It’s one year ago. You’re Tony Lovato. You front the Maverick punk band Mest. Your girlfriend just broke up with you. You think:
“I’m out on tour, I’m in a band and I’m single. This is every kid’s dream.”
That simple formula fuels the new Mest single “Cadillac,” a summertime blast of snarling guitars, DJ scratch work, and a chorus that celebrates Lovato’s simple desire to drive “with my top down/seat back/rolling in my Cadillac.”
It comes from Mest’s sophomore Maverick album, DESTINATION UNKNOWN, that sets a new standard for skater punk ethic by opening the door for any style imaginable including reggae, turntable hip-hop, garage rock, power pop, doo-wop, and making them all bow to one essential factor:
“I’m just a melody freak,” Lovato explains. “Unless there’s a major melody catch to the song, I don’t continue writing it.”
Produced by Goldfinger lead singer John Feldmann, DESTINATION UNKNOWN includes cameos from Young MC, horns courtesy of Gabe McNare of No Doubt and Save Ferris singer Monique Powell.
But the real stars are the four slackers from Chicago’s South Side – including drummer Nick Gigler, bassist Matt Lovato and guitarist Jeremiah Rangel- who value songcraft above loud/fast rhythm workouts.
The evidence are the 15 songs on DESTINATION UNKNOWN, documenting the band’s roller coaster year which included dropping in and out of relationships, playing shows all around the country and yes, trashing a hotel room or two in the process.
If there’s a pureness to Mest, it’s no accident. “Every song on the record is a true story,” Tony says. The band was born on one block in working class Blue Island, the Liverpool to Chicago’s South Side. Cousins Tony and Matt live across the street from each other (still) and began playing together at age seven. Tony’s dad played in hard rock cover bands at local bars and eventually they took over his instruments set up in the basement. In high school, Nick and Jeremiah joined the band and Mest played monthly gigs at notorious punk hangouts in the city like the Fireside Bowl and The Metro and self-released their first album, Mo’ Money, Mo’ ’40s. A fervent Goldfinger fan, Tony had the balls to actually write lead singer John Feldmann who actually wrote back and told them if they wanted to open a House of Blues show for him, make a demo and send it to him.
Feldmann was so impressed with Mest’s House of Blues show, he secured a demo deal with Maverick and ended up producing WASTING TIME.
“He taught us to keep things flowing smoothly rather than too many changes and too many stops and go’s,” said Matt. “Less is more sometimes,” adds Tony. “If a song drags for five minutes and if there are parts to take out, take ’em out.”
Last year the boys toured with No Doubt, Lit and Black-Eyed Peas where Gwen Stefani brought the band out on stage with her on Tony’s 20th birthday. He looked out and saw 10,000 fans screaming just for him.
“It was the coolest thing,” he remembers. “Three years ago I’m going to (No Doubt’s) show at The Metro and here Gwen has her arm around me and we’re just dancing. It was the coolest birthday I’ve ever had.”
First up on Mest’s agenda was shooting the video for “Cadillac,” which, according to Tony, includes “hot chicks, a beach party, a mysterious werewolf and a surprisingly sexy side of our drummer Nick.” It was directed by Marcos Siega, the man behind videos for Blink 182, Papa Roach and Weezer.
Summer 2001, the band hit the road with Blink 182, Sum-41 and New Found Glory to raise the stakes for what’s considered mainstream punk.
But will Tony once again embrace the single life of a rock star? “That’s fun, but having a girlfriend is pretty cool too,” he says after months of drama, he’s finally attached to a girlfriend in Florida, where he recently drove to from Chicago in, of course, his own gas-hogging Caddy.
“A red ’66 Coup DeVille,” he remembers. “It was fun as fuck.”
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