One band that has quietly amassed a very steady, loyal and large following of fans is the San Diego hardcore band known as Mower. This five piece group, featuring two lead singers, has been very popular within the San Diego scene for sometime now, but the band has just recently started to be noticed by the rest of the United States thanks in large to their latest studio record Not For You released in May of 2006. Mower has already had the good fortune of playing with bands such as System of a Down, Slayer and Metallica and their latest CD was produced by none other than former Snot member Mikey Doling. Fortunately, we were able to catch up with one of Mower’s lead singers Brian Sheerin towards the end of 2006 to get the latest on Mower (equipment thefts and van break-ins included) and what the band has planned for the new year.
Mower’s been around for a while but for those who don’t know, how did the band exactly come together?
Brian: Um, it kind of came together on a couple of different fronts. We had a couple of us working in San Diego getting the band off the ground and then our singer Dominic and our bass player Chris came from Colorado, they had been playing in a punk band out there. Chris answered our ad looking for band members and we all started to work together from there.
One of Mower’s defining characteristics as a band is of course the two lead singers sharing vocal duties. What made the idea of having two vocalists attractive to the band?
Brian: You know it started off with, I was singing vocals by myself and then Chris joined the band as the bass player, he had been telling us about Dominic and how great of a singer he was. So Dominic came to some practices and it became apparent really quickly that there was a cool style going there. So we were doing kind of a hard rock thing and throwing in a punk edge to it so it was something that we hadn’t seen a lot of but we just ran with it because it felt right.
Brian of course was Mower’s original singer before the band found Dominic Moscatello to join the band.
Brian: Yeah I mean it’s only chronological because the first couple of shows we did, it was just with one singer but it was very shortly after that we started going out as a full five piece.
Were you initially at all against Dom joining the band for fear he might take the spotlight away from you?
Brian: No I didn’t have an issue with that. I had certain ideas of what I wanted to do musically but I think we kind of surpassed that in a lot of ways so it worked out pretty well. There was just this great energy that was coming forth from it so we just ran with that.
Your new CD Not For You has been out a while now but how do you personally feel about the record in comparison to your past work?
Brian: I think it gives people a much better idea of what we can do as a band. The first record was really focused on the heavy stuff, the really aggressive songs and you know really fast tempo stuff and obviously we kept a lot of that in the new record and the new songs, there’s a lot of heavy stuff there too, but we kind of run all over the place with this one and just you know, fire off in a lot of different directions.
Speaking of Not For You, what was the writing and recording process like for the album? How long did it take and how many songs did you write in total for the record?
Brian: You know, some of the songs have kind of been lingering for a while, some of them just didn’t get themselves together in time for the first record but then a lot them were written in the months prior to going in and recording it. But when we went into the studio to work with Mike Doling, we pretty much had the record done, it was just a matter of punching up things and giving it some more style, more style points, but all the foundation for the songs were really done. There were a couple that were done on the fly, but the majority of the record, it was just a matter of getting it to sound good and getting the right sound and effects that we wanted and trying to create the right atmosphere for all the songs.
Let’s briefly touch on the production on Not For You. The record was produced by none other than former Snot member Mikey Doling. How did you first meet Mikey and how did him producing the record come about?
Brian: Well Mikey actually ran into Chris and Dominic, their band opened up for Snot in Colorado at one point, you know they were big fans and then of course I was a big fan myself in San Diego and I saw them play many times and then we kind of lost track with each other and then there was a period where we didn’t really have any contact with Mikey. But we went out on tour and we did a date with Soulfly in New York and Mikey happened to catch us play and we had a really good crowd reaction that night, the crowd went nuts. So Mikey was like “wow what’s up with these guys?” And then we hung out with him afterwards and kind of refreshed his memory of where we knew him from and all that and we hit it off, we went out and had drinks and just out partying all night. So we stayed in contact with him and when it was time to do the new record, you know we had played some shows with his other band The Bloom and he was doing production work and recording so there was no one else that we really wanted. He wasn’t able to do it actually schedule wise, up until the last minute we were going to work with Steve Russell who had done some production on As I Lay Dying’s last record so any way we would have went, we would have had a quality producer. As it turned out, Mikey freed up some time at the last second and that’s the guy we had the closest relationship with and a lot of respect for because we were all Snot fans so we jumped at the chance. And now we’re hoping we can get in there again and do the next record with him before he gets too big, I know he just started a new record label Gridiron Records and he’s also got his own band Vitro so he’s a busy man, we want to get back in there as quickly as possible and do the next record with him.
