Here’s one I didn’t see coming…
Festivals, more often than not, are a total mish-mash of confusion and last minute change-ups, seemingly hellbent on making even the most organized worker delusional from confusion. ‘Go here,’ ‘don’t go there,’ ‘I’ll be there in 2 minutes’ usually means 30, etc. It’s can be a total pain in the ass that can make you A) wonder what you’re doing with your life and B) look for a nice high bridge to jump off of.
Then, something like this happens.
At Metallica’s Orion Music and More Festival, by some odd chance, I got to sit down with John Garcia from Vista Chino for a super last minute interview. Vista Chino (formerly Kyuss/Kyuss Lives) have a new record on the horizon titled Peace coming out on Napalm Records, and the group played their first North American show debuting the material at Orion. Needless to say, I am very glad we got to be a part of it, and this is why I work in the music biz. Check out Vista Chino on tour at one of the dates below, and kudos to Jon at Freeman Promo for making it work!
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! How has everything been going today?
J- Excellent. Thank you for having me.
G- Absolutely. Now were you here yesterday at all?
J- No. I just flew in from Palm Springs, so I didn’t get a chance to come to the festival yesterday.
G- So no Metallica playing Kill Em All?
J- No, unfortunately. But I’m kicking myself in the ass for that.
G- Well, you’ve got another chance to see them tonight.
J- That’s right!
G- And I have a feeling they’re not going to play an emo set or anything, so you’ll be in good shape.
G- So, let’s get right to it. You’re just getting ready to tour in support of your new album. It’s called Peace, and it’s coming out on Napalm Records. This is your first north American performance, and you’re going to be heading over to Europe… How do you feel about the final product, and tell us about the album, man?
J- I feel great about the final product. There’s some similarities there with Kyuss, of course, with Brandt and myself playing on it. But on the flipside of that coin, there’s a lot of departures away from that.
It was recorded up at Brandt’s Studios up in Joshua Tree, California. We just finished it, it’s done. It’s mixed. It’s mastered. It come out in September, and I’m very excited and very pleased with the end product. It’s something that’s been a very long time coming, and again, we’re just very fortunate and happy and stoked just to be here. The appreciation level is massive to still be able to do this.
So, that’s huge with Brandt and myself, and with Bruno, that we’re still able to do what we do.
G- Beautiful. Now, you mentioned where you recorded… Can you tell us who was behind the boards for the album, and how long did it take you to write, record, and get it the way you wanted it to sound before you released it?
J- A gentleman by the name of Harper Hugg and Trevor Whatever…
G- Trevor Whatever?
J- Trevor Whatever engineered it, and Harper mixed it. Trever Whatever was there to help Harper in a big part of the production. You know, I can’t talk highly enough about those 2 guys. The process probably took, from beginning to end, about 6 months, and it was done in different pieces and stages.
But for the most part, Brandt Bjork produced it, so from beginning to end, I think I did take something around that area. I wasn’t so much in there when they were doing guitars and drums and what-not. I came in to cut my vocal tracks, and it was an experience. It was interesting, it was intense, it was enlightening. And again, there were some departures that I’ve never even explored on, as far as vocal-wise. So, it was a good experience. All in all, it was great!
G- Excellent! Now, it looks like your first single is going to be “Dargona Dragona,” correct?
J- Yes. There’s that one, and there’s a couple more that we’re going to push as singles. I think the big one is, not the big one, but the one that I’m most anticipating dropping is a song called “Sweet Remain.”
G- Tell us about it.
J- Well, it was, you know… Bruno Fevery actually wrote that song, and there’s a lot of feeling and emotion. Anytime you birth a song, it’s… I’m not going to get Jim Morrison-esque on you and go off on crazed tangents on what the song means to me and what it was to sing it. It was intense, and when you hear a song like “Sweet Remain,” if it brings you back to when you were in 8th grade with your chick under the bleachers, or if it makes you feel anything like the music does me, than to me, it resonates. So I think that song does a lot and resonates with me. It’s very desert, it’s very home, it’s where I’m from, it’s our livelihood, it’s what we’ve been through, it’s what we’re going through, it’s our lives have just begun! So it’s all of that, and it’s wrapped up into that one particular song.
J- Sorry for the long-winded answer.
G- Hey, I’m here to speak with you, and you say whatever is on your mind because this is what I want to get down. This is what the fans want to hear, and it’s what I wanted to hear, so it’s all about you guys right now.
G- Now, also, for the artwork, it looks like you worked with The Date Farmers, correct?
G- The artwork and cover looks great from what I’ve seen… What was it like working with those guys and how happy are you with the artwork? Tell us about it?
J- Well, We’re from the desert. We’re from the Coachella Valley. We’re from… I live from Indio to the Murongo Valley to every city in between there. Graduated high school there. The desert resonates with us, and the Date Farmers’ artwork is very much where we are from. It’s very much who we are. So, it was very appropriate to use such talented artists as The Date Farmers.
If you ever get a chance to go to Palm Springs, there’s only a couple of ways in. And if you go one of the 3-4 ways in, you’re gonna come across a street called Vista Chino. This is who we are. This is what we do. This is where we’re from. This is what resonates with us… This is home. The Date Farmers are home. Their artwork is home. The name of the band is home.
So, that’s what we’re all about, this is the people we are, and all of that, from the artwork to the tunes, it’s all part of the trip, it’s all part of the vibe, it’s all part of our trip, and either you get it or you don’t get it. It is what it is.
