Fuck Your Scenes was able to catch up with Joe Ragosta and Anthony Mingoia of Patent Pending for a great, long, and often off-topic interview. We tried to discuss the band’s ability to write happy songs and sad songs, but ended up talking about Joe’s first experience writing a ska song instead. Among other things, we talked about their views on illegal downloading, how they write songs, and how Joe once forgot his now fiance at a train station. You can check out our full interview below, and make sure to check out the band and see if they’re coming to a city near you because it’s worth everything you could ever spend. They’re the best and you won’t regret it!
Can you state your name and role in Patent Pending?
Joe: My name is Joe Ragosta, I play shortstop. My batting average is .350 and I think I got 26 RBIs this year, but it’s early in the season.
Anthony: My name’s Anthony, quarterback.
Joe: Wrong sport!
Anthony: Still averaging 700 yards thrown in a game. Is that like a ridiculous number?
Joe: That is an insane number of yards.
So, the first real question is - and I’m sure you get this a lot - but is “Douchebag” based off of anybody in particular?
Anthony: It’s actually based off of everybody.
Joe: There’s a little bit of douchebag in all of us, I think. We’re from Long Island, and we spent a lot of time in New Jersey; and basically all of the stereotypes you hear, are stereotypes for a reason. It’s very real, and these people exist. Maybe with Kentucky you think everyone there is a hick, and there’s obviously people there that aren’t hicks, but there’s that stereotype saying an alarming amount of the population is probably hicks. As is true for douchebags in Long Island and New Jersey. There are douches everywhere, with different forms of douchebags.
Anthony: And just because you have a tribal tattoo, that does not make you a douche.
Joe: Yeah, you can have a tribal tattoo and not be a douche. But, if you have a tribal tattoo or a Chinese letter tattoo - which is what the lyric was supposed to be, I just couldn’t make it work. But, there’s this guy in our town who has a Chinese symbol tattoo on him and he thinks it means strength and power or something, but it means cereal or something.
Anthony: Douchebaggery is more of a way of life than it is a look.
Joe: And I think the sooner we absorb that, the sooner we can be popular and make money. We should become douches. The max douche.
How do you decide to do songs that are sometimes serious, like “One Less Heart to Break,” and also do things that are less-serious and funny?
Joe: I’ll tell you exactly what it is, and it’s not meant to be funny, but first know that I have a lot of personal experience with depression and attempted suicide. Whether it’s my personal experience or people around me and their experience, I’ve dealt with it. Some very close family members have been at the end of the rope many times, and it’s an unbelievable thing to see, and a terrible thing if it actually happens. So to me, it’s important. Patent Pending isn’t the biggest band in the world, so we don’t have the largest platform to spread our message to, but the small platform we have, I would like to use for good; to help better our population - the small of which listens to Patent Pending. But I think it’s important to help if I sing this. I don’t know why, but again stereotypes, there’s a lot of people in punk-rock, hardcore, emo, depressed and go through this and sometimes they turn to the style of music because this is where people get to understand what they’re going through. So I see this going on and I want to try and make a difference. We took our personal experience and some of our friends’ personal experiences and put it toward the song.
Now, back to your original question as to why we also do silly things, and it’s because our band is our life. It’s not like “oh, you’re the guy from Patent Pending,” this defines us. It’s what Anthony and I have done since we were little kids, so this is it for us. What we do through our music is our life; people aren’t happy all the time, but then again life isn’t always depressing and dark. So “Shakeweights and Moving Crates” makes perfect sense being right next to “One Less Heart to Break” on an album, which is idiotic in itself, but yes I do think that’s important. And an unbelievable example that I just thought of - I don’t know - but when we were younger, I learned how to play a ska sounding chord on the guitar.
Anthony: Which is just a bar chord!
Joe: Exactly, it’s just a bar chord and that’s all it is! But if you stroke at a certain rhythm, it sounds like a ska chord, so I was like “I CAN WRITE A SKA SONG NOW!” So in my life, I experienced that chord, and I thought I was gonna do that all the time. I had the attention of a small rock, so I did that and I thought I was gonna be in a ska band and write ska songs all the time, then the next song was completely different. So for us we always write what comes to mind and what comes to heart, then we put it out and no matter whether it’s an insane, stupid message or really deep, it’s still us.
