“It was some sort of bizarre love triangle,” says drummer Andrew, a k a Jeans Wilder, about the origins of the punk band Mean Jeans.
“There was this dumb fiasco involving this girl named Jean who was dating our bassist,” says guitarist/vocalist Christian, a k a Billy Jean. “One day my dad called me and said, 'Do the words Mean Jean mean anything to you?' I said 'No,' and then he said, 'Well, it's spray painted on my house.'”
According to Billy Jean, the ex-girlfriend was upset about the new girlfriend, Jean, so the ex went on a rampage and spraypainted his parents' house. “It doesn't really add up,” he confesses, “but it happened. So we figured we'd call the band that because it was already all over town.”
And then there was Mean Jeans.
The group relocated from the Washington, D.C., area to Portland, Oregon. a few months later. “We heard Portland was raging,” says Billy Jean. “And I was sick of living in my mom's basement and running into her friends at the grocery store when I was high and trying to buy beer.”
“We rented a super shitty house, practiced in the basement and sent messages to venues on MySpace trying to get shows,” recalls Jeans Wilder. “It was really easy. We played shitty shows and recorded shitty songs.”
During one of their early band practices, they put a laptop in the corner of the room and recorded some tracks using its built-in microphone. “It sounds pretty shitty — we just screamed into the computer to do the vocals,” says Jeans Wilder. They posted the songs on MySpace and, soon after, Rehab Records reached out and eventually released Mean Jeans' first 7-inch record, "Stoned 2 The Bone."
Mean Jeans has since acquired a new bassist, Richard, a k a Junior Jeans, and their second full-length album, "On Mars," came out last month on Dirtnap Records. Due to their simple, but gigantic, three-powerchord songs and pinhead lyrics, the band is frequently compared to the Ramones.
On the party-starting album opener “Ready 2 Rip,” Billy Jean asks, “Are you ready to rip it up, and get twisted up?” And the next 40 minutes of hard-bashing punk-pop tunes, like the New Kids On The Block-inspired “Hangin' Tuff” and the slacker anthem “Crummy Crummy,” respond with a thundering “Yes!”
"On Mars" sounds much more crisp and developed than Mean Jeans' early singles and their full-length debut, "Are You Serious?," but the band insists they're still just the same old Mean Jeans.
“We recorded it at a super shitty house in Portland,” says Jeans Wilder. “Maybe we tried a little harder, but it's not like a studio polished record by any stretch of the imagination.”
“Yeah, we just always aim low — with girls, housing, jobs, the band, everything,” says Billy Jean. “We didn't even know how to play the songs when we got to the studio. Most bands probably practice a lot before they make an album, but Mean Jeans don't like practicing.”
“Mean Jeans doesn't have any goals as a band, or as human beings,” admits Jeans Wilder. “Mean Jeans just want to have fun.”
Elliott Sharp wants you to follow him on Twitter @elliottsharp.