Alternative Music - Interviews - Soundblab

Richard Strange - Doctors of Madness

Perfect Past

Bill Golembeski: Let’s start with the new box: How is this different from the Ozit releases?

Richard Strange: It’s everything, and more, with brand new liner notes, bonus tracks, rehearsal tracks AND it has been beautifully remastered

Did you have any say about the Ozit cd releases? Were they from master tapes? The liner notes were from your autobiography. Are there new notes and information? Did you have more involvement with the new Perfect Past?

I have had much more involvement with Perfect Past, from Day One. The Ozit release messed around with the running order of the tracks for reasons I never did understand. This release is faithful in every way to the original concept of the albums.

Am I right to say this looks like a really classy package?

You got it in one!!

I know there are demos. Are there more live versions?

Rehearsals, live, demos you name it, you’ll get it!! Genuine never before heard tracks by the bands in their pomp!!

Are other members of the old band involved? Obviously, Stoner is gone.

Urban Blitz and I toured Japan with Susumu (bass) and Mackii (drums) from the Japanese band Sister Paul last year, and they really rock! We will be touring the UK with them this May June, and Japan again in September. The energy those guys bring to live performance reminds me of the rush we used to get on stage when we first started. They are mighty!

 

1976 – 1978

Were you glam? What was glam? “Waiting” sure sounds like punk to me. The same is true for the song, “Doctors of Madness.” Listen to that rhythm track and vocal delivery. Were these songs punk?

We were Glam after glam and punk before punk, that was why everyone found it so hard to categorize us, and still do. The closest I have heard is that we are the missing link between Roxy Music and The Sex Pistols. In a way its meaningless, because we were like nothing else…but it will do! I say perhaps we weren’t Jesus Christ, but we were sure as hell John The Baptist!!

There are Bowie comparisons. I love “Suicide City.” But when I listened way back then, I heard Ian Hunter/Mott the Hoople and Peter Hammill/ Van der Graff Generator. Was I wrong? Were you in that “outsider” group that really didn’t fit in any category?

Just a note: I think “The Moon Upstairs” from Mott’s Brain Capers is the greatest rock song ever. The album is no slouch either. And Peter Hammill’s Nadir’s Big Chance is a precursor to punk.

Like all Artists, I soaked it up…and if anything, it’s the influences that infected my writing and our performances of the stuff that was out there before all that- Brel, Burroughs, Pop art, film noir, Velvets, you know the point about the Doctors is we were never really about MUSIC, we were about The World, or at least OUR world.!

The Sex Pistols opened for you. What was that like? Nascent punk rockers were in your audience. Were you aware of your impact?

Yea I knew I was looking for a new career in a new town! Someone had just moved the goal posts and we were 3 years older than them- and that’s a whole generation in Pop Music.

Your lyrics, especially in songs like “Marie and Joe” and especially “Out,” certainly didn’t fit with the times. Were you an innovator?

As Chou en-Lai, Mao Tse-tung’s Prime Minister said on being asked in the 1960s about the importance of the French Revolution, which had happened 200 previously, “It’s too soon to say!”

Did The Doctors say all they needed to say? Could they have existed in the punk moment?

I think the fact there is so much interest in our work 40 years later suggests we succeeded artistically. If we had succeeded financially we may have become a parasitic caricature, squeezing every last dollar out of what had once been a great band, and that would have been a sad way to be remembered.

 

And the Rest

But you have made a life as an artist. How did you succeed?

I teach music students sometimes, and I say to them, “There are two sorts of artists in the world- those who say ‘yes’ and those who say ‘no’. You have to dare to fail in order to succeed. Many don’t. They are too traumatized by the possibility of failure that they never leave their comfort zone. I instinctively say “Yes” to everything and then find out “how” later! My passport has variously described my occupation as Musician, Actor, Curator, Writer, Teacher and Adventurer!

What is your greatest teaching moment? (Yeah, I taught kids for 32 years!)

