“When did Oklahoma City get a basketball team?” my friend asked me on the phone as she watched her father’s Lakers face the Thunder in the 2010 NBA playoffs.
“They’ve had one,” I said, “They moved there from Seattle. You didn’t know?”
I suddenly remembered being just as confused as the time when I found out that Oklahoma City got a pro basketball franchise. Granted, the Hornets did play there while New Orleans was in disrepair following the deluge, which planted the seeds for Mayor Mick Cornett and the city council to bring the beleaguered Seattle franchise to town.
Prior to going to Oklahoma City, all I associated it with was an unspeakable national tragedy from when I was in middle school, a Rogers & Hammerstein work, some Merle Haggard song, and, of course, The Flaming Lips, of whom Cornett turned out to be a fan. I shouldn’t have been surprised, since he spearheaded the naming of Flaming Lips Alley in downtown OKC, and also, along with Governor Brad Henry, helped plant “Do You Realize??” as the state rock song. Suddenly, it made sense that Wayne Coyne never left his hometown, even as major label riches rolled in and the opportunity to move to a cosmopolitan coastal city beckoned.
For years, in a similar vein, advising anybody in Texas (or any of the states touching it) with a guitar and decent connections against moving to Austin seemed absurd. (I mean, South by Southwest, maaaan.) But as tempting as Austin may be for an up and coming group of OKC punks, nothing could change the fact that for all of its tornado-spun, drought-ridden faults, Oklahoma City is still home.
Now, after years of “flyover” status, the city has emerged on the national scene as a city that has grown during a major economic downturn, and the people who stuck around are reaping the benefits. It even has a few good independent record shops like Size and Guestroom, where I stumbled upon the debut EP by Red City Radio, To the Sons & Daughters of Woody Guthrie. My friend Lance had told me about this band; their drummer was a college friend. I bought the CD, went back to my hotel, put it on, and was completely amazed away by the sheer gruff power, harmonies, production, and pure heart this band poured out. When they belted about how they “won’t be silenced anymore” on the song “We Are the Sons of Woody Guthrie,” it rang truer than any lyrics I’d heard in some time. When they came through Baltimore on tour, I jumped at the opportunity to see them play these songs live. In a quintessential Spinal Tap moment, the mics cut out halfway through a couple of their songs due to a technical problem at the venue. Despite the setback, they refused to stop mid-song, and even leaped out into the crowd to yell their lyrics directly into the audience’s ears. Afterwards, we sat down for a long discussion about their history, punk (and some country) music, and why they couldn’t hail from anywhere but Oklahoma.
Paul Pendley: Guitar & Lead Vocals
Dallas Tidwell: Drums & Vocals
Garrett Dale: Guitar & Lead Vocals
Jonathon Knight: Bass & Vocals
Tyler: How old are all of you and how long have you been playing in bands?
Garrett: I’m twenty-three years old, and everyone else is older.
Dallas: It’s okay to look shocked [at Garrett].
Tyler: Had you all played in bands prior to Red City Radio?
Paul: Everyone has played guitar and fronted his own band.
Garrett: Even the bassist and drummer. All different kinds of genres, too. We weren’t all necessarily just playing in punk bands, either. Jonathon was playing in a pop band, sort of like Jimmy Eat World. Dallas was singing, really high-pitched… [Laughter]
Dallas: I was playing in something that straddled the line between shitty pop punk and Fat Wreck Chords blast beat type stuff, if that makes any sense. It was not good.
Tyler: What about what led to Red City Radio?
Paul: Oh, man, I’ll try to give you the short version of this.
Garrett: [Dramatic] We belong to each other!
Paul: I wasn’t really playing music anymore at the time, and I had just moved into this new rental house. The guy who moved in next door to me had a Jawbreaker sticker on his car. So I thought “Oh, my new neighbor must be cool.” We ended up talking and I would start going over there; we’d listen to music together. He had a different style when it came to what he played and what he listened to. It opened me up to new ideas. We started playing guitar together, we really liked the songs, and decided to just give it a go. We found Dallas and went through a series of bass players, inevitably winding up with Jo-Jo over here. Anyway, the guy who I started the band with, his name was Ryan Healy. We were just about to start going to play shows outside of Oklahoma City, booking shows in Nebraska, and right before we’re about to leave he decides he can’t do it.
