Since 2007, Faz Waltz have been releasing hit maker records meant for another era. Each one of their new albums are tighter than the last. However, their 7th album Rebel Kicks is the Crème de la crème. Released on a pandemic ridden world this is music that uplifts and provides a much needed relief. Within this records grooves fans will hear the familiar influences of T-Rex and David Bowie glam twisting the night away with late Beatles inspired rock n’ roll. Rebel Kick’s superbly demonstrates Faz Waltz’s maturing style and masterful pop-sensible hooks that makes their unique take on a 1970’s inspired rock n’ roll sound.
With Rebel Kicks, Faz Waltz bring forth a nostalgic style meant to tug on youthful determination to inspire the soul. This is demonstrated with the first track, “Grown Up Guy.” This is a song about empowerment in a crazy world where the right time simply exist is always challenged by the powers that be. It’s a killer song that grabs a hold of the listener with an infectious, yet punchy feel. “Grown Up Guy” is also the A-side to the single released on February 21,2020.
The title track “Rebel Kicks” is a feelgood kind of track. It’s a fast and upbeat rebel anthem. Not surprising since that’s what Faz Waltz is good at knocking. out. Still this one is fun thanks to a strong back beat and Jerry Lewis-like piano playing. Play this loud and the result should motivate it’s listeners to bounce around.
The tracks that stand out on this record are “Got Me Goin,” “Rock n’ Roll Is Tough” and “Do You Remember.” “Got Me Goin” is a mid-tempo groover. It boasts certain junkshop sensibilities that ought to make ones head bop. I would not be surprised if this tune is dug up in 40 years and placed on a glam rock revival comp meant to commemorate the 2020’s bovver revival with the purpose to initiate the next generation of glitter rockers.
“Rock N’ Roll Is Tough” could almost be lumped into the standard section of rock song begging for for the golden days of rock music. This number is meant to be played loud and be danced too.With this track Faz Waltz deliver an almost Hector-like approach by blending a joyous rock n’ roll feeling with a fresh sense of sentimentality. This is done in large part thanks to the lyrics, which are catchy as hell.
“Do You Remember” is a track that tugs on the heart strings. It brings forth Faz Waltz’s T-Rex and Ziggy Stardust operatic influence to the forefront. Musically and lyrically, it captures a sense of yearning for the past. By doing this, it becomes a song that one would play in dark lit bar to conjure memories of those not present. If you needed a glam track to get you in the feels, “Do You Remember” is it.
Other songs worthy of note are “Last Train To Nowhere,” “Born In The Wrong Time,” and “Is it Love.” “Last Train To Nowhere” is a true and blue rock n’ roll number. It’s a fast retro-rock number very much in the same vain as somethings recorded by Mud or Showaddywaddy—just minus the doo wop. “Born In The Wrong Time” is an entertaining track that celebrates a well-covered theme of being born in the wrong decade.
“Is It Love” is a great track to conclude this album with. If there was a sound that was ever meant to be a homage to Marc Bolan’s style of glam, this is it. “Is It Love” is a smooth and track that treads around the feelings of insecurity surrounding love. It’s glam rock that invites it’s listeners to sway to a mid-tempo beat and fuzz guitar.
Overall, Rebel Kicks is a record full of hits and arguably no misses. Faz Waltz knocks out every number flawlessly. These are the kind of tunes that demand one to get up, move and groove to sounds meant to invigorate the wayward soul. It’s the kind of music that offers a renewed imagination to the forever youthful rebellion evoked by over 70 years of rock n’ roll music.
Rebel Kicks ought to be listened thoroughly to by anyone daring to have dedication to being a rock n’ roller. This record shows off a decade worth of consistent hard work. Their dedication to their craft is almost second to none. Furthermore, Faz Waltz’s material is not the simply regurgitated stuff made by imitators. These guys are the real deal and they bring to the table sounds that are truly exiting. Now go pick up this record and kick out some jams.
Worst Horse, aka Margot Apricot, is an artist who boasts many talents. These are found, but not limited through their unique screen printed designs, paintings and of course through their music. Formerly Apricot was known for performing in the multi-genre’d Lube and the noise-punk outfit Brain Bagz. Now, under the name Worst Horse, they have released the first album from their solo work. Consequently this is also the album name. The overwhelming feeling that Worst Horse betrays is a demand of being unforgivingly introspective. It blends notions of haunted isolation with a kind simplicity, but unique 1980’s electronic vibrancy.
Lyrically, Worst Horse sings about themes of hurt with a kind poetic disassociation. Musically, it’s twisting styles of electro-art-punk with obsessive droning and a definitive beat. This is of course a courtesy of the hollowness of a drum machine. It is particularly evident when listening to tracks like “Cleansing Breath” or “Past Needles.”
Other notable tracks such as “Left A Mark” carry with the sermonizing style of beat poetry. In this song, Worst Horse speaks about sobering reflections of a life of struggle and pain.Combined with the electronic noise reminiscent of a Blade Runner like film score, the song has an overwhelming, yet alien feel. It’s short and sweet, but quite sobering.
In Worst Horse, there are also notable covers from artists such as Rabbit’s “Calcifer” and The Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your love.” In their own way Worst Horse pays a ultimate homage to these artists. They uniquely perform these songs with a certain delight. With “Calcifer,” the original captures the essence of playful indie-folk with impunity. Worst Horse’s version is heavy with a sorrowful orchestral flair.
The original version of the Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your Love” is among the iconic songs of the 1970’s disco era. It’s a song that is moderately upbeat, cheesy and meant for the dance floor of a Saturday night boogie. When Worst Horse performs this song, the trajectory is different, but with some striking similarities.
For this cover, Worst Horse evokes a style that is different. It celebrates the primitive sensibilities with the numbing sensations of disco twisting into a new wave-like flair. Although this cover has a kind of melancholy about it, Apricot still knocks this number out. That being said, if listeners want to rave on with “How Deep Is Your Love” the assistance of substances for this gothic-esque cover might allow for some slow grooving fun.
The album as a whole is a trip. It’s got the psychedelic notions that with under the right conditions will evoke a out of mind experience. Songs like “Let The Pain In” carry on the introspective nature that defines this work. It’s mellow, but subtly provoking. This is the same with the track “House of Bees.” Though in contrast, this song has more of the dissociated feel that is also found in Worst Horse.
When listening to Worst Horst the result is like being taken on quite the dynamic trip. This should not be a surprise given the caliber of the Worst Horse’s artistic ability. As seen with their body of work, it blazes past any limitations.
However, with this release, one may tread with some caution. This album may take a special if not sobering frame of mind to digest. One should be ready to let go of their inhabitations and be ready for songs that beg one to look deep into their soul. If that soul is troubled then this album may hit home in the most profound ways.
