Now that Spring is here and your allergies are back in full swing, it’s time to bust
out the happy, poppy, sunshine-y punk rock! Or better yet, check out something new for
2013, like Tony Molina’s album Dissed And Dismissed. Molina truly has the knack
for what makes guitar-heavy pop music great: the hooks are memorable and bountiful, his
singing is tunefully simple, the guitars explode with confetti at just the right time,
and no song ever overstays its welcome. As his group Ovens has been dishing it out for
years, Tony Molina proudly contributes to the Bay Area’s wellspring of catchy, anthemic
punk music both on his own and with the variety of groups he claims membership. I was
able to catch up with him while he was working his night job (movie theater projectionist)
and we talked about music, of all things.

You just released an album under your own name. Does that mean you played all the instruments,
or just wrote all the music and lyrics, or what? Was it weird having your own name instead of
a band name on the front cover?

Yeah, I wrote all the songs and played all the instruments on that record. It was very weird,
because none of my bands have ever done an LP, this is my first one, and it has my full name
and a big-ass picture of my face on it! I was a little bit nervous about doing that at first,
but now I don’t really care.

Who had the idea? I presume you are more than just business partners with the Melters folks…
Did you have the record done, and they asked to release it, or was the idea established before
you recorded it?

It was my idea. That record was originally going to be an Ovens record, but since half of that
band is scattered around the country and doing their own thing, I decided to do it by myself.
The Melters dudes are my friends and hit me up about doing an LP of my earlier solo stuff, and
didn’t know that I had recorded Dissed And Dismissed yet. So I played it for them and they were really
stoked on it and wanted to release it.

Will this forever be a studio-only thing? Have you gotten together some folks to play
these songs live, and put together a Tony Molina band?

I finally started to put a band together with Andrew from Ovens, Spencer from the band Baader
Brains and my friend Anthony who does a project called Swanox. Right now it’s just me and
getting the riffs down. It’s going to be awhile, but I do plan on playing shows and touring
and whatever. I am nervous about playing this shit live though.

You’re playing in other bands too, right?
Yeah I sing in a hardcore band called Caged Animal. And up until like a week ago, I was playing
guitar in this band Violent Change. Both bands put out records this year. My main band Ovens
isn’t very active anymore, but that band will never break up. We actually have two records
coming out this year!

Why’d you do these songs under Tony Molina instead of Ovens, then? Is there any fundamental difference?
It’s only because those guys didn’t play on the tracks. The music is pretty much exactly
the same, but those dudes are my best friends and we’ve been in that band for like eleven
years or something now. If they didn’t play on it, it can’t be called an Ovens record.

So about the record: the title Dissed And Dismissed, along with some of the lyrics… do
people really not want you around? The lyrics can be kind of a downer, especially when compared
with the upbeat melodies and poppy riffs.

All I can say is the last couple of years was a pretty rough time in my life and I think some
of the lyrics describe how I felt at the time. The title is a Breakdown song though.

You’re really into heavy, thuggish hardcore, for my lack of a better term right now. Does
that have any influence in your solo material? Are they just two very separate entities in your brain?

I think it influences my guitar style/tone a lot. Most of the ideas I have for my guitar
playing come from heavier, more riff-oriented bands, but it probably doesn’t influence my
songwriting very much.

What does influence your songwriting? Is it annoying when people say you remind them of Weezer?
Probably just a lot of the bands I listen to. I think Thin Lizzy, Guided By Voices, Big Star,
Teenage Fanclub and The Fastbacks are bands that are a big influence. It doesn’t bother me at
all when people bring up Weezer because they are one of my favorite bands. I get a lot of
guitar ideas from bands like Crowbar, Obituary, and heavier stuff like that.

What kind of ideas?
Just like, how those bands approach writing riffs and the tones they get is what I also
try to do myself. I want my music to be very riff oriented like those bands, even though
I play pop music.

Isn’t pop music riff-oriented? Or is that hook-oriented? What’s the difference anyway?
I think it can be both, but I guess I think hooks when I think of pop music, and when I
think riffs I just think of Merauder. Or something.

Which matters most? If you were exiled to an island and allowed only hardcore/metal or
pop, what would you grab on your way out?

That’s a really tough question! I’d probably grab my Big Star and Teenage Fanclub albums,
and then be very sad knowing I could never jam E-Town Concrete or Suffocation ever again.
It’s bumming me out just thinking about that right now. I really hate this question.

Thankfully that is a fictional situation that will never exist. I’ll change the subject…
what’s the Bay Area scene like these days? From my East Coast point of view, there’s a bunch
of cool bands springing up, doing skewed takes on indie rock and punk and hardcore and what-have-you…
is it really just like, five different people in a handful of bands and a bunch of internet
praise, or are there really lots of different bands and cool things going on?

There’s lots of different bands doing cool shit in the Bay. I’ve seen a lot of cool hardcore
bands, and made a lot of friends from playing shows with Caged Animal. I’m still mourning the
loss of the great bands like Ecoli, Yadokai, Sopors, and Jump Off A Building, who are important
bands for me. Thankfully I can still see Violent Change, Synthetic ID and Culture Kids though!

That’s great. What’s next? More Tony Molina records? Something by Ovens? Caged Animal
double LP on Lockin’ Out?

For the solo stuff, I got an unreleased eight-song EP from 2009 that I want to come out as a 7″.
I’m also going to the studio soon to record four songs for a split 7″ with Swiftumz. There are
two Ovens 7″s that are coming out on Melters and Catholic Guilt, both were recorded years ago.
Caged Animal is going to the studio soon to record our second 7″, which is going to be released by
Video Disease. Also I’m starting a new hardcore band with Blaine from Violent Change that’s going
to straight up sound like Biohazard. I think that’s everything, haha.