Three members of Totally Cashed (TC) came to our home on short notice for their first Chicago interview, and LPL’s first CCS interview. We were fast friends and had to force ourselves to take on the roles of “the press” and “the talent”. It was hard to stay in these roles as we bonded, so please get yourself a beer from our fridge and join us on our adventure to Babeland!
TC wholeheartedly declined editing privileges. The conversation you read here is one of pure honesty as they skipped the self-censoring step and their responses instead flowed straight out of their mouths.
Members in attendance:
TS (Trash): guitar/vocals
MN (Max "The Kid" Niemann): guitar/vocals
RM (Rauol Moore): manager/promoter/advisor
TS: Sshh...the press is here. (laughter)
TS: Can I go to the bathroom first?
CCS: Of course!
TS: I didn’t know if that was allowed in this scene. Rolling Stones would have left that in!
CCS: A lot has happened for you in the week since your release party. Did you guys get a lot of feed back then? You guys sold it out right?
TS: (grins) Yeah.
TS: I expected like a little more afterwards. We booked the Burlington, we knew we could bring in a huge crowd, but we didn’t expect it to sell out right away. It was nuts, ya know.
CCS: What is capacity there?
TS: It was like 130 but they let in a few more.
RM: The Pylons show was where we learned the capacity because they were like you’re just under.
TS: There was not enough room for Chicago Crowd Surfing (all laugh).
TS: We bought like alligators and whales. Like inflatable ones.
TS: Like six feet long, to crowd surf on. But like those two specifically. That’s why we had the inflatables because it’s really a lot easier, to distribute the person.
CCS: That’s really smart. Did you have them inflated?
TS: We did. So there’s a skit in the beginning of the record, and we were going to have the guy who did it act it out. Instead he went up there and just threw all the inflatables off the stage. So when we came on the stage, we were just getting impaled with inflatables. Like they were all in the crowd and people went nuts. I got hit so hard in the face with several things, like alligators.
RM: Pylons is such like a good amp up band, like they rock. And so they opened up right before TC. They had people just ready to go, and they had all of these weapons.
RM: I literally had to stand up front and put my arms up to block the things from going on stage.
CCS: Who did the initial vocals on the opening skit, Calling All babes?
RM: That was Ried Martin.
TS: I wanted it to be like, not a pirate, but more of like a sailor.
CCS: That’s how I envisioned that person; a sea captain with his hat and seagulls flutting about him.
TS: and it’s a little British but it still works, you know. It’s kind of welcoming. That’s the thing. The voice he did was like, you want to go to Babeland! when you’re listening to it. The way I wanted to do it would probably have been funnier, but less inviting.
RM: It’s such a good contrast to the first song. Because it’s nice and smooth with the piano and his voice, and then we just jump right into it.
TS: ...and then at the last song I just wanted to throw ‘em all off.
MN: I was supposed to ride the alligator off into the sunset. Just go, with the guitar (all laugh).
TS: I got impaled so much it was like a concussive environment.
CCS: Your perception was altered.
RM: It still is.
CCS: In the Bandcamp bio for Babeland!, it was 2014 when the president invited you to write the rock record. Did you choose 2014? did you start in 2014?
TS: 2014 is when we started.
CCS: How did the process kind of come together?
TS: Yeah it was weird. We don’t know how they hit us up. Alright there was a few live videos on YouTube of us, and we did not see it coming. We were kinda like, the band was tearing apart. We got the call. At that time Max wasn’t in the band. We were just thinking about it and I called him up and I was like “dude, I mean like we’re the first people who got invited to Babeland. I mean this is nuts! You know.” And he joined the band pretty much immediately. I started a GoFundMe campaign.
RM: Yeah that part’s a little bit dirty.
TS: I did. I legitimately started a GoFundMe campaign to get him to drop out of school, and join a band. We call him “The Kid”. Max “The Kid” Niemann. I think that might have been something they saw, like funneling through the internet. They paid everything.
TS: Yeah so he hasn’t graduated school.
RM: He’s not going to.
RM: Well it’s not like you guys went to Babeland the entire time.
TS: No we were traveling back and forth. It was crazy.
RM: Yeah it’s not like you can just leave your family.
TS: We went back a week each year.
