John Garcia: A Rock And Roll Fables Conversation

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“I was just kind of tired of saying yes to everybody else and saying no to these songs so here I am, and let me tell you, it feels really good to be where I’m at.”

So says the man of the hour, the legendary John Garcia, via phone in late July just before the release of his debut solo album (Which is out now through Napalm Records). With the Vista Chino record barely a year old, a John Garcia solo record seems to come from out of left field until Garcia expands on why a solo record was exactly what needed to happen now:

“I’ll give you the straight to the point answer: I was exhausted. Exhausted of looking at this collection of songs that I’ve had for so many years. I felt bad for ’em. I had a personal relationship with these songs. These songs were not B-sides or leftovers from any of the other projects. These songs were plucked from my career and I kept them in a dusty old cardboard box and every morning I’d look at ’em. And I actually felt bad. I was, like, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll get to you. Hold tight!’ But I was committed to other projects. I’ve always wanted to do this. I’ve always wanted to do a solo record. Ever since I was 18. Before I was even started playing in a band I’ve thought about it and that’s when the collecting started. I collected 44 songs throughout 20 years that were special and very personal to me.”

As if finally putting some of those songs to tape wasn’t already a career highlight for Garcia, the studio brought a few more surprises in the form of an appearance by the on and only Robby Krieger of The Doors:

“When selecting the songs for the record it became very apparent that “Her Bullets Energy” was gonna be one of the songs [used]. Harper Hug, my producer, said to me ‘Hey man, I’m hearing a Spanish Flamenco guitar on this. What do you think?’ And I thought it was a great idea: ‘Who do you know that plays Spanish guitar?’ And he says ‘Well, I know Robby Krieger.’ After falling over off my chair and picking myself back up again I said ‘Well, do you think he would do it?’ We got him the track. The next piece was if he liked it. He liked it. The third and most important piece was us asking him if he would play flamenco guitar on it and he obliged us. Next thing you know I’m in the studio with Robby Krieger at Horse Latitudes, his brand new recording studio in Glendale, and he was throwing some swipes down to it. It made the song better not to mention the entire record better. Talk about a monumental moment. Being in a room with a legend is a moment I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”

With any recognizable vocalist branching out into the world of solo albums, though, the question becomes: What sets this apart from any of your other bands? In Garcia’s case, that’s an illustrious career that’s included stints in Kyuss, Unida, Slo-Burn, and Vista Chino to name a few but he’s quick to point out the biggest difference now:

“This is another direct result of me being explorative and exploratory in my career. I mean, anybody  who knows anything about my career knows that I don’t like to stay in one place for very long. This is a direct result of that. Nobody goes in the studio with an intent to suck. You wanna go in there, and you know, you have passion! You want to omit your feelings and open up and expose yourself (Your gut, your heart). You put them down on tape or a hard drive or wherever that may be…it’s feeling, it’s passion, it’s emotion. It’s all those things. This one, for me, I wouldn’t say is a little more emotional for me. It’s A LOT more emotional.”

And emotion is definitely the driving force of this new record and what gets Garcia though it all at the end of the day with a career that’s had its share of ups and downs:

“The biggest challenge of my career is right now. Right here with being a solo artist. For lack of a better word, not hiding behind a band name but exposing yourself a little bit more and it’s a little nerve wracking. This is the biggest move of my career.  To go through some of the bad things of having a record be swept from underneath your feet to having some ex-band members sue you. You’ve gotta detach yourself from that. I try to keep my eye on the ball and what’s important. 

What’s important to me is not two kids sitting on each side of a chain link fence poking a fucking stick at one another and me being caught in the middle. That’s not what’s important to me. 

What’s important to me, and I’ve said this a thousand times, is my family. My 4-year old son, my 11-year old daughter, my amazing wife (my best friend) who allows me to continue to follow my passion. While she’s running Palm Springs Animal Hospital I’m sitting here playing Mr. Mom. This is enjoyable to me to spend time with my two kids. I just got back from a three day camping trip. My manager for Vista Chino, we talk often, says to me: ‘You go camping?’ and I says ‘Yeah!’ and he’s, like, ‘Camping camping?!?!’  and I’m, like, ‘What other type of fucking camping is there?’. 

That to me is important. My family. You have to detach yourself from that other stuff and move on. With this project I’m on a mission and my mission is: Zero drama. And my life is much happier with where I’m at and my career and the route that I’ve taken. I’m in a good place. 

