It’s nice that our interview with one of the creators of the festival and behind-the-scenes minds has gotten some attention. Of course, it’s all about the artists, but artists need people to showcase them whether it be throught a festival like Neon Desert or a music blog like THE REAL popolio. There are people who love to be on stage and there are those who love to create that “stage” (whatever form it takes) for those people who love to perform on them.
10. GOBI 5Q Austin-based, orginally-from-El-Paso band, GOBI, has now trumped the Royalty’s entry on this countdown with this now fourth and highest entry from my special Neon DesertEl Paso Week coverage. The summary post for all the Neon Desert content took the Number 17 spot, BB Gun Johnny’s pop quiz tied at Number 28 with Feedback’s LOTTO Interview, and the aforementioned the Royalty’s 5Q bowed at Number 14.
Neon Desert coverage is ranking higher than SXSW content overall. Not that there should be an El Paso vs. Austin rivalry, it’s just interesting to point out. That said, the whole point of the Neon Desert Music Festival was to connect the musical notes between the two cities with the festival founders hailing from the Sun City and habitating in the Live Music Capital of the World.
14. The Royalty 5Q
This is the third and highest entry from my special Neon DesertEl Paso Week coverage. The summary post for all the Neon Desert content took the Number 17 spot and BB Gun Johnny’s pop quiz tied at Number 28 with Feedback’s LOTTO Interview.
El Paso is my hometown and I live in Austin, so I really did try to push this content. So, I’m happy to see that some of the Neon Desert El Paso Week coverage has made the countdown. Seems like the Royalty is the band with the strongest following or at the least the greatest social network presence. Either way, they make a fine showing.
29. Girl in a Coma 5Q
The Year 3 29 spot is taken by San Anto’s own, Girl in a Coma. I did a series of interviews for the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival out of El Paso, my hometown, during what I called El Paso Week. The festival went down on Saturday, April 30, 2011, and this interview went live on Wednesday, April 13, 2011.
Since I’m from there, I wanted to do my own part to represent for this festival. I was really excited that someone was doing this and that it was something that hadn’t been done there before.
I also like the idea of bridging the musical gap between Austin and El Paso. The founders of the festival are from El Paso and based in Austin, like myself. I only wish I could have featured more El Paso Artists through the years.
Though I feature artists from around the country (and sometimes the world), I do highlight when they are regional. I usually include it at the end of the title of the post with a hyphen and the name of the city they are from and/or based in. In the case of an event, I call them a so-and-so event Artist. So, Girl in a Coma were a Neon Desert Artist.
The Questions for feature is a nice alternative to the standardized pop quiz feature as it allows me to tailor my questions to the artist. I also left it open-ended in regard to the number of questions that can be included. There’s no mention of number in the title of this particular feature for that reason. Usually I work with multiples of 5 with no more than 20 questions. Sometimes I break an interview into 2 to 3 parts. I could do a 2-part 20Q interview with 10 questions in each post.
Editor’s Note: This interview concludes Neon Desert El Paso Week at THE REAL popolio. Scheduled to post yesterday, there was a delay.
The Royalty are Nicole Smith, Jesus Apodaca, Will Daughtery (who’s also in The Lusitania, if I’m not mistaken; also featured Neon Desert Artists here at THE REAL popolio), Daniel Marin, and Shane Robles. Nicole Smith is repping TR for the purposes of this interview. They are one of the 29+ bands playing one of four stages at the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso on Saturday, April 30, 2011.
I was just excited to hear that an El Paso band had music used on MTV and Spike TV (see Question 3). But, with a name like that (see Question 1), you better have some things going on. I kid, I kid. Listening to the song below and a few other TR tracks, they have a very intriguing sound. Very ‘50s and ‘60s, to me. Reminiscent of the mod scene and the film To Sir, With Love.
Listen to The Royalty’s “All Alone” available at BandCamp.
Click the first pic to go to The Royalty’s official site and second, at the end of the interview, to get to their Facebook Page.
Interesting Fact: The Royalty has a strange obsession with dogs. They call each other “dogger” and partake in absurd behaviors while on tour in reference to dogs. For instance, Nicole Smith barks when she sees a coffee shop and she admits it makes no sense.
