Trying to pin down the inner workings of Jimmy Urine's brain is a futile task. The Mindless Self Indulgence frontman is a constantly moving madman, generating his kaleidoscopic art by pulling on a motley library of influences from graphic novels to museum exhibits to cartoons to the horrible shit he finds from the internet. The latest creation of his hyperactive mind is his new project Euringer and its self-titled debut album (Euringer is Jimmy's birth name), a cosmic journey that takes aim at everybody with an assault of eclectic vocalization and surging synthesizers.
Just give a listen to "If It Ain't You Today It Will Be You Tomorrow," the first proper song on the album, which we're premiering below. Following an actual trigger warning intro, the song is an auditory gunshot with System of a Down's Serj Tankian taking aim. He's a straight-up doomsayer on the song, warning the world of dangers that will lead it to a very swift end and telling all of the futility of prayers. The song plays off of Martin Niemöller's famous poem about the necessity of standing up for others, especially those of different backgrounds than yourself. Despite the heavy subject matter, Tankian sounds like he's having a complete blast, legitimately laughing in between his incantations of chaos, while the song explores notes of synthwave, R&B and rap.
Of the song, Tankian says, "Jimmy and I have been friends for years and I was excited to collaborate with him on his record. We're both fans of nutty witty humor, so when he told me to just go off with whatever words come to mind, I grabbed some poetry book titles of mine I had in the vocal booth and randomly spewed them off in the mic. He then cut the ones he liked and mixed them. His record is bombastic and diverse, unlike most shit out there."
The collaborations on the record don't end with Tankian; Euringer also enlisted his wife Chantal Claret, My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way and otherworldly pop star Grimes for the effort. The record is as diverse as its guest list, bringing elements of progressive rock to crash head on with chiptunes, hip-hop, house and way more to create something gross, beautiful and constantly energetic. We spoke to Euringer about the album, his relationship with Tankian and how Mindless Self Indulgence foretold the current state of pop culture.
I'M NOT SURE THERE'S SUCH THING AS A MISSION STATEMENT FOR MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE, BUT I FEEL LIKE THE TWO ELEMENTS THAT MADE THE BAND STAND OUT WERE AGGRESSIVENESS — BE IT OF RAP, METAL, WHATEVER — AND SUGARY CUTE MELODIES KIND OF CRASHING TOGETHER AND SUBVERTING EACH OTHER. I'M SEEING THAT JUXTAPOSITION A LOT MORE IN POP CULTURE NOW, ESPECIALLY IN RAP MUSIC WITH GUYS LIKE JUICE WRLD OR LIL UZI VERT. HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT, TOO?
JIMMY EURINGER Dude. Let me tell you man, if Iggy Pop is the godfather of punk rock, then little Jimmy Urine is definitely the godfather of SoundCloud rap. Dude, you're telling me, like, people are dressing up in colored outfits, acting insane, doing crazy songs, they're naming themselves stuff like Lil This and Lil That, and I've been doing that since 1996, plus my production is way, way better, and I don't use Auto-Tune! [Laughs] But yeah, it's true, people are definitely taking that sort of what was offensive — I mean, look at the biggest song in the world right now is "I Love It." Kanye West has a lyric in that, "I'm a sick fuck, I like a quick fuck," like repeatedly 20 times. You know what I mean?
And it's highly offensive, but like kids are dancing to it. It's not like adults are pumping it. Little teeny kids are like singing along and doing viral videos dancing going, "I'm a sick fuck, I like a quick fuck." So I was doing crazy shit like that when everyone was like, "You're a piece of shit for singing any kind of offensive lyric." Like, "You're not getting played on the radio." Like, "How dare you say, 'The bitches ...' Or "how dare you sing a song that's offensive at all," and now it just is. And that's fine! But we were 20 years ahead of our time and now that 20 years is up, we're just living in what we predicted. [Laughs] I didn't expect everybody to be so stupid. [Laughs] I thought they'd be a lot smarter.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU TAKE ANYTHING CREATIVELY FROM THAT?
I always take something creatively from everything. I go and look for the parts that I like, you know what I mean? Like, a good example was dubstep. I didn't like a lot of dubstep. I like the synth tones. I like the kick and snare sounds, like, the real harsh kick and the real harsh snare. So when I used the inspirations from those, my songs didn't sound like dubstep. I didn't just like [makes wawawa noise] and have that crazy wobble bass, but they would be very aggressive like — like, "Fuck Machine" is a good example, [an] aggressive dance song, you know what I mean? Except the lyrics being like, "We're gonna touch diamonds in the sky/We're gonna make a fuck machine," you know what I mean? Because I was like, why not? Why not write that? Why does it have to be safe? Why does it have to be, you know, homogenized and super safe?
YOU'VE GOT SOME RAD GUESTS ON THIS RECORD: SERJ TANKIAN, GERARD WAY, GRIMES. WHEN YOU WERE PLOTTING OUT THIS WHOLE THING, DID YOU KNOW AHEAD OF TIME, LIKE, "YEAH, GERARD WOULD BE GREAT ON THIS," "SERJ SHOULD BE INTO THIS," THAT KIND OF THING?
You know, that actually came very naturally. Mindless Self Indulgence is very fiercely independent and we've always been like doing our own fucking shit and we climbed out of the gutter on our own and no hard feelings, everybody — go fuck yourself, you can climb out of the gutter on your own. We were never part of any kind of scene and no scene is really like us, so we were always doing our own thing. So I never really did collaborations. It never really came up. Every time I saw somebody do a collaboration, it always seemed so stressful or always seemed so, like, everybody talking to everybody's lawyers and blah blah blah. So I wanted something that was super chill. I wasn't really thinking about it, and also, when I hang out with people I know or who I'm friends with, we never talk about music, even though we're all in bands.
