This series is a new effort to highlight artists on Bandcamp by talking with them, discussing their music, and why I find it rad.
Mental Fatal, a three piece out of New Zealand, are the definition of a garage punk group. Rough around the edges in all the right ways, the group is the kind of project made for the internet age of music distribution – DIY punk with enough energy to take down a fortress (one most likely made of capitalism). Using that raw aesthetic that hundreds of bands try to either shed or embrace to their advantage, songs like “Jeffree,” “Reckless Times,” and “Burning People” all bring that snotty groove and power pioneered by the likes of the Circle Jerks and the Dead Kennedys and the burning intensity of Choking Victim.
Because I so earnestly believe in the quality of their product and admire the fruits of their labor, I wanted to shine a spotlight on these garage-destroyers from Christchurch and their lovable jams – below you will find a condensed showcase of the brand of throw-a-chair-through-window punk titled The Virus. It’s a lively little bugger, short enough for you to listen to on a lunch break or between chores (or whatever you may be doing with your time), but long enough for the band to make their presence known to the listener.
I had even had an opportunity to ask the group some questions:
Sean: First off, thank you so much for being the first band to participate in this Bandcamp Spotlight series!
Mental Fatal: Thank you for having us to participate.
Sean: What was your first exposure to music?
Mission: That’s a really interesting one, growing up would always be things that parents listened to. Like at home was always Neil Diamond and Van Morrison and stuff.
Craig: Mine was when I wrote my first symphony, 3 months before I came out of the womb.
Levi: I remember listening to a lot of 50s Rock and Roll on second-hand cassette, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, etc.
Sean: Everyone’s got the artists that fuel their creative fires, so to speak. Musicians who form ideas in the minds of the next artists to pick up the axe/bass/drums/what have you. Who would you consider the most formative/influential bands for Mental Fatal?
Levi: I’d say Nirvana had a huge impact on how I approached music in general. And, Against Me!
Craig: Yeah. And Blink 182 was a big part of why I started playing drums as a kid.
Mission: I just wanted to make hips move as good as Les Claypool! (he thinks he has sexy hips lol)
Sean: Punk is a genre often associated with strong lyrical themes, what current world issues/general themes inspired The Virus’ abrasive tracks?
Levi: The Virus, especially the title track, could be summed up as a very angry response to world issues like climate change inaction, the oil industry, the unsustainable growth based economy, poor world leadership, ill wealth distribution, and painful 50+ hour work weeks.
Sean: The live show is an integral part of punk music. What’s your favorite part about playing live?
Mental Fatal: Getting drunk! There’s really nothing like playing angry, fast music, to a bunch of people that are getting into it and having fun. It’s better than anything. It’s all about the energy, that’s why when we’re on stage we just put our whole 107% and throw ourselves into it, it’s just amazing.
Sean: How would you describe punk to someone who’s never heard anything edgier than Kenny G?
Mental Fatal: SUDDEN! *riffage* SHOCK …FOUR!!!! *chaos ensues*
Sean: Tell me about the creative process when it comes to recording a Mental Fatal record.
Mental Fatal: It involves nudity, booze and wax play.
Sean: What would you say is your main goal for Mental Fatal?
Mission: If it can affect somebody’s life and show them the problems we’re facing that we need to change, if it gets right in the face of the bigots, then we’re doing I good job.
Levi: Yeah. If the songs have a positive impact on some people, then I can feel like I’ve given back to music like it’s done for me for so long.
Sean: Who in your life has made the biggest impact on you as a person?
Mental Fatal: You.
Sean: Oh my, thank you! Finally, I’m going to give you some songs that remind me of your two releases. I want your absolute honest opinions, no matter how harsh or adoring.
Mental Fatal: It’s raw, and energetic. It sounds like some kind of diy recording which is similar to how our earlier release was in attitude.
Sean: Yeah, they’re really rad and they were even better live, I saw ‘em with D.R.I. and a couple of other groups.
Mental Fatal: That’s really fast! We wish we sounded like that sometimes! Short and sweet, too, we like that.
Sean: Definitely one of those essential powerviolence bands.
Mental Fatal: We like the message. Could be faster, but we’d bet they have some other pretty sweet songs. Short and sweet also, not bad.
Sean: I’m a fan of that riot grrrl scene and their Antidisestablishmentarianism EP is one I’ve heard quite a few times.
Make sure to check out their new EP, The Virus!