Suicide Helpline are the perfect band for the modern world. They are unapologetically honest and critical of society’s moral and social decay. This awareness is reflected in the quality of their lyrics and music. It’s a style that effortlessly blends the attitude of late 70’s punk by mixing it with post-punk sensibilities and coupling the flair of glam, but with the infectious pick up of two-tone ska. Other groups that are link minded are The Clash, The Stranglers and Newtown Neurotics.
Suicide Helpline released their latest album Re:Generation in June 2020. Much like their previous release Pink Jazz in 2016, this album continues their deceleration of punk-fueled rebellion against a world plagued by apathy and despair. Songs like “I’m So Sick Of This Generation,” “Don’t Really Want To Die,” and “Live In Poverty” brilliantly demonstrate these ideals.
Unfortunately, it would seem Re:Generation found itself ill-fated to be released during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Like many groups worldwide, Suicide Helpline has been affected by the collapse of musical entertainment and the subsequent health mandated restrictions. The result is Suicide Helpline has not performed since March 2020. To find out how they’ve been coping since Covid 19 spread across the world I caught up with Logan and Kevin. We chatted about their new album Re:Generation, playing shows and life during the Pandemic.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline started as a one band recording project. After releasing the debut album Ready To Die in 2013, the band took shape in 2015. What inspired the creation of Suicide Helpline?
Logan: It was part of a series of projects I was doing at the time, different bands doing different time periods of music. Suicide Helpline was obviously ’77 Punk, and it caught on the most with people I knew who were interested in live music.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline boasts various styles of 1970’s influenced punk with the glitter from glam rock, while adding some heavy post punk sensibilities. What are you all drawing from to create Suicide Helpline’s sound?
Logan: Well it was unintentional at first, the term “glam punk” didn’t come about until after our first album Pink Jazz was out. We were just trying to make honest original classic punk music, uninhibited by the ’90s. But we noticed some Bowie and things bleeding through though accidentally, which is my fault as a songwriter.
NixBeat: When I’ve messaged Suicide Helpline through Facebook, your automatic message advertises imalive.org. Can you elaborate on what that site is and why you are supporting it?
Logan: It’s 24 hours and always has someone to actually talk to. That seems essential for someone looking for an actual outlet. We wanted to make sure that anyone looking for live support in an actual crisis had it, that is very important to us.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline released Pink Jazz on April 25, 2017. The cover art of Pink Jazz invokes the image of a hand that has been recently sexually stimulating a vagina. Is that intentional and if so, what prompted this particular imagery?
Logan : The image was shot before the album title was chosen. I had the idea for the picture and then pitched it to the band as an album cover and we came up with the album title from there. Honestly though, it was only supposed to upset your parents like classic punk album covers always seemed to try to.
NixBeat: One of my favorite tracks from Pink Jazz is “Welcome To The Rest Of Your Life.” I found it to be a bit foreboding and describing a monotonous life of privilege. What are you drawing from for this track?
Logan: That was written in the middle of the White Guilt Crisis of the mid-2010s, which I think was a very important step for society. I wanted so badly to shut up, but that song is what happened instead. It ended up being a pretty honest and bleak portrait. I’m not proud of it.
Logan: Is it ok to say that war is ‘antiquated’? Is that acceptable to say in America?
NixBeat: On June 7, 2020 Suicide Helpline released Re:Generation. What was working on this album like and how has the reception been to it?
Logan: Releasing an album in the middle of the worst health crisis in modern history has been a terrible idea. We sold less than 10 copies of the album. Working on it was fun though, we recorded it before anything had happened and the sessions had a very ’70s feel to them, we recorded a lot of it live off the floor.
NixBeat: The track “I’m So Sick of This Generation” seems pretty straight forward song. It laments a certain frustration towards a specific generation. What inspired this song?
Logan: I’m really worried that this song brought ABOUT the health crisis. I think I wished the world away. I’m honestly really sorry if that’s the case. If I wrote this now, it would be called “I Really Miss My Generation”. Making this music video as four individual people trapped in their own houses was an adventure though.
NixBeat: The track “Live In Poverty” has a kind of definitive SKA pick up to it. It’s a song that seems oddly appropriate for many people dealing with the consequences of the Covid 19 Pandemic. What are you drawing from “Live In Poverty?”
