I’m Antonio Pepe. I also play(ed) in The King Khan & BBQ Show, Les Sexareenos, Spaceshits, The Almighty Defenders, The Ding-Dongs, Mind Controls etc
I have records out on labels like In The Red, Bomp!, Sub Pop, Vice, Crypt, Goner, Norton, Fat Possum, SSLD, Sympathy, Hozac, etc
I’ve toured the world from Canada to Japan, Israel to Russia, Australia to Thailand, USA to Brazil, etc etc…
The 50THIRDAND3RD Interview With Mark Sultan
1. Growing up what are your memories of music around you and was it something you paid particular attention to?
Music was really important to me. I gravitated towards a hand-me-down fisher price turntable, and pilfered my parents 45s from an old box. As I grew a bit older, I’d save any random birthday or Christmas money, and I’d buy records. I’d skip school as a pre-teen, pretending to be sick, so could dissect these records atom by atom.
2 Did your friends growing up share musical taste, was there a particular radio station or DJ that gave you some kind of direction?
Early on, and I mean like 4-7, my cousin Steve played a role. Lots of Led Zeppelin, for example. That made me want to play drums, which led me to make music. And those pilfered 45s were important. 7-11 years old, I would read my brothers old Creem mags, Circus, Hit Parader and buy things on a whim. Iron Maiden, Venom, Metallica, Mercyful Fate and the like. After that, I think a big factor was getting a punk mixed tape from my brother’s friend Brian. And then meeting my friend Adam LeBorgne at like 13. He was a Native American dude, and would go to NYC a lot, and turn me on to all sorts of punk. We’d go see punk shows, watch his VHS mix tapes, listen to records… this was it for me. And I also recall a local, Montreal college station, ‘CKUT’, used to have some good stuff. This dude, Paul Gott, had a good show, for example, when I was young.
3. When did you get the urge to write your first song and when did you first pick up a guitar?
I was actually a drummer, first and foremost. Couldn’t play guitar to save my life. But I always had a good sense of melody, I guess, and was very enthusiastic. I think the first whole song, down to parts and different ‘instrumentation’ I ever wrote, was after I borrowed a friend’s guitar when I was like 13 and could only play notes on the E string. It was called ‘Formication’ – we were all pretty into LSD at the time. And punk.
4. Over the years you have been involved with different projects/bands how do you determine as an artist where you want to go musically. The transition from Les Sexareenos to King Khan and BBQ and then back to your solo stuff , what drives the changes?
It’s all rock n roll to me. I mean, I really do have a broad spectrum of tastes, which are pretty fearless hahaha, but ya, I gravitate towards that sound. Rock n roll. The thing is to know what song fits with what project, as far as maximizing the feeling – which contrary to popular thought, can also be done be making everything as minimal as possible.
5. For you as an artist are your songs typically taken from your life experiences or are you crafting songs as an art form?
I suppose some are carefully disguised life experiences. When I first started, it would be words lumped together carelessly to fit a particular mouth-patterned melody I had going… not much thought went in. Now, sometimes I write things purposefully, but a lot is very conscious of traditionalism.
6. When you’re planning an album do you write the lyrics or the music first and what kind of gear do you use at home to record the demos?
Always a melody first, then said melody with just a guitar, onto a dictaphone. That is all the demoing that happens. After that, I record it all here at my ‘home studio’.
7. When you get into the studio how involved are you with mixing and overall production?
I do everything.
8. Tell us a little about your top 3 favorite guitars that you used on BBQ
I have only two guitars that I use: a 59 Supro and a 66 Hagstrom. The Supro(s) is/are just the best for me. They are short-scale, and the pick-up is loud and ‘beefy’. I have used it and its twin brothers since I started doing this one-man thing, live and in studio. I use the Hagstrom in the studio as a thinner sound. It’s a fantastic guitar with a great 60s sound, and also a perfect neck feel. Love them both!
9. The song Agitated speaks to me, I’m always curious about the little things. When you decided to give ‘Agitated ‘ a bit of a manic touch were you like ‘yes’ I got this?
Hmmm… I don’t quite get the question. But I guess when I first wrote it, the word ‘Agitated’ fit the best within the structure I was humming. So when I started playing it, I guess the manic thing you hear just seeped in, subconsciously.
10. ‘The Other Two‘ and ‘ I Love You So Much ‘ are beautiful love songs, we all want to know is love a theme in your work or is this reflections of real life?
Well, on this album, in going back to that one-man band sound, recording live in 1-2 takes, i also wanted the lyrics to reflect the simplicity of the style, so there are lots of songs in this theme. Simple, traditional stuff. I enjoy that stuff. ‘I Love You So Much’ is actually a cover of an obscure Australian (maybe NZ?) song I have on a comp. The lyrics are basic, but I think that makes sense in the purity of the song. I think people think I’m this grumpy asshole, which… yes, I have been – for real and acting (though not so much anymore, and I mostly regret that shit, now). But I’m actually pretty chill. I am a romantic. Literate. I like to laugh. The good stuff.
11. What do you think of the state of garage rock and garage punk in 2017 and what bands are you currently digging on?
This year? I haven’t been listening to this year’s crop, but turn me on! I’m really burnt out on this grunge retro ‘psych’ blah blah… guess I stopped listening.
12. What’s up next for you and will you be touring soon?
This year, I’m focusing on my studio. Recording a lot. I’ll do some european shows, here and there. Some in Canada. But as for the US, which is my usual haunt, my visa expired. And I’m not too sure if I even wanna go this year. I’m aiming for an onslaught in 2018. I have a few 45s coming out later this year, including one on Wick. I’m mostly just enjoying this latest chapter in my life – I have a kid now. It’s really changed my head up a bit. I realize so many errors I have made, so many toxic decisions, so many times I hurt folks… it sucks. I’m crazy. But it’s good to realize it and try to change, and to move on. So that’s where my head is at now. Positive, thankful and looking forward to the future, not worrying about things that are out of my control.