Monday, October 29, 2012

Pheaturing Josh Mintz From Friend Slash Lover

Hello, kids, welcome to a Monday entry of the Phile. How are you? I actually had two hours sleep last night, things are getting better.  So, my friends and readers in the New York area, I hope things are okay. I heard on TV there's another storm following Sandy singing the sun will rise, tomorrow, so bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow... see, thing's are not bad. Wait, it's the sun will shine, not rise, right? It's the Oxy talking.  So, what do Hurricane Sandy and Snooki have in common? They are both headed to the Jersey shore with plans to blow everyone in a 50 mile radius.  Here's a positive story about France... French President Francois Hollande has promised to ban schools from assigning homework. Seriously? That’s not a European president’s platform... that was my 8th grade student council platform. “I’m gonna do away with homework, and put RC Cola back in all the vending machines!”  As part of a new “transparency series,” McDonald’s is releasing videos that show how its food is made. It involves horses and bayonets.  I have to mention this before I forget, as I forgot yesterday... last Tuesday it was our 15th wedding anniversary. A decade and a half for me, a lifetime ago for her. I spent the day in bed complaining I wasn't getting enough. Morphine, not sex. I was woken that morning by a smooth voice saying, "Good morning, my dear." It wasn't my wife, it was Anthony, the nurse's assistant.  A source close to Mitt Romney revealed that he gets a spray tan before major campaign events. I guess that explains his new Secret Service code name: "The Mittuation." A new poll found that 59 percent of Americans would rather eat a burger with President Obama while only 41 percent would eat one with Mitt Romney. While most Americans don’t care who they’re with, as long as they get that burger.  While he was at a diner this week in Ohio, a man told Joe Biden that he’s a good guy but a bad vice president. Which gets even worse when you hear that was the only thing President Obama said the entire lunch.   After months of dating, this week Taylor Swift broke up with her boyfriend, Conor Kennedy. And when Kennedy asked if they were ever getting back together, Taylor just handed him an iPod and said, “Play track six.”  Last night, a documentary about Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal aired exclusively on CNN. Armstrong was like, “Phew... thank God no one’s going to see it.”  While we were away and I was in hospital Apple released the new iPad mini. Right after that they released an ad on what their next product will be.

Last week we were in South Carolina, and I noticed they get a lot of thing's backwards there.

So, did you see T-Mobile's new ad? It made me laugh.

Okay, so as you know I had a stupid accident and broke my shoulder bone in three places. It could've been worse though. Eleven-year-old Chinese schoolboy Liu Cheong had a brush with death when his friend shot him in the head with a 16-inch arrow, according to numerous international media reports. The arrow entered his skull through the eye socket and lodged in the back of his head. Somehow, the boy was spared a fatal brain injury.

Logan wants a bow and arrow set, can you see this happening to me?  Man, I am so itchy, I need my hair washed. Actually I was thinking of shaving it all off? What do you think? Email me at if I should shave it off. And now it's time for...

The penis cake looks more delicious than the horse cake. Just saying. Well, kids, sit back because it's...

Random thought of the day... 15 to 25 foot waves on the south shore and I'm not surfing because I can't get to the beach? Kind of like leaving a pile of Snickers bars in front of a stoned diabetic. This blows! A couple of state troopers young enough to be my sons, just 86ed my plans to go surfing. No sense of humor... No sense of adventure... I have Van Halen t-shirts older than these two. So pissed right now! Hope everyone's ready for Sandy. Be safe.

The 21st book to be pheatured in the Phile's book club is...

Vic will be a guest on the Phile this Saturday.

Today's pheatured guest is the lead singer and founder of the band Friend Slash Lover whose latest EP "The Grey Area" is available on iTunes right now. Please welcome to the Phile... Josh Mintz.

Me: Hello, Josh, welcome to the Phile, man. How are you?

Josh: Thanks for having me. I'm doing well. Been busy makin lots of videos with my iPhone. Ha.

Me: At first before I saw you had a band, I thought you were one of those solo acts who go by a 'band' name. I interviewed so many like that, but Friend Slash Lover is a band, right?

Josh: Yes! And no... But yes! I tend to drive things and write the initial song ideas on acoustic guitar, but then I audition the ideas to the band and each member reacts to it and puts their stamp on it. They are world-class musicians, so I'd be stupid not to honor their input.

Me: Who is in the band with you?

Josh: Frank Day (bass), Jake Hayden (drums and vocal harmonies), Greg Pajer (guitars). Jake created all the vocal harmonies on the record. He's got music in his bones...

