An Afternoon With Monty Messex of Dead Fucking Last

Dead Fucking Last

The last time legendary SoCal hardcore act, Dead Fucking Last released new material, most of you were still in diapers. After releasing Grateful, way back in 1997, the boys went on hiatus and stayed there for nearly twenty years. When we heard that they were making a comeback a few years ago, we were giddy. So, when a request popped up in our inbox to interview them, we couldn’t turn it down! Unfortunately, the only available staffer was AnarchoPunk, so he was the lucky schmuck that got to meet up with founding member and guitarist, Monty Messex for a chat in the shadows of DTLA, in the Silver Lake neighborhood. Check out the full interview below!**

**If reading isn’t your thing, you can also listen to the full interview on this week’s episode of DyingScene Radio**

Anarchopunk (DyingScene): Monty! Thanks for hanging out with us today. How have you been?

Monty Messex: I’m well. Thank you! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!

DS: Absolutely! Anything for you guys. I’ve been listening to you guys since I was in High School. Back when I could still skateboard with out breaking an ankle.  So, we know Tom, stayed pretty busy during the hiatus,  playing with our buddy Greg Hetson in another local hardcore band General Fucking Principle. What have you been up to?

MM: Well, I did play for awhile in the hardcore band Family Dog. We put out a record on El Pocho Loco which was Voodoo Glow Skulls’ label. And then, music-wise, I just did my own solo acoustic music and then got busy raising my kids and I went to graduate school, got my Masters at UCLA and was working. Just kinda minding my own fucking business! (laughter)

DS: I like to see that you were constructive with it! You didn’t just sit around with a thumb up the ass. Good Job! So, you guys came back to the scene in 2013. What was that? About 2-3 years ago, right?

MM: Yea! Yea, it’s been about three years now since we’re got back together.

DS: Originally, that was just going to be like a reunion, right? Was ever meant to be permanent? 

MM: Yea! You know, honestly I had no fucking idea what it was meant to be. (laughter) I was just cruising along, minding my own business and hanging out. Then Tom came and found me and was like “Hey, you wanna play some DFL?” and the time was right. So, I thought “Sure. Why not? I’ll give it a whirl.” But it wasn’t like some kind of thing like “Let’s do a reunion or a reunion tour” It was just like “Let’s see how it goes”. So, we’ve been taking it one day at a time.

DS: And shortly after you guys got back to together, Epitaph re-released Proud to Be for the 20 year anniversary. Did that make it a little more permanent than you were originally thinking, did it solidify what your future plans were? 

MM: Yea. So, definitely, Epitaph’s 20th anniversary release of Proud to Be was just another step along the road in terms of solidifying the band and I think getting more support from the fans. I definitely reach out to Brett (Gurewitz) and I said to him “Hey, we’re back together. It’s been 20 years since Proud to Be came out. What would you think about doing a 20th anniversary release?” and he was like “Hell yea! Let’s do it!” He was totally cool. Brett has always been a biog supporter of DFL. So we did it on vinyl and then Brett also put us in touch with Burger Records and Sean (Bohrman) was totally cool too. He wanted to put out a concurrent release on tape. You know, cassettes are back. Who the fuck knew those things would ever come back but they have. (laughter) God only knows when 8-Track tapes will be back. So that was awesome.

DS: Who ever thought cassette tapes would come back? Do you know how many tapes I had to pull out of the cassette tape player? It’s the worst medium ever, I can’t understand it. So, the re-release, at least for us, kinda happened out of nowhere. I don’t think the  general public didn’t see it coming. But you’re saying that you were the impetus behind that? You pushed for it?

MM: Oh yea! I got in touch with Brett and was like “Yea! Let’s try to get a reissue going.” I think a lot of people were like “Whoa! Where did this thing come from?” (laughter) You know, because we weren’t one of the humongous bands on Epitaph in the 90’s but we were one of the bands that a lot of people respected for our sound, our lo-fi, early 80’s hardcore sound. It was unusual. A lot of the bands on Epitaph at the time had a polished sound, different than ours. So, I think a lot of people were really excited but surprised to see a reissue pop up from Epitaph out of the blue. I know Vice/Noisy did a write up on us and it was basically saying “Seriously. We love this, but what the fuck?”

DS: It was a little random but it was one of my favorite albums growing up. That album lived in my tape player throughout high school. I guess I should’ve saved the cassette, huh? It would be vintage by now! But yea, so that’s been 20 yeas now.  One of my favorite questions to ask especially with people here locally (in LA) is how the scene has changed through the years. You guys have been here forever.  Everyone likes to say that it’s dead and we take some heat for not being as thick with talent or good shows/fests as other markets. How do you gauge the health of the Scene here in LA?

