Canadian skatepunks Mute recently toured Europe and Jera On Air was one of the stops that was blessed with their energetic music. After a hectic day of traveling and playing we catched up with vocalist and drummer Étienne Dionne for a quick talk about all things Mute. Find out below.
Welcome to Jera On Air, first time here? How’s it been?
First time, we arrived maybe an hour and a half ago. We played our set already and I just walked around to see what the festival looks like.
Because of the traffic we arrived late, we played Munich last night, it was a long drive and we got delayed because of that. I didn’t get the chance to really experience the festival that much. I went straight from packing the van to meeting you here. It seems like more a of a hardcore than punk festival. Since I arrived I only heard hardcore bands and like Ignite, although they are in between. I was wondering if it was like a hardcore festival or a punk rock festival.
Almost halfway the Euro tour, Aalst, Belgium was the first show….
Not even, I think we are only a third of the tour now. We played Belgium, Aalst first show and we played a secret show in Leuven. We’ve got a substitute bass player, Jeroen Meeus(from the band March,…). Our bass player stayed at home, he’s got a young family and he couldn’t leave for a month and we wanted to tour for a month.
So we asked Jeroen to come along like six months ago, he learned all the songs, all the harmonies. We’ve played like 8 shows already and it is really starting to gel.
And you’re actually one show away from a small tour with Descendents.
Only two shows, you can call it a tour if you want too. We’ve played Milan and in Austria, the guy that does all those festivals in Austria booked us to play the show with Descendents. We got the chance to play two shows with them. Milan was organized by the same people who do the festival Bayfest. We’ve played with basically like all the bands we were looking up to but not the Descendents. We never played with the Descendents, they were really cool. Down to earth people. We also know their tour manager. It was a fun experience.
Mute plays fastpaced skatepunk, guitar shredding included. Who are some of the guitar gods that inspired Mute?
That’s a good question, because I play drums. There’s some metalheads in the band, so I guess some metal bands I don’t know about. I’m not the metal guy in the band, I’m more the skatepunk guy. The guitar players they are also into skatepunk but they are into metal a lot.
What drummers would you mention as an influence then?
I even follow some on Instagram, I follow Josh Freeze(The Vandals), he plays with Pink now. The guy is really good, he played with all the big bands around, he played with Weezer. He played with Guns And Roses. I like his style, he’s very energetic. He can play fast, he can play slow. He’s always super hard on the drums. He’s the guy I really look up to.
In 2016 you released Remember Death, quite a dark album at times for skatepunk.
You’re right. It just came naturally, we started by writing the songs, the melody. And when you got a melody that’s darker it is hard to put something positive on top of it. So maybe when I write the lyrics I was inspired by what the music was bringing to me. The songs are a little bit darker in their progression and melody. That’s the reason why, when we collected all the songs together. I also do the artwork and the graphic design. That’s when I thought about that, I told the guys about the concept. I found someone on the street that looked like part of the death lady. I asked her to do it and she also starred in the video. It also brings a whole to the concept of the album.
Nowadays it’s not a hype music, it’s more like the oldschool punkers that were listening to it in the 90’s that are still at the shows. There’s not that much of a younger generation. At least not here in Europe.
Étienne Dionne – Mute
Mute hails from Quebec Canada, where you combine the band with your daytime jobs. A hard position to juggle?
It is harder every single time. The older we get. That’s why th bassist isn’t with us this time. We’ve got dayjobs, fortunately we’ve got dayjobs that still allow us to go on tour for many weeks or months a year. On my part I’m a freelance photographer so I’m the most flexible one. Even with that, just before leaving on tour I had to work my ass off just to get everything done. I woke up at 6 am the day before leaving, I went to work untill 10h, went home, at 10h30 I got my luggage done and at 11h I was at the rehearsal space and at 11h30 I was at the airport. I had to work untill the very last moment, even now I’ve got my laptop with me so I can I manage a few things during tour. It’s hard trying to work on tour at the same time. That’s how it is on my side. We’ve got a guy who is doing videogames, the other guy does coding and works a real dayjob at an office space.
End of last year you celebrated 20 years of Mute with a special show, a fitting tribute to two decades. Also two decades in which music and skatepunk in particular changed a lot. What’s your view on skatepunk in 2019?
It’s funny, I was just talking with the guy from No Fun At All right there at the table, they’ve been in it way longer than 20 years and I asked them how was the scene back in the 90’s. He told me it was pretty much the same but it had more of a hype back then, more popular. Nowadays it’s not a hype music, it’s more like the oldschool punkers that were listening to it in the 90’s that are still at the shows. There’s not that much of a younger generation. At least not here in Europe. I see it in South America or in other places. Here it is like people are growing older, they got kids that are older and the parents can go back seeing shows. It’s not like a younger generation. Like it told No Fun At All, I started going to shows in like 1993 when I was a teenager and the shows were crazy. So energetic, the moshpit was huge. That is why it left a mark on my music. A passion for punkrock. I was there at the right time in the 90’s when it was so cool. I’m still loving this music. That’s why we’re still here today, 20 years after.
The show in Quebec was supernice, it like sold out in a few days. We rented extra lights, we wanted to put up the best show.
Skatepunk covers the load actually like it says, punk for skateboarders, Once a sacred marriage now punkrock and skateboarding have evolved. How do you feel about skating these days?
