Born from a long-standing inside joke of the electro punk cult group Mindless Self Indulgence, the Left Rights became a way for Jimmy Urine and Steve Righ? to make short, viral songs and skits while simultaneously taking Mindless Self Indulgence more seriously and producing longer material. Their second album under the Left Rights, Bad Choices Made Easy, was released November 9th. With singles like “White” and “Why You In My Phyzical,” the band reverts to the early days of Mindless Self Indulgence by showcasing 41 songs on the album.

With a reissue of Mindless Self Indulgence’s comic book, The Adventures into Mindless Self Indulgence and surprises for the new year, it seems fans of MSI have a lot to look forward to. Recently LA Music Blog had the chance to catch up with Jimmy Urine to discuss the Left Rights, the new album, and what the future holds for Mindless Self Indulgence.

What made you guys decide that you wanted to put out a second Left Rights album?

For the first one, we just decided to have fun and throw it together. Most of the early Mindless Self Indulgence records, Frankenstein’s a good example because it has about 30 songs on it. They’re all a minute long and there are skits mixed throughout. Finally, we just decided to separate it and make it two acts.

We had this running joke during the Frankenstein period because we were always asked who our influences are and we hated that question. You know, the standard answer is usually the Beatles or Bowie. But, we were really against having influences because we didn’t want to borrow songs from the past, we wanted to think about the future. Like I said, we did 30 songs [LAUGHTER] on a record, but it’s like giving somebody three records worth of material for free because you don’t get paid for 30 songs. Ultimately we decided to split it up, made the songs a little longer, and get some money from it as opposed to just one big inside joke that we love.

From all of that, we made the Left Rights and since we hated the influence question we would always answer it with Left Rights and try to convince them that it was a real band. We made a back story that the Left Rights came out in the ‘60s and had a huge influence on us and probably a lot of people in the world. We would actually convince all these big magazines like Spin Magazine and Alternative Press that this group actually existed from back in the ‘70s. We used that as the name to do all the sort of fun skit stuff.

Left Rights is basically just me and Steve and how we grew up, just hanging out, playing video games, fucking around, farts, dirty jokes, prank phone calls, all that sort of stuff. That was our side project and we did it once, but there was really no reason to do it again. We had been running around doing Mindless and then around this time last year everybody in Mindless had babies so we were kind of just hanging out at home and everyone was taking care of kids and stuff. We were like, “Well fuck it, let’s just do the Left Rights again while we’re sitting around here.” That’s basically the story behind the second album—we have time, let’s be idiots. [LAUGHTER]

The Left Rights - Bad Choices Made Easy

How would you describe this second Left Rights album?

I would describe it as a nice collaboration with friends. There is a ton of hidden stuff on it and tons of hidden friends, like old friends, new friends, and people from the band. We don’t tell you who sings what or who’s where or if there’s somebody in the background. It just exists. There are a lot of hidden messages in the song titles and even with the videos as well. Instead of taking a video budget and making one giant video, we split it up. We went to all our friends and artists we had worked with before, like Jhonen Vasquez and people who had done Mindless videos, and we asked them to do quickie viral things just for fun. Everybody was really into it, and that what was probably one of the best things about this Left Rights album.

The other Left Rights we just threw together in two weeks. For this one, we didn’t necessarily take our time with it, but we got a lot of people involved just for fun. It was like, “Hey do you want to do this?” Everybody was really down to do it, which was really fun. Nobody was like, “Well, I need a million dollars.” They were all like, “Yeah, let’s make a crazy fucked-up video, as fucked-up as you want.” There really are no rules in Left Rights.

Obviously with you and Steve creating the album, there are going to be some sounds that are familiar to the Mindless Self Indulgence crowd, but at the same time you guys also pull very eclectic, European sounds along with having different voices. It seems like skits are involved as well…

Yeah, there’s definitely a skit feel. People don’t really do that as much these days, but they used to do it back in the day. All of the hip-hop records had a ton of skits. I remember a lot of Wu Tang stuff or even the De La Soul stuff sounded like guys got together and did a little play. I always liked that and thought it was really cool. Nobody really does that anymore. But yeah, you’re right, there’s obviously a certain amount of Mindless that’s going to come through. But because it’s me and Steve we’re going to pull from things that are not necessarily just a bunch of 8-bit sounds.

Mindless Self Induldence

It’s cool that it draws in the existing fan base from MSI, but it also appeals to a different type of fan base at the same time.