How did you guys choose the name “Patent Pending”?
Joe: This is my absolute least favorite question.
I see things all the time on TV and everything that say “Patent Pending” and..
Joe: Oh, you mean not us?
Anthony: Dolphins picked the name, actually. You know, the episode of south park?
Joe: That’s actually real. We just put a bunch of words into a tank and then dolphins swam the balls to the other side and the only two words left were “patent” and “pending.” And that would be a much better explanation, but we’ll work on it.
Anthony: We get this question all the time, so we’re gonna fine tune that.
Joe: The actual true story is an inside joke from when I was in fifth grade. As dumb as inside jokes are now, think of how dumb it was in fifth grade? It’s a terrible, terrible reason and so stupid.
Anthony: If we try to explain it, we end up sounding crazier than saying it’s something that we can’t explain.
Joe: But yeah, that’s our band name!
How do you guys think from your first album to now, your sound has changed?
Joe: Well, here’s the thing…you need to understand that I’m never really angry, but I get angry when people do stupid things. I get really angry when kids who love our band, which again there aren’t a lot, but the ones who do criticize us for not sounding like we did eight years ago. Eight years ago I literally owned a guitar and that’s the end of the story, that’s my relationship with the guitar. I didn’t know how to play it, or plug it, and I still don’t know how to string a guitar. I never learned.
Anthony: News flash, you sing now. So you don’t have to worry about it!
Joe: But I still play the guitar when I’m writing songs! And the issue is, that’s the best I could play then, and this is the best we can play now.
Anthony: I don’t think our songs have really changed at all, but I think we’ve learned how to play our instruments better and how to even structure a song better than we used to.
Joe: So when you look at the lyrical content, it is literally the same exact thing. We used to sing about cinnamon toast crunch, and now we sing about shake weights. We had a song called “One Less Heart to Break” eight years ago, and now we have a new version of the same song.
Anthony: I quoted the song last night about snack packs. We had songs about snack packs, Apple Jacks, and such.
Joe: We had these songs that were too dumb to put out, and then we put out “Shake Weights and Moving Crates.” For kids to say our sound has changed, for me, is insane because I’ve been here all along. I understand that if you hear that, and then you hear this you can say the sound has changed in that everything was out of tune. We didn’t know how to play on time; Anthony didn’t know what a metronome was and I didn’t want to believe in it. I mean, we’ve just been playing for eleven years and we learned how to play, and when you learn how to play I guess you learn how to write, so if it sounds different and you’re upset about it, I’m sorry. I think you should grow up. Not you..I’m talking to the person who’s listening to this. I think you’re great, and I think those people are great, too.
How about this: if somebody wants to love and cherish our first demo and they want to ridicule our new stuff, that’s fine because there’s a lot of bands who don’t have anyone to appreciate any of their demos, so for us if somebody loves our first song, then thank you for taking the time. I appreciate it, but also grow up and buy our new CD - it’s better. And also, grow up, learn how to use the internet, and download it for free!
That was actually I was going to ask. How do you feel about that?
Joe: I feel great about it! Like, it’s 2012. I buy records; I actually don’t listen to a lot of music, because I spend all of my time watching T.V. All of it. The only music I listen to is when Anthony is driving.
Anthony: And sometimes the credits on the O.C.
Joe: Yeah! But other than that the only time I listen to music is when Anthony’s driving and that’s it. I love all music Anthony loves, so that’s pretty much it. I do get into records. Like, I was really into the band The Format, so I was into fun. when they started, and now they’re having success. Which inspires so much hope in what we need, but they’re an incredible band and I’m into that record. I’m really into Childish Gambino and a lot of bands, but I still don’t listen to a lot of music. When I do, I buy it, though. If I knew how to apprehend music from the internet free, maybe I would do it. But I don’t know how to do it.
