Jimmy Urine, a New York City native, first found acclaim as the frontman of the band Mindless Self Indulgence. MSI -- whose name few people realize is a reference to an Ayn Rand book -- formed in 1995 and were signed to Elektra Records within five years. Even though MSI only stuck around Elektra for one album, 2000’s Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy, the band continues to release new music every few years and draw big crowds on the road.
Mr. Urine has also kept a variety of projects going at any given time. Beyond Mindless Self Indulgence, Urine has a side-band with MSI guitarist Steve, Right? called The Left Rights. He has done remixes for KoRn, Grimes and Serj Tankian; he and Tankian have recorded together under the name Fuktronic. Urine has scored for video games, including 2012’s Lollipop Chainsaw and also acted and done voice work for film projects, including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
The latest musical release from Jimmy Urine was last year’s The Secret Cinematic Sounds Of Jimmy Urine, as released via The End Records. We had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Mr. Urine about Secret Sounds, Guardians and his various other projects. Now residing in Los Angeles, Jimmy Urine can be followed on Twitter via @JimmyUrine.
Check out “Fighting With The Melody” by Jimmy Urine.
Mindless Self Indulgence was DIY and using the Internet to promote itself before that thought had occurred to most bands in the 1990s. When did you first get online? Jimmy Urine: As a person, I probably got online somewhere in ‘96 because Kitty was a graphic designer and a big computer nerd and we were roommates, so we bought a cool-ass computer with a big tower in the early ‘90s and we did a lot of our MSI graphics on it. By the time we had the band, we were already in full swing with the Internet and we met our Internet guy Bill from Brat Marketing really early in our career, we were both starting out at the same time and we just attacked the Internet. Now you take for granted things like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter that anybody can do today. But back then, you had to have the right people doing the right stuff at the right time.
Your band has arguably had a lot more success when not aligned with a major label. But looking back, was it enjoyable to be signed to Elektra? Jimmy: Yes, actually back in 1998 we had a 20-label bidding war for us. Back then there were still a bunch of labels, so we picked the biggest label with the biggest paycheck who gave us the most control, because we wanted to control our music and image and that label was Elektra. So I never felt trapped because we could always escape, but there was definitely things that Elektra should have done that they didn’t do and some of it was really dumb on their part. The number one thing being that we wanted an animated video from Jamie Hewlett who had done our album art and they said “no way” -- which was insanely dumb because Jamie Hewlett went on to make Gorillaz a few years later.
Is there anything you miss about being on a major label? Jimmy: No, not really, and also there are like no major labels left anymore. There’s like two labels and they’re owned by larger companies that don’t have anything to do with music, so I don’t really miss anything about the major label system.
Here is a fantastic informercial-style video produced for Jimmy Urine
You grew up in New York City, yet most people tend to move away from New York City when trying to get a band off the ground due to the costs and logistics of the city. What inspired your move to Los Angeles? Jimmy: The move was strictly personal. The band was already successful by the time I moved to Los Angeles. It was fantastic to start a band in New York City in the 80’s and 90’s because shit was still cheap and fun and artistic and creative. Now I don’t know how the hell you could have a band in New York City -- that’s crazy. But for me moving to Los Angeles was because it got stupid expensive to live in New York City, and for what I was paying for a teeny little room there I could actually buy a fucking house in L.A., so that was kind of a no-brainer. With my job being music, I can do it anywhere in the world, so if I’ve got to do a tour I just fly in and meet the band.
What are some of your favorite dining spots in Los Angeles? What about New York? Jimmy: In Los Angeles, for me it’s all about sushi, sushi, sushi. The best sushi in the world is on Ventura Boulevard in the valley and that’s where sushi started in America. I’ve been to the fish market in Tokyo and I like the sushi better on Ventura. In New York it’s all about the New York food that you can’t get anywhere else as good as it is in New York, and that is pizza, bagels and cream cheese, bacon egg and cheese on a roll from a corner deli, pastrami on rye, etc. Those are the things I miss and can’t be duplicated anywhere else.
Do you have a favorite song on the Secret Cinematic Sounds release? Jimmy: I have a couple, but the one that I always end up playing over and over again is “Patty Hearst.” That piece is great to drive to. It’s super-hooky without being obvious. It is a really fun little number.
When was “Fighting With The Melody” written with regards to the rest of the release? Jimmy: The first seven or so songs were written previously for video games and movies, and “Fighting With The Melody” was written in like 2015 for a game called Metronomicon, which is a real fun RPG dancing game -- you can find it on Steam, Xbox, PS4 etc. I really liked that song and I wanted it to have a wider release so I put on this record.
Notably, you appeared as Half-Nut in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. You had a few film credits before then -- was Heart String Marionette your first? Jimmy: It was one of my first roles. I love M dot Strange, he’s done a bunch of music videos for us and they are always super-cool and awesome and surreal. He does them all himself which is amazing. But the first real cool acting gig I did in L.A. was working in the “Na Na Na” video for My Chemical Romance. I played multiple Draculoids in the “Na Na Na” and “Sing” videos. Gerard asked me and Steve Righ? to be characters in that universe and it was super, super fun. We loved every minute of it.
Do you have acting aspirations in general? Or was Guardians something that you fell into your lap? Jimmy: I just love doing cool shit. Guardians happened basically because I was friends with the director James Gunn and he decided that me and a couple other guys who are kind of weird-looking and goofy and freaky would make really good, stand-out Ravagers. So he basically looked through his Rolodex of friends and pulled a bunch of us and gave us sort of theme Ravagers to play, like you’re going to be the dumb Ravager, you’re going to be the crazy Ravager, etc. It was super-awesome and I had a great time. Also I am very thankful that James made me a part of not just the Guardians universe but of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is crazy because I have been collecting their comics since I was a kid, and so to be part of that universe is amazing.
Here is the video for the MSI track "Never Wanted To Dance".
What about fashion, is that something that you have always been interested in? Is your Tour Crush clothing line still active? Jimmy: The Tour Crush clothing line is not active. That was a very quick little thing that me and my wife Chantal Claret did. I’m kind of like Clark Kent and Superman when it comes to fashion. When I’m home I’m wearing a gray shirt, black pants, sneakers and a hat. I don’t care to stand out. But if I’m going on tour or I’m going to an event I want my superhero outfit, my costume, ya know what I mean? I think with the band we don’t purposely sync up our outfits, it is just a synergy of like-minded people who have their own unique styles. But for me, it’s more about trying to be superheroes and comic book characters than it is about trying to be fashionable.
Might the Fuktronic album you recorded with Serj from System Of A Down ever see the light of day? Jimmy: Yes, Fuktronic will eventually see the light of day. We’ve just been trying to get it out as more than just a record. But at some point it will come out.
Anything else that you have been working on as of late? Any remixes? Film scoring? More from The Left Rights? Jimmy: The problem with working on cool shit is you got to keep it a secret until it gets released and promoted. So yes, I’m working on cool shit coming up in the future, but I cannot talk about it right now. The only stuff I can talk about now is the stuff that is out such as Guardians Volume 2 -- if you have not seen it go see it a third or fourth time. And also my new record, if you have not picked it up go to www.jimmyurine.net and check out all the cool stuff.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time? Jimmy: Doing a lot of the things that I do in my work life, like comic books, movies, video games, synthesizers and loving on my wonderful wife.
Finally, Jimmy, any last words for the kids? Jimmy: Don’t forget to give me money!
Jimmy Urine talks gear in this video with PureGrainAudio.