Thursday, 24 November 2011

KYUSS LIVES - Interview with John Garcia by Christine Leonard-Cripps

They are risen

Extended desert sessions with Kyuss Lives

Akin to a 1930s horror flick that has a demented physician yelling “It’s alive! It’s alive!,” the resurrection of one of the greatest rock bands of all time is nothing short of a modern heavy metal miracle. Evolving from an extraordinary 2010 tour that saw Kyuss alumnus John Garcia performing some of the band’s oeuvre backed by Dutch and Belgian musicians, the new manifestation of the stoner rock deity can only be described as epic.

Some 15 years after the group disbanded, vocalist Garcia was met with an unexpectedly intense demand for the sprawling desert rock anthems the Californian band made famous on seminal albums such as Blues for the Red Sun and Welcome to Sky Valley. If there’s one thing that Garcia has learned in his career as an entertainer it’s how to take his cues from the audience and, thus, a formal reunion with bassist Nick Oliveri and drummer Brant Bjork was announced shortly thereafter.

Working under the moniker Kyuss Lives!, with six-string rebel Bruno Fevery standing in for original guitarist Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), this souped-up iteration is back to presenting their subgenre-founding soundscapes to audiences across the globe.

“Yeah, it’s great to be back on the road again,” Garcia says. “We’re really looking forward to coming through Canada. Canadian audiences have traditionally been really awesome to us. And, it always feels a little bit extra special performing north of the border because Canada’s the only place where you can catch us with a different lineup. Scott Reeder comes with us when we tour up there due to mixed legal issues. It’s a treat to perform with Scott on bass and switch thing up a bit; it has worked out really well for us in the past.”

Looking back on a year that veritably booked itself under the steam of popular appetite for the band’s masterful montages and cosmic mythology, a middle-aged Garcia and his cohorts have struck a balance between their domestic- and career-based responsibilities. Reasonable enough to (temporarily) forego side projects in favour of committing to the cause at hand, Garcia finally feels as though the momentum that began with his 1989 high school band Sons of Kyuss has finally come to bear fruit.

 Eager to head back into the studio to craft the first new Kyuss effort in over 15 years, Garcia anticipates a summer 2012 release for his reconstituted drone-rock entity.

“I’m so happy to do another record,” Garcia says. “All of our projects are taking the backseat because we’re having so much fun. It’s hard to believe that I’m able to walk into a studio and start writing Kyuss songs again. I wasn’t sure if we could actually go back to that feeling, but after a cocktail or two and a little puff here and there the songs will write themselves, or they won’t. Either way, we no longer wrestle with them.”

As for the sound of the new material, Garcia adds, “We want to maintain the Kyuss standard for certain. At the same time we’re excited and curious about the stuff we’re going to be putting down. We’ll be exploring new tangents and avenues, but I wouldn’t expect a polka album. I think it’s going to be a rock album. Good things happen when you put nice people in a burning room together.”

Family men with kids and wives of their own, the founding fathers of Kyuss have become respectable citizens long after they earned the esteem of their peer and patrons. Getting back into the business of making music at 42, Garcia definitely isn’t interested in letting anyone else hold the reins of his galloping livelihood.

“Ultimately, the higher powers have to let us make the big decisions,” Garcia says. “My level of personal responsibility has gone up 150 per cent. I’m taking things a lot more seriously and at the same time I’m a lot more appreciative to be able to do this for a living. There’s always an element of surprise when you don’t know how well you’ll be received, and so far things have been amazing. I still can’t believe we haven’t been swept to the curb.”

by Christine Leonard

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