MM: I originally got into punk rock in the late 70’s/early 80’s and was a part of it for many, many years. You know, then I took a big break after DFL broke up and after Family Dog kinda broke up. So, I didn’t know what to think when DFL got back together. To be perfectly honest, I though “Oh man. Maybe punk rock is dead. I don’t know? It’s fucking 2013.” I though maybe it would just be me and Tom playing like a fucking Viagra commercial with some old dudes. (laughter) I was blown away that punk rock was alive and well with this fucking awesome, vibrant scene filled with old bands like DFL and even older bands like T.S.O.L. and ever older bands like The Weirdos playing. Then there’s new bands like PEARS and Melted, so it’s a really vibrant fucking music scene. You know, music is alive and well. Punk Rock is alive and well globally. I think one thing that’s really made the scene so vibrant and one of the things that kept DFL alive during this hiatus/breakup is the internet. We’ll play shows where people that are into DFL got into us when they were 17-18 years old. And I’m just like “Fuck Yea!” you know? They have DFL tattoos and they are younger than when we broke up. That’s amazing to me. That’s the internet.

DS: That is a major difference than in the 90’s. I think we were speaking off line about this earlier and I’m sure most of the listeners know, Adam Horovitz (aka Ad-Rock) of Beastie Boys fame actually started out with you guys with Grand Royal. He obviously branched out and found success in hip hop in a time when punk wasn’t looked on as fondly. What made you guys stick with it, especially when you were seeing other bands go on to find success in other genres?

MM: Well, I was always just a punker, you know. This is kind of where my talent begins and ends, with punk rock. I’ve done some acoustic music too, I don’t know if I have any talent there but I’ve definitely done some (other) stuff. Adam is a real talented guy, they’ve done some super amazing stuff in hip hop. Probably some of the best stuff there is. Ill Communication and Check Your Head  are some of the best records, bar none. But, I’m grateful that I had the experience to play music with Adam, to record with him and have him produce a record for us and play some great hardcore with him. I’m glad to have had those experiences.

DS: One of my favorite things about the Beastie Boys is when they would throw one random hardcore track on an album. There was always the one obligatory hardcore song. That was always a little Christmas present for me. So, since you guys have been back, you haven’t done too many trips as far as touring goes. I know you have a show coming up in Arizona in a couple weeks and then another show here in town on September 17 at The Whiskey with Death By Stereo. But are you guys planning on getting out and doing any nationwide touring soon? Or at least getting a little further away from LA?

MM: So yea, we have the show in Tempe, Arizona on September 10th with McRad which is going to be awesome. Then we’re going to be playing with Death By Stereo at The Whiskey on the 17th, definitely come out to that!  We’d love to get to Europe, we’d love to get to back to Japan, we’d love to do national touring, get up to Canada and back down to South America. But, we’re taking it one day at a time, reaching out to people, knocking on doors, waiting for the right opportunity. We’re older, you know? Tom’s got some kids, I have a day job that kind of turned into a little bit of a career. Those things said, when the right opportunity presents itself, we’re ready to roll! So, we’re basically just waiting to do it. I’m confident that we’ll get out there and do all of those things.

DS: I would love to get out to a show soon. I’m going to miss the show on the 17th because I’m out of town and I’m pissed about it. I’ve gotta spend my time in North Carolina instead of going to see Dead Fucking Last.

MM: Lucky you! (laughter)

DS: Get outta here! (laughter) If you do go on extended tour, does the old ass Mesa Boogie amp go with you?

MM: Always! At least nationally. You know, these days they’re so tight with weight restrictions. They won’t let you take anything that weighs anything. Definitely goes with nationally, though. I love that amp. I’m grateful that the Mesa and the Les Paul Jr stayed in the garage for all the time that Dead Fucking Last was on break. I got it all refurbished and it sounds better than ever now. The shows have been great. We’ve had people hitting us up, worldwide wanting us to come out all over the world. So, like I said, we’re just waiting on the right opportunity.

DS: You guys had two brand new songs featured on the “Banned from The PC Comp Tape” put out by PunkNews the beginning of August or so. Obviously you guys are older, 20 years removed from one of your last albums, do you find that with these new songs, your songwriting or musical approach is motivated by different things?

MM: You know, I was a little worried. I didn’t know what it was going to be like. It’s funny, I feel like we’ve picked up where we left off. Tom and I committed to still do hardcore the same exact way that we had done it, if not go even further back in time and do it more lo-fi and more from the heart. Actually we only have one song on the “Banned From the PC Tape”, Shut It Down. We recorded that song super fast, super lo-fi. I think it’s coming out on (August) 20th. I don’t know, the guys from PunkNews said they ran into some issues with production. But I love that song, it’s an awesome song and it’s basically just an old school DFL, hardcore song. Our commitment is to stick to that way of writing songs. We have a bunch more songs like it and we’re hoping to hook up with a label or release it on a label we’re thinking of putting together. Hopefully hook up with a label though, Fat Wreck Chords, if you’re listening to this, give us a call (laughter) or Bridge Nine, if you’re listening call us because fuck, we’d love to put some music out.

