Alright here goes, I feel like I should be posting this covered in dirt and blood and sweat. But I’m not. I’m here feeling alive, rejuvenated, and clean. Dripping in vitality. Two years ago I had what I thought was most likely the best day of my life so far because finally a lifelong dream had been set into action. I was filming a music video, not for someone else, for me! For my music!
Since I was in diapers I was singing into a toy microphone watching cartoons learning how to match pitch. I found my third grade homework and it said, “my favorite thing to do is write poetry.” I’d read the dictionary for fun in the summer time, writing down definitions of words I liked. I used to dance and sing and torture my siblings with my performances all my life. I’d make VHS videos with the family camcorder. I’d try to orchestrate these productions. I was always a pain to my 3 younger siblings, mostly the sister directly younger than me. She endured the most but they all got it. I was always hell bent on making something no one ever made since I can remember. To an extent I can honestly feel remorse about. I was never into lighthearted play. Or I would be in a moment, and then I’d desire to take it to another level. If it snowed I’d attempt to enlist my family into creating the BIGGEST SNOWMAN EVER. I’d turn play into work. I had visions and I’d do anything to get to them, at the expense of my siblings. Us playing in mud in the backyard would turn into me attempting to have them build an “adobe home.” That’s just the way I always was. I wanted to create, elaborately. I think this ignited in me very young. And the more tragedy I experienced, the more it became a need.
My mother was violent. My escape was school. I loved school although I was essentially mute until around 5th grade. I don’t know what happened but I think after my appendix burst and I almost died at 10 years old, I changed. And I was loud. Before that I was always being sent to the school psychiatrist where they would put me in a room and look through a mirror window, observing me. They tried to make me play with other kids that way but I’d stay quiet. I wanted to just shut up and learn.
School was safe. I may have seemed inactive but I was diligent and silent. There was a world in my head. And it was safe and it was beautiful. I think that’s why I’m so obsessed with school uniforms and school chairs and desks. When I see them I just feel free to learn and grow. To this day. I keep an elementary school chair in my house. When I had the surgery to remove my tumor Lukas had to help me into the shower and he put the chair in there so I could sit and shower. It stayed in their for weeks, aiding in my healing.
When I joined earthsleep I purchased an SM58. I held it in my hand feeling the weight of a REAL microphone, finally, and looked down at it as I recalled all the times I’d sing into shoes and hairbrushes pretending I had a real microphone. That was the first time I owned a microphone in my life, besides the toy mic I had when I was 5 that I only know existed because of a photo. Earthsleep provided a place for my volumes of poetry I had always been writing since I learned how, to be made into a sound. The silence was broken. I could not get enough. The quiet words turned to melodies and screams! After feeling that, I could never turn back.
I’m thankful for those moments in that band. It was a learning experience. I loved the songs intensely. I just outgrew it. I wanted to keep moving. The songs were my children and I needed to release them. I could not stagnate. It was an intense need to carry on. I had become stagnant and frozen in that band waiting for others. I think it’s that moment when the student outgrows the teacher. In the beginning Jonathan would guide me as I had never been in a band before and he was fully committed. By the end I was dragging him around like dead weight. Every step was a fight and battle. It was clear he was facing his own resistance. He was in his own way and would not advance. I tried all different tactics I could to rip him from the throes of denial and distraction, but I could not.
I am not pleasant. I’m not claiming such. I have Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD, and OCD, but these afflictions make it mandatory that I create constantly and truthfully. It is my lifeline. It connects me to humanity and existence. Without it I am estranged. If you take from my art or try to stop it in any way, you’re not going to like the outcome. It’s one thing to delay your projects. It’s another to allow someone completely broke to pour in thousands and thousands of the only dollars they have, years of their life, operate of false promise of an outcome and never deliver. You descend from a teammate into an enemy. That happened here. Especially in the sense where two band members are funding a band 50/50 and one calls all the shots. The other band members were shocked in the end to find I was funding it half way since only one of us had the final say in everything. Why assume such authority over me? Everyone knows I question authority [as one should]. And as soon as the demands become a foolish path, you will find me as defiant as they come. I will follow a wise leader. Not a fool. I’ve wasted enough time since birth enduring incredible leadership. Now it’s time to seize everything I ever wanted with all I’ve got. I can feel it. I was treated like a child. And maybe I keep that type of spirit and wonder but it doesn’t mean I am rendered incapable. It is my strength.
