Interview: Squid Pisser

Primal and seething and concise. Chaotic energy is definitely something I aim for. I love chaos and I love oblivion.

Squid Pisser merge hardcore punk and avant-garde grindcore with brilliantly chaotic and mind melting results. With a brand new album entitled Dreams Of Puke coming out on June 14th that will enthral all that listen to its warped genius. The band have also recently had a string of releases out prior to the new album and Gavin Brown caught up with Squid Pisser guitar master Tommy Meehan to hear all about them, the new album, his role as new guitarist in the mighty GWAR, his other band Cancer Christ and loads more.

Echoes and Dust is also proud to bring you an exclusive premiere of brand new Squid Pisser track ‘Virus Assholes’ from Dreams Of Puke which you hear below.

E&D: Squid Pisser have recently brought out the Vaporize A Neighbor EP as well as Vaporize A Tadpole. Can you give us an insight into these releases?

Tommy: Lyrically, the title track is about war. Small and large… It’s about how we actively “other” ourselves in an effort to make ourselves feel better. Vaporize A Neighbor is about “the powers that be” and how we, as a lazy and idiotic and patriotically inbred society, will grant unchecked and ultimate power and authority to these entities that actively thrive on humanity’s distracted oblivion, misery, and unnecessary suffering. It’s about how humans are too stupid and too distracted and too fragmented to realise, let alone improve upon, their own fucked situations. Small and large… We’re too focused on the individual self and because of that we are wholly miserable for it. It’s not an original concept but it’s an age old dilemma. The song is about how terribly plague-like mankind has always been and how sociopathic leaders and peoples of power will play the common folk as if they were pawns in a game of chess to try and check-mate their “enemies”. In actuality the only enemies were engaged with are ourselves. We need not vaporize our neighbours. The world we’ve created for ourselves is a joke and we have a long way to go but there is hope in these songs too. That’s why art exists, I think. Attention must be brought to how fucked things are if there is to be any kind of change. Active thinking and then action must occur but we’re in a society that loves it’s ignorant sleep.

Here’s the non-esoteric/non-philosophical answer, Vaporize A Neighbor is a 7” EP with 3 new tracks on it along with a demo version of our ‘Liquified Remains’ song. The record also comes with a 24 page comic book which features artwork by a ton of friends and amazing artists like ‘Mike Diana, Johnny Ryan, Myke Chilian and more. Vaporize A Tadpole is a CD release which features all of the songs from our My Tadpole Legion album, all of the songs from our Vaporize a Neighbor EP and 2 previously unreleased demo tracks.

E&D: Can you tell us a bit about the comic book and was it a cool experience to do your own comic?

Tommy: The comic is a collection of vignettes about “The Squid Boys”… (Seth Carolina and myself) Most of the stories are surreal, visceral, and absurd. It was a cool experience. It was smooth and everybody really knocked it out of the park with some twisted shit. I’m a huge fan of all of the artists so it was a dream come true getting everybody to do their own take on a little mini Squid Pisser story.

E&D: What are your favourite ever comic books?

Tommy: I never got extremely into comics… I was talking with Matt Maguire (of GWAR) about this the other day… When I was really young (elementary school in the 90’s) I was intrigued by comics. However, I didn’t have money to actually afford any. It kinda turned into this unattainable would-be hobby that I never got around to diving fully into. That said, as an adult I started poking my head around the comic shops in Los Angeles and, while working in animation, I discovered and became friends with a lot of really great artists and story tellers. I really like Prison Pit, Preacher, anything by Jon Vermilyea, Mike Diana, Skinner, Monstark, Kali Kazoo, Gregory Jacobsen, Erik Schneider-Gutierrez, Matt Maguire etc. I’m actually reading some Wolverine stuff on tour right now. It’s my first time sitting with anything Marvel or DC related…

E&D: Vaporize A Tadpole features appearances by members of Melt-Banana, The Locust and Tera Melos. How was it working with them?

Tommy: Making music with all of the guest collaborators that we worked with was a dream come true. They had all been “PIE IN THE SKY” artists to work with for Seth and I for years. In all cases, what we ended up with on the tracks exceeded any expectations we may have initially had. Everybody’s contributions really just blew us away.

E&D: Did you want to continue to make the most complex and chaotically energetic music you could?