Me: Don't you have a doctor in the band with you, Josh?

Josh: There is a doctor in the band. Frank kinda hates that I always mention it, but he's an emergency physician and an all-around bad ass.

Me: Where did the name Friend Slash Lover come from?

Josh: It just popped into my head one day, as phrases tend to do (which is why I always have to carry a notebook with me). What really struck me was the shift in meaning that occurred when I spelled out the “slash.”

Me: Anybody ever call it FSL? What about Friend/Lover?

Josh: We call it FSL out of laziness and now that has become our logo and stuff. I hate when people put a slash instead of spelling it out.

Me: If I was in a band it'll be called Pal Axl Slacker. That's so stupid. Did you have any other band names you were gonna use?

Josh: Haha, oh yea, I pitched names at Frank for about 6 months! I have a list a mile long. Lemme think... There were three times when I thought we had settled on a name, so I went and designed logos and printed stickers and t-shirts. I doubt Frank ever realized how much work I was doing! Cartoon Riot was one that I made cool stencils for. Zero K was too nerdy... and I made several Switch stickers and shirts and wound up using them for my creative agency that I do together with my best friend. Switch makes all the graphics and videos for the band.

Me: Where are you from, Josh?

Josh: Originally, CT, but I moved to San Diego when I was in high school. 

Me: What part of Connecticut?

Josh: All the “burys.” Middlebury, Southbury, Woodbury, plus Oxford, Newtown, Madison... I could go on If you want. Sadly, my crazy parents moved us every year of my life.

Me: Ever take the Bridgeport slash Port Jeff ferry? Ever been to Port Jeff? It's on Long Island, New York.

Josh: It doesn't sound familiar..? Though I spent summers in Long Island a couple times.

Me: Okay, let me see if I understand this correctly, Josh. At eight years old you were in a fife and drum band?

Josh: Yea, at eight years old my sister joined one and came home with a fife and I was completely infatuated with it. I didn't realize you could play weird instruments and travel around the east coast and march in parades and go to carnivals and all that. I joined the next week and oddly enough, I turned out to be a total natural at the fife, and wind instruments in general. I could play Mozart and do a technique called “triple tonguing” which would win me all sorts of championships, until we moved to San Diego. I was beyond nerd, and this was WAY before "Glee" was on TV.

Me: At eight I was in my room reading comics. Were drums your first instrument?

Josh: I've never played drums. I was a fifer. And I was also reading comics. I had quite a collection because my grandpa was the original distributor of Marvel and DC in New York, back in the beginning of that whole era. I have a painted plaque with his company logo on it that was supposedly designed by the original Superman artist. That's why it would mean so much to me if our song "Carry Your Weight" could make it onto the new Superman soundtrack. I wrote and recorded it with that in mind, but I don't know how to get it in the right hands! To this day, I won't forgive my dad for giving my collection to my cousin. His awesome logic was that I didn't read them enough! I swear there was like a Superman issue 2 in there and crazy stuff like that. Sorry, I went off on a tangent.

Me: You won state and national championships, right? That must of been fun.

Josh: Yea, we competed all up and down the east coast, traveling in a gross old school bus. I won just about every competition we did.

Me: When did you realize you wanted to be a singer and musician?

Josh: That's an interesting question for me to answer as I think about it right now, actually. Because, I've been a musician of sorts since I was eight. I could sight-read classical music and I wrote my own songs and everything, but I could NOT sing. Singing was one of those things I just wished I could do, but I had no talent for it. I couldn't hold a note or hear when I was off. But a friend of mine taught me how to teach myself with the simplest method. I hooked up headphones to a delay machine with a 400 ms slap back delay and he would have me just pluck a note on guitar and hum along to it long enough for it to slap back into my ears. Then it became easy to hear the note as it entered my ear and I could make adjustments as I would with any instrument. Now I think singing is my favorite part and it's what most people respond to with our music. I'm living proof that ANYONE can learn to sing...

Me: You went to the Rhode Island School of Design, right? What did you study there? I guess design...

Josh: Actually no! I did the freshman foundation stuff and then became a film major. But I had to leave after sophomore year for financial reasons. I paid my way through school by working in the computer lab and it was mainly the graphic design majors who came to use the lab, so I sort of learned graphics that way. Now I'm a Creative Director at an ad agency in Hollywood. I think it's funny that all the things I've had success with in life were things I've taught myself: Photoshop, graphic design, songwriting, guitar, photography, etc. Fuck school!

