of douchey. They hang around and fuck with your shit when you’re not there.
The tweakers of the bird world?
ML: Plus they’re nocturnal.
MM: We just went to school and skateboarded and surfed. I played baseball. Nothing crazy. On weekends we’d hang out in dirt lots and drink beer and smoke weed.
Do you miss that?
MM: Surprisingly I still hang out in dirt lots and drink beer. There’s just not as many people there. The size of the party has lessened.
Is it hard to keep the songs so simple?
ML: A couple years before the band, I’d go to shows and be into the song, but then the band would change the part—different part, different part, different part. I want people to get into a song. I don’t want too many parts, I don’t wanna have to tune guitars—I want it to be easy.
What makes that work?
DL: Good parts.
ML: I wanted to write really durable songs.
MM: Plus there’s the point—not to stop. If a string breaks or you’re out of of tune, 85% of the time, no one even notices! ‘Dude, that’s the best I’ve seen you!’ I think some shows where everything went wrong and we had to react—trust our instincts—those were the most fun and exciting!
THE MUSLIMS WITH THE CARROTS, SOFT-BOILED EGGIES AND STAMMER FAMINE ON TUE., MAY 13, AT THE SMELL, 247 S. MAIN ST., LOS ANGELES. 9 PM / $5 / ALL AGES. THESMELL.ORG. AND ON TUE., MAY 27, AT LA CITA, 331 S. HILL ST., LOS ANGELES. 10 PM / CONTACT VENUE FOR COVER / 21+. MYSPACE.COM/LACITABAR. AND WITH CRYSTAL ANTLERS, ABE VIGODA AND AM ON SAT., MAY 31, AT PEHRSPACE, 325 GLENDALE BLVD., LOS ANGELES. 8 PM / $5 / ALL AGES. PEHRSPACE.ORG. VISIT THE MUSLIMS AT MYSPACE.COM/THEMUSLIMS. THE MUSLIMS LP IS OUT NOW ON 1928.