Contrary to reports, 100 Gecs are not the future. Nor are they Nirvana for Zoomers or cuspy millennials, though they do sport long blond bleach jobs. Also: Laura Les and Dylan Brady have never, as far as I know, put the internet or 2010s culture into a blender–solids and liquids only. If you’ve listened to the duo’s second LP, this year’s 10,000 Gecs, you might understand why people reach for these descriptions. Dubstep and nü-metal and ska and pop punk and hooks and the THX deep note: it sounds old and it sounds brand new. It also sounds ripe for an over-the-top simile: it’s like Windows 95 having loud shower sex with a Discord server at your mom’s double-wide… while Flavor of Love autoplays in the kitchen, or whatever. The gist is that Gecs’s songs are alive, wild. They put me in mind of Gregg Araki’s 1995 film The Doom Generation and Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game, from 2004: chaotically seamed genre and style hybrids whose overwhelming vitality makes them gloriously monstrous. This is music that will devour you if you don’t run from it, that digests you more than you digest it. You’ll come out the other side grinning.
They say never meet your heroes IRL, or something to that effect, so I caught up with Les and Brady over Zoom last month while they were in Houston for their tour. No subject was off limits, i.e., we talked about video games and post-grunge and touched on why critics obsess over the “meaning” of 100 Gecs.
PAUL MCADORY: Hi, can you hear me?
LAURA LES: Yeah. What up?
MCADORY: How are you? You’re in Houston?
LES: Yeah, Houston.
MCADORY: Amazing. I’m Paul. Thanks so much for taking the time.
LES: Thanks to you for taking the time.
MCADORY: So, the line on you guys since 2019 has been that you’ve put the internet through a blender, or certain artists into a blender, and that seems like a description that you’ve grown weary of, maybe? So I was wondering what household appliance, kitchen or otherwise, you would associate with your new album?
MCADORY: And what do you think you’re putting in the toaster?
DYLAN BRADY: Toast.
LES: Toast. With butter. And if I can have two appliances, it’s a coffee machine. We’re making coffee.
MCADORY: Coffee and toast. It’s breakfast vibes. So, you know those sort of GQ style profiles of celebrities like, “I went to a haunted cornfield maze with Johnny Knoxville and talked about Greek rock climbing and the meaning-”
LES: Yeah, the Vice thing. I did DMT with Johnny Knoxville so you didn’t have to.
MCADORY: Where would you want to go for your hypothetical Vice profile?
LES: I would want to go to the top of a mountain.
BRADY: Uncharted cave.
LES: Oh, wow. That’s a good one. Yeah, an uncharted cave, somewhere where there’s no one around for miles except for us and an interviewer. No witnesses.
BRADY: No phones.
MCADORY: No technology. Your fans are known for bringing Game Boys and DS’s to your shows. Do you worry that you’re cultivating a Nintendo bias?
LES: I don’t know. Somebody should start making better handhelds again.
BRADY: Does the Vita have a camera?
LES: The Vita does have a camera, but they stopped selling it like 10 years ago at this point, right?
MCADORY: I guess so.
LES: I was looking at buying a Vita online and Vitas go for like 200 bucks on eBay, because you need to get the storage cards too. They’re too expensive. You can get a DS at a thrift store for 20 bucks. It’s way easier to jailbreak a 3DS, apparently.
MCADORY: Is it?
LES: Yeah, there’s a million guides on doing that. The Vita ones are way longer, last I checked. Sorry. Anyway.
MCADORY: If somebody was going to bring a full size console to your show, do you have a preference?
LES: Ooh. PS5, I guess?
LES: I would love to see somebody roll up with a PS1. When I was little, I had a small PS1 with a battery pack and a flip-up screen, so I would bring it. I was mobile as fuck. And then I had the thing in the car that converted the lighter to power. I just remember there were always long-ass road trips going on, and all I wanted to do was fucking play Megaman X6 all the time. And then I’d go to my grandma’s house and I would just sit in the corner and play Megaman X6 on this little tiny PS1 set up.
BRADY: Maybe an Xbox 360 with a 3D scanner, also.
MCADORY: Do you consider yourself the Dark Souls 1 of music?
LES: That’s a very flattering question.
LES: Sure, why not?
LES: Our levels are designed perfectly. You never get lost and you never have to consult a guide.
LES: That’s a joke. I have to consult a guide every time because I cannot fucking figure out how to get into Blight Town.
BRADY: Couple ways to go at it.
LES: Yeah, I guess. That’s what they say. “It’s all this design,” they say. “Can’t get lost,” they say. But I’m lost already.
MCADORY: To ease out of video games, but briefly staying in it, in your Boiler Room set in March, Laura, I think you played the Super Mario theme. And then in a Pitchfork interview in 2020, Dylan, you were talking up the Hikaru Utada and Skrillex song “Face My Fears” from Kingdom Hearts 3. Has video game music been a significant influence for you, or is it just something that you love?
LES: A lot to unpack there. The Super Mario theme song that I played in the Boiler Room set is this shitpost mashup that I got off of SoundCloud. I think I tore it off there probably three or four years ago, just from the depths of my SoundCloud likes. So in that way, I would say that video game music has been huge for me just because it’s in so many chaotic fucking maximal mashup shits. When we were making the first album, I really liked the dog barking song in Undertail.
BRADY: I like the Halo song.
LES: The Halo song is great.
MCADORY: Also in that set, you began by saying you’re not “good DJs.” What did you mean by that?
BRADY: Sorry if we have an error in the DJing.
LES: Yeah, if the transitions aren’t silky. Well, it’s a Boiler Room thing, right? I feel like most of them are all done by people whose main thing is DJing or whatever, and we knew there would be maybe one or two mishaps at some point, like when you just accidentally stop a song instead of starting the next one or something.
MCADORY: Are you going to have a DJ era at some point?
LES: Dylan’s hella good at CDJs. He’s been teaching me. I’ve always just done it on a laptop, or that’s how we’ve done it in the past.
BRADY: EDC coming soon.
MCADORY: So it seems people really want you to mean something. In a New York Times profile and a few other places, I’ve seen you compared to Kurt Cobain, Nirvana.
LES: Yeah, that’s kind of a wild comparison there. We don’t like talking about the whole true meaning, or whatever. I feel like it’s what people take from it. There’s stuff that we intended, for sure, and it’s all there. I feel like people get real pretentious about shit. I mean, read lyrics, listen to this stuff, dig too deep, dig as deep as you want. And maybe there’s something there for you. And maybe there’s not and you just like the songs.
MCADORY: At your show, it sort of marked a break from the really intense, very joyful but very intense energy of the mosh pit. I have to say, it was the most polite mosh pit I’ve been in. People were making a circle for me to tie my shoes. Are you guys ever in the pit?
LES: Used to be. For me, not so much anymore. I’m more of a wallflower now. I just like to have my big glass of beer and listen and do the head nod or whatever. But I’ve been in many pits at fucking Warped Tour.
BRADY: At Warped Tour, yeah, for sure.
MCADORY: You guys have talked a number of times about how you’re taking these widely maligned genres, which you think are not worthy of that malign, like ska and dubstep, and sort of reworking them, not in an ironic way, but because you like them and finding things to put into your own music. You’ve mentioned that a band like Nickleback is sort of also in this genre.
LES: If you listen to any three of their songs, you have a high chance of rolling a critical failure. There’s more ones on the dice than sixes, but what’s the two songs? “You Remind Me,” or “How You Remind Me”? And there’s another one, but I can’t think of what it’s called. Hella good songs, IMO.
MCADORY: Are you interested in working with post-grunge, or is that not really one of your reference points?
LES: When I was in college, I really, really wanted to hook up a way that I could write songs for Nickleback. [Now], we are the post-grunge band that we want to write for.
MCADORY: Dylan, a couple years ago in an interview, you mentioned, maybe half-jokingly, that if you ever had interns you’d get them to comb through the Billboard number ones and index everything according to instrument and tempo and a bunch of other stuff. Now that you’re on Atlantic, has that happened?
BRADY: It has not happened, unfortunately. We’ve had some false starts, but no follow through yet.
LES: We’re putting it out there. Somebody should do it. Put a little ad on the side and you can make up to $10 doing this idea, specifically from us looking at the data. Google AdSense will make you up to $10 with that idea.
MCADORY: This is the biggest tour you’ve done, right?
MCADORY: Have you had to work at your banter?