Jonathon: He didn’t want to tour.
Paul: And I thought, “Aw, fuck. We’ve been working on these songs for six months.” So, I found Garrett, who actually already knew some of the material. He jumped right in, and the rest is history.
Garrett: I’m a bad motherfucker.
Tyler: Was it already called Red City Radio at that point?
Paul: Yes. We went through a series of name ideas, and then we wound up settling on this take on a William S. Burroughs spoken word album called Dead City Radio. We changed it to Red City Radio because it reflects the color of our soil (in Oklahoma). Where we come from, it’s the “home of the red man.” It’s definitely a red state. Not a single county voted for Obama.
Tyler: My friend from Oklahoma told me that the Southeastern quadrant of the state is a special brand of crazy.
Paul: It’s kind of funny. It’s actually really pretty down there. I think they call that area “Little Dixie.” Traditionally, it’s a very democratic area of the country, but it’s that weird southern democrat. They voted Democrat because they just did. It didn’t really reflect their politics at all. It’s like Arkansas... but it’s not.
Dallas: My favorite part is the northeast, because there’s a lot of Bigfoot sightings, by Miami and places around there.
Paul: It’s amazing how that guy gets around.
Dallas: He’s a fast mover.
Paul: He’s got a long stride.
Tyler: Did you all grow up in Oklahoma?
Garrett: I did not. I was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. Then I moved to Spain for a year and then I moved to England for four and a half years. I later moved to Midwest City, Oklahoma. Then I moved to Oklahoma City, after being everywhere and seeing everything in the world. I am very thankful that I was brought to Oklahoma City. The people are so nice, the music is thriving. I mean, it’s the home of Woody Guthrie, and that mentality is still there. There’s so much passion that we don’t even know what to do with it. I absolutely love it.
Dallas: I grew up in Nebraska. My answer is not nearly as interesting as Garrett’s. I actually went to a small college in Nebraska for a year, and then decided that I hated it. I wanted to get away, and I knew two people who went to school at OSU, so I thought, “Great, I can meet new people, but there are enough people there so I’m not completely on my own.” As soon as I arrived at Oklahoma State, they both transferred back to Nebraska and left me alone, and I’ve been there ever since. But it’s worked out.
Jonathon: I was actually born and raised in Oklahoma, with the exception of one year I spent in Plano, Texas in kindergarten. And for the record, I hated my stepmother, so I moved back home. When I moved back, I actually moved back to the very rural Coweta, which is just outside of Tulsa.
Paul: Jo-Jo grew up in a Mulberry Tree.
Jonathon: It was so desolate out there, that from first through third grade I was literally eight miles from a paved road. I eventually moved back to Oklahoma City to finish elementary school.
Tyler: You mentioned that there is a lot of passion in Oklahoma City, and the scene is really good. Has it always been that way?
Dallas: The first punk show I ever went to in Oklahoma was a Queers show at a venue called The Hole, in the early 2000s. At the time, I didn’t realize that Paul ran it.
Paul: It was a collective of many people. I was there every night for about four months. It was the most awesome and yet the most terrible experience of my whole life. It was made out of an old shopping center. I mean, they still had shopping carts and shit around. I didn’t come up with the name, but it really was a hole. It was completely gnarly. There was trash everywhere. Beer cans all over the place. No stage. But we did have quite a few bands come through.
Garrett: Didn’t The Vandals play there?
Paul: When it moved down the strip to an old theater, The Vandals played there, yeah.
Garrett: It pretty much just died off. There was a lot of stuff going on in the late ‘90s, and we had the best venue ever—The Green Door. But people just stopped going to shows. Nobody was forming any good local bands. It was a bummer.
Tyler: Why do you think that was?