Michael Kunde is a professional commercial and advertising photographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. His work and personal talents take him both across the United States and internationally. Some of his clients include Adobe and Chrysler. Apart from an impressive commercial portfolio, Kunde also boasts personal photography work that includes unique takes from his travels. Some of his more distinguished work contain his striking themes, such as those found in rural areas of the United States….
For over 30 years Reverend Beat-Man has practiced and preached the gospel of blues trash. His gospel is not limited by the decadence of sex and drugs; rather it’s a philosophy that celebrates rock n’ roll and how it bridges cultural divides to connect people in a worldwide community. For Beat-Man, rock n’ roll music provides the same power of belonging that helped break down walls for American black and white teenagers in the mid-20th century. Furthermore, he believes that rock n’ roll is not just for the fashion rockers or mods. It’s for people who see that rock n roll was and still is a relevant, worldwide music revolution. Beat-Man says, “It’s a music for old and young, for black and white, for everybody and it’s not polka or Mozart. It’s now music.”
Throughout his life, Beat-Man has been a lifelong devotee to the musical world. As a musician his relentless touring and out of this world performances leave a mark on all who witness them. Not only that, but he also runs his own label for like-minded music fanatics. Beat-Man founded Voodoo Rhythm Records in 1992 and has since then provided a home for the strange and risky music not likely to air on the pop-centric controlled radio stations of the world. Some impressive and unique acts to be found on Voodoo Rhythm Records include The Jackets,The Sex Organs, ET Explore Me, The Giant Robots,and The Devils.
His passion for the weird and obscure also fuels his record collecting. Armed with a storied library of records, Beat-Man occasionally DJ;s at bars and venues. His sets vary from Rhythm & Blues groovers to music more on the eclectic side. He hopes that his selections of music will introduce inspiring sounds to patrons looking to explore music through another dimension. “I know people want to party and they want to dance, drink and get wasted, fuck on the toilette.” Beat-Man says, ““I’ve had that so many times I want something different. So, I make strange music DJ sets.” During these DJ nights, one can hear bands such as The Shags, Yoko Ono, Free Jazz or even Talk records from the 1920’s. When not DJing venues, Beat-Man posts his sets on his Mixcloud.
Beat-Man’s talents for music really shines when he performs, such as playing as a solo artist, with the Monsters, collaborating with NicoleIsobel Garcia and more recently recording with the one-time project Reverend Beat-Man and The New Wave. With The New Wave, Beat-Man released the one time album Blues Trash in 2018 through Voodoo Rhythm Records.
Blues Trash combines many different sounds and genres within its grooves. Some tracks betray recognizable notions of primitive garage punk. Other songs carry styles invoking a distinct layering of darkness with the emotional heaviness of the real folk-blues.
The process for recording the new record provided a challenge for the musicians involved. Prior to recording, Beat-Man had all the songs written and ready to go. All he needed to complete the project was a backing band. To complete this album, he assembled a group comprised of some of his favorite musicians. They were Mario Batkovic, a classically trained accordionist, the drummer Julian Sartrius, and the multi-instrumentalist Resli Burri.
The rest of the band were not privy to the material before recording. Beat-Man wanted them to feel it out as they went along. “I wanted to see what they do with what I give them,” Beat-Man says, “I gave ourselves two or three takes, but first I played it with my guitar only. I explained them what’s going on in this song and told them the feeling that you have to get if you hear that song.”
Songs like “I’ve Had Enough” and “Then We All Gonna Die” stand out on the album. “I’ve Had Enough” is a kind of political song. Beat-Man was influenced by being fed up with the constant bombarded of ads from politicians and insurance companies trying to sell him something. Beat-Man says, “One day I just had enough. After over 53 years living in such a profit-oriented community as we are living in, one day you just see this is all a big lie.”
“Then We All Gonna Die” is a song Beat-Man spent 15 years writing and re-writing. It’s meant to be a kind of hymn sung from the perspective of Sensenmann. In the song, Sensenmann sings about what their victims did wrong in their lives. The mood of the song is heavy, with a kind of apocalyptic tone , mixing with a folk-blues trash feel.
To promote Blues Trash and Baile Bruja Muerto—an album he worked on with Nicole Isobel Garcia—Beat-Man embarked on several tours between 2018 and 2019. Beat-Man is no stranger to hitting the road to perform. His dedication to his music has taken him beyond the snowy mountains of Switzerland and all over the word. He says, “I want to explore, I want to see the world and the connections we all people have with each other.” Historically the Swiss are known for remaining isolated; however Beat-Man seeks to move past the limitations of national borders and meet others who are like-minded.
In April 2018, Beat-Man played Slovenly Recordings Debauch-A-Reno, as well as touring the United States. On April 22nd, 2018 Beat-Man and Isabel Nicole Garcia graced Salt Lake City, Utah. Beat-Man appreciated that Salt Lake City was kind of familiar to his home country. “I first thought, ‘I’m in Switzerland.’ It’s all very clean and people are pretty organized—even the homeless looked kinda healthy.” He says, “It’s small and probably everybody knows everybody. I like that. It opens your own horizon in your musical taste if you know people from the electro or hardcore or art scene.”
The show itself was a welcome surprise. The Garage On Beck had a pleasant feel of authenticity for Beat-Man. He says, “It was a club what the European American Fans try to rebuild in Europe but mostly fail.” However, what struck him most about the show was the opening acts, Jacob T. Skeen and Los YaYaz. “There were two opening bands. First there was a One Man band, that was fucking amazing— very unique sound and great songs” says Beat-Man. “Then the garage fuck ups from Los YaYaz . They were super cool. Just like garage punk has to be. They are terrible on the instruments and they love rock n’ roll.”
The remainder of 2018 was busy with gigs and touring. This constant playing extended into 2019 when Beat-Man found himself playing with psychobilly outfit The Monsters for another Slovenly Recordings event. This time for the We’re Loud Festival in Vietnam. The Monsters are bit different from the New Wave or his collaboration with Nicole Isobel Garcia. They are a trash rock n’ roll band, with a primitive-bluesy, yet with sonic-splitting abrasive sound. Think of them boasting a wild, caveman stomp psychobilly style, but with definitive blues trash flair.
The festival was a hit. Although rock n’ roll was admittedly not as popular in Vietnam, there were many local acts to play the festival. They included hardcore and metal bands from Vietnam and Indonesia. “This was a blast.” Beat-Man says, “Pete from Slovenly tried to attract as many local persons as possible.”
After a brief tour in Japan with The Cavemen, Beat-Man was back in Switzerland. Not long after, the Covid 19 pandemic began occurring worldwide and lockdowns began happening in cities all over. Keenly aware of the worsening pandemic in Italy, the Swiss government quickly acknowledged that without a cure for the virus, measures needed to be taken. On March 19, 2020, a lockdown order was issued for the Swiss population.
