Carl King Self-Interview, 1997

The following self-interview was conducted in May, 1997. The goal was to satisfy the editors on Wikipedia. They keep deleting the entries about Sir Millard Mulch.

Who Was Sir Millard Mulch?
It’s a stage name I made up circa 1991, when I played in a band at Venice High School. We were called Voice of Nothing. It was my first band and consisted of Brad Murray on drums and Jesse Gura on bass. I played guitar and sang. Brad also sang while drumming. We all came up with funny weird names for ourselves, as is the tradition. Brad was Max Roister, and Jesse was Lag “Eugene” Tactics, and before that we had a bunch of other names. A whole crowd of skateboarder kids liked us, because Brad was probably the most popular skateboarder in the high school. Anyway, I wrote this song called Lawn Surgery, which is, officially the first song I ever wrote, and it was basically two chords over and over. I kind of decided it was our big hit song. The background behind the song is very simple: I hated mowing the lawn, and my parents would make me do it. I was antisocial, obsessed with playing guitar, and hated doing chores. I decided I liked the word, Mulch, which appears in one of the verses. 16 years later, here I am, with people still calling me that.

Is The Persona Of Sir Millard Mulch A Part Of You?
Sir Millard Mulch became a puppet for me to express certain traits of my personality that I felt were unacceptable to the average person. It was a way for me to get out a lot of anxiety, alienation, sadness, and most importantly, anger. I could say things through Sir Millard Mulch that I couldn’t say in regular conversation, so it gave me an outlet for all of that. Most of it had to do with self-sabotage, insecurities, and feeling sometimes that I am just not part of the human race. I grew up as an awkward, skinny D&D playing kid. I was in gifted school in 4th and 5th grade with a bunch of rich kids… and learned a bunch of Japanese and our teacher was always having us gardening and going on field trips to learn about entrepreneurship. After that, in middle-school I was thrown right back in with a lot of delinquents and mouth-breathers and I was terrified all day long about what they were going to do to me. Around 8th grade I finally found refuge in the music of Steve Vai and carried his Flex-Able cassette in my pocket everywhere I went. I spent an incredible amount of time from ages 13-16 alone in my bedroom practicing guitar and it was hard for me to socialize. I wasn’t drawn towards things that the rest of the kids were fascinated by, like partying, experimenting with drugs or alcohol, fighting, crime, getting into trouble, having sex. I had a small group of friends who were into comic books and computers, back before it was the cool thing to do. Finding someone who was into those things was really rare and it bound us together. Now it’s weird to think that everyone has a computer. So there has always been this feeling of being an outsider and not knowing what to do in regular social situations with the cool and fun people. When I finally started coming out of my shell it was a really negative feeling, and living in Venice, Florida and not knowing anything about the outside world didn’t help. Jesse Gura got me into listening to Jello Biafra spoken word tapes — and the idea of someone out there literally standing in front of a crowd, giving them unusual information, and telling them that things are wrong really appealed to me. I felt like I wanted to get revenge on the world for it being so stupid, and a career in the arts was the perfect way.

What About Paul K. Mavanu?
I decided that if I was going to make as many enemies as I was, I’d need a decoy “real” name, so I could slip through normal society in disguise. I chose Paul K. Mavanu because I was tired of everyone asking what my real name is. The K. is a tribute to Philip K. Dick. The rest is an inside joke.

What Happened With Mimicry Records?
Not really sure. I was never given much of an explanation. Trey was overly enthusiastic about my project from the very beginning, but trying to pin him down and get him to commit to specifics proved to be impossible. He let me do whatever I wanted with it, and let me use his company logo, which I worked into almost every page of the artwork. I even went so far as to register and set up a parallel universe. Trey never seemed to care about the business side of things, so I was making an attempt to show him an example of how I’d like to see things happen, and it all worked into the theme of the album. He said to me, “If you have an idea for how to make this work, then go for it,” and shook my hand, so I went for it. And then he wouldn’t call me back or reply to my emails for ten months. I decided to just move on. I wasn’t asking much from him in the first place, other than his stamp of approval and to get my album distributed by Revolver. When that went south, the problems came from having Revolver’s barcode and a missing 3rd disc, which made it pretty much impossible to seek a new distributor. Trey and I thought the missing Disc 3 was hilarious way back at the time of the packaging design. But too many people got confused and putting it into distribution would have been a retail nightmare, so I am glad it didn’t happen. Trey and I don’t communicate anymore and I would have preferred to remain friends with him instead of how it turned out. I am of the opinion that he should be a college professor instead of an underground rock star.