Logan: Yeah maybe that is way more relevant now, but at the time it was merely about abandoning wealth and stability, in exchange for art.
NixBeat: A particular favorite track on Re:Generation is “Don’t Really Want To Die.” Despite the name of this track It’s got a kind of upbeat feel to it that comes heavily from its’ SKA infused with punk sound. What’s the background with this song?
Logan: This song seemed way too positive and upbeat almost, but I’m glad it’s included at the end of the album. It provides much needed levity to an otherwise very heavy downward spiral of subjects. And especially since we released this album during the health crisis, this seemed like a good choice.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline has played with numerous groups over the years. Who has been your favorite group to play with and why?
Kevin: Opening for Stiff Little Fingers was surreal. Those shows still feel like a dream to me. Playing with Laurice was an absolute riot, it was inspiring to see him in his 70s still being his strange and wonderful self. Mad Caddies were a ton of fun, and it was a trip hearing from 90s-punk dudes in the crowd about how much our tights and makeup threw them off. Teenage Bottlerocket, Fashionism and The Jolts were some other highlights … I feel like I’m just namedropping now, but it’s a hard question.
Honestly, some of the funnest shows were the Rockin’ 4 Dollars nights at Buckingham in Edmonton. They’d have a bunch of bands play short sets with covers, so we really got to let loose and the crowds were great. We did tribute sets as the New York Dolls and the Stooges, and also covered songs by NOFX, The Chemical Brothers, the Proclaimers, the Chats and Cyndi Lauper.
NixBeat: How has the members of Suicide Helpline dealt with the Covid 19 Pandemic?
Kevin: I moved to a farm in BC. I really miss practicing and performing, but we hadn’t jammed since March because of the restrictions, so I don’t know how much physical location matters anymore. I think, like all performers, we’re figuring out how to adjust to a world without sweaty clubs and sing-alongs. But we did the “I’m So Sick Of This Generation” video in total isolation as Logan mentioned, and he turned that into a really unique piece of art. So I have hope that we can work on more virtual projects in creative ways.
NixBeat: The Covid 19 Pandemic has affected artists and venues alike. With many closing and artists unable to preform. How has the pandemic affected the music community in Edmonton, Alberta?
Logan: It has disassembled our local music scene for the foreseeable future. All venues are closed and currently people are isolated to houses and unable to play music together. We’re hoping recorded music somehow keeps our small scene alive.
NixBeat: What’s coming up next for Suicide Helpline?
Logan: Well hopefully by the time this pandemic is over, music will have in some way restructured itself or be in the process of a brave new frontier, post-apocalypse. We’d love to be a part of the rebuilding, but right now, we have no idea what the future looks like.
Since 2018, The Speedways have serenaded rock n’ rollers blinded by the lure of hopeless romanticism. These anthems of youthful heartache are inspired by Matthew Julian’s experience with a “beautiful girl.” Subsequently, this music is brought to life by with the infectious nature of a late 1970’s punk sound twisting into the warm embrace of the forever longing and an ever personal power pop style. This masterful composition approach falls directly in line with groups like Protex, The Nerves, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and even The Ronettes.
The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. Their first record Just Another Regular Summer was written and recorded by Matthew Julian, with the help of Dec Burns. The definitive power pop sounds that came from Just Another Regular Summer (released May 27, 2018) quickly gained notoriety. Matt was soon asked by Mauro Venegas to perform for his Some Weird Sin’s special event Power Pop Weekender in 2018.
To make the performance a reality, Mauro, Adrian Savio and Kris Hood joined the band. Over the last couple years The Speedways have performed countless gigs, toured and recorded new material. They have released three singles and the highly anticipated follow up to Just Another Regular Summer, Radio Sounds, on June 29, 2020.
While Radio Sounds was well received critically, The Speedways were unfortunately unable to celebrate the release because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Despite the setback, The Speedways remain vigilant and have enjoyed popular attention to their records.
On October 17, 2020, The Speedways made a special appearance for Some Weird Sin’s 8th Anniversary Party at Paper Dress Vintage. However, after a lockdown order was put in place, that performance may be their last for 2020. To find more about how The Speedways are doing, I chatted with them about releasing a record during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the evolution from Just Another Regular Summer into Radio Sounds, playing their possible last performance of 2020 and more.
