GENRE IS DEAD! Interview With Jimmy Urine

Jimmy Urine has spent the past 21 years as the unapologetic, in-your-face frontman for Mindless Self Indulgence. With the band taking a break, Urine brings his high energy and boisterous attitude to his debut solo album, Euringer. Featuring plenty of special guests, the album can be described as a soundtrack to his mind. And it’s one wild ride. Urine chats with GENRE IS DEAD! about the new album, what he learned during the process, and showing off his programming skills.

GENRE IS DEAD: Listening to the first single “Problematic” it sounds different than Mindless Self Indulgence and Cinematic Sounds. Can you tell me more about that song?

Jimmy Urine: “Problematic” was the first song I wrote for the record. It addressed my own personal problem with how Mindless Self Indulgence always pushed buttons and broken boundaries yet always had to deal with being everyone’s dirty little secret. People are like I love this, but I can’t let my friends hear it or my friends are offended by it. We’re very catchy, we’re very smart, we’re highbrow and low brow at the same time, which I think people don’t quite get. Even if they get the band is kind of subliminal, they’re like ‘oh these guys go beep, bop, bloop and yell fuck over stuff.’ Well, there’s something more there. It’s more like Mad Magazine. You look at it and think it’s for kids. But then you read it and realize these are smart people who are being subversive, so there’s something more to it even though it’s brushed off as immature.

While the song sat for a year and a half waiting for the record to be done, it unintentionally became a statement of what’s going on right now with censorship. I’ve always had to deal with that for my entire career. I’ve had times when the world was completely free and you could say whatever you wanted and I was still being censored. ‘You can’t say this on the radio, so you won’t get played.’ Fine, I don’t give a fuck. Most people write safe shit because they want to make a hit. I don’t care if I’m making a hit for a million dollars. I just want to say what I want and I want to talk about things people don’t necessarily write about. We’re going through other people’s trash and saying you’re not gonna write about this? Okay, well I’m gonna write about this.

GID: You mentioned this record is about showcasing your talents as a programmer. How did you first get into programming?

JU: I grew up in a very supportive household, so anything that was artsy we could just do it. My dad was an advertising art director and he would bring home art supplies and video cameras and stuff like that. After school instead of playing sports, I would go home and film something with a video camera or draw something, stuff like that. Eventually, synthesizers came around and when I got one it kind of became my catalyst. Growing up I loved soundtracks. I would go see movies like Blade Runner and love all the synths. I wanted to do stuff like that when I initially started until I got a synth with a sequencer in it. It allowed me to layer all my sounds and I could do this sort of soundtrack stuff. That got my foot in the door of home recording. I was by myself and I got this equipment, so I’m just gonna do stuff alone. I don’t care about having a band. I can sample stuff and sing stuff. That’s how I built a programming background and figured out music on my own without schooling.

GID: There’s always been great programming in Mindless Self Indulgence songs.

JU: Yeah! Most of the Mindless Self Indulgence programming is cool and clever if you really listen to it but being in such a provocative band is the attention getter. That’s great and it got us lots of attention, but it also lost the focus. No one’s saying what did you do here? You sampled this, and you flipped it backwards. I’ve done so much sampling and so much songwriting and so much programming it’s bonkers. I rarely get to have conversations about it with people.

GID: So how about singing? Did you go about it in a similar way?

JU: Yeah, the same thing with singing. No ones gonna sing this stuff, so I guess I’ll sing it, you know what I mean? All right fine, I’m a singer. I never really took myself seriously as a singer. I was like a mimic thinking I want this to sound like Nine Inch Nails or like Metallica or Wu-Tang Clan. That fused into the sound of Mindless Self Indulgence because I love all that stuff, but I don’t like any of it enough to go full industrial or metal or hip-hop. So, fuck it, I’m gonna put it all together and that’s kind of how the band’s sound developed.

GID: It seems like your previous album, The Secret Cinematic Sounds of Jimmy Urine, really showed off your programming abilities. Since it was mainly instrumental, it made you focus on the music and there was some awesome stuff on there.

JU: It did do what I wanted it to do. I wanted to show people that I do this programming and other stuff. On the album, I gave them a little taste of the Jimmy Urine stuff in the beginning with “Fighting with the Melody,” but then I gave them a whole shitload of stuff with programming and they could take it or leave it. A lot of people took it! Even places that would write meh reviews about Mindless Self Indulgence were like this is really amazing. Motherfucker, I did that in my sleep! This other stuff took me months, I could do this shit all day.

GID: The album features collaborations with Serj Tankian, Gerard Way, and Chantal Claret. How did all the collaborators come to be part of this project?

JU: I’ve never done guests before. Mindless Self Indulgence was always such an independent thing. We did this all by ourselves, no scene liked us, and we didn’t like any scene. Nobody was really collaborative. With this record, it was more of a chill feel to it and I wanted to do it with people who I’m friendly with. Collaborations now are just a thing, especially in hip-hop. Like Lil Pump’s gonna be on Kanye West’s new album and they might not even be friends. I’m not into that so much. I had it in the back of my mind that it would be nice to call up some friends and say you wanna be on a record? Serj [Tankian] was the first person I told about the album and he was like ‘oh dude I gotta be on the record it’ll be cool!’ He got the ball rolling and after that, I was like I gotta ask everybody because I felt it would be rude to ask some people and have others wonder why I didn’t ask them.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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