In music, achieving simplicity is harder than it seems. It’s a concentrated effort to fine-tune the craft. When there are six people vying to be simple, it becomes even more complex.
One ingredient that makes this easier for a band is chemistry. Different personalities trying to mix can be challenging. Madjul bands together for a pleasing result, creating a sound that is consistently
fresh, energetic and visionary.
The band avoids overreaching by staying within the confines of the songs they write with crunchy riffs and the ear-piercing, melodic vocals of John Chlup. They put great effort into showcasing their
deepest feelings within their dark, heavy music. They prefer giving in to feel, over the need to show off the latest guitar trick or drum timing. They create a sound that jumps out and pulls the audience
into their live jams.
The sound is a product of contemporary undergrounders like Quicksand. Their ability for making bar chords emotionally complex parallels Black Sabbath. Madjul digs way down within their expression and
has a unique ability to put their listener on their page. Their music is refreshingly innovative and, while not corporate, it’s very catchy.
The selfless, passionate guitars of Greg Antine and Bob Scatigna match up favorably with the best two-guitar tandems of the past. The riffs they create are sensible, from their melodic and harmonic qualities
right down to their tone. The signature phrasing of Jesse Gerard’s bass rests well as Madjul’s foundation. Mike Antine's drumming is tight, heavy and grooving and his percussion partner, Ryan Herbison,
lays back to fulfill the needs of the song and comes forward with some jamming drum bridges.
The band members are humorous and sincere in their message. During this interview at the Hot Dog House, Asbury Park's slightly unknown but legendary factory for heavy music, they struggled to stay in
their seats while expressing love for their music, respect for each other and affection for the fads of the 80’s.
How did you guys form?
Jesse: I saw Greg in a bar when I couldn’t play the bass. And, um … Greg said 'I want to join a new band' and I said, ‘ok, let’s have a band.’ (Laughter) And there was a new band.
Greg: It was conceived from the bar.
Greg: It just popped out of all of us at the same time.
Jesse: In Manasquan. And, ah …then Mike wasn’t gonna join the new band. But once Mike saw me he was, like, ‘oh, I gotta join the new band, if Jesse’s in it.’ And we just started playing together and
it wasn’t serious at all. And it just manifested into [something] serious, I don’t know how.
What kind of music were you listening to?
Jesse: At the time, a lot of, like, Quicksand, Helmet, Handsome.
What year was this?
Greg: This was about four years ago.
Jesse: ’97, ’98.
Greg: It will be four in March.
Jesse: It was ’97 because I was 21.
So do you still listen to a lot of the same bands?
Greg: Same bands.
Jesse: Same CD’s really.
All you guys have the same influences?
John: Our influences are like the ghosts of bands that aren’t together anymore. All my favorite bands, besides, like … I really like Catherine Wheel, but, like, they’re all broken up.
Bob: There’s common ties with the band with all of us, but everyone’s got their own little thing.
John: Yeah. We all love Quicksand, we all love Handsome. Me and Bob love Swervedriver. We all love Failure. That, I don’t know, whatever you want to call it. That indy, emo, whatever you want to call
it. You know, that kind of stuff. When it came out.
Mike: We’re like Indian Jonsin’.
John: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Greg: Indiana Jones.
Mike: Jonsin’. It’s not all the same stuff.
Jesse: We all have our peak of different interests.
Bob: Quicksand, Failure.
John: Anything that pours from the heart, you know.
Greg: Melvins. I mean, you name where we came from. It’s never ending.
Jesse: Michael Jackson.
John: Lisa, Lisa and the Cult jam. Ever hear of Lisa, Lisa and Cult Jam?
Mike: Bel Biv Devoe?
What about Warrant and Poison and those guys?
Jesse: We’ve got an autographed Warrant poster. Where is it?
Is it here?
Mike: It’s underneath there somewhere.
Jesse: It’s away, man.
Mike: We got that given to us from a friend of ours …
The place would burn down and the only thing left would be that Warrant poster?
Mike: It probably would be.
When you play your songs, your CD’s and stuff, do you hear your musical influences in it?
Greg: Ah, sometimes, yeah. Do you mean, like, in the creative process?
Just hearing it back. Like when you’re playing together and stuff like that?
John: There’s a definite influence from the bands we listen to. Without ripping them off. Definitely. It’s always funny because whenever a new album comes out that really like ... Like, whatever it is,
and we all agree on it and we’re writing a song. It will always shine through, you know. I mean nobody else would see the similarities, but we do.
Greg: We’re kind of like Voltron, you know, we all come together as one.
Bob: …cat powers, ah, Thundercats, Josie and the Pussy Cats. You name it, that’s what it is.
John: We form our own blazing sword though. (Laughter)
Mike: This is how we write songs, when everyone talks at the same time.