Paul: Well, when I was a kid, there was nothing, especially if you played in a punk band. It was all bars, and there were no all-ages venues. When I was fourteen or fifteen, I suddenly realized there was this wellspring of hundreds of kids that either had bands or wanted to see them and do it themselves. So, we started renting out legion halls, and it got really popular. There’d be 250 kids there on a Tuesday night. We were having five shows a week, and it was really great. There were bands popping up left and right. When we got a punk club there called The Green Door, that DIY scene kind of died away, because it wasn’t really as necessary anymore. It was still there, just not as vibrant. Then, when The Green Door got shut down in 2006, there was just a lull. They had one location, and then they moved downtown to Bricktown, to a 700-capacity room. It was even better downtown because they could have bigger shows come through that they couldn’t have had before. And then another club called the Conservatory took the old spot, and that’s still there. They do all kinds of music there, which is cool, but then the Green Door shut down downtown. The building is still there. It’s been vacant ever since they shuttered it.
Jonathon: It was so expensive to maintain. They required three sold out shows a month just to stay open, and they decided they couldn’t do it anymore.
Tyler: Do you think the city’s economic upswing has been good or bad for punk there?
Garrett: It’s great! I can afford beer at shows!
Paul: The overall mood and mindset of the city has drastically improved and I think that’s helped the music scene. I mean, music’s entertainment, so if people have more money, they’re more willing to spend the entertainment dollar than they were before. There are more bands, more people. I think it’s helped the music scene a lot.
Garrett: People get inspired, you know? You get Kevin Durant on your basketball team, everyone gets excited.
Dallas: It has a lot to do with the self-esteem of a city. For a long time in Oklahoma, Tulsa was the city. And now it’s flip-flopped. Oklahoma City is the city that has the NBA team and Tulsa’s playing catch-up. I think when any city has a self-esteem boost, they start to think, “Sure, we can provide really good entertainment and great music. We can be an Austin or some city like that.”
Tyler: Do you all live in Oklahoma City now?
Dallas: The three of them do. I still live in Stillwater. Trying to move to Oklahoma City, though.
Tyler: Have you always been playing in bands around Stillwater?
Dallas: When I was in college, I had your average college band. We played in bars and we’d do Neil Young covers.
Tyler: Was that how you’d get booked, by playing covers?
Dallas: Well, the way we’d get booked is that my wife would go in and threaten to choke the bar owner. That actually happened once.
Jonathon: And now she’s my boss.
Tyler: I should rephrase that; is that how one gets booked in Stillwater? Because as much as punk has flourished in Oklahoma, I’d imagine it’s still very country, country, country.
Dallas: Oh, of course. In Stillwater right now, the “red dirt” scene is really big. It’s country, but it’s a lot closer to the outlaw style of country, like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. It’s somewhere between that and the super-poppy country that’s big now. There’s also a lot of indie rock, too.
Jonathon: I guess you could expect that from any college town, though.
Tyler: Did you guys all grow up listening to country? Were you forced to listen to it or was it something you enjoyed before getting into punk?
Garrett: It’s different for every single one of us.
Paul: That was all my parents listened to. I actually still think that’s all they listen to, except that my mom listens to Chant music now. She’s found religion in a very strange place. But, yeah, country is all I heard growing up and I absolutely hated it. I hated it so much that it would give me the shakes. When I was a little kid, all I wanted was to listen to KJ101, the Top 40 station, and all I would hear was Juice Newton’s playing with the Queen Of Hearts and Conway Twitty. I wanted to listen to metal. But it’s funny that, as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized I love all those old songs, and I’ve started going back to it. New country can suck a dick.
Garrett: See, I absolutely love country music. I think the term “country” gets thrown around too much today. I loved Conway Twitty and the stuff my parents fed me. I didn’t really get into punk rock until I got turned onto stuff like Operation Ivy and the Dead Kennedys when I was eleven. I thought, “Oh man, this is way faster than country music!” Before that, bluegrass was the only sorta-punk outlet that I’d ever had.
Jonathon: I listened to country growing up just because my mom did, but, personally, I’m not a huge fan.
