I’m the first person to interview Ted Nguyent. No, not the guy that says shit like this. Or this. Or all these things. Consensus is that the Nuge is a dick, but this post is about the Philly punk band, not the appropriately dubbed Motorcity Madman.
Ted Nguyent (pronounced the same as Uncle Ted’s name) is a trio comprised of Mike McGilloway, Travis Arterburn and Kian Sorouri. Given the band’s weird-o breed of comedic, fuck-around punk, Ted Nguyent is the sort of group that could be drawn into animation and star in their own Adult Swim show.
The band’s new record, Don’t Vote, displays a staggeringly eclectic range of influences, from Drive Like Jehu's disjointed angularity to emo guitar twinkles, all the way to Primus country freak-outs and Slint’s morose dissonance. But they’ve still got a sense of humor—a cursory glance at the song titles provides proof of that: “Forever Growing Greasier”, “The PPA Took My Baby Away”, “My Body is a Temple of Doom”. Expect to hear descriptions of nacho cheese rivers and who-killed-Kurt-Cobain conspiracy theories. There’s a lot of stuff packed into Don’t Vote’s relatively short runtime; seventeen-minutes packed to the point of bursting with crazy guitar riffs and tongue-in-cheek one liners. Basically, Ted Nguyent is way better than Ted Nugent.
Stream Don’t Vote, and check out our interview with Travis, both below.
Explain the band name and how you guys started out.
It was initially me, Mike and this dude Jimmy. We all moved in together in our sophomore year of college. And we were just playing a lot of music—doing that a whole bunch—then Jimmy ended up leaving, so we play with Kian now, but that was like two-and-a-half, three years ago.
The band name—I think it was just like, we agreed on it at some point when we were out, and just kind of went with it. It’s just a joke about how nobody knows how to say the name “Nguyen”, the Vietnamese last name. So we called it “Ted Nugent” but spelled it that way.
How do you think the Philly scene’s treated you thus far? What’s your relationship to it and the Philly punk scene, which seems to be pretty cool right now.
Yeah, I mean, it’s been great. Like people have always booked us and stuff. We play a lot of cool shows. It’s weird how last year the area got known for a lot of emo—like twinkly emo stuff—and at points we’ve got kinda lost into that. Which I never really thought we were doing that.
It’s great. I’ve been doing a lot of recording here so I’ve met tons of people through that. But yeah, we play a lot—we play at Golden Tea House a lot.
How do you guys write your music? I haven’t seen you guys live yet, but I’ve seen live videos where all three of you are singing at the same time—or yelling at the same time. So how do you go about doing that? Does one person come in, or do you all come in with ideas?
A lot of times we come in with different ideas. We kind of do whatever works. Sometimes Mike comes in with guitar stuff and we’ll work around that and figure out something from there. And then there are other times when we just start fucking around and things just start to happen and come together. A lot of times we write instrumentals first and write vocals over top of that—almost always.
Who comes up with the lyrics?
All three of us. It kind of depends. A lot of our lyrics come from when we write things down when we’re out drinking and hanging out when think something’s funny. And we’ll have just weird one-liners and then they become song titles or lines and we’ll kind of write around that. But a lot of times it’s all three of us sitting down together at this point.
I noticed on the Bandcamp page that you guys list all of your names as Dave Grohl but spelled differently. And you have that one song “There Goes My Hero” about the conspiracy about how Dave Grohl killed Kurt Cobain. Where the hell did that come from? Or is that just an inside joke?
Yeah, it’s just a joke that we’ve been making for a while. And then we didn’t have lyrics—that’s the last song that we wrote lyrics for on the album. We had talked about making a song about that for a long time, and I guess it finally happened.
As far as the Dave Grohl thing on Bandcamp, Kian asked me to put our names up on the thing—like what we play and stuff—and it was like two in the morning. We put it up at two in the morning and got the final art when I was at the bar and I put it up on Bandcamp off of my phone, and we went back to his house and we were kind of drunk and I was fucking around and just put it on there.
I was going to ask, “What’s your position on gun rights?” because of the name of the band, but I decided I’m not going to do that because that’s dumb.