Bob: I want to emphasize one thing about influences, though. As far as influences, we always try to capture the real thing that comes out of us as we feel it. And that is always the background, how learn
how to feel things. But when we write, we feel it, you know what I mean? They taught us how to feel things, that’s all.
Mike: Yeah, we feel everything, man.
Is it more spontaneous, the way you write?
Jesse: Yes, it’s very. Always spontaneous.
Greg: Emotional spontaneity.
Is it more like, you’ll be on guitar and a riff will come out of you and …
Greg, Mike, John (Together): Yes!
John: It all falls together.
Mike: I mean, we wrote “A Night of Fun and Itching” in, what, 15 minutes. Like, we just put it together. And then other days we’ll write a song and it will take us three days to write one.
But it does [come] together. Like, Greg will have riff or he’ll do something or have an idea and it’s, like, ‘alright.’
Greg: It’s like we all just follow each other, we don’t just …We all bond.
Bob: If something clicks with us, we just jump on it.
Do you guys fuss a lot about what you wrote? Like, say, you know, ‘that wasn’t so good?'
John: We experiment with everything. There’s no egos in the band.
Bob: We never take it away from practice. When we leave each other, there’s hugs and there’s handshakes. There’s never …To be honest with you, the formula comes from …
Greg is a mastermind, and I’ll fuckin’ be totally honest and everything he fuckin’ plays is amazing. And the reason I’m in the band is him and the reason that they wanted me is because he appreciated
my work. And when I hear him play, I can totally put almost anything in the universe to it and feel like I didn’t make, like, something plastic, that I really felt it. Because he makes me feel things.
And the rest of the band ... the drums kick, the congas kick, the bass is kickin’, the vocals are just like …
John: Bob use to be in Stem, by the way.
Greg: Like our stars pretty much match up in the horoscope.
Bob: Yeah. Basically, our Zodiac signs work together.
Do you two guys have like a certain way you work out the guitars? Like one guy’s heavy and one guy goes soft?
Bob: We emphasize. If he’s doing something heavy and I emphasize, like, creamy and if I’m doing something heavy, he emphasizes something …
Ryan: Um, a lot of it is also just trust. That we kind of trust each other’s abilities. We definitely trust each other’s abilities. I mean, usually, I mean, it’s tough to tell at practice. I mean, usually
after recording it, we figure out, you know, what exactly sounds right and what doesn’t. But it really is trust, you know.
Bob: It’s ... it’s not even trust we already know. It’s more than faith. We’re positive about it. We know that. It's not even trust. We know that it will be ok.
Greg: We feel and hear the same things and just know it’s gonna work.
Mike: It’s like being in a barbecue, all the time.
John: It’s never in a classroom with us. It’s never formulated. It’s always like being in a barbeque.
Mike: Yeah, nice.
Bob: Everybody wants a hotdog.
Mike: Everybody wants a hotdog, a hamburger sometimes. Sometimes he’s cooking, sometimes she’s cooking. It depends on who’s cooking that day, but it works. It’s nice.
Jesse: There’s no formula, there’s no chalkboard. I mean, it’s horseshoes.
Bob: You know, lawn darts. Yeah.
Mike: I think we play big time on feel. Big time.
Is that the first thing you concentrate [on]? Not even the melody, just go right for the feel?
Mike: No, we concentrate on … We’ll come up with a riff. Someone will come up with a riff and then we’ll try to, like … Everyone will have their ideas and we’ll all throw them together. What doesn’t
work we throw away. And that stuff kind of brings stuff out. If that sounds cool, we add passion to it. You know, [the] riff.
Bob: We also have, maybe, ten or twenty songs that we put on the backburner that we never get to, because we’re trying to perfect the ones we already wrote and it's, like …They’re already …We’re one
step ahead of it as far as being in a band. We know it's gonna be a beautiful song once it's done.
John: I just wanna stress, too ... I mean, I really believe that the fact that we all bust our ass every day. We’re all blue-collar workers, you know, and this is a release for us. Like, we all love
this to death. We’d rather be doing this full-time. And I think that plays a major key in, like, you know, how we come up here ...
John: …and we write what we write, because we love it so much.
Bob: Ditto, kiddo.
John: We all share it. And I think that really shines through in the end.
Greg: It’s like we all never really learned to read or write music, but we felt it. We feel it.
Bob: Basically, we won the lottery with this band right here, as far as [how] I feel about everybody in the band. I think everybody feels the same way, that we won the lottery.
John: It’s definitely a brotherhood.
Bob: We’re lucky.
Greg: It’s chemistry gone right.
Jesse Gerard / Bass
Bob Scatigna / Guitar
Greg Antine / Guitar
Mike Antine / Drums
John Chlup / Vocals
Ryan Herbison / Percussion