The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




JULY 2014


Anyone who is into the stoner rock scene will no doubt know who John Garcia is. The voice of a genre that many rock and metal fans alike have enjoyed for many years with bands like Kyuss, Unida, Slo Burn and the more recent Vista Chino just a list of the kind of music John has been a part of over the years. His most recent project is a solo one, his self titled album a more mellow but still rocking set of songs that have a very personal touch coming from the creative mind of one of the greatest rock singers in history. His first solo tour will launch in Australia in September and we were lucky enough to catch up with Mr Garcia again, this time to chat about his latest work.

John: Andrew, how are you?


Andrew: Good thanks, how are you?


John: I'm doing good! It's Sunday evening here, I got press all lined up. Things are good I gotta tell you Andrew, I'm really excited to be getting down to your beautiful country again and playing these shows.


Andrew: Yeah it's great to have you back again! Last time I saw you was when you came down with Unida last year and what an amazing show that was. I got to meet you after the show in Perth actually but how was that tour for you guys?


John: Unida is a great band but I could be playing in a polka band for all I care in Australia, I have the time of my life because I love playing there so much but to answer your question, what a great tour, love the country, love being down there and again can't wait to get back but all in all it was a good tour!


Andrew: Yeah amazing! Obviously you are coming back for your solo tour and I've been listening to your album and it's a great album. What can you tell me about the album and the reasons you decided to put out a solo?


John: I've been wanting to do a solo project for many, many years and you talk about pent up energy and something that I have a passion about so to say no to other projects and to finally say yes to this collection of songs that I've held onto for so many years, it feels really good! I'm in a great spot, Vista Chino wanted to do another record and I said no. Unida, my other band, wanted to do another record and I love those guys dearly. We are on great terms, there's no drama, it's just I wanted to say yes to this collection of songs that I've had for so many years. I wasn't looking to change the face of rock n' roll with this record, they're just songs that are special to me that I've held onto for so many years. They're not B-sides, they're not leftover songs and to have them be released down there, the record comes out on August 5th, I'm gonna be touring down there in mid-September. I'm coming to Byron (Bay), to Brizzie and Sydney and Melbourne, 4 exclusive shows only from our first ever solo tour. Really, ever! It's a bit of a monumental moment for me and I keep going back to the word 'excited' but I'm so much looking forward to it. We got Waxy, another California desert band from Palm Springs opening the show, we have Mammoth Mammoth from Melbourne opening for all 4 shows so yeah it's going to be cool, looking forward to it.

Andrew: Yeah definitely! Aside from your solo songs, can we expect some other songs from your bands as well?


John: Yeah we will have some Kyuss songs that we never played or even Vista Chino never played - "Tangy Zizzle", "Phototropic" - even some Slo Burn songs I'm gonna be playing as well as the solo record so it's going to be a little bit of a best of tour. Something that I've never done before, to be able to wrap up some of the bands I've played in through-out the years into one set, it's going to be a special show. I'm excited and I keep going back to that word 'excited', it's going to be a little bit of a monumental moment for me. I'm glad Australia is first up on the docket, it's good things.


Andrew: Yeah and we are glad to be the first on your solo tour as well. So let's discuss the album and the songs, are the songs more personal for you than some of the other stuff that you have done before?


John: Yes much more. This collection of songs that I've released, I've held onto in what I call my safety deposit box or my vault if you will and actually in reality it was just a cardboard box sitting in the corner of my bedroom. Of course, like I said before these songs are not B-sides or leftovers, just songs that are special to me. And you have a song like "Her Bullets Energy" with Robby Krieger (The Doors) on it, talk about a monumental moment and being in the studio with a living legend like Robby, a moment I'll never forget for my entire life. I'm very fortunate to have played with such great musicians - Nick Oliveri, Robby Krieger, Danko Jones, Dave Angstrom from Hermano, Dandy Brown from Hermano, Chris Hale from Slo Burn, Damon Garrison from Slo Burn, Mark Diamond from The Dwarves, Tom Brayton from The Dwarves and then of course my producers Harper Hug and Trevor Whatever making it all happen. We set up and make a very simple rock record, we didn't want it to be anything but exactly that, simple and full of passion and I'm very pleased with the outcome.


Andrew: When you sat and wrote these songs, did you write them differently than the other stuff you had done or is the process for you the same no matter what you are doing?


John: This was different, these were songs I collected over the years and wrote with different guitar players from all over the world and so the process was really different. I didn't have a band per say, every musician on this record was handpicked for each specific song they played on so the process was different.


Andrew: With the guest artists, how did that come about? Did you have them in mind when you wrote the songs?


John: Yeah when I wrote songs I definitely came up with a list of a group of musicians that I specifically heard going on each specific song. Somebody like Chris Hale from Slo Burn and Damon Garrison from Slo Burn matched up with Nick Oliveri and Tom Brayton, that was specific. Mark Diamond on "Flower" and Tom Brayton on drums, everything was very specific and we knew exactly who was going to play on what. It took a lot of work, scheduling wise, it was tough but we pulled it off and again everything was very specific to each song. The producers really made it happen. Harper Hug and Trevor Whatever being only 20 minutes from my front door to do this record, it was a very natural process and we knew specifically what we wanted to do. We wanted a simple record, we didn't want to overdo anything and that was the jist of the record.

