Bantering with the Useless Keys at Slim’s [Interview]

Standing beneath the red neon Slim’s sign, which glows against the old fashioned brick exterior of the venue, I meet Michael Bauer, front man of the Useless Keys, a Los Angeles based space rock band. We head inside and meet up with guitarist Michael Regilio and they lead me downstairs into the bowels of the venue. As I set up my phone to record the interview, Regilio slaps his iPhone onto the table too. He declares that he will also be recording the interview to listen to later in the van. I’m instantly at ease with them; we all share a dry sense of humor, love of artsy music, and skepticism of the future for our corrupt Western society.

Tell me the story of how you met and formed the band?

Bauer: I was in a band called The Front and my band played shows with [Regilio’s] girlfriend at the time – The Pity Party. And I met him because he came to see his girlfriend’s band. And then my band broke up, he broke up with his girlfriend, and we formed a band together.

Regilio: He’s the closest thing I have to a girlfriend now, and that’s very, very depressing.

Michael Bauer, Michael Regilio, Jerry Roe, Davin Givhan (from left to right); Useless Keys. Photo by Jasmine Safaeian.

Bauer: When we started the band it was just us two, in a bedroom for like 6 months, writing songs, then we found a bass player and a drummer to play with, and we had them for about a year and a half, and we ended up with a new bass player and drummer. We really kinda screwed around the first year and a half of the band. We didn’t really see the band going anywhere. And as people reacted to it we were like “Wow, we could do this!”

Favorite song to play?

Bauer: For me, it’s a new song called “Sleeping Under the Covers.” I like it because it’s the new song.

What’s planned for the new album? Will we hear that song?

Bauer: Yes. We’re going to go into the studio within the next month and record two songs, and that’s one of them. We’ll release a double single or an EP this fall. And probably spring or summer of next year we’ll release the full length. I think we’ve developed something that is more cohesive than the EP. The EP felt like an appetizer sampler platter.

Michael Regilio & Michael Bauer. Photo by Joey Pangilinan.

What do you predict for the year 2012?

Regilio: I think the Japanese will have secretly landed a man on the moon, who will take up permanent residence there.

Bauer: I predict that we will have a new president.

Regilio: I predict that it will be a Japanese man that lives on the moon. That’s how you stay out of the whole political thing, by living on the moon.

What do you predict the future to be like in 100 years?

Regilio: I think the earth is going to be very similar to the planet Venus. 800 degrees and global warming gone amuck. And to the few humans left living in space, the words “tea party” will be the most offensive words to them. You could get beat up for saying those words.

Michael Regilio, Michael Bauer, Jerry Roe, Davin Givhan (from left to right); Useless Keys. Photo by Joey Pangilinan.

Favorite venue?

Bauer: I’d say my favorite place is The Echo in Los Angeles, because that’s our home port. We had a residency there and I feel super comfortable there.

Regilio: For the first show of the residency I was able to get Warpaint to come down and play with us, so that was really awesome. They’re friends of ours.

Who inspires your sound?

Regilio: We always get back to this one band from the ’90s that didn’t really take off called Failure.

Bauer: We keep on reading in reviews, “They sound like Failure.”

Regilio: Wait a minute, what if they’re not talking about the band? What if they’re talking about us? (laughs) We like to think of ourselves as being as heavy as you can be and as effeminate as you can be. You can be heavy without macho.

Bauer: We’re sorta in no man’s land, because some of the venues we play and the bands we play with, we don’t really sound that much like them. But at the same time I feel like every band I really like does something that didn’t really exist prior to them. I feel angry and I feel sad, and I feel like we live in kind of dismal times. And our music sounds like somebody with that perspective. It sounds like unemployment is at ten percent, and we’re burning fossil fuels like crazy, and it feels kind of bleak for humanity.

Regilio: The thing that makes me unbearably bleak is that lunatic zealots seem to be running the world and nobody seems to fucking give a shit. We’re being led by a bunch of people who talk to the sky all the time and they think they hear answers. The sky is not talking to you.

What inspired the title of your EP?

Bauer: There’s a song we have called “Is the Painting Changing” and I feel like it’s metaphorical for “Where are we?” Also, I was reading a book by Oscar Wilde called A Picture of Dorian Gray and I guess that inspired it to some degree as well.

Michael Bauer of Useless Keys. Photo by Joey Pangilinan.

Who is your dream co-headliner?

Bauer: I like all those heavy bands like Queens of the Stone Age or Muse. I just miss those epic massive fucking rock bands. They go play in front of 40,000 people and they lose their shit and that is exciting to me. They make me want to be alive and wake up tomorrow and I really like that.

How do you feel about being compared to Nirvana?

Regilio: I like their music and their mindset. I can’t say I’m not flattered when people say we sound like Nirvana.

Bauer: I hope we’re more positive people than Kurt Cobain probably was. Even though I share that emotion, I have a lot of love and hope for humanity still. I want to be there helping out people who are getting flat tires.

Regilio: We’re gonna hold you to that!

Bauer: I have! I’ve stopped on the side of I-5 and helped someone change their tire.

Regilio: I was outside of your house with a flat tire and you told me to fuck myself!

Bauer: (laughs) All I did was break his tire and we had to get it towed.

Regilio: I had to pay not just for the tire but for new lug nuts.

Bauer: Things have been a lot better since we started dedicating ourselves to the band.

Useless Keys. Photo by Joey Pangilinan.


Useless Keys Official Website

Useless Keys MySpace Page

Useless Keys Twitter Page

Slim’s Official Website

More Photos of Useless Keys at Slim’s

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About Katie Kopacz
Blog Intern. Creative Writing student at San Francisco State University. When she's not busy with one of the aforementioned occupations, Katie can be found geeking out over good music, good food, conspiracy theories, cats, and well-written words.

One Response to Bantering with the Useless Keys at Slim’s [Interview]

  1. Hands down the best “underground” band in LA these days. Great read!

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