Yeah and it exposes them to some bizarre shit [LAUGHTER], which is really the most important. It’s like you bring them in with the Mindless and you’re like, “Oh you want to listen to this? Well listen to this old guy over here talking about crazy shit. Now you better watch your back [LAUGHTER] or the devil’s going to get you.” It was just fun. We’re very big into inside jokes, getting one over on people and stuff like that. Really, that’s the best part because it’s like you’re part of the joke, but the joke’s on you, which creates a buddy-buddy feel. You’re going to get pranked, and you’re also involved in the prank.

There are always one or two songs on the album too. There’s a song that I always think is hilarious, which is “Hopeless” because we tried to make the worst song we could, with the worst lyrics, play it as straight as possible like some really bad ‘80s Debbie Gibson, Richard Marxy type song. It’s cringe worthy, which is part of that joke. In other songs, the joke is either in the lyrics or it’s really bombastic in a Mindless fashion. But, some of them are there just to really make you think, “I don’t like this. Why am I listening to this?” That’s where we get you because it’s like, “Yeah, fuck you man. [LAUGHTER] You are listening to it. You had to listen to it.”

You mentioned that you guys decided to make several viral videos with a lot of different people instead of making one or two huge videos. How did you come up with that idea?

I actually have to give credit where credit’s due. We had gotten a budget and we were thinking of ideas for bigger videos. I was sitting around talking to Chantal [his wife] and she said we should do a whole bunch of little ones because the Left Rights really lends itself to that type of thing. Most bands have a very focused thing. You’re in a band, you’re on YouTube, you’re not going to do 20 little videos. Beck or Weezer might do that, but most bands are very focused and do one video. However, this band is so bizarre and out there with a lot of little teeny songs and they’re all a minute long, which makes them already like viral songs.

After we sat around discussing it one night we decided that was a really brilliant idea and we went with it. Everybody was really down with it, and we had the people to cull from as well. It’s not like we didn’t know these people. We knew a lot of people who could whip out things really quickly and would want to do it and have fun. There aren’t really rules with Left Rights. Even when you compare the Left Rights to a band like Mindless or any other band in the world, it seems like it’s complete anarchy because there’s still a certain amount of rules.

Mindless still strives to have certain sales. You don’t want to go out and do one big joke or anything. You want to perform and go out and do all this stuff. You wouldn’t want to be like, “Okay, Mindless is appearing tonight” and then not show up. But, you could do something like that with Left Rights because there are no rules whatsoever. We don’t really care with Left Rights if we sell one record or if anybody gets the joke. It’s really made for us so that’s the best thing to me about Left Rights, is that there are zero fucking rules as opposed to Mindless.

Left Rights

Are you planning on doing any touring with the Left Rights or is that more of a studio project?

It’s more of a studio and viral project. That’s the thing that I really got excited about with it is that I can just do it virally. I don’t have to get up and go out and put a band together and go and tour. I could just do it on the internet, have fun with it, and add to it at any point. Again, there are no rules that involve people in certain ways that you wouldn’t be able to involve in a band. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely a studio project.

In terms of MSI, you guys just released a comic book called The Adventures into Mindless Self Indulgence. What made the band want to do a comic?

We’re all really into comic books and a lot of geeky culture stuff like that so it was kind of a no-brainer to do a comic book. I don’t think that we would actually do a comic book as Mindless Self Indulgence. The idea came about after the artist, Jess Fink, approached us with sketches and a few panels. She’s a big fan of the band, and she just approached us with the idea to do something with us, whether it was a comic book, picture, poster or something. She had this art that she was sort of scribbling up, and we were really into her style, but we needed some sort of story.

I didn’t really want to make up a story. I mean, I think there’s only been like about five or six rock and roll comic books and that’s the entire gamut, whether it’s like the Alice Cooper comic or the Kiss comic, which are more kitschy and at the time were like, “Yeah, I’m Alice Cooper, I have super powers.” Now you look back and it’s retro kitsch, but at the time it was really fucking shitty. [LAUGHTER] Then you have bands where the people go in and they do professional comics. For example, Gerard Way has The Umbrella Academy, which has nothing to do with his band, My Chemical Romance. Fallout Boy is doing a horrible rip off of that and failing miserably. [LAUGHTER] It’s being recycled into pulp. Danzig is another example, with his crazy, “I’m in the throne and the devil” and writes his own comic books that are all kind of really shitty. But, that’s about it so I wanted to do something really unrelated to all of those, something original.

