Those Serpico blokes are getting themselves around a bit. After forming in 2002, life got in the way a little until three years later, when singer Mikey got them glued together properly and they started making their mark. They’ve already supported super-big names like Paradise Lost, AFI, InMe, Wednesday13 and rising stars Black Stone Cherry and Lost Alone. Early 2008 sees them supporting OI favourites Stone Gods (if you haven’t visited us lately, they’re the remains of The Darkness plus Graham Coxon’s bassist Toby MacFarlaine), and in February Serpico will be re-entering Chapel Studios (where the Serpico EP was recorded) to create their debut album with Canadian producer Rhys Fulber.
We cornered Mikey for a delightful soiree, recorded for posterity right here.
So, how did you get this tour then? Did it descend as a gift from the gods?
Gods… ho ho ho! We (well, I say we, I mean Jonny, our amazing booking agent/drummer) got in contact with their agent a while ago when we saw the tour announced. We heard that the band was made up from the remains of The Darkness, so that obviously intrigued us, because they were so big a couple of years ago (I’ve got to admit to paying silly money on eBay for tickets to see them around Christmas 2003, I think). We didn’t hear anything for quite a while, then we got offered the tour! So yeah, that’s how the tour was organised… We do all our own booking, got in touch with their agent (who we’d worked with before on the Black Stone Cherry tour).
News like that is the sort of stuff that makes your week!
Yeah, it wasn’t too bad to be honest! This is our 5th UK tour now, we’re gonna have had almost 8 weeks off touring by the time this starts. We’re definitely itching to get back on the road. Also it’s going to be interesting touring with a band who the crowd aren’t necessarily going to know a lot about, other than their pasts.
No, and there aren’t a lot of Darkness fans who’ve seen them live yet.
Yeah, exactly – the last tour we did was with Wednesday13, and he’s toured the UK a couple of times a year, every year for about the past 5… So most people had seen him at least 2/3 times so most of the crowd were there to see him. With this tour I think both bands are going to be a bit of an unknown quantity. Obviously about 80-90% of most of the crowds won’t know us and maybe the same number won’t know much more about Stone Gods either, because even if they wanted to know them, there’s only really a little bit of information around and a clip of ‘Burn The Witch’ out there right now.
No, but Stone Gods will have fans there who will support regardless. Plus they got good feedback from the Thin Lizzy fans, which was good to see.
Oh yeah, I’m not saying the crowds are gonna be hostile or anything… I just think that many people will be curious to see what they’re like, rather than 90% being hardcore fans who’re gonna be up front singing all the words, knowing all the actions like at Wednesday13.
There’ll be some hardcore, some who are just waiting to see what the post TD stuff is before making up their minds, and the newly curious. New fans are going to arrive fairly swiftly, I think. The rock fans will like this, once it gets some publicity. What about your fans, are they excited?
Yeah, we’ve not exactly got loads and loads of fans. We are, after all, an unsigned band, so we don’t get much publicity yet. But those fans we do have are pretty awesome! And they are excited. In fact… I just had a girl speak to me on MSN saying her tickets just arrived, so that’s pretty awesome.
So how do they feel about Stone Gods at the moment? Any pre-tour opinions?
Well, I’m certainly excited to be sharing a stage with Dan Hawkins for a start! Certainly didn’t think that would ever be the case a couple of years ago. As for our fans, most of them hadn’t really heard of them, because they haven’t had a massive publicity drive yet. I only heard about them when the tour was announced and that’s because I get all the updates about new tours and just clicked on Stone Gods because I’d never heard of them and was wondering why they were featured on Live Nation… but obviously when I saw who they were it made more sense!
Bet you’re glad you did…
Indeed I am. It was Jonny that organised it, but when he mentioned it I was like “oh yeah, new band with the guys from The Darkness, sounds good, let’s go for it” kinda thing.
How much of their stuff have you heard?
Really just the clip of ‘Burn The Witch’. I did have a look at the videos on your page (Stone Gods Temple MySpace page) but it’s quite hard to hear unless you already know the song; hard to give a fair judgement on. ‘Burn The Witch’ sound cool though, big chunky riffs. We sent around a video of Richie singing ‘Highway To Hell’ at Rock AM Ring to show people that the guy was the real deal, just in case there was any residual “Justin was the only talented one in The Darkness”.
So when do you start packing? Have you done your post-Christmas training?
Probably packing the night before, I guess! Training recommences today, in fact. People have been away visiting family for Christmas and new year so it’s back to work for the next couple of weeks.
Do you know if there are any local bands on the bill at any dates?
I would imagine there will be a local band opening every show.
Just make sure there’s room on stage for all your stuff…
Well I guess the first band will be sharing our stuff, drums and guitar cabs, etc… As long as Stone Gods are cool about moving their drum kit the tour will be just fine – that’s the only thing that ends up being a problem with stage space.
Do we have to bring anything special to throw at you during certain songs? In the spirit of joining in, of course.
£20 would be fine… And knickers, obviously!
I really need to know something about your music… What do YOU think you sound like? And what do you think your influences would think?
What do I think? Well, we’re kind of a mix between a melodic punk band and a melodic metal band. So we’ve got plenty of buzz saw guitars, fast drumming, woah-ohs, vocal harmonies, but also some big metal stomps… maybe like a metal band singing Bad Religion songs? What do I think they’d think? I’ve never really considered that… I hope they’d like us! We’ve got a lot of different bands who have influenced us, so it would be impressive if they all liked us. We’re not just a straight punk band like Bad Religion… a straight metal band like Metallica… a goth band like HIM… a grunge band like Nirvana… hopefully they’d all respect the fact that we’re not just ripping them off like loads of other bands, we’re doing our own thing.
Would they be able to pick anything out and think “hey, that’s because of us!”?
I guess bits and bobs here and there. Hopefully not to the extent that they’re like “oi, you nicked that!”.
Do you think your location makes it easier or hard for you? Is the local crowd more rock-friendly?
Edinburgh is generally bad. There’s not a very vibrant scene. Like in Oxford, there’s one club that everyone goes to and it’s the real hub of everything. In Edinburgh there are a few different places but they don’t attract any big names and don’t allowed under 18’s, so it’s a bit rubbish.
Where did you get the name from?
An Al Pacino film from the 70’s. Thought it was pretty cool!
It is! Does it tie in with the ethos? Fighting the good fight against the odds?
Yeah, you could say that! I mean, we’re unsigned, we’re not just clones of another band, we’re not stupid trendies, so we are fighting the good fight against the odds. We’d probably be signed and famous already if we sounded more like Kaiser Chiefs or whoever, but it would be so false that I couldn’t do it.
Do your fans have a group name?
Err… not really… let me think… Serpiconverts? Serpicollectors… Serpiconstructors… Serpicoma… Serpicorrect… Serpicontinuous… Serpiconsecutive…
That needs some work. You have until Nottingham!