Metal Goes Mashup: The (John) Candy Detail Sample-Laced Music Pissing Off Gatekeepers Worldwide [Q&A] | THE NOISE

These days, very rarely do you come across something that not only catches your attention but absolutely stops you in your tracks and absorbs the next six to seven hours of your day. That's exactly what happened when I stumbled across experimental mash-up metalcore act The (John) Candy – yes, I said "experimental mash-up metalcore act." 

Combining their love of pop culture and ass-beating metalcore, the Girl Talk-inspired group has come together to create music that will leave you completely unsure about what it is you just heard but in the best way possible. 

Take their latest single “The World Is a Vampire and It Feels so Good,” for example. Just when you think you might understand what is coming next after hearing Kindergarten Cop-era Arnold Schwarzenegger talking over a simple guitar riff, suddenly you’re beaten over the head by a barrage of various samples like Hayley Williams vocals and Billy Squirer’s “The Big Beat.” Then, as if that wasn’t enough, you’re later met face-to-face with a gnarly nonsense breakdown led by none other than The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside.”

Yes, everything you just read really does happen in the song. 

To help better understand the pure insanity that is The (John) Candy, we sat down with lead vocalist Brannon to ask all about how the group got started, some of his favorite samples the band has used as well as if we’ll ever get to experience this madness live. 

To see what he had to say, be sure to look below. Afterward, for more from The (John) Candy, head here

How many people are involved with The (John) Candy and where did the idea for this project come from? Were you fans of previous mash-up acts like The Legion Of Doom or Girl Talk?

The band consists of three members - Erik is our producer and live backup vocalist, Brent is our idea guy and plays live bass, and finally, I am the lead singer and “everything else” guy – manager, editor, video director, designer, publicist, etc.

We’ve never heard Legion of Doom, but Girl Talk has always been one of our biggest influences. We wanted to be the Girl Talk of metal and hope we are at least somewhat accomplishing that. Our other main influences were the bloghaus parties of the early 2000s, as well as all the early 2000s core bands that used samples liberally; Eighteen Visions, Bleeding Through, etc. We started this band in 2005 but didn’t really do much with it until 2017.

We also get compared to Killwhitneydead pretty frequently, but had never heard of them before the comparisons began. We are now big fans and love what they have done. 

Just to confirm: Your music isn't all samples, right? There's original material in there as well?

Literally everything in our music is samples except the vocals. The guitars are all samples from other core bands. We basically set out to do in metal what rap artists have been doing since at least the 1970s. A translatable comparison would be what Beastie Boys did with Paul’s Boutique – hundreds of layered samples. So yeah, overall the song arrangements and vocals are the most original aspects.

What's the most obscure sample you’ve used that you’re most proud of? And more importantly, how the hell were you able to get these songs on streaming platforms?

Hands down, the Crossfire samples in our song “How Many Licks to the Crossfire?” 

Crossfire was a board game from (I think?) the late 80s…maybe early 90s. It sorta looks like a metal version of Hungry Hungry Hippos and the TV commercial was incredible. Kids in dark sunglasses, smoke, fire, and one of the best songs ever created for a commercial. We sampled the song and made it the connective tissue of the song’s bridge. 

I think we are able to get the songs on streaming for a couple reasons. One, we chop, cut, pitch shift, speed up, slow down pretty much every sample we use. Nothing is really used in it’s vanilla form and we view what we are doing as parody, kinda like Weird Al Yankovic. We are also a tiny band that nobody cares about and there isn’t any money to be made off of us. We do this purely as a nostalgic hobby and for the love of art/creation.

At what point did you realize -core music would blend so well with pop music like Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body" or Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”?

There was an exact moment. We have only played four shows total and our third show was in Philadelphia. We ran a contest on our Instagram to play anyone in the USA’s house if they won the contest, similar to what Metallica did in the early 90s as part of their MTV contest they were running at the time. An OG fan (shoutout Derek the “MilkBreather”!) won, so we flew out and played and were fortunate enough to have Sunny “Hate5Six” Singh film our set. (Side bar: Sunny is the original reason ANYBODY knows who we are; he filmed our first live set at Programme in Fullerton CA). What we noticed was that, during the more dancey parts of the songs, girls were twerking and we thought it was hilarious. This put us on a straight trajectory to want to make even more fun and dancey music. It’s also a full circle moment, as our producer Erik was in an EDM duo with our buddy Dave 15-ish years ago. They even remixed and toured with Skrillex back then.

Mash-ups aren't always seen as the most "traditional" form of music, especially in metal, and can be jarring to the average listener. What has the overall response been to your music so far?

Absolutely agree. What we are doing is probably blasphemy in many metal gatekeepers' eyes, hence why I am pretty sure we are the first ones to do this in metal, in the specific way we are doing it. What I wish some people would realize is that 1) metal CAN BE FUN and 2) hip-hop, pop, etc. has massively overshadowed metal in the last 20 years because so many people are stuck in the past. It’s okay to like new bands and for them to try something new! 

I think from the beginning, we have been very polarizing. We either have die-hard fans, or people think we are the worst thing they have ever heard. One caveat; in the very beginning, we had friends who truly believed in what we were doing (special shout out to Tony, Adam, Tyler, Blake) and pushed us to continue down our path. It felt like more than “I’m just saying this because I’m your friend” and I have never forgotten that. An encouraging sign I have seen recently is that our friends' initial positivity seems to be matching how people have been receiving us as of late. Super super cool to see and we are so thankful for what we sort of perceive as a changing tide.

I will say, we do like to turn negatives into positives and the prime example of this is our EP “abysmal waste of cosmic dust.” These are literally the words a reviewer used to describe our second full-length album 28 Samples Later. The review was brutal, but we thought it was hilarious and decided to make an entire EP around the idea of us and what we do being utterly meaningless. We drove the point home by having an AI make the cover art about a year or so before AI art really started taking off. I will say, artistically I feel it is some of the best work we have done, so thank you bad reviewer guy!

What does 2023 have in store for you guys and do you plan on taking The (John) Candy live again?

Singles have been working very well for us, so I think we will likely continue down that path. Maybe one new song every other month? We are just loving pushing ourselves creatively and making the most fun music that we can. We would love to do some physical CDs and/or vinyl this year as well. 

If we play shows again, we will likely want to do it like DJs. We require minimal setup; just need mics, our laptop, a bass amp, and a killer sound system. Flying out to play shows at established venues would be much easier than the ol’ “hop in a van, lug a ton of equipment, etc.” which we unfortunately just don’t have time for since we have careers outside of the band. 

How important do you feel it is to help shake up the metal scene and add a little more excitement and flavor to things?

We have been metal fans since childhood. I will never forget the first time I heard Megadeth, White Zombie, Metallica, RATM, Korn, Slipknot, etc. These trailblazers sparked something in me I didn’t know existed. [So] to be in a position where we can make music that turns people to metal instead of away from it? That is unbelievably gratifying and I hold it near and dear to my heart. We have already been blessed to meet so many amazing people that have helped us work with legends (shout out to Rick Watson for introducing us to Kalen Chase of Korn/Vimic fame!).

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