Spencer Garrett [Interview]


Spencer Garrett is one of the hardest working people in the world of acting today. As versatile as he can be hilarious, he currently has re-occuring roles in no less than 4 of today’s hottest television shows including HBO’s Insecure and the Amazon Original Show, Bosch. More specifically catered to avid Trainwreck’d Society readers, you will love him in HBO’s stand up comedy vehicle Dice, as well as Room 104 from the beloved Duplass Brothers.

And for over 30 years, this has been Spencer Garrett’s life. He was born into the world of acting, and he has been making it his passion since he began. If you have only managed to turn on a TV or pop into a cinema over the last few decades, it is extremely possible that you have caught Mr. Garrett in action. And his career is showing no sign of slowing down, it’s quite the opposite, really. He has some pretty great irons in the fire right now that I am very excited to see come to live, including some work with the great Kevin Pollack, who we have fawned over numerous time over the years. And because of that and more, we are so fortunate that he was able to stop and share a few words with us here. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some words from the brilliant Spencer Garrett!

I understand you grew up around the world of entertainment, so it almost seems inevitable that you would join the ranks as well. But, when did YOU personally realize that you also wanted to play pretend for a living? When did you make the decision that this was what you wanted to do as a career?

I’m pretty sure I was a bit of a ham coming right out of the gate. Being an only child  – and the son and grandson of performers – I imagine the acting gene was ingrained in me at birth.That desire to be noticed, to stand out somehow. I grew up being taken to the theatre and musicals in New York City from a very early age.Seeing Sir Peter Hall’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with The Royal Shakespeare Company at around age 8 or so was a mind boggling and eye opening experience for a little kid and I remember being entranced by it. Heavy drama or the most frothy musical, it didn’t matter. I just loved being a part of that experience. I was always keen to do plays for as long as I can recall from elementary school all the way through high school in Maine, which had a very strong performing arts curriculum. And at holiday parties I was the kid who organized all the other kids to put on an impromptu ‘Christmas sketch’. At The Hyde School in tiny Bath, Maine, whether it was fighting for the solo number in a particular song or being the first one to raise my hand to audition for the lead in the play, performing and expressing myself onstage was where I found a kind of comfort zone. Whether I was any good or not remained to be seen. But I was always game. When I got to Duke University I auditioned for a role in Peter Shaffer’s Equus, amongst other shows. I was a horse. Small parts, larger roles, didn’t matter. I just wanted to know if I was any good. But I was hooked. From that point on I was off to the races. My ‘Aha!’ moment probably came when I was out of university and living in NYC in the early 80’s. Seeing, in the course of a few years, John Malkovich and Gary Sinise in Sam Shepard’s True West, ‘Lanford Wilson’s Balm in Gilead by The Steppenwolf Company with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits blaring over the loudspeakers as I entered the theatre, and Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson and Derek Jacobi doing Much Ado Handout Nothing one day then Cyrano de Bergerac the next, blew my mind. It was probably around that time, along with my deep and abiding love of the movies, that I said ‘alright’ let’s give this a shot. Here I am, some thirty years in, still grinding away.


I have learned that you will be appearing the upcoming film The Front Runner, in which you will be portraying the legendary journalist Bob Woodward. I am always curious as to what type of preparation goes into a portrayal of a real person who also happens to still be alive. So how has that process been for you? Did you meet with Bob to learn a thing or to?



I’ve had the experience of playing a few real life characters while they were still alive, so it’s tricky ground. You want to put your own stamp on it while honoring the director’s vision. A fine balance. Tom DeLay, In Casino Jack comes to mind. That was a straight up satire so I had a little wiggle room to make it mine, but DeLay was such an outsized character that I didn’t have to work for it too hard. That was just delicious to play. I remember going to see him on ‘Dancing with the Stars’,watching him flail around the dance floor in brown spandex. Sometimes the characters just do the work for you. With Bob Woodward in Jason Reitman’s The Frontrunner I wanted to get the accent right. It’s VERY specific. The world didn’t know Woodward, really, or what he sounded like when All the President’s Men came out but he’s been a huge media presence in the last decades so I wanted to try to capture his essence as best I could. I had the opportunity to meet him before I started filming but was working on another project and couldn’t get the timing right. Jason had actually preferred that I just ‘come in clean’ with no preconceptions about him, so it actually worked out. It’s not a Woodward impersonation. It’s me, trying to channel a bit of him from 1984 if that makes any sense. I’ll meet him after I wrap. And of course I hope he likes the film and my work, as his career has had a great impact on me.

