Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe Recaps His Time At The Standing Rock Protests In North Dakota

randy-blythe-standing-rock-protest

As we told you last week, Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe recently traveled to North Dakota to take part in the Standing Rock Protests. The front man has returned from his visit, and shares two powerful recaps on his Instagram account. Continue reading

Desert Rock Lifers: An Interview With Vista Chino

 

The legacy of popular desert rockers Kyuss spans nearly 25 years and attracted a vast audience for its distinctive riff oriented sound. From songs such as ‘Thumb’, ‘Green Machine’, and ‘One Inch Man’, it all featured a style that is distinctively made in the desert. In 2010, band front man John Garcia did a European ‘Garcia Does Kyuss tour’, sparking renewed interest in the band since their untimely demise in 1995. Drummer Brant Bjork and bassist Nick Oliveri both jumped on stage and did ‘Green Machine’ and ‘Gardenia’ with Garcia. This appearance led to a Kyuss Lives! tour in Europe later that same year and leading throughout 2011 across the globe. The band then announced a possible album under the Kyuss Lives! moniker. Following that moment, former members, guitarist Josh Homme and bassist Scott Reeder filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Kyuss Lives! members in March 2012. This suit attempted them to stop using the Kyuss Lives! name. After the lawsuit stopped them from using the Kyuss Lives! name to record a full length release, Garcia and Bjork revamped under the Vista Chino moniker and recorded their newest release, Peace. Garcia spoke to Ghost Cult Magazine about the lawsuit, restarting as Vista Chino, having new members and life in the desert.

 

You put on a killer set in Los Angeles. How did you feel about the show?

It was a fun night. I always enjoy playing LA. It’s our hometown so to speak. Thank you. I appreciate that.

 

How does it feel to finally get the Vista Chino chapter of your life going after everything that’s happened?

It feels really good. What a relief. It was a long hard road, and what it comes down to is the record. That’s why we’re here and it felt good to have a nice, fresh, new beginning and start. As you can imagine, it was welcomed and it feels good.

 

After what’s happened this past year, was it more frustration on your part over what Josh and Scott did, or was it disappointment with the way this whole thing unfolded?

It was both and extends that to super broad spectrums. It was a bummer. Nobody wants a lawsuit against them. It’s like somebody poking a stick at you. It was a major bummer for me and my family. Again, how awesome to have a fresh new beginning and moving forward. It was necessary. All of that doesn’t deserve the word secondary, because it truly is bullshit. What it comes down to is the record Peace, and that’s what we want, and that’s what we have now. It feels really good.

 

Were the songs on Peace songs you had brewing before the legal mess began?

I started getting into empty rooms with Brant and Bruno about the time of the beginning of the lawsuit. But it became to a screeching halt once we found that Josh and Scott were suing us. Instead of being in the studio and writing where we wanted to be, we had to do depositions. The appropriate verbiage is everything came to a screeching halt.  We had to hold off and jump through some hoops to get to Brant’s studio up in Joshua Tree, where we recorded it. It was a long, hard road, but we eventually got there. When you have a void and it needs to be filled, you will find a way, no matter what you’re going through in life. It’s a necessity and that’s what we did.

 

Brant produced the record?

Brant Bjork produced the record. I think he did a great job.

 

What was it about him producing the record? What did he bring to Peace? You had Chris Goss produce for a long time in the old days.

We thought about Chris Goss and Joe Barresi, and a few other producers. We knew what we wanted. It’s not like we’re in our late teens and 20s going through the emotions of capturing that live sound onto tape. We needed somebody to get us there. They were the perfect conduit – Chris and Joe Barresi. But after being in the music business for so many years, you know what you want to sound like, what you want to hear, and what you want to feel. We thought we should very well to do it ourselves. I told Brant to get us there. Everything that you hear on the record was meant to sound as you hear it. If you hear an overdriven distorted vocal line, that’s meant to be there. Find that and exploring that is where the real fun comes in. It’s finding that one particular take and one particular sound that marry well with the guitar, bass and drums, and the rattling in between. After that, it goes into the gambling moose. That was meant to be there. The amount of trust Brant put in me to sing some of his melodies and lyrics, and the amount of trust I put in Brant as a producer into this was equally as heavy. It goes back to the trust thing. I trusted him, he trusted me, we all trusted each other. Not being in the environment for over 15 years and having Bruno [Fevery] in the mix, and having Nick [Oliveri] come in and Mike Dean. Even Brant played bass on this. It was an experience.