I just don’t have time for someone to overcomplicate a process. I don’t have time for “perfection” as I am aware it doesn’t exist! I cannot take a year for post-production on a music video or 4 years for a 10 song album. It may seem like a fun side project for others but not for me. This is my whole heart. People have kids and jobs and agendas. Not me. I’m not going to be able to have that. This is what I have. This is ALL I have.
Yes it was TWO years ago this month that we filmed our SLASHES music video. I felt so infinitely grateful. But that dream was ripped away from me. The story of my life. It’s always so close within reach, but never obtained. I don’t know if I’m born to endure suffering in order to gain perspective, but I’ll take it. Because I finally like myself. Hell, I love myself; I am an alright guy. I come from a long line of drug addicts, liars and losers. Maybe I’m not a model citizen, but I’m also still alive and unaddicted. I try my best to empower the average, the underbelly, the disabled, the elite through the common thread of truth. I relate to everyone. The millionaires and the homeless. I see myself in all of you. And you in me. So when I am angry, it is because I am sad and I am disappointed in all of the self-abuse humanity clings to. I have a process of turning sadness into anger, anger into fuel. I’ve had to develop this way. So forgive me if I’m disagreeable. Or don’t and fuck off. Someone’s got to do it. We all smile into each other’s faces eating euphemisms for breakfast anyway. And I’m sick of it. Lying makes me ill I swear to god. I try it. But I have to systematically purge everything in my lifestyle and everyone that is less than honest.
Okay, okay, NOW TWO YEARS LATER, my video is finally released. But it’s a different video! With a different band! I had to build a new band from the ground up, completely new material, unlike my traitor ass old band who is still swimming in our old backwash piecing apart our old songs and desecrating them. Yeah, it’s cool that my vocals are being deleted off and album that I PAID FOR AND DEVELOPED FOR YEARS OF MY LIFE NO BIG DEAL.
Mediocore tracked SCARS MAKE STARS with Dave Swanson of Love Juice Labs. After 5 years of bouncing from engineer to engineer, I went back to the engineer we discovered early on in my earthsleep days. He tracked our “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath” cover. It sounded better than ANYTHING else earthsleep has ever recorded by a long shot, a really long shot. Dave made the process easier, more cost effective, and fuck it sounded CLEAN!!!! He’s absolutely brilliant. I could not explain my at times complex sense of rhythm/structure to anyone and he pulled my exact vision out of a muddy representation. I wish I had been working with him all these years. But people in my wake loved to overcomplicate, over pay, to fiddle, to not finish. I’m not even here to crucify my old band for the mutiny they formed against me. But I would like what I deserve, the album and video I paid for OR money back, as well as my stolen social media account. I can’t get the time back. Maybe I’m mad at myself for my hardheaded loyalty when I should have bailed so much earlier. Maybe I’m mad I bet on a hack. That’s my own fault. I get stuck on people. I give them all my belief and love. It makes me feel like an asshole. I kept quiet out of loyalty. I allowed myself to be dominated. Not anymore. I’ll take credit for my fuckups. There are plenty of them.
I left a relationship in which I lived with and dated my guitarist who would not let me touch his tube amp or play guitar if he was at home. So during his 9-5 I’d take his SG he hated and I’d play for hours. When we broke up and he moved out I totally copied him and purchased a Marshall DSL 100H [the same amp he would not let me touch] which I fell madly in love with [some love does last]. As he moved out he furiously looked at my new amp and said, “you don’t need that much power”. Here’s the thing: I do. And I’ve been having grown men attempt to oppress my power since birth. If you try to muffle my sound, I will resurface louder than you. My whole life is a story of being burned. Being trampled on and crawling out of it still attempting to fight the good fight.
When I was re learning to walk after major surgery to remove the bone tumor that I had gnawing at me, I demanded that the video we had shot a year prior be finished. It wasn’t. He had promised that it would be by the time I was able to re-learn to walk and play music again. A lot of people worked on that video for cheap or free and all they wanted was to see the outcome! I’ve spent 15 years making art for free, for the love of it, so anytime anyone helps me out in that way it is nothing but respect. It was out of my hands but I felt like a thief without following through! That’s when the band kicked me out. I was talking shit about the lack of progress. They locked me out of the social media accounts I solely created and spent years building. That’s when they reformed essentially the same band without me with another name and singer, and songs and a few alterations to structure. Lukas and I call it “worsesleep”.
SO, naturally. I became my own guitarist. I built an entirely new band. I recorded MEDIOCORE. And I got my fucking video. It only took me two years.