NixBeat: The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. In the bands bio on Facebook The Speedways sound is suggested to be a more personal take on Power Pop, blending elements of Tom Petty, Phil Spector and The Exploding Hearts. What inspired you to write, record and release Just Another Regular Summer?
Matthew: The entire Just Another Regular Summer album (and most of Radio Sounds) was inspired by a beautiful girl. If you take someone on a date to Joe Meeks flat it’s gonna end up in a song (even if “they wouldn’t let us go inside”) But then I got a bit carried away and wrote enough songs about her to make an album (well, two albums). My mate has a little home studio in Nottingham and I recorded it there with him. There were no plans to release it but after I put it on bandcamp I had a few labels contact me. The Diana Dors LP artwork (by my mate Josh) was the icing on the cake. I really love the album.
NixBeat: I understand that the Speedways first concert was to perform at the London club night Some Weird Sin. After accepting Some Weird Sin cofounder Mauro Venegas (The Godfathers, Johnny Cola and The A Grades, Miscalculations) along with Adrian Alfonso (Dead Meat) and Kris Hood (More Kicks, Los Pepes) joined the band. What has it been like to collaborate with this all star cast?
Matthew: It’s been brilliant. I think we’re really well suited and compliment one another in a way that a band should. Of course everyone can play but there’s also a great attitude towards it. We’re all on the same page with the music and presentation which is important. As Mauro once said, the line-up kinda picked itself really, the obvious choices all came onboard. We’ve done a lot in the relatively short time we’ve been going. I reckon we’re a great little band. And yep, the very first gig was for the ‘Some Weird Sin – Power Pop Weekender 2018’ .. off the back of one and a half rehearsals.
NixBeat: Matt, in an interview with Veglam.com published on July 7th 2020 you mentioned that years ago you frequently visited Some Weird Sin. While attending you had “found your people” after hearing groups like Protex, Hanoi Rocks and The Ronettes. Would you expand on why Some Weird Sin had that impact on you?
Matthew: Five years or so back I was feeling pretty stale and fed up so I began hopping on a train down to London on a regular basis. I’m a record collector and ended up making a few pals who worked in the record shops in Camden. I knew a bit about the scene and had seen the Ten O Sevens a couple of times but I didn’t really know anyone. Anyway, I ended up at Some Weird Sin one night and I met Mauro and Simon who I got on really well with. They were DJ’ing great tunes and the live bands were cool so I went again the following month, and then again the next etc.. Everyone seemed really sound and would get you a beer in. Some of the first people I got to know were Kris, Liam and Bobby from the band Scraps. Liam was at a Shannon & The Clams show in Hackney and he asked me “when are you next in town?” and I said, I’m gonna go to the Crazy Squeeze gig in Camden and he was like “mate, I’m putting that gig on. I’ll list you” ..and that ended up being the first time I met Adrian. The seeds of a power pop fairytale had been well and truly sown.
NixBeat: The Speedways have performed with many notable acts, such as The Briefs, Protex, Baby Shakes and Nikki Corvette. What has been your favorite band to play with and why?
Adrian: I’d personally say Baby Shakes as they’ve been there since day one and it’s always a party with them.
Mauro: Let’s not forget Giuda! Hard to pick from any of the ones you’ve mentioned though, as they’ve all become lasting friendships, which is fantastic.
Matthew: It was nice to play with them all! Baby Shakes have been mates since they first visited the UK and we just hit it off. They’re a great band and great pals. Protex are a big influence on everyone who plays this style of music, I listened to them a lot when I made the first album so it was so cool when Aiden contacted me to say how much he loved it. The Briefs are one of the best live bands around for sure, Pascal booked our first mini tour of Germany and has been extremely supportive of our music. Nikki is a legend and it was a thrill to play guitar for her. I like to think the Speedways are now her fulltime UK Corvettes! She was great. on top of that, Tommy & The Commies were a personal fave and we’ve opened for The Zeros too who were ace.
NixBeat: What are some of your favourite London bands to play with?
Matthew: I’d have to say The Kinks.
Mauro: Haha that one’s even harder! I guess we’ve played with Lucy & the Rats a couple of times and they’re cool.
