Interview with Battleship

Interview conducted entirely via text message by Mitch Cardwell

Photo: Mark Murmann

BATTLESHIP are an explosive post-everything band from Oakland, California. I first saw them perform deep in the bowels of Chinatown’s infamous Li-Po Lounge and it was a true stunner: boundless energy, extreme volume, massive heart. I eventually wormed my way into their circle, stoking and coaxing them throughout their existence, rewarded time and time again by their inspiring performances and recordings. Their careening brand of noise --- an amalgam of rage, poetry, absurdity and hope. The fairly fuckin’ fierce band themselves --- an urgent and frightening gang made up of wonderfully creative people…or maybe it’s the other way around? After a decade or so “on hiatus”, the members have regrouped for 2018’s Burger Boogaloo. I decided that a group-text clusterfuck was the best way to get the scoop on what they have planned for what will surely be an epic homecoming… Read on & get ready!

Hi BATTLESHIP! It’s Mitchell. Burg Boogz asked me to conduct a brief interview with you, so I thought handling it via txt-mess would be potentially novel and probably foolish. Can you handle the intensity of this concept?

BEAN: In-tents.
JOE: Ha! Sure!
ALEKS: So intense!

OK, we’ll roll with this until it gets too disgusting. How’s everyone feeling about resuming operations as Battleship? It’s been awhile…

BEAN: I’m spending way too much money to get my bass back in shape. But no amount of training will get my body back. So learning the songs again is like 3 or 4 steps down the priority ladder.

ALEKS: Bean also refuses to make eye contact with the rest of the band. And all the communication with Bean has to go through his assistance, even when we’re all in the same room, which is beyond frustrating and slows down the process. But you know, if you want the best, I guess you just gotta put up with that sort of stuff. We’re slowly dusting off the cobwebs, but it’s coming together. Just like old times except our bodies hurt before the show now, not just after…

JOE: Feeling good! Playing these songs again has been a lot of fun. And sounding good for not having played together in ten or so years.

DANIEL: It’s been pretty rad so far. After the first practice, I was shocked at how good we sounded. But then again, we set a low bar…Do you still have some records to sell or did you burn them all and bury the ashes for a tax write-off?

BEAN: I know there’s a decent amount of CD copies of both full length albums available. CDs are cool and retro now, right? Cassettes are rachet again, right?

What was the impetus for reforming? In passing conversations in the last few years, it seemed like an outside possibility but what kicked it over to reality?

ALEKS: Marcos started Burger Boogaloo specifically to get Battleship to reunite, but we turned him down because he couldn’t meet our demands. Poor guy has thrown this festival every year at a great personal loss, just to try to get us to play. We felt so bad we agreed to play just so he doesn’t have to keep doing the festival. What really kicked it over was the timing, I guess.

How are the logistics of practicing? What with fatherhood and the entirety of Highway 5 being obstructing forces, how does it work?

ALEKS: We did one practice with Joe on drums while he was visiting from Portland. Daniel drove up from LA for that. Drew is practicing solo in Salt Lake City. We’ll all have to do a bug practice the day before the show. If that doesn’t work, we have to do it Milli Vanilli style.

DANIEL: Practice has mostly been playing along to the records while my son either joins in on ukulele or just tells me to shut up and stop playing. I think it has something to do with Aleks’ singing style. I think the boy likes less snot in his vocals.

Will the kids be part of the act? “FINALLY, synth and horns!” Battleship as Dad-Rock is making my head cave in…

ALEKS: We may need the kids to step in for sections of the set since we’ll probably need to take breaks due to our age and poor health. Maybe we should just do a synth and horn set. That’ll go over well with the Burger crowd, right?

BEAN: My kid is an old dog, so he doesn’t care what I do. He can also replace the singer in a heartbeat.

DANIEL: With all due respect, we are not Van Halen.

ALEKS: Yeah, Eddie Van Halen could play guitar, so we obviously ain’t Van Halen.

Whose pedal board is the most fuckin’ ridiculous in 2018: Daniel or Bean?

ALEKS: Good question!

DANIEL: Depends on your definition of ridiculous.

BEAN: 7 out of 10 on the severity scale, but I only use 1 pedal.

ALEKS: The other 6 pedals are like swords of Damocles, leaving the audience with a constant sense of unease, never knowing if today will the day Bean puts a food down on one of them.

The last Battleship show began with a massive tray of whiskey shots for the crowd. How will you bribe people to watch you play today?

BEAN: If enough people watch us play, I’ll piss on CAPTAIN SENSIBLE’s guitar before he does.

DANIEL: We can try to find our old van and offer it up in a raffle. Other prizes may or may not include charred GREG ASHLEY records from my personal collection, Drew’s sweaty drum shorts, corn from Joe’s fam and a few performance-enhancing hugs from Aleks.

DREW: This wall of texts is just what I needed to unwind after a long day of slinging Cookie Butter. Thanks Mitch!

Good, Drew’s here! Now we can start the interview…

DREW: Okay, question #1: how many people on our guest list?

ALEKS: I think we’re only getting in ourselves on GRIS GRIS’ guest list, unless Greg changes his mind.

Other than GRIS GRIS, what else are you stoked to see at Burger Boogaloo? What is it that you hope to bring to the whole weekend?

DREW: I’m excited to see LE SHOK. I never got to see them before they were a dad band.

ALEKS: The funny thing is we might be one of the younger bands on the whole bill! Obviously I want to see DEVO and THE DAMNED. GRIS GRIS too. I also hope we remember to bring our guitars. I hope we bring some fun to the weekend and that Bean doesn’t hurt himself too badly.

BEAN: I’m stoked in the era of #MeToo the representation of women…Oh wait, oops! I’m hoping there’s at least one fight with someone from Pork Army.

JOE: I’m excited to see NOTS, HUNX AND HIS PUNX and DEVO.

DANIEL: DEVO, LE SHOK, HUNX AND HIS PUNX, QUINTRON & MISS PUSSYCAT, TRADITIONAL FOOLS…

Any parting words?

DANIEL: No last words other than maybe “Sorry”…

BEAN: We’ll see y’all after the show @ Brian’s Party.

ALEKS: What he said!

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