 

You mentioned Bruno, who you worked with in the past. What was it about him that made you want him in Vista Chino? He’s almost like a desert guy who’s not from the desert.

Bruno’s a personal friend of mine. We played together in another band from Belgium called Arsenal. I had already had a relationship with Bruno. What is it about Bruno? It’s his heart. It’s his character. He’s a really sweet guy all the way around. He’s a kind, cool, gentle human being. That’s what I found in Bruno that made our relationship click.

 

He used to play in a Kyuss cover band years ago?

You know I think he did. I think he did play in a tribute band to Kyuss. One of the main guys in Arsenal, a guy by the name of Hendrik Willemyns, had hired Bruno and he was part of Arsenal. Hendrik came up to me and said ‘you know John. If you ever wanted to play some Kyuss songs and needed a guitar player – that’s your guy.’ I went ‘thanks dude, I’ll keep that in mind.’ That wasn’t high on my priority list at that time when I was playing with Arsenal. I always remembered that and when I started doing Garcia Does Kyuss, he was my first pick and my only pick. I got really lucky with him.

 

He’s almost like a desert guy who got lost and ended up in Belgium in a weird way.

He’s definitely got the character of a desert guy for sure. It’s a big part of it.

 

On bass you have Mike Dean. How did he get into the mix considering he’s in Corrosion of Conformity?

When Brant and I knew we had to find a replacement, I told him who was at the top of my wish list and he told me who was at the top of his wish list, and we talked about it. Mike Dean was a perfect match. Luckily he said yes. Brant Bjork, more than me, was a massive C.O.C. fan. He used to draw pictures of Mike Dean on his Pee Chee folder back in high school when I was sitting with him in detention for crying out loud. So it was very clear that we should go with Mike and we’re very lucky. I can’t talk highly enough about that guy. He’s super intelligent and a pretty melodic bass player.

 

Is Mike a full time Vista Chino member?

Mike’s got commitments too, and he’s still very committed to C.O.C. I know he has some commitments coming up. As long as he’s got some down time we’re very happy to have him. We’re going with the flow now and right now there’s nobody else but Mike Dean. We’re trying to nail down as many dates with Mike, and he’s very much a part of Vista Chino. It’s an open ended question and I’ll leave it open ended for now.

 

How was the US tour? It’s been a while since you last toured the US.

It’s been a while and under the name Vista Chino there’s some people not knowing about it. There were a few shows that were lackluster attendance wise. Not too many. Whether it were for five people or 50 people or 500 people, when I look over and see Mike Dean and look behind me and see Brant Bjork, and look over to my left and see Bruno Fevery, these guys bring it no matter what. That’s our plight. We very well could still be playing in front of five or 50 people, but we don’t care. We’ve done it before and we’ll keep doing it. It doesn’t make a difference to us. We’re gonna be doing it anyways. It feels good when it’s that much more intimate.

 

Who came up with the name Vista Chino?

Vista Chino is a street in Palm Springs. We’re very proud of where we come from. Even in Kyuss, it was a big part of who the band was and we’re very proud of not being from Los Angeles. Nothing against LA…although it’s two hours away, it’s still very alienated from that scene and what the city is. When Brant came up with that name, it immediately resonated with me because it was home. As well as the artwork, it’s desert graffiti from where we’re from. The day farmers are very much where we’re from. The name resonates with us and it makes perfect sense.

 

What do you think makes Palm Springs so magical? Prior to Kyuss, most people’s connection to Palm Springs was Frank Sinatra.