Taking 3rd year BA degree Music students to art galleries for a year and then having 6 of them deliver Fine Art projects that used sound as part of the submission for their Final Major Project- sculptural, filmic, installation work, immersive, interactive…so exciting for me when I saw they had really pushed themselves into unfamiliar terrain after seeing Bill Viola or Ragnar Kjartansson or Janet Cardiff’s work. On a professional level, I suppose being made Creator in residence at Hong Kong design Institute and being awarded Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) were also very pleasing to this South London Comprehensive kid!

You did some work that concerned the painter John Martin. I wrote a research paper on the guy years ago and have stood in front of his huge paintings in The Tate. Did you have a personal affinity with his work? What other work have you done with museums?

That’s fascinating! I love John Martin and was commissioned by The Tate Britain to curate an event inspired by and referencing the “John Martin and The Apocalypse” show a few years back. We installed Cabaret Apocalyptica in gallery 9 (The Pre- Raphaelites!) and styled it like a cross between Alphaville, The Road, Mad Max and Blade Runner!   Kate Tempest, Gavin Turk, Rene Eyre and Richard Wilson (the sculptor and noise maker) all took part. 3000 people came on one night! And The Pre-Raphs survived!

Will there be a Doctors reunion with the release of Past Perfect?

Yes!! Those of us who are still able! Very much looking forward to it. (see tour dates below)

Have The Doctors of Madness been “recalled to life”?

Totally!!!! I feel vindicated all these years later. Listening back to the records, as I have done a lot recently, they still sound fresh, and more relevant and pertinent than ever. And, gratifying, still as impossible to categorize!

 

Tour Dates

May 16th    London, Lexington 

May 24th    Leicester, The Musician

May 25th    Stockton on Tees, Georgian Theatre

May 26th    Scarborough, Market Hall

May 27th    Leeds, Brudenell Rooms

May 29th    Watford, The Flag

May 31st    Birmingham, Hare and Hounds

June 2nd    Byline Festiva,l East Sussex     *Richard Strange Solo Show

June 3rd    Chadwell Heath, Essex The Chadwell Arms, 

June 4th    Brighton, The Prince Albert

July 28th   St Leonards on Sea, The Kino    *Richard Strange Solo Show

August 31-September 12th  Japan Tour.

 

Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors of Madness is released May 5th on Cherry Red Records.

Alternative Music - Interviews - Soundblab

Kristin Hersh

On the eve of her new release, Wyatt at Coyote Palace, Kristin Hersh spoke with Soundblab about her new mixed media release – a book and double album titled ‘Wyatt at Coyote Palace’,  containing 22 songs and essays and reflections about Kristin’s life with music, art and family.

Hello is that Kristin ? It’s Rob from Australia.

Hi. Sounds like you’re next door !

Yes it does, though its pouring rain here and quite loud.

Its pouring here too, and I’m sitting at the beach in that pouring rain (laughs) I have my bathing suit underneath my clothes, I had big plans but … but its too wild

There’s an anecdote in Wyatt at Coyote Palace of you passing out at the beach, and awaking amidst the seaweed and foamy water, as you were being washed out to sea !

Everything in the book is true, everything in the songs is true too. I haven’t got the kind of brain to invent anything, so I just write the stuff down that happens. The things that happened are so bizarre, you can’t make those things up.

Yeah, in the book you said you were almost electrocuted by your microphone. Having reached a venue during a wild storm, and plugging your guitar amp into a dirty socket, your lips on the mic sent volts through your body ! You say this is not an unfamiliar event because you’ve been tasered by cow fences in your locale in Rhode Island ?

Ha ! That was actually while I was making this record ! I was playing ‘til two in the morning because I didn’t want to go home, and I live just up the street [from the studio] and I walk in the snow. The engineer got sick of me, and I had to leave, and out in the country it’s really dark so I walked straight into the freakin’ cow fence and got tasered out into the snow !  

I found that it knocked entire sessions out of my head. When it was time to mix the record, I couldn’t remember how many songs I had recorded. I thought it was maybe 15 or 20 songs, and it was twice as many.

I was wondering whether you were serious about that ?

