From the moment they started 15 years ago, Mean Jeans have been creating their own slime punk fantasy world. Study their six previous album covers and you’ll find junkyards full of bongs and yo-yos, macaroni galaxies, Jägermeister spaceships, alien saxophonists and pink slugs in bondage dripping ooze. On their newest full-length album Blasted, the goofball trio have clearly been through wild years and seen some shit—on the cover, the three members peer out of toxic waste bins, no longer cartoons of themselves but instead incredulous country-fried maniacs who are still following a slime punk dream, and dealing with where it’s led them.
Which isn’t to say the Jeans are jaded. In fact, the band—Billy Jeans, Houndy and Junior Jeans—seem to be having as much fun as ever on this record, ripping through these 15 rapid fire ear worms without coming up for air. They seem equally focused on tight catchy songwriting and packing in Easter eggs and absurd lyrical references, including (but certainly not limited to) Tim Armstrong’s X-Filescameo, Mike Schank’s PCP overdose story in American Movie, multiple songs with lyrics about their space-obsessed kindred pop-punker Tom DeLonge, a chorus borrowed from Seal, and a not-very-legal piano collage of well-known pop-punk melodies.
Anyway, this record is a frantic and frenetic joyride, though probably one made in Rick from Rick And Morty’s Space Cruiser and through time and space, rather than any form of road-based vehicle here on Earth. But that energy was probably enhanced by the fact the band recorded Blasted all by themselves here on this planet. Well, at The Trash Treasury in Portland, OR, at any rate—the city where the band first got together and which is one of the least Earth-like cities on, well, Earth. At their own behest, the trio were left entirely to their own devices, putting themselves through their own physical paces by trying to be in two places—the control room and the recording room—at once. One of Rick’s portal guns might have helped make it easier, but who needs a producer or engineer? It’s just another cook waiting to spoil that delicious, fluorescent green, slime punk broth.
“Studio time is just more fun when no one’s in charge,” says Billy Jeans. “To some extent, I know what I'm doing, and to some extent the other dudes know what they're doing, but none of us are pro at all. Like, Junior would have to run over to the control room, hit the record button and then run back, all while holding the bass, and then we’d play. It's idiotic, but when it's just the three of us fucking around, the vibe is there.”
You can hear that all throughout Blasted. It’s a weird, wonderful and wacky album, but also not without its occasional serious moments. Mean Jeans are—still, after all these years—a band that love to party, and that’s what they continue to do on these songs. Every once in a while, though, you might catch a little regret about doing so, if not a full-on hangover. Opener “I Don’t Give A Shit Anymore” might sound like a statement of nihilistic intent, but it’s more what Billy calls an “underthinkers anthem”, a direct response to him overthinking everything all the time, while “Look What Punk’s Done To You”, “Took Too Much” and “I Don’t Know What I Did Last Summer” all address the comedown of life lived in the fast lane. But then there’s also “Something’s Going On”, which is the best (and possibly only) song that’s ever been written about the cult 1986 comedy horror b-movie Class Of Nuke ’Em High.
At the same time, the album also serves as a kind of meditation on pop-punk, about what it means to be a punk band as opposed to a band playing music in the style of punk. Can you be both? Does it even matter? Maybe. Maybe not. What matters is that, with Blasted, Mean Jeans have made a record that defines what they are and what they’re not at the same time. Most importantly, it was fun for them to make, and it’s an absolute joy to listen to. For Billy, that’s always the aim.
“We’re a band in it for the good times,” he says. I’ve always thought if we’re not having fun, then it isn’t Mean Jeans. Which isn’t a recipe for success in the music biz, but I could bitch about that all day if you want. What’s the difference between being a bitch and being punk?” He doesn’t answer his own question, but it might be found somewhere in these songs.
Blasted track list:
- I Don't Give a Shit Anymore
- Let's Go
- Lost My Mind
- Blasted to the Moon
- Something's Going On
- Taco Bell Parking Lot
- Look What Punk's Done to You
- Break up With You
- Took Too Much
- I Don't Know What I Did Last Summer
- Living Large on a Credit Card
- Pop Punk Casualty