I think I experienced my first, "true" interview recently. In Pomona I squeezed into a shoe box closet sized room that had lots of potato chips in it and talked to none other then The Stupid Daikini before they played their set that night! It was a lot of fun. The chemistry amongst themselves is uncanny and had me laughing the entire time. I felt like I have known them for years. This trio consists of Melissa Zavislak, Brittany Hartin and Gabriel Gomez. I first heard The Stupid Daikini a year or so ago. I remember just hearing their name -- I knew I had to check them out. I was not disappointed! Their sound gives off an adorable and sweet vibe but the lyrics for each song are disturbing and badass. Yeah...pretty much me in a nutshell, right?! Get to know all three of them this week on kenNERDdy!
With how anything begins - please let the nerds of the net know who you are!
I'M MELISSA! I'm the singer and ukulele player of TSD. I don't know - I've only been playing for five years? I'm still not good at it...so that's cool.
Are you sure only five years? I feel like you always say five years and at this point it should be more than five years, right?
I got the ukulele for my 24th birthday..I'm 29 now. So six years? I don't know, I don't do math. No, five years for sure.
My name's Brittany. I'm the drummer for The Stupid Daikini. I've been playing for about three years. I started playing drums two months before joining the band. It was a good learning experience.
It was also great cause neither did I! (with ukulele)
I showed up to band practice with a "Drums for Dummies" book and that's how we wrote our EP. So yeah, it's been a learning experience to say the least.
What's cool is that Gabe's only been in the band for a little while so he is going to learn all kinds of cool things.
*and then Gabe quit the band*
Right? This is all such new information to me.....I'm Gabe. I play bass and I've only been doing this for less than a year in The Stupid Daikini.
Actually one year today thanks to TimeHop!
Okay so I've been in the band for a year!
Happy anniversary to us!
I'm a guitar player typically. I play in a couple of other groups: Secondaries and some other stuff.
The band started off with just you two ladies though, right?
Well, I started playing...five years ago....
Yes, we agreed on five years.
But I was just solo at first. Then later, Brittany hit me up and was like, "Hey! Can I come jam with you?!"
"I don't think I'm good enough" ....
She was like, "I can't really...do...anything but I need to practice so can I come jam with you?" So I said, "Hell yeah! I don't have any shit going on." So when she called and asked if she could jam - I had done an open mic night by myself and after that I actually was thinking, "Fuck this. I quit, I'm done. I don't want to do Daikini anymore." Then when she started playing drums I had a change of heart immediately and was just like, "Welp - that's it. We are back on. This is the band, we are back."
But it started solely with you?
It started with me just writing and doing some open mic nights, yeah. But then after Brittany started playing drums it was like okay now we are a real band. Brittany is kind of the one who made it happen for real.
What made you want to play drums, then? That seems so spur of the moment.
Well, this is kind of a long story. In seventh grade I took piano lessons for six months. My friends in high school wanted me to join band with them but I didn't really know how to play anything except for my six months worth of piano lessons - so I played xylophone. I did percussion in marching band but they eventually kicked me out because I never showed up and I wasn't even that good. Soooo I graduated high school and went to nursing school. Graduated nursing school and I had worked so much....school & work made it so I had no hobbies. So one day I just thought, "I'm gonna learn drums." I bought my drum set on Craigslist. I went to Melissa's with my "Drums for Dummies" book and here we are.
And the rest is history!
I have never heard a story like that as far as how you started playing you instrument. Everyone I've talked to - they found their "instrument" at such a young age like seven or eight years old.
I'm very envious of those people.
I definitely would never know you haven't been playing almost your whole life! You're a natural, that's for sure.
Don't be envious of those people who have been playing for that long because most of them don't sound as good as they should.
Dude my grandfather plays like twelve fucking instruments and he came to one of our shows. He pulled me aside and asked, "Who is this girl playing drums? She's a good fucking drummer! No bullshit - she keeps tempo better then most drummers I know." And he's been playing drums since he was twelve fucking years old.
Definitely for how short amount of time you have been playing drums you're really tight.
