You would have to been living under a rock for the last fifteen years if you have not heard of Alien Ant Farm. The band have been touring constantly since their inception in 1996, but they are most famous for their 2001 album Anthology which contained the singles ‘Movies’ and their Michael Jackson cover ‘Smooth Criminal’; both of which along with the album hit the charts in 2001. A childhood hero for many, drummer Mike Cosgrave, talked about their recently appearance at Download Festival, touring the US, Anthology turning fifteen, the singles from Anthology, touring the UK and Donald Trump.
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How are you doing?
Mike Cosgrove (Drums): Hi and thanks for reaching out and helping us! We’re good at the moment, played New Orleans last night and have the day off. Going to eat some good food and head to Florida.
Jack: You just played Download Festival in the UK, how did it go? Did the heavy rain and mud cause any problems at all?
Mike: It was great playing Download Festival this year! We enjoyed being there and the crowd’s energy! We were lucky to play just before the rain came. Right after we played, it was pissing down! I saw so many peeps trudging around in galoshes, so most people seemed prepared. We went to see Glassjaw play and slid around on our hike. Well worth it!
Jack: A lot of US bands say the festivals in Europe are much better than the US. Do you agree?
Mike: I think the cool thing about the UK festivals compared to the US festivals is the energy. Everyone seems more in tune. A good crowd is a good crowd, anywhere! But, U.K. seems to dig it more. US seems to be more pop-driven, typically. I think festivals like Coachella and a few different other ones in the States have made great strides in comparison and have lots of good crowd energy, like the UK.
Jack: You are on tour in North America with Perish Lane, what do you like about them?
Mike: We’re just getting acquainted with Perish Lane. Seem like nice peeps.
Jack: You are also taking part in the Make America Rock Again tour with bands such as Drowning Pool, Saliva, Trapt and Crazy Town. What are you looking forward to the most about this tour?
Mike: Best part about the Making America Rock Tour is that there’s lots of bands for people to see and short sets! We get to play for thirty minutes and then just go hang out and meet and talk to peeps.
Jack: The tour has been described as a nostalgia tour, do you see the tour as a nostalgia tour?
Mike: As far as nostalgia goes, it’s tough to say. We’re in it all day everyday. But when I step back look, it’s like…. “Look how you’ve grown! Old!” But, it’s great. We’re very lucky and fortunate to be able to do this.
Jack: A lot of bands from your heyday are starting to make a comeback or are reforming. Why do you think this is?
Mike: I think the comeback thing may be part of a few different reasons… Mostly, I think people grow up and like to revisit their past.
Jack: Your second album Anthology has been out for fifteen years. Is it strange to believe it’s been out for fifteen years?
Mike: Anthology being around for fifteen years and me being around for forty is a feat! Honestly feels like yesterday. Except I have a beautiful daughter now! I’m very proud and happy people still care. Mucho respecto!
Jack: Songs from the album, especially ‘Movies’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’ are still played at rock clubs and parties, covered by other bands, taught in music lessons and are discussed online. How does this make you feel?
Mike: As far as ‘Movies’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’ being discussed on any level, is humbling. We definitely worked hard and put a lot passion, heart and soul into our craft. As I said earlier, we are very lucky. My daughter plays music and I see her eclipsing me already! But it’s really cool for people to come up and say, “I bought my first guitar after I heard Anthology”, or, “that was the first CD I bought” (which is archaic now!) I love this thing called music, to put a drop in that bucket is amazing. I love to learn and teach. I take it to heart when drummers come up and express any kind of feelings and people that took the time to listen and enjoy.
Jack: Do you have fond memories of making the album?
Mike: I remember turning twenty four while recording the record. [It] was a super special time and moment for me and all of the band. Changed our lives! I’m forty now. Caramba!
Jack: Is there anything you would change about the album?
Mike: I wouldn’t change anything about the album. It was a special time and experience for better or for worse.
Jack: I read online that ‘Movies’ was intended to be the first single from the album, but a radio station played ‘Smooth Criminal’ without permission instead, but due to the high levels of positive feedback you received you decided to make a video for it and release it as a single. Is this true?
Mike: Yes, it’s true that ‘Movies’ was the first and third single. People started to play ‘Smooth Criminal’ and it took off. When 9/11 happened back home, we were setting up to play at the Mean Fiddler in London. At that time clear channel released a list of songs that were “inappropriate” to play on the radio. ‘Smooth Criminal’ was on that list. So the radio stations still wanted to support the band and started playing ‘Movies’ in its place.
Jack: Why did you pick Smooth Criminal as a song to cover?
Mike: We were all big Michael Jackson fans growing up. How could you not be? He was like a Rubik Cube and Pac Man and all cool stuff from that time. Long ago we started playing ‘Smooth Criminal’ as kind of a joke on stage one night in-between songs, it’s a cool tight groove. We thought it was kind of Bad Brains meets MJ. Never imagined it’d change our lives.
Jack: You are touring the UK in October and November with (HED)Pe where you will be playing the album in full. Why did you decide to play the album in full on this tour?
Mike: We’ll be in the UK playing Anthology front to back in October. This year is the fifteen year anniversary of that release. The U.K. has always been good to us. We were over in January doing that set and got invited back to do it some more in places we didn’t get through. Some for a second time. We had a great time in January and are very much looking forward to coming back.
Jack: Lots of bands are deciding to play albums of theirs in full lately. Why do you think this is?
Mike: We decided to play the Anthology album in full live because it’s fun. As a fan of music, I dig that. I remember when Weezer came back and played the Blue Album in its entirety and even more, Pinkerton. I was overjoyed! I think it’s a cool experience. Not sure what we are as cool as them, but still cool, nonetheless. People don’t listen to full albums anymore. But there’s those certain ones that they want to hear all the way through. Live! It’s even better. Almost like a certain connection you achieve. If you cared, you care.
Jack: You visit the UK a lot. What keeps bringing you back?
Mike: Visiting the UK is special for us. In two ways; we started out running amok there and made so many friends in the beginning and played there quite often. It was like a second home. Playing to great audiences. We had a very long time away and it’s even better now, to reconnect. A lot of people got into our anthology record when they were younger and I think it’s the same kind of experience for us too. We loved being there with them. It’s fun we get to revisit it all together.
Jack: Your London show is on Halloween. Are you going to do anything special for the date?
Mike: Halloween in London! I’m excited about that. Although I’m gonna miss being with my daughter and running around back home, I am excited to experience it out there. Maybe do a Jack the Ripper tour or something?
Jack: Finally, as your American tour is called Make America Rock Again, do you think Donald Trump is going to win?
Mike: Do I think Trump will win? Good lord. I hope not. I lean towards the numbers, seems like a fat no! But you never know. It’s a weird world right now, for both our countries. I hope we all figure it out.