It’s been nearly 10 years since pop-punk staples Mest called it quits with a blog post on their Myspace page (those were the days, weren’t they?). Since then, the members have gone on to various other projects, reuniting briefly for 2013’s Not What You Expected, an album that featured singer Tony Lovato as the sole original member. Now, the original lineup—Tony Lovato, Jeremiah Rangel, Matt Lovato, Nick Gigler—have reconvened and planned a series of reunion shows, the first of which is this Friday in Anaheim, California. AP caught up with Tony to discuss the reunion, the possibility of new music and just why they broke up in the first place.

What have you been up to in the later years of Mest?
TONY LOVATO: Well, after Mest broke up, I did a couple of side projects. Because I had lived in the punk-rock world my entire life, I sort of just did that. We’ve always done a bit of different things within the Mest records. So when I started a new band [Kisses For Kings], it was just, like, “I’m gonna write music.” I can’t be pigeonholed to any particular genre. It was cool for me, as a writer—because I had written five or six records already—to not have to worry about the punk police. It was fun, but, then, I started listening to all of my old records again—MxPx, Face To Face, NOFX, Bad Religion, Rancid. Those records bring me back to a time and place. I started writing songs that were Mest songs. I kept writing and kept writing, and all of a sudden, I had a record. But Mest weren’t together anymore.

Are you talking about Not What You Expected? Were you happy with how that record turned out?
I personally liked it, because, as a musician and songwriter, I like to challenge myself and write something like, “Oh, I’ve never fucking done this before.” Obviously, that record was a lot harder than any other things we had done. But, at the core of it, we don’t scream on it. I still sing. The melodies are the same. Everyone’s gonna have their opinion. But for the most part, all of the feedback was good. Kids liked it. There were, of course, some people who were like, “We want Destination Unknown again!” Look, everybody wants Green Day to make Dookie again, but it’s not gonna happen.

Why did the original Mest lineup breakup?
I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about this. It’s not really anything crazy. At that point in time, we had already been a band for 10 years. We started in 1995 and put out four records. We were putting out a fifth and had just toured for the past five years, nonstop. Things just sort of wore on everybody a lot. We weren’t at the point where we were fucking Green Day, you know? So after years and years and years of touring, people get a little worn out. Even though we’d all grown up together and were good friends, everybody started to take some breathing room when we’d get off the road. Jeremiah [Rangel, guitar] was a little over touring; he’s the oldest one in the band. Matt [Lovato, bass] had his daughter, so he wanted to be home. It was, like, the typical band stuff that happens. One guy gets sick of the road; one guy wants to have a family. For me, the main thing was this: When we started the band, I always said if this is not fun anymore and it becomes a stressful job, we’re done. That’s it. It wasn’t any crazy fighting. Everyone just got worn out, I guess.

How did this reunion come together? Had you been thinking about this for a while?
No, man, not at all. That’s the craziest thing. I never thought we’d be on the same stage together ever again. Not because we hate each other or anything, but because everyone’s older and they live in different states. I never thought it would happen, and there was no pre-thought of this. It just randomly happened. Some fan sent me the Warped Tour DVD from 2003, which I had never seen. So I watched it, and during the interview, we told a gnarly story about something we did on Warped. It was pretty funny, and, as I was watching it, I was like, “Fuck, dude, that was so much fun.” We clicked so well when we were doing our thing. Then I saw the live footage, and I was like, “Fuck.” [Sighs.] We had played together so much and knew each other so well that, sometimes, we wouldn’t get together at all before a tour. We could just get onstage and nail every song. It was that unit thing. So I watched that and was like, “Fuck, man. I miss that. I miss these guys. I miss being around them and being onstage with them.” Because one thing we always took pride in was our live show. That was what we did.

I was talking to my old man about it, and I wondered what it would be like to get on a stage again with Mest. My cousin [Matt Lovato] randomly sends me a message that his daughter was learning Mest songs on a bass. He sent me a picture of her holding the bass and the thing was three fucking times the size of her. So Matt and I started bullshitting about the band. I asked him, “What do you think it would be like if we all got onstage together?” He was like, “Oh, that’s weird, because me and Jeremiah talked about that twice already this year.” I was like, “You text Jeremiah, and I’ll text Nick [Gigler, drums], and we’ll go from there.” Nick and Jeremiah were in. It was real quick.

I flew home to Chicago for rehearsals, and we hadn’t been in the same room for 10 years. It was so normal again—everybody was cracking jokes—and it felt like 10 years ago, which was cool, because, when you’re going into it, you’re nervous. You’re like, “Is this gonna be awkward?” And it totally wasn’t, which is fucking great.

What are the reunion plans?
We have the one show this Friday. We didn’t want to do Chicago as our first reunion show. We’re playing Anaheim, because that was one of our favorite places to play. The only other thing set in stone is Riot Fest Chicago. There are talks of something happening around Riot Fest, like, doing a tour. I don’t even want to say, because it’s so in the early stages, but, booking agents are talking. There’s definitely gonna be more touring coming up, probably end of summer/early September.

Is there new Mest music coming?
It’s the most crucial question and the most “I-don’t-know” answer. To be honest, there are a couple people [in the band] who are on board for another record. Whereas, some guys are like, “Well, it’s gonna be hard, so we’re trying to figure out if it’s possible.” I, personally, am gonna start writing. I have an idea for what I want the next record to sound like. I want to go back to the roots of Mest. It’s tentative. I am on board, and some of the other guys in the band are too. There are not people who aren’t on board; we just have to figure everything out [logistically]. We want to make sure each member is part of this record. alt