Dallas: I don’t know if you want me to say this or not, but was it your mom who managed country artists, or your dad?
Jonathon: Well, my mom worked for a management company that worked with the Oak Ridge Boys, and my dad worked for a record label as something like a talent scout, I think. They were both instrumental in putting together the major label record deal for The Oak Ridge Boys.
Paul: And, oddly enough, my favorite song growing up was “Elvira.”
[The band spontaneously breaks into a line from “Elvira.”]
Jonathon: It was a long time ago, but I think the label my dad worked with was trying to find something that merged country with gospel.
Dallas: And they found it!
Paul: And a sweet beard. Oh man, that guy had the most epic beard of all time.
Jonathon: It was a Gandalf beard.
Dallas: I grew up with both of my parents listening to country. I listened to it and loved it. Then at some point, I really got into hair metal, which is weird. The first cassette tape I bought was Quiet Riot’s Metal Health, and the second was Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry, and I was really into KISS. When I was fourteen or fifteen, I was growing out of it and didn’t really know what I liked. I thought Nirvana was okay, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for. Then I saw Green Day play “Basket Case” on Letterman and I got goose bumps. I thought, “Holy shit, that’s amazing.”
Paul: And you have to keep in mind that Dallas grew up in rural Nebraska.
Dallas: Yeah, I was completely isolated. I didn’t have MTV or anything. It was like growing up in a 1950s town. There was no music scene. Everything was country and top-40 radio. Then this cool kid with piercings moved to town from Oregon. He handed me a cassette tape with NOFX’s Ribbed on one side and Punk in Drublic on the other side. I completely shit my pants. It was exactly what I was looking for. After that, I devoured everything I could get my hands on.
Tyler: In the opening line of the song “We Are the Sons of Woody Guthrie,” it implores someone to, “Tell all the boys in New York about that Oklahoma City sound.” How would you describe the Oklahoma City sound?
Garrett: Like I mentioned earlier, Oklahoma has been a great place for country music, and a lot of people like Garth Brooks and Merle Haggard came out of there, but it’s never been like California or Seattle, where you have this wave of bands that have a similar sound. In Oklahoma, every single band is unique. What I meant by “the Oklahoma City sound” is doing whatever you want to musically. Don’t ever, ever, ever put yourself in some kind of box or some scene. Don’t be like, “Oh man, that’s such a great ska band down the street. Let’s start a ska band and we’ll have a huge ska wave.” No! Just do what you love. That’s the only way that anybody’s ever going to connect with it. That’s what the Oklahoma City sound is—putting your heart out there as much as you possibly can.
Tyler:Dallas, I heard a rumor that you once auditioned to play drums for…
Dallas: Oh, god.
Tyler: ...the All-American Rejects.
Dallas: It was back when I was still playing in the shitty Neil...
Dallas: Neil Young. I almost said Neil Diamond, yeah.
Garrett: It would have been way better.
Dallas: It was when I was still in that band, and at the time, The All-American Rejects was just Nick (Wheeler) and Tyson (Ritter). They didn’t have anybody else. It was just the two of them playing with a drum machine and prerecorded instruments. I wasn’t that into them. But after seeing them perform, I was fairly impressed with what they were doing. So I just put myself out there and went up to them after a show. I said I was a drummer and that I’d really like to be in their band, and Tyson said they didn’t deal with that and that I’d have to talk to their manager. He totally cold-shouldered me.
Tyler: He big-timed you at a bar?
Dallas: Yeah, at this tiny bar in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Anyway, I had a video camera. I went and memorized one of their songs off of the demo, and played it without any instrumental backing track. Nailed it. I even put on my coolest outfit, like totally trying to impress these guys.
Garrett: What was your coolest outfit?
Dallas: I’m not going to say. It was fucking dumb. I’ll just say this—I looked like a green version of Meg off of Family Guy. [Laughter] So, I did the song, riffed on my drums for a few minutes, then sent it off. And, that’s it. They weren’t impressed with my outfit, I guess.