1. I’m asking almost everyone about their band names. The Royalty is a pretty confident name. Tell me about how you came to it. Well, to be honest, I tried out for the band after they had established the name already. Story goes the boys just liked the ring of it. Not exciting, I know. I guess some people find it to be a rather pretentious name, but it wasn’t meant to be. No delusions of grandeur over here, trust me. Ha.
2. How would you describe the Royalty sound? This question is always hard. Our range of influences is pretty wide and if I’m forced to describe the outcome, I’d say we shoot for a good indie pop sound. Not pop in the way most of the country sees it, but sort of a counterculture pop sound.
3. I don’t normally hear of El Paso bands getting songs on MTV and Spike TV. So, congrats on that! How did that all come together? Thanks! To make a long story short, we were lucky to attract the attention of our manager, Roger Gisbourne, while on a west coast tour last summer. Since Roger lives in LA, he has been able to hook us up with contacts that, otherwise, would never have happened.
4. Do you feel a responsibility to be a host band for the non-El Paso acts participating in Neon Desert? What will you do to welcome the non-El Paso folks? There tends to be a stigma attached to “just” being one of the “local” bands, but sure, host band sounds nice. I think El Paso has such a welcoming culture and I’m sure the visiting bands are going to sense that. The fusion is super exciting.
5. Having played a festival like SXSW in Austin, do you have certain expectations for a festival like this one in El Paso? Any thoughts on it being the inaugural one and your participation as one of the first bands ever to play it in relation that — SXSW vs. Neon Desert? SXSW is amazing, but the massive crowds are a little overwhelming at times. Starting fresh with Neon Desert leaves every possibility open. The Royalty loves El Paso and so we are so stoked that we can be a part Neon Desert Year One. I’m hoping it develops the magnitude of other music festivals (SX, Bonnaroo, Coachella, etc.) because it would be so beneficial to our town and music scene.
Latin Grammy Winners Los Amigos Invisibles are Julio Briceño, José Luis Pardo, Armando Figueredo, Mauricio Arcas, José Rafael Torres, and Juan Manuel Roura. Armando Figueredo is repping LAI for the purposes of this interview. They are one of the 29+ bands playing one of four stages at the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso on Saturday, April 30, 2011.
LAI’s reputation precedes them and they need no introduction. They’re a huge “get” for Neon Desert. They’ve definitely “made it,” but still seem to operate like that new, hungry band trying to make it. Maybe that’s why they’ve been around so long and have been so successful.
Watch LAI’s official video for “Dulce” from their Latin Grammy winning 2009 release, Commercial, available at Amazon.com.
Click the first pic to go to Los Amigos Invisibles’ official site and second, at the end of the interview, to get to their Facebook Page.
Interesting Fact: See the answer to Question 10.
1. I’m asking most of the Neon Desert Artists I’m interviewing what their band names mean. So, where did Los Amigos Invisibles come from? It came from the opening of Valores Humanos, an old Venezuelan TV show hosted by the late historian Arturo Uslar Pietri.
2. Congrats on your multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations and on your Latin Grammy win. I noticed they are all in different categories. How do it feel, first, to get recognized by the Grammys, but, secondly, to get nominated for a different genre of Latin music each time, which is kind of what your band and music are about, right?We are grateful for every recognition the Academy has given us and particularly happy about our Grammy victory, which also meant a lot to everyone in our home country. We are also aware that our band has been a difficult band to place in any genre from the beginning; we offer an eclectic mix of styles in our music and play to a diverse crowd worldwide. I remember how record stores would place us in different bins according to their tastes and I guess nowadays we don’t fret much about it and just welcome the compliment.
3. Your 2005 release, Super Pop Venezuela, was a collection of covers of Venezuelan pop classics from the 1960s to the 1990s. Later in your careers you got to put on a concert where you performed those songs with some of the original artists. How did that come together? Was it a dream come true or was it part of the plan when you released the project? Yes, it was a dream come true and one of the concerts we will never forget. Also, originally Super Pop… was to be a concert which proved difficult to produce because of our busy schedules and having to organize it in between our daily work, so then we decided to make an album out of it and then when we had the album out it became obvious that we had to make the concert happen.
4. 20 years is a long time for a band and still all the original members remain. How do you make it work and why do you think you all have stuck around? I guess we love what we do, we have a lot of commitment for the band and we respect each other very much; we’ve become a family.