I now have the best fucking band. After trying out a few slacker drummers, we met Joey. Who is a rare breed of inquisitive, thought provoking and ,,,, reliable !? Unheard of for musicians in LA I know. He gave us just the type of creative beats we could ask for on this record. He’s been putting up with mine and Lukas whiny asses like a champ. The intro on Tepid was one of the aspects on SCARS MAKE STARS that people keep complimenting and that was all Joey’s last minute idea that brought that song to life. Can’t wait to implement more of his influence. He also likes really creepy youtube videos Lukas and I really dig.
I now have Lukas West as my partner in crime whose goals are aligned with mine. He guides me along, always striving to reshape his own self to become the best version of himself he can, therefore inspiring me daily. He nursed me back to health while the others abandoned me. No one in my family came to help me during the fight of my life, my surgery. Now Lukas is my family. He believed in me long before we became a team. Our paralleled rough upbringing leaves him to be the most likely person to ever understand my mentality. And I’ve never felt so little loneliness. I suffer from severe abandonment issues and I only ever wanted a family of my own that I could TRUST. I’m not talking about a soccer mom life. I’m talking about a weirdo who gets me. Lukas does. And I get him. And that could not have happened without our mutual hardship. My sister always told me my greatest strength is resourcefulness. It’s his as well. Just when I thought I could not have something like that, I do. And every single day I’m appreciative. He makes me laugh. He is filled with wonder and concern for humanity as a whole. To me the most attractive quality in a human being is the ability to overcome adversity. That’s Lukas. And maybe we feel like two peter pan lifestyle outliers of society with Bachelor’s degrees and never normal jobs, but we are here to call bullshit on our predisposed perception of success and bring light to human value beyond clocking in and out on time.
I tried to have relationships with those who had loving parents still together, money, things like that. But they could not understand my undying love for my family beyond the ways they have scorned me. I guess that would be hard to understand. How someone could do such ugly things but still mean so much to you. I found their struggles trivial. They found mine chaotic, excessive and dramatic. Those without severe trauma do not understand the infinite rehashing. The dissecting. The ways it returns in waves and nightmares. They want to fix you. They want you better when you’re the best you will be. They treat you as crippled. They are not able to understand that you will carry it everywhere you go for the rest of your life. I don’t blame them but I try to educate them. It proves difficult.
The ugly is me. The enemy birthed me. Built my foundation, my character, for better or for worse. I will not deny its existence. I will not cover my scars. I don’t understand all the hiding. Lukas is important because he is aware of the process of energy conversion I’ve been forced to utilize as he lives the same. When someone is that young and sees things no child should ever, there is chemical alteration in the brain that occurs, certain developments are warped or delayed. You don’t simply “heal” or “move on” this will be your chemical makeup from that day forward. The fight or flight response is triggered in a child only so many times before it cannot be turned off. You grow up struggling with ordinary tasks. This is why I believe in psychiatric treatment, but that’s another long fucking novel I need to type out. So here’s to the kids with the ugly clothes and bruises and free school lunches because they are poor. Here’s to the kids who have no one to teach them right from wrong, but learn it anyway. If I could tell them anything, it’s that you have everything you need within yourself.
Wow, finally I’ll talk about chemiKILL. Thassss right, I’m a wordy ass bitch.
The video and the track surround my commentary of a corrupt medical system in the United States. This was both inspired by external observation looking outward on the lives of others, having spent many days in county hospitals observing the plight of the middle class, poverty stricken and/or ill, as well as my own encounters with long term physical and mental illness. After a 7 year battle with Medi-Cal, I finally broke through the convoluted barriers of healthcare and had a bone tumor removed from my femur that was located in my hip area pressing along major nerves that had troubled me for half of my lifetime.
I can’t even explain what it’s like to be that in need and have no one help you. I’ll never ever be the same. All of the calls, all of the rejection, people questioning your pain when the writing is in the MRI. I can’t explain the darkness. The hopelessness. The paranoia. The mistrust. I just can’t even explain it. It still comes to me. I full blown feel it. Other times it seems like a sick nightmare. Like there is no way that could have really happened. When they agreed to do the surgery, I fell apart with graciousness. I was begging to be cut open for years. And it’s still not perfect by any means but my pain is reduced by probably 80 percent. It still gets really bad at times. I just can’t explain how bad it was. Now I will spend the rest of my life preoccupied with the lack of value such a rich country places on human life. I’ve seen people die in ER waiting rooms. I’ve seen things I can’t unsee. Ultimately, this country could be worse. I am thankful for the treatment I have received with the aid of our government but I dare to believe it has more than enough resources to do better by it’s people, and as a result we will have a better society. I know it. I know because I know how I respond when an abused underdog like me is given a chance. There is a lot of good in people, but when we throw them to the streets we foster something else in them. Education and healthcare is not to be overpriced. When it is, we all pay. It’s not impossible to improve it.
dependin on the chemicals
my mess is biological
my excuse it is medical
don't look at me!
why can't I
take my time?
