Interview with The MetalEddies guitarist "Ronald Pagan"

- May 16, 2006 at 11:09PM
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The underground punk scene always seems to have quite a few kick ass bands. Bands come and bands go, leaving the local punks with many favourites. But for the past few years one band seems to maintain a large fanbase in the Toronto Area. This Newmarket, Ontario based band seemingly stands out from the rest with a style which is unique enough for appeal and yet similar to other bands allowing them to fit right in with your favourite punk band at any show. After having played many shows, "Ronald Pagan" has allowed you to have a glance at some of the hilarious stories the MetalEddies have to share.

How did you and your band mates meet?
Ronald: Shouldn’t you be starting with who am I and what do I do in the band? Why does nobody ever start with the basics anymore?

We'll get to that.
Ronald: Oh yeah if they read that first then they'll stop reading if they know me. Anyways, I was finished school and moved back to Newmarket. I had just started learning guitar and felt I was ready to start a band. Not knowing anybody in town after moving back I started posting flyers in the local music store. Seeing as nobody needs a guitar player (especially a bad one) it didn't go too quickly. I had a few responses but nothing that led anywhere. I changed to drums and then to bass in attempts to get something happening and still nothing. I decided I sucked least at guitar so I figured I'd go back to the original plan. I flyered at shows, posted flyers around town and kept updating the ones at the music store. Punk wasn't too happening around here at the time at least not band wise. It took three and a half years of advertising until I finally met Mr. Johnny Eyeball... and then the quest for a drummer began. After seven fill-ins we had Johnny Sixblocks step up (from Sixblocks from Downtown, then Lives of Many and currently in 3Point Stance).

Cool, cool. So, I have to ask, you each have your own unique stage name, what are your real names?
Ronald: Why do you have to ask that? Do you think we are making them up or do you just wanna be the kid that unmasks the Lone Ranger?

Haha, but seriously.
Ronald: Mr. Eyeball already has my home number. I don't need any more freaks looking it up! Next question!

Haha. Ok, ok.
Ronald: One point Pagan... you Zero!

I'll beat you... not to worry.
Ronald: With a stick or a rock?

You'll see! But anyways, where did the nicknames come from?
Ronald: Well not that it's hard to imagine, but founding members Eyeball and I weren't too popular growing up. We could claim that it was 'cause we were so punk and punk wasn't too popular in those days but really we were just as cool as we are now which is to say, not very. So basically we didn't trust each other to go about getting our nicknames the old fashion way, to be given them by friends. So we picked out our own names. A good reason for this was the third guy Eyeball brought along for the ride was a real piece of work. At our initial meeting we went to a doughnut shop (not Tim Horton’s) to talk about what we wanted to do as far as a band goes.

I wasn't sure about having total strangers over to my place for an actual practice but I told them to bring stuff just in case we have time. Eyeball brought along his cheap-ass pawn shop bass, a guitar for the other guy to use and patch cords. I told Eyeball he could use my bass amp but not for shows (it was a beast and nobody wanted to lift the fucker). I had a bunch of shitty second hand gear. The other guys total contribution to gear and the band was a king can in a plastic bag, that plus he showed up late. Needless to say I wasn't going to let this knob have any hand in giving me a stage name. So we went about picking our own. John took on an old nickname Johnny Eyeball as opposed to Johnny Meatball which was another.

To this day he claims it was because he had some sort of sickening eye infection when we first met. I don't remember that and just assumed because we were all so half assed that he meant that he eyeballed everything, you know instead of being exact. No wait, it was Meathead not Meatball. I took on the name Ronald Pagan as kind of a nod to Halloween being a Pagan holiday and the best holiday of them all as well as a lose description of Pagan religion being based on ritual rather then written word which I see as a good explanation of punk rock. Ronald went well with that as a nod to early 80s punk being the Regan years. The last guy wanted us to call him Jay Jay Schmite a nod to mall rats where the guy wipes his hand between his ass cheeks and then shakes a guy's hand. He called it a schmite... this served as a sign that Mr. Schmite wouldn’t last, that plus the king can which was not to be shared! Fast forward to our current drummer Big Daddy Baditude. He's number 13... long ago we stopped letting our drummers name themselves... they just didn’t stick around that long. Eyeball gave Baditude his name.

