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Interview: John Garcia (ex-Kyuss) on new album, finding balance, and more

Posted by on December 31, 2018

On January 4th, 2019, John Garcia’s new album John Garcia And The Band of Gold is scheduled to arrive via Napalm Records. We spoke to the former Kyuss singer on his record, the value of family, U.S. and Europe touring comparisons, and more.

How would you compare John Garcia And The Band Of Gold to your prior efforts?

I will always be compared to Kyuss albums Welcome to Sky Valley, or Blues For The Red Sun. All of my records will always be compared to the previous ones. But I wanted a theme with this one. The theme was making a very simple rock record, and that’s what I wanted to do. And it was the theme along the lines of “Lillianna”, “Jim’s Whiskers”, “Kentucky II”, “Chicken Delight”, songs like that. ​I’m drawn to those type of songs, and I’m drawn to that type of writing style, that Ehren (Groban), when he presents these songs, they speak to me. It’s a different writing team with myself, Ehren,Greg (Saenz), and Mike (Pygmie), hence the band of gold. And I’m really digging the direction. So, it’s definitely not for everybody. People are not digging it and that’s okay, that’s fine. There’s something that I don’t dig, but as a collector, I still collect cult records, and I still go out and buy their stuff. And so, yeah, it’s just a different feel and theme.

There’s a lot of ethnicity into this record, and I wanted that. From the African American girl on the video of “Chicken Delight”, as well as the African American guy and Italian woman. There’s the Hispanic boy that’s on the cover of the record, who just happens to be my dad when he was about 12 years old. So it’s just a different thing.

I read that this album could be your last, do you still feel the same way?

I got a really bad taste in my mouth over the production of this record, and I lost a lot of faith in … other musicians that I thought shared the same vision as me. And it really put a bad taste in my mouth, and I think that me working with Chris Goss again, the producer, restored my faith in music and the industry, because it is the business. And I would take that with a little bit of a grain of salt, because it was tough. Somebody just stopped me at the right moment when I was kind of pissed. What’s important to me is family, being a father and a husband. That’s what’s really important to me. And if I concentrate on that a little bit more than music, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

So, me slowing down a little bit is … again, it’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. And getting where my head belongs. Somebody that has two kids should want to be there more important. So it’s a good thing. And I state that because this record took a lot of time away from my wife and kids. And it took a toll on me, not only mentally, but physically and financially.

I want to wipe my hands clean a little bit. That said, I’m gonna be rehearsing with the guys tonight. It’s still enjoyable, the part of actually performing and singing, and even just rehearsing, not in front of anybody, but just the practice of singing for me, that’s what it’s all about. Whether it be in front of five people, 500 people, or in front of nobody for that matter, like I’m gonna do tonight, that’s what it’s all about for me.

It’s the balance.

That’s exactly right. And it is a balance, so how do you do that? How do you balance running an animal hospital, one of the most successful animal hospitals in Palm Springs, if not the most successful, be a father, a husband, and then shit out a record? How do you do that? And it’s tough.

And I submit to you and your readers, try it. Try doing it, and see what happens as far as, all right, being an absentee singer, being an absentee father, versus being able to go in surgery to remove a three pound tumor from a dog’s leg, and try to keep your sanity. It’s tough, and that’s exactly what it is. It is balance, you’re right.

I can only imagine the amount of coffee.

Yes. I go through a pot a day, but it’s a good time, and I’m appreciative to the fact that I can talk to you about something that I just created and about my personal life, which is extremely private. And my wife and I, we’re best friends, and I’m stoked that I get to hang out with my wife who’s my best friend, and my two kids. It’s Sunday, and we go in and we work a half day tomorrow, and then we’re off for a couple of days. And to me, that’s what it’s all about.

​To me, it’s all about family and being able to balance that, and then having my daughter come up and hang out during rehearsal, putting on her headphones to listen to her music. She listens to rap for crying out loud, and it drives me nuts. But whatever she listens to, I will turn it up if she wants me to turn it up, and I’m stoked that she’s a fan of music.

Usually, the kids like the opposite of what their parents listen to.

Yeah, that’s true. They’re very unimpressed with what dad does, and they could really care less. The flip side of the coin is that I expose them to music, and I’m flying Marshall out, who’s only nine. I’m flying him out to Madrid, Barcelona, and to Lyon, France, and to Zurich, Switzerland. We leave in about a month, and I want to expose them, and especially expose Marshall to this music scene. And when dad goes out on the road, this is what I do. It’s not all fun and games.

It’s a lot of hard work, and we don’t party. We do not do what people think we do. We have a job to do, and we want to do it well. It’s gonna be great for him to be exposed to that and to visit three different countries in a span of a week. And I’m really excited about it.

That’s awesome bringing them on the road with you. How has the music industry changed over the years?

Besides the obvious, the changing of the guards if you will from the traditional type paper record deal to now, this whole digital age; I think it’s kind of swinging back to people wanting a tangible piece of music and listening to a record. I don’t play into the business too much, because it’s actually fucking nuts, and I’m not that business guy. I’m a singer, that’s what I do. I don’t do record contracts well. I don’t do publishing well.