Anthony: I even for the first time just learned how to use the torrent site and downloaded the entire Bowling for Soup discography. But I actually own three of their records.
Joe: I think once you’re as good as friends as we are, you’re okay to download music for free. But yeah so, if someone wants to take the time to listen to a song that I wrote in my bathroom, I want them to have it - by any means possible. If record stores existed and they went in a store and stole it, I would say that’s fucked up because you’re hurting that person’s business. But you can steal music from us, I don’t care. You’re not really stealing it, you’re helping us. What I like to say is, if you’re gonna download our record for free on the internet, I’d like you to send it to three people for free in real life. So that’s where I stand on it; if you’re gonna steal it, share it.
I had someone once tell me that if anyone says they don’t care about people stealing their music then they were lying. What would you say to that?
Joe: You have to know that I don’t give a shit. Like, it’s so much more important to me that somebody hears one of our songs, than it is that we make money. I think we’re the truest testament to that.
Anthony: We give so many CDs away for free. 2006 Warped Tour we sold so many CD’s for like two dollars or a dollar, and we bought them for six.
Joe: We were on a label for a year, and we had to buy the records for six dollars And we sold them for whatever people buy them.
Anthony: We were doing like a t-shirt and CD thing for ten bucks, and the shirts cost about six bucks, too.
Joe: So if you do the math, we lose two dollars on any sale. Us, we’ve been around for eleven years; we’ve played every venue from kitchens, basements, bedrooms, all the way up to amphitheaters, and we don’t have anything to show for it - except for the audio recordings that we’ve made. We have no money, we have never made money.
Actually, the only time that this band has walked away with money in our pockets was when we toured with Gym Class Heroes and…they were the nicest people on planet Earth, also Bowling for Soup - they’re nice, too. At the end of the tour - we did the whole tour for free - we made no money at all, sold t-shirts to get gas to the get to the next venue, and Gym Class Heroes took aside when Travis was like “yo, man” and I can’t do his voice, but he’s hilarious. He said something funny about how it was stupid for touring a tour for free, and there’s five members in their band, five in ours, and they each gave us a hundred dollars. That was the only money we’ve ever made on Patent Pending. And they said that we weren’t allowed to spend that on our band, so we had to go do something else.
Anthony: And we were in Las Vegas!
Joe: Yeah, we were in Vegas and that’s what they told us! Most of us lost money that night…but that’s the only time we made a profit, and I guess that’s still not a profit because we spent so much money on tour. It was the only time we took money away from the band. This van that you’re standing in front of is a money pit. It’s a fucking money pit that we just throw money into and it creates it’s way out. I don’t mean to talk bad about you, van…you’re doing great. But we’ve just go so many expenses and so much debt from all the times we gave CDs and t-shirts away for free, all the times we’ve toured for free, all the times we’ve played shows for free. We just don’t need money. So to say that it bothers us when someone takes time to download our record for free, to me, is insane. And if they won’t believe me, that’s fine. Because I know the feeling I get if someone comes to our show and says they have our record.
Actually, a kid showed up to our show the other day and was like “hey man, I ordered your CD of your website and it didn’t get here yet.” So I know for a fact this kid does not own our CD, but when we go on stage, this kid knows every single word - and that means this kid somehow found our record for free. I can’t explain to you how happy I was, like I was so excited because that to me is what makes driving in a smelly van, danger breaking down everywhere, totally worth it. So you can say that everyone really cares, but if you email me then I’ll send you the record. Chances are I won’t respond for three weeks, but when I do, I’ll send it to you for free. That’s for sure.
What are your favorite things to onbring tour?
Anthony: I bring like the bare minimums. Like a bathing suit, I bring my laptop, and that’s about it. A whole bunch of clothes. But Joe brings an iPad, a computer, an iPod, his iPhone, a stair-master…
Joe: I didn’t bring a stair master..maybe a portable hand-bike.
Anthony: A memory foam mattress..he brings almost his entire belongings in his house with him.
Joe: I do! I have way more belongings with me than I do at my own house.
