Interview by Jordan Sibberas
Desert rock legend John Garcia is hitting our shores in support of his latest project, John Garcia and the Band of Gold. With Ehren Groban (Guitars), Mike Pygmie (Bass) and Greg Saenz (Drums) in tow, Australia is bracing for five nights of crushing rock’n’roll covering both the eponymous Band of Gold album, as well as fan favourites from Kyuss, Vista Chino, Hermano and more. Jordan sat down with John himself to discuss.
Jordan: You’re touring Australia soon! Excited?
John Garcia: Oh man, I’m really excited! It’s always bittersweet leaving my family, but I speak for Mike, Greg, and Ehren, and perhaps myself most of all, when I say I love your country, the environment, the people, the food, and I love the culture all the way around. Any time I get a chance to come to beautiful Australia I jump at it, we’re stoked!
JS: For those of us who aren’t too familiar with The Band of Gold compared to your older works, what can we expect from the tour?
JG: The most obvious difference is the new material. The latest record, JG and the Band of Gold, is our first collective record, where we really wrote it together. I’m excited about playing some of these new songs down in Aus! We will also play some Hermano stuff, maybe a bit of Kyuss or some Unida stuff as well, so it’s a mix of past and present. I’m still very proud of the past, but this time I want to showcase what we can do. This isn’t the Band of Gold’s first time over, but this will be the first time we showcase some songs that we all wrote together.
JS: The Band of Gold managed to capture the fun and energy of a live environment on the record, does it feel the same way playing them back live?
JG: Last year we went to Europe, and the new songs were very well received. We go where the fans want us, where the markets are, like Australia, South America, Europe, for instance, I still enjoy playing and being on stage, but to play with this group of guys is something special. I don’t think I’ll be doing it forever, but as long as I’m on this earth I’m going to continue to try doing this. I’ve been doing it over half my adult life, and I’m appreciative and blessed to be able to do it, and to have people buy the records and be able to show up and enjoy what we’re doing.
JS: Considering how mature some of the tracks put out under, for instance, Kyuss sounded at the time, does it make it special to be able that you can play these new and old songs together? In other words, is there something in the ageing process for these tracks?
JG: I really enjoy that aspect of it. Being able to play tracks from The Band of Gold, but also Kyuss, also Slo Burn, also Vista Chino, also Hermano, its like having the best of a lot of worlds, and the guys show these songs an incredible amount of respect, so we’re all looking forward to it. In a week, we’re playing Melbourne, Adelaide, Brissy, Byron Bay, and we’re all just really stoked to get back down there. I’m not sure if you know about this, but around the world, there are a lot of people aghast about the fires over there. A lot of people were asking me if this tour was even going to happen. No matter what was going down, we want to take peoples’ minds off from what’s happening if only for 90 minutes. If we can bring some happiness and joy, and some awareness to people here, then that’s something we are going to try and do. We ultimately want to bring a little bit of joy to you all, who are going through some shit right now.
JS: Thank you for the thoughts, and although it hasn’t been easy, perhaps the USA (particularly Cali where you are from) are very understanding of what this is like?
JG: Oh of course! I think it goes to the heart of being a Californian basis. This goes on for us almost yearly too. I think it needs to be brought up. I’m not much of a political activist, but now I’m getting older I think it’s time to bring awareness to global warming, to gun control, to these types of very real issues. When it comes to these issues, I used to play music to escape thinking about it, but I think now its time to use my voice within music to bring some attention. I haven’t really been a political guy, I’ve typically kept that and music separate, but now that 2020 is here, I’m going to be fifty. I think that it’s time to do my bit to turn that ship around, but I also think the youth will help to achieve that. The youth have a majority of the say and the power to do things into the future, and I have faith we will turn for better. Honestly, I’m stoked to even be able to talk about these matters to you, even though I’ve kept politics separate, but if I can now use my voice and music to advocate and bring attention to issues that matter to me, then goddamnit I’m going to do it!
JS: Speaking of Politics, how does the chemistry in The Band of Gold compare to some of the past bands you’ve been a part of?
JG: I think there’s a brotherhood with Mike, Greg, Ehren, and myself. We met a few nights ago at a little bar in Palm Springs to talk about the band’s future and talked about our plans for the year. Where we want to be right now is exactly where we are. We want to continue being family men, husbands, and fathers, but also create music together. In that respect, the chemistry is great. It is becoming more and more difficult to get together as a group because we all have full time day jobs, and except Ehren we all have kids, and we all want that balance of family life, being a good husband and father, and also holding down a career. We want to do well and excel at what we do besides music, like myself in the vetinary industry, and also to be friends and create music, but the main thing is the friendship is there. Everybody wants to be there, in the rehearsal room, and writing and creating with everybody. I’m very happy with where I’m at in my life with my family both here in the Californian desert, but also my extended family Ehren, Mike, and Greg, and respecting their needs. There’s a huge amount of respect and love for all of us and our families. There was a time where we were offered a big festival in Europe, but we didn’t do it because one person couldn’t, but that’s what was best for their family. So, we do what’s best for our families, and when and if the time presents itself, then fabulous, we can do the Band of Gold thing. If not, we wait for the next opportunity to jump on. We’ll take it one day at a time, as we take the opportunities we can do. If there’s any drama, we turn away and go away from it, and our lives are much happier for it. That’s the core value of John Garcia and the Band of Gold. Professional values are important, but family values come first, and that has to do with a lot of things including religion, finances, and it all has to make sense. Thank god we’re able to come down to Australia, if only for a week, and get away from our other doings, and we’re going to be elated about the tour, and thank goodness we can have a great time and make the most of it.
JS: John, thanks for your time!
Melbourne fuzz meisters, Don Fernando will be on ALL SHOWS Nationwide
Adelaide’s doom metal stoners, Dirty Pagans will kick off proceedings there, while in Melbourne that honour goes to hard rockers, The Nicoteenagers.
In Sydney 70’s infused psychedelic miscreants, Arrowhead will be channelling the riff gods and for both Brisbane and Byron Bay, The Black Armada will lay down their cosmic groove ahead of an epic night.
Thursday, January 23: Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide
Friday, January 24: Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Saturday, January 25: Crowbar, Sydney
Sunday, January 26: The Brightside, Brisbane
Tuesday, January 28: Great Northern, Byron Bay
Tickets on sale from