I still skateboard myself. Punk music was more on like snowboarding videos back then, also hip hop on it in the 90’s. Then it turned to hip hop a lot and know it goes all directions. It can be truly anything. Punk rock is still associated with skateboarding.
Melodic Skatepunk, my weapon of choice as a teenage skateboarder back in the mid 90’s. When punk broke in 1994 , moments after Nirvana paved the way to mainstream succes, tons of undergound skatepunk bands rose up and left their marks on kids all over the globe. In 2019 Southern Californians Chaser are set on a mission to keep that style of punk alive and kicking. A quest that led them to Jera On Air to play the Buzzard stage on Saturday. Time to chase vocalist Mike LeDonne around the festival and find out all about Chaser’s mission.
Welcome to Jera On Air, How’s it been?
It’s been amazing! Really, really happy to be here. The show couldn’t have been better. We had a lot of people come and see us. The tent was packed, the stage was packed, just a lot of energy. It was fun, it was great.
Last year you’ve released Sound The Sirens and a few days ago your label Effervescence Records is already doing a repress of the vinyl for the US market (available worldwide). Excited about the collaboration with the label?
Absolutely, it’s a repress which is awesome. That means the first edition was sold out. Which is great. This new color variant, it’s beautiful, it’s red and orange swirl. We just saw it for the first time yesterday actually, it’s really nice. Effervescence Records big shoutout to you guys, Fab thank you very much. We handle the US shipping and Fabien handles the international shipping.
With the artwork of the album and some songs there’s a feeling of revolution hanging in the air, what are some things to inspired you for this call to arms?
An uprising. A collection of people that have the same mindset that want to make a change for the better. It’s also kind of an hommage to 90’s punkrock. That kind is what Chaser is all about, keeping that 90’s style of melodic skatepunk alive. There’s a lot of crazy things going on in the world but there is hope in the end. I think the main point of it all, even with all that chaos depicted on the cover there still is like an united end goal. That we can all achieve if we all just come together. That’s kind of the whole point of the band, one of the biggest things we kind of try to portray is positive mental attitude, PMA. Just stay to try positive, looking out after one an other. Just enjoy your life.
Chaser hails from Orange County, what is it with California and melodic punkrock that so many bands have spawned there?
I think it comes along with the Southern Californian lifestyle. The surf, skate, snowboard culture. Melodic punkrock kind of went hand in hand with that lifestyle. Motorcross, especially like in the 90’s and the 2000’s, all the Crusty Demons videos for motorcross, all the snowboard videos, Tony Hawk Pro Skater… it all featured skatepunk. A very good tactic and it kind of sparked a whole new wave of this genre of punrock. A subgenre actually that really inspired our lives and our music.
One of your songs, The Show sums up a list of punk fests, will Jera On Air be added to the list soon?
You know what’s funny, we are actually talking about doing a ‘Show’ 2.0; like Volume 2. When we wrote that it was before we got to play a lot of festivals that we’ve been doing. Now we had the opportunity to play all these new festivals and meet all these new people. Like i do a lot of name dropping in that song, those are people we’ve met back in the time. But now we’ve met so many new people that we’ve been talking about doing a ‘Show’ 2.0 on the next record.
You’re currently on a two part European tour, first leg started in April and led you to Groezrock. This part has Jera On Air and some UK dates, what’s next after the tour?
Second show of the tour, we did London last night. At the New Cross Inn, it was an awesome show. Chaser and Darko co headlined, we’re actually on tour with Darko right now. We want to give a shout out to those guys. This is the second part so far, we got the offer to play this festival first so we booked the tour around it. A little short run. We didn’t come out for just one show. We go to Ostend tomorrow. And then some UK dates.
There’s a Chaser shirt that says Make Punk Skate Again, given your all avid skaters, who’s your favorite skateboarder and why?
We skate, again that is kind of that Southern California culture. It just ties in with what we are going for, that 90’s style melodic skatepunk. That’s the music we are trying to keep alive. We’re trying to keep it going. It’s the music that influenced our life, growing up. We’re just doing what we can to keep that subgenre of punkrock alive. That’s our motto, keep skatepunk alive.
My favorite skateboarder would be like the 90’s Bucky Lasek, the Birdhouse crew, the Tappas brothers from Australia. Chad Muska, he’s a punkrocker. Basically everyone on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series.
There has been regular posting of rehearsal videos on Facebook, a great way to communicate with your fans in a way. Learned anything from the conversations?
Yeah, we’re like a very interactive band. We are a very personal band, everytime we play we will be the first one back at the merchandise table. To meet everybody, take pictures, sign autographs, it’s really important to us. There would be no reason we would be doing this if it wasn’t for us to meet our fans. So when we’re not on tour to kind of let them know what we are up to. If you don’t you become irrelevant. If you don’t stay connected. So the videos we take of our rehearsals or shows and we post them is basically our way of saying what we are up to. Sometimes it’s just a little clip, it’s just a way of keeping connected with everyone. It’s the life we live now, being connected.
Any last words you’d like to share?
The ball is rolling man, we have a plan to spend the rest of the year writing our new album. We want to put out a new record in the summer of 2020. Which is two years from when Sound The Sirens came out, we want to try and be on a two year program.Just keep momentum. Stay relevant. Keep the ball rolling. Look for big things next year, brandnew album, more tours next year. We will definitely be coming back here, hoping to hit Japan and we will be touring Canada. I want to tell the readers to keep in touch via social media. That way you’ll know when we’ll be coming to your area and you’ll get all the information on the new record.