You have also been appearing regularly on the brilliant new HBO series Insecure. Can you tell us a bit about your experience working on this project? What has been unique about this experience?


I wasn’t hip to Insecure when I was offered the role, to be honest. Theres just SO much television out there – GREAT television – it just hadn’t crossed my radar yet. I watched the entire first season in one day. Not just as research – but because it was so f*****g good. Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji are a great comic duo and the writing and editing is kind of amazing. I had a blast working on that show. It taps into the zeitgeist in a very unique way and, being a native Angeleno, films in places familiar to me but not necessarily to the audience outside LA. It captures another side of my city in ways other ‘urban’ shows based in L.A never have.  Probably the thing that made the biggest impression on me was how diverse the crew was. All of my directors were women of color and the crew, for the most part, are largely women and minorities. It was refreshing to see and a blast to walk onto that set each time they asked me to come back and play.


On credits alone, it appears as though you may be one of the hardest working people in Hollywood! You’ve appeared in just so many of the finest television programs out there right now, and that isn’t all you’ve done! So what keeps you motivated to work so much? Where does this drive to succeed stem from for you?



Something like 200 credits on IMDB. Bananas, right? Where has the time gone? I still LOVE what I do (flying to Kuala Lumpur with Viola Davis to work on a Michael Mann film, a Lynn Nottage play at The Geffen, a week with Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan in Chiangmai, Thailand – this can be a hell of a fun job, sometimes) and, more importantly, I feel like I’m just hitting my sweet spot as an actor. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. And I’m not kidding.


From an actor’s perspective, and someone who has been in the game for a quite a while, what are your thoughts on the modern world of film and television? With digital platforms making their way into the industry, as well as more and more cable options, is world becoming over saturated? Or is simply just more opportunities? Your thoughts?



I think we really are in a golden age of television. For the movies, not so much, alas. It’s tentpoles and action figures and occasionally something wonderful will break through.But I have hope that audiences will tire of the explosions and drivel and faint their way back to embracing more character driven stories. I’m finding the most interesting work as an actor  – and a viewer – on the small screen. Yes, there seem to be more and more opportunities for actors on multiple platforms, meaning more competition. But that doesn’t mean the glut of work has made it any easier to sustain oneself as an actor. You are always struggling to make a living, to stay ahead of the curve when the guy who’s #1 on the call sheet is getting all the dough and the supporting cast has to negotiate for the privilege of working for union scale. It’s always a battle.


What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?



The most exciting thing I’m working on these days is a podcast called “America 2.0″ by a wonderful young writer with an amazing voice named J.S Mayank. Several months ago I was asked to do a table read of his pilot script and just fell in love with the writing. Frustrated by Hollywood’s insistence that ‘political dramas are kind of radioactive right now” given our current, um, situation – J.S decided to split the pilot up into six segments as a narrative arc. We have put together a dream cast: Laurence Fishburne, Mary Louise Parker, Patrick Adams, Ming-Na, Jack Coleman, Katherine Castro, Steven Weber, Iqbal Theba, Shanola Hampton, and CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash. We started recording this dream cast about two weeks ago and are already blown away by the work. We are hoping to get it out there by January.


What was the last thing that made you smile?



The last thing that made me smile was watching my girlfriend receive a prestigious award from her George Washington U. Alumni association in D.C. last night for her outstanding achievements in political journalism. Nobody works harder than she does at sifting the spin and fiction from the cold facts. She does ‘real news’ like nobody’s business and is the best in the biz. I’m very proud of her and she inspires me every day to get off my ass and do something good.

