James Euringer – a.k.a. Jimmy Urine – speaks with ReGen‘s Brian McLelland about his latest album, the self-titled Euringer, in which all his production and songwriting skills are cranked up to 11.
An InterView with James Euringer
By Brian H. McLelland (BMcLelland)
By whatever name he feels appropriate for the music, James Euringer is a rather talented individual. When he isn’t blasting faces off as the explosive Jimmy Urine, Euringer remains busy with soundtracks, production, acting in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (for which he had also provided a song on the soundtrack), voicing video game characters, along with an ever diversifying catalog of accomplishments and projects. Most recently, his first self-titled album Euringer features guest appearances by Grimes, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, Chantel Claret of Morningwood, and Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance. Spanning 16 tracks, the album is an avant-garde journey through human life mixed with every style of music from the last 40 years.
I’d InterViewed Euringer before in 2016, when I was a rather green and star struck, but even when I was unsure, he was confident – warm, enthusiastic, and genuine with a lot of curse words and buckets of charm. Euringer’s is a rather intense personality, speaking with a great many run-on sentences as one thought flows to another, often interrupting himself with his own excitement. Unfortunately, text can’t capture the laughter that erupts from James Euringer so frequently that it’d be a labor to imitate here. Euringer was kind enough to take some time to speak with ReGen about his recent move, his new record, and what inspires him.
About this new record, where did this come from? How did you get started on this?
You certainly succeeded in that respect. This speaks to your character and your personality as well, I think, but this album is all over the place. You indulge every sort of sound. I listened to the record and had very clear expectations going in and they were blown away within a couple of tracks.
Euringer: Cool! It worked! I feel very ‘Achievement Unlocked’ by the way people have. I personally was like, ‘Oh cool, I did this thing and I like the way it turned out,’ but it’s cool that people got a lot of the things I was trying to do with this record because that is very ‘Achievement Unlocked.’ People recognize that I’ve done this weird shit as well.
It almost seems like there’s some self-inventory being taken. Is that a theme you intended to explore on the record?
Is this first in a series for you? Did you enjoy it enough to warrant a sequel?
Euringer: I definitely enjoyed it. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, or if I would do a sequel to it. I definitely like the way it came out and I definitely would like to do more stuff. I think a lot of the things I had learned over the last four or five years between – obviously doing Mindless stuff and obviously then doing soundtracks and different kinds of soundtracks and appearances and things – definitely manifested itself into this record. I love doing super arty things; in general, that’s been my whole career anyway because Mindless Self Indulgence is an amazing art project more than it is a band. We’re four people who are ex-art students and we all like to get together and do what we want to do when we want to do it. We don’t really follow the trappings of a band in any way, shape, or form. If we want to do a record, we do a record. If we don’t want to do a record, we wait four or five years. Know what I mean? And if we do a record, sometimes it’s very self-deprecating or even self-aware to a fault, sometimes to a uniqueness. So, I’m not what’s next. (Laughs) So, you’re right, I’m still promoting it. I haven’t really thought much about it.
I mean, there’s not even any dust on the record, yet.
Euringer: I know. (Laughs) It’s still in the wrapping.
On to the record itself, ‘Trigger Warning’ is a very poignant and serious note to start the record off. I say serious, but there were moments where I found myself very amused and laughing. What made you decide to lead with something like that?
It was a very interesting way to start the record by challenging the listener a little bit; pretty brave on your part. ‘Problematic’ stands out on the record and, at the time of this recording, is the most played track off the album. Your thoughts on that?
Absolutely. Nobody grows if they’re never challenged.
Tell me about working with Gerard Way. How did that come about?
Euringer: Well, having all the guests on the record was started by Serj. I was hanging out with Serj and he was asking me what I was doing, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to be doing this solo record,’ and he was like, ‘Dude! I’ve got to be on it. It’ll be really cool. Let me be on it.’ I’d never thought about that. I’ve never done collaborations – like really serious ones, you know what I mean? They always seemed so stressful to me. They always seemed like just, you know you see it in hip-hop all the time, and it seemed like… they know each other? Are they friends? Do they respect each other? I don’t know. It seemed weird people being on people’s records. So, Serj kind of got me thinking, ‘Oh, that’s kind of cool. Maybe yeah, I’ll do that,’ and then I was like, ‘Well, I should ask other people I know’ just because I don’t want to be rude and it’d be cool to have those people. So, I reached out to a couple people that I liked and knew and stuff, and it was a very cordial thing. Everyone was like, ‘Yeah, that’d be great.’ So, (Laughter) that’s kind of how that whole thing started, and then, it was a different process for every single person. Some people, like with Serj, I went over to his home studio and I recorded him using his equipment and it was just stream-of-consciousness and he just yelled a bunch of stuff into a microphone from his poetry books and his notebooks and stuff like that, and then we looped the verse for like an hour, and then we went back and listened to it and were like, ‘Oh, that’s good.’ And then for Gerard, it was at his home studio and set up with his engineer Doug and we just went by and he was busy working on his comic books at the exact same time, so Doug and I would set up a track and then he’d come in, but then go off and like write something, you know? Because that motherfucker works like 24 hours a day and he’s always creating something. And then, he came in and just knocked it out. And then, I think we went and had some lasagna from Lindsey.