Tommy: I feel like these first few batches of Squid Pisser songs are pretty straight forward. I think that if complexity was my goal, I might end up writing music that was perhaps somehow less relatable… I don’t know though… Are these songs about ejaculating tadpole jelly into the gaping maws of severed dolphin heads relatable to anybody? Everything is a metaphor always. You can derive whatever you want to from whatever you want to. Look at religion and everybody’s interpretation of The Bible… Don’t like what it means? Just re-write it! A quote I often come back to is, “perception is reality…” It’s from BLAIR WITCH 2: Book of Shadows… A highly under rated film by Joe Berlinger which was mangled by the studios to try and sell more tickets to “disaffected” suburban teenagers and mall goths in the early 2000’s… I was both of those things and I was working at a movie theater when the film premiered. I was 14 years old saving up for my first half stack (a Mesa Dual Rectifier and a Marshal 4×12 cabinet)… To get back on topic: This inaugural era of Squid Pisser feels to me like garage punk. Primal and seething and concise. Chaotic energy is definitely something I aim for. I love chaos and I love oblivion. I feel like I operate on an anxiety level that is higher than most peoples and in order to get some sort of visceral relief from the constant over analyzing I need to spiral off into the void from time to time… One of the reasons enjoy making art and performing live…

E&D: How has your My Tadpole Legion album you released last year been received?

Tommy: It seems like a lot of people are enjoying it and that’s really exciting because having an audience that actually pays attention and anticipates your work is a really tough thing to attain in this field. Especially if you’re trying something that’s out of the ordinary. It sounds like people have been craving something like Squid Pisser for a while and I have been too. Whenever you put art into the world you’re opening yourself up for praise, ridicule, and everything in between. You can’t worry about what people are gonna think though. When you do that you end up making decisions to try and appease these invisible entities out there and I think that potentially important art can really suffer from that. I feel that the most important thing you can do as an artist is to act and execute 100% true to your vision… I also feel like if you think it’s gonna piss people off and that what you’re doing is gonna cross a line and “go too far”, you’re probably on the right track. Tapping into a nerve that society needs jostled is the artists duty. Life is absurd. Art should be even more so and fuck what anybody thinks, really. There’s a song by Oingo Boingo called ‘Imposter’ which frequently pops into my head when I’m reading reviews of anybody’s work… I feel like most critics are too afraid to create  work themselves so they trash other peoples work to make themselves feel okay.

E&D: How was the experience of working with Kurt Ballou, Steve Evetts, and Alan Douches on My Tadpole Legion?

Tommy: Working with Kurt, Steve, and Alan was always completely seamless. I delivered files and they turned things back to me sounding better than they had before with very minimal back and forth. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. They’re all solid professionals, legends in the field, and cool sweet dudes too.

E&D: What were the biggest influences on My Tadpole Legion?

Tommy: Squid Pisser had been incubating in my head for about 15 years or so… I think that it was half of a life time of experiences combined with a ton of build up to make some loud and hard hitting music. I hadn’t been writing a lot of super aggressive music for about a decade but I was itching too… I was previously playing banjo in The Manx and we hadn’t delved too too far into the heavy and chaotic realm. I felt like I had my hands tied creatively in that band because of our instrumentation choices. That was a self imposed and deliberate shackle we had decided upon. I was writing and arranging within these specific parameters for banjo, accordion, mandolin, stand up bass, drums and 5 vocalists. I hadn’t really played guitar for 10 years or so, and then when I finally dove back in, all of this nasty music for Squid Pisser and Cancer Christ just started pouring out of me. I wrote probably 200 demos or so for both bands and beyond.  It was like I had all these years of build up just waiting to burst out of me.

E&D: You covered ‘Marching For Trash’ by The Crucifucks on the album, what made you choose that song to cover and are The Crucifucks a big influence on you and Squid Pisser?

Tommy: The Crucifucks are a huge phenomenon to me. It’s like this shock-rock / outsider-art that operated for such a short time but their message and their incredibly raw sound echos into new generations still… Just incredible shit. From Doc’s voice and his lyrics to the bands gnarled sound and primitive arrangements. They encapsulate a lot of what I love about art and I had always wanted to cover one of their songs. Deciding on a track was tough but I’m glad we did ‘Marching For Trash’. Arrow DeWilde killed it. People were always trying to get me to listen to punk growing up but most of what I heard was too polished sounding for my taste. I wasn’t into it. Then, when I turned twenty, I moved to Hollywood, California. The atmosphere on the boulevard was shitty and grimy and there were these kinda scuzzy dirtbag implants always roaming the streets… Some of them were sweet but a lot of them were just terrible and out to suck the life out of you. I was working at a tiny, greasy, and miserable little hot dog stand called Skooby’s Hot Dogs. That’s where I first heard The Crucifcucks… Probably drinking lynchburg lemonades on one of my 5pm to 4am shifts.

E&D: Can you tell us about the music videos you’ve been making what inspired their trippy visuals?