Who knew this whole interview was going to be us sucking Brittany's dick?
Well - thank you. I feel a *little* wobbly up here on this pedestal.
Well since we seem to be going around the room, Gabe, when did you start getting into music?
I've been playing music for a long time - probably longer than I'd like to admit. Around high school is when I started playing. I'm thirty so....yeah. I've been playing in a band since I was about fifteen. It's always been punk bands. My buddy, Casey, we grew up playing and we still play today in that band Secondaries.
Casey is actually the reason Gabe is in the band!
Yeah so Casey, the bass player in my band Secondaries, recorded The Stupid Daikini's first album and played bass on it. The problem with Casey is that he loves to be a part of projects but he always over commits to things and can never really *make* the commitment. So he was in the band but he only played a handful of shows since he is always really busy so I started filling in. At first I would just play when Casey couldn't. Then it just got to the point where it was weird to have revolving bass players so since I had more time on my hands, I did it.
There's this joke between Gabe and Casey about who is the better bass player because Gabe got picked to play bass with us. I went up to Casey later though, because I'm guilt stricken no matter what, and I apologized to him for picking Gabe. Casey goes, "Are you fucking kidding me? I could not appreciate that more! I didn't want to tell YOU guys that I couldn't play bass. But I'm glad Gabe is doing it."
Even having Casey join the band was kind of a surprise because we were just a two piece band to start. We were recording though and just for one song Melissa was like, "Hey could you try recording a bass track to go with this?" So Casey sends us back ALL of our tracks with bass!
So, Casey sent it to us and goes, "Soooo.. I know you said you only wanted to see what the bass sounds like on Anger Management but I kinda went a little crazy. Here's all ten songs, the whole album!" & it sounded so fucking cool!
We were on tour and we knew it sounded good but we were unsure if we wanted to keep it that way since we didn't even have a bass player. Then we played a show in Washington and I COULDN'T un-hear the bass.
It was this really cool moment because we finished Anger Management (We always finish with that song) and I turned to Brittany and said, "YOU HEARD IT DIDN'T YOU?!" and she goes, "Yeah, I did. I heard it." We had been playing for 1.5-2 years at that point without a bass player. We had been struggling with it for a while - with whether or not we wanted to bring in another person since that adds.... well with the two of us it's REALLY easy to coordinate schedules. Three people kind of throws a wrench in shit. So it was a teeter totter subject for a while but then Casey had to ruin fucking everything by playing bass on that album.
By "ruin it' though, we mean made it better!
I give you credit because at one point I tried to write some parts on guitar for songs and it just lost a lot of the raw sound that it had. It got a little too...
Gabe is a beautiful guitar player. He's amazing. When he is playing guitar and I'm playing ukelele it was these two cool sounds that just were beating the shit out of each other.
Yeah because ukelele is very hard hitting and loud - in a good way. So I was trying to do something sweet...what I love about the band is that it sounds so sweet but if you're paying attention to the lyrics it's got a real dark undertone to it. So by playing sweet I was adding too much brightness to that sweet yet gritty sound that it had. It was too much. I do appreciate that the other two band members didn't try to please me or anything either - they flat out told me that sound wasn't working.
Even three people, though, is very small for a successful sounding band.I know you were saying you were nervous adding a third member because that's like throwing a wrench in shit but the sound you emit for only being a three piece group is just incredible. You can't say that about a lot of bands that are three members or less.
When there's a three piece band - to me it's like.. I'm THAT much more impressed because I think, "The more, the merrier" Gimme, like, whoever can fit on the stage - let's have them play. But, having said that, if you can break that down to just a few people and make that work....to me that is a lot more difficult because you have to fill a lot more space with less.
Exactly. If you only listen to your album without knowing any details - you would never guess it's only a three piece band so I find it amazing. I can't picture getting to the sound level your trio does with less then five members.
We've already covered, thanks to Gabe, that you have your "thing" of producing cute, happy sounding tracks that contain lyrics that are dark and fucked up. Are you trying to stay with that kind of niche for the rest of The Stupid Daikni's future or are you going to experiment with any new sounds or ways of writing?
