Not Another White Guy Indie Band: an Interview With Andrew Jackson Jihad

A young woman listening to music while lying on her back and surrounded by records
A young woman listening to music while lying on her back and surrounded by records

Sean Bonnette and Mark Glick are breaking every rule of the rude, dismissive musician. Both Arizona natives are obviously so passionate about the music they're making, and it shows. After finishing tours with up and comers like Rozwell Kid and Dogbreath, they have proved themselves to be a perfect mixture of urgent punk music and clever (sometimes even hilariously funny) lyrics.
I sat down and talked to them at Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest about growing up, hangovers and why not to be embarrassed of your old music taste.

Did you know each other in high school?

Sean Glick: Mark and I met each other as adults, early twenties. I was ending college and Mark was in college. I remember cheating in a class together, actually, at Arizona State.

Sounds like a solid start to a band. What were y'all like in high school?

SG: I was definitely a skater, that was really my whole thing. A nerdy one, really. But most of my identity came from the volunteer work that I did.

That's so interesting. Where did you volunteer?

SG: A suicide hotline. I was also just so lucky to have a life outside of high school through this network of people I volunteered with. So I left high school pretty unscathed even though I was a nerdy skater kid who nobody really cared for that much.

Were you making music in high school?

SG: Yeah, totally. Really, really shitty music.

Any girls from making said music?

SG: You know, not really. I met my girlfriend, who I'm not engaged to be married with, in high school from that hotline.

Really? It's hard to believe that people get together in high school and stayed together that long. It's an impressive feat.

Mark, what were you like?

Mark Glick: I was a fat kid with long hair that really liked metal. But I was also in the high school orchestra and AP classes, so I was like... king nerd. But not "king" in a way that people looked up to me.

You really had all the damn odds stacked against you. You sound like the modern equivalent of a kid with transition lenses in high school.

MG: Yeah, pretty much. I didn't get bullied, but it wasn't great.

Were you making music in high school?

MG: I was, to an extent. I was in orchestra and taking private lessons, all set to be a music major. But I wasn't really doing anything original, just learning dead white people music.

What music did you listen to in high school? Is there any crossover between then and now?

MG: Largely a lot of the same stuff that I listen to now. I got it all from watching skate videos, like David Bowie and Slayer. And I've always listened to rap.

Any embarrassing music that you listened to in high school? Anything you deny listening to?

MG: I don't really believe that there's any bad taste or guilty pleasures. But I did listen to Korn and Limp Bizkit, which was, you know-- all the rage. That and Simon and Garfunkel, Pavement.

I like that idea. Makes me feel more at peace with my thirteen year old music taste.

SG: Yeah, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "yeah, I listened to Korn when I was thirteen". Shit, we listened to Korn in the van the other day. It's just what everybody was listening to.

Korn is one of those bands that if anybody puts it on, I immediately shrivel up a little bit inside. Brings back memories of my one sketchy friend that I had in my middle school, upper middle class upbringing.

MG: I love when a song can come on and make you blush. That's such a cool thing to me, when it has a distinct memory attached to it.

What about while you're in Austin? Are you doing anything fun?

SG: All sort of stuff. We hung out at Fun Fun Fun Fest. We went to a music store, Street Legal Guitars. We've been hanging out with our friends who live here, cooking food and hanging out. A lot of bands don't do the whole festival thing when they're here, but we've been out ten hours a day soaking everything in. We haven't really had "Austin time".

Which seems to be, within itself, Austin time.

SB: Yeah, especially with walking around during the Fun Fun Fun Fest Nite shows. We've seen Cheer up Charlie's, the Mohawk and all of the Austin staples.

Who have you seen and liked while you're here?

MG: I saw Bill Callahan play at the New Movement with the stand up comedians The Lucas Brothers opening up for him, and that was amazing. But that was the only side show I've seen. I was outside Cheer Up Charlie's before Peaches was about to go on. I just kind of enjoy walking around.

SB: Kurt Braunohler at The North Door which was amazing. Tig Notaro was supposed to be in that show, but Kurt took the spot so well. Since she canceled, his set went to an hour. The first half of his set was him, Eugene Mirman and Derrick Brown on stage just after they had gotten drunk at dinner continuing their conversation.
I also saw the last song from the Skinny Puppy set, which was all I needed to see.

They stood behind me in Starbucks and the barista told them "y'all look like you're in a band" and they said they were, so she called all of the other employees over to tell them they were famous and take a picture with them.