What Is Your Take On Self-Sabotage?
You know, a lot of people would assume I am just shooting myself in the foot and ruining my own career by doing unusual things instead of following a traditional path. Honestly, it’s more a matter of just being disappointed in the process of advancing through the boring music industry, getting disillusioned because of what it’s really about, and losing enthusiasm for creativity in the midst of a bunch of mundane marketing games. Most of the people who are consuming music don’t even know any music theory at all, so they have no vocabulary to try and follow along with the language. They’re only liking it for the costumes. It gets to be uninteresting, and I have to find some way to make fun of the absurdity of the process. I can’t take it seriously. But the more people who are watching your every move, the more pressure there is to try and do what they expect you to do. If I have to laugh at and walk away from opportunities that are important to other people, but aren’t important to me, I can’t feel guilty about it. 99% of the magical once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that are offered to me never work out and most of that is completely beyond my control. I think Los Angeles is full of a bunch of compulsive gamblers, but instead of scratch-offs or slot-machines, they play with their careers. It makes them feel like they’re doing something productive, but the odds are probably worse than trying to win the lottery. It’s a huge tease, because everyone knows someone who knows someone that is rich and famous, and no one is really doing anything other than waiting for someone important to call them back and tell them what to do. I believe in Emerson-style Self-Reliance and motivating other people towards MY vision. If I want to make an album, I make one. If I want to write a book, I write one. I don’t need an external industry to tell me what I can or can’t do. There are no rules.

One of the things that makes me good at what I do is that I am bad at everything else. I have stirred up a lot of drama and public flame wars but it’s usually because I am disappointed and bored with the game that is played out over and over. Stereotypical bands and clones who all say the same cliche phrases and keywords — copies of copies of copies. I’ve always wanted to find a different path and do my own thing.

Why Do You Mock Everything?
I see patterns. They drive me crazy, like a car alarm going off over and over. When I mock something, I am just extracting that simple pattern and pointing the spotlight on it. On one level, I don’t believe life is about pre-programmed patterns. I believe in freewill and the possibility of new actions and new creations that aren’t necessarily just repeating something that was already established. Sometimes I mock things too much and get too caught up in it, and it can be like a poison. Sometimes it is just best to ignore the stupidity instead of letting it affect you. Getting mad at idiotic commercials or billboards or stupid haircuts can be unhealthy unless it is channeled towards some sort of comedic expression or artistic project. It’s a way of turning negativity into something useful, rather than letting it destroy you from the inside.

What Is Your Musical Background?
Other than several years of guitar lessons at Troll Music since I was 13, I had three semesters of music theory at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, FL. I eventually got mad and quit because we were approaching the 4th semester, which was going to focus on 20th Century stuff. I just didn’t see any point in learning supposed music techniques that had no structure and being tested on it. If it’s totally arbitrary, what is the point? I was a real pain in the ass to some of the teachers. I was a class clown and just caused a lot of problems for the other students. I played pranks during aural theory exams and tried to interrupt and distract everyone as much as I could. I was angry that music was being used as coldly as math.

My most important teacher was a guy named Christopher Schlegel, who was one of my guitar teachers at Troll when I was about 16. I was passed on to him because I was being really difficult for my other teacher to handle. I refused to learn any blues scales or songs or any other style and was grasping for something that I couldn’t really put my finger on. I needed something fresh and exciting, and I wanted to make my own music more than anything else. Schlegel sat me down and gave me the most important guitar lesson of my life, and blew my mind wide open. He talked circles around me and argued past a lot of the limitations I had. As a person, he was really loud and energetic and intimidating. He cursed a lot. He talked and acted like a Klingon, but was very sharp and intellectual. I liked how sincere he was in criticizing me. So he made me read a bunch of Ayn Rand books and taught me the importance of rational self-interest. We’d discuss Ayn Rand every week, and barely pick up our guitars. It was very important for me at that time in my life because I was feeling very alienated and somewhat self-destructive. Hanging out with Christopher and reading Ayn Rand gave me a lot of hope.

I’ve never felt like any sort of traditional musician. I never wanted to learn jazz, funk, country, classical, et cetera. I never had the patience to even learn all the notes on the guitar neck, and I still only know the names of the notes on the E and A string. At one time I knew all of the notes in the first position and could read through the first few Mel Bay books, but that stuff was useless to me, so I forgot it long ago. I have always hated trying to sight-read on guitar because there are 5 staff lines and 4 spaces and 6 strings, and geometrically it just doesn’t line up in my head right. I think of music visually, so that many conflicting shapes and lines just never made it worth it to me to struggle through. I also never had the patience to spend so many hours and hours playing other peoples’ music. Tablature was a great step in the right direction because the instructions actually match with the device being used. I’ve always wanted to develop my own system of notation. Most of what I learn is by ear.

I took a couple of years of drum lessons from Tom Suta and Pat McDonald, and I go to as many drum clinics as I can. I’m a drum groupie. Out of any music magazines, I read Drum! and Modern Drummer the most. I think drummers are the most interesting modern musicians out there. I suck at drums but I have a lot of knowledge about the techniques.

What’s Next?
I am creating a character named Dr. Zoltan.