Solid Gold Balls

Solid Gold Balls
Interview by Christopher Duda

Solid Gold Balls is a Family Core Indie Punk Hard Folk rock band from Portland, Oregon. We make music because it is fun. We also make music because it’s a welcome respite from our regular lives of the non-stop hustle – trying to earn a livelihood, maintaining happy home fronts, keeping kids from destroying the house, keeping kids from destroying their pants.

The band is Mitch Wiencken, father of 3; Matt Souther, father of 2; Dan Stieg, yet to procreate. (He might not be doing it correctly. Feel free to offer suggestions.) Mitch plays guitar, sings, and writes the lyrics. Matt plays the bass and sings in the background. Dan plays the drums and pays the studio rent.  -  courtesy of the Solid Gold Balls website bio page.

Take it away Duda …

If you were a member of the Village People what character would you aspire to be?

Mitch  – Felipe

Dan – The Indian, because the traditional headdress and other garb would apparently offend just about everyone.

Matt – The Indian. I’ve always wanted to own my own casino, seeking revenge on Whitey

Have you ever pasted Googly Eyes on the end of your penis and had a conversation with it?

Mitch – Not yet

Dan – What the fuck kind of question is this?  Of course I have, and all it did was spit at me.

Matt – Not yet, but it’s on my calendar.

Is it true that one of you is the love child spawned from the loins of Bon Scott?

Mitch – That might explain quite a bit. I look nothing like my father, the one who raised me

Dan – That would be Mitch, don’t tell his “real” Dad.

Matt – See Mitch’s response

I heard a rumour that your balls are actually only gold plated! Is this true? Enquiring minds need to know.

Mitch – They’re actually solid brass – then plated, so you get the best of both worlds.

Dan: BLASPHEME!  These Balls are Solid Fucking Gold.

Matt – Mine are plated in liquid steel. Listen to “Killer Deal” to hear who did it.

What musician’s do you feel might be an influence overall on your sound or your musical persona?

Mitch – Malcolm Young

Dan – Dave Grohl, Jimmy Chamberlain, Shannon Powell, the Van Halen brothers before they turned into fucking assholes.

Matt – John Entwhistle and Pete Townshend for me. I was HUGE Who fan growing up. I don’t try to be like them, but their steezes osmosed in to me and comes out in my playing and attitude.

Has your mom ever found porn in your room and was it Blue Boy magazines or Bondage mags?

Mitch – I kept that stuff well hid. It was too important to lose.

Dan – Yes and it was an unpleasant scene that nobody talks about.

Matt – I’m pretty sure she has. The magazine was called Your Mom.

There seems to be an overall fascination with hookers, boners and beating the bishop. Have you ever sat on your hand until it goes numb so it feels like someone else is doing it?

Mitch – no

Dan – Matt actually hires hookers to sit on his hand for that very purpose.

Matt – As a matter of fact, I tried that for the first time 2 nights ago. It didn’t work. I knew it was me the whole time.

How have children changed your life?

Mitch – My memory doesn’t work right any more.  Seriously. Just the oth

Dan – Other people’s children are awesome!  I get to hang out and be cool Uncle Dan and hand them back over to their owners when they are hungry. need changing, scream.

Matt – They have relegated most of my desires to the far back burner. Sometimes being selfless is total bullshit. I can’t wait for these fuckers to fend for themselves so I can get back out to the garage.

What are your musical pasts?

Mitch – Nothing really formal. I’ve played at church. Matt and I played in high school. Nothing to write home about.

Dan – I started playing drums in the 5th grade because my best friend at the time did it.  I’ve been a band geek throughout my school career playing Symphonic, Orchestra, and Jazz, and then quit university to join a rock band named The American Girls – which experienced near-success with a major label record deal that went to shit.  After that I took a break then played in various metal, alt, electronic, math-rock groups until realizing that I had made a horrible mistake and decided to play real music again.

Matt – I played trumpet in Metropolitan Youth Symphony as a 12 year old, until my mistakes at rehearsals caused the entire symphony of Asian prodigy kids to turn and stare at me in disgust. It was my own personal Vietnam. I still have the nightmares.

Are there any touring bands you would love to share a stage with?

Mitch – Flaming Lips

Dan – Foo Fighters seem like they would be fun, they still play garages and then there’s the whole stadium show thing have going on.

Matt – Ween, The Flaming Lips, Pavement/Steve Malkmus, Arcade Fire, Neil Young – all because they blow minds night after night. She and Him – because of Zooey.

In 6.5 words how would you describe your Solid Gold Balls?

Mitch – Creamy on the inside hard on the out.

Dan – Solid Gold Balls is a band th…

Matt – Energetic rock about shit and fuc…

What is your process for writing songs? Are you currently writing songs for your next release?

Mitch – Usually the songs emanate from a riff or a melody or both. I’ll then take what I have and build off it. Sometimes it goes quickly other times not at all. Days will pass and I stare at my guitar wondering how the hell I was ever able to write anything. Followed by a day where you couldn’t pry the thing from my hands. I bring what I have to Matt and Dan, we sift through songs until we find one we all like then we turn it into rock.