Hanging out with Serj, he was like, "What are you gonna be doing next?" And I said, "Oh I'm doing a solo record." He's like, "Oh, I gotta be on that shit!" So Serj kind of got that ball rolling, and then with Serj's track, in particular, I had sent him the track and was like, "I think you'd be good for this." He was like, "Eh, I'm not feeling it." So I was like, "Oh, OK." So I had to kind of write something from scratch and that ended up being the song that we had, and it was great because it was basically based on a quote by Martin Niemöller who had this crazy — you've probably heard it a million times — awesome quote that's very anti-Nazi during World War II that was, "First they came for the socialists and I didn't speak out, then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up, then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak out, and then they came and no one's left to speak for me because ..." everybody's killed. And so that's kind of what I based the chorus on and OK, cool, I'll do the chorus and you do the verses. And he was the perfect person for it. That's about as political as I get, and obviously System of a Down's amazing — they're all very political and they're all very specific.
I'm really into the idea of stream of consciousness and I talked to Serj about it when we were getting ready to record it and, you know, "I want you to do stream of consciousness, I want you to do all sorts of crazy shit in the vocal booth and we'll just record a whole bunch of it and we'll pull the craziest ones and put them in a weird order" and stuff like that, and he was totally down, he was like, "All right!" Busted out his old poetry books and some old lyric books and stuff and we just looped the verse for, like, an hour and he would just be in there screaming in different Serj-style voices, the high ones and low ones, speaking and whispering and all types of shit, and we pulled a lot of it. In fact, him laughing in it is him laughing because I fucked up something and I'm like, "That's perfect! Sounds fucking awesome." He just kind of took the idea of the chorus and the idea of what was going on, and if you're gonna do fuckin' a political [song], you might as well have one of the greatest political vocalists doing it. So it's perfect. It worked out.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT GERARD WAY?
[Laughs] My favorite thing about Gerard Way is he's always working. He's got a crazy good work ethic. Bananas with the work ethic — it's my favorite thing. When we were working on his song, which we did at his studio, we did it with [producer/engineer] Doug McKean, and so we went over, Doug was getting the track ready and getting the studio up to speed, and while we're doing that Gerard was writing his fucking comic book, and then he's like, "Track's ready," and Gerard comes in and just bangs it out in two seconds and leaves us to check it out to make sure it's good, and then he's off to make a phone call and do other comic book stuff. He's always working — it's crazy. It makes you feel like you're going in slow motion, because he has a crazy good work ethic. And he makes great stuff. He's not making garbage. He's making primo shit.
I REMEMBER A WHILE BACK GRIMES CITING MSI AS A HUGE INFLUENCE. HOW DID YOU GET HOOKED UP WITH HER?
She had reached out and had been asking someone in her circle about something technical. We had similar behind-the-scenes people who were mutual friends, and so she was wondering about bass sounds and this and that. And [Grimes] is always wonderful to talk to about that kind of stuff because it's very impressive to me that she does every single fucking thing, and when I say everything, I mean, beyond programming the synth, writing all the music, that kind of thing. She will make all the videos and edit. The only time she ever delegates is when someone is like, "You're about to go on tour, you can't color correct the video," and she just doesn't have the time. I think it's amazing because women really do a lot in music, but no one ever lets them, and it's like a boys club. Emily Lazar, who mastered our Frankenstein Girls album, is a fucking huge mastering woman, but you don't hear about that much. I think Grimes is also fiercely into that kind of stuff, where it's like, "No producer is controlling me — I'm the producer," because that happens to every woman I know. If they're singing, and someone is producing, then the producer must have done every single thing, is what people think, and it's bullshit.
So on this record, when I was going to do it with Grimes, my initial idea was, "Let's flip it, you write the track, you produce it, you tell me what to do and we'll flip it, like, I'm the Brittany Spears and you're the Dr. Luke," but we didn't have any time. By the time we got around to working on it, I was like, "I hope you're not insulted to just sing on the track," and she was totally cool with it, and she loved the "Medicine Does Not Control Me" track because it totally sounds like Blade Runner. She really made it and put a spin on the melody and everything. It just came out fucking bananas good.
BEYOND THE SONG ON THIS ALBUM, I HEAR YOU'VE GOT A BIGGER PROJECT WITH SERJ?
Yeah, we've got a project called Fuktronic. It's basically an animated, electronic English gangster cartoon that we've been working on for a while. It's just a lot of fun, just a departure from music. All my side works have been fun and stuff I'd want to do on my own. Our dynamic is very chill, which is why we do this kind of stuff, especially because, with Fuktronic, it's electronic type soundtrack music, which we've both been doing a lot of on our own. So we really talk a lot about that and dig soundtrack work and dig composing and movies and that. In that sense, I think we love talking about that and plugins! We love to talk about plug ins until the cows come home. [Laughs]
WRAPPING UP, WHAT'S THE BEST PART ABOUT EURINGER THE ALBUM?
The best part about Euringer the album is it's all one song. So, in this modern era of playlists and a la carte singles from a bunch of different artists, that's fine. If you want to just buy the Serj track or buy the Gerard track, that's fine. But if you are someone who is buying the whole record, you get kind of a special gift from me, which is that the record is one huge long idea, one huge long art installation or piece of music. And all the songs connect — they all have connecting, weird cinematic skits and music that appear in different songs that appear elsewhere, so it's one large huge thought. It was planned from the beginning two and a half years ago, and made it all the way to the end, so that's the coolest thing — that's no bullshit. [Laughs]
Below, see Serj Tankian at work at his home studio as he discusses his philosophy of art and creativity: