The Mayhem Files 2014 – Vol. I: J Mann From Mushroomhead

ME AND J MANNWelcome to the first of three short, but cool interviews A&GS conducted behind the scenes at this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. It’s always a great time when we get to talk with our favorite rockers, especially after they’ve just finished their set and they’re pretty amped up. So I thought we’d kick things off with my sit-down with none other than J Mann of MUSHROOMHEAD!! Take a look:

Amps: The Righteous & the Butterfly has been out a little while now. How have the crowds been up to this point?

J Mann: The crowds have been phenomenal! They’re really responding well to the new songs. Even though we’ve got a short set on Mayhem we’re still throwing two new songs in and the crowds seem to like that. The album performed really well in the charts; it’s our highest-charting record so we’re really pleased with the reaction to it.

Amps: Your set was outstanding today! With all the visual involved in your show, being out there in daytime didn’t hurt you guys a bit, and that crowd today was nuts!

J Mann: Playing an outdoor festival during the day is a fun challenge for us because we’re so used to playing under lights, inside, at night. So it was a challenge but it also created opportunities to do fun things, like inflatable dolls and turn it into a party, you know? Just make the most out of it.

Amps: Nice job on the “Empty Spaces” from PINK FLOYD, too. I almost choked on my water (laughing).


J Mann: (Also laughing) Yeah man, we love PINK FLOYD, and The Wall was definitely a big influence on the band as far as conceptualizing music.

Amps: What’s the overall vibe in the band now that we have three guys up front combined with a killer wall of sound?

J Mann: Morale has been great. I think some changes had to be made and that made it easier and more enticing for me to come back. We cut out some negative things that were standing in the way of the band’s progress. Working with two other singers has been great. Obviously I’ve been working with Jeff for twelve years prior to coming back to the band so he and I had an established relationship. We’re actually closer than ever right now to be honest. Waylon and I, I’ve known him since he’s joined the band and he’s been fun to work with too. It’s been a real collaboration. Everyone has probably written a lyric for someone else in the band, you know?  And we were worried about it, like how are we gonna squeeze three guys in? We didn’t want it to seem forced. Everyone has their own strengths and we’re aware of those strengths so we’re suggesting to each other where maybe the other should go, and it’s not an argument. We just know. Like, “you’d be great here” or “You should try this here”, so it works.

Amps: Dumb question but who was the young lady who sang with you today on “We Are the Truth”?

JACKIE LAPONZA 2J Mann: That was Jackie Laponza. She’s in a band from Cleveland called UNSAID FATE and she’s also Skinny’s fiancée.

Amps: She’s also AWESOME!! She really added something to that song.

J Mann: Yeah, she is. They’ve been together a long time. We’ve known her for so long and traveled with her a lot recently. This year she did Soundwave with us and Russia with us. She hasn’t been on the whole tour, maybe about ten of the shows.

Amps: Twenty years, man. Twenty years of MUSHROOMHEAD. What can you guys possibly do next?

J Mann: Hopefully at least another decade if not more. I think the band’s got more momentum now than it ever has. I think we put out a strong album we’re proud of and we’re really looking forward to doing another record together. Obviously we’re gonna continue touring this one for quite some time. It’s not stopping anytime soon.

Amps: So this means you’ll come back to see us in Dallas on your own?

J Mann: Yeah, man I love Dallas! We play at Trees a lot and I love that club! Place is always packed, it’s a great response, so we’ll be back for sure.

Amps: What do you want to say to all the crazy MUSHROOMHEADS out there?

J Mann: Thanks for your support, thanks for checking out the new record, thanks for welcoming me back. It’s great to be back and I want to also say that Mayhem’s been fantastic and I want to thank all the bands we played with out here. Everyone was supercool and got along great. The festival founder John Reese did an amazing job, the stage managers and crew, everybody involved has been awesome. It’s been one hell of a summer and one I won’t forget!

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In an earlier interview with Skinny he said that MUSHROOMHEAD was gonna come out in the Dallas heat in full masks and regalia. He also said they were gonna come out swingin’ and not let up for a second. He was right on both counts. MUSHROOMHEAD was one of THE best parts of Mayhem Fest, and having J Mann back makes this band even more kickass!!


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