5. Any solo aspirations for anyone?Actually, Julio, Mauricio, and Cheo have all released solo albums and I have done some solo stuff. It’s just that we know and respect that our main act (the one that pays the bills) is Los Amigos Invisibles.
6. I know you recently played the new Austin, TX venue ACL-Live in February. What did you think of it? What about the Austin crowd? It was amazing. We loved the venue. People in Austin have always been great and we’ve loved the crew from ACL-Live ever since the first time we played ACL.
7. You’ve probably discussed your latest two releases, Commercial (2009) and Not So Commercial (2011) in many interviews. Do you have to get one to appreciate the other? What is something new and different about both collections that you can tell me? When we began creative work for Commercial we had a wide and very eclectic group of songs that would’ve been hard to fit in just one album, so we decided to make Commercial a more marketable record, shorter in time with radio friendly such-and-such, and left the extended instrumental trippy songs out.
We still think those songs are very much worth being on an album and represent our taste in music as much as the other songs, so we decided not to let them die in a forgotten hard drive and came out with Not So Commercial. When I like a band I like to get the whole discography to understand the band better, but a lot of people are happy with just getting that song they like.
8. You are pretty established at this point in your careers. I assume you can pick and choose the festivals that are offered to you. Why did you decide to play the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso, TX? We love playing festival crowds. It’s the best way to bring new fans into our music. Festivals are places where music-loving people gather and go listen to whatever is out there without necessarily having heard of it before. If they like what they see, they become a fan of it. We are always looking forward to doing as many festivals as we can.
9. You have a 20-year deep repertoire. For this Neon Desert showcase are you focusing on material mainly from the latest release, Not So Commercial, or will there be some from Commercial, Los Invisibles classics, and new songs, too?We always go through most of our repertoire. Well, at least as much as we can, given the time. Our live concerts are a non-stop DJ-like live show, mixed with bits of our songs back-to-back, and so, it’s a very energetic fun show to watch and dance to.
10. Give me one exclusive scoop of something coming up that your fans will be reading here for the first time.We will be playing songs from Not So Commercial. We have never played those live before.
Cigarettes After Sex is Greg Gonzalez, Adrian Esparza, Steve Herrada, Phillip Tubbs, and Mundo Terrazas.Greg Gonzalez is repping CAS (not censorship, simply abbreviating; see Interesting Fact) for the purposes of this interview. They are one of the 29+ bands playing one of four stages at the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso on Saturday, April 30, 2011.
CAS is the second band of our El Paso Week of Neon Desert interviews that is actually based in EP. They’re a band that seems to be cloaked in some mystery. When I was researching them for the purposes of this interview I couldn’t find much of an online presence for them. That’s because they were on a bit of a musical hiatus and are coming back just for Neon Desert (more in Question 3). I think that’s pretty exciting stuff.
Listen to “I Can See You” from CAS available at BandCamp.
Click the first pic to go to Cigarettes After Sex’s official site.
Interesting Fact: The Cigarettes After Sex name has been censored around El Paso, in certain instances being abbreviated to the acronym CAS.
1. I’m asking most of the Neon Desert Artists about their names. Explain why you chose the band name, Cigarettes After Sex. The name was literally brought about from a situation involving the content of the name…thought it might be a good name for a group when it sprang to mind in the moments afterwards.
2. Your press materials indicate your dance group is based around material written by you that was inspired by Madonna’s ‘80s singles, groups like New Order, and the poetry of Richard Brautigan and Bill Knott. That seems pretty specific. Did you come up with the list and write around those parameters or did you realize those were your influences after you had written for the group for awhile? It was definitely something I noticed in retrospect. I had been rediscovering a love for Madonna’s ‘80s to early ‘90s material, “Borderline,” “Angel,” “Who’s That Girl”; as well listening to and thinking about things like “Temptation” by New Order, “Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper, “A Little Respect” by Erasure, and sort of trying to get farther with some of the stuff I had started lyrically before the group began, which was influenced by books like Auto-Necrophilia by Bill Knott and Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork by Richard Brautigan. Those influences seemed to begin the writing period that the group was created out of.
3. Cigarettes After Sex was on hiatus and is coming out of it specifically to play the Neon Desert Music Festival. How does it feel that your reputation preceded you enough to be invited to perform even when you weren’t active? It feels great to be asked to play Neon Desert, to be a part of something special like this and something people seem very enthusiastic about, and it’s very nice that we were noticed when we weren’t really playing for keeps anymore. We were sort of just doing a few shows strictly for fun towards the end. We’re very lucky and grateful to have been asked.
