The Network takeover! “We’ve always been the best at everything we do, even though we’re not very good at anything”
As far as origin stories go, few – if any – are as odd as The Network’s. Best pals at school who shared a mutual feeling of not fitting in? Nope, not that. Formed from the pieces of various other bands in their local music scene? Nah. For The Network, their peculiar foundation stems from an earth-shattering moment back in the summer of 2003, when the masked time-travelling (yes, really) group unearthed a worrying ancient prophecy. Immediately, they knew something had to be done.
“We were in Hollywood drinking purple sizzyrup with Lil Wayne at the time,” drummer/vocalist The Snoo explains to Kerrang! of how The Network came to be. “[Guitarist] Balducci went to have a piss and unearthed two golden tablets which housed the prophecy. He melted them down, of course, to make solid gold toe rings for the less fortunate.”
Along with Mongo Fink (vocals/guitar), Van Gough (bass/vocals), Captain Underpants (keytar) and Z (keyboards), the musicians came to the understanding that doomsday was right around the corner… and it was up to these six unsuspecting characters to do something about it.
“Shortly after I was sitting on the toilet reading a copy of the Royal Society’s scientific journal published in 1964,” continues Van Gough of the moment everything changed. “I knew immediately from the heat of my diarrhoea that the world was going to end… and that I was out of toilet paper!”
If you can believe it, The Network’s story has only gotten weirder since then. As well as adhering to and promoting controversial religion The Church Of Lushtology (the R Hol Nardubb-founded organisation’s motto is: ‘Less Guilt, More Booze’), and releasing ace new wave-tinged debut album Money Money 2020 that September in order to spread their learnings, the six-piece randomly began a heated feud with Oakland punk rock titans Green Day. This, despite the fact their record was released via Billie Joe Armstrong’s Adeline label.
“All I gotta say is fuck The Network,” the frontman spat. “I try to do those guys a favour by bringing them to this country and putting out their record and this is how I get repaid, by talking shit about my band. Unfortunately there is a contract and I have to put out their record. The only thing I can say is, ‘Fuck you, Network.’ Bring it on.”
Stranger still was the fact that many listeners actually believed Green Day to be in the band. The pair even played live together briefly in 2005 – though soon after, The Network then vanished.
“Some people think we are Green Day,” shrugs The Snoo, “but those people have obviously not seen either band or they’d know who was the superior musical act.”
Now, in 2020, The Network are officially back – and they’re as brilliantly bizarre as ever. Taking aim at Green Day once more, the mysterious crew hacked into their social media in October to inform the world that there’s still work to be done to safeguard our fates from what the ancient prophecy has informed them.
“The release of Money Money 2020 Part II will serve as the final lesson!” the band announced. “Within the binary codes of this album exist the keys to our past, present and future DNA!”
Such intellectual power means that, this week, The Network have also taken over Kerrang!. In their first-ever interview, Mongo Fink, Van Gough and The Snoo open up (in their own unique way) about truth and lies, album number two, and, y’know, spam…
In the 17 years since Money Money 2020 and now, how have you all been spending your time away from The Network? Were you still involved in music in any way?
Mongo Fink: “I became a jockey for dingo racing in 2012. The winters in Australia are lovely and mild. I was bitten by my dingo and suffered from rabies for the next three years. I tried to spread the rabies by biting Piers Morgan on his rear end, and he beat me senselessly. I spent another six months in hospital where I wrote 117 songs while in a coma. It was worth giving Piers Morgan rabies.”
Mongo Fink, you revealed recently that you “took a vow of silence for a decade after The Network’s unexplained disbandment”. During that decade, how would you communicate with others while you were working? And what was the first thing you said when this vow of silence was over?
Mongo Fink: “The first thing I said was, ‘Kanye West will be President.’ I almost got it right. I tried to communicate through interpretive dance. No-one could understand what the hell I was dancing about for the next 10 years, but I was in fantastic shape.”
You began to make your surprise return at the end of October, reflecting in a statement that you were “fulfilling an ancient prophecy” when you first formed in 2003. Were you aware that this prophecy would mean The Network would return 2020, or did something else prompt that?