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New Music Tuesday: Blitzen Trapper: Wild and Reckless [Album]

It will come to no surprise to regular readers of Trainwreck’d Society, but the album I am going to talk about today comes from the band that I consider to be the greatest assembly of recording artists who are making music today. I will always remember when I completed my first listen to a Sub Pop promo of Blitzen Trapper’s then forthcoming EP The Black River Killer EP, and I actually stated this question out loud: “Did I just discover my favorite band?” On that day, and now a decade later, the answer was/is an absolute YES.

Whilst listening and enjoying each and every album that Blitzen Trapper has released over the last decade, which have been  motherfucking APLENTY, I have attempted to recognize some sort of adaptive theme that has been occurring over time. I always feel like I am just about onto what Eric & company are doing, but much like many characters in beautiful songs, I am just left wondering. I know there is something there, I just can’t quite figure it out. I know that Wild and Reckless is very similar to there latests album, All Across This Land, in some ways or another, yet there are obvious advancements. It has been occurring since Furr, honestly. It’s as though Eric Early writes 2 albums worths of songs, but knows how to make them just a little bit different with each release.

And then I realize, I should just shut my fucking mind down, and remember why I love these cats in the first place. No matter the forum, I love Blitzen Trapper. And with each album they put out on an extremely regular basis, I am only more solidified in the idea that I have found the most perfect band currently performing on this planet, or the next. And I can say with no hesitation that Wild and Reckless has successfully kept my mind on track in recognizing just how god damned wonderful Blitzen Trapper can be.

Wild and Reckless is deeply infused with the Americana & Country roots that have made Blitzen Trapper so special to so many out there. It is another brilliant batch of songs that continue to prove why I have and will always consider frontman Eric Early to be “the son that Bob Dylan wishes he would have had.” I have listened to each track at least a couple of dozen times now, and it is hard to single out a track to showcase. But, if I were hard pressed, I have to call out “Baby, Won’t You Turn Me On” to be as poignant and on par with some of my favorite tracks like “Every Loved Once” or ” Love the Way You Walk Away” from previous releases. But I will be damned if “Wind Don’t Always Blow” doesn’t just blow (pun intended) my damned mind.

It’s almost helpless and hapless at this point that I even continue to cover the work of Blitzen Trapper. I mean, I’m not going to stop, I’m just saying that there is nothing that these cats can’t do right. I am always going to love their work, and I am certain that there will never come a day that I am not impressed with the brilliance that they continuously give to the world. I have witnessed their live performances more times than any other band around, and each and every time, in every scenario, I am beyond impressed more and more each time. I’ve seen them on a small and intimate outdoor stage, a grandiose and headlining outdoor stage, an oversized night club in the middle of nowhere, and in a Portland, Oregon basement. And each time, I am beyond impressed. They are just that fucking GOOD!

Wild and Reckless is available now wherever you get music. So get your Google on and get a bit more Blitzen Trapper in your life. Also check out this brilliant, and even hilarious, official video for the single “Wild and Reckless”:

David Steven Simon [Interview]

 

Oh man, do we have a damn good interview for you fine folks today! We have showcased some pretty amazing people from the world of television over the years, and today is absolutely no exception and very well be one of the finest we have had the pleasure of showcasing to date. His name is David Steven Simon, and he is very likely a creative force behind one of your favorite television series.

For me personally, I did not realize that I was a huge fan of David’s work when I was watching two of my favorite sitcoms, The Wayans Brothers and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, yet there he was! I was also no stranger to one some of his other projects that we all know and love like My Two Dads and Mad About You. And those last two coincidently happen to feature a man who David is currently teaming up with again to create some new television magic, the great Paul Reiser. You all know that guy, I’m sure of it.

David’s latest project, There’s Johnny, is already proving to be one of the most stellar television series to come out in these most recent golden years of television. The show not only chronicles the days behind the legendary days when the Tonight Show ran supreme, but gives a very clear and somewhat disturbing view of America in the 1970’s. I dare say that this project is unlike anything Mr. Simon and Reiser have worked on in the past. It’s something new, and it’s something brilliant.