RM: We racked up a whole lot of miles.
TS: And they have a lot going on too. It’s not like you can just fly in. I mean where are you going to land, you know? There’s a lot going on.
CCS: Was your recording space in the sky then? Did you ever land?
TS: It’s a top tier recording studio. If they landed in the city there’s like this tall tower kind of thing. It’s not as tall as skyscrapers in Chicago but like half as tall, three-fourths. And on the top floor is hte recording studio. Like the top floor was like the record label president, we’re like right under that. So like they can come down at any point. There’s one of those walkie-stairs…
TS: spiral staircase. And they would walk down and start yelling at us.
RM: Well it’s less a studio and more a lab, too. So It’s like a studio that like in a lab. So it’s a lab with a studio inside it in order to study rock. From a scientific perspective.
TS: very small studio very large lab.
RM: So they brought in TC less because they needed help making a record, and more because TC is like the (TS/RM simultaneously) artistic vision.
RM: We are the embodiment of rock, that they are trying to use as a vehicle by which to determine how to create the world’s best rock record of all time.
TS: Yeah we had no say at all. They wrote the songs. It was nuts. At least we got to have our friend Austin Letter come and help mix, produce. But everything else was just out of our control.
CCS: Ok. Was that difficult then, as you’re trying to put a record together if you can’t make any decisions?
TS: Yeah. It was very uninspiring because we weren’t able to put any music in it.
RM: We couldn’t be inspired, which is why it was uninspiring.
CCS: And so, according to their research, were the people inspired?
TS: They were inspired. You know the record was sent to like focus groups. You know they had a lot of like study groups listen to it, before we even touched the songs. So they had a lot of like locals play. And they were like oh this kinda sounds good, let’s see what TC can do with it. Honestly, that was a total head game. ‘Cause the singer in Babeland! he looks just like me, but like skinnier, more put together, tealer. He was not losing any hair, he wasn’t stressed about anything.
CCS: What a nice way to be. So Babeland! Is a chill spot?
TS: It makes you feel like a babe. I think maybe one day we will be babes. But like being an American for so long and going to Babeland! As an outsider, it is very hard to adapt. It’s like “you guys are so chill, everything’s so cool, you believe in yourselves. As Americans we have that struggle.”
RM: Over the years we kind of let it go.
TS: They actually deleted a lot of my parts.Someone else recorded them.
RM: Well that’s why people always ask, is that really him singing on the record?
TS: yeah, there’s like this 3 foot woman who’s 55, and she just crushed all the parts. She came in and I was like “I’m doing these drums” and she was like “no chance - I wrote those parts, I will be playing them.” I am very unrepresented on the record.
MN: Yeah I only made one song on the record. Shit.
TS: He played on all of them originally.
CCS: And she took them?
MN: Every one of them.
CCS: How much is a ticket to Babeland!?
TS: They paid.
CCS: Did you see an invoice anywhere? Like if if I want to go…
TS: You don’t even need to ask, you can just go there. Just pop in the CD - you don’t even need the CD. You sit down and start thinking about what you want to accomplish and you’re on your way. You’re on your way to being a Babe.
CCS: do you see that it is still relevant today? Do you see any changes that happened along the way with things that have happened in the last 4 years?
TS: The way they wrote it was really like their BPM was like their key focus, like the chord progressions. The lyrics are so vague that I think they might stand the test of time, but the music definitely does.
MN: Kinda like a testimate to the rock and roll that came before it.
CCS: What does - uh, I have to rephrase this all now - what did Babeland! hope to inspire as a message to impart to people as they listen to this record?
TS: There was no message. Their goal was to create Babeland Mania. They just wanted people to start rioting. They wanted people to start going out buying little lunch boxes of us, just like action figures, lunch boxes.
CCS: They just wanted the residents of Babeland! to lose their minds.
TS: Right, they just wanted to make money off of us, to use us.
LPL: Who are the girls who did the voices of the Babeland! Taskforce?
TS: It’s Gretchen and Karen of Pylons.
RM: They did a really good job.
TS: Oh, my god so good. And also Megan Posedel, she cuts mine and Gretchen Hannum's hair. Oh and, well, one of my best friend’s moms.
CCS: Really? She’s like the agent - “calling Babeland taskforce!”
