Interview from Urban Outfitters
JH: So I saw that you did a video that Pitchfork said was video of the year. What was it?
MP: Bonnie "Prince" Billy "I Gave You." It was cool, because Will sent me the record before it was released, and said 'What song do you want to make a video for?'
JH: Man, that's awesome. So you've been making movies for how long?
MP: I made my first video when I was 22, and I haven't done a video now in more than a year, because I shoot photos and I'm making a film.
JH: Damn dude, that's a lot.
MP: I'm figuring out how to balance it now better...
Making this film, it's kind of an excuse to not do as much. I can say, "Oh, I can't do that, because I'm working on this film."
JH: Yeah. I do the same thing when I'm making an album. Our album came out two months ago and then we were on tour for a month in the UK with Primal Scream. We came back and went back in the studio for a 7", because I got all these ideas from being on tour, and we go back on tour in the summer, so this is my chance to just be in the studio.
MP: Are RTX and Royal Trux different?
JH: Royal Trux is a band I had with my ex-partner, Neil Haggarty.
MP: And you didn’t tour?
JH: No, he would tour, but he wouldn't fly, so we would have to take the QE2 back and forth each time we went to Europe. It was the two of us, ever since '88, when I was 16, and the rest of the band was a revolving cast of characters, we played with like Artimus Pyle from Skynyrd, just like really rad people. So when Neil and I separated, in 2002, I started RTX, which is just me—one-half of Royal Trux.
MP: So it’s your project, but it kind of revolves?
JH: No, I've been trying to keep it tight from the beginning. Drummers are always kind of the issue, they've come and they've gone. But we have two guitars, the bass player and myself. So have you stopped doing your record label, Record Collection?
MP: I'm no longer involved in the day to day business of the label but we still are putting out records. The movie's the priority now. I've been on it for a year now, and probably need about eight more months. I'm not getting rich off of it but its been an amazing experience.
JH: It must be a blast, obviously. I love the Osbournes, the TV show, everything about Ozzy. I bet you know all of it now.
MP: Yeah, I feel like me and him, we're like real friends. I’ve spent so much time with him...
JH: Well, you're doing a documentary.
MP: It's not some big documentary, I really shaped it to be, a lot of the time, just me and him. I've asked him a lot of personal questions, and it's like we're learning about each other in a way. Have you ever seen Grizzly Man?
JH: Yeah, yeah...
MP: I kind of feel like I'm in Grizzly Man and Ozzy's the bear. We've really become close, and Sharon called me the other day and said "You know, Ozzy got into bed and he was like 'I kinda love Mike.'" And that was just the coolest thing to think that it's not just one sided, we actually have a real relationship.
JH: So you grew up here?
MP: I grew up in the Valley, then I moved to New York when I was 17 to be a photo assistant.
JH: That was the Herb Ritts story!
MP: Yeah, I didn’t know anything about photographers, and the only name I knew was Herb Ritts, so I made up a fake resume that said I had assisted him.
JH: That's funny dude.
MP: Because, it's like who's going to check? So I started assisting, and then the rad thing was that three years later his production company signed me as a director. So after three years of me lying about knowing the dude...
JH: It totally manifested in to you actually knowing him.
MP: I finally had dinner with him and I was like, you have no idea how much you fucking helped me. I dropped out of school in ninth grade and was just skateboarding and going to shows. My heroes were kids, so I was never afraid or thought that there was a right way to get somewhere, so I just bullshited everything. If it didn't work out, I figured out a way to make the accident seem like it was actually on purpose.
JH: Well, cause you've already done it. As you get older, you get way smarter. You get more knowledge, whether it's good or bad.
MP: So you started Royal Trux when you were 16. How did you meet Haggerty?
JH: Well, I graduated high school when I was young, when I was 16. I met him, because he was in a band that I went and saw. He had dropped out of school and lived in a warehouse, so it ended up that we got to know each. I got a scholarship to go to the New School in New York for Social Research, and he was hired to go up to New York with Pussy Galore. So we moved up there and stayed in the YMCA...
We had started writing songs from the early days of hanging out in the warehouse, tripping our asses off. It all kind of started there.
MP: Every stylist I know always talks about your style.
JH: Shit! No, it's rad. Everything I've done has always been within an extended family of people I know. I've never gone out as a stylist and gotten an agent, there's always something behind it. I always sewed all my own jeans, ever since I was a kid. I did a lot of visual art at one point, and I did this thing with Sanrio for Hello Kitty, because it was a big anniversary. They commissioned a lot of really big artists to do stuff, and somehow I got on the list, and I had just done a gallery show in Switzerland and Sanrio asked me to do a piece, and so that's where I kind of crossed over with the styling shit. I made them an all denim patchwork wetsuit, and it's still on displays! It still tours museums over in Japan. It's pretty rad. I like styling, I'm pretty good at it.
MP: So are you influenced by surfing?
JH: Yeah, I live right at the Wetlands on the PCH. I love surfing, love the ocean. I grew up skateboarding and then I've only been living out here five and a half years, so that's when I started surfing and just living on the beach. The name Royal Trux came from skateboarding.
MP: What do you think is the greatest era of rock?
JH: [Laughs.] What do you think is the greatest era of rock?
MP: I'd say three weeks ago.
JH: What happened three weeks ago?
MP: I just want to believe that there is great stuff still happening...
JH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Probably the '50s was when it all really started. The blues came out in the '50s, as soon as they invented the guitar, that was the greatest time in rock and roll history.
JH: And three weeks ago.