Publication on The Web
Representing The Bay
Best Seen with "Explorer"
... ....."Rocking the USA"
| INTERVIEW WITH MEMENTO with Justin Stewart Cotta
Q: So here we are on the OzzFest tour, you
get to meet a lot of musicians from different bands?
A: Yeah. That's one of the pleasures of
doing OzzFest second stage. It's turning into a little community now. People
have gotten used to each other and gotten over their nerves of the first couple
of shows. Everyone's settling in and it's like a traveling family, kind of like
Q: So you're Australian?
Q: How long have you been in America?
A: Three years. I actually lived here as a
kid for two years from about age 8 to 10. So I went to school here for a couple
of years, did the whole thing in Pasadena and Los Angeles.
Q: So you know all the western ropes?
A: Yeah ! to a certain extent.
Q: Were you in a band in Australia?
A: Yeah. Actually, Space, the guitarist and
I were in a band called Tower which we did for about three years and we played
together on and off for the last, including this, the guitarist and I have been
jamming together for like seven years, coming up to eight years.
Q: Where's does the band Vast come into this
A: I came to America to audition with a
guitar spot in Vast, which is where I met Steve. He was drumming for Vast. And
we got out of that to do this, to get back to singing which I'm frankly more
comfortable with. I kind of winged that audition for the guitar spot in Vast.
It was all just an adventure. It was all more like you know "Let's go. Why
not. Worst case scenario, two weeks in LA. I'll chill out." I'll catch up
with some old friends, have a party and come home - having at least tried.
Q: Now, you're the lead Vocalist of the
A: Everyone is really equal with their
input. It's a real good collaborative bill which is actually one of the reasons
we left Vas. As talented as John is, John Crosby, we just felt more comfortable
with doing something collaborated. That wasn't really going to happen in that
Q: "Nothing Scared," is your
single from the album Beginnings ?
A: Yeah, "Nothing Sacred" is a
single. It's been out for about two or three months.
Q: Did you have other songs that you wanted
to put on this album?
A: Yeah. There was definitely some
leftovers. Three or four songs that we were jousting over as to whether they
might be on the album, but in the end, sequencing became an easier way to make
decisions. You know certain songs flowed like chapters in a book and certain
songs did not. They were good in isolation, but they didn't they didn't tell
the story from beginning to end which was what we wanted to do with the album.
Not that it's a concept album as such, but it's bordering on one.
Q: Did you have a couple of EPs for this?
A: No. We just went straight into recording
... I mean we had all done recording before that with our projects that we were
all involved in, but this is our first collaborative effort and our first step
Q: How long as this band been together?
A: Two years.
Q: I understand that there's a pretty
interesting story about how you got noticed by the record company
. A: Yeah. The records companies have been
checking us out from time to time and they got a new batch of songs from us .
They wanted to see the band on the spot - like the next night. The only venue
we got is Dragonfly in LA, which is a great venue, but it was hip hop night and
it was an opening and it was like, well it's a stage, it's a good P.A., it a
great room, they want to see us at short notice - we'll play. And as you can
imagine. We had outfits there from Orange County and LA and we're all going to
be paupers. And one of so call Eminem want-a-be gods - no disrespect to Eminem,
I think he's a great lyricist - but the guys that followed him and tried to be
him are the one's that are annoying. And it was one of those types of
characters that might play up on the stage with his little finger up and he was
removed by yours truly and then all hell broke loose. But it was the last song,
so it was quite a crescendo into this cool thing that you couldn't have planned
any better. That was rock. Yeah. I had dislocated ribs and I was still like
"fuck that was cool." I felt bad - I hate to get into fights and
stuff like that - the guy involved, we ended up having a bourbon a couple of
hours later and laughing about it as you do in Australia. Generally, if you
fight you become friends. Kind of like the school yard.
Q: So who writes the songs?
A: We all write the lyrics and we all write
the music together.
Q: There's such different categories of
metal. Have you described what yours is?
A: Yeah. We're not metal. There's brash
metal, hardcore metal, all different types of metal and neo metal. We're play
not metal. It's a new grade of metal. Q: It's all rock and roll.
A: To be honest, you hit the nail on the
head. I mean, we consider ourselves a rock band and whether people think that
stays or not as a term, I think there's a certain soul involved with rock.
Whether it's blues or Elvis or Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or Hendrix. You know I
think there is a through line and that through line is emotion. I think that
maybe that's more important than just anger.
Q: I think the worst label in reviewing some
bands was "alternative."
A: Right, right.
Q: "alternative to what?"
A: And they slowly became mainstream and
they couldn't fall under that title anymore. Weird how it works.
Q: It's almost like they had to work twice
as hard, saying "we're got to find a category people can put us in - we're
A: We just like songs. We like songs. When
we jam, we jam. We don't sit down and go how do we construct a really cool rock
song. We just get plugged in and cool, do you want to jam along through it. And
it just goes on from there. If you think about it too much, I think people can
smell it and I wouldn't be comfortable with that.
Q: I know what you mean. A lot of people
have this tendency to keep on striving to get this incredible hit to become
millionaires. It happens once in while. You never know when it happens. A: I
mean, it helps the influences in the band are varied. But I'm a U2 fan, and we
can discuss Pink Floyd and Tool. Tool crept up there the last few years. It's
like they are up on top. But to have the early U2 stuff as big influence in
high school. I think subconsciously is a little bit of what we do and in fact
we're not afraid of and we're not afraid to be vulnerable.