Tommy: I work a lot with my great buddy Mike Manasewitsch. Check out his website at www.blockbustervideo.org. He’s an insanely talented, hardworking, hilarious, and demented director, actor, cinematographer, set-dresser, editor, post-effects master, you name it. Whenever we’re on a shoot with him we end up crying from laughter. Making shit with him is one of the best parts of my entire life… The videos are often led with he and I at the helm, guiding and directing things. We also go surfing together as often as we can. I fucking love him so much. In addition to serving the song with visuals, (we’re often trying to create something surreal, visceral, or bizarre to serve a particular spirit or lyrical theme) we also tend to follow our sense of humor as a guiding light. Often times it’s whatever makes us laugh the hardest that ends up get’s filmed and cut in… Not that we’re here making comedy. The humor is usually that of an absurdist nature. Other directors that I’ve really enjoyed working with are Dillon Vaughn, Gilbert Trejo, Juicy Jaden, Monstark, Max Winston, Myke Chilian, Zach Zdziebko, Jordan Harris & Andrew Schrader… These are all close friends of ours and huge talents in the world of film and animation.

E&D: Can you tell us about any new Squid Pisser music?

Tommy: We have a new full length album entitled Dreams Of Puke coming out on Skin Graft records Sweatband records later this year. I just approved the test presses today they sound great. Aside from that, I’ve got a ton of new (and older demos) that we’re beginning to work on. Plus: we’ve got some newer members who have been playing shows live with us now. We’re all excited to start putting some new songs together asap…

E&D: Are you looking forward to hitting the road with Melt Banana in May?

Tommy: We’re doing 3 dates with Melt Banana later this year and, yes, we’re very excited to see them… They haven’t met the other Squid Pisser dudes yet so I’m excited for us all to hang. Yako and Agata are fucking legends and they are very cool and sweet.

E&D: You’re heading over to the UK to play the ArcTanGent festival in August. Are you looking forward to that?

Tommy: We’re pumped to be headed overseas for the first time for sure. Yes.

E&D: What other live shows have you got coming up this year?

Tommy: There’s been talk of a full U.S. run opening for our lords and masters GWAR. We haven’t ironed out the details just yet but if we do confirm, then I’ll be doing double duty for that run in both bands.

E&D: What have been some of the best shows that Squid Pisser have played so far?

Tommy: We recently played My Slutty Valentine #2 in Los Angeles at The Echo Plex. Our good buds at Basic Canle Programming put it on and it’s been great both years. Cancer Christ played last year along with a ton of our LA pals. Shamon Cassette, Kent Osborne, Prissy Whip, Sweat.

E&D: As you just mentioned, you recently joined GWAR as the new lead guitarist Grodius Maximus. How did that opportunity come about and how is it going so far?

Tommy: GWAR and I go back about 15 years or so. My pal Myke Chilian and I were working on a lot of cartoons together and we would sometimes have Dave Brockie do voices here and there. This last fall (2023), my band Cancer Christ toured with GWAR and we got to reconnect. Brent Purgason (aka Pustulus Maximus) had mentioned to me that he was leaving the band and that I should throw my name into the hat for the position. I jammed a song with the dudes at soundcheck one day in Richmond and then a week or so later I got up to do a song with them at one of the shows. Things just started clicking and we decided to work together.

E&D: Were you a big GWAR fan growing up?

Tommy: Huge GWAR fan… I’ve seen GWAR more times than any other band.

E&D: What are your favourite GWAR songs to play?

Tommy: On this tour, some of my favourites to play are ‘Battle Lust’ ‘Fish Fuck’, ‘I Bonesnapper’, and‘Fuck This Place’. ‘Maggots’ too because I don’t have to be near my pedal board for most of the song so I can go out into the crowd or onto the bar and get into peoples faces a bit.

E&D: Was it a daunting task replacing Pustulus Maximus in the band?

Tommy: Pustulus and all of the Maximus brothers are amazing fucking players… Brent Purgason, Pete Lee, Zach Blair, Tim Harris, Dewey Rowell… All those guys, man.  Yes. Daunting but I knew I’d settle into a groove with it. I’d been playing a lot of these songs since I was a teenager so I was at least partially prepared. I hadn’t played very much LEAD guitar in years though so studying up for the role has been really exciting and really rewarding. I’ve been falling in love with the guitar all over again and I’m excited to keep progressing.

E&D: How has it been being part of the infamous GWAR live shows?

Tommy: It feels very natural. It feels like I had been preparing my whole life for it really. It’s also surreal. At certain points during the set it just kinda slams into me like, “Dude… You’re playing a GWAR show right now!” It’s so awesome.

E&D: Your band Cancer Christ toured with GWAR, X -Cops and Negative Approach. How was that tour and what were some of the highlights?