Andrew: Obviously people who are expecting another Kyuss or Unida record or whatever I think will be quite disappointed because this is a different record but in a very good way. It's a bit more laid back, a bit more mellow I guess would you say?


John: Yeah I mean I had 44 songs to choose from that I kept in my safety deposit box if you will and I specifically chose 14, only 11 made it on the record. But again, I wasn't looking to change the face of rock n' roll wth this record but I wanted something that had a different feel and a different emotion and something that was very personal to me. So yeah I think you're right, if anybody is looking for another Kyuss record or Unida record, you're not gonna get it but you're definitely gonna get some very personal, some very emotional stuff. It's not for everybody but it's something that I've always wanted to do through-out my career and what you hear is what you get and that's it. I don't claim to be a poet, I'm not a poet, I'm not a Jim Morrison, what you see is what you get, what you hear is what you get. I'm a father and a husband and a simpleton if you will and in my eyes there's nothing wrong with that. I write what I know, I write what I see, it's where I've been and where I'm going that I write about and this is a direct result of my passion for music and my passion for singing. So I agree with you.


Andrew: And those other songs you mentioned that are not on this album, what plans do you have for those songs?


John: They're coming out on my next solo record. We wanted something very conducive and that kinda flowed along but with a little bit of diversity in there. The other songs will be coming out, if I have anything to do with it they will be out next year. I'm in a good place right now and I don't see me deviating from my solo project, I don't see me doing another Vista Chino or another Unida record or Hermano record or anything like that, I see me staying in this spot for a very long time. I'm happy and there's a sense of freedom, a sense of liberation when departing from great acts, in my eyes (regarding) some of the stuff that I've done in the past. And I like it, I like where I'm at right now and again, the amount of freedom that I have by doing my own thing, how I want to do it, when I want to do it. I don't mean that to come out so selfish but these collection of songs that I've had for so many years deseve to be heard and I want people to feel what I'm feeling when I perform them and to breathe new life into them after I've held onto them for so long. All these great players, it feels real good. Like I said, I don't see me deviating from the solo project anytime in the near future.

Andrew: I'm sure the fans will dig it anyway because one thing that is very distinctive about it is your voice and a lot of people recognise that straight away. There's a couple of songs I wanted to ask you about, "His Bullets Energy" and "Her Bullets Energy". "His Bullets Energy" is the more rockier version and "Her Bullets Energy" is the softer one but what is the connection between those 2 songs?


John: After playing that song for so many years on my accoustic guitar, it is very natural for me to stop playing such an emotional, kind of tragic story, this love story gone wrong, into something that was more aggressive and heavy and meaner. And it naturally morphed into this 'from hers to his' and I very well could of put both of them together and have the softer side kind of introduce the harder side but that was the fun, creative part of being in the studio, is to be able to naturally divide those 2 and to make them into 2 different songs. But literally it just got to the point where I kind of got a little...not bored...but I heard it go into a different place and this is just a direct result of me playing the song for so many years and morphing it into something that was more excitable to me and that's really the story behind the division between Hers and His Bullets Energy. And to have Robby Krieger play on Hers was a phenomenal thing and then Dave Angstrom did the His and that was again the fun part of being in the studio and breathing new life like I said and creating a song divised and divide it in the studio. I love being in the studio and having the red light on and being able to record on some of these things and still be creative at my age and do what I do. But there's really no secret story behind that with the exception of just having it naturally morph into something that's heavier.


Andrew: "Her Bullets Energy" is a great ending to the album. It's obviously the softer song but I think it's just a great ending to the album. Was that a conscious effort to have that song the last one on the album?


John: Yeah it was. When you open up a record with a song like "My Mind" which has a video coming out next week, with a minute and a half bass solo and then end it with something soft with Robby Krieger playing Spanish guitar on it, there was no rule book in the recording studio. That was something that was very obvious when I started out making this record was that I didn't want to put limitations, I didn't want to do the expected, I wanted to do what came natural and that sequencing came very natural.


Andrew: Yes and his guitar stuff is amazing on that song. Like you mentioned, it's great to have him on the album.


John: Yeah I mean what can you say about Robby Krieger from The Doors. There's not 1 person I know in my life that doesn't like The Doors and to go to a studio in Los Angeles and have him lay down some Spanish guitar on that thing was wow! I'm appreciative and thankful and he's a living legend, a big monumental moment.


Andrew: Yeah defnitely! So one last question, what are your plans after the Australian tour?


John: I've got a heavy, extensive European tour planned, I've got a little U.S. thing going on but with the exception of polishing up and continuing writing and breathing new life into some of these other songs that I've held onto for so many years, it's a lot of touring. I love being on stage, I love singing, still at my age it's still great to do,. My family allows me to do it and they are the unsung heroes here and I just plan to work hard and to tour the fuck out of it really.


Andrew: Well it's absolutely great to have you coming back and I think it's goning to be another amazing tour. Thanks for having a chat with us!


John: Absolutely, thank you so much! I appreciate it and thanks for the interest and we will see you soon. We will be playing in Brizzie and Byron (Bay) and Melbourne and Sydney with Waxy, another California desert act and Mammoth Mammoth from Australia opening up the show. Thank you so much for the interest, I appreciate it and have a good rest of your day!



John spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe July 7 2014





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