Meeko Cheech: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Buttrock for your brains
File next to: Grandaddy, The Dandy Warhols

Meeko Cheech are a Toronto-based 4-piece who have been serving up psychedelic, synthy rock’n’roll since 2010. 2013’s Motif is their latest, a marked refinement in their sound that has earned them comparisons to The Dandy Warhols, and a mellower Death From Above 1979, and even Lou Reed. Dean Williams caught up with frontman Mike Mikocic to discuss brassism” (racism against brass instruments), their mysterious band name, and more.

So…the name…

We get asked that a lot. Meeko Cheech was originally intended to be a one-off recording project, and I quickly put this name to it — it’s actually how you properly pronounce my last name (“Mikocic”) — I’ve heard everything from muh-ko-kitch to… well, some really wacky pronunciations. We ended up wanting to play a lot of these songs live though, and it stuck — and, sure enough, a lot of people actually say my last name the right way now.

Was Meeko Cheech originally intended to be a solo project, given that you assigned your last name to it? I mean, Seals and Crofts wasn’t called just… Crofts.

Yeah — originally I was just recording songs, and I brought in Dan (Miller, keyboards), in what was meant to be a session thing. Shane (Campbell, drums) actually contacted me through the MySpace page — this was way back when — of my old band, Reverse Mount Rushmore, and now we’ve added a fourth member, Tristan (Murphy), who plays trumpet, accordion, and a whole bunch of stuff. He was sharing an apartment with Shane. The whole thing came together really organically.

It sounds like at first, you wrote all the songs. How does it work nowadays?

Everyone has a stake in songwriting now, of course. I’ll generally bring in a very bare song idea, or a handful of odd riffs. Shane and I will do a lot of the groundwork; he may switch the parts up by playing a cool beat, things like that.

Are you more a classically trained or self-taught musician?

I’m totally self-taught, but when I came back from the States, I got a part-time job teaching music. Dan on the other hand went to York for composition — I’ve learned a lot from him about harmony and structure. I also had to do my homework once I got that teaching job!

Has guitar always been your main instrument?

Oh yeah, definitely – I never had a trumpet phase or anything like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with the trumpet.

Do I detect some brassism in your answer?

Wait, I wouldn’t say that. Tristan plays trumpet!

Ahh, I see — you’re not a brassist because some of your best friends play trumpet.

I…Umm… I… This would be a good subject to write a song about.

Meeko Cheech has been compared to The Dandy Warhols — do you agree with that; was there any inspiration you took from them?

Actually, the only time I’ve heard The Dandy Warhols was in the documentary Dig, but when we read that, it prompted me to check them out a bit. It’s not something I listen to regularly to be honest.

So who would be the Brian Jonestown Massacre to your Dandy Warhols?

[Laughs] We have some bands we’re friends with, but there’s nobody we’re really trying to “top” or anything like that. It’s all on pretty good terms. We’re really good friends with Drugs In Japan and there was a great band out called Trematron, though they broke up…

Broke up because they couldn’t reach the heights that Meeko Cheech has hit, and they were embittered by it?

Well, I wouldn’t say that… they’re a great band. I just saw the singer recently, great guy. There is no kind of Anton Newcombe figure in our scene.

On the Dandy Warhols tip, does Dan every take his top off while he’s playing keyboard solos? That was kind of a thing with the Dandys.

We need to see more skin from Dan for sure. It’s 2014. It’s becoming warm. Nudity is always a possibility.

What’s on the horizon for Meeko Cheech?

We’re actually just about done our new record — should be out in a couple of weeks. You can expect to hear several songs from it at the show. 

Catch Meeko Cheech at A Madcap Night of Royal Debauchery a.k.a. WL 599 Saturday May17 @ Handlebar (159 Augusta Ave.).