Ummm well I am always trying new things but unfortunately trying new things for me is just trying to be heavier and darker and faster. Not like death metal but...every time I sit down to write a song something really dark, creepy, scary or sad comes out. I've tried to write happy songs and they get scrapped almost immediately cause they are shit. I prefer the songs that fuck with my head because then it will fuck with other people's heads. As opposed to my fiance - he writes the most amazing music but it's super silly/fun songs. I'm not sure how I want to word this but after I listen to something I like to think about it and relate to past experiences.
I have a great story about how your sound is perceived and how it comes off to other people. We played a show in LA and my whole family went so I had my mom, dad, aunts and uncles there. My one aunt is like... DEVOUT Christian to a fault. Stupid Daikini opened and afterwards my aunt came up to me and was like, "Oh my God they are such a sweet band, blah blah blah" Like - if you say "Damn" in front of her she gets really upset. She goes, "I love them so much, I bought their album! I can't wait to listen." So I told her she may want to wait haha. Then later on she told me she threw it away or something after giving it a listen at home. To me that's the perfect description of the band.
It's like, "Baby" - the last song on the album. It's supposed to be this really soft, pretty "lullabye" type song but then you listen to it and it's this girl who is a mistress who is going to kill the dude's wife.
That one messed with my head and is also my favorite track off the album. It came on and I thought it was so different from the rest of the tracks and then the second verse came on and I was like, "Oh, never mind. It's a perfect fit!"
I remember when I saw her playing acoustic, before I started playing with her, I heard that song and it bothered me for four days. I was emotionally disturbed for four days. But I did think you were amazing.
That's the thing. When I used to play acoustic shows I'd love to play, "Baby" and just start watching people and waiting. As soon as I get to the line, "Blood on the mirrors, her blood on the floor - no she won't bother us, not anymore" I'd just fucking wait. There would be people in the crowd that would just be like, "What the FUCK."
For a while when friends would ask me who they should check out - I'd play that song to screw with their head. They'd hear a soothing little ditty and be like.."okay...? Why are you playing this" but by the end of the song they'd be so confused and I love that so much.
I want to ask and hopefully be right -- these are not written based off of real experiences? I promise I'm not bugged to the police right now if they are.
Every single song.
*Such good timing of an answer.*
No, every single song is about something that has to do with experiences for me. Even, "Baby" is not something I experienced personally but I've had friends be that mistress - they'd be like, "What the fuck do I have to do to get this guy to love me?" So basically I'll take stories from real life people and exaggerate them to turn them into something fantastical.
I think that's why so many different people can relate, too. You don't write about solely things you've gone through - you pull from things that have touched you in one way or another. You cover a lot of bases which is perfect for relatability for the listener.
To go back to wanting to quit years ago - I'd get so pissed because I'd go on stage and people just wouldn't get it. They would be like, "Awwww - a girl with a ukulele how cute." Fuck that. But after the FIRST show I did with Brittany - we had played "Do Your Thing" (It'll be on our next album that we are working on btw) but it's a deep, close to me song. It hurts to sing it sometimes. I remember playing it live with Brittany - I was fighting back tears on stage. People were telling me that SOMETHING is different too. It was Brittany - she allowed me to feel wounds that I thought had healed. If it doesn't hurt to play a song then I don't want to do it anyway.
Yeah - otherwise the audience won't be able to connect and feel what you felt when you originally wrote it. That's rad.
I feel like you MAY get asked this a lot but I need to know - how did you stumble across the name, "The Stupid Daikini"? I have a terrible memory, especially with names, but after only hearing the title of the band one time - it never left my mind. It's so unique.
I'M SO GLAD YOU ASKED ME THAT! People either know where it came from and are fucking stoked or they are clueless. It's a rare few that know the origin. There's a movie called, "Willow" - it came out in '88 and it is my Star Wars.
It was a good movie! It's Ron Howard. He directed it.
