Show Us Your Riffs

7 11 2008

Tomorrow afternoon I’m taking myself off to Dublin to see Hermano make their Irish debut. I’ve been looking forward to the show since it was annouced months ago and this will be the first time John Garcia (Kyuss) has ever performed over here. I’ve always been a huge Kyuss fan since about ’93 ever since I heard ‘Demon Cleaner’ from ‘Sky Valley’ on the 2FM Rock Show one Sunday night. Inspired, my brother bought the album in Sounds Good on Monaghan Street (we spent every weekend in there) and it really blew my mind and is still one of my favourite records ever.

 

I was pretty much an instant Kyuss fan. I remember even covering ‘Allen’s Wrench’ in my old band (although due to many reasons it was a much punkier version than the original) and when they called it a day after ‘And the Circus Leaves Town’ I was gutted. Anyway, a  year or two ago I got the opportunity to interview John about his new band Hermano and the old days. He was such a cool bloke and had a voice like honey. Below is the original interview with the man himself ahead of what’s sure to be one of the best shows of the year. After the interview John promised to buy me a pint if he ever managed to play in Dublin and you can bet your arse I’ll hold him to his offer.

 

John Garcia

In 1989, singer John Garcia started a band with his school friend Josh Homme called Sons of Kyuss. A few years later they shortened their name to the catchier sounding Kyuss, and with the help of drummer Brant Bjork and bassist Nick Oliveri (later replaced by Scott Reeder) literally changed the face of heavy rock music with their album ‘Blues for the Red Sun’ in 1992. Two more records followed (‘Sky Valley’ and ‘And the Circus Leaves Town’) before calling it a day. Some called it “Desert Rock” others called it “Stoner Rock” but whatever way you look at it, Kyuss single-handedly created a genre that is still alive and kicking today.

            In the wake of Kyuss’ demise, John formed Slo-Burn. Unfortunately they had a life-span of about half an hour and only released one EP (‘Amusing the Amazing’). From there, John got together with his former Kyuss buddy Scott Reeder and formed Unida. As Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age began to court the mainstream press (with their music suffering as a result) Unida were the true successors to Kyuss’ throne. Sadly though, their record company didn’t seem to think so and shelved their second record. As a legion of Garcia fans all collectively smacked their fore-heads at the stupidity of the record label, Unida were put on hiatus. However, the album (‘For the Working Man’) can be found floating around cyber-space.

            Nowadays, John works full-time at a veterinary clinic. He still lives in the desert in California, he still drinks Jim Beam and he’s still got a kick-ass voice. When he wants to get his rocks off, he’s got Hermano. They’re a sorta on-again, off-again stoner supergroup.

            “We only ever see each other once every six months and I think that’s why what we have is so special,” laughs John. “Our bassist Dandy lives down the road from me in Joshua Tree and last week we drank some Jim Beam, howled with the coyotes and had fun. We’re working on the third record now and I have to say I fucking love Hermano.

             “I’ve also been working on a solo album since I was 18. I’m in no rush to get it done though. It’ll happen when it happens. When I get an idea for a song, they haunt me like ghosts until i get them finished so hopefully I’ll exorcise these demons some day.”

            These days John’s given up touring alongside the likes of Danzig and White Zombie, preferring to play live in short, sharp bursts. While some have reported he’ll leave the business for good, thankfully nothing can be further from the truth.

            “Music will never leave me. I’m just as happy singing a song with my daughter as I am onstage. The reason why I’m still making records is so she can se her daddy do what he loves to do. I don’t think I’ll ever spend 12months on a tour bus though. I’ve done the whole struggling musician thing and it’s hard. I’ve got a wife as well as my 3 year old daughter and I don’t want to put them through it. There comes a point where you’ve got to be a fucking man about things.  I’m not leaving my family behind. I like going out and touring for a few weeks. You can rip shit up and you make a bit of coin, but I don’t want to be away too long. When I was in my twenties I could party all day, but I’m getting older and touring can be hard on your body. Plus I love working at the animal hospital and I don’t want to give that up.”

            While John may have forgone the world of living on tour buses, Garcia fans were given a rare treat in LA when he sang three Kyuss songs with Queens of the Stone Age a few years ago.

            “Josh rang me up out of the blue and asked did I want to go and jam. I said yeah and I asked where he lived and he said he didn’t want to jam at his house. So I said, ok, where’s your rehearsal studio and he said-dude-I want you to come onstage with us and fucking play. I said-well it’s about fucking time! I love all those guys man, and if I’m honest, yeah, it made me miss being in Kyuss. It was a blast though.”

            With everyone from Metallica to Alice in Chains to the Distillers all hailing John as nothing short of a modern-day legend, it seems kinda odd that he never broke into the mainstream with his buddies Nick and Josh. To the singer’s credit, it doesn’t seem to bother him though.

            “I’m as happy playing to 50,000 people as I am playing to 50. I don’t think music will ever leave me. Nowadays I’m just as happy singing a song with my daughter as I am being on stage. When I put my baby to bed and my wife is asleep I like to have a Jack Daniels and coke, take a guitar out to my patio and sing a song to the coyotes and cactus. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

 

Essential Listening

Kyuss-‘Sky Valley

Twelve years on from its release, it still stands as one of the greatest records on the 90s and is Garcia and Homme’s masterpiece. It’s the kinda record that makes you thankful for having ears.

 

Unida-‘Coping with the Urban Coyote’

In an ideal world, this album should’ve made Garcia a house-hold name.

 

Hermano-‘Live at W2’

For those of us who’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Garcia live, this record gives us a glimpse of the man in action.

 

John Garcia Mix-Tape

1) ‘Angry American’ by Hermano

2) ‘Gardenia’ by Kyuss

3) ‘Black Woman’ by Unida

4) ‘Demon Cleaner’ by Kyuss

5) ‘Allen’s Wrench’ by Kyuss

6) ‘Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop’ by Kyuss

7) ‘Quite Fucked’ by Hermano

8) ‘Hurricane’ by Kyuss

9) ‘Whitewater’ by Kyuss

10) ‘Thumb’ by Kyuss

11) ‘Thorn’ by Unida

12) ‘One Inch Man’ by Kyuss

13) ‘El Rodeo’ by Kyuss

14) ‘If Only Two’ by Unida

15) ‘Freedom Run’ by Kyuss

 

Hermano’s new DVD ‘Live at the W2’ is out now.

Edwin McFee

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