While the population was ordered to be sheltered, the Swiss National TV began reaching out to local musicians to participate in the Living Room Showcase series. Beat-Man says, “It was a job from the Swiss National TV, they told me and many other Pop Starlets and mainstream Artists in Switzerland to contribute 15-minute showcases from the living room.” What the Swiss National TV did not quite appreciate was that Beat-Man isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth as his mainstream counterparts.
Prior to the Beat-Man man’s performance played on air, he caught the interviewer by surprise. He suggested that the lockdowns caused by a virus could give humanity a chance to slow down and think about its collective future. “I had a live interview in front of my clip and I said that the virus is more a blessing that a punishment,” says Beat-Man. “Anyway the interviewer —I heard he is very famous in Switzerland— was very upset and as well the guy who placed me in the show.”
Beat-Man’s clip was allowed to play on National TV, but was then stopped after two minutes. Not to be deterred, Beat-Man then released the full clip online. That way everyone could see it. In the clip, Beat-Man performs in his living room, changes into various outfits and plays unique renditions of his material, including “I’ve Had Enough.”
Beat-Man, being fully aware of the wider implications of the pandemic, sees that Covid 19 is an extreme virus that can severely affect the elderly and those with health conditions. Unfortunately, the economic consequences of the shelter in place means businesses ,like Voodoo Rhythm Records brick and mortar shop, have to temporarily close their doors and musicians like Beat-Man’s performances are currently on hold. Needing to pay rent, Beat-Man’s ability to bring income is challenged. He says, “For me its financially very bad. I play about 200 shows a year, 70% of my income is because of my shows, and 30% is from the label.”
During the lockdown, there are ways to support the label, which include ordering records and merchandise online, through the Voodoo Rhythm Records Facebook Page, or donating here: https://voodoorhythm.ch/. Speaking of the support he has experienced from the wider rock n’ roll community, Beat-Man says, “Everywhere I go on this planet I see those people. It’s a good virus and it’s that virus we need at the moment.”
Not to be deterred by the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Beat-Man remains busy with his label. When things open up again, Voodoo Rhythm Records is expecting to release records by Bad Mojo’s, The Sex Organs and Trixie and The Trainwrecks. On May 14th, Voodoo Rhythm Records will cautiously open their doors. The idea is to start allowing a limited number of people at a time into to shop. For him, this is a hopeful sign that things will begin to return to a sense of normality.
Hailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Los Vigilantes have made their mark on the rock n’ roll world. Since their inception, they toured extensively, worked with labels like Slovenly Recordings and Mandinga Records ,and gained an international following. They have released two albums, Los Vigilantes (2011) and Al Fin (2014), plus a plethora of singles. In their records and on stage they sing in Spanish and play music influenced by styles such as bossa nova, lo-fi, and pop. The result is a unique and exciting take on garage rock.
To learn more, I sat down with the lads of Los Vigilantes. Recently, they have been enduring the conditions of quarantine in Puerto Rico due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We chatted about the music scene in San Juan, playing Funtastic Dracula Carnival (2019), a new single being released digitally and how the recent string of natural disasters —hurricanes, earthquakes and pandemics—have affected life in Puerto Rico.
NixBeat: Los Vigilantes combines the talents of Jorge “Jota” Mundo, Javier Garrote, Pepe Carballido, and Rafael Diaz. I’ve read in staugustine.com on February 29, 2012 they you all have a different background in music tastes. However, together you all bring a Spanish twist to garage rock by singing in Spanish and introducing elements of hardcore, lofi, fun and bossa nova. What prompted you to draw on these influences and how did they inform you to form Los Vigilantes?
Los Vigilantes: We all grew up with different musical backgrounds so it was kind of inevitable that those influences would seep into our music. It’s like when you hear mashups of songs. “Seasons in the Abyss” and “Careless Whisper” is a perfect example of how things that don’t seem to go together do. If you haven’t heard it, look for it online. It’s amazing!
NixBeat: What’s the garage punk scene like in San Juan and how has it changed over the years?
Los Vigliantes: There’s a rock and roll scene. I wouldn’t call it a garage scene necessarily. When we were kids it was all hardcore and metal Lopo Drido, La Experiencia, and Tropiezo for example. In the late 90’s/00’s it started to become more popish with bands like Toy Gun, Pepiniyoz, Jenny Fatale y Los Degolladroes, and all the Bayamón scene. From 2010 on there was a boom of garage rock with Davila 666, Ardillas, Reanimadores, and us. Now I feel like it’s changing again. It seems to be getting darker. New bands like Deshauciados, EspaZmos, La Moral, Bajo Mundo and Trueno Video are painting beautiful things with bleak colors.
NixBeat: If readers wanted to check out the music scene in Puerto Rico, where should they go?
Los Vigilantes: Deshauciados, Bajo Mundo, Campo Formio, EspaZmos, Juventud Crasa, La Moral, Fantasmes, Las Abejas, Ardillas, Re-Animadores, Pepiniyoz, All have stuff out there you can check out.
NixBeat: Los Vigilantes have toured extensively, playing in Europe, The United States and South America. How do you find the garage punk scenes differ in some of these places compared to in San Juan and the rest of Puerto Rico?
Los Vigliantes: The garage scene is pretty the same everywhere, and it is like a family. Musically I think with San Juan, Mexico, and Spain there’s a little bit more cross pollination of different styles which we personally like better.
NixBeat: In November 2019, Los Vigilantes played the Funtastic Dracula Carnival in Benidorm. Spain. The lineup was extensive and included Tommy and The Commies, The Night Times, Davila 666 and many others. What was it like to play Funtastic Dracula Carnival?
Los Viglialantes: It was a lot of fun… I remember Angelito from Davila fell two stories from a balcony and we found him wandering through a closed off construction site thanks to the glitter on his shoes. I’ll never forget it. It was great.
NixBeat: On July 18,2019, Los Vigilantes released the “Quo Descaro”/”Tus Cartas LLegan” 7”. What are you drawing from for the track “Quo Descaro?”
Los Vigilantes: A really bad break up. There’s no trick to that one.
Los Vigilantes:Tus Cartas Llegan is a cover of a Dominican Bachata song by Ramón Torres. We hear that everywhere in San Juan so we figured we’d pay homage to it in our own way.
NixBeat: Your latest 7” was released through the Brazilian label Mandinga Records. How did you get involved with this label?
Los Vigilantes:Pedrinho wrote to us saying he was interested we got a few songs together and that was that. He’s been great to us. We went to Sao Paolo for a few weeks to play and had a great time. Good people.
NixBeat: Can readers expect another album in the works from Los Vigilantes?
Los Vigilantes: We’re releasing a single called Yo No Quiero Ver a Nadie Hoy digitally this week, and we have a lot of songs in our bag so anything is possible. We’re always working.
NixBeat: What are Los Vigilantes plans for the remainder of 2020?