The video for the single “Road Rage” was recently aired on MTV2’s Headbanger’s Ball. How did you get the song on the show and do you feel that it has helped expose the band to a whole new segment of fans?
Brian: I’m sure it has. A little luck lead to that, I think our manager knew some people that were involved with Headbanger’s and was working with Jamie on another project and uh, saw the video, liked the band, liked the energy and put it in there for a show or so. Obviously we’re very thankful, we had the chance to thank him in person when Ozzfest came through San Diego, we were hanging out with the guys and caught the Hatebreed set and some of the other bands that day. But yeah, a lot of luck, a lot of luck and persistence I guess as far as getting it on there, but the response was good, you know we sold more records after it aired and we got a lot more interest generated on the website and Myspace and all those places where people can contact us on the web so it can’t hurt. As far as it being a single, it was the first video but we put the record out without a single, we just kind of threw it out there and let people pick what songs they wanted to play in whatever market they were in. It was interesting to see what everybody went with as far as what songs they decided to play on the radio. I know the two satellite radio companies went with “American Psycho” which is something that we were talking about doing the video for when we get back so it’ll be interesting to see how all that pans out. But we really didn’t pick a single, we just threw it out there as a whole record and let people decide what they wanted to play.
Just as the band was starting to gain some popularity, you suffered quite a setback when all of your musical gear was stolen which led to your former guitarist and drummer leaving the band. What is the story exactly behind this event? Can you tell us what happened?
Brian: Yeah there actually is a pretty wild story behind it. Our van was parked in a really good neighborhood in San Diego and it was parked on the street and locked up and someone managed to cut the locks and take the trailer and take off. But we’re not even certain that they were going for our trailer, for what was in it. They wound up using the trailer to go knock over a couple of other businesses like Taco Bell. They kind of went on a little spree, they were obviously messed up on drugs or whatever the case was. And um, they got caught and actually, one of our guys had to go down and make a statement at the hearing or whatever when they were originally getting charges pressed by Taco Bell and by us and by everybody else that was involved in the theft. We really don’t know where that’s at right now, it’s probably going to drag on forever and we’ll probably never see a dime out of it. Another funny anecdote that kind of made its way onto the record was one of the guys that was actually locked up for the crime, he wound up running into a Mower fan when he was inside and I guess got himself wrapped up pretty good because he was talking about the event and talking about ripping off Mower so somebody beat him down. Karma’s a pretty funny thing.
With most rock bands, the lead singer largely writes most of his own lyrics for the songs on a record. How do you and Dom split up the vocal writing duties? Do you write together or write individually and then make them fit together?
Brian: Um, it really depends on the song; we’ve done it every which way. A lot of times I’ll come up with a lot of stuff and the way Dom will be singing it, the words and the syllables won’t fit so we’ll have to kind of alter how it’s said but keep the same idea. But we’ve been at this ten years now and while it was a challenge in the beginning, we kind of know how we work and we got a pretty good feeling towards what the other guy can do vocally and who’s going to handle each style best, who’s going to deliver the power on each song. And you know, it’s a band effort, other people shout out lyrics that work as well and we fit them right in there. The song really dictates where we go with the writing.
Not For You continues to do quite well, but has the band began preparing songs for a new record yet?
Brian: Yeah we’re actually writing on the road, we had another setback, we had our van broken into again in Washington, luckily they only got away with a couple of things. But one of the things that they did get away with was a brand new home recording, like an eight track device. We went out, we don’t let that stuff stop us, we went and bought another one while out on the road because when we have days off, we sit down and lay down tracks and start working on music because we do want to get back from this tour and be ready to get into the studio at the beginning of 2007 so we’re working pretty hard to do that. So the answer is yes, things are already shaping up for the next record and we’re putting a lot of effort into it to make sure we’re not wasting any time.
Everything seems to be going great for you guys right now. What do you have planned for the New Year?
Brian: As much touring as possible. I’m sure we’ll do another video and um, you know we got some ideas, some DVD ideas and stuff like that. We’re winning people over every time we play live and I think the big challenge for us is just going to be getting people aware of where we are playing and when. You know, we do have a lot of fans, we’ve been touring for quite a while now, we’re on a good record label and there’s a lot of people who’ve seen us and like us…. It’s just about letting people know about where the party is at you know, if people know where to be and what day and what club ahead of time, you can kind of plan ahead and get out there. We’ve started to see shows as big as the shows we do in San Diego, there are some markets that we’ve really had some great success in and we want to keep hitting those markets on a regular basis. [ END ]