When we were sitting around with the band discussing what we would do for a comic book, everyone just wanted to go with the truth. The truth is much better than fiction if it’s insane so we basically took all the oral history stories that we were always telling. There’s so much stuff with the band as far as crazy misadventures and we always enjoyed telling them to people. I never liked telling them in interviews because it was always such a standard question, “What’s the craziest thing that happened at a Mindless show?” But, with Mindless shows, every single show was crazy. It always seems like it was the shows where nothing eventful happened that stood out. [LAUGHTER]

There was generally always something crazy with the audience, the venue or something happening to one of us like a broken hip or punctured lung. So we just decided to compile some of those stories and had Jess illustrate it. We listed out hundreds of stories, picked a few that were the best, made a quick synopsis of them, and sent them over to Jess. She whipped up all the artwork really quick, and in the end we edited all the details. Voila! [LAUGHTER] Mindless Adventures.

How did you originally meet Jess?

She found us and then we just went from there. I’m not exactly sure how she found us. [LAUGHTER] I just remember one day somebody said, “Hey, there are some sketches we want you to look at.” So I think she just went around figuring out how to contact us, which I think is really cool.

Reading through the comic, it seems very realistic and out there, which is crazy. Did you accent it at all?

I’ve read it over about two or three more times now that we’ve completed it. I hadn’t seen it in a little while because it was getting pressed and ready. The art had been done about six months ago. But, there are only two panels that are untrue and they’re not even really completely untrue. They’re very small things like it was night and not dark or my shirt was pink, not black. [LAUGHTER] If you can figure out what the two panels are, then you get a kiss. [LAUGHTER]

Mindless Self Indulgence Comic

Since those sold out pretty much the minute they were released, are there any plans to do a reprint and a re-release?

Yeah, we’re definitely doing a re-release. We sold out really quickly, and we did a quick signing tour for it where Steve and I went to a couple comic book stores and found some copies and had some fun. But, we’re going reprint it with a variant cover, which for anyone unfamiliar with the comic book industry, it just means a different cover. [LAUGHTER] I think Jess did some redos for the cover. I think it has like little animal suits on everybody or something like that. It should be coming out really soon because I think Image is going to start printing it up right away.

Image is a pretty well known comic book producer. How did you guys get hooked up with them?

I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that they were already working on something with Jess. I don’t know if it was Jess or a friend of hers that was working with Image, but they found out about the comic book, which I thought was kind of odd because I don’t know how they found out, and they ended up seeking everybody out because they wanted to put it out. It was cool that they sought us out too.

This year has been a very odd year where I’m noticing that people I would never think know our band actually do know our band. For 10 years we were this weird, underdog band and they were like, “Who the hell are they?” Then we would come in and wreck the place. Now, I’m noticing that I’ll go to like a comic book store and the guy who owns it is like a huge fan or somebody who has a TV show says they know who we are. It’s weird because it’s a lot more professional people and fewer kids this year, which was very interesting. I’m very used to the older person doesn’t know who I am and then they call their young nephew who says, “Oh my God, that was my first show where I came out of the closet.” [LAUGHTER] I guess it’s weird to see people in positions of power all of a sudden being all like, “I work at MTV now and I totally loved that band. I grew up to them and used to do drugs at their shows.” It’s very odd.

Do you guys have any plans for a new MSI album soon?

There will be some MSI surprises coming very soon, but that’s all I’ll say on that subject right now. [LAUGHTER]

What else do you have planned in the near future as far as MSI and the Left Rights goes?

The main thing about Left Rights is that it’s sort of an ongoing, viral thing, which is another thing I liked about it. Usually, when you do a regular band, you put out the record, it comes out, you go on a quick tour, and then the record cycle’s over. It’s very straight ahead.

The nice thing with Left Rights is that we can just drop things because with the internet you can just do it whenever you want, however you want. With Left Rights, there’s no definite time to be done and over with it. Left Rights will continue to putter around and have some fun with that record. We can always do whatever the hell we want and come up with wacky ideas.

As for MSI, we’re going to do the next variant of the comic book. As I said earlier, there’s definitely an MSI surprise coming probably in the new year. But, for the rest of this year, I’m just going to hang out. Maybe I’ll go to Disneyland with Chantal.

For more info on Mindless Self Indulgence and Left Rights:

http://www.mindlessselfindulgence.com/