Because I’m selfish and need to ask about some of my other favorites he’s been affiliated with at one time or another, the conversation switches to West Virginia’s own Karma To Burn and the possibility of those fabled recordings he’s done with them over the years seeing the light of day:

“I certainly hope so. Boy, let me tell you they’ve been through a little bit of turmoil. I love Rich (Mullins, bass) and Will (Mecum, guitar). You know Nathan Limbaugh, the original drummer, he co-wrote “Argleben” with me (off the solo record). Karma To Burn is one of my all-time favorite bands. I still listen to those records and the most recent record on Napalm. My song’s on there that I wrote all those years back when I was in my early ’20’s. I often thought about a project where I just take those recordings, I don’t remix them, but I sing on top of those. Just the way they are. I often thought about that. Who knows? Like I said, I don’t like to stay in one place too long but on the flip side I don’t see me deviating from the current position that I’m in any time in the near future.”

As for current bands at the forefront of a scene he helped build, Garcia has a few faves like Steak from the UK with whom he recently recorded vocals for their upcoming Napalm Records debut (“I do like Steak. They’re the real deal. They’re mean. They’re lifers. They came out to Palm Springs and recorded here and they’re into the desert scene.) Other stand outs include Black Mastiff out of Edmonton, Canada (I cover one of their songs on the record, “Rollin Stoned”. Love them.and Black Pussy from Oregon (Black Pussy’s a cool band. I dig them.).

He’s quick to point out, though, about his taste in music:

“Something that has feeling and emotion and brings you someplace. I dig it. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if it’s Earth, Wind, and Fire or The Ohio Players or whatever. 

But honestly, I listen to a lot of radio. In Southern California I’m pretty spoiled. We love our radio here. I know I certainly do. There’s a station out here, KDES, and a DJ by the name of Art Laboe and he does requests and dedications to all the homies and stuff like that. He plays good tunes. A lot of R&B stuff. Old. School.  I still listen to classic stuff. Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Doors…that’s on regular rotation on my turntable but I’m also a big fan of Terence Trent D’Arby. All of his stuff, his entire catalog. Really dig that guy. Amazing singer. 

Touching on the future of Vista Chino after I mentioned Mike Dean’s gushing comments of his experience with the band during a recent interview with us, Garcia offered this in response:

“Let me tell you something about Mike Dean: What an amazing bass player and an amazing gentleman. The guy is super intelligent. To share a stage with that guy with Brant Bjork and Bruno Fevery: Wow! That’s an experience I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. Great band! Even without me, I could just listen to them just jam. 

I don’t see another Vista Chino record happening anytime in the near future. I’m very happy with where I’m at right now. There’s no bad blood. Nothing happened. I gotta go where my heart and gut tells me to go and I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and it feels good to be here. But I’ve also learned ‘never say never” so maybe one day but not anytime in the near future.”

As for the “near future”, Garcia has it all mapped out:

“Touring, writing recording. Touring, writing, recording. That’s it! And in that order. My tour starts off here in Palm Desert and starts September 5th at this place called The Hood. Then we head to Australia for a run there. We get back home and continue writing rehearsing and then we’re headed over to Europe for an extensive, heavy, heavy tour for November/December, come back, do some more writing, recording, get the record done, tour Europe again next year for a summer festival run and then start the process all over again.

I’m very pleased with my live band. They’re all local guys. For the first time in many, many years I have local guys and it feels great to be able to call them up and say ‘Hey, I got this riff. Let’s get together for a barbeque and jam out at the rehearsal space down in Palm Springs.’ We had rehearsals last night. Feeling good about playing Kyuss songs. Even songs that Kyuss never played live: “Thong Song”, “Gloria Lewis”, “Tangy Zizzle”, “Catamaran” Stuff like that I’ve injected into the set along with Slo Burn and, of course, my solo stuff so it’s me playing a lot of past and present.”

Getting back to the record at hand, Garcia concludes with this:

“It might not be a monumental moment for rock ‘n’ roll (I wasn’t trying to change the face of rock and roll by any means) but a little bit of a monumental moment for me and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

John Garcia is out now through Napalm Records. You can get your copy here and check out here to find where you can catch Mr. Garcia live in 2014 and beyond.

The man, the myth, the legend….Mr. John Garcia flies solo!

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“These songs were not B-sides or leftovers from any of the other projects. These songs were plucked from my career and I kept them in a dusty old cardboard box and every morning I’d look at ’em. And I actually felt bad. I was, like, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll get to you. Hold tight!’ I collected 44 songs throughout 20 years that were special and very personal to me.”

So says the man of the hour, Mr. John Garcia, via phone in a recent interview with Rock and Roll Fables (Full interview coming next week). From the 44 songs collected, 11 ended up making his debut solo album and they are most definitely not B-sides and otherwise.