Well, I record a lot of songs (laughs)

There’s mention of near death experiences in your book as well ?

[A] friend of mine…. pointed out most of my stories and my band mates stories [from Throwing Muses] involve us nearly dying and we think its really funny. So when I started writing it down I realised, well, we don’t take ourselves seriously, but we take life seriously. If life isn’t love and work, I don’t know what else it would be. They’re gravely serious to us and popular culture does not take this kind of thing seriously.  We can’t possibly take ourselves seriously, so that’s the line the book took …..

And when you and your peer group were teenagers. Kids doing coke in the summer and pot in the winter ? Eating gazpacho with the hookers ?

That’s island life for you. Yeah I’m sitting on the island now, and they’re moving from coke to pot and you can see the difference in people. I’ve often wondered that…. they call it a ‘high’, they don’t look high, they look low ! I was never much of a drug user because I was raised by hippies .. I had no interest.

Wyatt at Coyote Palace is a great album by the way and thanks for sharing it.

Oh, thank you !

I’ve seen videoclips of you singing in smaller venues such as bookstores and cafes, and I know the last time you were here (Australia) you played a few smaller venues. Do you think your newer solo material lends itself to a smaller, more intimate setting ?

I do love that, they say the word ‘intimate’ for a good reason. It’s making a point to sit in a room with the people, and to speak to them as if we’re having a conversation. You have to trust that I’m not going to lie to you, mislead you and hurt your feelings. It’s important that you know that I’m not an asshole. We’re working together to make something nice.

As for Australia, that Katoomba show, it was like walking into the Titanic [like art deco], amazing and beautiful. You can play that kind of show in Australia. You guys are just too wonderful, and you’re musically literate too. That makes a real difference.

So, what’s poignant about Wyatt at Coyote Palace is the philosophical observations of your sons, Wyatt and Bo, as they try to make sense of finality, of ending, and ultimately of renewal because its hard otherwise for them to grapple with these issues ? Bo talking of snakes that shed their skin to avoid suffocation, and Wyatt who spoke to you about crossing an imaginary threshold into a new world.

If you don’t engage in the finite, then there’s no hardship, there’s no point. If we weren’t finite beings we wouldn’t be able to grasp the heartbreak inherent in what this place is, and we also wouldn’t engage in the highs, so Wyatt was right I just didn’t want to admit it.

I wouldn’t have made it through this time if it was not for that concept and Wyatt said it to me ‘’you don’t think you’re going to make it over this last hurdle do you ? Everyone says you’re doing so well, you know, but you don’t think you’re gonna make the last hurdle do you ?’’ I said ‘’No, how did you know ?’’ He said “because when the unthinkable happens, you die, and you’re the only one who can see your own death right now. You’ll make it over the hurdle and start a new life’’

He sounds like a very insightful young man ?

He is, he’s had a rough time and it’s informed his protective nature, which is a nice response to a tough time.

On the new album, as with your other solo material, there’s the characteristic quiet/loud dynamics, radical shifts from dark to light ?

You’re so right, its always there, I was always thought it was a completion – you begin with the dark, you can’t have one without the other. It would be half-assed and wouldn’t tell the complete truth.

That’s just how the songs write themselves. It feels good but I don’t do it in real life.  I’m just a nice lady the whole time ! I really am, its not healthy ! (laughs)

The book format with CDs. Is this what you prefer now ?

I like books books better than cds. They’re still a valuable thing to give someone. Beautiful graphics something nice beautiful to hold.

Whereas if you hand someone a cd, it’s a piece of plastic, and it implies they’ll adopt your soundtrack, which is a bit presumptuous. Suggesting that they adopt your religion. Now, I sneak cds into book hoping they’ll adopt my religion ! (Laughs)

I just do what I want to do now. I have lots of books to read from, and songs to play, so I sit there and do whatever I want.

Full artistic control ? You do play everything yourself on the new album ?

The sounds of having no friends I guess (laughs)

I seriously doubt that. Does the solitude appeal to you ?