So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant producer, writer, and more, Mr. David Steven Simon!

How did you find yourself in the world of television as a writer and producer? Was the world of television always something you aspired to get into?

I was in acting class at 4. I went to the “Fame” school, the High School of the Performing Arts. I had a four-year drama scholarship to college and then I became a publicist for United Artists (who were still based in NY) where I worked on three Oscar winners (Rocky, Network, Cuckoo’s Nest), the Bond films, Woody Allen films, Carrie and on and on. During those years is when I realized the effect that my writing could have. Moved to LA with no plan. Partnered up with another writer and right out the gate we had great luck. I wound up being under contract to the studios for years: Disney, Universal and Columbia. While I was at Universal that’s when I started meeting all the TV people there and little by little I started to gravitate towards their shows: Steve Martin’s The George Burns Comedy Week, Charles In Charge, and I wrote on shows like Knightrider (giving them comedy stuff) and I was everyone’s back up if they had a pilot. I wrote pilots too.

When was the first time you can remember seeing your name appear on screen in the credits? Do you remember where you were when first saw it, and did you feel a certain way about it?

First credit I think was for the movie In The Mood which Bob Kosberg and I got a story by credit (we wrote the first draft).I saw the film at screening in Westwood and I was floored. Wait. That’s me! First TV credit was actually Fernwood Tonight for Norman Lear. Everyone who owned a hand wrote on that so the credits went on forever: but there I was! First sitcom was Charles in Charge. My son had just been born so I put his name in the show.


I have to say, I absolutely adored The Wayans Brothers during its reign. I know that the Wayans family was already well-established in the world of film and television, so it could have been a factor, but besides that, what inspired you make that show happen?

We got a call from Warren Littlefield who was then the president of NBC. He said he wanted us to create a blue collar Fresh Prince with them. Marlon was off the charts hilarious. Sean was more smooth and relaxed. To me they were a black Martin and Lewis. But their casting especially of John Witherspoon did not go over well there. They felt John was too much of a cartoon. So from there: The WB! We had three shows in a row: Fresh Prince, Sister, Sister, The Wayans.

We were fortunate enough to speak with Karyn Parsons about her love for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but what was your experience like in creating this fine program? And in your opinion, what made Fresh Prince unique in its own right?

I didn’t create it. The Borowitz team did: Susan and Andy. I came on after being on what was about to be that season’s hottest new comedy: The Royal Family with Redd Foxx…until Redd suddenly died on the set! Overnight we were cooked. Over. The show went on but by then we were on Fresh Prince. The show was a delight because everyone was so full of gratitude and appreciation. Will was a young genius. I had never seen anything like it. He was barely 19 when we came on. A kid. His mind was on fire. Karen was a willing clown. SWEET. They all were. Other than the original mom: and she got wished into the Cornfield because life was too short and she was making eveyrone but mostly Will VERY unhappy.

You have recently joined back up with your old My Two Dads and Mad About You pal, Paul Reiser with There’s… Johnny. How has it been to get back into writing with Paul? Is it like old times for you?

I met Paul 32 years ago and we have been laughing ever since. I have worked with two people who were exactly the way you hoped they’d be like: Paul and John Ritter (I did Hearts Afire with him). Paul is a genius and working with him on this, some 19 years after Mad About You was a revelation. I always felt that Paul was underappreciated. Helen got all the awards and attention, but behind the scenes it all began with Paul. I mean they were equal in weight and “ran” the ship together….but the world needs to know how great Paul is and this show is going to blow people away. It is NOT what people expect. It’s not a comedy. It’s not That 70’s Show with whacky Tonight Show clips. It’s about the seventies which were very powerful and VERY dark times. Jane Levy’s performance is breathtaking and Ian Nelson, the star, is going to melt a lot of hearts. We use the Tonight Show clips as a kind of Greek Chorus which shows how American felt…and acted at the time. No one plays Johnny, Ed or Doc. Or anyone famous. The illusion, like Larry Sanders, that it’s happening right then and there. David Gordon Green, another genius in my opinion, KILLED on this. It looks like a movie—and we had a barely one million an ep budget!