Anthony: And I bring the bare minimum because I don’t like to carry a lot of stuff, and if someone leaves our trailer door open…
Anthony: Like someone did one time, who will remain name-less..
Joe: Last time we were in Columbus, actually!
Anthony: Yeah! Last time we played here, Joe actually left the trailer door open and my luggage got lost somewhere on the interstate. But yeah, if something happens and we get robbed, I don’t want all my stuff getting lost.
Joe: I hate carrying things, but I also hate being inconvenienced and uncomfortable, so I bring everything that I need all the time.
How does it feel to be touring with Bowling for Soup for a second time?
Joe: Amazing. The best!
Anthony: They are literally the nicest people in the world.
Joe: The best of the best!
Anthony: They’re funny, they’re friendly, they’re handsome, they’re charming, talented.
Joe: Somebody asked me the other day in an interview what is my dream tour, and I swear to God I said out loud “I’m already doing it.” I just love Bowling for Soup, and they’re actually taking us to the UK in October, and we cannot wait. So excited. So fortunate to be on tour with them again, and then again a third time in October.
Anthony: Oh, so grateful!
What’s the strategy as far as writing and recording songs goes?
Joe: I watch tons and tons of T.V. as I said before, and I love, love, love the television shows “The O.C.,” “Lost,” and “Arrested Development.” A lot of our ideas are spawned from watching those shows - especially “The O.C.” I don’t have a lot of drama in my life; I’ve been dating my now fiance for nine years, and we’ve fought like one time and it’s because I forgot to pick her up at the train station.
Joe: Remember when I had to leave the show early to go get her? Yeah, I fucked up bad then…but other than that one time we’ve never fought and I just don’t have very much drama in my life in that way. Songs like “Second Family” and “One Less Heart to Break” are based off of real experiences through the band. Like, “Second Family” is about how the band had zero dollars two years ago, and we put up a Kickstarter for $7500, and we set it up for sixty days or something like that, then kids met the goal within twenty-four hours. So that song is about the community we have here. So basically anything in my life that happens I feel to be good for a song, I write about, but remember I watch a lot of T.V.. So a lot of ideas come from that. Then I can take two characters from a show and find something in my life that I can relate it to, then that’s where a bulk of the stories in our songs come from.
So then I make a demo, give it to Josh - he’s in our band, but he’s never here, he never tours - and he says he hates the whole entire thing then sends back a different demo with the same words, and then I say “you’re an idiot,” change 50% of it back…
Anthony: They then lock themselves in a room for forty minutes.
Joe: Yeah we lock ourselves in a room for forty minutes, give it to them, they record it, then we go back in the room and we write another demo. So yeah, it all starts in my bathroom.
So what are your favorite things about returning home from tour?
Joe: Coliseo pizza! Okay, okay, remember this: I’m not just saying that first. I mean, I live with my fiance now and this has been the most difficult tour to go away for.
Anthony: They just bought a house, and they’re planning a wedding..
Joe: And make no mistake, I love being on the road and I love playing shows, but I cannot stand being away from my fiance right now. So obviously the answer is my fiance and I think Anthony would say something similar
Anthony: Yeah! I love getting home to see my girlfriend and my family, but aside from that..
Joe: But to make this not a boring answer, Coliseo pizza, which is located now one mile from my house. Amazing. I miss my DVR, ‘cause it’s difficult to watch all the shows that I miss when we’re on tour.
Anthony: Joe has a very personal relationship with his DVR.
Joe: Very personal with both DVR’s now, because I have two!
Anthony: He brought the DVR from his parents house where he used to live, and he got like special permission to bring it to his new house.
Joe: I had to call the cable company and not bitch at them, but kind of complain that I couldn’t do that so they eventually let me do that. So I miss my DVR, I miss my bed.
Anthony: I really miss my bed so much.
Joe: And I miss my shower, my water pressure is incredible.
What are the main influences for you guys as a band?
Joe: I think Bowling for Soup is a very safe influence.
