GID: The album starts with “Trigger Warning,” which features a distorted voice warning listeners and listing off heavy topics, like rape, drug use, and child abuse. It sounds like a jab at the whole “trigger warning” culture. Where did this song come from?
JU: It’s kind of both. I’m very satirical and I don’t take things very seriously. I think there’s a lot of grey area with stuff. I’ve always written in that kind of way. Going back to another song I wrote, “It Gets Worse,” that was written when everyone was saying ‘it gets better.’ That’s a nice message, but it doesn’t get better for everybody. Some people have shitty lives. If you’re successful, you can’t just go on a television show and say hey everybody it gets better, and have it applied to everybody. And it became a big thing. I’m not a pessimist, but I’m not necessarily an optimist. I’m definitely a realist. Some people aren’t going to make it out alive, you know what I mean?
“Trigger Warning” was the same thing. It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, I was kind of poking at it but on the other, it’s actually a trigger warning for my record because it’s filled with all sorts of weird stuff. The song begins with a meditation bell of all things to make it nice and chill. I never started a record super quiet like that. Most of my Mindless Self Indulgence records start right out the gate with in-your-face stuff. Then comes this warning of what’s coming up and then boom Serj screaming right in your face. I knew it was going to be the first song as soon as I started the record.
GID: You mention this album is more personal than what you’ve done in the past. Just how personal did you get?
JU: It’s pretty personal. For “If It Ain’t You Today, It’ll Be You Tomorrow” I wanted to write something that was kind of political, but not really. [The song] is based on a famous Martin Niemoller quote that goes first they came for the socialists and I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak out. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak out. Then they came for me and there was no one here to help because I didn’t help them. It’s like they’ll silence all the gays and blacks and Latinos, and Muslims and all the white people will be happy. Suddenly they’re gonna come after them and they’re gonna be like there’s no one here to help me. Everybody’s gone, we’re all fucked you know? That’s about as much as I wanted to say for the current state of the world.
“That’s How Jimmy Gets Down” is basically your boasting hip-hop sort of thing. “Be Afraid Of Who You Are” is a take on mental illness in the sense of you’re kind of a mutant with a power you don’t control. There’s good and bad stuff about that.
“Piece of Me” is you can’t control my creativity and what I create, but I can’t control you as a fan in your interpretation of what I’m making. “Detroit and Only Halfway Thru the Tour” is about touring and how it’s a really lonely job. I don’t know how a lot of people do it. I got lucky since I’m really close friends with the band’s I’ve toured with. But, man, you’re out there in the middle of nowhere all the time and Detroit is always halfway through the tour. It’s a cool town, it’s one of the best audiences in the world, but you get there and you’re like holy fuck we’re only halfway through the tour? How are we gonna get through this?
“Fuck Everything” is about me and [my wife] Chantal [Claret] moving to New Zealand and saying fuck everything let’s get out of here. “Medicine Does Not Control Me” is about drinking. I find that most songs about alcohol are either about redemption like I went too far and now I’m fighting the demon of alcoholism or they’re party songs. Where’s the middle ground at? There’s a weird middle ground where you’re not partying like an idiot but you’re also not losing your mind and drinking til you black out. You control it and it’s a weird thought. I also loved the phrase.
“You Kiss Your Mama with that Mouth” is me saying what I wanna say and saying it how I wanna say it. That’s suffering for your art in the sense that saying the dumbest things can get you trouble. “Sailor in a Life Boat” is how you may be part of some sort of organization or group like the army or punk rock scene, but at the end of the day, you’re probably gonna be some dude in a lifeboat after the ship wrecks, so be ready for that. Hope for the best, but expect the worst. It can all end tomorrow.
One of the most interesting songs on the record is “Random Emo Top Line Generator” which is an audio prank. I’m going to write something that sounds super emotional with amazing words and I’m gonna sing really emotionally, but I made it with a robot. I loaded up a bunch of online word generators, went through the phrases, cherry-picked the most emotional ones, and sang them in this crazy song. Anyone who listens to it may think wow that’s crazy deep! Motherfucker a robot wrote that shit, I didn’t write that shit!