Dan: Mitch experiences life, records the events in a diary, which become lyrics.  He also spends the twilight hours crafting killer riffs with his youngest son and then he brings that pile of hooks to the studio where Matt and I change everything, then change it back a little bit, and then the good shit comes out.  I’m working on my next release but it has nothing to do with music…

Matt – Mitchell brings ideas that are usually totally awesome, and then we try to get together to make tweaks to the arrangements, but those rehearsals get cancelled a lot. See #8.

Is Portland really full of latte sipping hipsters spinning vinyl on their portable Crossley record players?

Mitch – I have a Crossley record player, it’s a piece of shit. But yea, you’re probably right about the hipsters. I can’t imagine what it must be like having to maintain a big beard and to wear tank tops in the winter just so others can see your tats. I’m too lazy and lame for that.

Dan: Yes, I have a solar powered field recording of it.

Matt – Yes, and somehow they get asked to spin all the high profile festivals. Fuckin nerds.

Some of you have had experience in the past with major labels. Was that a nightmare or an experience you would like to forget?

Dan – I have and it was cool at first.  But then the label started to do creepy shit and it got depressing.  I don’t want to forget it, it was a clusterfuck to be sure, but a good learning experience.  I also went through it with some good dudes that I can laugh about it with now.

Matt – One time, my band The Baseboard Heaters played a showcase for Time Bomb Records in Portland, and we gave away all the tickets to our friends. The place was fuckin PACKED! The label president and a&r guy were totsally impressed. They said, “wow, you guys really have a huge following!” Being totally proud that it was my idea to give away all the tickets, I chimed in with “Yeah we gave away all the tickets! Everyone got in for FREE!!” Our manager took me out back and tore me a new one. We didn’t get the record deal that they said they were going to give us not a month earlier.

Are tractors really that fun to ride? Do you do hayrides?

Mitch – Tractors are fun and no I don’t do hayrides.

Dan: Tractors are bitchin’!  If I had a tractor, I would rock hayrides (suck it Matt).  I would also make one of Mitch’s kids drive the aforementioned tractor while pulling a flatbed trailer with the band in full rock mode on the back (suck it two times Matt).

Matt – Tractors are amazing machines. Hayrides are for children and housewives.

Any plans to do mini tours between life with kids and presuming day jobs?

Mitch – We’re hoping it will happen. Stupid day jobs are messing things up on this front.

Dan: No plans yet, civilian life is pretty hectic.  But it would be great to pull off some weekend warrior shit and take this circus on the road.  We could whip out an RV and pack all the families up for the ride.

Matt – The kids have car seats. None of us really have day jobs…

How did the name come to fruition?

Mitch – Matt , I think.

Dan – See Matt’s answer.

Matt – A lead singer of one of my previous bands had this t-shirt that was his gig-shirt, and it said Solid Gold Balls on it, but it was in Old English script. It was just weird, but it sure had/has a nice ring to it.

In the music business you refer to trying too hard as a band might be indicative of failure or disappointment. Is your approach to this band to have fun, relax and enjoy the ride? The pressure to succeed might actually harvest a better less contrived band?

Mitch – Hard to say about the contrivity and such. I made that word up, or at least the spelling. Personally I’ve never put serious thought about making it big or being on a label.  My passion is making music. The more the better and the better the better. My goal, in the end is to have nothing more betterer than a Solid Gold Balls Album.

Dan – hat is exactly it.  Once the focus on a label deal came into a effect, we were constantly working to please and serve a master other than ourselves, which is disingenuous and dishonest.  With Solid Gold Balls I feel it’s a healthy mix of escape, being honest about the present,  and clinging to our youth.  Success to me is making killer music sound as awesome as we possibly can.  If others like it, that’s a double bonus for everyone!  Ultimately it took nearly ten years to make this album, after that amount of time you have to make it for yourself, otherwise you’re full of shit.

Matt – Absolutely. This shit is for us. If somebody else likes it, double boner. I mean bonus.

Currently on your turntable (or it in rotation)

Mitch – On my broken Cossley thing is some warped scratched Creedence which we crank! Even though it plays too fast. And yes, I tried to fix it and no I’m not sending it in. Otherwise it’s Lucinda Williams and the Flaming Lips and library cd’s and books on tape on cd.

Dan – I just listened to a band named Cloud Nothings who are pretty good.  Matt got me into a band named Nine Black Alps whose first record fucking rocks.  I’ve also had Local H’s cover of “Team” on repeat for the past week.

Matt – I’m driving this ridiculous luxury/sport sedan right now (it’s a loaner from the mechanic) that has the SiriusXM satellite radio in it, and I’m hooked on the Comedy Central channel. Hannibal Buress is fucking hilarious.  Musically, Kings Of Leon is in heavy rotation, until my kids commandeer the ipod, then its Jason Drulio, which is kind or inappropriate for kids. My kids are very mature…

What has the reaction been to this release?

Mitch – Mostly completely positive.  I know my kids love it and I hope you love it as well.

Dan –  Surprise.  It seems people expect one thing based on the band name, and are pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t suck and actually has some depth.

Matt – So far so good. We’ve gotten some really good, and thoughtful reviews so far.

Well, Gracias for this special moment – Mitch

Solid Gold Balls

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Solid Gold Balls @ Bandcamp