Interview: Catching Up With Everyone Is Dirty + Watch “Mermaid”

Photo Credit: Elsa Natoukhi

They don’t make bands quite like Everyone Is Dirty very often. Comprised of Sivan Lioncub (vocals/electric violin), Christopher Daddio (guitar/vocals), Tony Sales (drums/vocals) and Tyler English (bass), the band funnels the complexities of life through a sonic prism that is always vibrant and kaleidoscopic.

Their new album, My Neon’s Dead, continues that aesthetic with a new sense of vigor as Lioncub returns following a near death experience. The LP is led by singles “San Andreas” and “Mermaid” both of which showcase the band’s dynamic sound and approach.

To learn more about Everyone Is Dirty ahead of their new album, we sent them some interview questions. Check it all out below and pre-order My Neon’s Dead, out September 28th via OIM Records, here.

Can you tell us a little more on who you are and how you first got into making music?

Here’s a message from each of us…

My name is Tony Sales. Growing up, my dad and uncle played music. Music was all around the house growing up. I started fooling around with piano and guitar when I was 7, but it didn’t catch on. I started playing drums when I was 10. Before I started playing drums, I enjoyed messing around with this little white Casio keyboard I had that had funny beats and rhythms. I made some raps on it with my little sister and friends.

My name is Sivan Lioncub. My dad’s Turkish and mom Israeli and I grew up in a strict environment where my dad taught me violin and I wasn’t allowed to listen to any music except classical, wasn’t allowed to watch TV or use a lot of technology because my parents thought it would turn me into the devil. So I was a weird kid.

As an only child with no external entertainment and a lot of alone time, I learned how to amuse myself in other ways like talking to my imaginary friend Jerry, making up dances and skits, and keeping a journal from a young age. My journal entries were like, “dear diary, please will somebody help me…”.

My parents were so strict it was embarrassing for me growing up. I wasn’t allowed to do what all my friends were allowed to do and I didn’t know a lot of the pop culture references they would make. It made me feel weird, awkward and left out. Then I went crazy and turned into the devil!

My name is Christopher Daddio but you can call me Moo. I started singing in church. I begged my parents to get me a violin when I was 7. I stuck with it until I noticed my sister and her friends were listening to Duran Duran. So I traded my violin in for a japanese made candy apple red fender P-bass. I like cantalope smoothies and jelly bellies.

My name is Tyler English and I first got into making music by being forced to play the flute in elementary school. Growing up I watched my uncle cover a lot of folk songs and play slide guitar and he was really into flutes as well. I got into the emo scene at the ripe tender age of 12 and started my first band Ashes Fall. From there things just got better. I don’t really come from a musical family. Everyone in my family has a kind of normal life and I just wanted to do something different. I’m just the boy next door. Just give me a ring. I like grape fruits.

What’s your songwriting process like? Who are some of your biggest influences?

Chris and I started writing music together in 2010. We wrote a bunch of tunes together and then started playing with Tony and Tyler. Our songwriting process is evolving all the time. Some tunes Chris and I start together then bring to Tony and Tyler and they add ideas to them. Other songs, we start with a sketch and we all create the song together in the room. We do a lot of jamming in practice too, and a bunch of songs are written that way. We have lots of influences… minimalist religious classical music like Arvo Part. Oum Kulthoum. Kendrick Lamar. MC5. Elvin Jones.

What’s “Mermaid” about? How did it come to be?

“Mermaid” is about being exactly who you want to be. It’s a pickup line, a mating call, a celebration of beauty, which comes in an infinite range of sexualities ethnicities and genders, shapes and attitudes. I wrote the lyrics when I was working at a cannabis dispensary in the tenderloin. I became friends with lots of my clients and was continually inspired by their fashion sense as they seemed to be of mine. A friend from the dispensary told me I was a space alien mermaid. I thought that was a hot pick up line. Where are you from girl…? Space alien, you’re a mermaid.

