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16th June 2014
METAL DISCOVERY: The Doors’ Robby Krieger, as you’ve already mentioned, you went out to his studio, Horse Latitudes in LA, to record the guitar stuff he did for ‘Her Bullets’ Energy’, I believe?
(John Garcia on focussing his attention and efforts solely on his solo career for the forseeable future)
"...I’m very happy doing what I’m doing right now. I don’t want to go back in and do another Hermano record or Vista Chino record; I don’t want to do that yet. Those cars are parked in the garage and they’re gonna stay there for a while. And they may come out, they may not."
John Garcia - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2014 Uncredited
Interview by Mark Holmes
JOHN: Yes, exactly.
Official John Garcia Twitter:
Official John Garcia Facebook:
John Garcia (2014)
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
MD: So how did that come about; how did you hook up with him?
JOHN: I wrote that song when I was really young; when I was about nineteen years old. The first part of the puzzle was getting it to my producer. Harper immediately goes: “I hear Spanish guitar on this”, and I said: “That’s a good idea, who do you know that plays Spanish guitar?” He goes: “Robby Krieger from The Doors”, and I said: “You’re out of your fucking mind, he’ll never do it! I mean, I would absolutely love it if he would, what is your connection?” He goes: “Well, you know, I know Robby, all I could do is ask him.” The first part, again, was if he even liked the track. So, we gave it to him, he liked it, we went into his studio and recorded it. That’s about as easy as… exactly how it happened, and it came through because of my producer, Harper Hug. And what a great track, and great experience, and I’m a fan of The Doors, so to have Robby Krieger play on this record is just something else and amazing.
MD: Is Robby a fan of Kyuss or any of your other projects?
JOHN: You know, we didn’t talk a lot about my past or his past. It was some studio talk and he’s a golfer so I think he even sparked up a conversation on if I play golf on golf courses out here in the desert! [Laughs] I think it was more golf talk than music talk! So it was just very natural with normal conversation. And what a nice guy and amazing guitar player.
MD: Indeed, definitely. The cover art for the album is fantastic. I gather that was by Jared Connor of Mexican Chocolate Design?
JOHN: Yeah, it was a combination between Jared Connor and this other artist, Sam Yong of Melbourne, Australia. And they collaborated together, and that’s what you got with the help of my direction and my vision but, ultimately, it was Jared Connor who came down with the final cover.
MD: You’ve got that big ram head on there, and the ram’s head is said to be symbolic of determination and initiative, so is that what it’s supposed to represent?
JOHN: Yes, it needed to speak to me, right off the bat, and big horned sheep… you know, we have big horned sheep in the valley that I live in, and all throughout the desert here; they’re indigenous to this area. So, I’m very proud of my desert and I call it “my desert” because I’ve been here since 1970, and I’ve seen a lot of growth, and I’ve seen a lot of people come out. And then you have the open desert road which just spoke tremendously to me; it made perfect sense. You know, if there was a book cover that matched the book, this is the one.
The ram’s head was made specifically for me; hand-drawn specifically for me by Sam Yong so there’s desert cholla and desert verbena in the horns. So even the ram’s horns, there’s indigenous cactus… all of that was done specifically for me and this project. So I just wanted something that screamed Palm Springs; screamed Morongo Valley; screamed Mojave Desert; screamed Death Valley… and screamed, you know, my music. Beautiful, yet strong, majestic… there’s a majestic feel that I love about that, almost a royal, regal feel about the desert sheep. They’re not goats, they’re sheep! It’s not to be confused with any type of satanic imagery at all! I wanted to stay far away from that. I’ve gotten that a couple of times and I’ve had to correct some people and say: “It’s not a goat, it’s a big-horned sheep, it’s a male sheep!”
MD: Yeah, this is stoner rock, not black metal!
JOHN: That’s exactly right. You know, there’s a certain amount of sensitivity to them; they don’t have a defence. Their defence are their legs; that’s it, and, from time to time, and only when they’re in a rut, or when they’re mating, or they butt heads up against each other. Not to say that there’s a sensitive side to the record or whatnot, I don’t know, I may be contradicting myself but I think there is, but when you talk about desert big-horned sheep, there’s a lot of things that come to mind. It’s a beautiful animal. I’m an animal person. My wife helps run Palm Springs Animal Hospital, so we’ve always been animal people. So, everything post-my Kyuss release, in some way or another, had some sort of living thing on it, whether it be a ram or a human or something… I’m an animal guy.
MD: So with Vista Chino already signed to Napalm Records, was that label a natural choice for the solo album?
JOHN: Yeah, they had first option anyway, so they could either turn it down or pick it up, and they decided to pick it up. I have a great relationship with my label. There’s always gonna be things to iron out, and there’s always gonna be debate, and debate is healthy, but I wouldn’t wanna be any place else right now. It’s a perfect fit for this project.
MD: It’s always been a great label. Extensive tours have been promised after the release of the album, and you have four Australian shows announced already, so are there plans to come over to the UK and Europe too?
JOHN: Yes, I’ll be coming to the UK in late-November, early-December. I’m doing a big, long, extensive, over a month-long tour over in Europe, and I start that at the beginning of January. So it’s a big one – I go all the way from Scandinavia, all the way down south, as far west as the UK, and as far east as, hopefully, Russia, depending on the relationship that the US has with them right now. It’d be nice to get over there but we’ll see… I’d certainly like to try to get over there. But it’s gonna be a big one. It’s my first ever solo tour so I’m excited about it and looking forward to it. I’ve got a great band…
MD: Have you finalised the band yet then?
JOHN: Yeah, found ‘em all. Found a bass player, a guy by the name of Mike Pygmie; drummer Greg Saenz; a brand new guitar player, a diamond in the rough, you’ve never heard of him before but you will start hearing about this guitar player by the name of Ehren Groban – he’s a great guy and a great guitar player, and he’s gonna bring it so I’m excited.
MD: You’ve been described as “the most distinctive voice of the entire Desert/Stoner Rock scene”. Is that kind of praise something you always try to live up to, or do you just carry on doing your thing regardless?
JOHN: Yeah, I just carry on doing my thing regardless. You know, Mark, I’m more concerned about what I’m gonna do this summer with my kids. I try to keep my eye on the ball and family’s important to me, and the music that I do is only a bonus compared to how I feel about just being lucky to be alive and lucky to have two such wonderful kids and a great wife. And that’s what’s important. Everything else is a bonus. So I keep my eye on the ball, you know.
MD: Yeah, that’s a great perspective. The final thing I wanted to ask - now that you’ve finally got your first solo album under your belt, will it be another long wait for more solo material, or is it too early to say?
JOHN: No, I’m already planning to release another record come the end of next year. So I’m happy; I’m very happy doing what I’m doing right now. I don’t want to go back in and do another Hermano record or Vista Chino record; I don’t want to do that yet. Those cars are parked in the garage and they’re gonna stay there for a while. And they may come out, they may not. But I like the car that I’m driving right now and she’s fuelled up, and she’s sounding good, so we’re gonna take her out for a spin on a nice, long road trip. So this is what’s on the agenda and I plan to stay on this road for quite a while.
MD: Marvellous. Nice analogy to finish with there! Okay, thanks so much for your time.
JOHN: Thank you Mark, I appreciate it.