Los Vigilantes: We had plans to tour that fell through because of the outbreak. So for now, we’re writing and recording as much as we can. We’re trying to turn this isolation in our favor and have music out for when we can play shows. And we are oh so ready to play some fucking shows.
NixBeat: Much of the world has been in lockdown to the Coronavirus pandemic. These lockdowns have affected music scenes all over, with gigs being cancelled, shops closing and nightlife suspended. How has Puerto Rico been effected by the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Los Vigilantes: Yeah well we have the strictest lockdown out of all the US. Everything is closed and Marshall Law goes into effect every night and 7pm and no one can leave their house until 5am the next morning. And on Sundays you can’t even buy cigarettes, alcohol or groceries. Only premade food. There is still no reliable testing. The government has been caught twice doing shady things with the tests. The Federal Aid that has been granted to Americans in the mainland has not arrived here, so people are getting desperate. Today, May 1, the government revoked the right to protest, people went out anyway. But it gives you an idea of the climate we’re dealing with.
NixBeat: In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by two major hurricanes Irma and Maria. The result was massive damage to the Puerto Ricans infrastructure and access to resources, as well as poor recovery efforts from the mainland of the United States. How the music scene was particularly affected by the hurricanes’ destruction and the shortcomings of the subsequent recovery efforts?
Los Vigilantes: Yes the hurricanes were horrible, the government was probably worse. Late in 2019 we also got hit by a series of earthquakes with equally dismal response, there are still people displaced from those. Now, like the rest of the world we’re dealing with Covid. Even though last summer we held historic protests and ousted the governor responsible for the mishandling of the hurricane recovery, the unelected governor that got put in charge of the earthquake recovery and the virus seems to be equally as inept and callous as her predecessor. I think this is creating an atmosphere of anger and resentment that is permeating everything. A lot of the newer bands that we’ve mentioned seem to be reflecting this. Right now there is nothing happening musically other than bands releasing music, but any scene needs live shows to grow and evolve.
Blasting off into outer space are the gonzo space rock n’ rollers The Scaners. From Lyon France, their mission is to abduct and assimilate the uninitiated with their electro-punk sound. It’s an alien technique meant for the supersonic and intergalactic minded weirdos of this third rock from the sun.Think of their music concoction as boasting a mix of Readymades sprinkled in with Miscalculations and the hollowness of Gary Numan’sTubeway Army.
The Scaners no doubt have an impressive sound and it shows in their recordings. The A-side’s “X-Ray Glasses: On” captures their tenacity. This track is pretty straight forward. It starts off with a synth heavy intro that leads into an abrasive beat. “X-Ray Glasse: On” is perfect to sway and lose one’s the mind to. Lyrically this ditty is simple and repetitive. However, what makes it is the disembodied vocals on top of the hollowness of the electro-punk sound, which is like hearing a cyborg play with a distorted 1970’s punk style.
“Alien Boy” is a fast and furious tune. This is the track that is over as soon as it begins. It follows the same method of electric desolation as previous Scaners material, albeit with a more primitive feel. Think of it as Germs-esque,but electrified.
“I Really Want To Know” has a mode that carries a little more familiarity with tracks like “X-Ray Glasses:On.” It’s fast and frantic as though being like being shocked alive on a live wire. This tune boasts a definable punk spite style. If listeners don’t find themselves pogoing like a mother fucker then something is wrong with the stereo.
These tunes don’t betray notions of a cheap parlor trick or a punk rock sound done repeatedly to death. Quite the opposite, The Scaners inspire signs of life into the spirit of punk with something discernibly exciting. This record invokes a style that is rapid and vibrant. It’s an approach that The Scaners very much their own. Nonetheless, it hints toward the playful line of The Briefs but with a synthetic nature of The Marked Men or Radioactivity.
Even though my favorite track on this record is X-Ray “Glasses:On.” As a whole though, this 7” is some brilliant work. Mind you, this is not music for the faint hearted, but for the stargazed rockers of this age. If anything is to evidenced by this record, this is strong material and I have yet to hear anything to the contrary. Don’t waste time. Be sure to get this record.
Jeffery Hacker has long been involved with shaping Salt Lake City’s Music Scene. His passionate presence is widely felt, whether it’s through Djing his famed Dance Evolution parties as DJ DJ/DC, bartending and managing at Metro Music Hall, or by his enthusiastic and constant promotion of local and touring acts. For these reasons, he has earned a place as a staple in Salt Lake City’s growing underground music community.
Unfortunately, because of the Coronavirus pandemic there is a necessity for the implementation of a Statewide lockdown and quarantine. One of the consequences is Salt Lake’s nightlife coming to a complete and sudden halt. Among the many industries affected by these measure is entertainment, with venues like Metro Music Hall temporally shuttering it’s doors.
For the first time since 2004, Hacker has had to find a new gig to sustain himself and his family until Metro Music Hall opens up again. I caught up with Hacker to see how things are going. We discussed his legendary DJ nights, the importance of Salt Lake City’s nightlife, managing Metro Music Hall, meeting Peter Hook and more.
NixBeat: You used to run a weekly DJ night called Dance Evolution. How did this night start andwhat kind of music did you play?
Hacker: At the time it started out of
necessity. We wanted to dance to all
kinds of music and the only thing available in SLC at the time were dedicated
genre nights. Going out and hearing
everything from The Faint to Usher sounded like a great time, so we just did it
ourselves. Every night always started
out as indie as possible, morphing into more of a pop night around 11 and
ending with as much punk, emo and metal as the crowd would let me get away with
for giant sing-a-longs. It was awesome
seeing people from different social groups meeting each other and becoming
friends. We actually hosted several
“DE TATTOO” days where we partnered with Goodtimes Tattoo and they
just tattooed DE logos on everyone.
Seeing all the different types of people coming in bonding with their
new friends is something I don’t think any of us will ever forget.
NixBeat: In a Facebook post from December 8th, 2016, it was mentioned Dance Evolution went through a lot of changes, including jail time. How did Dance Dance Evolution Evolve over time?
Hacker: As the night got bigger I always ended up catering to the masses more. Honestly that’s my biggest regret over the years. I think what made the night special was exposing people to music they didn’t know and changing that up to keep up with random requests took the soul of the night away. It was still super fun, but I think the night should have gone the other direction and become 100% indie dance. I did have a stint on house arrest for a DUI (don’t drink and drive kids) but luckily DE had built up enough DJ’s over the years to have plenty of people fill in. I actually moved to Denver for a year as well, and even though I managed to fly back to SLC almost every week for the party. There were still some shows I wasn’t able to make it. Thankfully Brenton Leu, Justin Hollister, Tyler Lusk and Erik Olsen came into my life and became the best party throwers this city has ever seen. They held down the fort just fine.
NixBeat: In the same Facebook Event Post,
the description mentioned that Dance Dance Evolution helped bridge communities
in Salt Lake City. How did Dance Dance Evolution accomplish this?
