Mayola keeps it real
Mayola, as individuals, aren’t much different from the characters that take the stage each time the band plays live —they’re in your face, liberal with their diction, and unafraid of telling you what they’re really thinking. When I sat down with Madden Humphrey, Antonio Laster (and eventually) Bryan Thompson of Mayola, they never broke character.
SOPHIE ZINE: I could probably answer this question myself, but for the unfamiliar, how did you originally form, and how long have you officially been a band?
MADDEN: We formed in the summer of 2005, and it was just four us [without Bryan] in Enid. We practiced at Riley’s parents house… We had all been in different bands before, and I had been playing with Riley for a while. Then, Antonio and Travis eventually joined us.
SOPHIE ZINE: I know you all have really different tastes in music, but what are some of the band influences that you could all agree upon?
ANTONIO: I would say Broken Social Scene, Modest Mouse…
MADDEN: We all kind of have different tastes, but I would say those two definitely. [Our singer] Riley really likes anything from classical to folk-type rock, and I go from anything from hip hop to just about anything else. You would have to ask us individually… we could tell you what we like, but someone else in the band would be like “That band sucks.” Like Riley probably wouldn’t like some of the stuff I like, and vice versa. He listens to some bullshit.
SOPHIE ZINE: You have been evolving a lot over the past year, though, and you have a more recognizable name a lot of the other bands in Oklahoma. How do you think you are differentiating yourselves?
MADDEN: When we get together to write music, we try to make it deliberately like something we’ve never heard. If we play something, and it sounds like another band, one of us will immediately say, “We’ve heard that before,” and we’ll try it a different way.
ANTONIO: I also think it’s our live show. We make it rock ‘n roll and in your face. When you go to a show, you go to get into it, and have a good a time.
MADDEN: We try to make sure the crowd is as sweaty as we are after the show.
SOPHIE ZINE: You’ve also added a new member with Michael Orr on horns for a couple songs. How does that change things?
MADDEN: Michael’s a friend of ours, through Happy Narwhal obviously, and he got interested in our band and wanted to manage us. It seemed like he had his shit together, so we let him in. He started hanging out with us a lot, and if anyone starts hanging out with us enough, it will eventually come to them picking up an instrument.
SOPHIE ZINE: Would you say that your music is changing because of that?
MADDEN: I would say it’s always evolving because our musical tastes are always evolving and changing.
ANTONIO: We try to add stuff to make our sound bigger. It’s fun to us to see what the next step is that we can take it in. When the horns are necessary, or any other instrument that we can’t play at the time, it’s good to have someone to help us with that.
MADDEN & ANTONIO: We try to push it to the limit!!
SOPHIE ZINE: So, you have that Halloween show coming up at Joe’s where you have an opportunity to push that limit. Are you big fans of Halloween, and do you have a costume planned?
MADDEN: I’m a fan of Halloween, but I know not one of us has a costume planned yet.
ANTONIO: I’m a HUGE fan of Halloween.
MADDEN: You don’t get out of school for it, so it’s not as cool as some holidays.
SOPHIE ZINE: What have you dressed up in past years?
MADDEN: I know my funnest costume was Hunter S. Thompson: for obvious reasons… you just get real fucked up.
ANTONIO: I always come up a costume at the last minute. Last year I was a football player, which is just absurd.
MADDEN: As a band in public on Halloween, three or four days before the show, we should probably come up some costumes. We usually come up something the day of Halloween, but this year we’re going to be on stage, so we don’t want to look like total jack asses. If I look like a jack ass, I’ll make them all look like jack asses.
ANTONIO: We’re really excited we’re playing the Halloween show, because everyone loves to go crazy. We’re going to try to do the best we can to make that show awesome.
SOPHIE ZINE: You have quite a few other shows coming up, too. Do you have new songs in the works for those?
MADDEN: Because there’s a new record in the works, we haven’t really worked on too many new songs. We don’t really pick when the new songs come, it’s whenever they choose to. With school and work, we haven’t had much time to work on too much new stuff. Although, we do plan on playing one new song at the Halloween show. For now, the CD’s our main focus, though.
