With his unmistakable falsetto and rapid-fire lyrics, James Euringer (known on stage as Jimmy Urine) has been a fixture in electropunk music since the mid ’90s. His band Mindless Self Indulgence may be on hiatus, but Euringer has kept busy with a number of side projects, including the release of a compilation album, The Secret Cinematic Sounds of Jimmy Urine. The 14-track album, released last month by The End Records, features his work from video games, television and film.
An enthusiast of film music from a young age, Euringer cites synth maestros like Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter among his enduring favorites. This spring, he also cameoed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—both on screen and in music—with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He joined the crew of Yondu’s Ravagers as Half-Nut, and he composed a piece of alien music (“Un Deye Gon Hayd (The Unloved Song)”) for a scene reintroducing Yondu’s crew.
Kristen Romanelli: Let’s start off with chatting about your transition from Mindless Self Indulgence to writing for film and video games, and what that’s been like.
James Euringer: Well, it’s interesting because with Mindless Self Indulgence, I don’t have any rules whatsoever. We’re such a crazy band that’s very underground, and we sort of do what we want and write songs about anything that we want to write about. We don’t really have to worry about anybody censoring us. That has so much freedom that when I have time away from Mindless, I find it very comforting and nice to have some parameters set up and to do things in fields that I’m a fan of, like comic books, video games and films. It’s nice to have a director, or the creator, or somebody to just be like, “I need this darker, I need this shorter.” I find that stuff very fulfilling—to kind of go back and forth and work with somebody in that capacity.
KR: It’s interesting. It’s kind of like a new creative challenge.
JE: Yeah, it’s somebody setting up a little test, and you’re like, “Oh, this is cool.” I’ve been lucky so far in that almost everything I’ve done, I’ve been a fan of the project that I’ve worked on.
KR: Let’s talk a little bit about those, which you’ve compiled into this album. It starts off with the very familiar sound that we’re used to from you, with “Fighting the Melody.” Can you tell me a bit about that and how the album progresses? It sounds like as we get closer toward the end, we get a more trance-y Jimmy.
JE: I put the whole thing together, sort of like, “Hey, there’s a lot of stuff I’ve been working on and I’d like to put this transitional record so people can hear it.” I realize that when a lot of people approach me, they want me to write a Mindless Self Indulgence song for a project. Then I talk to them, and I say, “Hey, I’d love to do your whole project or do something exclusive to your project.” And so I figured I’d start with the most Mindless-sounding song to kind of ease you into the album, starting with the melody from [the video game] Metronomicon and then moving into more chiptune stuff, which is still in the wheelhouse my fans know. Then, it slowly graduates into stuff that sounds more like a Tangerine Dream soundtrack, or a really pretty Vangelis soundtrack, which is stuff I love to do and I’ve actually been doing since way before Mindless. I grew up listening to nothing but soundtracks, never listening to rock ’n’ roll until much later. So, when I put the record together, I figured I’d put it in that order to just have it be like, “Hey, look I do this other stuff too, guys.” A little resume there.
KR: Yeah, the big change in the album happens around “All Together, Friends Forever.” Tell me more about that.
JE: Well, a friend of mine, Dave Yarovesky, had done a horror movie called The Hive, which was put out by Nerdist. He needed a creepy kid song and so he came to me, because he knew that I did all sorts of eclectic stuff. And I was like, “Cool, yeah,” because they were gonna take it and warp it and make it really groovy in this horror movie. I had done a real straight version for him and then I did a credits version that starts like a straight-up little kid’s record from 1970 or 1980, then evolves into very creepy, horror stuff to ride out the credits of the movie. My wife [Chantel Claret of Morningwood] did all the vocals; she’s really good at doing different voiceover work and singing, so I had her just do layers and layers of different voices and it just sounds like a whole choir of little kids. I’m very pleased with that work.