Its focus I suppose. It doesn’t feel like solitude, theres so much noise in my head. [Kristin says something about studio time as a fresh palette]

Its selfish. I wish I could spend the rest of my life in the studio, however its very expensive, and what I do is promotional at best. CDs don’t sell, and so when people pay my recording costs I give them the music for nothing and right now the maths is just fine. I’m listener supported. ‘Strange Angels’ [her listener support base] pay my recording costs.

Well, I love the new album, but by a whisker, Sunny Border Blue is still my favourite

Yeah ? Sunny border blue is my favourite ! That's a brutal one ! Thank you.

I’m glad you let me yell through you  !

My pleasure. It was great speaking with you

It was lovely speaking with you. Thank you so much. Hope to see you soon bye bye

 

Kristin Hersh Tour in support of Wyatt At The Coyote Palace:

UK / IRELAND TOUR DATES:
Nov. 1 - Dundalk, Spirit Store
Nov. 2 - Dublin, Pavilion Theatre
Nov. 3 - Cork, Triskel Christchurch
Nov. 4 - Galway, Roisin Dubh
Nov. 5 - Limerick, Dolan’s Warehouse
Nov. 7 - Portsmouth, Wedgwood Rooms
Nov. 8 - Bristol, Lantern Theatre
Nov. 9 - Exeter, Phoenix
Nov. 10 - Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
Nov. 11 - Aldershot, West End Centre
Nov. 12 - Louder Than Words Festival, Manchester
Nov. 13 - Manchester, Gorilla
Nov. 14 - Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
Nov. 15 - Birmingham, Glee Club
Nov. 16 - York, Crescent
Nov. 17 - Edinburgh, Summerhall
Nov. 18 - Glasgow, The Mackintosh Church
Nov. 19 - Liverpool, Philharmonic Music Hall
Nov. 20 - Hebden Bridge, Trades Club
Nov. 21 - Norwich, Arts Centre
Nov. 22 - Brighton, Komedia
Nov. 23 - London, St John in Bethnal Green
Nov. 24 - London, St John in Bethnal Green
Nov. 25 - Folkestone, Literary Festival

USA TOUR DATES:
Nov 29 - The Triple Door - Seattle, WA
Nov 30 - Mississippi Studios - Portland, OR
Dec 3 - Swedish American Hall - San Francisco, CA
Dec 4 - Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA
Dec 5 - Brick 15 - Del Mar, CA
Dec 8 - Swallow Hill Music - Denver, CO
Dec 9 - Cedar Cultural Center - Minneapolis, MN
Dec 10 - Space - Evanston, IL
Dec 11 - Music Box Supper Club - Cleveland, OH
Dec 13 - Club Café - Pittsburgh, PA
Dec 14 - Jammin Java - Vienna, VA
Dec 15 - Tin Angel - Philadelphia, PA
Dec 17 - Rough Trade - Brooklyn, NY
Dec 18 - The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA  

Rob Taylor
Alternative Music - Interviews - Soundblab

Goat

SB: Firstly, congratulations on the wonderful new album ‘Requiem’. What at first seems like a more restrained musical vision, is really a giant leap forwards in showcasing the collective talents of the band. It seems less dense, more free, better delineated. Fair comment? 

Thank you, I´m very happy you like it and hear these developments in the music. We feel that this is by far our best album.

SB: When I saw you at the Metro Theatre in Sydney last year, the music conveyed an energy I haven’t experienced since the peaks of rave culture, managed with most of the band not even moving an inch. The dance movements of the astonishing female vocalists however reminded me of a dragon boat in a Chinese New Year procession ! The crowd went nuts. I know I did. Is this a universal response across the world? 

Where we’ve played so far, people have always been really into it, and that has helped us, and pushed us to play effortlessly and well, and this in turn has inspired our listeners, which have pushed us further, and so it goes....

SB: Requiem is like a modern opus in two parts, the folk-like aspirations of the first six tracks giving way to the more typical abandonment of ‘Goatband’ and beyond ? That transition into ‘Goatband’ is beautifully judged !


