Interview with Matt Hoffman (Shooting Blanks) January 2009

It's not often I get to write these days, as pointed out by a certain Mister Gaz E. this very day (you swine hehe!), but hey, it's interviews like this that make me want to write all the more. Shooting Blanks aren't going to be to everyone's cup of tea, but I seriously recommend you read this interview, just for the laughs!!!!

Q1. You've been asked in nearly every interview how you came up with the name 'Shooting Blanks'. You stated there's no real story behind it but that it seemed to 'capture the essence' of the band. I'm honestly placing bets this is a story of four guys who met at a fertility clinic, to be told they're all 'shooting blanks' so you thought 'what the hell, let's form a band'! See, I've just given you the 'funny anecdote' you never came up with J Seriously though, there must have been a reason 'why' Brey choose the name and the rest of you agreed to go with the flow, so to speak?

The seedy tale of "Shooting Blanks" that you described above is mostly true. The more detailed version of it is that there actually was (for a very brief moment in time) a different original band name. I don't even think we got to the point of playing a show with it. That band name will forever remain locked in the Shooting Blanks archives because the only reason we didn't stick with it was that we came to find out later on that it was a secret code for a derogatory racial unification term. We just thought it sounded funny, but never heard of that phrase before. Oh well. I still think it's funny-sounding. But just not appropriate, I suppose, if you're hip to the lingo used in rallying hate-groups together.

Anyway, after that we needed a more appropriate name because we had a show coming up and also because we're great role-models for children. So Brey just said "Shooting Blanks sounds good, right?", and I said "Yeah, I don't care", and then a legend was born.

Q2. Further to this, how on earth did you and Deech come up with the name for your high school/college band 'Diaper Fetish'?

Diaper Fetish originally was a two-piece band for a long time. We did it way before bands like The White Stripes and Local H made it "cool". We did it when it was still sucky and weird. I think we were way ahead of our time, but that's another story. Anyway, Deech wasn't one of the original two when Diaper Fetish was created. I came up with that one from watching an episode of The Jerry Springer Show that featured dudes who liked to dress up in diapers and other baby-apparel. It was inspiring. And the name Diaper Fetish just rolls off your tongue. As an aside, the band's logo was an ass that was on fire, and that is also really super awesome. My Diaper Fetish t-shirt with the flaming ass logo is still probably the coolest band t-shirt I own. But I digress.

Q3. I believe you're going to be playing at the International Pop Overthrow this spring; plus, maybe the odd show here and there. How much are you looking forward to getting back on stage, and why should people come see you?

We are all very much excited to be getting back together again. It's like a drunkenly awesome fucked-up family reunion. We will definitely be playing a pre-show at a location we have already picked out, but have not announced publicly yet. There are a million reasons that people should come out and see us. And there are a million and one reasons if you still have your anal virginity. We are the greatest live act on the planet. Yeah, I said it. Right there in print. Better than Kiss, better than the Stones, better than GWAR.

Well, on-par with GWAR…But definitely come to our show. Shooting Blanks has always taken pride in the fact that you don't need to like our music to have a great time watching us live on stage. That's the truth. I have plenty of people who think that we suck that still show up to see us, which proves our point.

Q4. What was it like to share the stage with Vanilla Ice?

It was like being a little boy on Christmas morning…

…except without the joy, wonderment, or presents. But I think it was snowing. So in that respect, my analogy totally works.

Q5. What has been your best and worst experience on stage (or if you prefer, best and worst experience on the road)?

Every experience on the road is great. I think everyone in the band would agree with me on that. Nothing beats touring. Nothing. Unless you're counting watching elderly people fall. Then one thing beats touring.

So, I'll defer to 'best experience on stage'. I'm sure each of the guys has their own opinions. For me, a highlight was having Scott Lucas of Local H come up on stage with us and sing during a show we played with them. We're all big fans of the band, so that was very cool.

My worst stage experience is any time I have to play a show when I'm sick. That sucks pretty much all the time. Those herpes outbreaks will come when you least expect them.

Q6. What made you different to all the other punk rock bands on the scene? Why should people empty their pockets to spend their hard earned cash on 'You're Not Gonna Want To Hear This'?

Undoubtedly it's the ability to not get bored with our sound. I think when you take your average punk album (and this goes double for any 'local band' punk album), the songs all start to blend together. We like to think that our songwriting has enough dynamics, variation, and stuck-in-your-head hooks that you actually can distinguish one song from the next. On a related note, there's something for everyone in our music. We have "rock" songs, "punk" songs, "pop" songs, terrible "ballad"-type things. Whatever you're in to, Shooting Blanks has it. And if you want some other type of stuff, we'll write that too. Because that's the swell kind of guys we are. Amazingly, with all that variety we managed to cram it into an album that has a great workable cohesion. Some would suggest that Shooting Blanks are the most amazing and prolific songwriters of their generation. And by "some" I mean Brey and our parents.

Q7. You described yourself as 'Drunk Punk', explain!

We drink too much and are not attractive enough to be "Pop Punk".

Q8. You're playing a gig late evening… how difficult was it not to get wrecked beforehand or did you simply not care and got wasted anyhow?

Option "B", for sure.

Q9. You seem to have a problem with the male sex wearing make-up; to quote "the days of the rock-star have come and gone, and we have been left with the tattered remains of mascara-wearing, Hot-Topic-clad image-whores", yet some of your favourite bands growing up were 'Poison, Motley Crue, Kajagoogoo', what's the deal? Do you not believe people should be able to express themselves and display individualism?