See, I don’t think about this shit too hard, you know? I don’t try to overanalyze it. I’m not an over-analytical guy where I want to talk about you, where you went to high school, and I want to talk about you and your passion of your online thing. I have a bit of a hard time talking about this stuff, because it’s just kind of who we are and to articulate it, it’s sometimes a bit difficult because a lot of it is feeling an emotion, so it’s just a trip to be talking about this stuff.
G- Right on. Well, why don’t we talk about something more fun, then? Let’s talk about 4 albums that you think every fan of Vista Chino should probably have in their collection, from your opinion.
J- Oh fuck.
G- Hit you a little hard for a Sunday morning?
J- Well, how about this. I’ll give you more than 4 records, I’ll give you 4 bands.
J- The Cult, The Misfits, Metallica, and I’ve gotta throw in Earth Wind and Fire. I have to.
G- That’s be a hell of a lineup! And I think you just answered my next question that I was gonna ask because you’re playing Orion today, and it’s your first North American performance, and Metallica is playing. Are there any bands that you hope to share a bill with in the future, because you just named 4 monsters.
J- (laughs) Yeah you know, we’re very fortunate to be here, you know? So, as long as I’m sharing the stage with Brandt Bjork and Bruno Fevery and Mike Dean from Corrosion of Conformity, I’m a pretty happy guy. So, I’m just stoked on that. Everything else is just a bonus on top. There’s a lot of great acts here… Let’s face it. It’s a great festival with a lot of cool bands, and I’m just glad to be a part of it.
G- Right on. Now, 2 last questions… I’d like to know, out of your entire repertoire, do you have a favorite song you have ever written or one that’s most fun to perform, or if you could only give 1Vista Chino song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them?
J- “Sweet Remain.”
G- “Sweet Remain?”
J- Yeah I’d give them “Sweet Remain” just because, to me, that resonates a lot, like I said. It’s a toss up between “Green Machine” and “Sweet Remain.” And we’re gonna be doing one of those today. It’s always fun to sing that song and it’s one of the very first songs that Brandt sat me down in his bedroom and said ‘I wrote the song “Green Machine” and this is how it goes.” He sang it to me and I was like ‘Count me in.’
J- So, I think “Green Machine” or “Sweet Remain.”
G- Well the publicist is giving me the evil eye (Hi Jon!!!) and I’m not gonna keep him waiting any longer, but I just have one question left to ask you… You’ve been performing music for a very long time, and you’ve seen the ups and downs of it. The lawsuits, the name changes, all that shit. It’s the unfortunate side of the business, but the music dream never dies, and there’s a lot of kids out there that look up to you guys and all the bands out there on the road playing shows and trying to put their footprint into this industry, as crazy as it is.
In your experience and in your wisdom, what advice can you give some of the young, up and comers that want to make their mark in music business, and go out there on the road to play, perform, and be a professional musician like yourself?
J- Well, you gotta have a good woman by your side, first and foremost. You’ve gotta have your rock. For me, that’s number 1.
And number 2, I saw a shirt once in New Haven, Connecticut where we played last year. It said “Welcome to the Music Business. You’re fucked.”
G- Yep! Martin Atkins.
J- So, keep that in mind, kids. No matter what, like you said… lawsuits… I think Billy Corgan recently put it in a very good way… Being in a band is almost, sometimes, like somebody stepping on the back of your neck with a work boot on. It’s pretty heavy duty.
Flipside of the coin is there’s no feeling like it in the world. I’m still doing it. I never gave up. I’m very fortunate to have 2 things I love to do. One is playing music, and two is being involved in veterinary medicine. So, there’s some passions there that I love, and it’s important to have family and have integrity. If you can do that thorugh all the bullshit and still keep the same mind, you’re doing something right, you know?
It’s not easy. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s life anyway. You’re gonna go through that anyway. I just happen to like performing on stage and going in the studio and recording. It’s passion. It’s hard work, and you either love it or you don’t. You’re a music head, or not a music head, and I’m a music head.
G- And so are we!
Well you’re playing today and it’s your first show back in quite a while. I want to say thank you again very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five. Play a great show!
Peace on Napalm Records is going to be coming out something in the early Fall, so make sure to pick that up. Vista chino is gonna rock this crowd here tonight at Orion on day 2, so play well, travel safe, and we look forward to seeing you again!
J- Thank you very much! I appreciate it.
G- You got it!
2013 N. American Tour
9/6 — Calgary, Alberta — Flames Central
9/7 — Edmonton, Alberta — Starlite Ballroom
9/9 — Vancouver, British Columbia — Commodore Ballroom
9/10 — Seattle, Wash. — El Corazon
9/11 — Portland, Ore. — Hawthorne Theater
9/12 — San Francisco, Calif. — Slims
9/13 — Los Angeles, Calif. — Echoplex
9/14 — Anaheim, Calif. — House of Blues
9/16 — Denver, Colo. — Summit Music Hall
9/18 — Minneapolis, Minn. — Fine Line Music Café
9/19 — Chicago, Ill. — Metro
9/20 — Pontiac, Mich. — Crofoot Ballroom
9/21 — Toronto, Ontario — Phoenix Concert Theater
9/23 — Montreal, Quebec — Corona Theater
9/24 — Quebec, Quebec — Dagobert
9/25 — Ottawa, Ontario — Ritual Night Club
9/26 — New York, N.Y. — Bowery Ballroom
9/27 — Philadelphia, Pa. — Underground Arts
9/28 — Columbus, Ohio — Alrosa Villa