Me: Are you an artist as well, Josh?

Josh: Yea, I keep busy with various things. These days I am having fun making all my projects converge with Friend Slash Lover. You'll see what I mean in a week or so when the new site launches. It's a non-linear, weird art piece. Who cares about band web sites anyway?

Me: The band is based in Los Angeles, right? What made you decide to move out there?

Josh: I moved here form San Diego when I got the job as Creative Director of a music/lifestyle magazine a while back. It was a great excuse to get the fuck outta dodge.

Me: Is that where you met the band?

Josh: I put an ad on Craigslist after making a couple demo tracks and Frank is the first and only person I met from that. He was perfect. What are the chances? Over the years, we met Greg and then Jake, who was, like, our 5th drummer.

Me: Josh, let’s talk about your music. I downloaded the new EP "The Grey Area" and liked it a lot. What is the grey area?

Josh: It's that space between your ears. Oh wait, no, that's the grey matter. The grey area is the vast gradation of subtleties, which exists between the black and white way of looking at things. The details we tend to ignore as a culture obsessed with immediacy and brevity. I always laugh when I see complex topics being debated on bumper stickers.

Me: This is your second release, right?

Josh: We've done 2 EPs and the next record is halfway done too.

Me: When I played it I was excited you covered XTC's song "Dear God". I like XTC, but my dad was a huge fan of there's. I don't think they are really known over here, Josh. Are you a big XTC fan?

Josh: Yes! I've always loved that song and “Generals and Majors” and “Making Plans For Nigel” etc. Andy Partridge is one of the great songwriters, I think.

Me: How did you go about choosing that song? It just sort of happened one day over lunch with our producer, Thomas Flowers. I drove up to Santa Barbara every weekend for 6 months or so to work on this record and one day we were talking about XTC for some reason and I said I loved the theme of that song and I bet I could totally sing it. So, Thomas went back to the studio and I watched him bang out the structure of the song in a couple hours, all with pianos and simple guitars. Thomas is brilliant. That's a tricky song, with 5 tempo changes. A few weeks later, I involved the band and get kept re-recording the vocals until it really involved into what you hear on the record. It was a fun distraction from the rest of the recording process.

Me: Did you write the other songs on the album?

Josh: Yes.

Me: I have to ask you about one song... "S2PD HMN". That looks like a British zip code. What does that mean, Josh?

Josh: Well, it's a good thing I got talked out of calling the album "S2PD HMN", for that very reason. It's sort of a texting-style abbreviation of “Stupid Human.” I like how it makes it seem a bit computerized, because I always imagined that the phrase “Stupid Human” was from the point of view of a robot, making fun of us. It also used to be my solo artist name before I met Frank, but it didn't feel right for a band name.

Me: I love the opening song, "As Seen On TV". What is that song about? Have you been on TV?

Josh: Oh nice, thanks! I have not been on TV, though it is semi my fault that people watch reality shows, because I do the marketing for them in my day job. In LA, you're sort of a nobody if you're not on TV, so in one sense, I just started to behave as if I was. To me, that song has many meanings. On one level, I'm just poking fun of the city of Los Angeles, and the people in it. But I live here, so I am one of those people, but I keep missing my marks and forgetting my lines and generally feeling like I was mis-cast for this movie. On another level, that idea that “I'm the actor playing me” speaks to the persona we all project.

Me: Josh, I have to ask you about the bands logo with the lightening bolt. Did you come up with that? What do you think about the Phile's logo?

Josh: I'm Googling you right now and I can't find a logo!

Me: It's the flying filing cabinet at the top of every entry.

Josh: The lightning bolt takes the place of the letter S in FSL. I designed it after many failed attempts at coming up with a cool logo over the years.

Me: So, what's next for you, Josh? Any tours?

Josh: I'm not sure about tours, though it would be great if we did. First, we'll launch the website, make a few more videos, start playing live and get our music placed onto TV shows and movies.

Me: I wish you continued success, and I feel you are gonna have a lot of groupies. Go ahead and mention your website, Josh.

Josh: Alright,

Me: Please come back on the Phile soon when your next release comes out, okay? Take care.

Josh: Sure thing, thanks a lot.

Well, that's about it for this entry. Hopefully today when I see the specialist he'll take this cast off and I will find out when my surgery is. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and Josh Mintz. The Phile should be back Wednesday with singer Neara Russell. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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