Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with St. Louis’s The Third-Rates, a seven piece ska collective. Together we discussed their origins, the influence of humor in their music, a potential trilogy, and so much more! Check it out below!
1. Hello! Mustard would like to thank everyone for being here. How are The Third-Rates doing today?
Cory: Hello mustard! Great thanks, also I just had you on a brat (bratwurst) with relish and you made it taste way better. Shout out to the superior condiment though, your brother (or sister?) honey mustard, they might have you beat.
Levi: Doing great! Thanks for having us!
Dillan: Yooo Mustard! I’m doing great, but I must confess I ordered a burger today without the superior condiment. Hopefully there’s no hard feelings there
Javier: What’s good Mustard, big fan
Austin: Doing great! Still coming off the high of tour!
Connor: I’m doing good. I haven’t been this optimistic about my future in awhile now but I’m also very tired and busy so it balances out.
Tyler: Yoo what up Mustard we chillin
2. Humans (and potentially out-of-touch Hollywood executives) love to learn more about their favorite characters’ origins. Mustard is curious about how The Third-Rates came to be. What is your origin story?
Cory: One day Dillan, who I hadn’t spoken to in over a decade, messaged me on twitter about a new song he was working on. I thought it was sick, then suddenly old memories of writing songs and making music flooded my head. Once I was done vegging out and cleaned the drool from my mouth, I messaged Dillan back through discord. We spent around 3 days looking for band names. Also, let me just say making band names kind of sucks. Nearly every name is taken and for the ones that aren’t, they have like 1 post and it’s some obscure Facebook post in Idaho or something (sorry Connor). Anyways I forgot what I was rambling about, something about music I‘m assuming.
Dillan: Honestly this band started off as a pet project for me and Cory, but after we released our first single/demo Best Of Me it was actually well received to our surprise. Connor left a comment to us on Twitter saying he would play sax if we ever needed it. It kind of sparked the idea that we could make this a legitimate band, but I had no idea where to start. I put out a bunch of posts on different sub Reddits (Bass, Trumpet, Drums, etc.) looking for real members where we found Austin and Levi. Eventually Tyler messaged us on Twitter after he heard an interview we did. Last but definitely not least we put out a post asking if anyone was interested in playing trombone and Javi joined.
3. What is The Third-Rate’s creative process?
Cory: It depends really, since we all live in different parts of the country we do everything virtually. Sometimes Dillan sends me a song with work in progress lyrics, and a cool chord progression and I work from there. Other times he just sends a song with just a basic MIDI drum beat and cool guitar track, I can work from there. It’s usually just a back and forth where we send the song back and forth. I’ll acapella some horn parts, or if I don’t he might come up with a horn line and transpose it to midi horns. Sometimes we take old horn parts we wrote from years ago and just Frankenstein like 10 versions of a song till something works. Then redo everything after that, it’s a very chaotic process but we make it work. Dillan and I are on a wavelength like for real. Sometimes Dillan will be writing a cool rhythm and I’ll tell him “This is cool af but, you should add so and so” and he’s like “for real was thinking the same thing” it’s kind of cool you know?
4. Who (or what) influences The Third-Rates?
Cory: If it wasn’t super obvious we try to wear our influences on our sleeves but, Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto, Goldfinger, and Suburban Legends definitely helped shape mine and possibly Dillan’s. Reel Big Fish is definitely a way bigger one for me, back in the day when me and Dillan were in early high school we used to practice RBF songs in our free time. Aaron has a very unique style of singing that I sort of adopted myself over time and so I just ran with it. It’s not a one to one but I’ve always loved Aarons singing style. Our harmonies were usually more similar to what Chris and Roger would do from LTJ though. Scott K was in a league of his own (Scott Klopfenstein, man he’s a really good singer). Singing falsetto was definitely a foreign concept at the time that’s for sure lol
Dillan: Most of my influences come from the obvious places Streetlight, Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake. But honestly my style of guitar playing comes more from being a huge Sonic fan when I was younger. Most of my lead guitar licks or horn lines I write come from that influence. I also love indie and islandly bands like Two Door Cinema Club and Young The Giant so I throw a lot of that into our music when I can. Also let me tell you something, without video games TTR would not exist. Cory and I discovered Ska music from so many games (not Tony Hawk). Sometimes when Cory and I are going through the writing process we’ll send each other songs to show what we’re going for and they are almost always a song from a video game.
Levi: I get a lot of my influences from Blink-182 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater SoundTracks.