SG: Too damn good. They probably still had. Syringes sticking out of them. They had these massive green syringes during their set that were very intense.

Are there any lesser known bands that you're listening to?

SG: I've been listening a lot to this guy who is actually from Austin named, Zachariah Holte. He does really cool nightmare music. There's also this really cool rapper named Nikki Minaj that I'm into. I think she has a pretty bright future ahead of her.

Yeah, yeah. I think I've heard one or two of her songs. She's pretty underground right now, only playing house shows and stuff.

SB: She's literally incredible. I am so in awe of her.

People always try to downplay her and I hate it. She has so much damn girl power.

SB: No, no- she is so underrated. She does not get on the radio as much as she should considering that she's one of the most successful rappers of her time.
But I'm scatterbrained, so I can never think of who I'm listening to on the spot.

Mark?

MG: I've been listening to Dog Breath, who I'm always going to name drop in interviews. We toured with them last Summer and they have a new record that is going to come out on Asian Man Records. They're friends from Phoenix and they're coming up. They just finished a tour with Joyce Manor, so I always have to mention them in interviews somewhere. Worth checking out.

Also, kind of a sister band to Dog Breath is Diners. They're amazing, and have a record coming out through Asian Man. They're a power writing duo where one of them is the main songwriter in Dog Breath and one of them is the main songwriter in Diners.

SG: I've been listening to R.Ariel as well. It's this woman named Rachel Crokker. She's super good and really knew at writing music and stuff. Every album she makes is just leaps and leaps forward. It seems like she mostly operates out of intuition, which is bad ass.

I'm going to check her out. What are y'all working on right now?

SB: A new record! We're very excited.

What head space are you in for this album?

SB: Terror.

Terror?

SB: We're taking a different approach to writing, as far as the prep work.

What does the process look like?

SB: I think what we're trying to get to is more urgency. I'd like for us to get it done really fast, but depending on scheduling we might not be able to do that.

Do you want that to reflect in the music? Y'all kind of do have urgent music.

SB: Wow, thank you. That's what we're really going for.

I'm excited to hear the finished product. How far along are y'all in the process?

MG: I'd say most of the songs are written. Except for the ones you kind of hope you write in the last minute in the studio.

With that, how much do you improv in the studio?

MG: I don't know, it really just depends. We've only done one record as a full band, before then it was more me and the bass player kind of assembling the records with the human resources that we could get. Three of these resources becoming our full band. So this time I'm really not sure how we're going to approach it, actually.

Which is somewhat fun, and more than anything, urgent.

MG: I think you should approach records differently every time.

So do you think that records go in chronological order? What about your sequencing, do y'all spend much time on it?

SB: We usually slave over that and argue a while, with the exception of our album Kennedy Tame. That was a record where I knew exactly what order the songs would go in, down to the dumb Kazoo Sonata n the middle. I had that planned out all before hand. It turned out to be the easiest record that we have ever done. I wouldn't mind to do another one exactly like that.

Ha, another easy record?

SB: Exactly, yeah! Just pop another one out. Know what the sequence is going to be ahead of time. I like it because it's short.

So do y'all enjoy writing and making the music more, or do you enjoy being on tour more?

SB: They're both very fulfilling in different ways. Being on tour is like a very intense road trip with friends, like a creative release everyday. Whereas the writing thing is the exact opposite.

Like hitting your head against a wall every single day?

SB: Yes, exactly. Locking yourself in a room with those same people.

And wanting to kill them? It's easy to enjoy the project that you're working on when you're not actually editing it anymore and you can show it to people.

SB: What's that journalism phrase? "It's better than good... it's done"?

Yes exactly. It's the feeling of "I cannot look at this piece anymore, guess I'll send it out"

SB: Someone else had a really great quote about that: "There's no ending to a piece of work, there's only stopping to an interesting point."

I understand that one. There gets to be a point, like with anything especially art, where you can't edit it anymore. There will still be a flaw in it that will seem daunting and obvious to you in the final product, always.

SB: Absolutely.

Last question: what is your go-to hangover cure?

SB: Water. Just water and carne asada fries, which is just french fries covered in carne asada, sour cream, cheese, guacamole. Ibprophen, too.

Have you had kimchi fries from Chi'lantro while you're here in Austin?

MG: I saw that tent and I'm going to hit it up today.

It's truly life changing and worth trying while you're here.