And then with Grimes, I sent her a bunch of tracks and it was like, you know, I originally wanted it to be her producing the whole thing with me being just the singer – kind of flip it, because she’s super DIY, right? She does everything on her records, including like doing her videos and all sorts of stuff like that with her brother and I thought that would be really cool if we flipped it, because she’s very proud of that and I think she should be because a lot of times when people see like a Dr. Luke kind of guy, they assume that guy produced it, that a man produced the whole thing and the woman just sang it. So, for her, she doesn’t like to work with producers because she is a fucking producer and I think that’s super fucking rad. So, I was like, ‘Hey, let’s do that. You be the Dr. Luke and I’ll be the Britney Spears’ type of thing, but then we ran out of time. By the time we got on the phone, I was literally almost done mixing the record. So, I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t want to insult you, but would it be insulting if I asked you to just sing on a song?’ She was all, ‘No, it’ll be totally cool.’ So, I sent her a couple tracks and she picked the one that was the most Blade Runner synth sounding, of course, but totally dope and totally up her alley and she put her fucking spin on the melody really well and it was just super cool having her voice in there.
Yeah, it’s a super catchy song, really fantastic, as is sort of everything on the record.
Euringer: That’s my curse, baby! (Laughter)
Blessing or a curse, either way.
Euringer: I’m one melodic motherfucker.
That’s for damn sure. Even when you are doing something very strange, which isn’t out of character for you by any means, but ‘Wuthering Heights’ is a very brave, very strange song and even when you go way off the beaten path’ you’re doing it very well and you’re very dedicated to it.
Euringer: It’s an interesting cover, because mostly when I cover songs, I cover songs just to make them sound cooler. Because for some reason, I put them through a distortion pedal or I speed them up. Because I’m like, ‘That song would be really cool if it was twice the speed. I’m going to fucking do it.’ I might not even love the band; I mean, I like Rush, but I don’t love Rush. I’m not a huge Rush fan, but ‘Tom Sawyer’ at that speed sounded fucking dynamite, so I’m like, ‘I’m going to fucking do it’ because to me, a cover has to be interesting. It’s not just, ‘Do I like the artist?’ It’s ‘Does that work?’ The Depeche Mode cover we did on Pink was the same thing. I love Depeche Mode, but I don’t like that song. I like ‘Strangelove’ and most of the stuff off some of the records, but I’m really, like, whatever about ‘Personal Jesus,’ but my version of it was fuckin’ bangin’ and I’m like, ‘Shit, that sounds cool, I’m going to do it.’ Very different with Kate Bush; I am a huge, huge Kate Bush fan. Absolutely love her, and in the sort of formula of things that make up Mindless Self Indulgence, like the hip-hop parts are inspired by like Wu-Tang Clan and Public Enemy and so on and so forth, all the pretty parts, all the falsetto you’ve ever heard me do over my entire career is completely inspired by my love of Kate Bush. So, I was like, well if I’m going to do a Kate Bush song, and people cover Kate Bush quite a lot and usually they cover like, ‘This Woman’s Work’ or you know… some of the more obvious ones like ‘Running Up That Hill’ and that kind of stuff. And nobody touches ‘Wuthering Heights,’ and I’m like ‘fuck it.’ I’m going to do ‘Wuthering Heights’ and I’m going to do the motherfucker all in falsetto because I can do falsetto; let’s just go for it. You know what I mean? And then on top of that, I’ll do it over the top of electronics, there’ll be no drums as if fucking Vangelis did the music, you know? (Laughter) And then I sang super fucking falsetto over it because I’m known for doing falsetto, so let’s fucking do it, you know? And it fucking worked! I was like, ‘This is dope.’
It’s very impressive. Changing gears, this feels a like an evolution for you, a little bit. You released Cinematic Sounds… as Jimmy Urine and this is Euringer, perhaps a bit of maturity on your part. Do you think that’s accurate? What are your thoughts?
What was your favorite part of making this record? Can you boil it down to one thing or one song that just stands out for you?
