INTERVIEW WITH THE CODEFENDANTS
Answered by Ceschi Ramos
Of your songs on your debut album This Is Crime Wave, which means the most to you and why?
I know this is not answering the question…but this whole album is one piece to me. I don’t think of it as singles. But if I were to pick some personal lyrics that stand out to me, I’d have to say my verses on Coda. Those words mark a period of processing the confusing and sometimes distant grief that has continued so steadily throughout the opiate epidemic we’re living through.
Which songs are your favorites to perform live, and which get requested the most?
I love playing Defcons because I get to jump around with my guitar like I always wanted to do as a child. Also, Suicide By Pigs because we switch it up live in cool ways when we are backed by Zeta.
How did the Codefendants come together, what is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
Codefendants came together during the 1971 Stanford prison experiment. Sam ended up biting off my finger, he lost a tooth, Mike bailed us out and the rest is history. That experience inspired the whole album as well.
There are so many vital messages throughout the songs on This Is Crime Wave, can you talk to use about that, was it planned or organic, why is it important to you as artists.
It was completely organic. This album was really a product of pandemic, overthinking, grief, isolation, divorce, depression, drug use, feeling lost on a disintegrating planet. We just vomited out what we felt. It was an important moment of connection between people who have become close friends.
Can you tell us about the This Is Crime Wave video series?
Some friends from the vast guerilla art collective Indecline directed and edited these videos that Fat Mike wrote. We had been involved in the initial concepts, but Mike really fleshed out the script and ran with it. It was an incredible and labor-intensive experience all around. Twenty plus people helped make that happen.
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
When I was born the doctor coronated me with one of those Madonna style microphone headsets, the rest is the stuff of legend.
All mythology aside, I have no other useful real-world skills and would likely be selling drugs again.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I used to read and write a lot of prose and poems, before music took back over. Listen to audio books more these days. It influences me a lot, I love how powerful language can be, how a few words can alter someone’s entire mood, brain, feelings.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been tapping since I was eight years old and playing string instruments since age six.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I grew up mostly between New Haven CT and Berkeley California - those places both had strong underground music scenes that influenced me greatly at an early age. Having a father from Puerto Rico I grew up listening to Salsa & Caribbean folk music called Nueva Trova. The Black Power resurgence of the late 80s / 90s was in full swing in the neighborhood where I lived, and it contributed to me rapping for the first time. Those same cities and my older cousin Opus got me into hardcore punk / thrash metal.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
The Milestone in Charlotte NC is one of my favorites. It’s been there and grimy since the late 60s. Many, many heroes have played on that stage - from Kurt Cobain to Bad Brains to Minor Threat….GG Allin probably shat all over that place….as soon as I entered the doors, I felt some kind of magic that went along with the stench emitting from the bathrooms.
Since then, it’s been a loving family time going back there.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I’ll stick to living artists …
Outkast, Smiths, Portishead, Freestyle Fellowship, Minor Threat, Joanna Newsom, Of Mexican Descent, Ramshackle Glory, Bad Brains, Os Mutantes, Zeta, Frank Ocean, Andy The Doorbum.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
If you really want to do this shit, it’s all about illogical persistence and maintaining artistic consistency. Don’t expect shit. Keep going even when it feels stupid. Ninety some odd percent of you will probably quit - and it’s because you didn’t love it enough to do it just for yourself - and that’s more than understandable.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are touring everywhere. Come see us. We aren’t stopping.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Or our website Codefendantslegalfund.com