NixBeat: My favourite track off Just Another Regular Summer is “Reunion In The Rain” What influenced you to write this song?
Matthew: It’s my favourite too. It’s about hoping the day comes that you get to see her again in real life instead of just in your dreams. It rains during the reunion, because it would wouldn’t it? ..but who’d care? It’s influenced by longing. Musically it’s a kinda Ronettes meets Ramones thing. I can hear Ronnie singing it. I’d love her to sing it.
Matthew: Mauro suggested it. We only had one album out at the time & we needed a cover for the live set to flesh things out a bit. We’d done “Back Of my Hand” by The Jags a couple of times and even though we did it really well it felt a bit obvious. “They Don’t Know” is a great choice because it’s a song we all love and it kinda fits with what we are as a band, but it’s also a little unexpected too. It ended up on the b-side because we needed one, and because we do a decent version. The plan was to do a video for the A and B side of the single, but Kris broke his wrist so we were unable to record the video for “Seen Better Days” ..hence why there’s a video for the B side and not the A side!
Mauro: I just thought it would suit us and be interesting to have it sung from a male perspective, as it’s a traditionally “female” song. I like how live it comes out a bit more Replacements-y.
NixBeat: What was the process like writing and recording Radio Sounds? How was it different than the work you did with Just Another Regular Summer?
Matthew: A fair few of the songs on Radio Sounds I’d already written around the time of Just Another Regular Summer. I also dug into my song book for older tunes like “This Aint A Radio Sound” and “Good Girls Don’t Break Hearts” ..then there were new songs that I wrote as a response to the first album – “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young..,” “Daydreaming,” “Brown Eyes Look So Blue..,” “This Is About Girl Who Loves The Sun” etc.. So the writing process was more varied than the first record. Obviously with it being a full band this time there was a collaborative effort in terms of arrangement and individual parts which definitely gave the songs more of a band vibe than before. It’s much more satisfying as a song writer to hear other musicians play and interpret your stuff than to do everything yourself. It makes such a difference. Everyone contributed brilliantly in the studio too (including Jez who produced the album). I enjoyed making it & working with everyone. It turned out really well. A step up in quality for sure.
NixBeat: Radio Sounds was released in June 2020 in the midst of the Covid 19 Pandemic. How has Radio Sounds been received?
Matthew: It’s been received really well, but of course it’s been tough. Like all bands at our level you have your online sales and your gig sales, but there have been no gig sales this year for obvious reasons. I’d say we’ve definitely gone up a level in terms of interest in the band though. Our biggest market in physical record sales has been America again, which is a killer for the buyer because postage costs are insanity, but it’s so great to have fans over there. We’ve done good business in Spain, Scandinavia, UK, Japan and Australia too. People seem to really like it. The pandemic has delayed a few overseas orders of course, so there has been the odd refund and late arrival, but overall it’s gone pretty smooth considering. We’ve had a lot of radio, blog and magazine support which we appreciate so much. It really does help get the word out, especially during this time.
NixBeat: What were you drawing from whilst writing “Kisses Are History?” Tell me about the song.
Matthew:I wrote an early version of it for Just Another Regular Summer ..I had the phrase “once you were a mystery but now your kisses are history” – but the verse lyrics were a bit too self pitying and I couldn’t get beyond that. I wanted it to build gradually to a crescendo like “Running Scared” by Roy Orbison, which I absolutely love (I might steal that technique in the future tbh). Also, I already had a song with the word kiss in the title (“One Kiss Can Lead To Another”) so I shelved it. A few years later when I was writing for Radio Sounds I thought I’d give it another go, so I made it a bit more self confident this time around – “I should have been the one.” I also added some bitterness at the end of the chorus – “if all this was meant to be then so much for love.” It ended up being the first single from the album. Mauro wrote a beautiful guitar solo for it. Never give up on songs that aren’t working out!
NixBeat: What’s the story behind the track “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young”?