DS: You guys still looking for a bass player? 

MM: Yes! We are still looking. So, if you’re a hardcore bass player and love DFL, hit us up on Facebook because we’re looking for someone to hit the road with us and play some shows. You gotta live in LA and you can’t be on drugs or alcohol. (laughter)

DS: Well that just about gets rid of everybody that’s available… (laughter) That’s pretty much the crux of the main interview but now, my favorite part, the part we still don’t have a name for. I thought Dying Dozen was an alright name but Zach from PEARS thought it should be called the 12 Step Program because it’s 12 stupid ass questions. Everybody seems to like The 12 Step Program so I think that’s what we’re leaning towards. So, now, the 12 Step Program. This is for all the marbles. Don’t fuck up. 

MM: I probably will.

DS: Alright! Number One: What was very 1st live punk show?

MM: First punk show was Halloween 1979. Headlining was FEAR, opening was Black Flag. Keith Morris was singing and he was crammed into a Spider-Man costume that you would buy from a fucking Thrifty’s. It fucking blew my mind. I was sixteen years old, it changed my world, man! It was the best. And the Germs played as well. It was at the Hong Kong Cafe in Downtown Los Angeles.

DS: That is probably the best answer to the question that I’ve ever received. Number Two: What was the cover of Grateful supposed to be?

MM: That is a good question. It was spray painted on the ground by….I forget the artist’s name, but he also did the cover for Rage Against the Machine’s Battle of Los Angeles . It was somebody in an overcoat or something? I don’t know. It was spray painted on the ground in front of Tony Converse’s house in Echo Park but I don’t know what happened.

DS: Fair enough. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what it is. Number Three: If you are cooking at home, what is your ‘Go To’ meal?

MM: Quesadilla!

DS: Right on! Number Four: Alright, local LA boy, what’s you least favorite freeway?

MM: Oh, I’d easily have to say the Santa Monica Freeway. Fuck that freeway.

DS: (laughter) Correct answer! Number Five: If you could be any cartoon character, who would it be?

MM: I’d have to say Spider-Man!

DS: Fuck yea! Number Six: What was the worst job you ever had?

MM: Working at LA Reptile, cleaning reptile cages. I did that for a fucking year. I started at one end of this, literally seventy-five foot long reptile cage and went to the other end, scraping reptile shit out of the cages along with dead snakes and lizards. Sometimes, I would have my head in the cage and this guy, his name was Axle, he was from Germany and he dressed like a guy from the 50’s. You would have your head in the fucking reptile cages and he would walk by and give you a wedgie on top of it.

DS: Occupational hazards…(laughter) Number Seven: If you were booking the ultimate show, what three bands would you have in the lineup?

MM: Oh god, that’s soooo hard man! I just love so many genres of music. I don’t know. I’ll have to pass on that one.

DS: OK, OK, we’ll let you pass. It’s Robert Plant’s birthday today by the way. Little fun fact for you.

MM: He made some amazing music.

DS: Number Eight: White or wheat?

MM: Wheat.

DS: Good answer! Number Nine: OK, this one’s a little easier than the last ‘Name three things’ question. If you were stuck on a deserted island what three things would you take with you?

MM: I would bring: Toilet paper, a mirror and a knife.

DS: That is utilitarian as fuck! (laughter) Number Ten: Least favorite word? 

MM: Least favorite word…fuck…I don’t know man. I’d have to say…I don’t know. I’m not a word person.

DS: Fair enough. Diarrhea is a pretty awful word. Number Eleven: What is your favorite Beastie Boys song?

MM: My favorite Beastie Boys song would have to be “So Whatcha, Whatcha, Whatcha Want”.

DS: And finally, since we’re in an Olympic Year, What is your favorite Olympic sport? Either Summer or Winter.

MM: I’d have to say, you know I love snowboarding, so I’d have to say half pipe even though some of those guys are real douche bags. I still love snowboarding half pipe.

DS: Did you see that they’re adding skateboarding to the Olympics in the future?

MM: Yea. I’m ambivalent about it. I love to watch skateboarding, I have it on my phone. I’ve skated since I screwed fucking trucks into my board using wood screws back in the 70’s. I don’t skate anymore because I blew out my ankles but you know I’m ambivalent about it. It’s becoming more and more mainstream but if it means that I can watch more skateboarding and watch people do amazing shit on skateboards, I’m into it. But the mainstream part of it, I know some people are bummin’ on it.

DS: It does seem like a natural evolution though. 

MM: I can’t believe it, to tell you the truth. It seems like science fiction, the word ‘skateboarding’ and ‘Olympics’ .

DS: Well look, Thanks for taking some time with us today. I’m so glad you guys are back, I know I’ve said it before and I seem like a stupid fan boy. But, I’m sure I’m not speaking for just myself when I say that you guys were missed and that we’re glad you’re back in the saddle.  We’re really looking forward to hearing some new shit in the future!


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