ANTONIO: When we plays shows, in Stillwater especially, we always try to play a new song. I think it’s exciting when you go see a local band, and all the sudden, they play a new song. We definitely do our best to put out new material.
MADDEN: It takes a long time to finalize songs. The song we’re working on right now has been in the works for four or five months, and it just became a song a couple weeks ago. With six people, we can’t all decide at once when a song happens, it just happens, and that’s it.
SOPHIE ZINE: How have your songs changed since the birth of the band?
ANTONIO: It’s really a huge, huge difference.
MADDEN: Yeah, our music kind of reflects what we’re listening to at the time. When you listen to our music from two and half years ago, and we were still listening to Taking Back Sunday, you can definitely hear that. Now, with adding more members, the band has evolved.
ANTONIO: There’s still that [Taking Back Sunday] type seriousness and anger, but I think now we just sound a lot more mature. Most people can’t hear our lyrics when we play live, but Riley is a really great songwriter and lyricist, if you get a chance to really listen.
MADDEN: You know, when we started we were 18 to 19, and now we’re 21 to 22. It’s only a couple years difference, but growing personally, there’s a big change. Like you are a lot different than you were a couple years ago, it’s like that: when you’re making music, it evolves with you, too.
ANTONIO: It should evolve, otherwise, what’s the point? I think the audience evolves with you. Our fans, that have followed Mayola since day one still enjoy our music as much as they did then. I think as the audience grows, so should the band.
[At this point in the interview, there were recording device failures, and our interview turned into casual, off-the-record conversation for a while. Bryan finally arrived… 30 minutes late, and we talked about Mike’s College Bar turning into Jammers. Someone mentioned that Jammers would open that day. Antonio and Bryan decided that they should go for a drink. Madden and I decided that their random departure from an interview to go to a bar at 4 p.m. should be documented. Fortunately, my recording device began to function again, and the boys returned after only a few short minutes. Jammers apparently was not yet open… it wouldn’t open until later in the evening. Amused by the situation, I resumed the interview.]
SOPHIE ZINE: So, do you guys get a chance to hang out much together?
MADDEN: I think we really hang out with eachother more than we play music together. We hang out before and after practice.
ANTONIO: We generally try to remain friends.
MADDEN: None of us are really new to eachother; we’ve known eachother for a while. We’ll all from Enid, so we’re good friends.
SOPHIE ZINE: And what kinds of things do you all like to do together that you could share with the public?
MADDEN: Bryan likes movies, Antonio likes theater…
BRYAN: We all like to frolic
MADDEN: Frolicings nice…
BRYAN: Frolicking together!… And Sunday’s: ice cream.
[Everyone bursts into laughter.]
MADDEN: You know, we like normal things. Like having a drink… or smoking a little grass every now and then.
ANTONIO: Yes, we do.
[Insert a lot of laughter again.]
MADDEN: Just regular college-age stuff.
ANTONIO: A lot of bands take themselves way too seriously, but we’re just normal guys who want to play good music.
MADDEN: We talk about quitting school, just to be in a band. Whenever that happens, we will be trully solidified as a band. We all have jobs and school and all that bull shit. When we have just the band, that will be ideal.
SOPHIE ZINE: So, most of you used to live in one huose together. Now, you have two separate households. Has that changed anything?
BRYAN: I didn’t live with them last year, but now that I do, I have access to a lot more instruments. I think it’s made me a better musician.
MADDEN: When we all lived in that big house right by the bars and campus, there were always people coming through. Not very much stuff got done. It’s a lot better now…
SOPHIE ZINE: Well, I think it’s about time to wrap things up. Any last words?
MADDEN: Vote for Ron Paul! I’m trying to get all my friends to do it, but a lot of people are apathetic… which is understandable since you have to pick between a douch and a terd every four years… but vote for Ron Paul!
ANTONIO: And we hope everyone will make it out to the Halloween show at Eskimo Joe’s. It should be a really fun show! And we get to pick the best costumes, so come prepared!