Mickey Avalon is not your typical prototype rapper. Born and raised in the streets of Hollywood, Avalon befriended then-MTV VJ, Simon Rex, who convinced him to start rapping with Rex’s own alter ego, Dirt Nasty. Together the two would have a hit with the hilariously vulgar “My Dick,” which eventually went platinum in 2018. Avalon’s self-titled debut album would feature this song, as well as the radio hits “Jane Fonda” and “Mr. Right.”
Not one to shy away from controversy, Avalon’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics have often revolved around his past heavy drug use and prostitution, and his live shows are just as salacious.
I caught up with Avalon to discuss some of his earliest performances, his new album, “Never Satisfied,” and an upcoming project with Josh Freese and Jesse Hughes.
Kevin: I just texted you some pictures that I found in my closet. They were from an old digital camera at a show you played outside the Queen Mary in Long Beach in 2007. Do you remember these?
Mickey: Yeah, absolutely. I was dressed like a little sailor (complete with hat and striped tank top).
Kevin: The first time I ever saw you perform was at an Unwritten Law show, probably 2005 or 2006. I saw you rap on “Shoulda Known Better,” a song you co-wrote with (lead singer) Scott Russo.
Mickey: Yeah, I totally remember that. And the next time they invited me, I got kicked out because I thought it would be funny to spray Russo with a fire extinguisher. He thought it was funny, but no one else did. And then I got into a fight with two of the security guards in the stairwell and got kicked out. I think it’s been long enough, where I can go back now.
Kevin: How are things with you and Simon Rex? Are you guys still close?
Mickey: Yeah, we’re great. We were touring together until he did “Red Rocket” [the 2021 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or nominee]. He’s done like six or seven movies in the last year or two. But my last show in Hollywood, Simon, Andre Legacy and Beardo came up and we did “My Dick” on stage together.
Kevin: Did you see “Red Rocket?” What did you think?
Mickey: I loved it. I saw it at the premier with Simon and the director, Sean Baker. It’s like Simon’s “Taxi Driver.” He is the movie – he takes this very unlikable character and makes him super likeable and real
Kevin: You released “Never Satisfied” earlier this year. What can you tell me about it?
Mickey: DJ Mackey was my DJ for a while, but then we lost contact. He knows the kind of music I like, and he was the main producer on this album. I never have a plan until I get into the studio. Not to talk in third person, but I think he wanted to make this a “Mickey Avalon” early sound.
Kevin: You touched on everything I wanted to say about the album. Listening to it for the first time, I thought, “Damn. Mackey must really know Mickey because it captures that vintage sound you have.”
Mickey: For sure. I mean we lived together for a while. But, yeah, I knew we had at least a few more songs in us, which is how the album came about. I still feel like maybe we have another album, or at least an EP worth of material.
Kevin: The guitar on the opening title track, “Never Satisfied,” is so jarring. Is that Mackey playing it live in the studio or was that a sample?
Mickey: No, no. Mackey’s been playing guitar since he was a kid in Oklahoma. And then he’s been DJing for me on tour, and then for some of the songs he’ll come out with a guitar. It really changes the dynamic and brings a whole new element. We’ve always had a dancer because at a rap show when there’s no band, it’s sometimes not as exciting live.
Kevin: I agree completely. The song “Legend$” has a real “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” feel to it. I think it’s the guitar, like it’s classic Beastie Boys.
Mickey: That’s exactly what he was going for. And that was the first song that we recorded for this album, and it kind of kicked the whole thing off.
Kevin: It’s been almost 20 years since I first saw you perform. Would you say things have calmed down for you in your personal life; have you matured more?
Mickey: I don’t know if “mature” is the right word. My lifestyle back then was not so sustainable if you wanted to stay alive. I’m not in AA or anything, I drink a little wine. You can have a racecar and take it around the racetrack on the weekends, but you can’t drive it like that on the streets every day.
Kevin: That’s a great analogy. Your Instagram posts this year show you looking the healthiest I’ve seen you look in a long time.
Mickey: Thank you! I got into boxing and Muay Thai when I was in Indonesia.
Kevin: What are your plans for 2024, music-wise?
Mickey: During lockdown times we were in Indonesia for 10 months. And then my good friend, Madé J, a guitar player and I made a whole album worth of demoes for a sideband called, Mickey Avalon and the F*ck Boys. We had the guys fly to the States to record this properly. We had Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal as our producer. Everyone flew out, except our drummer who had trouble getting his visa. So, Josh Freese (Foo Fighters, Vandals) ended up recording the drums.
Kevin: Wow! Josh is of course incredible, and with Jesse producing – I cannot wait to hear that album.
Mickey: Yeah, exactly. Madé is flying out in two weeks, and we’re going to get together with Jesse to finalize the songs and get this ready for release sometime next year. I’m really excited for this album, everyone who heard it so far really digs it. And we’re not like trying to sell two million records, it’s just something we’re proud of and we want people to get to hear it.
Kevin: I just got a flashback of a festival in Vegas called Extreme Thing. I think it was back in 2012, Unwritten Law, Zebrahead, Less Than Jake played –
Mickey: That’s the time I didn’t get to play because my DJ got arrested. That was the last time me and Mackey worked together.
Kevin: (laughs) Was that Mackey?
Mickey: Yeah. He didn’t show up. It totally fucked me over. Scott Russo was willing to switch times with me and I even had another DJ coming, but the promoter already sold all the tickets he was going to and used it as an opportunity not to pay me. Me and Mackey didn’t talk for maybe five years or so. But yeah, unless he fucks up again, things are looking good. (laughs)
You can catch “Mr. Right” himself, Mickey Avalon in Orange County’s own Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa this Friday. Openers will be Borracho Obama, Obey Wan Kenobe, and Lifeline HB.