Band Interview : Brokencyde (Warped Tour 2009)

Interview with Mikl and Se7en from BrokenCYDE
Vans Warped Tour 2009

By Aaron Binder

(NOTE: This was, un-ironically, one of my favourite interviews ever.  Completely humble kids making music that, while not technically proficient, had exceptional hooks and appeal to a younger generation of alternative genre seekers.  Also, they smoked so much pot.)

If your first time meeting the two humble, unassuming boys from New Mexico that masterminded the creation of BrokenCYDE was just a regular passing on the street, you’d probably be left shocked, among other things, after seeing their live show.  They’re quiet, soft spoken and rather polite in person, but they turn into Jekyll the instant they hit the stage.  Many people over the age of 18 will not know who BrokenCYDE is; if they do, the name is oft met with guffaws, and mocking laughter; almost as though they completely forgot they listened to Aqua or Stryper or Peter Paul and Mary during their discretionary youth.

Though they may be the poster child for ridiculed bands everywhere, they have talent and know exactly where it lies.  Their live show is entertaining, excessive almost; glorifying sex, drugs, and rock better than most self-proclaimed rock and roll bands in recent years.  On top of that, the intensity they portray translates well onto albums; their full-length gaining so much hype lately that they’ve received over 500,000 plays on Myspace in the last week alone.  Unjustly, many Worst of the Year nominations from major outlets like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork have slammed BrokenCYDE with completely reactionary responses to something that, unbeknownst to them, is on the cutting edge of where popular music is headed over the next couple of years.

The truth is, neither Brokencyde nor their fans really care about the most-hated status.  The status and the angsty nature of the music reminds one almost too much of comparisons to Eminem or Linkin Park.  They’re just not willing to let it get to them for another reason as well; even they know they shouldn’t be where they are.  Their success has baffled even themselves.  Something that started out as an outlet for their daily-grind lives quickly snowballed into a band that had larger and larger projects being thrown at them with absolutely no clue how to handle it all.  They have handled it well so far.  They’ll tell you themselves that they’re broke, but they love what they’re doing because it brings so many people together.

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Bring it all forward to the present and they’re drawing a decent crowd at the Skull Candy stage on the Toronto stop of the Vans Warped Tour.  For a band that has never even crossed the border into Canada (and even their first time didn’t go well, members Antz and Phat J. didn’t make it through for this stop) they are drawing well, and it’s not just novelty, the kids are singing loud, gettin’ crunked and wild.

It’s a high-energy set even with two band members missing, Mikl and Se7en bringing the crunk even harder; the fans are loving it too, they’re happy to be part of something that is going to explode again and again; growing each time, a perpetual big bang.

After the set they retire to the press area, but the interviews are sparse, nobody wants to touch BrokenCYDE.  Their reputation precedes them; most media outlets probably just don’t know how to handle something like this band.  Sitting across from the Fazer lens, Mikl and Se7en look tired but accomplished, even they had no idea how well their presence would go over in Canada.  Glassy-eyed, lounging and smiling, the two masterminds behind BrokenCYDE (Broke inside, get it?) look like two young royals on their way up the barony.  Tired and diffused for the moment, they’re ready to bare their souls and explain exactly what it is that they love so much about their music and culture.

Aaron: Hey guys, how’s it going?

Mikl: Alright…

Se7en:  Good, really good.

Mikl: Yeah, it’s good.

Aaron: Hah, I love how you change your mind after the fact.

(All laughing)

Mikl: We’re doing good, hah, we’re just tired.

Aaron: I caught your set, guys.  It was totally wild.

Mikl: It really came down from where it usually is, two of our guys aren’t here.

Se7en: We usually have a pig on stage.

Mikl: Yeah, our whole crew didn’t get through.

Aaron: All things aside, how’s the tour been?  You guys blew up over the last 6 months.

Mikl: It’s crazy, every few months it just gets bigger and bigger.  It’s insane and we love it, we love our fans more than anything and to see them happy and to see it growing and growing, it’s like a bigger family and it’s just a dream come true.

Aaron: That’s cool, you guys are growing up quickly, what kind of parallels do you draw between yourselves and current music pop culture?

Mikl: We’re just us.  We don’t care what people say or what people think.  We just do us, BrokenCYDE is BrokenCYDE.

Aaron: You guys catch a lot of flak…

Mikl: We get so much.  Every time the BrokenCYDE question comes up, it doesn’t matter who, whether it’s parents or whoever brings it up.  There’s just so much stuff that parents don’t agree with and older people forget that they were doing the same things, saying the same things.  I understand you do that as a parent, but kids are kids.  I was doing the same thing that these kids are doing.

