Santino Marella's 'Propane Nightmares'
In the latest Superstar to Superstar, Intercontinental Champion Santino Marella talks to Gareth McGrillen, bass guitarist and DJ for Pendulum. The band's "Propane Nightmares" is the official theme song for WWE's Cyber Sunday. (Listen) The track is the second single off their Atlantic Records album, In Silico, which is available in stores and on iTunes now. (Get it on iTunes)
Santino Marella: So everyone is on the phone together right now?
Gareth McGrillen: Yes.
Santino: Oh, that's nice. Can I speak with Pendulum?
McGrillen: Yeah, that's me.
Santino: Ah, how are you?
McGrillen: How are you doing, mate?
Santino: Very good. How are you?
McGrillen: Good, good. How are you?
Santino: Good. So I know this band, you are originally from Australia?
McGrillen: Yes, Australia. We moved to London a few years ago.
Santino: We are going to both places. First, we are going to London in a couple of weeks. Then we are going to Australia, I believe early in the next year. I believe New Zealand, as well.
Santino: We always have fun when we're Down Under. It's so far away, but it feels like you're somewhere like in Dallas or something. Very similar cities.
OK, I have a question for Pendulum. Your song, "Propane Nightmares," is the official theme of WWE's Cyber Sunday. Tell me a little about it because I am fighting in Cyber Sunday. I need to get myself in the right mind frame for this competition. Maybe you can put me in the mind frame of your song.
McGrillen: The song, and all of our songs, as well as our concerts, are really, really energetic. When we're up on stage and we look out in the audience, it's like they're in the ring, literally. Our concerts are crazy. So I think that's why they picked this song for WWE. It gets you really pumped up.
Santino: It's high-energy. I like the name because sometimes you have a scary partner like Kane or Undertaker -- it's like a nightmare. And also propane is like a fuel source, so it's high-energy, explosive, nightmares. I think it's perfect with WWE, personally.
McGrillen: It's everything you need to beat the Honk-A-Meter. (laughs)
Santino: (laughs) I'm interested in the creative mindset that is required to come up with this. When you sit down, what's the first thing? What's No. 1? Do you think of a topic? Do you think of something you feel?
McGrillen: I think a little of the inspiration comes from the crowds having a good time. We just love aggressive, really high-energy music.
Santino: The energy you start with?
Santino: I love this because you say that your concert is to be an escape.
Santino: That's very, very much like wrestling. That's the biggest, I think, similarity. People have problems. They have economic problems in the United States and everything. When it comes to wrestling, they just escape from their problems.
McGrillen: They leave it all behind.
Santino: They leave it all behind … entertainment, and that's the biggest correlation I can see between the two.
Now, if you were to give a message to the WWE Universe -- something they would not know about Pendulum -- what would you say?
McGrillen: If they have heard the song, they should definitely check us out. "Propane Nightmares" is just a little bit of what we're about.
Santino: It's like, if you like this song, you're going to love the rest.
Santino: So do you guys go into isolation when making a whole album?
McGrillen: Yeah. Our last album took two years to make.
Santino: Two years?
McGrillen: Yeah. It took a very long time. It was also because we were putting together the live show. We wanted to put together a show that suited the music, so when we brought it out to America and Europe, the crowds would get the entire Pendulum experience.
Santino: That's all you do, you come up with ways to do the entire show?
McGrillen: Yeah, the entire show. It's got to suit the music because we use a lot of technology in the music. We need to do that with the visuals of the show, as well. It's a whole experience. … The lights suit the intensity of the music. You need to go on YouTube to see the videos because it's really quite an experience, similar to the light shows and the extravaganza of WWE.
Santino: It's amazing how similar because WWE is like a rock concert, too. … When I was little kid I always pictured myself on some kind of stage. But I can't sing, I can't dance. Now it makes sense what I was picturing.
McGrillen: That's awesome, man. When I was a little kid, I used to love Ultimate Warrior.
Santino: That's crazy, you know that? What a name -- Ultimate Warrior. I heard he changed his name legally to "Warrior."
Santino: Yeah. Imagine pulling out that credit card?
McGrillen: That would be a cool credit card, especially if it's a platinum American Express.
Santino: Yeah. Do you ever get creative block?
McGrillen: Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes we can be on the road, and we can be really inspired to write. Other times, being on the road makes you really uninspired because you're so busy and you're going from city to city, taking flights everywhere and you get really tired.
Santino: I have one friend who makes music but he can never say that this one is "done."
McGrillen: You can never. It's very difficult. Because we work together I think it's a bit easier to say, "Enough's enough," and just leave a song in the state that it's in without finishing it. If we were allowed to, we would be finishing the songs forever.
Santino: That's crazy. It's always like in constant motion. … I like this whole creation of music because it's not just creativity, it's art and creativity. When you combine the rhythm and the creativity, it's music, you know?
Santino: So far how is the tour?
McGrillen: The tour's been absolutely amazing. When we were coming out to America, we weren't sure how the American audiences would receive us. People told us, "America's a really big place. It's really hard to break America." And we knew that. It is a very big place, but the reactions we've been getting in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, L.A., we even went up to Toronto in Canada. We just flew in from Mexico yesterday. We did two festivals out in Mexico.