Matthew: It’s partly fictional and partly real. The main ‘story’ in the song is wondering if the interesting new person you’ve met could be “something” but then you see her on the 29 bus with her significant other. It’s disappointing but it doesn’t really matter because you’re still in love with the girl in silver shoes in any case. “In a world without love it’s hard to stay young” means it’s hard to have the optimism and positivity of youth if you don’t have love and companionship. It was the last song I wrote for the album and it took ages to finish. The original chorus was really wordy “I fell in love with a girl that I used to know, I was Johnny Ramone and she was Brigitte Bardot, then they all lined up to steal her heart away, a kiss off the back of a few stolen words is a drop in the ocean for bees & for birds, now maybe the bad times will do me some good but in a world without love it’s hard to stay young” I changed it to “I fell in love with a girl wearing silver shoes” repeat x3! Much more impact and less corny! I find lyrics really tough but I’m better at self editing than I used to be. I really like this song. It’s great to play live and it’s the perfect album closer.
NixBeat: The Covid 19 Pandemic has seen much of the music world stop in it’s tracks. With bands halting tours and performances, and even many venues closing their doors, how has life been during this for The Speedways?
Mauro: I reckon we’ve taken the bull by the horns in some ways – we’ve kept busy in as much as we’ve been physically able to (even harder with Matt living in a different town to the rest of us), but we’ve been productive lately, shooting videos, recording sessions and even playing live, of course.
Matthew: Yeah, it’s tough in the sense I live up in the Midlands and the rest of the lads are down in London, but we’ve done as much as we possibly can under the circumstances. We went over five months without seeing each other or doing anything, but in August we had a rehearsal, then in September we filmed a couple of videos and recorded a live set for radio, in October we played a show and in November we’ve got a day booked in the studio.. so that’s a decent run. It’s been a fucking rotten year for everyone though of course.
NixBeat: During the Covid 19 Pandemic Bandcamp has had an all sales go directly to artists on the first Friday of the month. What do you think of Bandcamp’s event and has it benefited sales of Speedways records and merchandise?
Matthew: We’ve done ok from it. A few people have been kind enough to order stuff on those particular Fridays. We still need to get some more merchandise done actually. There isn’t any Radio Sounds stuff because obviously we haven’t been able to tour or anything.
NixBeat: On October 17th 2020 The Speedways performed their first show since the onset of Covid 19 in March 2020. The show was to celebrate Some Weird Sin’s 8th birthday party at Paper Dress Vintage. The show emphasized certain restrictions like social distancing and being seated.What was performing this show like in the era of Covid 19?
Mauro: It was GREAT to play live again! I think we’d all really missed that buzz. We only managed to get together to rehearse once, but it seems like we all know the songs still, so that’s something! I found I got used to the audience being seated pretty quick, to be honest they were still more lively than some of the London crowds we’d played to before all this anyway, haha!
Adrian: It was a bit stressful given the recent lockdown coming into place, but playing was fun. It was nerve racking to see the seats but once the stage lights go on and the drunk audience start hollering it’s pretty familiar.
Matthew: I really enjoyed it. I mean, obviously the restrictions and limitations were frustrating but after a few beers it didn’t really matter! It was cool to play with the guys again and great to see friends who we hadn’t seen since at least March ffs! We played “Empty Pages” for the first time live which was something I’d been looking forward to. I liked playing two sets in one night actually. Very old school!
NixBeat: What does the future hold for The Speedways?
Matthew: What does the future hold for anyone right now? It’s a tough one to answer. We plan to put one last single out from the Radio Sounds LP pretty soon. Long term of course it’s difficult to say, I mean in theory we’d wanna tour and gig as much as possible, but we’ll have to wait & see. I’ve struggled to write during Covid. Rather than being inspired by the dead time I’ve been stifled and disillusioned by it. My songs are about feelings and personal experiences. Those things have been in short supply during 2020. I probably shouldn’t end on a negative! ..so with my glass half full I’ll say 2021 will be our year and we’ll be able to get back to doing what we love.
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.
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.
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.
Since 2007, Faz Waltz has led the bovver rock revival. They present a unique style that draws from influences such as The Beatles, T-Rex, David Bowie and Queen. The result is sounds that blends contemporary rock n’ roll with pop sensibilities into a nostalgic nod toward the notions of 1970’s junkshop glam.
Over the years, Faz Waltz has never seemed to slow down. They have played numerous performances, released six albums, toured all over Europe and in 2019 made their first appearance in the United States with a brief tour, including playing at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Now Faz Waltz are about to release their seventh album Rebel Kicks on April 20th 2020. After getting a preview of the new record via the Grown Up Guy/ C’Mon Liar 7”, I contacted Faz Waltz’s frontman Faz La Rocca to learn more . We chatted about his glam rock influences, touring the States, playing the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival, the new 7” and what life is like in Italy during the Coronavirus quarantine.