In the glam-rock days dudes dressed like chicks, but then they acted like dudes, so you could easily look past it. They'd bang every broad that crossed their path. They'd use drugs and booze in excess. They'd have total reckless abandon. The makeup was a funny costume, but not a way of life. When they were having fun they could actually laugh and smile vomit and act like it - they didn't have to pout and mope around and cut themselves and clean their vaginas.

Nowadays dudes dress like chicks, but they ACT like chicks too. What the fuck is with vegans? Eat a steak, pussy! And "straight-edge"? I want to swallow that big black "X" of theirs with a fifth of Southern Comfort and then puke it down their sissy throats.

So yeah - that's my two-cents. Makeup is for girls, unless you're fucking shit up while you wear it.

Q10. You play guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and in your school days trombone… how many instruments do you own, what is your favourite and if you had the opportunity to own/learn to play another instrument, what would it be and why?

By far, drums are my favourite instrument to play. I played them in a band before, and it's still the instrument I play most often. As far as the instruments I own, just a shitload of guitars, a bass, a keyboard, a drum set, and a skin-flute (which I have mastered). Brey sadly pawned off my trombone for like $15 a while back.

Q11. Did you ever get the opportunity to play outside the US?

No, but I'd have loved to. I think people would be way more receptive to us over there. Especially in Japan. Mostly because our unusually small genitals would be so large and intimidating to the Asian community. They would cower in fear of our awesomeness and then buy lots of albums.

Q12. If you were asked to name one unique thing about Shooting Blanks that would surprise your fans, what would it be?

Our pre-show ritual is to massage Scotty's bare chest with peanut butter. I guess that's "unique", but not "surprising". Yeah, nothing would really surprise a Shooting Blanks fan, I don't think.

Q13. You officially released a new 'Shooting Blanks' website on the 24th November 2006, then decided to call it quits on the 15th December 2006, which sounds a little bizarre. Had the band already discussed the possibility of calling it a day before the release of the website? What were the reasoning's behind the 'amicable split'?

Your knowledge of the Shooting Blanks timeline fascinates me. You should definitely write a biography on us.

We had not discussed calling it quits, no. I am not at liberty to discuss the specifics of the breakup. Not until the book, at least. Get going on that!

Q14. What made you decide to cover and shoot a video of Motley Crue's 'Home Sweet Home'?

We'd always mess around with cover songs. On our last three albums, each one has had a cover song (done up "Shooting Blanks style") as a hidden track. Our first one we recorded for our Wasted Time album was "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison. We chose "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crüe just in keeping with the "rock ballad that we can jazz up" theme. I think it worked well. It also has seven layered guitar solos, which is excessive and badass.

Brey puts together all our videos, and he had a bunch of footage from our East Coast tour one year. He had some free time (as members of Shooting Blanks so often do), so he decided to just take a bunch of the footage and make a montage. "Home Sweet Home" seemed to fit well for the theme of being out on the road, so that's what he put as the backdrop of the montage.

Another quality Shooting Blanks™ product!

Q15. If you were just starting out in the music industry, is there anything you would do differently?

I'd start younger, that's for sure. I think if you don't start your band by early/mid high school (in this rock/punk scene, at least), you're already at a huge disadvantage. Other than that, we followed the "formula" pretty well. We wrote a steady stream of recorded songs (all chart-topping #1 hits). We toured. We booked shows like crazy. It's just so hard in the age of the digital download to make a name for yourself. It's an industry of 99¢ singles. People don't care about a "great album" as much as they used to. So by the same token it's hard to both establish yourself as a band, as well as maintain yourself as a band (if you're lucky enough to get through the "establishing" phase). The music industry really is a clusterfuck nowadays.

Q16. What should everyone shut up about?

This is the greatest question I've ever been asked in an interview. So great, in fact, that I can't answer it without wasting my entire day rattling things off. I'll generalize my response by saying that people should shut up about anything they consider a "serious issue". The amount of people that don't give a fuck about your "cause" undoubtedly outweighs the people that do. That is a fact. So don't throw stupid shit into the public's face and expect them to react. And when people like me laugh and make fun of you and your [politics,religion,race,handicap,sexual preference,etc], don't be surprised.

Q17. How irritating has it been to be asked the same questions time and time again?

I don't mind much. The most annoying thing is the paparazzi outside my window all the time.

Q18. If you had to liken 'Shooting Blanks' to an item of food or piece of fruit, what would it be and why?

A freshly glazed doughnut with shit filling. Like, human shit. Feces.

It looks good on the outside, but it's not until you bite into it that you realize what you've done. And now you're stuck. There's no getting rid of that taste in your mouth.

Lured in by its awesomeness, and forever tainted by its bite. Your life will never be the same, and you'll want to tell everyone about it. That's Shooting Blanks, in a nutshell.

Q19. You noted in a previous interview that you're 'shameless promotional whores', in hindsight… any last thoughts/words of wisdom?

My wisdom is that every band should be shameless promotional whores. I don't know that there's a show we wouldn't play. If we could get our music or our faces out there, we'd do it. We played this children's television show one time. It was so fucked-up, like an acid trip or something. We were lip-synching to our own music with fake instruments (real drums, though, if I remember correctly) while a ton of little kids danced around us. There was also a few random homeless guys dancing around too (I presume they were hanging around the television studio and were there for the free taping to get out of the cold).

Like two years later I was at a bar, and some guy came up and asked me if I was in a band that was on some kid's TV show. Unbelievable.

Anyway, yeah - do stuff like that. If someone says, "will you do _____?", do it. You never know - great things could come from it. Or you could get an STD.

Interviewed by Spice D. Warlock

Visit the Shooting Blanks Website