I'm not fine
I'm not blind
thinkin like a criminal
systems make me cynical
my failure is an animal
why can't I
save my life?
takin pain so comical
eat shit till my belly's full
my future is invisible
they're killing me!
why'd I die?
I made the structure of the chorus shorter and less complex each time it is played to emulate the perception of time as it alters as we age. It shortens and then the last line is played with the lyric ‘WHY’D I DIE?” and the song comes to a halt. Because that’s life.
Even better ? This video came from two artists I genuinely look up to. The video was directed, shot, edited by Cocovera a team of two musicians [Alejandra Robles Luna of Le Butcherettes and Janelle Obert of Stars at Night] who like myself do not limit their craft to music alone. Cocovera is the name of the band they have together as well as their joint efforts to create imagery unlike anything else out there. I’d had a mad art crush on these ladies forever because they seemed like some of the only real ass artists making real ass shit in the LA music scene. People here have a tendency to be extremely up their own ass egos making art because they want to be looked at but have nothing real to say. NOT COCOVERA. They are some of the only people [maybe the only] that I could have handed over the video to that extent with such trust. When creating, I know how I want things so it’s not easy for me to surrender responsibility to another artist. But with them I was down to jump. So sCaRy. So worth it.
Years ago I saw le Butcherettes open up for Antemasque. I was SO inspired by Teri’s performance I was completely blown away. I was like frick I haven’t seen a live performer like that ever. THEN Alejandra joined her on drums. When I first saw Alejandra play I think it was when they were opening for At the Drive-In, one of my all time favorite most inspirational bands of my youth NO BIG DEAL, she made the band even more incredible. She really upped the impact, the heartbeat. I didn’t think that that stellar drummer would be shooting my first music video! What! Then I saw Janelle play with Stars at Night and I was like what he HELL this is a born front woman. No one can stop her. So wow. These two musicians shot our fucking video :) Beyond honored.
The visual is following the eerie style of lighting, set design and abstract nature that Cocovera has been utilizing to direct and edit music videos such as: Le Butcherettes ft. Alice Bag- Mother/ HOLDS. The two spit these out on their downtime from touring and writing music as they seamlessly jump between several faucets of art. Their blacklight lighting technique creates both tension and contrast in the juxtaposition of darkness where neon thrives. They gravitate toward the unsettling and obscure providing the perfect birthing ground to Mediocore’s debut video in a deranged depiction of a surgical room where I am both the doctor and the patient. They killed it. Just wrecked it. I am filled with thanks.
Lastly, I want to say that this band has been so fucking supported since before anyone heard it. I have the belief on my side of a strong base of individuals that seem like thoughtful intellectuals. I see stupid music with stupid fans. That isn’t what I have. I have been forming this group of thinkers. I can’t believe how many are really out there. I also can’t believe that I was able to put my foot down and ask for monetary support, and each time you guys have delivered. You gave me the rest of the gear I needed in order to get my live setup together since I was formerly only a singer I needed a bunch of shit because I play bass and guitar now. You gave us enough money to track SCARS MAKE STARS. And then by purchasing the EP and even more donations, you funded this music video. And I love you guys. I can’t believe you have my back like this. I promise I’ll always do what I can to keep producing art that is honest. I need you. I’m emotional. I need your support to keep this going when I’m sad and tired. I have to keep making things because it helps me survive. In that way, I hope I’m helping others to thrive. We are not useless. The unconventional makes fertile soil for innovation. Party time. Excellent.
SCARS. MAKE. FUCKING. STARS.
We’ve basically written another ep already and beyond. We are now booking shows. We have already conceptualized music videos we want to make for TEPID and OH, SEEDY. If you wanna keep this shit going…. donate to us via www.medioc0re.com , purchase merch or our EP, or simply listen to it, watch it, come to a show, consume it! Share it, whatever. Just let it be a part of your world. Because you are a part of ours already. Thank you.
Here’s chemiKILL loves,