Anthony: Yeah, definitely. I’d say more now than ever. I mean, one of our first big shows was when we played with them at a venue on Long Island, and we were amazed by how good they were, how nice they were, and everything. And like, they were always kind of a back-of-the-mind influence to me at least, and then ever since we started touring with them last year, I discovered that I wanted to be where they are in ten years or so. They’re still so nice, and they didn’t let their success go to their heads.
Joe: We all grow up listening to different styles of music; I think Anthony and I are probably the most like in our styles of music.
Anthony: But then you were into 80’s pop and I was really into 80’s metal.
Joe: Yep! I was really into 80’s pop and I hated 80’s metal, and you love it. Sometimes we get flagged for sounding so poppy, and what’s crazy is, if you go back and listen to those old CD’s we were talking about, we wanted to be poppy, we just didn’t know how.
Anthony: We just weren’t very good at it, really.
Joe: But I love, love, love pop music, and I actually write a lot of it now. We love Beach Boys, the Beatles, Green Day, and blink-182, No Doubt, and all of that stuff. There are very few bands we don’t like.
Anthony: Basically our influences are our iPods, to put it simple.
I also wanted to ask, how did you get the idea for the “Defend Pizza Parties” shirt?
Joe: So, the story of the “Defend Pizza Parties” shirt starts decades ago. There was a massive hardcore scene and somebody put a machine gun on a shirt…who was the original?
Joe: No it wasn’t Man Overboard..they ripped it off from the old school hardcore scene. It may have been H2O. But regardless, it was somebody a long time ago who came up with the “Defend Hardcore” shirt, and I mean we weren’t alive when these shirts were around, that’s how long ago it was. Then Man Overboard made this amazing “Defend Pop Punk” shirt, and I love that shirt. We thought it’d be funny because they spoofed that shirt, so we’d spoof their shirt, and I mean, we’re always talking about pizza. Example, the thing I said I missed most other than people was pizza. So, we wanted to make the defend pizza parties shirt.
What are your plans after this tour ends?
Joe: Well, we have a song coming out on Crappy Records compilation, called “Have a Crappy Summer” on June 5th, and it’s us, Bowling for Soup, the Dollyrots, Madina Lake, Allstar Weekend, and a ton of bands. We have the song called “These Pools Are Made For Hopping,” and it’s awesome. I think it picks up right where Second Family and I’m Not Alone left off, but a little punchier. But a really, really awesome song. And then we have Warped Tour coming up.
Oh, and we have a Billboard thing! We’re going across the country to be a part of this Battle of the Bands; we won the first round, because our fans are out of their bands, and we get to drive in a Chevy Cruze from our home, to Las Vegas pretty much right when this tour is over. And then we’re gonna compete in this Battle of the Bands and if we win, we play at the Billboard Awards with Justin Bieber. Which would be freaking insane.
So we have that coming up, Warped Tour, and then I’m getting married!
Anthony: I’m a groomsman!
Joe: Yes, yes he is! The we’re going to the UK with Bowling for Soup, and when we get there we’re releasing an awesome thing where the tour is us, Bowling for Soup, and the Dollyrots, so we’re each gonna cover one of the other’s song, and we’re each gonna have our own original song. So we’re each gonna have three songs on this split CD that is coming out in the fall!
Thanks! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Joe: Sports! Vin Diesel movies…what do you got, anything?
Anthony: Fast and the Furious movies…did you see all of them?
Joe: Nope, haven’t seen all of them.
Anthony: I dunno!
Joe: We’re excited to be back in Columbus, and thank you for interviewing us!
Anthony: I’m gonna have to sit on my luggage tonight so it doesn’t fall out.
Joe: Check out patentpendingmusic.com for updates and stuff. Check out our Facebook, which is difficult to find for some reason. There’s a bunch of fake pages, but ours is facebook.com/patentpendingmusic. We put up a live video from last night in Cleveland, which is awesome. We have a music video coming out for our song “I Already Know.”
Anthony: She don’t give a shit about me.
Joe: And the video is half animation, half real life. It’s gonna be awesome.
Done by Mindy WiegandView Story