By Dod

Jesse Michaels

Having recently seen Classics of Love perform in Aberdeen , I managed to get an interview with front man and (former member of Operation Ivy) Jesse Michaels.
Dod- Can You tell me what you have been doing since
Operation Ivy and Common Rider?
Jesse Michaels– To give a brief synopsis: studied Buddhism, tried to go to school but it didn’t take, got drunk and fucked up, moved to Florida, tried to go to school again, got in trouble with the IRS, started Common Rider, got drunk and fucked up again, got several working class jobs and then started the new band.
Dod- How much do you think punk and ska scene has changed in the last 30 years?
JM- Substantially. Both are much larger. Bands aren’t quite the same, though there are good bands. It’s different thought. That’s because it was new back then and the spark of creation was in the air. There’s nothing you can do about that. However kids nowadays are much hipper, much smarter in some ways than in the past. Actually kids from England have always been very sharp but these days they take fewer drugs and play their instruments better.
Dod- What originally attracted you to the music scene?
JM- I was walking down the street with my Father and I saw book in a shop window. The book was called “The Punk Rock book” or maybe just “Punk Rock.” As soon as I saw it I experienced a kind of fascination that utterly took over my soul. I got the book and read it over and over again. The book covered The Jam, The Pistols, Subway Sect, Eater, all those old English groups. Because it had a lot of lyrics in it I knew a lot of punk lyrics before I ever heard a song. Once I heard the music it took a little while to get used to it but there was no question that this was my destiny.
Dod- Your Current band is Classics of Love, where did the name
come from and how did the band come about?
JM- The name came from a song by Common Rider which is about music. The song is in a kind of dance-hall style and mentions bands like The Clash, Blondie, Desmond Decker, Tribe Called Quest, and so on. We were struggling to get a name for the band and that came up and we finally agreed on it. It’s utterly unlike other band names- it’s soft, has no attitude and might even be considered corny, but for some reason, it’s the right name.

The band came about because Mike Park who is our manager, record label guy and good friend was working with both me and the Hard Girls, a trio from San Jose . I told him I wanted people to play with and he gave me their contact info. We jammed and it was all the way on.
Dod- You are touring with Mike Park at the moment  -- can you tell me how this collaboration came about?
JM- I got a chance to meet Mike many years ago in Florida and have been acquaintances ever since. Later I did the Plea for Peace tour with Common Rider and got to know him better. Once this band started he told me we could do his usual U.K. run together and we were like “Oh fuck yeah.”
Dod- What is your thoughts on the UK , is this your 1st time over here?
JM- This is my first time as an adult. I was over as a very small child. I love it. I love the people, I love the food, and I love the socialized aspect of the government. I love the countryside and I love the music. I already miss it and I haven’t even left yet. Above all, I really love the people. Living here you probably know a lot of pricks but being on tour you meet mainly the good ones and we have met some good ones without a doubt.
Dod- What is the future of the band after your UK tour, do you plan to tour America ?
JM- We have two major goals on the horizon: to write and record a record and to tour the states. Both of these will take time. The record is going to be good so there is no hurry. I would rather take three years (which we won’t) than put out anything less than a near perfect record. I’m too old to make weak material; it’s just not worth it. So were going to make a good record and we’re going to blast the states and then we are going to come back to the U.K. and see our friends there.
Dod- You said at the start of the show this is not the Jesse Michaels show,
do you think people might see it as this?
JM- I think that is possible. I am the front man and the face of the band and I accept that role and in fact I totally enjoy it. I have a vision and a message, this is my calling, and I’m not shy about it. However, anybody with their eyes and ears open will see that the rest of the band is no joke. We are a team and one part doesn’t function without the other.
Dod- You Have an EP out at the moment can you tell us about it?
JM- The EP has six songs. It should be out on Asian Man on CD and vinyl by the time this interview is published. It represents the first six songs written by this band. The music is mid-tempo punk with a relatively political message.
Dod- Who writes the material for the songs?
JM- I bring in the songs and then we all work on them together. I write them at home in the lab but they don’t come to life until the whole band plays them. All three of the guys I play with are creative, intelligent people with good ideas so it’s not like me and three studio guys. Of the three I am the least musically talented in the band in many ways.
Dod- What is your outlook on the music industry today?
JM- I don’t really trust the music industry. The history of businessmen ripping off artists goes back to exactly the first time a businessman and an artist worked together. The difficult thing is that true artists often need businessmen because they are not built for commerce, they are built for art. And yet they have to make a living. If you think I’m just talking about the majors, forget it, there are just as many sharks among the independents and they don’t even buy you lunch. So that’s what we as artists have to navigate. You have to be careful and smart and have some tough friends and see what you can accomplish. There is no pure situation. You do the best you can. People who are very heroic and only work with pure labels and do pure things are wonderful but they are often so poor that they end up working crap jobs. So even that situation of being a punk rock saint is impure. You move in the world and do the next right thing after considering all factors. That’s my outlook on the industry at this moment, it could change.
Dod- I noticed that you had some artwork for sale at the gigs is this
a hobby of yours or a serious project?
JM- I have done visual art since I was about three years old so it is both really. I mean I take it very seriously and am now getting into trying to sell it but at the same time if it isn’t fun, I freeze and I can’t do it. So it is a hobby, yes but I am now looking into ways to market it, to pass it on and make a few bucks at the same time.
Dod- Finally any last thoughts?
JM- Yes. If anybody out there is addicted to drugs or alcohol, get help because you can have a much better life with very little effort.
Punk Globe would like to thank Jesse Michaels and Dod for the great interview.