TS: Yeah, like the dispatcher. I went and hit up my friend and was like “dude, can you ask your mom to do it?” And we had her on the mic and she killed it. She was like yelling into the mic, and I got the recording and I was like “oh my god”.
CCS: What do you do to get amped up before a show?
RM: We have a small ritual. Whenever we are about to do anything, we play Andrew W.K. We see him every year at Riot Fest and he is a huge inspiration of ours.
CCS: How did you guys get to the pearl button shirts?
RM: Oh, that was more Trash.
TS: It got to the point where we were considering wardrobe options and there really was only one option. It was a non-option.
CCS: Did you own the shirt?
TS: I own one shirt. (laughter) When we finished Babeland!, like recording, tracking, it was all mixed and everything. I am going on vacation. I went to New Mexico because that’s the greatest place in the world besides Mexico. Same great place, new look! So I went there and everyone wore bolo ties. It was like, if I don’t do that I am not living to my full potential. I am not living my best life.
RM: You literally came back obsessed with bolo ties.
TS: I love them.
CCS: I like them. KPL wore one to our wedding.
TS: Did he? What a keeper! No cold feet, you are wearing a bolo. You should have had a bolo tie on. That review of the Pylons release party was so good. My glasses had broke since then, or had broken at that point. I went to get new ones, and I was like Mom I have to buy thick rimmed glasses. They wrote that in, and I have to wear a bolo now.
MN: You guys are the first [press]. If we didn’t have this Babe ego then, we definitely do now.
RM: We really enjoyed that article. That really made all these guys rock.
CCS: Thank you. I really enjoyed doing it. That was the first show I ever wrote about.
TS: It’s like the only venue we care about is the Burlington, and the only press that cares about us is Chicago Crowd Surfer. So it worked really well.
RM: We didn’t even know press was going to be there or whatever. If I had known press was going to be there, I maybe wouldn’t have taken my shirt off.
CCS: Tell me about Something In The Water. That is your festival?
MN: There’s a quote that Tom Morello said. He was talking about Ike Reilly who is another musician from Libertyville. He said “There’s something in the water in my home town of Libertyville, IL that makes great musicians.” Adam Jones of Tool is from Libertyville. The majority of the bill is Libertyville bands, a lot of bands from high school. Like we have Pylons, they are kind of an old Libertyville band, and then us.
RM: We really appreciate young rock. So we wanted to celebrate that. We booked all these younger Libertyville bands like Poyo, The Headlights, Moonwaves, Bad Idea. We told them, you know, hey come play. We want to plug you and promote you, that’s something that we’re good at.
CCS: How did you choose the location for Something In The Water - Morgan’s Bar?
RM: That was almost no brainer. That is our favorite bar. We could have played a place that has shows, but that’s not the coolest spot we like to go to.
TS: They don’t have a sound system, they usually don’t have these kind of events.
MN: It is very unprecedented.
CCS: How could the audience as spectators enhance your experience as the performer?
TS: If you guys could find a way to help me get over my fear of contacts, or laser treatment, then I could see you guys. I have to take off my glasses to really rock out. The only thing I can see is Gretchen’s red hair bobbing. That’s when I know we’re doing alright and we’re rocking.
CCS: When i see someone rocking out I love it because they are truly moved by the music.
TS: When I’m in the crowd at Pylons, Sam will look at me. If I could do that it would be so great. Being able to single people out and rock with you guys would be so great.
CCS: For sure. You would get actual feedback. Well, knowing now that you can’t see you do pretty well. Just so you know.
RM: To a degree, your answer is “rage”. You can help us by raging.
CCS: How do you decompress?
TS: I think the honest answer for this, really, is we don’t have time to decompress.
CCS: You guys are all in and you are in the front scenes and behind the scenes.
TS: That’s what I don’t understand. How can you do these things without giving up everything, without giving this everything you have.
TS: Right now is the first thing that doesn't feel like work (LPL gasps). You guys are so cool and we like you so much we just want to be best friends and hang out.
CCS: I was just about to say I think I am done with my legitimate questions, now we can be friends.
Totally Cashed is headlining and hosting Something In The Water Festival Sunday June 24 at Morgan's Bar in Libertyville, IL. Tickets are $10.