Mickey Avalon brings twisted, glam rap to Jazzbones
On Mickey Avalon’s long-awaited sophomore disc, “Loaded,” you’ll hear hedonistic tales of street life, ingesting copious amounts of drugs and doing the horizontal tango. Standard hip-hop fare, sure. But Avalon - born Yeshe Perl - puts a sleazy, glam twist on tried and true rap formulas, looking like a cross between Iggy Pop and Scott Weiland as he shimmies around the stage, shirtless and sweaty, spitting his salacious rhymes. Witness “the Av” for yourself on Saturday, Dec. 1 when he headlines Tacoma’s Jazzbones, topping a party hearty bill that will also include Pinkbead Federation, the Chicharones and SkyPilot. Recently, we caught up with the Los Angeles-based rapper - known for “Jane Fonda,” “Friends and Lovers” and other cult hits - to talk about his attraction to all things sleazy and why it took him 5 1/2 years to deliver album No. 2.
TW: How did you develop your stage personae? Was it a conscious attempt to stand out from hip-hop cliches?
Avalon: Yeah, (it’s) probably a little conscious. I grew up on rap music, but I also like rock n’ roll and probably had more of that influence. I just don’t know how to sing, really, so I don’t try to. But I always liked Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones, T. Rex, stuff like that. So I think I could fit that visually, but not really musically.
TW: Up until last year you were on Interscope, right?
Avalon: Yeah, ... for most of my career. It was just taking forever to put out my second record. I just couldn’t really wait any longer, so I left.
TW: What was happening with them, and how have things changed since you went over to Suburban Noize?
Avalon: I was kind of stuck in limbo, and there wasn’t much I could do. If I don’t have anything to put out not only do I not have a record out, but I can’t really tour. And, for the most part, that’s how I make my money. Suburban Noize was great. They were quick and we did what we set out to do. For the third record, I don’t know if it will be on Suburban Noize. I could put it out there, but we might shop to other record labels, also - some hip indie labels or something.
TW: What was the jumping off point for the newest album?
Avalon: I didn’t want to fix something that wasn’t broken, so I wanted more of the same thing as the first record. ... I think the next record will probably sound more different. The first two are kind of real similar and the third one would be, probably, a little different. Musically, I don’t know, I worked with the same people.
TW: I’ve read your bio, and you tell some pretty wild stories in your songs. What percentage of the things that you rap about come straight from real life?
Avalon: It all comes from real life. It’s not necessarily my life. The names might not be the same, but someone’s doing those things. If I haven’t done ‘em I’ve probably seen someone do it. There’s definitely, like, poetic license. This record wasn’t so autobiographical or anything. (But) I think I like to just play with the lowest common denominator type characters - like, the bottom of the barrel.
TW: What’s so appealing about that for you?
Avalon: I don’t know. I try not to be dramatic. I try to make it funny. A lot of it really isn’t that funny. (I’m) just taking something horrific and making people laugh about it, whereas if they really thought about it they’d go, “OK, that’s not really that funny.” I think most of the characters die by the end of the song and stuff. Even if I was gonna talk about some stock broker or banker or whatever, I’m sure it would still take a turn to where it would be him getting strung out and blowing his brains out. ... Even if I were to talk about normal people it would still be that kind of story.
TW: So you’re just drawn to the gritty side.
Avalon: Yeah, I guess - unfortunately. (Laughs) But I try to live my life as good as I can just because, A, you’ll die if you live too rough. And I have a kid. I don’t know, I want her dad to be around as long as I can be. I don’t think I ever romanticize this stuff. Like I said, most of (my stories) end in tragedy. And then as far as, like, romanticizing drug use or anything like that, same thing. I never say this is something good to do or anything. I’ve had lots of sad stuff happening through that kind of life. (But) I guess it’s just something I know more about.
TW: So what’s next for you?
Avalon: Just getting my next record out. Between one and two, there was such a long gap. But it won’t be like that again. This one will be done by the beginning of the year - probably by March or something.
Mickey Avalon in concert
6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1
Jazzbones, 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
(253) 396-9160 or
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