4. Does this mean that your fans can look forward to more music and more shows in the not too distant future? What’s next for the individual members of the band? I’m extraordinarily happy with the lineup of the group right now and the mix of material we’re doing from the last while, so if we can keep it together and keep everybody having fun and happy, I don’t see why we won’t come out every so often to play or release a record.
In the meantime, we all have things we’re working on individually that we’re each pushing for. I’ve begun performing solo with a backing group including Steve Herrada and should be releasing an EP by the end of summer. Phillip Tubbs is a local songwriter working on a full length record and playing shows around town at the moment. Adrian Esparza has two original groups he’s performing with, Aztec Zodiac and Midnite Duel. Mundo Terrazas is trying to organize a festival-type show that features all of the groups him and I have played in together through the years just for a good time and a laugh.
5. What do you think this music festival means for El Paso as a city and as a music scene and for El Paso bands like yourselves? It’s an excellent thing to be happening in El Paso. The enthusiasm being created by it is nothing short of remarkable and it will only continue to create interest for all the local groups and out-of-towners. And, of course, for the city itself by hosting such a unique and colorful music festival.
The Lusitania is brothers, Michael and Blake Duncan, Charles Berry, Adi Kanlick, and Will Daugherty. Adi Kanlick is repping The Lusitania for the purposes of this interview. They are one of the 29+ bands playing one of four stages at the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso on Saturday, April 30, 2011.
The Lusitania is the first band of our El Paso Week of Neon Desert interviews that is actually based in EP. Five strong, I’d say they’re holding things down on the border with their singular brand of rock & roll.
Listen to “Your Existential Hero” from The Lusitania’s debut release, Rain and Rivers, available at Tembloroso Creative Lab.
Click the first pic to go to The Lusitania’s Facebook Page and second, at the end of the interview, to get to their MySpace Page.
Interesting Fact: If you get an out-of-town The Lusitania show early, you’ll most likely catch them playing Frisbee in the parking lot. According to the band, no tour van is complete without an orange Frisbee.
1. I asked another Neon Desert Artist what their name meant and I have to ask you the same thing. Where did The Lusitania come from? Mike said he always wanted to name the band after a shipwreck, so The Lusitania was the name that came to mind. A few years ago he said that some people may think that naming the band The Lusitania would mean that our career would sink, but he said he saw it as a catalyst for war.
2. How would you describe the sound of the El Paso music scene? The music scene in El Paso has become much more diverse in the past few years. The emo music scene was more predominant several years ago, like in the early 2000s, but it has certainly matured from that. There is a lot of variety within the scene now with post punk bands, experimental/psychedelic, singer-songwriters, and rock and roll acts like us.
3. Where does The Lusitania fit within that? I think all the local bands within El Paso fit into their own niche, including us. One of the great parts about having a diverse music scene is that you get variety when you go to shows. So, we’re definitely comfortable with our place in the scene because we’re part of this diverse group of musicians. I don’t think we’d have it any other way.
4. Since you’re from El Paso, do you feel pressure to rock harder than other Neon Desert Artists that aren’t? Any healthy competition with the ones that are? We are really excited to be part of the Neon Desert Music Festival and to be able to share the stage with all these different acts. We definitely don’t feel like there is any competition with any of the other bands. The point of the festival is to be able to see all kinds of different bands and listen to music you may have not been exposed to before.
I think that many people who have seen us live would agree that we give it everything we’ve got when we’re on stage, whether it’s to five people or to a completely packed room. We’re going to bring that same energy with us on the day of the festival.
5. How did you get hooked up with Neon Desert and what do you feel this means for El Paso? We were approached by the organizers of the festival to play several months ago. Considering this is the first real music festival for El Paso, it’s very flattering that they came to us and asked us be a part of it. As a musician and as a resident of El Paso, I think this is a huge step in the right direction. El Paso has always had a very lively music scene and this is only going to bring more attention to it.
The organizers of the festival have already done a really great job in booking some terrific bands and I think there’s nowhere to go but up. Hopefully, this music festival will get to the point where it could be in competition with ACL, Coachella, and Lollapalooza. We are definitely looking forward to the festival, seeing how it progresses in the future, and we hope that they’ll keep inviting us back.