Haha I see... ok... well, speaking of drummers, how did you end up going through 13 of them over a span of only 5 or 6 years?
Ronald: Just over six years now actually. We met in April of 2000 and it took till December of that year to actually play a show because it also took eight drummers. We've gone through so many because, well, to start with we're probably jerks so that'll shorten a lifespan of a drummer. We've just always seemed more dedicated then past drummers. One main reason is that drummers are scarce up here so we would use people who weren't primarily drummers. We've had a few bass players who converted to drums and stuff like that. Another reason might be we had strong feelings of what we wanted the band to sound like and what we didn't want to sound like so for new people to join it didn't allow for much freedom beyond that. That’s a complex way of saying that we're just huge A-holes.

Ah! Of course. But would you say the number of drummers you've gone through has affected the band negatively?
Ronald: Well for sure. We've been around for six years and a lot of things have just fallen into place with our current line up. The main drawback was teaching so many people to play the same songs. Both Eyeball and myself being songwriters have a ton of material but we would always be going over old stuff with new drummers. We have a CD coming out this summer Brains of The Operation, which will contain songs from all six of those years. After this we will finally be doing something fresh. The positive spin you could put on it is that we proved we believe in what we do by keeping at it and we really appreciate what we have. It’s also turned me and Eyeball into an old married couple. Take that to mean whatever you want.

Will do.
Ronald: With all the changes it really slowed the evolution of the band... our first demo tape was gawd awful... everything has been baby steps all the way. We finally have professional recordings which only took five years. Everything has been very D.I.Y. which is something I love. We started at just the right time because we have developed just as the local Newmarket scene has.

I see. What about your lyrics? They’re comical and somewhat similar to the lyrical style of the Ramones. Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?
Ronald: Well I'd definitely say our sound is Ramones based. I guess that some of their songs have some humour to them but I never thought of them as a funny band. Just a different way to look at things I guess. Our songs are basically an extension of our personalities and sense of humour. It was by far the easiest route to take. I originally wanted to be a bit more of a political band because of the stuff I was listening to at the time like Marylin’s Vitamins, early Bad Religion (give up already will you!) and other early 80's stuff. Eyeball wasn't interested in that at all. He felt like it would become too preachy and he was on a strict diet of Screeching Weasel and The Queers at the time. I figured that by trying to do the political thing it would be like trying to take the lead in something by talking rather then leading by any sort of example and you tend to cover the same topics over and over as other bands. It was pretty obvious that our sound wasn't going to be a totally new thing so we had to do that lyrically. Eyeball's favourites at the time being somewhat humour based I looked at them and thought they'd be pretty easy to one up. But the real answer to the question is that both me and Eyeball grew up on a strict diet of Weird Al!

Haha yes! Weird Al, what a genius!
Ronald: You know it! And he was basically doing twisted covers 95% of the time so we could do twisted originals so we have a bit of an edge there too. Kind of take a look at all the things we loved and see what they weren't doing so we could take a shot at filling those gaps and offer up something worth while and pretend it's fresh.

Exactly! But out of all your songs, do you have a favourite?
Ronald: The great thing is that that always changes. Not just for myself but for all of us. It's always fun to finally work out a new song and sometimes it's just fun to play a tune you haven't in a long time. More importantly I think that there are hardly any that would make it to a "least favourite" list. Right now I'd say my fave is "2am Politics" which oddly enough is one I sing.

Haha! I love the titles of your songs! And the bands you've played with! (And of course your band) But the list of well known underground bands that you've opened for or that opened for your band is extensive. Do you have any favourites to play shows with?
Ronald: Oh man we have tons of favorites. The whole reason for starting the band was basically to make friends and have something to do. It's always a blast to see a good friend up there going nuts or going to play a new town with your friends. Top that off with the fact that the bands kick ass and how can you have a better time then that!? I'm probably gonna forget a ton of bands so, I'll just list a few highlight moments....

- The Throwaways (rip) shitcore challenge during which one contestant ended up puking on the other's head when attempting to land it in the ceremonial trash can.

- Bruiser Brody - our moronic half brothers from Toronto that we ended up wrestling with every time we played... the first time before we actually ever spoke with them Eyeball got body slammed into a table and I tossed a chair at their singer.

- Overdose covering us.

- Grinder... plenty of upcoming antics to be shared on and off the stage some of which can't be mentioned for legal reasons.

There’s plenty I failed to mention, but nobody wants to hear about VBF's disco party featuring far too many men in thongs. And I'd have to say that one is to many

Oh man, don't give me images!
Ronald: Oh yeah! The proposed annual "All Girl Band Show"... Not Just Noodles along with the Eddies in drag! Of that, I could give you jpegs!

Haha there is no need; I'm already haunted by the mere thought of you with out a shirt
Ronald: Why were you thinking of that?