Van Gough: “Yes, of course we knew we would come back, much like a lizard that loses its tail instinctually knows it will grow back.”
Was hacking the members of Green Day’s social media part of the prophecy? Social media barely existed back in 2003, so how could it have been predicted that this is what you would need to do in 2020?
Mongo Fink: “We actually invented Twitter. We sold the company to a dog groomer for billions. I believe its name was something Dorsey. Or Durst. I can’t remember. Names are not important. We told him we designed it to be fun for owners of Jack Russell terriers – also known for being the world’s most irritating K9s. Little did he know we designed it as a plot to expose the world by SnooAnon.”
Now, the band are also taking over Kerrang!. How does such an anonymous, secretive group such as yourselves have this kind of power?
Mongo Fink: “We were going to take over TIME magazine but decided they are Fake News. The only source of real news comes from Kerrang!. And The Onion. Our powers are endless. We will take over the Pentagon in the year 2039.”
Van Gough: “Illuminati, the Church of Lushotology, SnooAnon… The truth is out there in plain sight and The Network is vast!”
You claimed that you’re often mistaken as “the planet’s greatest rock’n’roll band, Green Day”, and yet you’re also rivals. But do you not take it as a compliment to be mistaken for Green Day?
Mongo Fink: “We love to troll the weak by calling them the ‘greatest’. We also say spam is the greatest.”
In your return statement, you claimed that we are at ‘Threat Level Midnight’ – a reference to U.S. version of the TV show The Office. Did you know that Green Day’s Billie Joe told Kerrang! he had been watching a lot of The Office in quarantine this year? That seems like a strange coincidence, no?
The Snoo: “We do not have an ‘office’. Z pretty much handles all of our affairs on his Google phone. They really are much better than Nokia.”
You don’t often get many band feuds in rock anymore. Can you and Green Day not just learn to play nice and get along like everyone else?
Mongo Fink: “Oh it’s the ‘Green Dave questionnaire’ again. We heard Green Day eats shit sandwiches, but it’s impossible because they don’t like bread. That’s what I feel like when I hear their acoustic song Good Rodents. But serious, I kid the boys in Green Dan. Somehow they’ve pulled it off for 30 years. What’s next? A prequel to Kerplunk!? The pre-pubic hair years.”
Van Gough: “No! Everyone else is stupid, that’s why they play nice! There are heroes and there are villains! Green Day eat urinal cakes! They only wish they could write an album as brilliant as Money Money 2020 or Money Money 2020 Part II.”
As well as the music you create, what is your favourite thing about your fellow bandmates?
Mongo Fink: “My favourite thing about our camaraderie is we all hate each other equally. Hate is the ultimate form of affection. Our character flaws make us rise above the crop. Being humble is one of my many, many, many finer qualities.”
Okay then. On to the music itself: In 2003, you released your debut album, Money Money 2020. Did it achieve what you had hoped for at the time?
Van Gough: “Since 2003 the album Money Money 2020 has sold millions of albums, most of which via the black market and flea markets around the globe. Countless copies were traded for Bitcoins on the dark web. We’re filthy rich now!”
How have you all changed as songwriters between Money Money 2020 and now Part II?
The Snoo: “Time is such an archaic mental confine that we are not burdened with. We continue to grow as songwriters, scientists, martial artists, dancers and anti-ventriloquism activists.”
Mongo Fink: “Why change the way we perform? We don’t like change. Music was good until the year 1963, then The Beatles ruined everything.”
You are often labelled as a new wave band, but there are many different influences heard in The Network’s music. What bands and artists do you enjoy listening to in your spare time?
Van Gough: “Psilocybin and methamphetamines are two of my main influences. And as for bands and artists, I only listen to The Blue Man Group.”
Money Money 2020 Part II contains a wide range of genres – from more funky tracks like That’s How They Get You, The Stranger and Fentanyl, to songs where punk rock influences come through a bit more, like Theory Of Reality, Carolina’s Ultimate Netflix Tweet, Time Capsule. Which do you think The Network do best?
Van Gough: “We have mastered everything from thrash metal to elevator jazz, Aqua-funk and dog whistling. We’ve always been the best at everything we do, and even though we’re not very good at anything, we find if you set the bar low enough, people will keep coming back!”