Hacker: We threw a weekly party for over 13 years, in that time we were lucky enough to meet what feels like just about everyone in SLC. I think our specialty was focusing on crossing genres not just in what music I played but also what guests we would bring in. One of my favorite memories of all time was one of our infamous water slide parties. During the summer we would get a giant 33 foot tall water slide set up on the patio and people would just go insane. At one of these parties we had a touring death metal package performing alongside the legendary drag performer Ursula Major. Needless to say every single person looked insanely confused as they arrived but by the end of the night literally every single person in the venue was just having a blast on the water slide with their new best friends. It wasn’t all debauchery though, we also were lucky enough to be at the right place and right time to help some people out in need. We’ve hosted countless benefits which really shined a light on how amazing the people in this city are, and seeing people at their best always breaks down barriers and helps people come together.
NixBeat: What about DJ nights do you think are
important to a music community?
Hacker: I’m from a generation where
“going dancing” was everything.
I met all my friends at a dance night.
I met my wife at Area 51, and hit on her by getting Max the DJ to play
her song next. I think for a lot of
people going dancing at a club playing a specific type of music is how they
find “their people”. Once they
become a regular they know they’ve found their home. It becomes a part of their routine and in a
lot of ways it’s their singular release from the day to day grind of their
lives. Dance nights are VITAL to the
music community as a whole because they become the primary source of in-person
networking. I can’t count how many shows
were booked and planned out on the patio of metro at a DE party.
NixBeat: How did you become involved with
operating Metro Music Hall and what kind of changes have you seen it go
Hacker: Super long and confusing story so here is a short version: Years ago we were at the Trapp Door (which is where the Metro is currently located) and the staff was treated very unfairly by the owner so 100% of us left and went to take over a venue called Club Edge. About two years after we took over Edge, the owners sold it and the new owners kept all of us on. After a while there the new owners wanted a better location, so we moved to the 200 S. location and changed the name to the Metro Bar. Again a few years later they decided they wanted a bigger location so we came full circle and moved back to the original location of the Trapp Door. These owners eventually decided to sell as well so I begged them to sell to Will Sartain and Lance Saunders with S&S Presents. They obliged and now I work with the best team this city has ever seen. Slowly but surely they’ve transformed the newly named Metro Music Hall into what I honestly believe to be the greatest venue in Salt Lake. Full circle.
NixBeat: What kind of clientele typically attends
concerts at Metro Music Hall?
Hacker: Honestly? Every type you can imagine. We host all manner of events so the age range
varies from 21-80. I would say the
regulars could be described as open minded and enthusiastic music lovers. It doesn’t matter what the show is, they will
always be there with open ears.
NixBeat: Metro Music hall has attracted big name and local acts to play there. Some of these acts include MC5, The Black Lips and Gary Neumann. What has been your favorite show(s) at Metro MusicHall?
Hacker: My absolute #1 show will probably forever be Peter Hook. I get star struck super easy and usually I will shy away from acts I’m super into, but Peter was just the nicest guy ever. Realizing I was having a normal conversation with a living legend to this day gives me butterflies. Death From Above 1979 was another act I couldn’t believe played here. I’ve played them multiple times a night, every night I’ve dj’d and here they were on our stage. I felt the same way about The Faint, The Presets, Cut/Copy and dozens of others. We’ve hosted Doyle and Michael Graves of The Misfits several times too. If 15 year old me knew that one day I’d be eating birthday cake with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein I would have died.
NixBeat: What are some Salt Lake City bands you are currently enjoying and what about them makesthem stand out?
Hacker:Choir Boy is pretty much my favorite band right now in general, so it helps that not only are they from here but several of the members work at Metro from time to time. Mortigi Tempo, Lord Vox, Violet Temper and NVM are bringing a whole new scene to the city I think on top of being the most consistently impressive bands I’ve seen.
NixBeat: With the onset of the Coronavirus,
a lockdown order has been issued on Salt Lake City’s venues, bars and
restaurants. How has this affected Salt Lake City’s nightlife and music
Hacker: It drove a stake through our
hearts. Right now there is absolutely
nothing to be done though.
NixBeat: How are you and the rest of
employees of Metro Music Hall coping with the lockdown?
Hacker: Some of us found new jobs to
fill the gap until we can open again. I
luckily snagged a spot at Amazon which is my first new job since 2004, so it’s
kind of fun.
NixBeat: Are you seeing any attempts to rally behind
those affected by the Coronavirus Lockdown?
Hacker: I think right now it feels like
a lot of help is up in the air. I’ve
seen many groups pop up attempting to set up financial aid for musicians and
serve industry people but I think right now most people are waiting on the
government to figure something out.
NixBeat: Do you think Salt Lake City’s nightlife and music scene will be able to recover from the effects of the Coronavirus?
Hacker: 100% I know we will recover fully. Unfortunately though, I think it will take a lot longer than we might think. I don’t want to speculate and risk being wrong, so I’ll just say it can’t come quickly enough.
Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty has long been involved in the underground music world. While living in New York City, he grew disillusioned with major record label executives only caring about seeking out standard hit makers. He was amazed that so many impressive artists were overlooked and did not have material available.
After moving to Atlanta, Dougherty established the independent label Spaghetty Town Records to provide a means for groups to release records for old and new fans alike. Going strong for the last four years, Dougherty has worked with bands, both domestic and internationally. They are renowned for releasing records by rock n’ roll groups like Los Pepes, Jordan Jones and Faz Waltz.
Among his and his labels growing accomplishments are helping the Italian glam rockers Faz Waltz with their first U.S Tour and performance at Punk Rock Bowling in 2019. Additionally in early 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accidentcompilation which featured Dirty Fences, Cheap Tissue, Criminal Kids, BBQT and others. To learn more, I sat down with Dougherty to chat about Spaghetty Town Records, how the onset of the Coronavirius Pandemic has affected his label and his unwavering passion for underground music .
NixBeat: Tell us a
little about yourself. What inspired you
to jump into the world of rock n’ roll?
Dougherty: I’ve always been a huge music nerd, buying records and cassettes, seeing live music whenever possible, working at my college radio station (WSOU) and even my high school radio station (WCVH). All I ever wanted was to work in music, so I got a job at a major label after university. It was fun for a while, it was the late 90s and there was lots of money coming in. Big parties, big artists, fancy dinners but I knew it couldn’t last forever. After 9/11, a lot of people, including myself, lost their jobs. I was living in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, so there was always a great band playing, I was still seeing music all the time. That was nearly 20 years ago, and not much has changed, still seeing shows, buying music but now I’m helping bands release music.
originally from Australia, you lived in New Jersey and now live in Atlanta,
Georgia. What’s the music scene like in these places? How are they similar and
Dougherty : I only lived in Australia for a year when I was born, then another year in my 20s. I was just down there and there is so much great music coming out. I spent about 30 years of my life in New Jersey and New York City, which is a great thing if you’re into music. I could see a band on Friday in New York City and if they were great I could see them again in New Jersey or Philly. I’ve been in Atlanta for over a decade now, my first two years took some adjusting. First thing I noticed, the people in Georgia are really friendly. Not to say that people in New Jersey /New York City aren’t, we’re just different. If someone was too nice to me in New York City I’d assume they were trying to hustle me, in Atlanta they’re usually just being nice. New York City also got every show on every tour. When I moved to Atlanta, I noticed we got skipped over, a lot. It was really frustrating because there is a great scene here with great people. In the last few years it’s been better, getting more bands to come down here. But I can’t complain, we also have great bands in the area that probably don’t play up north a lot either.