LES: I hate the idea of saying the same thing every night, but when you’re up there, it’s so funny because you’re just like, “Yeah, I don’t know, man. This one’s about a frog on the floor.” And that’s usually just the default. I saw Cannibal Corpse and I had not watched any live footage of them and I thought the banter was so fucking good. And then I watched another video of them and it was the same banter from fucking five years ago or something. And I was like, “Goddamn it.” But he’s got it dialed in.
MCADORY: He’s a pro. You’ve got Machine Girl on tour, too. How did you come to their music?
LES: I think I found their music on the old Mishka blog. Do you remember that? I don’t know if it was a clothing thing or a what, but they had this blog back in 2013 or something and it was whenever they dropped WLFGRL originally on DRED and I was super-duper floored. I was like, “Wow, this is a great band.” And then I went and saw them and I met them and I was like, “Wow, you’re really cool.” And then we just kept talking to them and hung out a bunch of times over the years. It’s fucking crazy watching Matt jump into the crowd and shit every night. People get so amped. The crossover is great, I think.
MCADORY: Yeah, for sure. You were getting at this earlier, talking about how sometimes writers become a little pretentious when they try to make meaning out of you. I feel like people always say that 100 Gecs sounds like the “future.” What do you make of that?
BRADY: Sounds weird.
MCADORY: Yeah, I think that’s right.
LES: I don’t know. Again, it’s greater minds than ours can analyze it and whatever, but maybe there’s something about hearing night chord vocals and 100 genres and whatever that brings to mind the future in the way of being bombarded with constant content in shorter and shorter form and advertisement. And we certainly do live in a time of content flashing before your eyes quickly. So maybe they envision a dark future of that? Again, I’m going to start sounding pretentious real fast if we start talking about that.
MCADORY: I think you’ve earned that.
LES: Someday I’ll write a book.
MCADORY: You’ve had to answer a number of questions you probably find annoying, like “is your music a joke?” or “are you being ironic?” And the answer is no, you’re having fun with genres like ska, nu metal, etc.
LES: It’s funny when people are like, “Is it completely ironic? A joke?” It’s actually deeply personal.
MCADORY: Yeah. What are some of your favorite ska hits?
BRADY: Operation Ivy. And Sublime.
LES: Sublime. I’m into all of the bands that one guy does. I forgot what his name is, but the choking victim guy, yeah. I think his voice is very neat.
MCADORY: You’ve mentioned Neil Cicierega before, too.
LES: Yeah, I’m a Neilhead.
MCADORY: I’m a Mouthcell.
LES: I’m a Mouthhead.
MCADORY: Do you have some go-to Cicierega songs?
LES: I don’t know, just the way that a lot of the things come together, like the intro to, I think it’s Mouth Silence? The one where it’s a hundred fucking songs all coming in, and just the way that all of the harmonies line up is so beautiful to me. A lot of what—I don’t want to say what he stumbles into because obviously he puts a ton of work into it. But the things that just happened to pop up a lot of the time are super-duper beautiful to me. And also, it’s really, really funny to quote “a baby drinking coffee” every day. I quote, “Just a baby drinking coffee and smoking big cigars” about every day. Or the fucking, “I did it all for the nookie.” I do think it’s hella funny. A lot of the incidental moments in it are so fucking good. And the grooves, the production of it is so hard-hitting at points, especially when you get to Mouth Moods. And Mouth Dreams is one of my favorite albums in general. It’s way up there for me. It’s so, so fucking good. I’ve cried to Neil Cicierega multiple times. I’ll say that.
MCADORY: What’s next for you guys? Another remixes album?
LES: Maybe if we could come up with some good ideas. But I think even if we did it again, we wouldn’t do it how we did it the first time.
MCADORY: What do you mean by that?
LES: Having a million features and shit. Less into that vibe nowadays. I’m into cracking brews more than getting features.
MCADORY: Me too. I’m doing a lot more of one than the other.
LES: I could text people or I could crack a brew.
MCADORY: Which one of you is “I Got My Tooth Removed” about?
LES: Well, Dylan sings on part of it and I sing part of it, and we each write about our own experiences.
MCADORY: Oh, so you’ve both had teeth removed. I thought that there was probably one tooth.
LES: I’ve had several teeth removed.
MCADORY: Oh. I’ve never had one. Well, thank you both for your time and have a good show tonight.
LES: Thank you. Have an awesome day.
BRADY: Appreciate it.
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