Q: Before you got into vocals, were you just
playing the guitar?
A: No, I was playing piano. I was solely on
the piano. I'm not allowed to play blues, not allowed to ... I was growing up
with my grandparents. That's the line there. They'd tease me though. They'd let
me listen to Elvis, because my Granddad was an Elvis fan, but I wasn't allowed
to play blues on the piano. But I worked it out.
Q: Elvis is probably what got the foot
A: Yeah exactly. It went directly from
Elvis. That was kind of a job for me.
Q: What age?
A: From age four to about ten or eleven, I
was really sheltered from music I wanted to listen to, but I only heard in
pieces. And then I had some time with my Mom for a few years and it was just
"bring on the LPs." She had everything man. Talking Heads,
Eurythmics, and then all the class 70's stuff we've already talked about, but
Annie Lennox and David Bowie made me want to sing like a lot.
Q: And Elvis.
A: And Elvis. I loved those two. I think
Annie Lennox is the most underrated female vocalist.
Q: And here is she is coming back and people
are saying she still has it.
A: She has the most beautiful soulful
voice. And she's hot. Q: What part of Australia are you from?
A: Most recently Sydney, but I lived all
over the place down the East Coast. Q: Where's home base now?
Q: That's a good music start.
A: A tough place to move to at first. You
don't meet people very easily. In Australia you can walk up to a stranger and
end up having a beer and watching the game on TV in the bar and you got brand
new friends every night. But LA was a little more ... you know ... me.
Q: Are you doing some writing on the road?
A: Actually we are. We don't sit down like
homework and do it like ... Space has been jamming a lot of new riffs on the
guitar. Doing a lot of melody ideas. We have three to four completed lyrics
that we're happy with it that bounce off of the guitar, riffs that I hear from
Space or riffs that I play or whatever. It's coming together. It's coming
together nice and slowly. I know you meant to stock up the second album just
case you told to record it tomorrow, but if we did that, in fact what we're
talking about before, which is what we're trying to avoid which is constructing
some. It's kind of cool to just, even being in the front lounge and hear Space
noodling in the back lounge and I'll be watching TV, but I'll be thinking of
something. In that sense, it's come together real slow but really
Q: It's nice you still keep your interest
on music, because this could be pretty intense this whole Ozzfest tour. You
havefor 30-35 minutes, and you have to decide what you're going to squeeze in
A: Yeah. We're only getting part songs, but
we play a ballad at OzzFest. You have to call it a ballad - it's an acoustic
song, so technically - and we're playing it at OzzFest and you know what, I
think people are respecting us. They're judging the song on its merits. Which
I've got to give the crowd credit for too. They do listen to music. They're not
just there to watch. There are people out there who actually listen to the
music and that's great news.
Q: Your name Memento any story there?
A: Actually, the song "Nothing
Sacred" used to be called "Memento." There's lyric in the first
verse "the color of my bites, yes they remind me of you" which was
just a metaphor for bruises and wounds and those bruises and wounds remind you
of a particular person or a particular time that you'd probably rather forget
but you still have your little memento, your little keepsake from a weird time.
Not necessarily physical. Sometimes physical but not necessarily. We just
thought it was a more appropriate name then what we had at the time which was
Ether which we all thought was cool - whatever, but luckily it was taken by 80
different bands around the world. So when we came to Memento it was staring us
in the face and it was like "Wow, the word memento isn't actually used in
the song "Nothing Sacred." Let's just take the title as our band name
and just call Memento "Nothing Sacred" because the that's the lyric
in the chorus. So it worked out really well.
Q: It has a lot to do with your music as
A: Absolutely. Every song is a little piece.
Q: So your on Columbia records. That's
A: Their amazing. They've been nothing but
good to us.
Q: What's the weirdest thing that's
happened on tour so far?
A: I don't know about the weirdest, but the
coolest is probably having Dave of Disturbed on stage yesterday watching the
band from the side of the stage and Dave singing along to every word of the
five songs. He's got the album somewhere - he must - because he knew the words
better than I did. That was way cool. In a sense that is weird. It's still
weird to me. Just the privilege we have right now is weird to me. So it is a
Q: That's great for him to be so supportive.
He's very mellow and signing autographs. Out there earlier
A: Yeah. He's giving it back to the fans. I
think he's a good example for some of the other front men out there.
Q: You guys have excelled pretty fast. Just
a couple of years ...
A: We started touring nationally in the U.S.
as Memento on January 11th. I think today's show is about 104 for the year so
far. Hopefully we can to do 250 shows this year - or 200.
Q: Have you done Europe?
A: Oh we passed on that with Memento right
now. We're just focused on here right now. Like you said, you haven't been to
Australia and America's big and there are a lot of places to go. I like it and
I think the kind of music that we play is born here. You know what I mean? When
you have a rock thing - this is where we are and we moved here for a reason. It
wasn't imagined or fame, it's work. Bands were influenced by people that came
from here and it's just a cool place to be and to travel. No place looks the
same, even when I come back through it the second, third and fourth time. By
the time you get back to it, you've forgotten it because you've been all over
the country. We're just really focused on being here right now.
Q: Wish you well thank you
A: Thank you.
By Randy Cohen
........This is the Official Rock Publication Web Site
All photos and written material courtesy of Rock Publication
.Copyright © 2003
...... By Randy Cohen
Justin Stewart Cotta Vocals, Piano, Guitar
Space - guitars
Steve Clark drums