Rocking from the start with the slow burnin’ “My Mind”, John Garcia sounds exactly like, well, John Garcia. But if you thought you knew this influential vocalist, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. JG manages to capture the magic from all of his other bands: the best of Kyuss, the best of Slo-Burn, the best of Unida, the best of Hermano, the best of Vista Chino…but it’s not a “best of” by any means.

The greatest accomplishment of Garcia’s first solo outing is that, despite his unmistakable voice, the album sounds like nothing he’s done before. It’s more “hard rock” than “stoner rock” if you’re looking for labels but those signature Homme/Fevery-style guitar licks still pop up (Check out “Flower” and “The Blvd” especially).

If you like that desert vibe, however, “5000 Miles” has got that in spades for you laying on the grooves and the riffage thick. Later still, “Argleben” and “Saddleback” hit another  groove sweet spot on the album. Garcia also does a solid job bringing things full circle with a standout performance from The Doors’ Robby Krieger playing flamenco lead on the “Planet Caravan”-esque closer “Her Bullets Energy” while looking to the future by covering current Canadian rockers Black Mastiff”s “Rolling Stoned” earlier on the album.

If you live for the groove and for the rawk, then it’d be in your best interest to pick up John Garcia on August 5th through Napalm Records. Some pretty sweet pre-order packages are available here.

Corrosion Of Conformity in peak form on IX!

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Do I miss Pepper Keenan? Sure do! My Corrosion of Conformity education began with 1994’s Deliverance but I understand why things are the way they are now. Making it easier to swallow is the fact that Mike Dean, Reed Mullin, and Woody Weatherman are still putting out some of their finest work regardless of Mr. Keenan focusing on that other band for the time being.

Following the release of last year’s free Megaladon EP, IX follows the same design set forth on 2012’s self-titled monster which sees the Animosity-era line up once again delivering some of their finest work with that vitriol firmly intact albeit presented in a more laid back fashion.

It’s that sound developed on Deliverance that’s subtly transformed from plain Southern rawk  into a monstrous force of Black Sabbath-sized riffs and grooves merged with that old school intensity of C.O.C.’s early years. First taste of IX, “The Nectar”, is a perfect example of that as is opener “Brand New Sleep”. Bassist/vocalist Mike Dean is in top form during the infectious “On Your Way” while guitarist Woodroe Weatherman shreds the shit out of his instrument laying riff after earth shattering riff and Reed Mullin follows suit pummeling away on his kit.

If it’s straight up rawk that you’re after then by all means skip on over to “Denmark Vessey”, an old school punk rocker, or “Trucker” which is a blues-infused mega jam that sees the collective “wisebloods” rocking harder than most. Still not enough? Try on “Tarquinias Superbus” which sees the band at their most metal with a Dean-spewed chorus that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. IX eventually culminates with “The Nectar Reprised”. They end with a reprise, people! Who does that these days? Nobody! That’s who. Yet another reason that IX is not to be missed.

There’s silly and there’s stupid. If you’re neglecting C.O.C. these days while holding your breath that Keenan will be back tomorrow then, quite frankly, you fall in the latter category. IX is out through Candlelight Records on June 24th. Pre-order bundles are available over at Indiemerch or get yer digital on over on Itunes.

 

 

Editor’s picks! Top 13 of ’13!

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The best of the best of the best of 2013. What this year has taught me is that I like the ladies and I like the rawk. I still love my metal but it seems that stone cold rock has infiltrated my soundwaves and made a significant impact. Anywho, without further adieu here is the Top 13 of ’13 according to me!

1. Skinny Puppy: Weapons This is the one for me. Since they reformed in 2004 (Have you pre-ordered your vinyl copy of The Greater Wrong Of The Right yet?) Skinny Puppy has been on a constant path of putting out solid albums….but this is the one that really encapsulated the awesome that is SP. A throwback to the old days yet a step into the future, Weapons captured all that Skinny Puppy has been but ventured off into the beyond with epic results. Stand out’s include the hypnotic opening number  “wornin'”, the dance floor-ready “paragUn”, and the cataclysmic “solvent”.

2. Filter: The Sun Comes Out Tonight It was such a great year for Filter. Such a great year! And for me! I had the honor of interviewing Richard Patrick twice and seeing the band destroying at the House Of Blues in Boston in June but the real gem was the album they released around that time. The Sun Comes Out Tonight, quite simply, is Filter’s best. Is it Richard Patrick firing on all cylinders once again or is it his new writing partner Jonny Radtke that’s making this magic happen? Whatever the answer is the results are TSCOT which is a little industrial, a little rock, and a whole lot of ass kicking anthems.

