A few ElectoJams correspondents broke into the green room at Higher Ground Ballroom a few weeks ago, demanding an interview with Conspirator. Their request was obliged, and the band sat to answer some very poignant questions about their music and tour. Check it out-
AJ: Aaron, I read that you went to Lower Merion High School.
Magner: I did.
AJ: Did you…know Kobe Bryant? And who are some other celebrities you’ve gotten
to meet in your musical travels and endeavors?
Magner: Legend has it!…..that I used to drive Kobe home from basketball practice
after I would let out of wrestling practice.
Brownstein: But you made that up.
Magner: NO!NO! I think it happened once.
AJ: So you wrestled Kobe Bryant?
Magner: No, I didn’t wrestle Kobe Bryant. Don’t twist my words!
AJ: So you put Kobe Bryant in the Sharpshooter?
Magner: No, I gave Kobe a ride home once and the story has evolved to where I
was giving him rides all the time. He’s definitely the prize possession of the school.
There’s like the Kobe Bryant gymnasium and he comes back and spends the day
with basketball team and goes to the Boston Pizza. It’s pretty cool. Umm…I played
ping-pong vs. Carlos Santana. That was kinda fun.
Brownstein: We hung out with Skrillex a bunch of times. That was cool.
Magner: What’s that porn guy’s name?
Michetti: Ron Jeremy.
Magner: Ron Jeremy came on our bus outside of Los Angeles.
AJ: Wait, wait. You let Ron Jeremy come on your bus?
Magner: Totally unannounced! Just walked on.
Michetti : Do you mind if I come on your bus?
Brownstein: Guys tonight let’s worry less about switching up what the songs were
playing over the last couple of nights and more about making the best show we can
Michetti : Fine!
Brownstein: Tonight and tomorrow. I want to make great fuckin’ shows.
AJ: Brownie, I have this dope freestyle on my iPod that you did over “Caves of the
East” in Miami making fun of skiers with short skis.
AJ: Yea, man. Do you snowboard?
Brownstein: Yea, I snowboard. I don’t think people who wear regular length skis
look funny. They’re cool as shit and do kinda cool tricks now and slopestyle and the
whole thing. Shortsking however is……
Magner: Careful with your choice of words.
Brownstein: ridiculously funny-looking, at least to me.
Elliot: I whole-heartedly agree.
AJ: If you each could make a fantasy band with dead members aka non-living. Who
would you choose?
AJ: Not the “Dead”. There were a lot of drummers.
Brownstein: Fantasy band? Dead members?
AJ: Only dead, though.
Brownstein: Only dead?
AJ: I don’t want to say living or dead.
Brownstein: Miles Davis.
Magner: (Interupts) Cuz’ you could make a fantasy band with dead “Dead”
Brownstein : Pigpen, Jerry,
Magner: Brent Mydland, and……
Michetti: Godchaux. Keith Godchaux
Brownstein: Is that what you mean?
Brownstein: Are you saying you want Bob Marley, Jerry, and like Miles Davis to
come out together and put on….
AJ: There’s a loophole. You can have a vocalist also play an instrument.
Brownstein: Are you saying?
AJ: You can have Janis and….Bob Marley.
Michetti: I would put Bruce Springsteen in the band.
Brownstein: I don’t want Janis.
Magner: Yeah, I don’t want Janis either. I feel like she would have been annoying.
Do your Janis imitation.
Brownstein: No offense. No offense to Janis. I love Janis. I just don’t want. That’s
not the voice I’m looking for…
(All shriek and do Janis impressions)
Michetti: I would like to apologize to all the people that like short skis and Janis
AJ: I heard she used to shortski.
(Laughing) (More shrieking)
Michetti: “Come on down the mountain everybody!”
Magner: “Take another little piece of my heart, baby”
Elliot: Okay, next question.
AJ: Wait I didn’t get any answers yet.
Michetti: So you want a whole fantasy band of a dead person?
AJ: No, a whole band though…passed-on.
Michetti: Jerry, Bobby…..
Brownstein: Bobby’s alive. Biggie, Jerry, Bob Marley.
Magner: Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Bonham.
Elliot: So, you guys were talking about hanging out with Skrillex. How do you feel
about the EDM explosion?
Brownstein: It’s been really fun to be a part of anything creative.
AJ: Do you think EDM is creative?
Brownstein: All these big producers are creative. What’s not creative is the
multitudes of copycats that come in the wake of it that have turned off many people
to the genre. What’s turning people off to the genre isn’t the music, it’s the never
ending faucet spewing copy-cat EDM music. I’m not trying to come off negative.