NixBeat: After previously playing in punk bands, Faz Waltz formed in 2007. What prompted you to start Faz Waltz?
Faz La Rocca: Well, I was deep into the punk rock scene but there were many punk rock bands around. I wanted to do something different. So I started a band playing the music I loved the since I was a kid — rock ‘n roll.
Nix Beat: Faz Waltz seems to blend boot-boy glam rock styles that harkons on a mix of The Beatles, T-Rex and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie. Where does your passion for glam come from?
Faz La Rocca : When I was 7, I discovered Queen. They instantly became my favorite band at that time so I started looking for bands that had the same feel… the Beatles were next, then I went on to find T. Rex, Bowie, Cheap Trick, ELO, Slade, and other great bands.
Nix Beat: In an article published by Louder Than War on May 8, 2016, it was stated that Faz Waltz would write and perform in English since it was considered the universal language of rock n’roll. Why do you think that is?
Faz La Rocca: Ever since I discovered rock n’ roll as a kid, my only dream was to become a musician. My favorite bands were from the UK and the US, so singing in English is the only way for me.
Nix Beat: Faz Waltz played Punk Rock Bowling in 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. How did you get involved in playing the festival?
Faz La Rocca: It all happened thanks to Ted from Spaghetty Town Records. After we were asked to play at Punk Rock Bowling, Ted took care of all the other gigs. We’ve been asked to play in the US and Canada multiple times in the past — we even had a tour planned in 2016. Touring the US and Canada is very expensive with all the bureaucratic red tape. So we needed a big main event like Punk Rock Bowling to make the tour happen.
NixBeat: How was performing in the States compared to playing in Europe?
Faz La Rocca: It was awesome. This was my very first time in this beautiful country. We got to travel the US and we got to play our music; it was a two-for-one dream come true. Well, playing in the States is different from some European countries but similar to others. One thing was certain: everybody was super excited to see us. We really appreciate everyone who came out and rocked with us.
Faz La Rocca: Although some songs are the fruit of my imagination, many are influenced by real life. Everybody experiences some grief sometimes and it’s not obvious that somebody is there to help. So you have to fend for yourself. This makes you think you don’t need anybody else to get through. It gives you power you didn’t think you had — though in your heart you really don’t want to be alone either.
Faz La Rocca: “Come On Liar” is the perfect B Side to “Grown Up Guy,” because it’s in the bad times that you discover who is real and who is fake, “Big smiles and big lies.” It’s about friendship, real or presumed.
Faz La Rocca: Yes, we do what we can to keep our minds busy while confined at home; playing some music, painting, reading, writing, and watching movies. Some people like me are still working during the day, but when I come home I need to do something that fills the void of no normal socializing.
NixBeat: What’s the mood like in Italy with the quarantine and how have people been coping with the stress.
Faz La Rocca: Northern Italy has been hit quite hard right now, the hospitals are fighting a big battle – they are heroes. Many people are dying and we’re not seeing the end of this yet. But Italy is strong, we’ll make it; we have a positive attitude, we have faith in our national health service, and we follow all the directives for health security.
The world should learn from how we are living and stop underestimating this pandemic. We underestimated it when China was the only country affected because it looked so distant from us. Now it’s at a global level — what are we waiting for? Stay at home, stop all social contacts. It’s the only way to get through this, nobody is immune.
NixBeat: How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected the music scene over there?
Faz La Rocca: The Coronavirus has totally affected the music scene. All the clubs are closed, no live shows, we can only play online from our home and all without getting paid. Many bands, clubs, and recording studios are dealing with financial issues due to the forced closure. So any help is appreciated by the bands, for example, you can buy records and merch as long as the shipping services are in operation.
NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s new album Rebel Kicks is due to be released on April 20th, 2020. What can fans look forward to with the new record?
Faz La Rocca: Yes, it will be released in April, pre-order is available now. For example on Rebel Kicks there’s fun as always but we also touch on some different topics. The album has some room for an introspective side too and it has a couple of very intense ballads as heard in the previous records. I love writing that pop oriented stuff.
