I’d like to start off by mentioning that I don’t think I’ve ever been to a metal show. When a friend of mine asked if I’d like to check out a few metal bands at Frank’s Power Plant, I committed to it without really giving it another thought. I checked out the bands online, listened to a few songs and figured I could get down to this show.
Upon arriving at Frank’s, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Five bucks got you in the door to see four different bands: Midwives, Galactic Cannibal, Rad Payoff and Population Control. The show started at 10 p.m., but I arrived early, which resulted in my being able to sit down with the closing band, Population Control, to talk making music, old people candy, alcohol and, of course, metal.
This is the remnants of that conversation. Who knew you could have such a good time at Frank’s, watching a metal show, surrounded by a sea of incredibly smelly people?
OnMilwaukee.com: How did Population Control first get started?
Mike Gamm: Jesse and I pretty much started jamming once, basically because we were bored and hungover. Ricky was drunk once and we were trying out singers. He was in the Hide House with some of our friends and just hopped on the mic. I play with John (our bassist) in Architects of the Aftermath. So it was an easy option to ask him. To be consistent with the theme, he was probably drunk too.
OMC: It sounds like there’s a strong alcohol correlation; do you guys ever play sober?
Jesse Zuniga: Always, except for right now I’m having a beer.
Rick Ramirez: I usually need like 9 shots to calm me down.
OMC: How did you come up with the name Population Control?
MG: My old band Hammered had a song called "Population Control," and it felt right, I guess. We didn’t spend too much time on it. All the other suggested band names were bad, they were really bad.
OMC: What was the first song you guys ever played together? Was it your own music or covers?
JZ: We pretty much started jamming originals right away – me and Mike. As a band, the first song we ever played was Shark. Well, actually, the first real song was the Uncle Denny song. He (Mike) has a really weird Uncle Denny story or this creepy guy that he writes about.
MG: Well, it’s more of a fictional/funny concept.
RR: It’s about his Uncle Denny, doing weird things…
OMC: This sounds like it’s going to be a movie concept.
MG: It’s like "Pee Wee’s Big Adventure."
RR: It’s all the Lifetime movies rolled in to one, but there will be no women in it; it’s like a Shakespeare play, only men.
OMC: Continuing on the movie theme, what’s your favorite movie?
MG: The first 30 minutes of "Titanic."
John Gehring: No, this is actually hard, so if I had to say any right now, I’d say "Fast Times."
OMC: I’m not familiar with it, so tell me more about the cross-over thrash genre.
MG: It’s basically a mix of metal and hardcore/punk. Even though it is just a label (which holds little value) it literally means a cross-over from punk into metal, a mashup, coined by the band D.R.I.
OMC: Where are your shows normally, or where are your favorite places to play?
MG: We will play anywhere. Basements, Quarters, Frank's, Cactus Club, etc.
OMC: Have you ever played any of the street festivals, anything like Bay View Bash?
JZ: We’re not really good for kids.
RR: The last time we played an all-ages show, I drunkenly poured beer all over myself and started running into all of the little kids telling them I was going to get them grounded.
JG: It's really just not for all pallets.
OMC: So you recently just got out of the studio recording your first album.
MG: Yeah, it’s our first actual album. We have a demo, it’s OK, but it’s not the sound we actually wanted and we could have spent more time on it.
OMC: The album title, "The Last of Us," seems to be a bit of an apocalyptic-type theme. Is this intentional?
JZ: I got it from the video game, which is kind of apocalyptic, it’s like a zombie apocalypse game.
RR: If I could have named it after a video game it would have been Zelda.
OMC: You mentioned you weren’t a big fan of the demo. What do you like the most about the album?
MG: We are fans of it, but it just seemed a bit rushed. The new record is all newer songs and holds the same aggression as the demo, but a little more put together. Our live show is what is most important, so if this holds up to that, we will be satisfied.
OMC: On the album, what emotions are you trying to evoke with your listeners?
RR: It’s all kinds of that weird feeling of getting in trouble. It’s like that scene in "Kindergarten Cop" where they have that fire drill and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s class looks like sh** and they get scolded in front of everyone in that town. It’s like that.
MG: For sure, when I was writing the newer songs, that weren’t for the demo, it was for sure like a getting in trouble, getting grounded sort of thing. That feeling you get caught doing something wrong!
OMC: You guys play a lot of ping pong, who’s better?
MG: I beat Ricky daily.
RR: Come to Puddler’s Hall and find out – Population Control Olympics.
OMC: We’ve talked a lot about video games, if you could transport yourself into any video game what would it be?
MG: Mega Man.
RR: Skate or Die, dude.
OMC: Do you ever get performance anxiety?
JZ: Every time, I just don’t wear my glasses so I can’t see anything.
OMC: Metal Stereotypes – how come none of you have long hair?
JR: For most of us it’s not a choice.
RR: Mine would just turn into a mullet.
OMC: What’s your favorite old-person candy?
All: Those mints, butter mints.
OMC: Do you still think you’ll be playing music in thirty years?
JG: Yea, I can't imagine ever stopping. We'll probably be playing at Tonic by then, handing out Worther’s.
Population Control can be seen on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at Quarters, 900 E. Center St., with Mutilation Rites. They also play at Coming Fire Fest on Nov. 8. Visit their Facebook or Reverbnation pages for more information.
As a self-proclaimed aficionada of dive bars, Lisa Simonson knows a thing or two about drinking and our city’s bar scene. She now calls Milwaukee, one of America’s drunkest cities (coincidence?), home after growing up in world-famous Port Washington (“Step by Step,” anyone?) and spending time in both Minneapolis and London.
Now, back in her favorite city in the world, Simonson blogs about her adventures in Milwaukee, one bar at a time. Although her primary focus is sampling the best the city has to offer in beer, wine and whiskey, when not abusing her liver, Lisa can be found cruising on her bike, obsessing over Adobe products, jamming to her favorite bands or attempting to teach her cat to walk on a leash.