Interview: Patent Pending’s Joe Ragosta

Patent Pending April 2016 JoeAfter seeing the band live on numerous occasions and being able to snatch a word with him post-show (he always hangs back to speak to everyone and sign autographs), I finally had an opportunity to spend a generous amount of time with Joe before their recent Glasgow gig. I love watching Joe on stage, and you often wonder what someone is like “behind the scenes” compared to that public persona. Let me tell you, Joe’s a rare breed. What you see up there isn’t a stage version, it’s him. Just with a microphone.

While we talked, Joe was every bit as animated as he is with the band behind him. He’s as passionate, as intense and as forthright and honest. He’s also funny and I don’t think he stopped smiling during the interview except for one part, which you’ll discover as you read through. Also, be broke off on a couple of occasions to throw some incredibly kind words at members of the support acts as they walked past. Seriously, even Andrew WK could learn a couple of things about positive reinforcement from Mr Ragosta.

I began for apologising for missing their last tour (with Zebrahead) as I already had a ticket for Slayer the same night. Joe’s response was typically subtle… “Dude, that’s fucked up! Don’t apologise! I saw people all over town with Slayer and Anthrax shirts on and I thought we should all just go to the show!”

My wife and eldest daughter did go to the show, though, and I know they had a great time – dancing around like idiots and coming home with big smiles all round. “That makes me so happy! Awesome. Awesome! Say hi when you get home!”

Now, Patent Pending tour a fair bit. They seem to hit the UK twice a year which is great news for our family of fans. I asked Joe if this was deliberate or if the support slots just happened to fall at the right times. “Every time they say we’re allowed to come, we come here. As long as they say it’s OK to be here, we’ll be here. I don’t know if there’s any visa or work permit issues with being here too often, because if I was involved in it, we would never get past customs.”

Is there some secret that they have to hide to get into this country, I wondered? No, it turns out the truth is somewhat more down-to-earth… “I just wouldn’t do it. You have to file paperwork months in advance and I don’t even think about my passport until I’m about to leave the house. It’s usually in a secret hiding spot so I won’t lose it… and I can’t remember where that was. My new hiding spot is ‘just right there on my desk’. I used to put it behind a book on a shelf, but I’d forget which book or loan the book out or something. I get distracted very easily so I forget.”

To prove this point, the next words out of Joe’s mouth are directed behind me towards tour manager and guitarist Marc Kantor – “What does that mean?” He’s talking about a sign that Marc is carrying which states “FIFA FREE ZONE”. They have a guitar tech from Germany and a sound guy from England. They like to spend their spare time on the tour bus playing FIFA on the Playstation and Marc hates football (soccer to our Stateside brethren who could do with a lesson in proper English like what we speak). Actually, Marc gets very irritated by the UK as a whole as it’s his job to sort out all the tour planning, visas and so forth and apparently the internet never works over here. Or as Joe says – “Anything European – Marc doesn’t like. He’s not letting them play FIFA because he’s an asshole”.

“And because American’s suck at football?” I counter.


Marc – a message. We all hate FIFA, too. Not the game, the corrupt organisation. I would happily support a FIFA free zone in the correct context. And I’ve just shown that I get distracted as easily as Joe. Ahem.

Boy Jumps Ship Glasgow April 2016 (2)The band are touring on Riot Hearts Rebellion which they were selling (slightly ahead of release) on that last tour. “Sales have been great, man,” Joe tells me,”the reception has been incredible. I’m really happy with it.”

However, we weren’t to hear as much from it during the show as we’d have liked and as Patent Pending would have like to play for us. Joe’s frustration is one that most gig-goers in Glasgow can sympathise with… “Glasgow truly is one of our favourite places to play. I promise I’m not saying that just because we’re here – Newcastle’s my other favourite place! – you guys are amazing… insane! The only thing that sucks about here is that for whatever fucking reason there’s always a curfew. So on the other dates we’ve been playing four songs off the new album, but tonight I think we only have time for two.”

Having witnessed Ginger having his microphone switched off twice (Garage and ABC) and Cannibal Corpse being shoehorned into a 45-minute set because nobody at the ABC told them there was a stupidly early curfew when they booked the venue, I know only too well what Joe’s talking about.

“On the other dates we’re doing an hour and a half to an hour forty-five. Tonight I think we have just over an hour. It sucks, man.”

Another album that’s worth picking up is Music For Boobies. Not only is it a great collection at an equally great price, all proceeds go towards breast cancer charities. Oh, and Patent Pending have a song on there. I asked Joe to kindly plug the hell out of it.

“It’s for the Keep Abreast Foundation who put out this CD… well, it’s digital only, but if it was a CD it’d be a double-album. They do it every couple of years. I always love it, but this year I love it ever more because we’re on it. Rude Records, who we’re with, put it out for them. It’s all for a great cause and the song we have on it is called ‘It’s All Good Today’. I think it’s a fitting song for the compilation and there are some great bands on there. Us, obviously, Zebrahead, Simple Plan, Motion City Soundtrack… so many good bands.”