Thanks! Goatband’ ends side A. The composition of our albums is a very central part of all three of them. On Requiem it was even more important to get it right, since it is 4 sides, and you want them all to have a good start, ending and flow. But at the same time it’s important to get a good flow from first to last song also. I hope we managed to do what many double albums do, which is to not to be so direct, but instead create a flow that will grow over time, like Exile on Main Street for example. We will know in 10 years.

SB: The birdsong in ‘Union of Sun and Moon’, the Muslim call to prayer on ‘Psychedelic Lover’. There’s a real solemnness, a sense of peace around which your hypnotic rhythms still invoke a wild dance ?   

Yeah, that was the idea actually. Calmness, solemnity and peace as some sort of background layer. Its established in the beginning and then it comes back here and there. Like the prayer, the water after ‘It´s Not Me’, the beginning of ‘Goodbye’ and the ending..

SB: The music on ‘Goodbye’ is a kind of mutation of the Eastern Raga ? So much of your music is composed around repetition, establishing a groove, gaining momentum. Did you look to the East at all for your influences ? Classical minimalism ?

We look everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It might sound strange but what I mean is that we don't filter out things we hear, but at the same time we just play music without trying to achieve anything special in the songs. What we do comes natural, and there is not much thinking involved. The thinking comes later when we put an album together, not when we write and record it.

SB: Goat seems more than just a band. I’m interested in this notion of a ‘collective’. Do you foresee new musicians joining Goat into the future, a constant renewal of the band’s legacy into the future?  The kids on the cover. Are they the new generation?

I hope so, that would be wonderful. The commune and its music will surely live on, but the rock band within that might have an end after all. Or it becomes something different, I don't know. [The kids on the cover] might be the next generation, if they want to be, or the next generation carpenters, taxi drivers or soccer players. Whatever they want to be.

SB: I think, in view of Goat having this supernormal kind of identity, being defined by collaboration rather than individual ego, I’m beginning to understand why your actual identities are not so important. However, don’t you sometimes feel like coming out from behind the masks?

I have actually glued mine onto my face so that is impossible I'm afraid.

SB: Thanks for talking with Soundblab and good luck with the tour.

Thanks for your nice questions! Nate (Goat)

(Photo credit: Andreus Johansson)

Goat head out on tour in October, check them out at...

07 Oct / Babel / Malmö / Sweden
08 Oct / Den grå hal / Köpenhamn / Denmark
10 Oct / Stadtgarten / Köln / Germany
11 Oct / Ampere / München / Germany
12 Oct / Berghain / Berlin / Germany
13 Oct / Karlstorbahnhof EnjoyJazz / Heidelberg / Germany
14 Oct / Cabaret Sauvage / Paris / France
17 Oct / All Saints Church / Brighton / UK
18 Oct / Coronet / London / UK
19 Oct / SWX / Bristol / UK
20 Oct / Riverside / Newcastle
21 Oct / 02 ABC / Glasgow / UK
22 Oct / Albert Hall / Manchester / UK
11-12 Nov / Oslo Psych Fest / Norway

https://soundcloud.com/rocket-recordings/union-of-mind-and-soul/s-ZlvrQ

https://soundcloud.com/rocket-recordings/alarms/s-kpv68

 

Rob Taylor
Alternative Music - Interviews - Soundblab

Orchestra of Spheres

In 2016, it's uncanny how many musicians (or their labels), when describing music on the periphery of jazz, cite Sun Ra either as an influence, or otherwise as an inspiration. Gilles Peterson and Marshall Allen have opened a Pandora’s box of opportunity onto the newfoundland of fusion music. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Sun Ra was largely out of print, with Art Yard and Evidence releases pretty hard to find in record shops, and in any event much of the material impenetrable for all but the aficionado. 
Rob Taylor
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Alternative Music - Interviews - Soundblab

John Foxx

Former Ultravox frontman, and premier solo electronic artist, John Foxx, spoke with Soundblab about the release of Close to the Noise Floor, a survey of electronic music during the period 1975-1984. 
 
Was there a community that existed amongst electronic artists in the United Kingdom in the 1970s to 1980s, and was there an epicentre of activity from which a movement grew? 
 