Yeah you’re right! Frank and everyone in The Rat Pack used to frequent out here all the time. Even Humphrey Bogart to Marilyn Monroe all used to come and hang out. There’s Old Palm Springs which is awesome. I love going to where Frank used to hang out and listen to that type of music. Either people get the desert or they don’t get the desert. They come out here and say ‘what’s so magical about this place?’ They see nothing but barren, lifeless death. There’s nothing here. There’s that mentality and there’s people who get the desert. Being born and raised in the desert, I see nothing but life. When I drive through Death Valley, a lot of people see nothing but baroness and death. I see so much life and there’s a certain beauty about the desert, and a certain feeling and emotion that resonates with me. I once moved to Los Angeles for a veterinary diagnostic career, which I was and still am into. I immediately knew I made a mistake. We kept our home out here and I spent about a year out there to finish my commitment. Upon moving back to the desert, what a sigh of relief came over me. I’m not one to say that I go out to the desert, eat a bunch of peyote and turn into the shamanistic Jim Morrison guy. I’m not like that. I’m not a poet. For me to articulate how the desert makes me feel or what’s so special about the desert, there’s only one person who could articulate it better than me – his name is John C Van Dyke and you could pick up his book, appropriately titled The Desert back in the early 1900s. Him and his mule explored the desert from Southern Colorado down to New Mexico and Arizona and spent a lot of time in Death Valley. He put the desert into words that I’m still trying to define in my head.

 

Aside from Vista Chino, you relaunched Unida. Is this correct?

Well I wouldn’t say relaunching. I would say taking her out for a ride, kind of dusting her off for a bit, putting some gasoline in her and taking her out for a spin again. But it’s fun. I play in a lot of bands. All of them sit in an idling. Depending on my mood, it’s fun to revisit to sing those songs again. To sing “Black Woman” and “Wet” and some of the songs that Unida does is fun for me. I like Arthur [Seay, guitarist] and Mike [Cancino, drums], and I’m super privileged to play with such great musicians. I’m very fortunate to find people like Arthur, and even the guys from Slo Burn like Chris [Hale, guitarist] and Brady [Houghton, drums]. I’m still in touch with them. They’re coming to my son’s fourth birthday party at a park in Palms Springs this Saturday. I still see and talk to these guys. It’s cool to revisit and go back sometimes.

 

 

What other bands are you playing with?

I played in Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano, and Vista Chino. I get offers all the time from bands to sing on their stuff. Some of them I can do. Some of them I’m not interested in doing. Mad City Rockers in Italy, The Crystal Method out of Los Angeles…believe it or not I’ve done stuff with them…Danko Jones out of Toronto, Canada. Those guest appearances along with the bands I just mentioned. It’s still fun for me and it’s a passion. I’m lucky to have a wife that allows me to be in that type of an environment I’m in on a nightly basis when I’m on the road with any of these touring acts. My family’s the unsung hero here.

 

You mentioned the veterinary career. Are you still doing that?

No. I live vicariously through my wife. She’s still in the field. She always tells me ‘anytime you want to come back, you’re more than welcome to…’ That’s also a passion of mine as well. Being a veterinary technician and doing an emergency C-section because a 120 pound Irish wolfhound is in breach at three o clock in the morning – that still interests me. Doing that is still a passion of mine. Maybe one of these days I might go back. I don’t know. I’m committed to Vista Chino and we’re about to embark on a long 40 date tour over in Europe and I leave in less than two weeks. We’re in a good spot now.

 

vistaChino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vista Chino on Facebook

 

 

Rei Nishimoto

 

 

 

 

 

Vista Chino – Peace

Vista-Chino-Peace-800x800Reunions can be wonderful things. Bands get to re-live the halcyon glory of days long past, riding a wave of rose-tinted nostalgia from critics who still wax lyrical about their seminal debut album some 20-odd years ago, and for fans who lap up the chance to see their heroes in the flesh and hear the old classics they know and love so well. New material is an added bonus, for often these reunited acts are content to let their existing body of work do the talking, and fear the criticism of a far more critical audience with shorter attention spans than those before. However, these glory-filled reunions can go badly wrong, as Vista Chino discovered recently. Continue reading