I’m trying to come off positive. The good stuff is so brilliant that it spawned a
Michetti: Their shows are incredible…such an experience.
Brownstein: So much of it is exactly the same though.
Michetti: It does seem like a lot of it is trying to go to the same place.
Magner: Can I make a point in the opposite direction? In any sort of music,
you need to study what came before you so you can push past that. If someone
is pushing the boundary, and you’re a kid and experience an artist that is so
influential; I think it’s okay to copycat a track as long as it has your own style.
Eventually the goal is that you can break free and push yourself to a different
echelon and create something that is solely yourself. But you kind of have to study what came before you in order to get to that next point. You don’t just start out as creative. You start off by going “Rock n’ Roll is fuckin’ sick” and you learn fuckin’ power chords and you learn to play rock and you
get more sophisticated and you learn to play jazz and you learn your standards then
you get into electronic music and then you learn to write a electronic dance track
and you really like Skrillex and you get to learn how to make those sounds and then
all of a sudden… I mean, I don’t think Skrillex just broke open his computer and
started sounding like Skrillex. I mean he probably made some trite dance music
before, I’m guessing.
Brownstein: Well, he was in a hardcore punk band and then he heard Aphex Twin
and he studied how to make non-trite dance music. And that’s how Skrillex ended
up being Skrillex.
AJ: You have to listen though.
Brownstein: He was listening to Aphex Twin ten years before anyone ever hear of
Skrillex. You have to listen.
Elliot: The thing is, a lot of people listening to EDM have never heard of Aphex
Twin. There’s a huge divide between what EDM is and what electronic music was in
Brownstein: Right. Right. More people need to listen to older, underground
electronic music in order to have an appreciation for where EDM is today.
AJ: Okay I have seen Conspirator twice and the Disco Biscuits about fifteen times.
Brownstein: Getting close to that magic 100.
AJ: The most magical place I’ve seen you was probably Rothbury ’09 (now
Brownstein: A lot of people talk about that festival.
AJ: It was amazing. What other venues would you classify as magical, where
everyone feels connected?
Magner: Red rocks. The Gorge.
Brownstein: I mean those are beautiful. And they’re magical too because of their
natural beauty. But like the Electric Factory where we played last weekend , that’s a
magical venue. I don’t know what it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1200 people or 2500.
The place has something magical about. Wetlands was a magical venue. There
was just something about. A lot of times it just has to do with how good the sound
is to be honest. Wetlands had a Myer sound rig on this tiny little crappy dump of a
venue but what was so amazing was when you got on that stage and they had these
gigantic fifteen inch EV monitors and they had Myer mains and it created magical
moments for people over and over and over again. And if that place didn’t have a
great sound system there wouldn’t have been that magic that happened in that place
for ten years. It would have just been a dump.
AJ: Some old school fans are wondering if you guys will play the Hammerstein
Ballroom again? There were some magical moments there.
Brownstein: I hope so. I hope so, man
AJ: I guess you were smaller back then?
Brownstein: Or maybe bigger. I mean it’s smaller than Madison Square Garden
(where the Disco Biscuits played on NYE) and bigger than Best Buy Theatre. It’s
right in the middle. It’s just about the right size for us to be playing. It definitely
AJ: I’m sure you guys have noticed the RISE of the rage stick. Can you guys recall
any rage sticks that you have seen at Camp Bisco or elsewhere that have made you
Michetti: (Lord of the Rings voice) “There was once a time when the rage stick
Magner: Last year at Bisco, I saw a Bob Sagat one and Bubbles from Trailer Park
Boys that made me chuckle.
Brownstein: Gigantic George Clooney.
AJ: Was that at Camp Bisco?
Brownstein: Electric Forest
AJ: What faces on rage sticks would you like to see next year at Camp Bisco?
Brownstein: Big Bird… Mr. Rogers
Elliot: So Brownie, we hear your son is starting to DJ and perform. Does this make
you feel old? Are you afraid he’s going to knock you out of the game?
AJ: He’s not better than him.
Brownstein: He’s better than me at DJing. He is. He’s good.
AJ: What kind of music does he DJ?
Brownstein: Well, a lot of the music we decide together. He DJs all sorts of house
AJ: Not rap?
Brownstein: He does a little hip-hop in his sets. Like at the end of his set he usually
plays a Biggie Smalls song and then like jumps in a pool or something.
Elliot: Well, looks like showtime. Anyhow, we’d like to thank you for your time.
Brownstein: No problem. Fun stuff, guys.
Electronic music is the only art form that has given me unrelenting hope for the survival of our species. I study criticism in the north country and track the scene in an effort to put to words the familiar feelings that escape most of us and are reduced to terms of “awesomeness.”