The Snoo: “The Network is here to recruit. Lushotology: more booze, less guilt. We want warm bodies and cold hard cash to fill our celestial Trans Am as we burn dust and eat rubber all the way to the Bank of Switzerland.”
The record is 25 songs, which is pretty long – especially in the streaming world, where attention spans have never been shorter. Did that cross your mind as you were putting together the tracklist?
Mongo Fink: “I was never taught to have an attention span. We just need attention. Like stand attention. Or bad intentions. Whatever our intentions are is to torture the world with 25 songs. It’s important you listen to every track twice. We are positive you will get nothing out of this audio experience. Maybe you will get cancer or pregnant. Streaming is a river of shit. We just supply the toilet paper.”
The Snoo: “This sequel has been an eternity in the making. There is no difference between two minutes and 1,000 years if you know how to manipulate time and space. Van Gough’s work experimenting on animals have given The Network that edge. Time is just something you are told you will run out of.”
The record opens with The Prophecy and lyrics like, ‘We’re right, you’re wrong, we told you so.’ Was it important to you to lay out your message right off the bat?
Mongo Fink: “We feel we should point out the future because most humans are simpletons. Of course no-one listened to us in 2003. Or they only listened to Money Money 2020 once and discarded it immediately. Sometimes the future is worth repeating – even if you have no idea what you’re talking about. In this case we knew we were right. Disease is punishment. Just because you believe it, it doesn’t mean it’s true. One of our many qualities is we make no sense 60 per cent of the time. Forty per cent of the truth is pure genius.”
In songs like Flat Earth, you tell people, ‘If you think the world is round then you’re probably a moron.’ What evidence have you seen that makes you so certain you’re right about the earth being flat?
The Snoo: “Duh! Earth is a flat disc with the Arctic Circle in the centre and Antarctica, a 150-foot-tall wall of ice, around the rim. NASA employees guard this ice wall to prevent people from climbing over and falling off the disc. It’s not rocket science. Wake up!”
Green Day drummer Tré Cool posted about The Network recently and explained that he’s “been around the world a bunch of times” and seen that the Earth isn’t flat. What is your response to that – if he has seen it for his own eyes?
The Snoo: “Don’t blame his ignorance. Tré Cool obviously sees the world through a distorted lens that has been created for the common dummkopf by the Illuminati overlords. He’s also never been in outer space and seen how flat the earth really is for himself, like we have.”
As well as songs with broader meanings, there’s also a song like Squatter In My Flat, which is a very specific story. Is it true, and if so, why did you write a song about it?
The Snoo: “Yes, it is a true story, but the semen in the sink turned out to be my own therefore making the experience slightly less horrible. Don’t leave your key under the mat when you go and tour Eastern Europe.”
One of your recent singles is titled Ivankkka Is A Nazi. Even for an anonymous band, that’s a bold title. Were you nervous about releasing it?
Mongo Fink: “My feelings were removed in a fencing accident in 1983. I think of it as a free lobotomy. I have no guilt, shame or central nervous system. Some might think calling Ivankkka a Nazi is a compliment. We will never know for sure, will we?”
Ahead of Part II, you released the Trans Am EP containing songs from Money Money 2020 Part II. What message do you hope listeners take from it?
Mongo Fink: “Machines are oftentimes more human than you or I. Machines deserved love too. The Pontiac ‘Trans Am’ may well be the sexiest machine ever created by man and therefore we should fuck them.”
Your returning statement revealed that Money Money 2020 Part II will serve as “the final lesson”. Does this mean this is the last we can expect from The Network?
Van Gough: “Humans rarely learn their lessons. It is yet to be decided whether The Network will continue to put food in your dish!”
You’ve said that you see both “disastrous and hilarious” things in our future. Can you elaborate on that, and what are The Network personally going to do to stop the “disastrous” things from happening to the world?
Van Gough: “All we can tell you is that the most disastrous thing will happen on a Tuesday and the most hilarious thing happens on a Sunday! One will involve a cow and the other a robot.”
Money Money 2020 Part II: We Told Ya So! is due out on December 4.
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