McGrillen: Yeah, we did Guadalajara and Mexico City -- two massive festivals. It was really cool.
Santino: How is the music scene for you guys in Mexico?
McGrillen: It was great. The audiences were just as crazy as the American audiences. It was good fun for us.
Santino: It's amazing how small the musical world has become because of things like iTunes and YouTube. (Get Pendulum on iTunes now)
McGrillen: Yeah. I think we owe the Internet a big debt of gratitude for how big we've gotten so quickly. I don't think we could have done that without the Internet. But then again the Internet is also negative when everyone's music is downloaded for free.
Santino: When the iPod first came, or what was that thing called with the cat? … Napster! In the beginning, you know, I download some music, then after I always go to iTunes because these guys they deserve it, it's 99 cents, come on.
McGrillen: I buy a lot of stuff off iTunes, as well.
Santino: Now that's all I do, is only iTunes.
Do you think that the bigger cities, with a more underground scene, compared to the small country towns -- do they respond to you the same?
McGrillen: They all respond pretty much the same, but what we really like about places like Detroit -- where no one had really heard of us -- the people that turned out really just went crazy. The same for places like Guadalajara, Mexico. I don't think they get a lot of musicians going there very often.
Santino: Yeah, they appreciate it.
McGrillen: So when they did have a big festival there, everyone came. Everyone had a really, really good time and appreciated it. Whereas I guess somewhere like L.A., they're a bit spoiled; they get really good acts all the time.
Santino: They live there. Can you see when the audience is like, "Who are these guys?" And at the end, they are like, "Oh, we like these guys." Do you see the change?
McGrillen: That happens a lot to us at festivals. We love that. We love festivals because they're a challenge. You know, you go in there, and it's not necessarily everyone there to see you. So when you can come into a festival and turn the place upside-down and just destroy the dance floor, it's a good feeling.
Santino: That's like Santino Marella. You know, they come sometimes to see John Cena and Jeff Hardy, but the leave talking about Santino Marella. (laughs)
McGrillen: You got it, mate. You got it.
Santino: How long have you been in London now?
McGrillen: Five years now.
Santino: Really? London actually reminds me a lot of Toronto, too. How did this first happen with Cyber Sunday and you guys?
McGrillen: I think they found us. I'm not too sure. Somebody from WWE probably heard the song and thought it was just perfect for Cyber Sunday.
Santino: You're in good company. I think the last pay-per-view was Metallica.
McGrillen: Wicked, man. We love Metallica. They played recently in the U.K. at a festival called Reading Festival. They were really good.
Santino: I saw them, it was Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Faith No More.
McGrillen: Wow, that's quite a lineup.
Santino: Yeah, big lineup.
You have questions about Cyber Sunday? Maybe about Honk-A-Meter or something? (More on Santino's Cyber Sunday match)
McGrillen: Yeah, so what's the Honk-A-Meter up to now?
Santino: Honk-A-Meter now is in double digits. Yeah, 64 is double digits. Ten is double digits. So it's definitely a milestone.
McGrillen: So you've got what, 50 more weeks to go?
Santino: Yes, one year and two weeks.
McGrillen: One year and two weeks? I think you can do it.
Santino: Yeah, time flies. I don't know who I'm going to fight. … Either one it's kind of like a lose-lose situation for me. I lose, it's very bad. But if I beat up an old man, what am I accomplishing besides personal pleasure?
McGrillen: So you don't know who you're going to fight on Cyber Sunday?
Santino: No, it's up to the WWE Universe to text the votes. (More on Cyber Sunday voting)
McGrillen: I guess you don't find out until the votes are finished?
Santino: You don't know who it is until just before the match.
Santino: The other two can go back to catering and eat some more.
McGrillen: (laughs) We love catering, as well. … So if you lose the Cyber Sunday battle, will that take away the Honk-A-Meter?
Santino: It will take away everything -- my title, the Honk-A-Meter, but I'm not going to lose.
McGrillen: I hope you win then. I'm sure you will.
Santino: Of course, I have a little insurance policy called The Glamazon. My girlfriend, she is very strong.
McGrillen: Will she jump in the ring and perform the Glam Slam?
Santino: I don't like to use her, but it's there if I need it. If you lose by disqualification, you don't lose the title. You have to win fair and square. And Honky Tonk Man, he did this for a long time. He did it for like months and months. He disqualifies himself every week. I never did that.
McGrillen: What would you have to do to get disqualified?
Santino: Something illegal -- poke the eyes, kick in the testicle, maybe put the foot on the ropes -- something cheapy. I never did it yet, but it's nice to know I have a little bit of an insurance policy if I need to keep it because hey, I have expensive tastes. This title, I need this title, you know?
Santino: Well, my friend, it was a real pleasure. I learned a lot about the creative process and the song. I really hope you come to Cyber Sunday.
McGrillen: Yeah, we will definitely try to. Good luck with the match, but I'm sure you don't need it.
Santino: Hopefully I'll see you there!
McGrillen: Cool, man. Thanks, Santino.
Santino: Oh, my pleasure.