Paul: Well, their loss... is our loss.
Tyler: The last time I talked to you guys, I immediately brought up, and I feel bad about it now, Hot Water Music. Maybe it was more the vocals more than the music specifically, that recall that No Idea “gruff.” Do you get a bunch of HWM comparisons because of the vocals and certain elements of the music?
Garrett: Thank you so much for saying that.
Paul: We do get them, but not as much as we used to, because I think people are more familiar with us now. Because of the vocals, it is an easy comparison to make. And it’s incredibly flattering. Who wouldn’t want to be compared to Hot Water Music
Jonathon: I feel like we’re poppier than Hot Water Music.
Paul: I do, too. I just think it’s died down quite a bit. The strange thing is, we never get the same comparison twice. I was actually compiling a list about a year ago of every comparison we’ve ever gotten, because it was so funny. I’ve heard Choking Victim, Braid, Small Brown Bike, Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio...
Garrett: Someone said it’s like Jawbreaker meets Rancid.
Paul: When you sit there and look at that list, I guess you can think of it as a tribute to what we’re doing? That people interpret so many different things from what we’re doing. It’s kind of like a Rorschach test or something. All it means to me is that we’re on the right track with whatever it is we’re doing. We don’t even really plan to sound a certain way, we just write and it comes out.
Jonathon: My favorite comparison is “Screeching Weasel meets The Hold Steady at Jet Decibel level.” I like that one. Except we don’t talk-sing like the Hold Steady does.
Paul: We had this show review, by this one guy who…
Garrett: Are you really gonna quote him on this?
Paul: Oh, totally. I’m totally going to quote him. It was the worst show review. We opened up for MC Chris, which was just bizarre. It sold out. It was a big show, which was why we wanted to play it. And this reviewer went to the show, because, apparently, he’s a huge MC Chris fan, and wrote up the show in the entertainment section of the Norman Transcript.
Garrett: Oh, I’ve got it saved on my computer. “This band sounds like a bunch of dudes wearing Ramones shirts, chugging Mountain Dew, driving their jeeps to the Warped Tour.”
Paul: Okay, and then he goes on to say it sounds like Rancid mixed with the Rolling Stones and then calls it contrived. And I’m sitting there, thinking that I don’t think anyone’s mixed Rancid with the Rolling Stones! This is the most unique shit ever! Contrived, my ass! [Laughter] Anyway, it was just so horribly written and didn’t make sense, but my favorite part was the last line: “Punk may not be dead, but Red City Radio may make you wish it was.”
Garrett: And, weirdly enough, that was our only bad review that we’ve ever gotten. I mean, we really care about what people say, and we really appreciate all of the great reviews we’ve gotten.
Jonathon: Yeah, we were all waiting for a bad one on the EP that came out last year (For the Sons and Daughters of Woody Guthrie). Not to say that it was all glowing or anything, but we were expecting to get at least one sucker punch below the belt. Thankfully, that never happened.
Paul: The people we hire to write our songs are really good. [Laughter]
Tyler: Did you record the EP at the Blasting Room in Ft.Collins?
Jonathon: No, we actually recorded it at Armstrong Recording. It’s in Tulsa, which is where Stephen Egerton (of the Descendents and ALL) records now. He used to record with Bill Stevenson in Ft.Collins, but he lives with his family in Tulsa now.
Tyler: Wow, I had no idea he was in Tulsa.
Jonathon: Yeah, he’s got a wife, two kids. The previous band I’d played in was on a small Oklahoma label with another band called Minutes Too Far. He mixed their record and he ended up approaching us saying that if we ever needed recording time, he’d opened a studio. So I worked with him on that, and I was always a huge Descendents fan. So, when I joined Red City Radio, that was one of two stipulations that I had. A: this band needs to be touring, because in the past band I’d played in, that was always a big problem. B: I thought this band would work really well with Stephen’s ability to capture a great punk rock sound. So, within two months of me being in the band, we went and recorded that five-song EP. Egerton is incredibly talented with what he does, and of course it didn’t hurt to say that he did our record as far as trying to book shows in markets we’d never played. It just worked out all around, and he wound up recording our full-length that’s coming out early 2010. It’s gonna be called The Dangers of Standing Still.