Basically I wanted to start a band since I was in Junior High School. I never knew how to play shit - I just sang. I wanted to fucking have a band. There's a scene in Willow where (I sound like the biggest nerd every time I tell this story) there are Brownies - they are little, itty, bitty fairy helpers. Then there are Fairies (Fuck my life) and then there are the Elwins who are the little people. Then there's Daikinis who are the average sized people. Basically what happens is Elwin Willow and a Daikini get together to rescue this baby from an evil queen named Bavmorda. They are on this journey with the Brownies, who have all of these mystical potions and powders and shit since they are homies with the fairies - and they have to protect themselves and the baby. (FUCK - SUCH A NERD) There's a scene where the bad bitch, Bavmorda - she has a daughter who is second in command of her army, her name is Sorsha. She's a real bitch and I love her to death. She shows up and is just fucking relentless with killing everyone to try to get the baby back because the baby is the prophecy who can take out Bavmorda.
Of course - EVERYONE knows that.
Of course! There's a scene where Val Kilmer says something shitty to one of the Brownies and he has them by the shirt. The Brownie goes, "I told you not to touch me - YOU STUPID DAIKINI" and he hits Val in the face with the dust of broken hearts. So if you get hit in the face with that dust you will fall in love with the first person you see. The first people Val sees is Sorsha and she wants nothing to do with him.
SO BASICALLY the whole band is named after that scene.
Wait what's that dust called?
The Dust of Broken Hearts
I'm just happy you didn't name the band after that!
That really should be the band name if you're even open to changing it.
But that's awesome though! Probably the most detailed description for a band name that I've ever heard.
Fest is coming up!
*everyone burst into cheers*
The hurricanes are fine, too. Don't worry about those.
Oh, yeah. I lived in Florida - I love hurricanes.
You LIVED in Florida, willingly? Why???
I fucking love Florida.
I love Fest - Florida is amazing because of Fest. Let me just say this. FLORIDA is the worst.
Think about what you are saying because all of the Floridan readers of kenNERDdy are going to boycott our band now.
Yeah, I have a huge following in Florida.
The hotel we stayed at, it was so depressing. It was this really shitty hotel that was a couple of miles away from where we played. The hotel, everyone other then us, was permanently residing there.
Picture San Bernadino.
Okay but San Bernadino isn't an entire state though!
Everyday I would wake up, hungover in the morning, and I'd walk outside to see somebody in their car crying. This was everyday. Fest always runs on Halloween -- and there were little kids going trick or treating in the motel.
Did you give them candy you dick?
I didn't have any! I gave them a slice of pizza. I just felt bad.
Fest is great, though. It's amazing. I still have the number of the taxi driver that drove us around. His name is Vito Sparola. He almost ran over people to get to me. He loved me. Gainesville is like a college town so the people who reside there are either people in college or people that dropped out who now work the concessions. This taxi driver is a guy who had dreams of being a literature major but he told me his whole story. We really connected.
Oh are you tearing up?
Haha no! If you tell me your name is Vito Sparola - I WILL listen to your story.
That's a kickass name for sure. I guess my original question was just are you going to dress up or anything since it's Halloween?
I had an idea that I thought would be fun but Gabe would die because it involves him wearing a fucking sweater. I wanted to dress up as the twins from The Shining (Me and Brittany) and have Gabe be the little boy.
What kind of sweater did he have? You see, you gotta give enough time to a guy with my stature to find a sweater that fits me. It's not an easy task but a sweater would be awful.
I thought I was gonna be a giraffe.
I wanted to get onesies for everyone too at one point.
I got the cheapest flight to Florida so I have to pay $60 for each piece of luggage I bring. So whatever can fit on my back is what I'm trying to stick with.
Are you going to Fest?
*hair flip* Duh I'm with the band! Seriously I am though - it's my first one!
Caskitt is doing an AFI cover set that I'm sooo excited about it.
To wrap this awesome conversation in a broom closet up - I always like to ask what's the nerdiest thing about you? I mean I don't have to ask you, Melissa, cause your answer as to how you named the band was more then enough. :) But for Brittany and Gabe - what's a nerdy thing about you that most people may not know?
I'm not really a nerdy person but I LOVE Harry Potter!
You're a wizard, Harry!