Euringer: Well, I can in a weird way, but it’s very true. I made this record to be one song because in a world of streaming and a la carte, which I totally understand, you really can’t get that kind of ‘O.K. Computer‘ where here’s my entire record, you put on headphones and listen to this whole thing, and it kind of is this trip. You really can’t do that because someone’s going to go, ‘Oh, I really like Gerard, I’m going to get the Gerard song,’ or ‘Oh, I like the one single, I’m going to put that on my mix with 16 other things’ that have nothing to do with my record and the flow. So, my thing was to put this together, orchestrate this from the beginning, from two-and-a-half years ago, so that it all flows together as one singular song and one singular idea. So, if you want to a la carte it, that’s totally fine. I’m not an idiot – that’s the modern era. But if you want to buy the whole record, you get this special thing; you’re going to get this sort of one song that is ‘Euringer,’ and you know it even starts and ends the same, so the whole record loops in on itself as one big loop. And so, that to me is what I like best about this record that it is one large song and I planned that from two-and-a-half years and it worked and I kept to my guns through the entire process and didn’t let it kind of throw me and stuck to the script. At the end of the day, I was like, ‘Holy shit, I pulled it off.’ Like, it sounds like one long, fuckin’ weird, avant-garde piece of music. So that’s my favorite bit about it.
Okay, so your favorite song is the whole record?
Okay, well, all right. Seems like cheating.
Euringer: Because it is one long, continuous flow.
It certainly is. That’s the way I experienced it, from start-to-finish. Even with playing the album on random, it definitely has a vibe from one song to another that’s really technically proficient, and maybe I’m jumping on the bandwagon with everyone else, but was a little surprising to hear.
Euringer: It definitely has been interesting, people’s reactions. They get it, but they are… a lot of people are like slightly surprised. ‘Why do I like this so much?’ But in a weirder way, that’s kind of it how it was with Mindless. Mindless was sort of a guilty pleasure and they were like, ‘Why do I like this?’ and mad at themselves for liking it. This one is more they’re like, ‘Hey… this thing is kind of slowly infecting me and I don’t understand this. Guess I’ll just go with it.’
Are there other plans for a solo tour?
Euringer: No, there are no plans for a solo tour. I’m just promoting it normal ways. Like right now, I’m living and working in New Zealand, in Wellington. I moved to New Zealand, I loved it so fucking much. So, I’m going to try and hang out here and do a lot of projects down here that are like working with local artists and working with, you know, doing stuff here with the inspiration of New Zealand in my work and all this kind of stuff. My next projects are definitely going to be sort of New Zealand related in some way or form, and it’s fuckin’ great, man. Like, it’s fucking awesome down here, so I’m like, ‘Fuck, I’m staying.’ Like, what do I need to go home for? The whole fuckin’ place is going to burn down in a second and the whole fucking country is going to go crazy.
Going back to the album for a moment, can you talk a little bit about ‘Two and a Half Years?’ It’s rather personal, it seems.
Sure. It’s a very moving track. It catches the listener off guard; especially if you’re having that start-to-finish experience with the album. There are moments, such as in ‘Internal Organs’ and most notably on ‘Two and a Half Years’ that are touching and elicit a lot of sympathy.
Euringer: And it should; it should be like a movie. It was planned almost like a movie. It was more like following a script than it was like writing a record. With a record, it’s based on songs, but with this, all these songs were thought of as ideas ahead of time. Just the ideas. Like, I’m going to start with a trigger warning, I’m going to end with some kind, you know, weird movie dialogue kind of critique, I’m going to put this stuff in the middle, I’m going to have a song that’s kind of bombastic here or a song about being problematic over here. So it was all written out as a script two-and-a-half years ago, and then I had to stick to that script and be like, ‘Okay, I have to fill in this song and this song has to be minimal and I’m going to make this one bombastic or I’m going to make this one synthy or I’m going to make this one that,’ And then, you know, even the covers are thrown in around that as well. I was like, ‘I should totally do ‘Wuthering Heights,’ it’s so fucking bizarre.’ You know? So, it doesn’t really take you too far out of it when you come across the covers.
What comes next? What else are you working on?
Euringer: I’m working on an animated gangster… uh, English gangster soundtrack record thing with Serj called Fucktronic, so that’s being kind of worked on right now, and again, it’s with animation, so it takes a long time. I’m doing a couple other small things that I can’t talk about just because it’s annoying when you do stuff that’s Hollywood-related or people-related; it’s always like they’re not going to announce for a while. And then really, just working and living in New Zealand and the next thing that I do will definitely be done down here and done in the studios down here and done with people down here.
How was working with your wife on ‘Fuck Everything’?
Euringer: Oh, it was great. First off, I love working with her. We work together all the time.
I’d hope so.
Sounds like I should be InterViewing her; is what you’re telling me?
Euringer: (Laughter) Yeah, I know, right?