When you look back on your very successful career in the world of television writing and producing, what would you say you are most proud of?

That my kids are proud of me. That means the most. I am writing more now than I have in my entire life. I shoot comedy shorts every year for film festivals. Looking back every show was a life lesson: great people. I have a new play that is getting a full production in 2018. I’ve roped in Tony Danza who blew my mind in our show. What a talent and what a sweetheart! I tend to look back at my career and think: Wow: I got a weekly paycheck in Hollywood for 21 years! That’s a miracle.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Like I said: next up: my play Grave Doubts: A new Comedy full of Plot Holes. Stay tuned for that. We have plans for casting that are really exciting. The TV director/wizard/theater director Assad Kelada is the guru behind the scenes.

HULU premiered our new show, There’s Johnny on November 14th. Seven episodes. It is going to shock people. It’s not a light, fluffy look back at the era. It comes packed with a genuine emotional wallop. Plus you get to see George Carlin, Don Rickles, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Albert Brooks and on and on and on.

I also write every day on Huffington Post. Search David S. Simon and you can read my scathing pieces on Trump.

What was the last thing to make you smile?

Groundhog Day, the musical. Landing back in New York after being in LA for 8 months. Watching the Yankees without having to pay for MLB. Seeing my peeps. Every dog that I pass on the street. Thought: why don’t women come with tails? Then we’d know what they really feel about everything.

Check out the teaser trailer for There’s Johnny, available now on Hulu:

Sunday Matinee: The Problem With Apu [Film]

I have to be completely honesty and upfront here, right from the very beginning. I am claiming ignorance. I honestly did not know that this was an issue, or that there could be a problem with Apu. I always had an inkling that the idea of every 7/11 in the 90’s was owned or operator by a turban wearing man from India or the middle east was a little bit racist, but I had honestly always attributed this to being a “city thing” that I just wasn’t aware of. And above it all, I was too naive and a bit dimwitted to not realize that Apu was a seriously overdramatized version of a whole group of people, which is indeed problematic, and yes, racist. But hey, at least it was voiced by an Indian actor, right!? Right? Well……

This documentary is an absolutely brilliant take on a subject that is almost too sensitive to touch. And I’m not even talking about race. I’m talking about the mother-loving Simpsons! The Simpsons have been the golden standard for long-lasting comedy for the last 30 years, and it is obviously a very touchy subject to “attack” (parenthesis because it’s not actually happening, keep reading). But what comedian Hari Kondabolu has brought us with The Problem With Apu is a very unique and positive take on the possibility of change in a complicit industry that has left its stain on even the holiest of holy products like The Simpsons.

Again, I do not feel in the slightest that Kondabolu is attacking The Simpsons. He is simply stating the facts about his and other’s experience as an Indian person growing up in America during a time where the only representation of his people was an over dramatized typecast in animated form. He praises the show for its originality and deserved acclaim, but he simply recommends something that might make the show better for society. Which, in my opinion, is an extremely humbling god damned thing to do! I will admit, if I grew up being called Apu on a daily basis, I probably wouldn’t be nearly as kind on a subject matter. There are many reasons why Hari Kondabolu is a better person than I, but this is a big one!

And even looking beyond the potential impact and changes that a film like The Problem with Apu could bring, I feel as though it is important to note that this film is extremely well made! It is a documentary that hits all of the appropriate highs and lows and examines all applicable frustrations in a brilliant manner. Kondabolu has shown as much promise in the world of documentary filmmaking as he has in his work as a comic, and he has created something brilliant with The Problem with Apu that sends a very strong message, and should rightfully be enjoyed by all.

But, let’s be honest, this is America we are talking about, so rather than trying to be understanding, people are going to shit all over it before, or without even, seeing it for themselves. But, for those of you who can make the effort to both learn from and enjoy something, this is the perfect film for you.