Austin: Personally I take a lot of my influence from jazz trumpet players like Wayne Bergeron and Maynard Ferguson. I like high and bright, which is something I luckily get to do with this wonderful group of people!
Connor: My sax work is the product of years of private lessons with my wonderful former instructor Kelly. Other than that I just try to sound as good as I can.
Javier: I’m relatively new to the genre, so most of my influences are newer acts. I’m super influenced by Half Past Two (great band to see live), Jer (phenomenal performer and bone player), Young Costello (cleanest hornline in the game), Hans Gruber and The Die Hards (unbelievable writing and energy live and in recording), and in general what I hear and see out here in the LA ska scene (Matamoska being my favorite out here). Looking up to all those people and studying them and their approach to the genre really helped me tackle touring and playing with TTR live.
5. Like a good red wine vinegar your lyrics are infused with comedy. How important is humor to The Third-Rates? Who are some of The Third-Rates favorite comedians?
Cory: I think humor is important to a certain degree with The Third-Rates. It’s not the end all be all but it’s good to not typecast yourself into a certain style, that also works vice versa.
I think for our next album we’ve found a happy medium, some silly goofy stuff, but we also will have some serious thought provoking stuff. I don’t know, we want to evolve beyond Caprisun commercial Ska. I don’t really have any comedians I like in particular. I like most comedians, but I’m just not someone who really listens to comedy honestly. I really like how Bloodhound Gang and Mark M write their songs. They are raunchy sure but they’re super easy to follow, catchy and really entertaining as well. We might not write as extreme of innuendos but I’d like to think we skate the line.
Dillan: Musical comedians, I like Bo Burnham, Flight of The Conchords and Weird Al. Most of the songs are influenced by Weird Al, especially our song “Unfortunate.”
Tyler: Did you like “Inside”? I refuse to believe he mixed, mastered, and colored that by himself on top of everything else.
Javier: I heard that shit was really good.
Levi: I really like “Inside”, but I find it hard to believe too lol
Dillan: Lol yeah his vocals had some crazy nice compressors studio quality on it. And he was just recording into some basic ass Focusrite.
6. Mustard loves the self-deprecation throughout your lyrics on “See What Sticks.” After throwing shit, have you determined what sticks? Could you share more about your debut album?
Cory: I’m glad you do! The album sort of materialized from previous bands Dillan and I were in. In general we had a plethora of styles and influences growing up mostly on the Ska spectrum. We never wanted to just be a Ska Punk band or a Rock centric Ska band. Because of that, we wanted to make an album that just mixed a bunch of shit together and see what stuck for most people? That’s kind of why you can go from a doo-wopy 50’s island rock song to a heavy metal hard core breakdown. Oh! I also want to say writing songs with themes and stories is a lot of fun! Sure, you can make songs about heartache and breakups, maybe drinking, but that gets redundant.
7. “See What Left” followed “See What Sticks.” Is this going to be a trilogy? Does The Third-Rates have a favorite trilogy?
Javier: This is a Cory and Connor question lmao
Cory: Of what like movies or games or music albums? Can you please do an entirely new interview and answer this one question on just that so I can follow you up with another response? Thank you in advance!
Connor: I would argue that there are no honest to god good film trilogies, only acceptable ones and decaying trilogies. It is my film student opinion that the first three TMNT movies are the best trilogy because of their averaged mathematical scores…(Connor goes on for another 1340 characters)
8. In 2021 The Third-Rates decided to skip Christmas. Will you be doing the same this year?
Cory: We might switch it up and make an offensive song for other holidays around the time. Maybe some song about Thanksgiving who knows.
Javier: Yeah, FUCK Thanksgiving
9. What’s next for The Third-Rates?
Cory: Exciting stuff! A few singles, some social media junk, new comps, covers and another tour?
Actually, the real fun starts next year where we plan on dropping a new album and maybe some animated music videos. We have to 1-up the debut album.
10. Where can readers listen to your music? Does The Third-Rates have a preferred platform?
Cory: We are pretty active on twitter, however if you want to shoot the shit with characters ranging from unhinged to pretty cool you can check out our discord. Where you can experience what it’s like to be ignored 80% of the time by us and only checking in to respond on occasion (at least I do). However, if you are having some heated debate about Sonic the Hedgehog or something I’ll be there and lighting up my keyboard FOR REAL.
Javier: You can find us anywhere, believe.
Tyler: I’d say Bandcamp on a BC Friday or Tidal. Definitely one of the streaming platforms who prioritize artist support.