Chris started writing the chord progression and it reminded me of euro-pop. The chords have an eastern European communist work song vibe. Then Tony brought that sassy beat to it and Tyler added his bass sexiness and now I wanna shake my ass to this rock and roll music.

How did you come up with the concept for the video?

It was a family affair. I was introduced to Sarah Maloney because she worked on a video for our Oakland brothers False Priest. Our collaboration came so easily to us. All of our ideas just free flowed. It was pretty easy. Our first day of shooting we met at our rehearsal studio and built this underwater set together. Matt Robeson showed up and projected these beautiful vintage underwater shots and we all frolicked around while Sarah’s brother Will and his friends blew bubbles at us. Everyone who worked on this video brought their spirit to it. It has the spirit of Tony’s beautiful baby daughter Georgia Fox and his wife Rachel… the spirits of young musicians of the future, the kids of The SF Rock Project where I teach…the spirit of Buster The Dog…

Now Sarah and I are working on a horror short for the song My Neon’s Dead so be prepared to be terrorized and paralyzed. The plan is to release it in honor of our Halloween homecoming show at Brick N Mortar. We are going to do a Michael Jackson cover set with Down Dirty Shake doing Spice Girls, Mayya & The Revolutionary Hell Yeah doing Bowie, and Sun Kin doing Prince.

Sivan, could you tell us how you first got into the electric violin? What are you able to do with it guitarists might not be able to?

For better or for worse, the violin is one of my main tools of self-expression. I started playing the violin when I was 4, but never thought I would play it in a band. Then I started playing music with Chris. I only wanted to play guitar, cuz violin had been associated with being trapped, with strictness, with discipline… and all my favorite rock n rollerz played guitar.

Chris wanted me to play my violin so I reluctantly pulled it out and started recording violin parts on the songs we were writing. I soon realized that it was my tool, it was the instrument I knew best, and that I could use it as freely as I wanted.

I was listening to Patti Smith talk at a lecture and she said something like “Use your tools”… Sometimes your tools aren’t the obvious ones, but they are yours so embrace them. So, when I play violin I make sure to always use it as an expression of freedom. I embrace all the noises it makes, and the things that are traditionally considered ugly about the instrument. I use it any way I want.

You ask about how it differs from a guitar? A violin has no frets! I think the violin sounds a lot like a human voice. I can make it sing or scream or whisper. You can make it sound beautiful and precious, or noisy and ugly. I think it’s a very soulful instrument. And I love how it is held so close to my face. The music is vibrating on my face.

Any new Oakland-based artists/venues/purveyors of the arts you could turn our readers onto?

OIM Records is an Oakland based label run by Sarah Sexton and veteran Jeff Saltzman. I encourage you to listen to all the Oakland bands they are supporting. Sarah is someone who genuinely cares about her community. She works incredibly hard to build it and has a giant passion for music. Oakland Indy Mayhem isn’t just a record label. They are also throwing shows and speaking out to support art and fight injustice in Oakland. Other Oakland artists I love are Sarah Maloney, Helltones, False Priest, Eli’s Mile High Club, Lauren YS, Donut Time Audio.

Where can we follow you and where can our readers catch you live next?

Pre-order our limited run vinyl record of My Neon’s Dead out September 28th on OIM Records, with art by Bay Area artist Lauren YS. It’s a pink record with a black puddle in the middle. It comes with a lyrics art book. We are only making 250 of them, so we encourage people to pre-order them if they want one, because they are already selling out.

Our upcoming shows are:

9/24 Starry Nights Pappy & Harriets in Joshua Tree
9/28 Release Show at Bottom Of The Hill, SF
10/7-10/22 Tour Dates TBA
11/2 -11/5 Off Beat Festival Reno

Any parting thoughts? Open platform!

Girls and non-binary people to the front! This country is being destroyed by a giant orange penis. It is difficult for me to not want to hide under a permanent rock. Let’s help each other not hide under rocks. Let’s grab onto each other and go outside. Let’s get in the way. Let’s dance.

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