The Problem with Apu premieres tonight on truTV at 10 p.m. ET. Check out the trailer here:

Saturday Special: Mr. Roosevelt [Film]

“In her feature directorial debut, Noël Wells portrays Emily, a talented but hard-to-classify comedic performer who left behind her home and boyfriend to pursue career opportunities in L.A. When a loved one falls ill, Emily rushes back to Austin where she’s forced to stay with her ex-boyfriend (Nick Thune) and his new-and-improved girlfriend (Britt Lower), a totally together woman with a five-year plan. Though Emily is the same, everything else is different: her house has been smartly redecorated, her rocker boyfriend is training to be a real estate agent, and her old haunts show serious signs of gentrification. Holed up in her own guest room, Emily–who has no idea what she’ll be doing five days from now, let alone five years–is forced to question everyone’s values: are they sell-outs or have they just figured out what makes them happy? And is she following her dreams or is she just a self-absorbed loser?” – Big Time PR

I feel compelled to start this out by saying that Mr. Roosevelt was one of my most anticipated films of the year. One platform that I tend to learn about some of the amazing artists and happenings in the world of film and television actually comes from a podcast. A little movie trivia game show podcast known as Doug Loves Movies, hosted by none other than legendary comedian Doug Benson (who has a nice, brief cameo in this film as well!). Throughout 2017, I heard episodes either featuring Noël Wells in support of Mr. Roosevelt, or several episodes in which the film was mentioned without her even being present. Needless to say, I was dying to see it. And when the opportunity presented itself to finally check it out, I had to jump on it. And might I dare say, I was definitely not let down. Mr. Roosevelt is one of the finest films of 2017, and one of the best indie projects of the last ten years.

Depending on where you live, work, and/or breath, it is likely that you know somebody like Noël Wells’s character Emily. At her heart, she is a very wonderful person, with a big heart and a tremendous talent. But if the world of adulthood has taught most of us anything, it is that none of that shit matters in the real world. The real world can be a very disturbing place where good things don’t always come to good people. And it is within this knowledge that we may find a turn with ourselves, and proverbially walk the line between kind and self-obsessed. And I feel like this is exactly where our heroine of Mr. Roosevelt is at in her life. She moved away from the fun-loving and stereotypically hip area of Austin, Texas to pursue her dream as a comedian(?), or something of that nature, to America’s dirty playground known as Los Angeles. And along this journey, she broke some hearts and left a dear friend, Mr. Roosevelt, behind who would unexpectedly perish while she was away. Mr. Roosevelt is a cat, by the way. But for some of us, that matters not.

At its core, Mr. Roosevelt is a film that explores the acceptance of one’s self whilst trying to find their place in the world. Even the most grounded of characters in this film seem to have demons hiding within themselves. You will either sympathize with Celeste (brilliantly portrayed by Britt Lower) or you are going to hate her right off the bat, which you will likely find to be a completely unreasonable emotion. One of my favorite characters of the film, Jen (Daniella Pineda), comes off as a character who is perfectly grounded in insanity, but is as emotionally complex as the rest of them. But, she seems to take this world in strides.

In the end, Mr. Roosevelt is a beautiful tale of love, loss, confusion, and attempting to find one’s self (whatever the hell that means?) in the modern world. Noël Wells has officially made a debut in the world of film that is an absolute hit, and I am so excited to see what the future holds for this brilliant artist. If this film is an indication of everything she is capable, it is extremely likely that we have a new strong female working behind the camera as well as in front of it, which is something we desperately need right now. This is a film that proves that women, while only making up less than 6% of world film behind the screen, are not only capable of doing great work, but are exceptional at it in most cases. And I truly believe that Mr. Roosevelt is nothing short of direct evidence to this case. You’re going to love it. I guarantee it.

Mr. Roosevelt is currently enjoying a run at the Arena CineLounge in Los Angeles, November 17th – 23rd. 

The film will also have its NYC premiere at the legendary Landmark Theatre’s Sunshine Cinema, November 22nd – 28th. 

