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A Conversation With Mike Cosgrove
by
Samuel Barker

November 7, 2001

Alien Ant Farm

Samuel Barker: To begin with, what is your name and what do you do?

Mike Cosgrove: My name is Mike Cosgrove and I play drums for Alien Ant Farm.

Samuel: How has the tour been so far, has it been fun promoting the album and everything?

Mike: Yeah, weíve been out since January pretty much touring nonstop with a few breaks, touring with a lot of cool bands, been to Europe a few times, itís been great.

Samuel: Has it been nice going back to the smaller clubs after playing the larger venues?

Mike: Yeah, for sure. Pretty much, itís nice to get out there and go on the bigger tours and get exposed, but itís definitely better to make it more intimate and play in a club. It was like being on the Warped Tour where itís a general kind of thing and everyone kind of roams around and picks their favorite bands. Whatever. Getting in a club is way better, so we can get in there with our fans and have fun. Itís also fun because we get to bring bands that we want to play with us, so thatís cool.

Samuel: When you played here in Houston, you guys, well, at least Ty were going on about how great it was to play with 311, are you guys big fans?

Mike: Yeah, we're all big fans. We grew up listening to their music. It was a big honor to get invited to play those dates with them. We had a lot of fun and definitely learned a lot from them on the road.

Samuel: You mentioned Warped Tour earlier, was that fun?

Mike: Warped Tour was different. The shows were hot and there were never decent showers, and when there were decent showers all the bands and road crew were trying to use them so you could never get in them. Also, most of the people were just wandering around searching out their favorite bands. We initially had a lot of fun. We were like 'Cool! Punk rock summer camp!" and then near the end we were like "Get us off this thing."

Samuel: What happened with the 104 Fest in Connecticut? Your instruments never showed up?

Mike: Well, we were flying in from Europe to play it, we had been playing over there. When we got in, some of our gear didn't make it, which was no big deal because Blink said we could use there gear. So then we all load into a van to get to the show and we get stuck in this terrible traffic. Unfortunately we had no chance to make it to the show when we were supposed to go on. It was weird because all these kids were all pissed we didn't show up and saying we were pussies and that we were scared. I thought it was funny, because we really wanted to be there but just couldn't get there. Something was against us that day.

Samuel: How was it to get the invite to play the pre-show at the VMAs?

Mike: It was great. A lot of good bands have used it as a stepping stone. We had a lot of fun doing it.

Samuel: I saw the after show interview with Kurt Loder, was he upset with you guys after the interview?

Mike: Actually, Kurt Loder was really cool. The day before we played for about two hours while they were getting the sound right, and because we love to play, so he watched us and bobbed his head. We got to meet him and everything so when the interview came he was afraid we'd do something wild. The interview got pretty out there, what you saw was pretty watered down.

Mike Cosgrove

Samuel: I see you guys are re-releasing 'Movies' as a single, do you think the momentum from 'Smooth Criminal' will help it stick this time?

Mike: 'Movies' is one of our favorite songs off the album and we feel it didn't get to run it's course the first time. We actually sold 200,000 albums off 'Movies.' When they did the reseach on the progress of the single, it really started to do well near the end of it's initial run. What hurt was when KROQ out of California and a lot of other influential rock stations started playing 'Smooth Criminal.' We never planned on releasing 'Smooth Criminal' until the end of the run. It was going to be a light track to help carry things over to the next album. We were actually pretty pissed when it happened, and tried to do something, but all the stations told us 'If you want us to stop playing you, we will' so we were forced to go with it. It's like they say, 'You can't stop the ocean.' Now that 'Movies' is being released again, MTV asked us if we had a new video and they'd put it into rotation, so we decided to shoot a new video for the song with Marc Klasfield who did 'Smooth Criminal.' This video is originally what we wanted, with all the movie spoofs, but we didn't have the budget at first, you know? So he did a great job spoofing the Micheal Jackson videos, so we felt he would do well with this. The new video was fun. We spoofed 'Back To School,' we did the Ooompa Loompas from 'Willy Wonka,' it was fun to do. It actually premiered on TRL yesterday.

Samuel: I know ANThology has been out a while now, are you guys working on any new songs?

Mike: Well, we did a song for the American Pie 2 soundtrack called 'Good (for a woman),' that's pretty much our newest song. We work on material on the road. We bring Pro Tools on the road with us and I have my drum programs. We do some stuff in hotels on our days off, anything you can do through headphones. We also do some work now that we're headlining because we get a longer soundcheck....or a soundcheck period.

Samuel: Are there any plans to re-release 'Greatest Hits' or to expand distribution?

Mike: Yeah, definitely in the future. We don't want to right now so that we don't step on our labels toes by releasing competition for our new record. I've seen copies on eBay that people can get, but I don't seeing people pay ridiculous amounts of money to hear our songs. We definitely want our first album to be heard, so we will be re-releasing it in the future on our label.

Samuel: Speaking of your label, are you guys looking to release other bands, or is it only for Alien Ant Farm releases?

Mike: We definitely want to put out other bands on it. We have a few offers now, but we're deciding on everything. We want to have a chance to release albums from friends of ours who are having a hard time getting signed and just to get good music out. It's like being the music nerd on the block who runs around rewinding the tape over and over so everyone can hear your favorite part, except now people will listen to us.

Samuel: Is it amazing to know a million people own your album?

Mike: Totally. It's special to know that so many people are out there listening to your music. It's not really a thing where I'm proud we sold this many units, it's more like I'm proud so many people are listening to our songs.

Samuel: After everything the album has done, what more would you like to accomplish with ANThology?

Mike: I don't really have a number of records we sell, I just want more of our songs to get looked at and recognized. I think we put a lot of good music on this record and I think it deserves to be looked at and listened to.

Samuel: Honestly, the first time I saw you guys I was like 'Great, a novelty band that is riding a Micheal Jackson cover.' Then I was blown away at how good your songs were. I was expecting a Sum41 pop punk band with silly songs and you guys were a fucking metal band, it was a nice surprise.

Mike: Thanks, that means a lot. We get that a lot where kids are like 'That bands sucks, that Micheal Jackson song sucks' and then they hear us and are like 'that band rocks!'

Samuel: How is the songwriting process handled in Alien Ant Farm?

Mike: Usually someone will come in with an idea or a vocal line and we'll work with it. Dryden writes 99% of the lyrics, but we all throw in a line here or there. Everyone has ideas, but when we all come together the song truely takes shape. It's like molding a piece of clay, we shape it into something we can be proud of, we're not going to play something we're not completely proud of.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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