Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An Interview with Ookla the Mok, the band, Not the Alien from Thundar.

Hello Boom Page fans and followers, (you guys need a cool name like Boomers? Boomites? Boomians? Frank?) A couple of weeks ago I brought you an interview with one of my two favorite local bands The Breathing Tree, and today I bring you my other favorite local band Ookla The Mok

I first discovered Ookla way back in the 90s when I was doing cable access, the cast of my show, Minimum Wage, was at the Infringement Festival here in Buffalo NY. We were invited (being C List Cable Access actors and all we felt super cool and popular) to the event to do an interview with another cable access show The Greg Sterlace show, which is clearly not the same today as it was back then. While at the Infringement Festival we knew Ookla was playing, went to the roof of the Broadway Market's parking garage, because that's where the festival was and yes it was as cool as it sounds to watch them perform. 

In the midst of their performance they paused and asked "Any requests?" they seemed to be chuckling while making the statement and when I yelled out "ARTHUR CURRY!" at the time my favorite Ookla song, they screamed out "OH MY GOD! Someone knows our stuff!" They went on to play Arthur Curry and I had my very cool interaction with a rock band moment. 

Here we are years...and I mean YEARS later and I see Rand one of the singer of Ookla the Mok at Don's Atomic Comics, where I buy my weekly comics, and after some convincing I talk Rand into doing the interview here for the BOOM Page. Little did I know where this would go or what would become of this, here is the insanity that follows. 

Today I’m talking to the local band, Ookla The Mok, I’m a fan and have been for a long time, in fact I have a cool Ookla story I often tell that has to do with me shouting out something to them at a live performance. Lets get into the interview:

 Hi guys, for those who might not be as familiar with your band as I am; please let our new readers know, what type of band you are?

Rand: In the past we’ve used the phrase Filk Pop Nerd Rock. Most of our stuff is solidly in the powerpop idiom, but the subject matter of our lyrics skews toward genre fiction.

Adam: Oh, dear Lord. The elevator pitch is “Rock Music for Nerds.”

Rand: Where melody is King!

Adam: And clever lyrics are Queen!

Rand: But we don’t sound anything like Queen.

Adam: Okay, um…‘Clever lyrics are Prince?’

Rand: We sound less like Prince.

Adam: Duke?

Rand: We sound like a 1980 Genesis album?

Adam: Okay, this isn’t working. What if Melody is Chancellor and Clever Lyrics are Viceroy?

Rand: Okay. Write that down, we’ll use it later.

At this time in the interview things started to get a little odd, but I kept going regardless of Adam and Rand’s odd conversation.

Can you give us a brief history of your band, how did you all come together?

Rand: Our meeting resulted in an epic battle, not unlike when Thor met the Hulk.

Adam: I’m the Hulk. Rraaarrgh!

Rand: But seriously, Adam and I were each the lead singer of two different pretentious progressive rock bands, and—

Adam: RRRRAAAARRRGGGGHHH!!!! Hulk smash!

Rand: It’s probably best if we just move on.

So your music is very geek influenced, but is everyone in the band a geek, and in what fashion? Comics? Movies? TV? Other?

Rand: I’m a died-in-the-wool comics geek. Both of my master’s theses used comics as primary sources.

Adam: I’m a more well-rounded nerd: I love super heroes, Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Universal Movie Monsters, and I play 4th edition D&D and Magic: the Gathering.

Rand: Needless to say, chicks dig us.

How many albums have you guys put out?
Rand: We have four albums and an EP.

Adam: That’s 28 dog albums.

Rand: I think what Adam means is that not all of our albums have been official releases. 

Here’s our discography:

1997: Less Than Art
1998: Super Secret
1999: Sucking Out Loud (a fan club only live album)
2000: The Rand and Adam Tape (a fan club only release of the 1993 pre-Ookla cassette “Poor Man’s Copyright”)
2001: Smell No Evil (a 27-track rock opera about a space-rocket test-monkey and the boy who loves him)
2003: Oh Okay LA
2005: Dave Lennon (a limited release B-sides collection)
2007: Less Than Art 10-year anniversary edition (remixed and remastered with three bonus tracks)
2012: Nerdvana EP

Have you guys ever decided that a song you’ve done is almost too geeky that you’re afraid it will go over listeners’ heads and you’ve cut the song?

Adam: Ha! It’s funny you should mention that because we’ve only just recently gone over that ledge. Our upcoming project is probably our best to date, but it’s definitely got a target audience of about 14 people, all of whom are employed at Marvel Comics.

Rand: Adam tends to exaggerate. I’m sure there are at least a few people at DC Comics that will like the album.

Some of my favorite songs from each of your albums are, My Secret Origin, Home, Curb Your Dogma, A.M. Suicide, and now Welcome to the Con. What are your own personal favorites from your library?

Rand: Our songs are like our children. We secretly hate the red-headed ones.

Adam: Our songs are like fine wine. They’re… red, and um… a little club soda will… f#@&!

7. How do you promote your band and shows? What social media do you use, are there twitters and facebook pages we should be following?

Adam: Promoting the band! That is a great idea.

Rand: We should have a new website up soon at http://www.ooklathemok.com. In the meantime, the best place to get updates on Ookla would be our FB page (http://www.facebook.com/officialookla) or my twitter feed (@randbellavia).

Why have we not seen a music video from you guys yet? There has to be a group of cosplayers out there who would love to help you out with that?

Adam: People keep saying they’re going to make videos of out songs, but then no one ever does. There’s one really cool short student film of our Mr. Potato Head song by a filmmaker named Michael Ilasi. You can watch it on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6enYL2Gby0).

Rand: Some of the guys over at The FuMP are working on a video for Tantric Yoda, so hopefully we’ll see that soon.