Stay tuned for further announcements of the films release across digital platforms and in physical form as well. And check out the lovely trailer for Mr. Roosevelt, right here:

Nick Hexum [Interview]


So, this is another very special interview. It has a lot of personal meaning for this former 90’s kid, but it really doesn’t have to be that specific. Nick Hexum is a founding member of a band that has truly stood the time, who came from a time when it was almost never expected of a band to truly make it that long to begin with. The 90’s was a tried and true time for the “one hit wonders” of the world. But, Mr. Hexum and his band 311 have tirelessly proven that they are as far removed from that sort of title as possible.

In fact, 311 has arguably developed one of the most devoted fanbases of the modern ages. They have been the same band (literally, the same people!) for 25 years, and have been creating some of the same magic that everyone has come to know and love over the years. Nick and the gang have found a formula for success that has worked, and continue to amaze audiences across the land (and sea!) to this very day. He is a truly impressive artist, and a damn fine human being at that. And we are so happy that he was able to take a few moments out of his busy touring schedule to share a few words with us here today. So ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy so absolutely lovely words from the great Nick Hexum!

When did you first discover your passion for music? Was there an “Aha!” moment when you realized you wanted to be a performer for a living? Or did it evolve naturally? 

My parents tell me I was already set on a career in rock’n roll by the time I was in first grade. My first musical love was 50’s rock’n roll. Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc. I used to put on little performances for the family and jumped at any chance I got to be on a stage.

With an abundance of brilliant tracks in the 311 arsenal, I am curious to know what are your favorite tracks to perform live? What songs really get the crowd moving?

There’s a certain magic about playing an oldie for a crowd. We have all lived with every note for so long, it really gets the crowd moving. I find an extra thrill in getting the crowd moving to the same extent but when it’s a new song.

You have one of the most admirably loyal fan followings I have ever heard of, and that is being modest. So, to allow you to toot your own horn a bit…why do you think that is? What do you believe 311 does differently that keeps your fans so very loyal?

I guess we just struck a chord with our music and message.  It was something that was missing in our culture. It’s an honor to be a part of. People now see 311 as a way of looking at the world and the community that has developed is truly special.

I have heard some wonderful tales from the 311 Cruise, which seems like a very unique and exciting experience. Where did this idea stem from? What made you decide to take 311 to the open seas? And how has the experience been thus far?

Well after 311 Day involved into an event that people travelled from all over to be a part of, having a travel experience like the cruise was an obvious fit.  We work really hard with the cruise company to make it the ultimate vacation for 311 fans.  It’s a total blast.

After all of these years in the game, and 311 being the 4th longest running group with all original members, what is it that keeps your drive going? What compels you to continue to perform for audiences around the globe?

We still feel a hunger to explore music and spread our message further.  Music is a never ending journey.  There’s always new styles to be influenced by and new people to reach.  We still have lots of energy.

When you are out on your massive and consistently occurring tours, what does a tour diet consist of? Is it simply an endless cycling of late night diners and truck stop buffets?

We used to eat junk food in the early days.  Now we know where all the good sushi is.  Mercury be damned!

What does the future hold for you and 311? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I think we’ve discovered some new styles on Mosaic and we plan to get back into the studio soon and take those styles further.  Stay tuned for 311 Uplifter CBD vape products coming soon!

What  was the last thing that made you smile?

Soulcycle class today on our day off in Chicago was a lot of fun.  Nothing like a good sweat with loud pounding music.

Luz Mendoza [Interview]


Today’s interviewee is a person who I have long admired, and have been wanting to have featured on the site since the inception of Trainwreck’d Society. Luz Mendoza is an absolute genius in the world of indie folk that I have held to such a high accord for so long, and have been covering since my early days as a lowly music blogger, all the way up until now during my days as a lowly music and film blogger. She has a perfectly apt and brilliant ability to sincerely write the fuck out of a song. That is without a doubt her strongest trait. Throw on top of that a brilliant set of vocals and a being a powerhouse musician, she is the real deal people.

As I said before, I have been watching this amazing musician grow so much over the years, and have been lucky enough to indulge in every amazing Y La Bamba project she has given to the world. Each and every completed work that Luz has consistently been the best work of that given year. The singular track “Fasting In San Francisco”, now several years old at this point, is still registered as a classic in my personal listening songbook. I seriously cannot say enough great things about this amazing artist.