Talking about charity, Patent Pending are quite public-spirited. Marc did a little bike ride for charity a few years ago…

“Hahaha! Let me tell you about that! It was ten years ago and he was so young. Someone bet Marc the equivalent of about eight quid that he wouldn’t ride his bike from New York to California, which is about 3420 miles. And so Marc did it. He just announced ‘I’m going on Monday’ until we stopped him.” The conversation apparently went as follows:

Joe: Are you fucking kidding me?

Marc: What?

Joe: First of all, you’re not even of a legal age to vote. Can you even get a hotel room? Second, you don’t own a bike. Third, it’s summer and you’re planning on riding through the desert in 100 degree heat doing 90 miles a day.

Marc: Yup.

Joe: You’re a moron.

Patent Pending Joe King Tuts 2014Joe managed to slow things down a bit. “I begged him to wait till Autumn until it cooled down, and to get some sponsors. Somehow I got through to him and he waited until September or October and be cycled across America in 45 days. We got sponsors from Hampton Inn hotels, and from Subway for food. He told his story to Hooters [a bar that keeps getting refused permission to open branches in the UK for some reason – Mosh] so he was able to drunk underage because they felt bad for them. That last bit isn’t true. Just in case we get Hooters in trouble.”

The return trip was also a story unto itself. “His plan when he got there was to ride is bike home,” Joe tells me, “so that would be 6840 miles. But he was fatigued and a basket case from barely speaking to anyone for 45 days. We’d toured with Zebrahead a couple of months before and we knew them as friends not like the family they are now. Marc saw they were leaving on tour in a couple of days.

So he called up and asked if he could get a ride on the tour as far as New York. He put his bike on the trailer, got on the bus with Zebrahead and they thought he was funny so they gave him a job selling merch. Since then he’s been their stage manager, on-stage bartender and now he’s their tour manager. All because of an eight quid bet.”

Another topic that seems close to Patent Pending’s hearts is that of depression. Joe mentions it frequently on stage and I wondered if there were any charities they supported relating to this – thankfully now more widely recognised – mental health issue.

“Not as such, more just the awareness of it. We did a project a few years ago which helped ‘To Write Love on Her Arms‘, a non-profit which helps people who are depressed or considering suicide, but raising awareness is our big thing. It’s something that’s not talked about a lot and people tend to bury it which just makes things worse. Which I did this January. But I’m better now. It’s all good. It’s not like that old broken stair in your house you can just keep avoiding – it gets worse.

I never follow my own advice! Hey watch this!”

And thus followed one of those interruptions I mentioned in the introduction as one of the lads from Boy Jumps Ship walked past on his way to play their set and received some pertinent advice from the long-time professional: “Hey, dude – don’t fuck up on stage tonight! Now he won’t, but I won’t listen to my own advice. I’m going to fuck up real bad. Loosen up, man! Loosen up those shoulders! You need to get your body energy to match your voice. Which is going to be really fucking hard because you have a great voice. So good fucking luck!”

As one band passes, another sweeps by in the opposite direction – singer Nicole Mason of local support Armstrong, who I sadly missed due to interview duties. Joe had words for them as well. “You guys were fantastic! And I didn’t get to see all of it. But I saw most of it and it was great. And you have an excellent voice. It really sucks when I  have the worst voice on the whole show.”

Joe rarely seems to think before he vocalises, but this doesn’t seem to matter as most everything he says is either funny or nice. Or both. It’s always heartfelt and honest, though.

“Hi, I’m Joe. When you talk in between songs, I don’t understand a fucking word you say. You guys are so Scottish, I don’t understand anything you say. You guys were great, man!”

In fairness to Nicole, she did point out that often fellow Scots struggle to understand her but thus is the curse of the Weegie. As an aside, do check out Armstrong – we had them as Band of the Day not too long ago.

Family is an important thing to Patent Pending, emphasised by referring to fans as their “Second Family”, also the title of their second LP. Around a year and a half ago Joe extended that family with the help of his wife and had a baby girl. As a father myself who’s had to spend a little time away from his own kids from time to time I was wondering how Joe handled life on the road without the little one around.

“First of all, she’s adorable. Being a dad is awesome! My little kid will run round the house looking for me shouting ‘Dad! Dad!’ and if she doesn’t get a reply she’ll pause a beat then start shouting ‘Joe! Joe!’ She rules the house. The first time she told me she loved me my heart melted, it felt so good. SO GOOD!

Mario and the Brick Breakers (Joe) Patent PendingBut life on the road without her? I hate it. I love touring, I love playing, but I hate being away. Hate it. If I could have a superpower it would be to be able to morph over there all day, then morph over here for the show, then morph right back. She’s been to a couple of outdoor shows, but she’s too small for the loud indoor ones. She just couldn’t care less – she’s just off chasing butterflies. Adorable!”

I happened to mention, as you do, that I took my son to see Sabaton and Alestorm for his eighth birthday recently. Joe’s first show? Ninja Turtles Live!

The Dollyrots take their little nipper around with them. “I know! It’s an awesome idea. I think our issue is there are so many of us, and my wife’s not one for the road. And the other thing is that I’m really boring on tour. Tonight, I think this’ll be possible because I got food to go. I’m going to be crazy on stage, then I’m going to say “hi” to everyone who turned up. Then about seven minutes later I want to be in my bed.