John Foxx: No community at all that I was aware of – everyone was working alone and seemed surprised to find there were others doing it too. It was a spontaneous, unconnected thing at first.
 
I can appreciate the influence that German artists such as Tangerine Dream and Cluster had on electronica in the UK, but what about artists such as the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop’s Delia Derbyshire? Was the UK’s own history in electronica sufficiently catalogued to be an influence?
 
John Foxx: Delia Derbyshire was a huge inspiration to everyone I’ve ever spoken to about that period. Everyone acknowledges how the BBC’s imaginative inception of the Radiophonic Workshop opened the way. Truly significant, and truly wonderful. Just played The Shock of the New theme full blast – the power!
 
Some of the music on Close to the Noise Floor is quite inorganic and experimental in nature, and some of it heralds the beginnings of as more radio friendly era of electronica. Your own contribution ‘A New Kind of Man’ seems to nod playfully at the theme to Peter Gunn. Was there a sense in the late 1970s of putting a human face to electronic music to make it more accessible?
 
John Foxx: I think there was a need for a new kind of popular music – something more adventurous. I like the way electronics has the full spectrum unlike other forms – it can accommodate wild experimentalism and wild pop simultaneously. Daft and deep, wide and wild. A proper people’s music.
 
How did the politics of the day, like the Cold War, inform the emotional content of electronic music ? I can see an evolution from Final Program’s ‘Protect and Survive’ in 1979 to The Sound’s ‘Missiles’  (not on Close to the Noise Floor) a couple of years later both in terms of Cold War paranoia, but also a change in social attitude, a anti-establishment bent brought by the new wave, and their injection of punk and dance into the music? 
 
John Foxx: The cold war was always the monster in the corner. Everyone had to live with the knowledge that we could all be fried five minutes from now. Punk was dead the second Donna Summer and Moroder hit the sound systems. All the energy and angst of Punk didn’t go away, though – it got transmuted into the detached cool of electronics. A cruel sort of cool. Still furious, but compressed into a stare. It was a natural evolution. You can only shout at the wall for a short time – cold fury is much more efficient. You can go on forever with that.
 
Was the club element important in bringing electronica to the mainstream? It certainly made it possible for bands like The Human League to give their hits like ‘Being Boiled’ a second shot at commercial success?
 
John Foxx: Absolutely -  clubs and underground scenes are the hothouses of development - always. Without that, the music dies.
 
Does Close to the Noise Floor represent to you a decent attempt at appraising electronic music between 1975 and 1984, and your place as one if its better known exponents?
 
John Foxx: I’m so pleased its being done – it was an important period in the development of Brit music  - fun, adventure, exploration, self-made tragic magic and a lot of identity blagging - good title too. 
 
Thanks for speaking with Soundblab, John.
 
My pleasure.
Rob Taylor
Alternative Music - Interviews - Soundblab

XIXA

Two weeks ago, XIXA earned a gold medallion from Soundblab  for their piece of desert rock fusion inspired by the tradition of Peruvian Cumbia. Bloodline distinguishes itself because the heart of it is organic; it's contains a narrative about the band, its members, and all their shared cultural and musical influences living in a border town. That border town, Tucson Arizona, which sits 40 miles from the Mexican border, has produced some remarkable musicians over the years.
 
Besides Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan on vocals and guitars, XIXA consists of Jason Urman on keyboard, Geoffrey Hidalgo on bass, Efren Cruz Chavez on timbales and percussion, and Winston Watson on drums. 
 
Soundblab is grateful that XIXA's Gabriel Sullivan took the time to share a few things about the band and their music.
 
 
SB: What struck me about Bloodline was the wonderful synthesis of both native and musical cultures inside the music. Does the soul of XIXA's music derive from Tucson's successful integration of these cultures?
 
Gabriel: XIXA has become a sort of platform where the different musical influences of all 6 members can find a home. We all come from very different sonic backgrounds and I think that is very apparent in the music. Tucson certainly has a special blend of cultures and that seeps into everyone in one way or another.
 