I’ve heard some new songs on The FuMP and I got the EP, but is there a full album coming out and What can we expect?

Adam: We’ve got two albums almost done, both of them about supervillains. The first of them will be out late 2012 or early 2013, and will be all Marvel villains. We don’t know what it’s going to be called, although oddly enough Wikipedia does.

What’s been your best rock star moment?

Adam: Oo! Remember that time we played that show on the roof of the Broadway Market?

Rand: Yeah. That was one of Hallwalls’ Artists and Models shows.

Adam: That year they had a science fiction theme and so Rand and I dressed as Han Solo and 
Luke Skywalker. Rand was a little unsure about whether he wanted to do the costuming thing—

Rand: If by “a little unsure” you mean “swore on his ancestor’s souls that he would never wear a costume on stage.”

Adam: So I showed up wearing my costume with no other clothes with me so he couldn’t back out.

Rand: The deal we struck was that I would wear a white shirt and a black vest and call it a Han Solo costume — on the condition that Adam never ask me to wear a costume on stage again.

Adam: So after the show, I’m driving home and, of course, my van breaks down. This was before cell phones, so I had to walk to find a payphone. 3 am, East Side of Buffalo, dressed as Luke Skywalker. Now if that’s not a rock star moment I don’t know what is.

Rand: You clearly do not. How about that time we sold a song to Disney and they sent a limo to our houses to pick us up and flew us to Hollywood and put us up in a hotel that was so swanky that Hilary Swank was staying on our floor?

Adam: Oo! Can I pick that one instead?

Rand: Sure. We’ll edit that later. I guess that leaves me with the fact that your keyboards and my vocals were featured on Gym Class Heroes’ Billboard Top Five hit “Cupid’s Chokehold.” In fact, the first thing you hear on that song is my voice.

Adam: One night I was driving down Elmwood Avenue and a car went by me with a bunch of Buff State students in it, and they were listening to that song and all singing that part— “Ba da duh DA!!!” at the top of their voices. That’s as close to a rock star moment as we’ll probably ever get.

Now that we got the general stuff out of the way, let’s do some speed round questions and we’re going to get a little geeky or pop culture on you for our readers.

1. Dr. Doom or Dr. Octopus?
Rand: Well, I guess I’d have to say…
Adam: Silence! All will bow before Doom!

2. The New 52 or the Previous DC Universe?
Rand: Whichever one Grant Morrison is writing at the moment.

3. Thundar the Barbarian or He-Man?
Rand: Ugh, I wish you hadn’t asked tha—
Adam: I am Adam, Prince of Eternia and Defender of the Secrets of Castle Grayskull!
Rand: Here we go.
Adam: This is Cringer, my— ahem— fearless friend.
Rand: Moving on…
Adam: Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said…
Rand: Please stop.
Rand: I am so sorry about this. This is all my fault. I took him to the zoo this afternoon. I told him that cotton candy would make him hyper, but he begged and begged and begged… And who could say no to that face?
Adam: I saw a giraffe go poo!

4. Autobots or Decepticons?
Adam: Go-Bots!!

5. Darth Vader or Anakin Skywalker?
Rand: Really?
Adam: Come on, man.

6. The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin?
Adam: Who?
Rand: Let me reframe it: That Nicolas Cage movie where Sean Connery escapes from Alcaltraz or The Six Million Dollar Man?
Adam: The Bionic Man, baby! Why didn’t you say so?

7. Soft Chocolate Chip or Hard Chocolate Cookies?
Rand: How about a block of dark chocolate the size of a car battery.

8. The Walking Dead or Smallville?
Adam: Well, I’ve seen every episode of both those series, if that tells you anything. Walking Dead is probably the best show on television right now, and one of the writer/producers is our friend Scott Gimple. The only thing that could make it better is if it had Superman in it.

9. Avengers or X-Men?
Rand: Old School Avengers, especially the Shooter/Stern years.

10. Zombies or Vampires?
Adam: Either, as long as they’re traditional slow zombies and good old-fashioned non-sparkly vampires.
Rand: Have you read that Cracked article pointing out how interest in zombies and vampires maps to whether a Republican or Democrat is in office? http://bit.ly/nurdCv
Adam: Let me amend that to read “traditional slow zombies, good old-fashioned non-sparkly vampires, and no political metaphors.”
Rand: I would also suggest the criminally ignored comic series Last Blood by Bob Crosby and Owen Gieni. The high-concept is “after the zombie apocalypse, vampires protect the last surviving humans so they can live off their blood.” http://lastblood.keenspot.com/

And lastly let’s just get some of your thoughts on music and the music industry.
Adam: Or, instead of answering that boring question, we can talk about anything else.

Rand: Now Adam. Be nice.

Adam: Our thoughts on the music industry? Blecch! Who cares? It’s like saying to the reader “Stop caring… HERE.”

Rand: Is this the cotton candy talking?

Adam: No! Well, maybe. But it’s still a terrible interview question.

Rand: Well, it’s not great, but that’s no reason to be rude.

Adam: Rude schmude. Where do you know this guy from, anyway?

Rand: What? The guy interviewing us? I thought he was somebody you knew!

Adam: Aw come on! So then we’re being interviewed by what, like a homeless guy or something?

Rand: I can’t believe we let this happen again.

Adam: Let’s get out of here.

Rand: I’m not leaving this guy in my house!

Adam: Whatever. I’m going to the comic book store.

I was able to safely make it out of the house after the two had left, though I don't expect this to be our last interview/confrontation. 

Be sure to go to iTunes and check out any of the Ookla the Mok albums, any of them are great but if you're a comic geek like me you absolutely must have Secret Identity in your music collection.