Tommy: The greatest part of that tour was when one of the Snake Boys (I’m not saying which one) licked another of the Snake Boys’ (I’m not saying which one’s) penis out on the sidewalk in front of the grassy knoll that used to be Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment. I usually have a rule against attaching any sort of praise, glory, or attention to serial killers or people who commit despicable acts but this outstanding occurrence had to at least be mentioned here. Since you’re asking… Man, I love the CANCER CHRIST guys so much. I’m out on the road with GWAR right now and I’m missing them a lot. We do a LOT of cracking each other up in that band and they’re all some of the smartest and coolest guys I’ve ever known. They’ve had to do a few shows without me here and there over the years because I’ve either been out on tour with another band (or now with GWAR) but I’m stoked that my good buddy Michael Armendariz is filling in for me as “SPIT SNAKE”… A brand new character. Super exciting.

E&D: Did you think you’d be playing with GWAR one day when you were touring together?

Tommy: Honestly. There were specific times in my early 20’s where I was learning GWAR songs in my apartment thinking to myself that I would one day find a way to be in GWAR. 100% no bullshit… I remember talking with Dave Brockie after Corey Smoot had passed. I knew they had guys in their circle that they were trying out and I was just a fan who lived in Los Angeles. I wasn’t ready and the timing wasn’t right for either of us but I remember thinking that one day things would line up… Before our tour last October, I had told all of the Cancer Christ  guys that I was gonna try and get up on stage to do a song with GWAR. Brent ended up asking me if I wanted to do a song with them a few days into the tour, so we set it up without even telling the other dudes in GWAR… One night I was just up on stage with my guitar ripping ‘LET US SLAY’ with them. Caught the whole band off guard. That was so fucking cool of Brent and I’ll forever be grateful for that. That man is amazing and he fucking SHREDS. I’m actually really missing him on this tour. It was rad getting to hang everyday last October.

E&D: Who are your biggest inspirations as a guitarist?

Tommy: Some big guitar players for me are Buckethead, Raz Azraai aka Diesel Snake, Kyle Souza, Michael Armendariz, Daisy Berkowitz, Bobby Bray, BälSäc the Jaws of Death, Pustulus Maximus, Flattus Maximus, Buzz Osborne…

E&D: Have you got plans for more Cancer Christ releases this year?

Tommy: Cancer Christ is currently working on new material. We’ve starting demoing and writing new songs and we’re stoked on where everything is headed.

E&D: What have been some of the highlights of playing Cancer Christ shows over the years?

Tommy: Every Cancer Christ show that we’ve ever played has been totally fucking insane for one reason or another. Most of the time there are too many insane things to keep track of and they’re all happening at once. No matter what a particular venue or setting presents, and no matter how many people might be there, Saint Anthony goes out of his way and figures out how to do something totally absurd and unforgettable. Whether it’s a burning casket, or performing in a burnt out church, or under an overpass, walls and stages and doorways destroyed with bare knuckles or boots, buckets of actual pig blood, children being baptized, flamethrowers, or naked babes on stage… Playing in Cancer Christ is always an experience.

E&D: Can you tell us a bit about working with Cartoon Network?

Tommy: Getting into animation and scoring music for cartoons was a dream that I had since early childhood. I always thought I’d get around to doing that in my “later” years but I ended up getting a lot of work from my mid 20’s to my mid 30’s. I worked on shows like Rick & Morty, Uncle Grandpa, Looney Tunes Cartoons, The Ricky Gervais Show, Tig N’ Seek, Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, and more. I met so many amazing, creative, talented, sensitive, and incredible people in the animation industry… Many lifelong friends for sure. Working in television production was always incredibly demanding in my experience. Hitting deadlines often entailed pulling all nighters, doing my own IT work, and problem solving in every way thinkable in order to overcome what, at times, seemed like insurmountable obstacles and odds to deliver a show. I could probably write a book on my experiences in the animation industry. Maybe I will…

E&D: What have been some of the proudest moments of your music career so far?

Tommy: Pride seems potentially dangerous to me. I try not to get too swept up in being proud of the things that I’ve done because I don’t ever wanna rest on my laurels. I also don’t need to gloat for myself. That’s something my dad taught me early on. Stay humble. Let your hard work do the talking. I’m proud of everything, man. But I don’t wanna bask in anything for too long because there’s always more to learn and more to create and more to experience. If you’re asking for a career highlights reel I’d direct you to my personal website (which needs constant updating) www.castlebarf.com  and my label site www.sweatbandrecords.com .You can get a mostly complete history of the things I’ve done there. Thanks for reading.

Pin It on Pinterest