3. Clutch: Earth Rocker ER has lived with me the longest as I’ve had it since January of 2013 and it is still a part of my regular rotation. The most straightforward, balls out rawk album Clutch has put out, it’s also probably their best. Period. If by the time “Oh, Isabella” saunters seductively into banging closer “The Wolfman Kindly Requests….” you don’t agree, then you might need to check your pulse.

4. Middle Class Rut: Pick Up Your Head Unbelievable sophomore release by a duo that expanded into more for their live performances in 2013. “Born Too Late” literally explodes when it comes on while songs like “Leech” and “Cut The Line” are brilliant sonic excursions. In the end, it’s latest single “Dead Eye” that will show you how far MCR have come since their inception. You’re welcome in advance.

5. A Pale Horse Named Death: Lay My Soul To Waste Speaking of sophomore releases, APHND stepped up their game considerably in 2013 with a doom rock record that was lush, bold, and delivered tenfold. Mainman Sal Abruscato recruited former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly (Yes, APHND now features two former TON drummers) to give the band some extra thump while Abruscato expanded his range vocally and sonically to create some masterpieces like “In The Sleeping Death”, “Growing Old”, and “Dead Of Winter” which meshed easily with rockers “Shallow Grave” and “DMSLT”.

6. IAMX: The Unified Field 2013: The year I finally discovered IAMX. Seriously, where have I been for the last 10 years? On The Unified Field, IAMX deliver emotion, sonic excess and superior production to create one of the most compelling and heartfelt albums of the year. “I Come With Knives” and the title track easily prove this to be true.

7. Vista Chino: Peace/QOTSA:…Like Clockwork I know this is a cop out to put both of these in the same rank but they’re both the flip side of the same coin in my opinion and equally appealing in different ways. While Josh Homme and co. go in a completely different direction than his former desert brethren, both albums are separately mature and a perfect fit and progression for each outfit. Peace, being the next logical step in the Kyuss legacy and …Like Clockwork being this grand culmination of work that started on the Kyuss/QOTSA split oh so many years ago.

8. Beyonce: Beyonce/Lady Gaga: ARTPOPYeah, I know. Another cop out. But who can choose between these two great ladies? Gaga, the modern-day chameleon shifting from the almost cock rock of Born This Way to the suave electro rush that is ARTPOP? Queen Bey, the elder stateswoman at this point whose surprised album is one of her most consistent and sexiest? I couldn’t choose.

9. Killswitch Engage: Disarm The Descent If the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach wasn’t enough to entice you back to the KSE fold then the fact that this was also one of their most brutal to date should. From the assault of “The Hell In Me” through to the melodious  “In Due Time” or the seriously vicious “All That We Have” it’s obviously apparent that this is a reinvigorated KSE that shows no signs of stopping.

10. Royal Thunder: CVI Wow. Just wow. If you haven’t heard “Parsonz Curse” and fallen to the floor in a quivering mess because of its sheer brilliance then I pity you. Miny Parsonz is undoubtedly a frontwoman you need to pay attention while Josh Weaver and Evan Diprima round out Royal Thunder to deliver an album that’s equal parts Sabbath and Heart (The band and the feeling).

11. earthtone9: IV All hail the underground kings. Cut down in their prime because they were making music that was before their time (Make sense?), Nottingham’s own prog-metallers earthtone9 reformed in 2010 but didn’t release the beast of an album that is IV until April of this year, their first full-length since 2000’s arc’tan’gent. Was it worth the lengthy wait for fans? Oh hells yes! Crunching riffs followed by broad melodic passages all topped with Karl Middleton’s deafening growl made IV a step in the right direction for e9.

12. Rob Zombie: Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor Oh man was this the Rob Zombie album I had been waiting for! The kind of album that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and causes one to smile uncontrollably, VRRV hit the nail on the head with each of its 12 ghoul-infested tracks.

13. !!!: THR!!!ER A totally under-the-radar album, THR!!!ER was a subtle yet hypnotic dance favorite of mine in 2013. Frontman Nic Offer, as always, led the !!! crew through some slick grooves and some new instant classics like “Even When The Water’s Cold”, “Get That Rhythm Right”, and “Except Death”.

And I’d be remiss not mention the honorable mentions of 2013 (i.e. How can I squeeze some more albums on here?) so, in no particular order, here they are:

-Ghost: Infestissumam

-Holograms: Forever

-BLACK TAXI: Chioroscuro

-Mike Doughty: Circles Super Bon Bon…

-Monster Magnet: The Last Patrol

-Korn: The Paradigm Shift/Love & Death: Between Here & Lost

-The Soft Moon: Zeros