NixBeat: I know you DJ
in Atlanta. How did you get involved in DJing and what kind of records do you
like to spin?
Dougherty : I was thinking about this the other day, I’ve been doing this a long time. I started playing records when I was in high school on the radio, we could play what we wanted, it was live, but you don’t see the people and have to take breaks, read PSAs etc. The first time I DJed in public was at LIT Lounge in New York City. I remember being terrified that I didn’t know how to do it, then realized after five minutes that five years on the radio pretty much trained me for it. Since then I’ve played records all over New York City, New Jessey and Atlanta. I have a monthly night at Elmyr, a great long running dive bar here. I’ve been there so long they kind of give me carte blanche to play what I want. Usually the first half of the night is more R&B and soul. As the night progresses it turns into more garage, glam and punk records. Just depends on my mood that night.
NixBeat: If readers were to visit Atlanta, where should they look to check out your DJ sets? Dougherty : Second Saturday of every month at Elmyr in Little 5 Points. It used to be every Saturday, but after a while that becomes work and not fun anymore. But Elmyr has been there for over 20 years, and has great food and drinks. The music will vary DJ to DJ—country, hip hop, punk, metal. It’s great! If you come see me, you’ll hear some punk, garage, soul. It’s a fun night with a mix of Atlantans. Be sure to try a Grizz.
NixBeat: Spaghetty Town
Records releases quite the array of dirty rock n’ roll, punk and glam records.
Some notable artists on your label include Faz Waltz, Pale Lips and Jordan
Jones. What prompted you start your label?
Dougherty: After working for a major for so many years I saw these guys running the label that weren’t into music anymore. I assume they were at one point, but weren’t anymore. My boss once said “I’m into hits!” But I was really into music still. I didn’t want to be like those guys. Years later I was seeing all of these great bands that didn’t have releases out, which seemed odd to me. I said to my wife, if I can get a band on board I’m going to start a label. Four years later here we are, I’m about to put out my 25th release. Still can’t believe it.
NixBeat: How did you
get involved with groups like Faz Waltz, Los Pepes and The Scaners?
Dougherty : An Italian friend turned me onto Faz Waltz. So when I went to Italy, I messaged Faz La Rocca to ask what stores I could pick up his album. Anything to avoid paying international shipping. When he started looking for labels for “Julie” he reached out to me. I was thrilled; I was such a fan of his previous records. As for Scaners and Los Pepes, there are a lot of other similar labels around the world working with cool bands in their own countries. I forget who it was, but different international labels reached out to me. They are usually looking for international partners for a release. It helps with promotion in another country or language, helps cut cost and gets a release into another country without having to charge $20 for shipping. After doing this for a few years I’ve worked with so many great labels now throughout Europe and South America. There is a wonderful community of labels around the world, all trying to do the same thing.
NixBeat: What kind of
criteria do you look for when releasing a group through Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: It used to be “would I buy this?” But it’s changed a bit over time. I’ve realized that not everyone buys or can buy records like I do. Now it’s more like “do I think a lot of people will pay $20 for this?” Other things I look at are online presence, it’s not a make or break, but it helps to have a strong online presence. Are they a band that plays shows, do they tour? Are you part of the music community? Also, do we get along, because we’re about to have a relationship. I’ll need help from you, you’ll need help from me. I’ve been really fortunate that every band I’ve worked with have been good people to work with.
NixBeat: In an
interview with Jerseybeat, published in 2019, you stated that it was hard for
bands to break into the US scene. Why do you think that is?
Dougherty: Big time! America is huge, if you want to do a US tour you need time and money. If you’re not an American band, you’ll likely need a visa too —which is very expensive. Also, rock music scene seems smaller than it used to be. Times change, music changes, I don’t see lots of younger people at shows. I joke with every band “can you get more young people out?” A lot of bands tell me they sell merch to a lot of older guys, which includes me. But there are some really talented bands out there (not just mine), touring their asses off, putting out consistently great records that just can’t seem to break. Do I think there will be a resurgence, absolutely. Hopefully we’ll be around for it.
NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s Faz La Roca said you were largely responsible for getting them their US tour in 2019. What was the process like organizing their and performance at Punk Rock Bowling 2019? Do you think your work paid off?
Dougherty: I’d never booked a tour before in my life. I’ve been part of tours, but never booked one. A lot of bands ask me to help them with things because they feel it looks more professional coming from the label instead of band direct. I’m always happy to help out if i can. So we got Faz Waltz on Punk Rock Bowling first, that was actually the easy part. We then built a tour around it based on what time they had available. It’s hard work. I hear a lot of bands comment about how they hate booking tours, I totally get it now. So many emails, phone calls, making arrangements for vans, hotels etc. For Faz Waltz it was also about getting visas. In the end, it was totally worth it. They played great shows in California and ended their tour at Punk Rock Bowling with a big crowd. Also, Faz himself had never been to the US before, so he was really excited. So he was excited to be here, and also got to play.
NixBeat: In 2019,
Spaghetty Town Records released the Down
South Spaghetty Accident Compilation? This record features groups like
Criminal Kids, BBQT, Cheap Tissue and Dirty Fences. What was the process like
putting this compilation together?
Dougherty: That was a lot of fun, I’m really proud of the Spaghetty Accident. Chase Tail (RMBLR, Dino’s Boys, Heart Attacks) approached me and asked if I’d be interested in releasing a compilation for his annual event “The Down South Showdown”. He told me that he had some bands on board, that it was all new music. When I saw the list I was pretty much sold. At that point bands started sending me their tracks and info for the track. I worked with Alex Hagen from Ravagers on the art and found a pressing plant that said they could have the records in my hand in time for the show. The hardest part for me was the song order and having a good flow with 14 different artists. But I guess DJing for all of these years helped. True story, they arrived at my house about 18 hours before the show. Another good one, I spent so much time checking for spelling errors that I left MAMA off of the cover, every band has their name on the cover. It was about 2 weeks before release and the jackets had already been printed. I was freaking out. But Alex suggested that we make a foil sticker of a pinball, have it say MAMA on it and stick it on the record. It was a great idea and totally saved us. Ravagers and Shelly Shellhorn helped put 500 stickers on the records in my kitchen. With so many people it went by really fast.