NixBeat: Are you concerned about any delays because of the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Faz La Rocca: No, there’s no sense in planning when dealing with this pandemic. We all have to live day by day and take all the good from this situation.
NixBeat: What plans does Faz Waltz have for the rest of the year? Faz La Rocca: First of all, we just all want this period to end as soon as possible. Then we’ll see. We weren’t sure if we made the right move to release the album now — maybe we should have waited for a better time. But come on, life needs to go on. Even during and because of these difficult times, we’d like people to listen to our new album and feel carefree for a while. That’s what music is for! This is why I’ve been making music for all these years. We hope to put some smiles on your faces.
(L–R) Wren Kennedy, Samantha Dickens, Denney Fuller, Ian Francis and Conor Flynn. Photo: Matthew Hunter
On Nov. 16, SLUG Magazine presents SLUG Localized featuring The Boys Ranch, The Poppees and Say Hey at Urban Lounge. This evening will celebrate some of Utah’s finest surf, pop and rock n’ roll acts. Get ready to twist, shout and do the barracuda. SLUG Localized is sponsored by Uinta Brewing, High West Distillery, KRCL 90.9 FM and Spilt Ink SLC.
The Boys Ranch were founded by Denney Fuller and feature the talents of Wren Kennedy, Samantha Dickens, Conor Flynn and Ian Francis. Prior to forming the group, Fuller performed for years—including with Joshy Soul and The Cool—and has always carried a deep affinity for rock n’ roll, most notably for songs such as Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully” and The Ventures’ “Wipe Out.” Feeling electrified by these tunes, Fuller says, “They make me wanna get wild and run around the house.”
As a group, The Boys Ranch share a wide range of influences. Everything from The Clash to bossa nova, from Prince to The Beatles whet their creative appetites. Fuller says, “I really dig early rock n’ roll as well. Del Shannon, Roy Orbison, Bo Diddley and Little Richard are just great.” However, the band that prominently stands out for The Boys Ranch are The Kinks. “They are the blue-collar Beatles, in my opinion,” says Fuller. “They just have way too many dang good songs, and played exactly the way they wanted to play.”
(L–R) Cody Rigby, Moo Rudolph, Sully Swoboda, Andres Mitchell and Michael Cuenco. Photo: Matthew Hunter
On Nov. 16, SLUG Magazine presents SLUG Localized featuring The Boys Ranch, The Poppees and Say Hey at Urban Lounge. This evening will celebrate some of Utah’s finest surf, pop and rock n’ roll acts. Get ready to twist, shout and do the barracuda. SLUG Localized is sponsored by Uinta Brewing, High West Distillery, KRCL 90.9 FM and Spilt Ink SLC.
The Poppees were born out of the withering petals of The Artificial Flower Company and blossomed as a band refreshed, renewed but familiar to the senses. They breathe life into a new era of jangly indie rock by evoking a concoction of 1960s harmonious Monkees-esque tunes that warm their listeners with a fuzzy daze of sweetened-eggnog-induced psychedelia. Their music is perfect for a tonic lounge or dimly lit speakeasy. They are, however, not to be confused with the 1970s power pop group of the same name. These Poppees are Andres Mitchell, Cody Rigby, Moo Rudolph, Sully Swoboda and Michael Cuenco. Rigby says, “Like a plant that grows and loses its leaves, we, too, grew into what we are now.”
On April 22nd, Switzerland’s infamous Reverend Beat-Man will be playing the Garage on Beck with Nicole Izobel Garcia. They are touring the United States to support their new album Baile Bruja Muerto, released on Beat-Man’s label Voodoo Rhythm Records. The two will take their stage dressed as a reverend (Beat-Man) and a nun (Garcia). Not a reverend in the traditional sense, Beat-Man says, “Reverend comes from the German word Revereieren .That means I tell you a story, and I thought that’s pretty cool.” Much of their act is about presenting a striking image and a unique sound— aka Blues-Trash, a term coined by Beat-Man. It’s musical style that mixes the haunting sensations of garage-like-blues with surreal folk music. Garica says, “our voices are so yin and yang, but we are both very dark in our music and performance. If you got to know us you’ll see we are similar because we both have this dark side but are also quite angelic.”