PROTECT ME: AND HIS FRIEND THE LIAR
Stream: Protect Me “Without A Trace”
Protect Me crept out of the break-up of Ima Gymnist and now function as a super-charged duo with pedals, gadgets and effects that possibly outweigh the actual human bodies which use them. They speak now after a productive trip to the grocery store. This interview by Chris Ziegler.
What was the first band that made you want to be in a band?
Jordan (bass/vocals): Growing up I listened to a lot of different kinds of bands. Because my dad was into bands. He really loved Metallica. You could say a little bit of Metallica was in me. Music was so big to me when I was a kid—but there wasn’t so many bands I really liked. Just a lot of influences. But if you’ve gotta put something—put Metallica!
Luis (drums/vocals): Going to see a band got me into bands. The first show I went to see was a local punk band. They played really fast and got the hell out! ‘Bam! There it is and we’re out!’
When was the last time you remember being scared to be at a show?
L: We went to see Subhumans and I was just standing there and this streetpunk is like, ‘You looking at my girl? That’s my cousin!’ And the girl is like, ‘He’s been looking at me!’ He mad-dogged me the whole night. At the end of the show, we were like, ‘Man, let’s get the hell out of here!’
Wasn’t Jordan also mad-dogged by Ashlee Simpson?
J: That wasn’t at a concert.
Was it at your house?
J: Yeah, in my living room—just kidding! We went to an MTV shoot because No Age was gonna be on it and there were really weird celebrities. Rihanna and Chris Brown. Me and Jennifer and Jessica from Mika Miko were hanging out, and Ashlee walked by and mad-dogged me really hard! Also she had a dog and we tried to pet her dog and she was getting mad so she mad-dogged me—really, really awkward! And there was another person there—Kid Sister—and she came up to us and was like, ‘You are the best-dressed people here!’ And we were like, ‘Hell yeah!’
Was that the best thing a stranger ever told you to your face?
L: That’s pretty outrageous. After what just happened to you!
J: And before the mad-dog I was standing between Rihanna and Chris Brown. You could tell they really wanted to make out but I was in the way.
What percentage of your life qualifies as ‘outrageous’?
J: Like 95%.
How are you physically able to keep up?
J: We just keep up with it! It’s all natural.
What will we see more of in 2009—disco or thrash?
J: Disco. I feel like coming to the end of this year and looking at what bands are big and what aren’t big, I feel a lot people are getting into being happier. They’re more in a dance-y mood! I feel like 2009 is totally disco.
What new things do you get to do with Protect Me?
J: With this thing, we just wanted to do something really different from Gymnist. Now we both sing a majority of the time. With Gymnist, I only used a distortion pedal and I left it on the whole time. With this band I got a Loop|Station and vocal effects. It’s more colorful.
L: And I use a sampler along with the singing.
J: And we have keyboards—way more. It’s like another member.
Was this all from one unbelievable shopping spree?
J: Throughout Gymnist I was kind of collecting pedals here and there. We’d stop by music shops and get pedals really cheap. Portland is the fucking bargain town.
Do you feel guilty when you’re buying all their cheap equipment?
L: It’s like they want you to take it!
They want those fat California dollars?
J: Every cent of it, and I’m happy to give! There’s good-ass deals there. I bought a Boost pedal—I got it for $30 and it’s normally $55 or $60. But I hate spending money.
To the point of physical pain?
L: It’s like giving away a piece of yourself. ‘Can I have that back?’
Do you have more gadgets than members?
J: Totally. It’s like we’re Megaman.
If you had to remove and dispose of one record from the other’s collection, what would it be?
J: We like the same music! People say they like the same stuff but we like the exact same stuff!
Does that make it awkward to go to the record store together?
J: Yes—we always have the same stuff.
What were you two doing together before you had the band?
J: We met each other in high school—growing up in Van Nuys.
L: There’s a lot of weird kids here!
J: If you met someone cool, you had to hang out with them because you wouldn’t meet anyone cool for a long time. I was in tenth grade and Luis was in eleventh and he lived a block away!
How are you most different now from the way you were then?
J: If you asked me what are the people who went to my high school doing now, I feel they’re really into going to parties. I mean—dude, I love partying.
J: Hell yeah! But when it’s 2 AM, maybe I wanna go home. Everybody parties animal-style.
Who was your favorite teacher and would they be proud of you now?
J: Our bio teacher! She ran the Radiohead fan blog. One time in high school I got really drunk and I was walking around and she saw me—‘Is he OK?’
L: ‘He’s just tired!’
So would she be worried about you?
J: ‘Oh shit! It’s that drunk kid!’
L: ‘And his friend the liar!’
What new things have you learned from playing together as Protect Me?
J: With Gymnist especially, we were really into playing—going there, playing, and going back and partying. With Protect Me, we learned a lot about our sound—we’re a little more serious about it. About how we want to set up our instruments where it’s easier for both of us to take it on.
Have you discovered the most efficient minimum for being a band?
L: We did consider bringing in someone that would have the same ideas. And then we just started making it. Like we could put it in a pedal.
What are your three favorite ideas?
J: I’m definitely excited to make music a little less punk than Gymnist. We love punk and we’re always gonna play punk, but it’s a different way to express it. Instead of sounding like a typical punk band, we wanted to go our own way. And we’re excited to make dancier songs. More of a funner feeling. We wanted to have fun and we are having fun! I really like the band CSS. Other music we listen to—old-school punk bands. Kind of our era when we were in high school.
What’s the oldest most beat-up record you’ve still got and still listen to?
J: I still listen to a lot of local bands. That’s the main thing I’ve been listening to. I have this really beat-up Mika Miko 45. I could get it again, but for some reason that one’s really special.
PROTECT ME WITH PASTILLA AND BLUE JUNGLE ON FRI., DEC. 12, AT THE OPENING RECEPTION FOR UNDER THE COVER OF TREES AT THE LKEG GALLERY, 311 GLENDALE BLVD., ECHO PARK. 7 PM / $5 / ALL AGES. LKEGGALLERY.COM. VISIT PROTECT ME AT MYSPACE.COM/PROTECTMEPROTECT.