NixBeat: What kind of
clientele does Spaghetty Town Records attract?
Dougherty : It’s a real mix, probably because we have different types of bands. But it’s serious music fans and vinyl collectors, largely male. They are from all over the US and the world though. When people who weren’t my friends order from me I get really excited still.
NixBeat: With the onset
of the Corona Virus Pandemic, many States have issues social distancing,
quarantines and even lock downs. How has the pandemic affected you and
Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty : I haven’t been working that much in the last few weeks. My wife is able to work from home luckily. As for the label, I’ve noticed a slowdown in sales. I’m not surprised; I’ve lost income from my regular job. A lot of my friends are pretty much unemployed now. There is no touring or live shows. We will be adjusting some release dates. I’m hoping when this is all over people will be hungry to see some live music to help get back to normal life.
NixBeat: How can readers support Spaghetty Town Records in this time of crisis?
Dougherty: If they can, buy records from me and the bands we work with. We depend on people buying from us to fund future releases. Since so many artists lost touring and merch income they can buy online, that’s a huge help. And when clubs and bars open again go out and see live music. I know everyone really wants to get back out there again and play.
NixBeat: What future releases should people look out for in 2020 from Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: We’ve been really lucky to work with so many great bands. I know for sure that Fast Eddy, Killer Hearts, Faz Waltz and Ravagers will be releasing new music this year. I asked Criminal Kids and they said “we fucking better put out new music in 2020!”. There are a few other things in the works that aren’t official yet, but I’m really excited about them.
NixBeat: Where would you like to see Spaghetty Town Records in the next couple of years? Dougherty: We plan to keep cranking out records. There has been talk of finding new ways to help artists grow and make money. I really feel like real rock n’ roll is on an upturn again. Maybe bigger labels will look at guitar driven rock bands again instead of a singer and person with a laptop. As long as people keep buying our records, we’ll keep putting them out.
From beneath the murky smog enveloping the now empty streets of Salt Lake City comes the haunting sounds of Jacob T Skeen. As a one man band, Jacob T Skeen blends swampy blues induced garage rock with heaviness of metal into distorted doom-like concoction of psychedelia. Listening to his new record Death, Thou Shalt Die is akin to hearing music transmitted from the airwaves of the damned. It’s an intoxicating sensation, as though one is hearing the long lost preaching of the lord of the underworld them-self.
Listeners of this record ought to be warned that it is not uncommon to feel a staggering malevolence, as though the cold hand of death has drifted over your heart and into your soul. The first track, “Elizabeth Felt Payne” captures this essence by luring the unwary listening into the depths of the demented. It’s defined by the wailing razor sharp riffs and Skeen’s booming vocals. This is distorted doom blues at its finest.
The second track, “When They Lay Me Down,” follows along with the previous song’s musical style. This song carries a sound that lures the eager listener into voodoo-like trance. This is due to Skeen’s hypnotic vocals and freight train heavy beat. Not only that, but there is something delightfully primitive about this track that captures the raw energy of delightfully sinful garage rock. This is the track that was meant to invite the dead back from the grave.
The third track, “Working Ministry Blues, is by contrast slower in tempo and much heavier in tone. This is the kind of tune that ought to envelop the mind and cause it to drift away with certain madness. With “Working Ministry Blues,” Skeen shows that he can capture the one’s wayward mind under his signature rock n’ roll spell. This is helped along with the introduction of an organ to give this track a being in a Sunday service-like feel.
“Mourn with those that Mourn” carries on with the same kind
of heaviness as “Working Ministry Blues.” Produced with a brain bashing beat,
this song boasts definable dread. It’s the perfect music for recently dead.
This is music to feel the dread and empty totality of death with.
“Desolate Home” has
some of the similarities of the former tracks. However, this song produces an
infectious instrumental swagger. Vocally, Skeen sings as through he is drowning
with the devils juice in his lungs. The effect is disturbing. So, naturally
it’s perfect for the demented bluesy garage rock that Skeen is known for.
Other tracks like “Storehouse of Souls” are upbeat and rock n’ rolling. This is the music to stomp your feet and jump around to. Stylistically, it’s in line with Bloodshot Bill’s contemporary brand of rockabilly raucous.
The track that stands out on this album is “Ecclesiasticus 21:10.” This song retains Skeen’s demonic vocals. The difference though, is the very metal influenced instrumentals. Cue some Black Sabbath with some swampland-like sound and you’ve got “Ecclesiasticus 21:10.”
Waste no time on this record. Be sure to pick up Death Thou, Shalt Die wherever available . This is an album of fine gothic scripture and sermon-esque reverence. This new record betrays a psychedelic sound unlike anything else currently reverberating in the city of salt. This kind of rock n’ roll testament is exercised similarly by the likes of Reverend Beat-Man,Bloodshot Bill, and even Daddy Longlegs. Fans of these artists will find Death, Thou Shalt Die is the much needed deliverance molding apocalyptic notions with an appealingly wicked nature. Now, go forth and dig this tunes.
The Jackets are arguably among of the most dynamic garage punk groups to come out of Bern, Switzerland. They are Jackie Brutsche aka Jack Torera (guitar vocals), Samuel Schmidiger (bass, backing vocals), and Chris Rosales (drums, backing vocals). Whether on stage or heard through their records, The Jackets revitalize the vital heartbeat needed to keep rock n’ roll alive. This is by their seemingly natural ability to effortlessly blend wild, primitive garage-punk with fuzzed out freakbeat influenced by notions of psychedelia. It’s the kind of music that not only shocks and awes, but also inspires.
Since 2008, The Jackets have released four albums, a single and have toured relentlessly throughout Europe and the United States. Their last two albums Shadows of Sound (2015) and Queen Of The Pill (2019) along with the Be Myself/Queen Of The Pill 7″ (2017) have come out via the infamous Voodoo Rhythm Records. Their latest album, Queen Of The Pill even included a collaboration with King Khan (King Khan and The Shrines and King Khan & the BBQ Show).
In February 2020, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Jackets did a brief West Coast Tour. This tour started in Portland, Oregon and ended in their first ever show in Mexico City for the Born To Be Cheap Fourth Anniversary Party. After catching The Jackets in Portland on February 19th , I later caught up with Chris Rosales. We chatted about The Jacket’s recent North American Tour, Queen Of The Pill, the European Garage Rock Renaissance and life in Switzerland during Coronavirus Lockdown.
NixBeat: The USA West Coast/Mexico Tour was partly booked with Ugly Things and Born To Be Cheap. How did you get involved with them?