So, I will simply just shut up, and let you enjoy some amazing words from the great Luz Mendoza! Enjoy!

When did you decide you wanted to join the world of artistic expression? And has music always been your focus when it comes to creating your art?

My expression has never felt like a desicion I made, but rather a decision to embrace the fact that I have been in the world of artistic expression, aka sharing vulnerability. Music has been a large focus on how I create and move energy, as well as other things that extend from that such as my visual and performance art projects and social activism.

And when did Y La Bamba come into play? If you are so kind, can you give us a little background on this amazing band/project that you have been curating for all of these years?

The band started as myself in 2006. I brought a band together and since then its been a on going colaboration with friends and other talented musicians that I have had the honor of playing with as I keep growing in my expression.

As a mastermind behind the craft of beautiful songwriting, I am curious to know some things about your process. Mainly: how do you know when you a song is complete? Is there an exact moment or feeling you are looking to experience to know that a song is complete?

Songs are conversations that change and evolve as we go that or nor complete or limited. I like to encourage creative freedom with others.
I expierence that feeling of freedom when I let go of the pre conceived pressure around finishing a song.

Speaking of beautiful songs, you wrote a song that has remained at the top of my hypothetical “single’s list” since I first heard it, entitled “Fasting In San Francisco”. I still have it in rotation to this day. Would you be able to give us a little insight into this track? Where did the idea for this lovely track come from?

What a flash back! that song was written when I was so sick  10 years ago in my room learning how to record myself for the first time as I was listening to Laura Gibson, and Coco Rosie and Violeta Parra.

I was in a place of surrender, and that song is the documentation of my growth. That reflection is so important to me. It was about love and war the innocence behind my healing.

You have been working with our old friends at Tender Loving Empire for quite some time as well, releasing 5 wonderful records, including your latest entitled Ojos del Sol. So how did you manage to team up with Jared & Co. to create such amazing art together? And what keeps you working with TLE after all of these years?

Tender Loving Empire have been my Rock through out the years.
I love them dearly and support them.

Y La Bamba live @ Picakthon 2012, photographed terribly by yours truly, this is Luz and my OG blogging inspiration Ben Meyercord, a.k.a. half of Y La Bamba in 2012.

It has been 5 years since I last saw Y La Bamba, live at Pickathon in Happy Valley, Oregon. I understand you were just there again this last summer? So how did it go? And what is it about Pickathon that keeps you coming back?

I have always loved Picathon they are good to there people and the environment. I love going back and sharing those moments with friends. We played a couple of shows. There were definitely some moments where i felt ex seen and heard in my cultural identity as a latina female in this day in age then before it was however still a reminder of how out numbered women of color are in the music industry over all and often mis interpreted or un heard. It was nice to have productive conversations about things that have made me feel marginalized for years.

Pickathon tends to be a large scale event.  But, you have also done some more low key and intimate shows. Do you enjoy the large scale with packed audiences, or the intimate showings? 

I am sensitive to any crowd.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

My future as an artist is using my medium to connect and grow and heal because we really really really need eahother right now and not get into the petty overly self righteous culture that isolates us from compassion and understading.

I will hopefully record a new something something soon.

I am on a journey this year to also tour with Hijos De La Montaña in Europe.

I anticipate a lot more un expected but predictable social changes and I am trying to stay strong for myself and my community. I recorded an EP on cassettes called Red Earth in which all proceeds go to Adelante Mujeres a non profit that provides holistic education and empowerment oppurtunities to low income latina women. Below are some links and would love to encourage everyone in donating to this organization! Its so key to reach out to your community and arriving with support because help is needed.

http://adelantemujeres.org

https://tenderlovingempire.com/pages/generous

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Awe I smiled at this amazing white fluffy dog this morning! that looked like  it came from another planet. As it was crossing the street it seemed like it was floating right by. Like that moment in that movie where everything slows down when the most beautiful angelic thing you have ever seen is passing right by you.

It reminded me of life.