The Airborne Toxic Event Likes Motorcycles, Mexican Food and Blowing Stuff Up
The Airborne Toxic Event holds it down at El Gran Burrito
In this week's annual Music Issue, we
go on a date catch up with hometown heroes The Airborne Toxic Event, on a motorcycle ride to some of their favorite L.A. haunts.
This Sunday the Los Feliz quintet headlines LA Weekly's LA 101 festival on Sunday at Gibson Amphitheater. They also hand-picked the the lineup, which includes Built to Spill, Delta Spirit and Tokyo Police Club, so be sure to bring your dancin' shoes. Ahead of the gig, here's a few of our favorite outtakes from the interview, in which Frontman Mikel Jollett and co. dish about Odd Future, getting punked by the Crips and that one time they blew up a piano in Boise, Idaho.
Airborne's resident troublemakers: Mikel Jollett (l) and Noah Harmon
On being a biker band:
Jollett: When we're on the road, [bassist Noah Harmon] and I go for long rides to get away from the tour. We like checking out the bars in whatever batshit town. There's a lesbian bar in Bisbee, Arizona, which is this weird old mining town that ex-hippies live in, and we ended up making great friends with all these super dikey chicks, to the point where we were drunkenly arm-in-arm like, 'We should all go out and meet girls!'
On blowing shit up:
Jollett: We're always blowing shit up. We blew up a piano in Boise, Idaho once, because our crew was pissed that it kept breaking on us. Once we were biking through Evanston, Wyoming and bought so many fireworks we didn't know where to put them all, because our saddlebags were full. So we had to drive to this dry lake bed [to blow some up] with 40 pounds of mortar explosives strapped to our backs in plastic bags, at like 100 miles per hour. That was maybe not safe.
On being white:
Jollett: I went to public school at Westchester High, and there were like, five white kids. I would walk around the halls in a Morrissey shirt and no one would know who the fuck he is. I was the white boy getting punked by Rollin 60s Crips. I got in a lot of fights growing up for being white. But in a way it was good because it taught me a lot about what it was like to be a minority, and most white people don't know that.
On Odd Future:
Jollett: They're a type of kid that exists in L.A. and New York and nowhere else. I love them -- they're just very culturally-aware, relevant, fuck-you, little punk hip-hop skater kids. They're such a big middle finger to everything and everyone. And I understand that. And they want to be little shitheads. And I get it, when I was [younger] I was a little shithead too.
On civic beef:
Jollett: L.A. isn't like other cities -- you don't fight about sports teams, or politics. In L.A., fights get started over where's the best Mexican food. [For the record, the band claims it's El Gran Burrito in Los Feliz.]
On backstage antics:
Drummer Daren Taylor: It was so hot at Austin City Limits this year that after the show I went backstage and stripped down to my underwear. Then I sat in another band's drink cooler to cool off. They still don't know about it.
On day jobs:
Guitarist Steven Chen: I used to copyedit for Muscle Car Review as a 'steady paycheck job' while I did writing gigs for other places. People have serious, intense love for their muscle cars.
On the question they hate getting asked:
Violist Anna Bulbrook: Where our name comes from. Seriously: Wikipedia.
Harmon: Or which of our songs do we hate. You know we just spend so much time rehearsing a song and Mikel spends so much time writing it because you know, we just really hate it.
On the question they want to get asked:
Harmon: How are you guys all so devastatingly good-looking? How do you five people like that even run into each other?
Taylor: Sorry about that let me put some salsa on my face to tone it down. [proceeds to do so]