Chris Rosales: I’ve known Mike Stax (Ugly Things) since I was a teenager. I was involved with the first Garage Revival in Los Angeles (Greg Shaw’s Cavern Club, etc.) in the ‘80s and Mike was an “ace face” and major player. I met Anja Stax when she lived in London in the ‘90s so they were both a natural as go-to people for our last three California tours. Anja Stax can book a tour in 10 minutes! It’s incredible! Mike and Anja are the best, I can’t say enough about those two they are amazing people. Matt and Daneep from Born to be Cheap got a hold of us last year and asked us if we wanted to come and play in CDMX! We jumped at the idea. We basically built the USA tour around the Mexico shows. We didn’t know Matt and Daneep before we got to Mexico. Two more amazing people! That’s what I love about this scene – meeting so many cool people and then they are your friends for life!!
NixBeat: This was the third North American Tour for the Jackets. How have you found the audiences reception to your gigs?
Chris Rosales: We are always blown away playing in the USA! I mean, this was the first time we did a tour exclusively on our own – not touring with another band. It was nice to see people know about us now and know our songs and come just for The Jackets. All the gigs were well attended and fun!
NixBeat: While traveling to Mexico, were you concerned about The United States strict immigration policies at its Southern Border?
Chris Rosales: No, not really. We were concerned more about the Mexican side. We were told that bringing guitars over might bring unwanted questions so we went over with nothing but our luggage and the promoter drove our guitars over. It was also relatively quiet at the border when we crossed over to Tijuana.
NixBeat: Seth Bovey’s book Five Years Ahead Of My Time: Garage Rock From The 1950’s To The Present suggests that Europe and particularly Switzerland are experiencing a kind of garage rock/underground music renaissance. Do think this is true and if so, why is there such a strong revival going on at the moment?
Chris Rosales: We were also surprised to see our name in that book! As far as a Garage Renaissance in Europe, it’s been going on for a while now. I, we have been asked this question many times and I really can’t put my finger on why this kind of music is more popular in Europe than in the USA. But it is. And particularly with younger people. It’s not a huge scene like the Metal scene or something but hundreds (Thousand?) of people go to festivals like Funtastic Dracula Carnival, Purple Weekend, Cosmic Trip, etc. Instead of wondering why, I am just enjoying it. It’s good for the bands – it’s what makes new bands form.
NixBeat: The Jackets tour started out in Portland where DJ Major Sean (Sean Cavanaugh) spun records for your show. Do you think having a DJ spinning set at gigs is important and what kind of difference does it make for you experience while performing at a venue?
Chris Rosales: It’s always better having a DJ spinning at gigs! It gets everyone in the mood for the live music and builds a great atmosphere in the club! It’s also great seeing what cool records the DJs have as well! A gig without a cool DJ is really missing something.
NixBeat: What kind of differences do you notice from your shows and experiences in the United States in comparison to when performing in Europe?
Chris Rosales: Like I said before, there are more people and younger people in Europe. In the States a Garage gig is filled with people around 50 years old (wink wink). In Europe it’s much more mixed and there are way more people.
NixBeat: Queen of the Pill was released in June of 2019. How would you describe the difference in sound and style between your previous album Shadows of Sound and Queen of the Pill?
Chris Rosales:Queen of the Pill is a more thought out album, in my opinion. We worked on the songs more, we worked on the mix longer. We cared more about what we wanted to say. Not to knock Shadows of Sound at all but we made that album in six months. Queen of the Pill was really a two-year project and that 7” that we released the year before was really a test of ideas about the direction we wanted to go with the full LP.
NixBeat: The video for “Losers Lullaby” features the Jackets performing in drag in a parking garage. What’s the inspiration behind this song and video?
Chris Rosales: The songwriting and the video idea are two separate things. The song is filled with the ultimate “put-downs”. Things you want to say to someone you hate! The video became a play on male and female roles in bands – Sam and I turn into girls and Jackie turns into a guy. At one point Jackie is the male singer of a girl band. That kind of thing.
NixBeat: The Jackets recently released the music video for Queen of the Pill track “Dreamer.” The video focuses on the perspective of a Gorilla and that of Jackie exploring the city of Bern, Switzerland. What’s the story behind this video?
Chris Rosales: The video for “Losers Lullaby” was professionally shot and we wanted the next video from the LP to be more DIY. On a sunny early Spring day, I got into a gorilla suit and Jackie and I set out into the countryside around the city of Bern to start filming something. The idea was wide open but there was a lyric from the song – “I had a meeting with my mind face to face, my evil half and little me, what a disgrace”. That gave us a thread of an idea. Jackie is the gorilla and the gorilla is Jackie. It’s a dream. The video took a long time to come to something that we were happy with. I think we shot it a year before it was released.
NixBeat: The track “What About You” features collaboration with King Khan doing guest vocals. What’s the story behind this track?
Chris Rosales: Well he produced the album and his personality is so strong that we wanted to get him to do something on it if at all possible. He arranged that bridge part of the song so we go him to do the vocal part himself and it’s great. He also sings on “Steam Queen” as well as playing the gong on “Floating Alice” and hand-clapping, etc. He was keen to do as much as we would let him!
NixBeat: What are you drawing from for the song “Be Myself?”
Chris Rosales: You mean what is the song about? Well that’s a text collaboration between me, Jackie and King Khan so it’s all over the place. I guess it’s about defiance. I don’t wanna do this and I won’t do that and I don’t wanna be myself! That kind of thing. But it’s quite silly really if you read all the lyrics together. But it’s one of my favorite new Jackets songs for sure.
NixBeat: I have to ask this. My introduction to The Jackets was coming across the the music video for “Freak Out,” released in 2012. In the video The Jackets play a house party and it’s attendees to spasm out of control as if under as spell. The theme suggests a kind of “warning” against the dangers of rock n’ roll. What’s the inspiration behind “Freak Out?”
Chris Rosales: The “Freak Out” video from 2012 is a remake of various scenes from the 1936 film, “Reefer Madness” which was a morality tale attempting to teach young people about the dangers of marijuana. The original film from the thirties revolves around the melodramatic events that ensue when high-school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana—from a hit and run accident, to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, hallucinations, and descent into madness from marijuana addiction. We just changed marijuana to rock and roll! This video was our first. It was professionally shot by Decoy Collective, who also did our video “Keep Yourself Alive”.
NixBeat: Now that The Jackets are back in Switzerland, how are you all coping with the outbreak of the Coronavirus?
Chris Rosales: We got really lucky with the tour. It started on the 15th of February so there were no lockdowns, curfews and cancellations until we got back to Europe. Well we are all confined to our apartments. Jackie and I are off work because our employers have closed during the lockdown (As of this writing Switzerland is on lockdown). It’s only been a week of this so I can’t really imagine how insane everything is going to get in the next weeks and months.
NixBeat: How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected life, and particularly the music scene in Switzerland?
Chris Rosales: There are no gigs. Lot’s of bands had their tours cancelled. This is really hard on Record Labels in particular! Voodoo Rhythm is going through a particularly hard time. If you all would like to help you can donate here.