Tyler: When you first started playing around in Oklahoma, did you run into any problems because you played the type of music that you do?
Garrett: Not in Oklahoma City. It’s a great punk city.
Paul: That was mostly because we all came up in that scene and we all knew the right people and where we were supposed to play. Although—was it our first tour that we played at the Wagon Wheel in Kansas?
Dallas: Yeah, that was in Emporia, Kansas.
Paul: And the only person who showed up was that smoky old broad who ran the joint. Then two guys showed up that actually came to see us. And there was another couple that I’m pretty sure were married to other people but they were meeting there for some secret rendezvous. They just made out in a booth the entire time.
Garrett: They actually asked us to turn it down! The bar told us we could probably leave because nobody was going to show up.
Paul: The best part was, we were touring with this other band called Streets Of Thieves. There was no one there, but they had smoke machines! So we’re like, “Fuck yeah. Fire those fuckers up and let’s do this!’ So the whole time we’re playing, there are just lasers, blasts of smoke…
Dallas: Amazing light show, stadium smoke, wood paneling, some Budweiser mirrors on the walls, and two dudes.
Jonathon:And one guy showed up at the end and showed us all his nuts. You guys remember that? He just asked, “You wanna see my nuts?” Then he pulled his nuts out.
Tyler: This interview is over! I got my story right there.
Dallas: Oh, man. Right after Jonathon joined the band, we booked this mini-run to Colorado. And I don’t even know if I’ve shared this with any of the dudes in this band, but my wife and I were talking about how, with this band, it’s shit-or-get-off-the-pot time. So I told her that we’d do this run of shows and see how it felt, if we got a good reception or not. And if not, then maybe we’d hang it up and do something else. So, we got to Colorado, and the first time we played Fort Collins, and Surfside 7, and kids went ape shit. They just loved it. And, immediately, we realized that maybe we were doing something right. That was the catalyst for everything that we’ve done since then.
Garrett: That was the night that, right before we started playing, I lifted my guitar up and smashed my fucking head, so I had this giant red thing on my face. Then, during the set, while we were playing “If All Else Fails, Play Dead,” Paul was singing lead and I’m really getting into it, then I fall backwards, through the front door.
Paul: He literally rolled backwards out of the club and onto the street.
Garrett: Then I got back up and hit my note perfectly!
Paul: It was pretty epic.
Tyler: The most important question is, was it the same Flying-V guitar you always play?
Garrett: Totally. I think it was actually Jo-Jo’s Flying-V I was borrowing!
Jonathon: I was fucking nervous as shit.
Garrett: We both just really like Flying-Vs. We’re obnoxious. But it’s cool.
Jonathon: Another highlight for me, at least, was heading out to the West Coast last summer. I’d never even been to California before in my life. We got lucky enough to score a show with Off With Their Heads and Dear Landlord, and to have people in the front singing along to our songs was so completely fucking surreal.
Dallas: Yeah, because at that point we were still definitely a newly touring band.
Jonathon: At that point there were definitely more stinkers than success stories.
Paul: It was on our first major tour a couple of years ago, and we played at a legion hall in Imperial, Nebraska. Then we got in the van and drove west with a lot in the kitty. I mean, we were banking. We had this massive trailer with us that would cause the van to start overheating when we would go up mountains. Then we got to Salt Lake City, and there was no one there. It had been a really long drive, just eating gas. Then we go to Boise, and no one’s there. We were just hemorrhaging money. So we drove overnight from Boise to Seattle, almost dying a couple of times in the mountain passes. No one’s there. So, we get to Portland after a three hour drive. We thought, “Yeah, Portland’s a punk rock town. Everything’s going to be okay. This is going to be awesome.” So, leading up to the gig... Jo-Jo’s got a beard, that’s a borderline child molester beard. Like, mountain man, if he stares at a school bus they turn around, type of beard.