I leave it to the professionals to take care of that, and I have those people to help me do that. So I don’t play into it too much, with the exception of … I’m not a big fan of it, and it just drives me nuts. So I don’t play into that too much, and I leave that to the professionals, the people that I hire, to take care of that stuff for me. So, there’s a reason why. I’ve tried to dive into it a little bit, and that’s a full time job in itself.

Basically, more or less, you’re saying that being absent from the business aspect is better for you?

Yeah, I mean, I deal with it when I have to because there’s money involved, and I bust my ass for this, and I have my entire life. I’ve sweated in 125 degree garages my entire life to get to where I am at right now. Again, that’s still enjoyable to me. When there’s money involved, people’s ears perk up. I definitely want to be paid for my craft, there’s no doubt about it. Somebody asked me the other day, and I’m gonna switch gears here a little bit, why don’t I tour the States? I said, “Money. I can’t.” I said, “I have to pay to play.”

I’ve gotta get a van, pay my guys if the guarantees aren’t there. No one’s gonna come to see me. No one’s gonna come to see me up in Portland, Oregon, or Seattle. Okay, maybe 10, 15, 20, maybe 50 people. I just got done playing Las Vegas, and I played Dave Angstrom from Armano, Arthur Steve from Unida, Chris Hale from Slo Burn. And then I was playing, and then Nick Oliveri came up on stage with me. That place wasn’t even halfway sold out. There was maybe 150 people there, and you know what the venue capacity was? 750.

And that’s okay. That’s fine, and I’m actually okay with that, because I still had a great time with my brothers up there. But it’s like, okay, so flip side of the coin. I can go over and sell out Munich at 1,200 people, and I can do that on a consistent basis, on a yearly basis, bi-yearly basis. I can go over to Madrid and Barcelona, and Zurich, and France, and Paris, and London, and England, and Prague and sell these places out. It has to make sense in every single way, the business, and that’s including financial.

When you have two kids, you can’t go out and pay to play, you can’t. I want my kids to go to college, and they’re expensive. So maybe me going out for this pipe dream just so I can get my rocks off in front of 25 people, it just doesn’t make sense, and it’s bad business. I love playing, and I do love playing the States, so I’m gonna play Vegas again in June. Anybody who wants to fly out to Vegas and have a rad time, and see Masters of Reality, or the Mojave Lords, or Sean Wheeler, or myself and The Band of Gold. These are the type of shows that I want to do, and I think Vegas is really cool. Me and this promoter are really digging in. I did the Christmas show a couple weeks ago in Vegas, and I’m gonna do another one in June, and I’d like to make this a bi-yearly experience.

And for those who want to see myself and The Band of Gold, this is their opportunity to do it.

It always amazes me seeing the difference touring in Europe and the U.S.

Yeah, I’ve often wondered and pondered on that, but I try not to do it. And flip side of the coin is that Ehren, the guys and I, we just had showed up at this really cool biker bar in downtown Palm Springs and sold it out. Those are the nice kind of end of the year shebang, and then we’re gonna do another one in April out near Coachella. It is what it is.

Throughout your entire career, which album do you think was the most challenging to make?

By far, the new one, and I’ll tell you the reason why. When I started to make this record, there were no studios in Palm Springs anymore. Both Unit A shutdown, and then Thunder Underground shut down, so there’s no place to record. I bought myself a board, and built my studio, and figured out that I’m not an engineer. I’m not a studio owner. I’m a singer, that’s what I do. I don’t do anything else well, and when I dive into something, I’ll dive into it and try to master it.

Sometimes it doesn’t work, and I’m okay with that, and that’s exactly what happened with this one. Me trying to put my fingers in all the pies just doesn’t work, when all I wanted to do was to sing and make a record and have somebody else press record, and have the red light go on, and me do what I do. It was stressful and a big headache on me and my family that took a toll. I’m back to being almost 100% healed from that experience. Those are just some of the obstacles of this record and other people again, not sharing what I thought would be the same vision, and really the same passion as I did on this record. And me having to fire a couple people and hurt some feelings. That’s always never a good feeling. I don’t like doing that. So this one was tough.

How would you summarize 2018?

First word that comes to my mind is gratifying. There’s a heavy side for 2018, but also one of me being proud, really proud of myself and my family and Stan for sticking with me on this. And it was one hell of a year. Really stressful, but flip side of the coin, I came out the other side alive and sane, and I try to keep my eye on the ball. What’s the ball for me? All right, being healthy, having my wife and my kids here, and having a good time today, tomorrow, and the following days, and for the rest of the week for the year.

It’s like, “Damn, I did it. I actually pulled it off. We actually did it. Wow.” Working with Chris Goss, mixing it at Rancho De La Luna, having this beautiful boxed set right in front of me and looking at it and going, “That’s a picture of my dad.” And then right next to this boxed set that I’m looking at, looking at his ashes in my bedroom.

And it’s the first time I really thought about it that way, but I mean, this was an amazing year, and we pulled it off, and I’m proud of my wife, I’m proud of my kids, and I’m proud of my band, and I’m very lucky to be involved with such a rad group of people, including my coworkers at Palm Spring Animal Hospital. I’ve got a good crew and a damn good set of doctors who practice nothing but rad, killer medicine, practice really rad medicine. So I’m proud, and it’s gratifying, and I should be stoked, and I am stoked.

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