Instead of announcing its big-deal headliners first, Soundwave Festival likes to start with the mid-list. It begins by revealing the bands who will get most excited at being among the first to make the cut, and whose devoted fans will make the most noise about it. It’s definitely worked with Patent Pending, a New York pop-punk group whose frontman Joe Ragosta was extremely stoked to be the second act announced on the bill.
“People in America talk about it all the time as if, ‘One day, we will go to Soundwave,’” he says. “It’s such a huge deal for Americans, you have no idea. And two: our guitar manager tour manages the band Zebrahead, so he’s actually been to Soundwave a couple different times, and the stories he comes back with are so fuckin’ awesome. I just can’t fuckin’ wait.”
Patent Pending may be a Blinkcore gang of punks who specialise in fast-paced songs about girls who’ve let them down, but they branch out into positive-vibe anthems, attacks on the douchebags of the world, and one entire song about how emo kids should just cheer up (it’s called ‘Cheer Up Emo Kid’). “A festival that can have Blink and Metallica is the perfect festival for us because our music is so different-sounding song to song,” says Ragosta. “Every single song is totally different. We played Download Festival; we were the only band that wasn’t metal that day. The only one. And we were terrified, cause we were like, ‘Oh my God, these people are gonna fucking hate us,’ and it ended up being incredible. It was one of the best days ever.”
One of the oddest songs in the Patent Pending catalogue is ‘Hey Mario’ from their 2013 album Brighter, a song about the relationship between video game characters Mario and Princess Peach, complete with coin-collection bleeps used to cover the swearing. Ragosta came up with the idea for the song after playing a show in Glasgow that climaxed with one of their songs about girls who let you down – ‘I Already Know (She Don’t Give A Shit About Me)’, at the end of which everybody in the crowd yells the finale, which is the title of the song. “I look at the crowd, the crowd is really excited, and I say, ‘That song is about Princess Peach!’ And no-one laughed. I was like, ‘Fuck you guys, that’s funny.’”
As soon as Ragosta got offstage he wrote the chorus of ‘Hey Mario’ (“Mario, you’re a next-level bro / But the Peach been cheating, and you know I ain’t talking code”) and sang it into his phone. A month later he chanced across that recording and turned it into a song that, to the band’s surprise, took off in England. “We never had a song take off in that way where it’s on the radio and they’re talking about it on TV and stuff like that,” Ragosta says.
To capitalise on that success they decided to make a video for it – a project that quickly grew out of hand. “My brother was like, ‘Yo, you should make an entire Behind The Music as if Mario was in a band and he wasn’t a superhero.’ So we got everyone together, we got costumes made up, we were like, ‘We’ll just do a quick five-minute thing,’ and then it turned into a full-blown movie.”
The movie hasn’t been released yet, but the trailer’s on YouTube and it lives up to the promise, with Ragosta playing Mario as a rock star spiralling out of control into mushroom-fuelled depravity. “It’s a full-blown mockumentary about this band that never existed, and what happened was, as that was happening we had to talk about this career this band that never existed had, and we were talking about these fake songs. We were saying, ‘How funny would it be if there was a song called ‘Boom Boom Pass The Mushroom’?’” Following through on the joke, the band travelled to Nashville and spent five days recording a mini-album under the pseudonym Mario & The Brickbreakers, with songs like ‘Rainbow Road’, ‘My Princess Peach’ and, yes, ‘Boom Boom Pass The Mushroom’. “It’s one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done,” Ragosta says with pride.
It’s also one of the most successful, again resonating for some reason particularly well with the English – it debuted at number 17 on the UK iTunes chart, “which is fucking hilarious to us”, he says. “This weekend was the first time we played shows since that album came out, so we’re playing our normal set and then we walked offstage and came back dressed as Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad and Wario, and performed three of the songs as Mario & The Brickbreakers, like with the accents and the moustaches and everything.”
It’s a gag they’ll hopefully be repeating when they’re in Australia for Soundwave (which will also be their first-ever trip here). They might work up a sweat in those outfits, though. “The best part about being in the band Patent Pending is that there are no rules except for ‘stay hydrated’,” says Ragosta. “It’s a very exciting thing to have this many people finally be in on the joke that we’re doing. Normally we’re joking around with ourselves, but now people are paying attention. This Mario & The Brickbreakers thing is such an insanely hare-brained scheme that now that people have it, it’s hilarious to me, and I love it.”