I don't even want to know. But, off stage you guys seem to maintain the same attitude and comical jackassery that you have on stage. (I.e. Telling random people to fuck off, especially when they request things like songs or shirts) Any comments?
Ronald: I've never told random people to fuck off, unless it was a large group of people, and I'd always have a specific reason. We always have people ask us to dedicate songs to them and I always think "What the fuck? Should everybody else cover their ears? Because the song is only for one specific person?" So if someone asks for a dedication we often spend a while making fun of them rather then making a dedication.

Yeah, I would say that it's one of the highlights of your shows. Other then the music of course.
Ronald: We get to see other bands play and we don't have to pay cover! Also, that there are so many people to hang out with at shows so we aren't stuck talking to each other.

Yeah, that's true enough.
Ronald: I'm sure you would have shot yourself by now if you had all three of us talking to you.

Most likely, though I don't own a gun.
Ronald:That’s good. Guns are lame. If people who used guns were really dedicated and really meant it they could do the job with a rock.

Haha yeah, lame. Like the temporary breakup a few years back. What brought about the reunion?
Ronald: Well I guess we thought that we had played enough shows and whatnot that when the going go rough that we could disband and just start up new projects that would work. Not the case. You know how people often say musicians are lazy asses. Good fucking lord for the most part they are right. I don't understand when people claim to be in a band yet the next words out of their mouth is, "but we haven't had a practice in over a month". So basically we were back to the "no friends" story. There was no way in hell that I wasn't going to take the spot on punktoberfest that was offered that year so we all decided to regroup.

Ah! A common place for you eh? Whoa! One for me, one for you! Told you I'd get one.
Ronald: Umm, no way. I had no friends long before you came around! But yeah now I'd say more then half of my friends play instruments and many of those play in bands... who knows maybe it's time to ditch the bitch again (Eyeball) and freshen up the act!

Haha I see! Well, you've mentioned to me before about the infamous "Eddies curse". Can you explain the details of this so called curse?
Ronald: Oh god which one? Take your pick!

Ok curses.
Ronald: Ok now I remember! How we tend to kill things for no reason, the reverse Midas touch. Well this is maybe the fifth interview I've taken part in and none of them have ever seen the light of day. If a zine interviews us it fails to have another issue ever.
We have also done two prerecorded interviews for CIUT 89.5 fm in Toronto. Plus live sets with each. The first was lost because the summer student helping out made off with a number of master tapes and was never heard from again. The second one their just sitting on (two years later) and claim is has yet to be mixed. Then they finally tell us the backlog is like five years for prerecorded interviews.

The only successful one was on Peterborough’s Trent Campus station where Johnny Sixblocks (years after being our drummer) had us on his show. I actually got to do five guest DJ spots on there (Johnny and Ivan's Punk Roundup!) I'm still waiting to hear back from of all things a Swedish black metal zine that wanted to interview us five years ago... they just seemed to love the name of the band regardless of what we played. So this being an online interview I fully expect the internet to be obsolete by the end of the week

That would be interesting to see, and I would blame it all on you. Then after no one can check their bank accounts, e-mail or Myspace, there will be a hunt for Ronald Pagan.
Ronald: Yeah as if that'd be their main concern. They'd just be pissed that there’s no more free porn! So stock up now kiddies! Yet again a good reason not to offer up real names!

Ah! Good thinking! But other then the possibility of the end of the internet, what do you think will be happening in the near future for the Eddies?
Ronald: Well our main goal right now is to get our new CD out... finally something professionally recorded, pressed and printed. I just put out the No Vinyl Records Compilation which was a huge push to get the bands name out there. From there on in it's shows, shows and more shows! Wait a sec! I got those out of order! The second show of "shows, shows and more shows" should be first and the first one second. Sorry had to check our listings.

Haha well then, the future looks not too gloomy. Hopefully not many people will read this interview before the end of the internet so that no one will know who to hunt. Any final words or anything you'd like to add?
Ronald: Well I suspect that most people who actually like us aren't too good with the reading thing or the attention span. Basically I could bitch out every last one of them at this point 'cause they'd never make it this far. What with the internet having only a few days to survive and all. I could tell Mr. Eyeball what I really thing of him... he’d be defenseless seeing as though I have the last word! But I guess I'll just send out a thanks to everyone who comes out to support us and all the bands. A thanks to all the bands and thanks most of all to Newmarket for having the best hometown crowd a band could ever ask for. Even though they have that smell and aren’t to easy on the eyes!  [ END ]
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