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Codefendants artist photo

Codefendants: Thrown together and loose in the most beautiful way

Even on paper, Codefendants shouldn’t work. After all, given the current state of our artistic diet, you could be forgiven for thinking that anything unique and interesting is banned. Yet they pulled it off with their debut album This Is Crime Wave, and you can see for yourself because it’s out now.

Made up of Sam King, member of Get Dead’s graffiti crew, Rapper Ceschi Ramos and NOFX’s Fat Mike, Codefendants certainly isn’t a collaboration-by-numbers. Punk welcomes hip hop, rap clears the stage for punk and experimenting with things like new-wave and flamenco interjects all of it. There was a defined decision to create something that had never been created before, but as for as mission statements go, that’s about the only one Codefendants.

After speaking with King and Ramos, BLUNT would learn that it was this absence of a plan, or perhaps a rejection of any form of structure that actually makes Codefendants work

Did you have to whip and chain this idea to work, or did it come really naturally?

Ceschi Ramos: It was a very natural process. We’re working artists. We make shit all the time. We really became friends over the phone during lockdown, and we had a ton of mutual friends and a ton of strange connections in the Bay Area. When I finally broke out of New Haven, Connecticut, where I was staying with my family, Sam was like, “Fly to LA. I’ll book a session.” He had a demo for ‘Abscessed’, I wrote it on the plane ride over to LA, and then we just did two songs in one night, and then it just felt really good and we just continued…

Sam King: For a year.

Ramos: Yeah. Then we just ended up living together and changed our whole lives. We were exploding with creativity because…

King: We hadn’t worked! We would be going back and forth even when we weren’t at the house together. When he’d have to go do his shows or go back to the East Coast or whatever, we would just be constantly sending each other fucking voice memos of just ditties that we’re doing, and then be like, “Nah, fuck that one,” or, “We can work on that.”

Ramos: Something like Fast Ones is a good example. We were fucking around in San Jose on a keyboard, and we wanted to make a mainstream sounding chorus. We thought it was funny to make something that sounded like it was auto-tuned.

King: Yeah, it was me and this guy in the guest room at my house in San Jose, jumping around like fucking idiots, laughing. Oh shit, how funny would it be if we put an auto-tune on this shit?

How did you keep a harness on this thing? I look at a track like ‘Def Cons’ and wonder how on earth you could pull off something so chaotic and unpredictable…

Ramos: Well, ‘Def Cons’ was an interesting one. Sam was like, “Fuck this song. Let’s throw this song away.”

King: I fucking hated that song.

Ramos: That was a song where Mike worked with us until it was something we loved. When my friend set the drums it just clicked. It really clicked. That song took a lot of work, but some of the other ones just were just like…

King: 10-minute bangers. It would just come through. I think it’s eclectic. Fat Mike, me and Ceschi, we’re not the most focused individuals. We really can’t, at this stage in the game, just make one type of music. You know what I mean? I think that the style that I want to start gravitating towards more is just making sure you’re making interesting music. There’s that whole thing in 2010 to 2012 everything was this mid-tempo punk rock. I got really burnt out on that scene. So I think it was really nice to start making some more eclectic music that’s a little off the wall.

The guest musicians you have on this are incredibly eclectic. Where did those come from? Imagine getting The DOC on a track.

Ramos: That was really Fat Mike’s doing, because he became friends with The DOC. The DOC filmed a documentary at Fat Mike’s house. They just hit it off, and we all flew to Dallas to work with him.

King: It just happened, but we didn’t actively set out to do it. He just heard one of our beats through Mike and was like, “Yo, I like that shit.”

Well, it really does seem as though the universe conspired for all this. As a journalist, I want to hear this whole, “Well, what we did is we actually organised this and then this happened,” but I’m not going to get that, am I?

King: No, no planning like that. This is probably the most fucking thrown together, loosest… It was never…

Ramos: Beautifully done though, in a way. One thing I can say is that most people don’t just throw their entire lives away for music the way we did. We maxed every credit card. We fucking left our apartments and homes and fucking…

King: Girlfriends, houses….

I’m pleased to report from the ground up, You guys are onto something.

Ramos: I’ll say too, working with Fat Mike is awesome too, because even with this, we’re starting to fuck around with other new songs and stuff like that, and he gets super excited. He’s like, “Oh, we got half an album done.” But still, in reality he knows. He’s like, “We’ll never release anything unless all of us are completely happy with what we’re going to release.” And to get that done is…

Ramos: It’s difficult.

King: It’s difficult…