Aaron: You’re just living how you want to live.

Mikl: Yeah, we’re not pulling these kids in, ya know ‘here’s some candy, try BrokenCYDE’.  Our medium is out there, it’s out there for everybody in every age group.

Aaron: It’s obviously caught on.

Mikl: That’s actually showing where the party is at.

Aaron: So because you’re real with people, they’re real with you.

Mikl: Yeah, we’ve gotten a lot of people saying that we’re punks.  We just say it how it is, we’re blunt, and people don’t like it.

Aaron: I was actually just reading about the negative comments you guys get.  There are a bunch of major magazines out there that really don’t like you guys.

Se7en: It’s awesome.

Aaron: Notoriety, right?

Mikl: Yeah, that’s the thing.

Aaron: Does that make you feel anything?

Mikl: It really doesn’t.  I don’t care.  If you talk about me cold.  Thank you, thumbs up, but my name’s coming out of your mouth, I’m not trying to put it there.  We really don’t care about hate or the people that don’t like us.  What we care about is people accepting us and loving us and keeping them happy.  That’s all we wanna do every single day.  Ya know, we’re broke as fuck; I can’t even buy socks at Wal-Mart, but ya know, I don’t care ‘cause I’m here making us and our fans really happy.

Aaron: That’s an interesting point, about making the people and yourselves happy.  The new record you just put out, how happy did that make you?

Mikl: Wow, it’s an honour.  It’s more than we could ever ask for, in the States it was number 86 on Billboard, here we missed it by 12 units to make the top 200 in Canada.  So, we never expected to be here, I expected to work construction for the rest of my life and try to make a living.  But we’re here and we’re grateful, and maybe it’s that mind-state, just doing it for fun.

Aaron:  I really can’t see you guys taking yourselves too seriously ever, you’re probably one of the most ridiculous groups I’ve seen live.  I think that’s part of the allure as well, how did you guys get into the idea behind the show and the band?

Mikl: I think it’s just what you said there, it’s about fun.  We like to have fun, that’s what life is all about.  Today could be our last day, but as long we know we’re having fun, that’s what it’s all about.

Se7en: Yeah.

Mikl: You know, a lot of people give us shit because we don’t take it serious and our music isn’t inspirational, but it is to a lot of people.  It makes their day a lot better and happy.  We do take this serious and it’s fun.  We’re just in it to have fun.

Mike: You had a lot of people in the audience singing your lyrics today.

Mikl: Yeah, cause they’re having fun!  They’re not standing there like gazing at their shoes, they’re sweating, they’re singing and they’re all smiles.  They’re gonna talk about it and have happy memories.

Aaron: For all the flak you catch for your lyrics and attitude, you bring out a lot of positive family vibes.  How do you guys promote that?

Mikl: I think it’s just something in your heart, when you connect with someone.  You know, when you get people throwing fingers or bottles or anything, we point them out to make them feel stupid.  We don’t care, but when we do that, at the same time all these people turn around and flip them off.  It’s like a family being protective, and we’re so lucky and we love our fans so much for all of that.

Aaron: So all these kids that might be outcasts in their lives, they can go to a BrokenCYDE show…

Mikl: And know that they’ll always have that love.  At shows I see people fighting and acting retarded.  And I don’t get it; you’re all here for the same basic idea.  But at our shows it’s nothing but love.  In all the two years we’ve been on the road we’ve never seen a fight happen.  It’s just everybody having a good time.

Aaron: So what kind of international touring are you doing to grow your family and promote the new album?

Mikl: It’s getting crazy.  We just got back from the UK right before starting Warped Tour and that went really well.  2-300 kids a night is so amazing, it’s SO amazing.  Having even 5 kids in front of you, it’s a dream.  There are works to go to Brazil, South America, Australia, Japan.  We’re excited, we’re so lucky.

Aaron: When you do go over to these other countries, what’s the show like?  Is it any different than what you get here?

Mikl: The UK is just insane.  The kids are crazier, they just live for music.

Se7en: It’s the same thing here too.

Mikl: Canada is the same way; the kids are insane; they just love music.

Aaron: It’s your first time up, right?

Mikl: Yeah, it was my first time breathing Canadian air.

Aaron: How’s that feel?

Mikl: It’s got me really high.

Aaron: Anything you want to add?

Mikl: It was nice talking to you and we want to thank all of our Canadian fans and just all the fans that we have and we love all of our family members.

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