SB: I saw Calexico live the other evening, and was taken by the passion and simpatico of the musicians, and how they conveyed the music, it's heritage, and its lyrical message. There was also an exuberance brought by the latin influences which had people dancing and grinning with the musicians. What is the average gig like in Tucson, Arizona, and how does it vary when you go on the road ?
 
Gabriel: Ahhh Calexico… our good friend Sergio plays the keys for them…. Tucson has shows just like anywhere. Sure there’s a lot more latin based bands playing here because of our strong Mexican culture, but there’s just as many, if not more punk and metal bands who do very well. I remember one night last year seeing Salvador Duran (incredible Mexican singer who sings quite often with Calexico) and just an hour later seeing SUNN O)) across the street… As far as XIXA goes, we certainly have a lot of fun playing in Tucson. The city has known us since our days as Chicha Dust so we always sneak a couple chicha covers in for good measure. It’s always a long concert and a wild dance party…. I have a feeling that just might happen on the road as well.
 
SB: How did the various musical influences of the band play out in your first rehearsals ? Did Chicha Dust disband, or morph into XIXA following a change in musical direction?
 
Gabriel: We started Chicha Dust with the intention of playing all cumbia, specifically chicha. Once in a while we’d write an original song during downtime and those are the songs that became XIXA. It was an extremely organic mutation that was very rooted and natural.
 
SB: How did you connect with Tinariwen’s Sadam Iyad Imarhan ? Was it a chance meeting or a spark of musical genius that brought you together ?
 
Gabriel: Yet another connection that we owe to the one ‘n only Howe Gelb. During some Giant Sand tours last year we played a handful of festivals with Tinariwen. We would always trade guitars and trade licks with them despite no one being able to understand each other. When Brian and I started talking about the idea of having a more acoustic track on the record we immediately thought to include Tinariwen. Their manager hooked us up with Sadam before their concert in Phoenix where we recorded his vocals and guitar for the song… He currently fronts one of my favorite new bands, Imarhan. They’re definitely gonna make a name for themselves this year.
 
SB: What path do you see the band taking after Bloodline ? Will there be equal focus on the Chicha tradition, or will the band be changing tack towards the rock market ?
 
Gabriel: I think there will always be foot in the chicha sound for us. We even bring that influence into our other projects… often unknowingly. I think XIXA is certainly a rock band at heart but I love how easily I can imagine us playing any type of music. It’s an extremely talented group of musicians who can all play a wide array of instruments and musical styles… It will be a hoot seeing where we go next.
 
SB: Tell us something brief and unusual about each of the band members.
 
Gabriel: Jason is the only red bearded Jew born and raised in Nogales that I have ever met. Winston can fix absolutely anything. Efren exclusively watches Frasier while on tour and follows it by speaking in something that resembles a British/Australian/who knows what kind of accent. Brian can almost slam dunk a basketball. And if you ever need a jar of the finest raw honey, you just gotta call our bass guru Geoff.
 
SB: My knowledge of your regional style of music doesn’t extend beyond Calexico, Giant Sand and Friends of Dean Martinez, so I would be fascinated to know of other bands in the demographic area of Tucson, Arizona deserving coverage ? Even over the border ? Can you give me some
leads ?
 
Gabriel: Well that guy Sergio Mendoza that I mentioned earlier… the Calexico keyboardist… he’s got a great band called Orkesta Mendoza. Big, powerful indie-mambo music. My favorite cumbia band comes from Tucson. They’re called Vox Urbana. Then you got some serious rock n roll bands like Katterwaul, Golden Boots, The Night Collectors… Songwriters? yeah we got em… Billy Sedlmayr, Carlos Arzate, Andrew Collberg, June West. Heavy bands?! Oh hell yeah…. You got NORTH, GateCreeper, Sex Prisoner. Oh and you can’t forget the most original country music in the southwest, Jameson Clay Koweek & The Electrified Donkey Band…. That should gotcha started ;)
 
XIXA tour Europe in April, May and June. Details can be found here: 
Rob Taylor
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