Garrett: An “I’ll have a table for one at Chuck E. Cheese” beard.
Paul: We all looked like shit. We go into Mary’s strip club, and Jo-Jo’s in his sunglasses…
Jonathon: They were prescription! I didn’t want to walk five blocks back to get my shit.
Paul: So we’re joking around, having a good time, thinking it’s going to rule. We get to the show nearby, and we end up playing after this band that could only be described as a bunch of high school drama club kids got together and started a very mediocre emo band. So the singer, who’s wearing a purple scarf the entire time he’s playing, is gesticulating wildly.
Garrett: He looked like Otho from Beetlejuice. Exactly like him.
Paul: He was just making all these over-the-top, effeminate gestures. And during the guitar breaks, he kept on running out the door with his microphone, then popping back in, with aplomb.
Garrett: So we’re watching this, and it’s just embarrassing, for all of us.
Paul: Then we played a pretty good set, but there were about fifteen people there. So, after this entire ordeal, where we were completely desperate for gas money to make it to San Francisco, the promoter looked at us and said, “Oh, sorry. We don’t have any money. After I pay the sound guy, the security, and the bartender, there’s no money for you!” I said he had to be fucking kidding us. We’d just traveled four thousand miles to get there, and he couldn’t even kick us twenty bucks. It was a miracle that we did manage to make it to San Francisco, but that whole thing was just the biggest insult to injury. I thought that my tips were paying the bartender.
Garrett: You’re forgetting about the band after us. There was a drum machine, and there were about seven guitar players. They were all maybe fourteen or fifteen and they looked like Marilyn Manson’s band. They had all sorts of weird goth effects, two keyboard players, and the singer, who was wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt.
Tyler: Jonathon, I couldn’t help but notice your Wu-Tang W tattoo on your left forearm while you were playing. What does it say on it?
Jonathon: It says, “MC Jon $.”
Tyler: Have you ever performed publicly as MC Jon Dollars?
Jonathon: Not publicly, but I have performed in front of people.
Garrett: The album drops 2012!
Jonathon: I got into hip-hop right around the same time I got into punk. I was specifically into East Coast stuff, and Wu-Tang was pretty monumental for me. We used to joke around and record songs. I had a bunch of rap aliases. MC Jonathon Dollar was just one of them. The Lyrical Miracle was another. The Verbal Disturbal, too, I think. Anyway, in 2001, I won a trip to Vegas from the place that I was working. So I took a day off before I left for the trip just to pack and shit. My friend Jesse was going to come in from Tulsa. The plan was for him to show up and travel to Vegas with me the next day. That morning, while I was waiting for him to arrive, I woke up and went to take a piss, and realized that the toilet didn’t refill. Now, I was really hung-over from the night before, so shit wasn’t registering with me. I went to try to brush my teeth but the water was barely dribbling out of the faucet. I called my landlord and they said it would be fixed later that day. So, I just got really pissed off, because I couldn’t do my laundry or get anything ready for Vegas. But instead of going to a Laundromat or get any of the shit done that I needed to, what I did was get really, really super-high with my roommate. We recorded a rap song called “I Need a Shower.” I put it up on MySpace (myspace.com/mcjondollar). In almost three years it has about... a thousand plays. [Laughter]
Paul: Oh, you’re gonna be making that MySpace money now!
Jonathon: People have really seriously told me it’s the best song I’ve ever written, which makes me sad and depressed.
Tyler: Where do you see the Oklahoma scene going from here?
Garrett: I think we’re gonna blow up the world. Everybody from Oklahoma’s so nice, they’re “real” people. We’re making more friends every day. The coolest thing about Oklahoma City is that it’s a relatively small town, with so many subdivisions. It’s not necessarily cliques, but we’ve known each other for years, so there’s no bullshit.
Paul: We definitely embrace our scene in Oklahoma and we do try to get more people to come to our town. I think a lot of people overlook Oklahoma City if they’re on the East Coast and planning a tour out west. There are a lot of punk-loving kids there that hopefully we can inspire to start their own bands.