Mest headlined We are the SPARK Project’s Inaugural event with Rebel Revive, Hideouts, and Snake Oil Salesmen at the OC Observatory on June 30th. These iconic punk rockers played this benefit show to promote Autism awareness, and brought all the energy Mest fans have come to know and love. After the show By the Barricade caught up with Tony Lovato to find out a little more about the bands past, inspirations, and connection to the cause. The full transcripts are available below.
By the Barricade: Eric Walden
Tony Lovato: Lead Vocals / Guitar
By the Barricade: Last time I saw Mest was Rock The Arts festival and now you are here at the Observatory supporting We Are The Spark Project to spread autism awareness. What are some other causes you are passionate about that you spread around the world through your music?
Tony Lovato: There is one thing that I’ve realized I want to get involved with now that I’m having my first born child. When I was younger, the one thing I wanted to do was be a rock star. It was a small phase when I was a kid, but when I was in fourth grade I wanted to be a doctor for premature babies and help out. There’s something about babies and kids that I love. I love the innocence and the idea that their mind has not been altered yet by the world. They’re kind of like little sponges taking everything in. Nobody judges them and there’s no racism or prejudice. There’s definitely other things that I want to get involved in as far as kids especially now that I am having one of my own.
By the Barricade: What do you think about Jim Lindberg’s book and movie The Other F Word?
Tony Lovato: It was cool; but weird to see different perspectives from people in this position and see how life changes in a way and stays the same in a way. I’ve always looked forward to being a dad so I think it was a cool documentary. I think it was a documentary put together by the singer of Pennywise so that people would understand why he was going to leave the band. I think he had an idea that he wanted to leave the band and knew if he did The Other F Word and showed that we actually have real lives too. Being in a business takes away from your family life so much that there comes a time where most people want to call it quits. Not so much that they don’t like the music anymore, but there’s different stages in his life and he wants to be a bigger part of his daughters life instead of the dad that’s always gone at work.
By the Barricade: What elements of pop punk do you like to incorporate into your songs?
Tony Lovato: Melody! That’s what pop punk means. I love punk rock music, and I consider us a punk rock band, but when you say punk rock people automatically of the harder music. People don’t think of my era
By the Barricade: I don’t think that’s true. A lot of my friends who are not directly in the music scene think of punk rock the first band that comes to mind is Blink-182 .
Tony Lovato: But it’s a different era. When I was your age Blink-182 was one of my favorite bands, but still had punk rock credibility. I always like bands if they wrote good songs
By the Barricade: What’s the writing process for Mest? Your albums are huge compilations with elements from almost every genre.
Tony Lovato: Back in the day it used to be more acoustic guitar until I come up with a melody and having to remember it. I didn’t have any pro tools or even like our phones. It cost $90 ten years ago for a decent recorder. Nowadays it’s more writing the music together. After a song is written I’ll put together a melody.
Tony Lovato: Ya! If I go on ITunes to see reviews and literally everybody has given it five stars. It was an idea I had for a while to play these songs revamped in an acoustic way with a guitar the way it sounds when I wrote them. It was fun to rewrite songs I haven’t touched for a while.
By the Barricade: Where does your inspiration come from now?
Tony Lovato: Broken Down was the idea of just doing something fun and different. My favorite thing about being in a studio is changing things through the process. When you’re at the end and you’re looking at a finished product seeing a small idea evolve is the best thing to listen to. I’m going to write our new record this winter to be released next summer.
By the Barricade: A lot of our fans are in up and coming bands. What did Mest do to get to where they are today?
Tony Lovato: From day one I had a vision and a thought of what I wanted to do. When I got kicked out of school at 16 I wanted to move to California and start a band. My dad was like, “Do it!” My dad was a musician and at this point in my life he was in his late 30’s, He was always supportive. In my head I envisioned everything that’s ever happened to Mest. From who produced our album when he wasn’t a producer or working for a record label. I wanted this guy ( John Felfmann ) to produce our record but he wasn’t doing that yet. It’s weird that this dude ends up getting a job, becoming a producer, and that’s who gets my band signed. Whenever I was doing Mest everyone would always say, “What’s your plan B?” I didn’t have an answer for that question because I knew what I was gonna do. Music is a hard business, but when you’re that young and that determined you don’t realize there’s a real world out there so you’re doing it no matter what. I saved up my money to record our first CD with the help of my parents. I worked three months to buy my first Las Paul and go into the studio. We started playing shows as events instead of every weekend to make sure there would be a big crowd. Then local promoters started noticing us so they would put us on bills with national acts as the local band. It just kept going from there; the same work ethic that I had when I was that young I have now. I manage the band, do merch out of my house, and still run everything. It’s to the point that I like to be involved in everything we do.
By the Barricade: Adrian Estrella, lead singer of Assuming We Survive, is playing with Mest tonight. How would you describe their work ethic?
Tony Lovato: Those guys work their asses off! They have made a street team, created Get Busy Living Fest, and that’s the stuff you have to do. People recognize that determination and hard work. If they were a band that’s hoping to get some shows here and there, they’d be out of luck. There are hundreds of bands like that and whoever works the hardest is going to get those opportunities. The talent has to be there, but some of the most talented bands in the world have sold no records, and some mediocre bands have sold a lot of records. The difference is that those mediocre bands are willing to work super, super hard to get where they’re at so they’re given opportunities. The difference is about opportunities, and once you get them you need to make sure you are ready for them. When I was a kid I think we were ready for the opportunities we got.
By the Barricade: Anything else you would like to say to the readers of By the Barricade?
Tony Lovato: Buy the records. It’s important to bands. People don’t buy records anymore; if you want the band to continue making records buy them instead of seeing a movie one night.
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