Grilling with KEN Mode

Grilling with KEN Mode

by Adam Holtzapfel & Jared Elek

KEN mode interview ManBQue ColumbusWe sat down with Jesse Matthewson (guitar and vocals) of KEN Mode before their show at Ace of Cups with Lo-Pan and Fight AMP before they’re show on 6/20. They are currently touring in support of their new album Success that came out earlier this month. We talk everything from music to food while slaying some pork belly pastrami tacos with sriracha slaw.

MBQ- Being around for several years, do you still feel that noise rock is one of the last underground scenes?

JM – Yea and no. It’s kind of weird with bands like Metz getting more popular. It’s almost like there’s a bit of a resurgence going on with people giving a crap about noise rock, only they keep calling it punk. Punk traditionalists would turn their nose up at that and say it’s pig fuck and stuff like that. Whatever gets people caring about this stuff again. It seems like the scene is growing, which is kind of strange.Like you said us and Fight AMP have been around a while. We’ve been around almost sixteen years. Noise rock was dead as a fucking door nail when we started. It’s strange to have people paying attention and referring to it as a genre again, but hell whatever I’m cool with it. It let’s us play with cool bands. We aren’t going anywhere.

JE- As you said with that resurgence, do you feel like it’s helping the scene grow?

JM- I hope so. Especially a younger crowd that might not follow us. Like my generation, the last kids that grew up in the grunge boom. That was all of our roots. Kids today for whatever reason the nineties stuff is more retro. More people are listening to Nirvana than they have in the last ten years. Bands are reuniting and doing shows and it’s cool.

AH-I kind of noticed that about Success it had a heavy nineties feel to it.

JM- It’s a vibe we’ve always had. We just put a metal and hardcore sheen to it. We’ve been getting sick of metal and hardcore and have been touring with bands we don’t really fit with. We stripped the metal and hardcore away and said fuck it let’s write a record like what I’m listening to now and what made us want to play music in the first place. Recording with Albini had a lot of people freaking out. Not a lot of people remember the reference points of the weird noise rock bands he did in the nineties and are picking the newer contemporary stuff and are trying to paint us with that brush. We’re coming from a weirder late eighties, early nineties era.

AH- I remember when the video for Blessed came out people were kind of stand offish. Working with Albini you can hear his influence, but if you listen to Entrench it seems like a natural progression.

JM- Yeah Big Black has been a influence of ours. A lot of bands he recorded like the Dazzling Killmen, Zeni Geva, a lot of weirdo bands not a lot of people gave a crap about are the reason we play the music we played. It’s just funny where people’s reference points are coming from.

We got a lot of Shellac with Blessed and quite frankly surprised because I don’t think it sounds like that at all, it came from more of a Cop Shoot Cop and Swans kind of thing. I think a lot of people aren’t used to Albini’s production on heavy bands anymore. He’s known for working with Neurosis and he did High on Fire, what ten years ago? I think us working with him is taking a lot of people by surprise.

MBQ- How did the dual record release tour come about?

JM- We were gonna do something like this anyway. Initially as I was getting a hold of venues I was gonna see if Fight AMP wanted to play the Philly show. Mike said they were putting their new album a week out before ours so it’s like shit want to do the whole tour? We’ve toured together before with Today is the Day and Black Tusk. We’re pals and both play disgusting noisy rock. We fit in together better than anyone else on that tour and thought it would be fun. Laying the frame work for how we’ll probably tour a couple years down the line. We’re not a popular band, we can’t do this forever, so it’s kind of a trial run. We want to have our routes where we can hit cities that people that care about us and we’re not wasting our time. A lot of people would be surprised because Columbus isn’t a historically big city compared to us hitting New York, Chicago, Toronto.

MBQ- How do you see your sales stack up against your vinyl, cd stuff and the digital stuff?

JM- It’s shifted a bunch since we’ve been touring full time. Especially since we’re running our own bandcamp. It’s about 50/50 digital and vinyl, cd’s have taken a massive hit, not many people are collecting those anymore. This record we designed it to be listened to on vinyl which makes it funny that our pink vinyl is fucked up (the record was pressed with an entirely different band on it). The exclusive version we’ve been trying to pimp on people is fucked up.

MBQ- What are some of your favorite spots to eat at or what do you cook when you’re back home?

JM- I like Thai and Vietnamese food. There’s this roti place called Tropikis in Winnipeg that does Caribbean rotis with a Manitoba spin. They use big game like Elk & Buffalo. I’ve never heard of a place doing roti with that kind of meat. That’s usually my go to place. We don’t get stuff like bbq and Mexican food we suck for that in Canada. We had the stuff you guys brought and also went to Ray Ray’s for ribs.

ManBQue Fight Amp Interview ColumbusMBQ- On tour have you found a favorite craft beer or is there something you usually stick to like PBR?

JM- That’s really hard. We have regional stuff we pick up. We have a couple days off in Chicago. They have Three Floyds and Goose Island. Surly in Minnesota. Bells. We’ve been given a fair amount of Victory. It’s ok I don’t like it as much as Three Floyds. Stone is really good too. I gotta get a bunch of the before I head home. Victory at sea the imperial porter is like drinking candy. It’s not too sweet it’s 12% so you’re set after one.

MBQ- What’s your go to shop back home for some vinyl?

JM- We don’t really have a place. I use Amazon, it’s kind of shameful, but if it’s your only option you have to do it. I haven’t really used physical media. Bandcamp is my favorite to use because it goes to the bands. I put the 24 bit of our new album up instead of the 16 bit that’s usually loaded. And the tags you can find stuff so much easier. It’s the way of the future I hope people support it.

MBQ- Last but not least, who would win in a fist fight, Frankenstein’s monster or Clint Eastwood? We’re talking Outlaw Josey Wales Clint, not Gran Torino Clint.

JM- Eastwood now is basically Frankenstein. I gotta go with Frankenstein’s monster, can young Eastwood fight? He looks like a bad ass, but I have no knowledge if he has martial arts experience. Come on Eastwood step up let’s see what you got.

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