“So what’s your experience?” asked Karma to Burn guitarist Will Mecum to me before our interview. I was taken aback by the question, as I started to list which bands I had interviewed he replied “nah, I’m just messing with you man”. I knew I would enjoy interviewing Will and I really did. Before their show at the Colchester Arts Centre in March, I interviewed Will in a venue which he described as “an awesome building which sounds great”. In our short chat we talked about their tour and the support acts, touring the Europe and US, playing Desertfest, their excellent Mountain Czar EP, and Star Wars.
Jack: So how’s the tour going?
Will Mecum (Guitar): So far so good. It’s what I would call a fetus of a tour as we have another 30 or 32 shows to go. Yeah we’re 8/9 shows into it and everything is going okay so far, but you never know what the hell could happen.
Jack: On this tour you’re supported by Switzerland’s Sons of Morpheus. Why did you pick this band to support you?
Will: We just figured they’d be good whipping boys. You know do this, get us that. No, I’m kidding [Laughs]. No, I think they’re an excellent band, we toured with them before and had really good times with them. They’re good friends of ours, I’d rather tour with a band that’s A) Good and B) Friends of ours.
Jack: I know Manuel from Sons of Morpheus contributed to the Mountain Czar EP,
Will: He did!
Jack: How did this collaboration come together?
Will: We were doing the EP in Biel, Switzerland. I can’t play solos to save my life and I happen to know Manny is very good with solos. I didn’t want to try and mess around with it and I asked him “can you come up to Biel and play the solo on this record?” He did that and a friend of my Stef Savy from Italy came up and did the vocals. I can’t sing or play solos. [Laughs]
Jack: You took ‘Runnin Down a Dream’ (‘Uccidendo Un Sogno.’) by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and asked Italian singer Stef to sing it in her native tongue. What inspired you to do this?
Will: Well I just figured if we had a female vocalist, I told her I wanted it in Italian, because she is Italian. She came to the table and completely rewrote the song and presented it to me and I thought it was pretty cool.
Jack: The local openers are Old Man Lizard. Did you know about this band before tonight?
Will: I’ve heard of them, don’t know much about them.
Jack: As you’ve had a different local opener for each show, how important are these opportunities for bands?
Will: Well, I always enjoy having someone from the local areas play on the show. I don’t know how to put it, to keep things…
Will: Yeah! I mean, when I started playing music, we were the local band. Someone would ask us “hey can you open up for so and so” and we were like “yeah of course!” So it’s nice to be full circle. It’s nice to be a headliner, but if you’re a local opener it can be great to play with a band you like. It’s always nice to have a local support.
Jack: You played Desertfest last year. How did you find that?
Will: At the KOKO in London you mean?
Jack: Yeah, there.
Will: It was a good one. I’ve had the pleasure playing the KOKO twice. The first time with Monster Magnet and the second time with Desertfest. To me it’s a little overwhelming, only because I’m used to playing dark dingy clubs and the KOKO is a little more upscale for me. It’s like getting upgraded to first class.
Jack: I saw Baroness there sell the place out in March, it’s a great venue.
Will: It’s really nice yeah, once you get over the intimation factor because the dance floor is packed and once you look up there are three tiers and you’re like “oh boy I better play good.” [Laughs]
Jack: Sleep headlined that day, do Sleep mean anything to you?
Will: No not really. I’m not a fan.
Jack: A lot of bands highlight them as an influence…
Will: Nah, I don’t really like them very much.
Jack: Any particular reason?
Will: I just think they’re boring.
Jack: You’ve played a lot in your twenty year career and I read in an interview that in some ways you prefer the UK. What do you like about the UK?
Will: Touring the US is kinda brutal as no one gives a fuck anymore. Where touring the UK and Europe, people actually care that you’re there. It’s all a matter of anything in life, you go where you’re wanted. [Laughs]
Jack: When I’ve spoken to bands they say the UK is better as in the US the drives are too long and the shows are too spread out.
Will: Yeah that’s a problem as well. Touring the US can be very taxing as the drives are insane and the booking agents get a map and play darts with it. It can be kind of brutal.
Jack: I remember reading an interview with Kirk from Crowbar saying you have to drive sixteen hours and then unload and play and it’s too exhausting in a way.
Will: It’s very exhausting, exhausting to the point where I almost don’t want to do it anymore!
Jack: Mountain Czar has been out for a month, are you happy with the response?
Will: I guess it’s been out for a month, yeah I suppose so. I don’t know how it’s doing; the label seems to be happy with it. I don’t know, we stick a couple of songs in the setlist and it’s just whatever. It’s the same old shit, write a new record, tour it.
Jack: What was the recording process like? Was it different in any way?
Will: Yeah it was shorter, it’s an EP! [Laughs] Yeah it was only five songs. One thing that was slightly different was that we did the drum tracks in a different studio and then we did the bass and guitar in a separate studio, that was a little strange. Our engineer liked the drum sounds he got in one particular studio and liked the guitar and bass in one particular so we did in two different places. All Swiss.
Jack: You’ve been going as a band for more than twenty years, did you think you’d last this long?
Will: Um, well I guess not. You don’t really think about that stuff when you’re young. I started the band when I was 21, you don’t think about much when you’re 21 other than beer and pussy and stuff. [Laughs] I guess not, I just wanted to play rock and roll you know. You don’t really think it’s going to go this far but I guess it has.
Jack: What has kept you going?
Will: [Holds up a can of beer]. Well I think what inspires me is people telling me I couldn’t do this. Certain people say…
Jack: Because you’re an instrumental band?
Will: Yeah, I think it’s one of those things where people say don’t press the red button. Well I’m going to fucking press it! [Laughs]
Do you have day jobs or line of work outside of the band?
Will: No this is it for me. This is all I do.
Jack: Is it hard to say afloat?
Will: Oh yeah, it is. I mean, the water is always up to my chin.
Jack: What do you feel has been your biggest achievement?
Will: Not having children. [Laughs]
Jack: Even though your sound has been described as ‘a bong filled with Whiskey’, you don’t actually smoke weed. Do you think this surprises fans?
Will: It’s just… I don’t know who came up with it. Whatever. I don’t even drink whiskey. It’s just a rock and roll analogy. Whatever the hell…. whatever you take from it is what you take from it. I don’t care. What is in my head is different to what’s in someone else’s head and I don’t want to take that from my head. That’s it.
Jack: You’re touring the US in May. What can you tell us about this tour?
Will: Yeah we’re doing a US tour with The Obsessed which is 26 shows or something like that which starts May 10th or something. You know Scott Wino? It’s one of his first bands that got back together so we’re supporting them in the US.
Jack: Finally, because today is Easter Sunday and the Sabbath, what is the best Black Sabbath album?
Will: Well, let’s see here… none of them. Nah just kidding. [Laughs]. Tell you the truth I have an affinity for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. I really like that one a lot.
Jack: Mine is Master of Reality or Vol 4, they’re all great albums though.
Will: Yeah I mean. Even up to now… well I’m not a fan of post-Ozzy. Yeah I mean, I think they’re all good but for some reason I think I’ve personally played Sabbath Bloody Sabbath more than the other ones.
Jack: Also as you’re wearing a Darth Vader ring and have a Chewbacca Keyring, who is your favourite Star Wars character?
Will: Well yeah I’m kind of a Star Wars geek, I like Star Wars. My favourite Star Wars character, oh Christ! Some of the Jawas are pretty good. [Laughs] Sand people, I like them. Oh, I don’t know, anyone from the cantina!
Jack: Thank you so much for your time, Will.
Will: Cool, thank you! I just hope the Sleep guys don’t come and kill me!