By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Already accustomed to COVID-19 restrictions since it canceled their original music video plans for debut single “Fleeks And Geeks” back in March, Vancouver, Canada-based heavy punk outfit Mediaslaves have dropped their second D.I.Y.-styled video for “Manipulate Me,” with aid from Instagram filters and iPhone apps.
Described by the band to be filled with “glitchy effects, wacky costumes and comedically b-horror vibes,” it is everything you’d expect from a trio that churns out what they call “catchy as fuck” music, recommended for fans of Nirvana, Sum 41 and The Misfits.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with vocalist/guitarist Johnny Papan about “Manipulate Me” and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Johnny Papan – At the time, I was thinking about the toxic effects of social media and the news, etc. and “Mediaslaves” kinda popped in my head and stuck. Now that I think of it, I think I came up with the name while on public transportation, looking around at everyone glued to their phones. It’s funny, some people think we’re a political band because of the name. Although some of our songs are about political and social observations, we as a band are not really a band that’s meant to be taken seriously. If you look at our Instagram page, it’s all just memes talking about how much we suck.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about heavy punk?
Johnny Papan – It’s just fun to play. Some of our songs are more “punky,” while others are more “heavy,” some getting close to thrash/metal territory. We can kind of experiment. I don’t know if “heavy punk” is a technical genre that many bands coin themselves, but we find it fits us. People have also called us hardcore, thrash punk or skate punk. We definitely do have all those elements in our sound. We identify a lot with the D.I.Y. ethos of punk and we feel it gives us a lot more freedom to kind of just do things anyway we want.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Vancouver, Canada to someone who has never been there before?
Johnny Papan – I don’t think it’s what a lot of people outside Vancouver would expect. Vancouver is advertised as this big, beautiful, green city and in a lot of ways, it is, but it also has this really rank, dirty, dark side that seems to be showing more and more of itself each day. Homelessness is getting out of control. Drug-related deaths are getting out of control and it’s all continuously getting worse because it’s ridiculously expensive to live here and there are hundreds, if not thousands of over-priced, empty properties that nobody can afford to live in. People can no longer afford a place to live and gravitate to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which is the core of our drug epidemic. On the flip side, there are tons of amazing artists out here and it’s a very culturally diverse city.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Johnny Papan – We’re on this Cardio Punk playlist and it’s super killer. Lots of sick tracks and definitely pumps the adrenaline.
Music Bugle – What was it like making the music video for “Manipulate Me”?
Johnny Papan – It was a blast. We had no crew, no budget and no plan at all. We just thought it would be funny to get a bunch of random costumes and put them on and film a bunch of random stuff. We took turns using the camera and when all three of us were in the shot, we put it on a tripod. When cutting it together, I looked at the footage as more of a good memory with the boys rather than a promotional piece of content, which made the editing process a lot more fun. Great time for sure.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Johnny Papan – It threw things outta whack for us at first. We had to cancel four gigs in April, which would have been the most shows we ever played in a single month. We were also planning to shoot our first music video with a cinematographer and that got cancelled before it could really even get going, but we were pretty quick in picking up and adjusting. We made our first music video for “Fleeks and Geeks” out of Instagram filters. Then, a couple months later, we shot “Manipulate Me.” Aside from that, we’ve just been rehearsing, writing and building our audience anyway we can. In some ways, this whole situation has taught us to be more resourceful and creative, but I gotta say… we cannot wait to start playing shows again.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Johnny Papan – I mean, right now it’s like… the only place for a band to get noticed, it feels, but it’s difficult considering there are thousands of friends, family members, acquaintances, artists, companies and “influencers” vying for your attention every second on any platform. Obviously, social media has its hand in being toxic for people. Nobody should ever equate their social media following to their value or worthiness as a human being, but as a musical artist, those numbers can potentially lead to gig bookings, sponsorship deals and other opportunities. It can be a powerful tool. In COVID times, social media has been our main way to get our name out there and discover independent publications who might be interested in checking us out. That being said, social media is a grind and requires consistency, strategy and a lot of your time if you want to grow your audience, but I also think it’s kind of fun. Right now, we’re mostly focused on growing our Instagram and Spotify if anyone reading wants to give ya boiz a follow.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Johnny Papan – Whenever anyone asks me about inspiring quotes, the first one that pops to my mind is when I interviewed CJ Ramone from The Ramones. I asked him, as someone who got to tour, write with and learn from one of the biggest and most influential punk rock bands in the history of music – CJ was in the band from 1989 to 1996 – how he would define punk rock. He said, “The whole idea behind punk doesn’t have to do with politics or anything like that. It’s about doing things your way, how you think it’s right. That’s punk rock.” This quote honestly kind of changed my life. It gave me a sense of clarity on where I was at the time and where I wanted to go and most importantly, how to do it.
Music Bugle – What’s something that you wish happened more in “the scene”?
Johnny Papan – Hmmm… right now… I just wish we can play shows.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Johnny Papan – Shows for sure. Live music is such a release. I especially love music festivals. Festivals are the only place I can truly shut my brain off from thinking about work. Camping, music, friends and friendly strangers. Definitely missed festivals a lot this past Summer. Aside from that, I relax by playing video games or watching movies and TV.