I know everyone else will be in the Cathouse having a drink. I’ll be in my bed watching Star Wars. It’s going to be awesome!”

All well and good, but the key question… which Star Wars film?

“Not one, two or three. One of the actual films. I loved Force Awakens. They did a great job making it feel classic because JJ Abrams has a great way of taking his time. Movies now are all talkingtalkingtalking-advertising-talkingtalking-advertising. There’s no time to breathe. There’s a thirty second spot in the middle of the movie where no-one talks. That happened in the eighties and the nineties and they stopped doing it when people got shorter attention spans. A lot of it was a rehash, but it’s a great movie.

The funniest things to do with one, two and three – the terrible ones – is to talk to Rob [Felicetti] about them. He will get violent. He hates them so much. Every once in a while I’ll say they’re his favourite movies in an interview. Don’t do it this time though, seriously! It’s bad. But those were terrible movies.

You can do a drinking game. You drink every time you see something awful in those movies. It’s basically a waterfall. Dangerous. Never ends.”

We reviewed Boy Jumps Ship’s upcoming album (out on the 22nd!) recently, but I was wondering how they’d managed to worm their way onto the tour. Joe’s answer was surprising. “I’m going to tell you the truth. Some people like to hide this kind of thing, but this is the God’s honest truth… We can’t get anyone to tour with us.

Anytime we ask anyone, everyone says ‘no’. Everyone. Says. ‘No’. Lacey have toured with is and they’re the best, and we’d have them on every time, but venues don’t like it when you bring the same package back over and over. If we could then we’d just tour with them, but the truth is that every fucking band in the United Kingdom that we’ve asked… every single one… has said no. I’m talking a hundred bands. No exaggeration. A hundred bands. Their agents don’t even write our agent back.

This is the cold, hard truth. There was one where we asked this band to be on our tour and they said “OK”. Then they pulled out. We found out why – there was another tour happening at the same time. We checked and we’d sold triple the amount of tickets as the other tour, but I guess the other band were considered cooler.

So I am in charge of going on the internet, hitting facebook and finding anyone I can find. I made a list of about thirty bands I liked and, truly, at the top of the list was Boy Jumps Ship. They said ‘yes’ immediately and they’re fucking awesome. They’re a great band. I’ve not heard the album yet, though. Actually fuck those guys. HEY! CAN YOU… wait. They’re on stage. I’m going to get a copy of that album.”

One of the most popular tracks from Brighter which spawned its own offshoot and miniature stage set was “Mario”. I was disappointed by the lack of a sequel, say “Pac-Man” on Riot Hearts Rebellion. “I think the real story there is Ms. Pac Man,” explains Joe, “because Pac Man be damned, she’s still out there trucking. Thing is, I got so carried away with Mario – the song, the movie, the stage show… – I can’t justify to anyone around me any more video game stuff until the Marion thing gets what it deserves.

So if the internet can help, then there’ll be video game stuff forever because I got jokes! I’m ready! But nobody around me seems to think it’s worth spending eight months on that. But I will. I will.”

For those who’ve not seen the movie that Joe mentions, you can watch it on YouTube. Actually, just for ease, I’ve embedded it below as well. It’s not the Bob Hoskins version…

“I don’t want to talk about it too much in case it happens but I already have so many ideas. While researching all the Mario stuff with him being the nucleus of the whole Nintendo thing you find so much other stuff that’s funny as well. There’s a thirty minute version of the movie online. There’s an hour-long version that no-one else has seen that I know is incredible, but I can’t justify it while the half hour video hasn’t had enough views.

I’m a very self-deprecating person but I think that Mario and the Brick Breakers is one of the best things that’s ever happened. That’s the only thing in my life that I’m not self-deprecating about – that and my wife and kid.”

We saw Mario and the Brick Breakers during a set at King Tut’s a couple of years ago with Suburban Legends supporting. A shame they’ve just announced that they’ve called it a day.

“So sad, so sad. We toured with them a lot. I think they’re going to keep making albums and hopefully a song will get so big they’ll have to go back out again to support it. Our aim is to keep going and get so big that we can afford to ask them to tour with us again for a lot of money. Great band.”

My final question was one I’ve asked a lot of bands, and I like the responses as they vary so much. If Joe met a band to day who were in the same position Patent Pending were back at the beginning, what advice would he have for them?

“I would give them a list of all the mistakes we have made so that they’d not have to make them. There’s so many. We’re still making them!

Also make sure that you’re doing this for the right reasons. If you’re doing this to make a million dollars then go to university and become a doctor. It’ll be so much easier. Do it because you love it, and do it with people that you love. We’re fifteen years in and we can do it because we really like each other. I’ve seen bands with more talent than anyone who just hate each other. It’s like five boyfriends or girlfriends that you don’t have sex with.

That and make sure you’re not making music for a trend. Be inspired by someone but make music that you like. Don’t make metalcore because it’s popular, or pop/punk because it’s popular, because it won’t be popular tomorrow. Make music that you like making.”

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