Tony Molina Talks Being “a Huge Fader and a Terrible Drummer”

Tony Molina Talks Being “a Huge Fader and a Terrible Drummer”

Listening to one of Tony Molina’s albums is like flipping through a book of bright, light haikus. He’s the master of a mood, the hook — spinning out tracks that don’t wear out their welcomes. In fact, once they’re over, you’ll miss them. His new album, Kill the Lights (out July 27), is no different — it’s the Byrds on too much caffeine, George Harrison sans meditative chill.

A hardcore/punk mainstay, Molina found recent acclaim with a 2013 LP, the nearly 12-minute-long Dissed and Dismissed, whose title contrasted sharply with the music world’s response. He’s been pumping out tracks maxing out at around two minutes ever since, most recently on 2016’s Confront The Truth EP.

TIDAL spoke with the West Bay native about his new album in characteristically concise fashion. Read on for more about hometowns, wrong towns and writing in the shower.

If you had to choose only one chord with which to write a song, which chord would you choose?

A slow, chugging E chord in C sharp tuning.

This is kind of a personal musing, but I’ve found myself moving away from punk in recent years and moving toward power pop and folk – perhaps because the times we’re living in necessitate some of that positivity and lightness. Why did you personally decide to move away from the hardcore scene?

I still play in hardcore bands so I don’t know if I moved away from it, but I am not sure if I was ever active in a scene. I pretty much just played in stupid, generic shitty bands for the last 17 years.

‘Wrong Town’ rung true for me – and likely to most people who leave where they came from. How did where you grew up shape and change you? Can you tell us about one memory associated with your hometown that speaks to who you are now?

I never left where I am from, but the cover of my album is my uncles’ (Jaime, Armando, Mario and Philemon) old band Limbo who were part of the Mission Latin Rock scene of the early ’70s that bands like Santana and Malo came out of.

Sadly, they never made a record, but my family’s roots in that old SF scene inspires me, even though my records suck ass and pale in comparison to what they were doing then. My dad was the youngest of the crew and used to have to lug my uncle Phil’s Hammond B3 to every gig. He has bad knees now, go figure.

What is the strangest way you’ve come up with a song idea? Via a dream? A piece of snatched conversation? 

I don’t know, but I wrote most of the Healer demo in the shower.

People have been comparing you to the Byrds a lot on this record. Which of the many members are you the biggest fan of? Gram Parsons? David Crosby? Roger McGuinn? Why?

Gene Clark. Michael Clarke kicks ass because he was both a huge fader and a terrible drummer, like me. I relate to him the most, I think.

Your songs are much shorter than most power-pop tracks – they don’t wear our their welcomes, so to speak. Why do you choose to flit in and out of moods and stories? Or, perhaps, to condense them to their essences?

The shorter the song, the less I am embarrassed for writing that clown ass shit in the first place.

Please describe the place where you wrote most of these songs. Send along a photo if you have one.

I write every song in my bedroom in Pacifica. I would love to send you a photo, but I don’t know you. Picture Varg Vikernes’ prison cell but not as luxurious and 100% less racist and you’re basically there.

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