I have my Harry Potter cardigan in my car. I have a pass to Universal Studios for Harry Potter World.
Are you on Pottermore?
Okay, stop it guys. You're talking about things that aren't real.
Okay, Gabe, well you'd obviously be Slytherian. (SICK BURN)
Yeah! You're a hardass mothafucker.
I don't know....he may be a Hufflepuff. (OOOOOH BETTER BURN)
What are you tryna say?
HUFFLEPUFF A BITCH!
What makes me nerdy, though? I'm a big fan of the animated film by The Beatles. They are like my inspiration to music. When I was seven or so my uncle got me into The Beatles. It got me into music too. I have a huge sleeve devoted to the animated film, "Yellow Submarine". What makes me nerdy? Hmmm.... I am obsessed with Star Wars. That's not even "nerdy" anymore though.
Yeah that's the "cool" nerdy.
I loved Star Wars back before it was a thing. I got the pre-Lucas VHS tapes of IV, V and VI before he added all of the bullshit. I have that. Honestly I don't collect shit. I don't have any action figures.
Oh! I collect Adventure Time things sometimes.
I collect records. I have a thing where I find an album I really like so I make a point to find the album but I refuse to use the internet to do so. I like going in record stores. I'll pick an album that may be more rare, and I'll tell myself I'll buy it if I find it in a record store. Every time I go to a record store - I have something to look for. I don't like blindly looking for stuff. I like to have an objective. For example - The Beach Boys. There's an album they made in the late sixties called, "Friends" It's a very rare record that nobody really knows about.
Wait so there is nothing nerdy about you but you just described your record seeking rituals - which isn't nerdy at all?
Okay. I love music - I'm nerdy about music. I made it a point to find that Beach Boys record and it took me many years to find it. It took my buddy having a heart attack for me to do so.
Oh - great!
Haha, not great! My buddy had heart surgery but then had a heart attack after because of the medications. It was a hospital in Glendale that he was at - so I went and visited him in the afternoon usually. When you're coming back from Glendale in the afternoon you are usually stuck in traffic so rather then do that I took the streets and checked out some record shops. I finally found that Beach Boys record after ten years! It was overpriced and was even missing the insert so that was almost a deal breaker - but I got it and told myself that I'd still look for one with an insert.
So..THAT'S what makes me nerdy I suppose.
There you have it, dorks! My new besties are going to be playing at FEST this year in Gainesville, Florida. If you're going to be there - obviously say, "Yo" to me and don't miss their set. The Stupid Daikini will be performing at Loosey's at 5:20 on Friday, FYI. The three Stupid Daikinis are working on an album right now as well that is planned to be released by the end of the year (ish). It's going to be titled, "You Could Have Had It All, Mija" Stay tuned for that - and in the meantime check them out all over the cyberspaces. PS - don't forget to #staynerdy as per yewj!
GAMING NEWS OF THE WEEK
I REALLY don't think I've been this excited about console since....ever? This is revolutionary in my eyes. To be able to have literally everything you could want in one device for gaming is genius. With how seamless and sleek the transition looks between everything is breathtaking. This is truly one of the biggest advancements in gaming in a very long time. I hope it's as perfect as the commerical Nintendo dropped makes it look. I am ultra excited to try it out when it's released.
EVENT OF THE WEEK
Obviously I have to say how GD pumped I am for my first Fest that is next weekend! I've wanted to go over the past few years and just haven't been able to for whatever reason. It's going to be SO much fun without a doubt. Please say "YO" to me if you see me there! Also feel free to buy me a whisky ginger cause I'm still broke from getting laid off. Let's party and be friends!
EXCITING NEWS OF THE WEEK
My tattoo artist, Melvin Arizmendi, and I will be opening an online shop called Perfect Humans next month! It will solely have enamel pins to start - but we plan on quickly expanding by Christmas to have patches, charms, keychains, clothing and much more! I will also be making kenNERDdy merch soon! I'm still working on how to put on paper what our aesthetic is - but here are the tattoos that Melvin has done on me to give you an idea! We will see you soon - we plan on having Perfect Humans opened in time for Black Friday.