Tag Archives: John Garcia

20 years of WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY

sky valley

Last Saturday I was reminded of the 20th anniversary of Welcome to Sky Valley, the third album of the Palm Desert band Kyuss, and this time it’s made me give it a lot of thought, and listen to it again. I’m not one of those who worships this band as if there isn’t anything better in the world and I’m not looking forward to witnessing a reunion between John Garcia and Josh Homme because I don’t regard it necessary. I don’t criticize Homme for forming QOTSA working hard to rise to stardom, but I do get upset with Garcia for not managing to keep a single project steady for long time. There was a time and a place for Kyuss, and for that reason this band probably achieved the status of underground legend, and if its members decided to split ways, I’m sure there was a good reason for that, so there’s no point in insisting on a reunion. Believe me, I learnt the lesson with GN’R some time ago.

I love Kyuss records though I hate the diehard fans of the band, no offence. In my PERSONAL opinion, they are often too narrow minded musically speaking.

I’d say Welcome to Sky Valley is not my favorite album of the band, however every time I recover it and listen to ‘Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop’, ‘Whitewater’ and ‘Demon Cleaner’  I must surrender and admit it’s a masterpiece. Thinking of the first time I approached it and Blues for the Red Sun in cassette, I reckon the experience was totally mindblowing. Kyuss opened the gates to another musical dimension for me, and I learnt to listen to music in a different way, tasting and enjoying the different instruments, both separately and together, feeling the different vibes and atmospheres created thanks to the changes in rhythm, the guitar effects, and the distortions, and I also discovered my favorite instrument was drums. Kyuss could make me travel in my mind (no acid involved), and I think it didn’t happen again until I discovered Monster Magnet’s Dopes to Infinity.

Moreover, it was the first band that I reckon I felt passionate for which wasn’t mainstream, highlighting the fact that in that day even Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam were popular on a global scale, broadcast on MTV and any radio station. In the past it was more difficult to get acquainted with cult bands, due to the complexity of spreading the word, and getting to discover overseas bands in first place, mainly caused by a period of isolation our country was forced to go through for too many years. Also the fact that not many people around shared the same interest in music as me made things a bit worse. Whatever, the point I really intend to make here is that Kyuss was an unknown band for the majority of people here. I was introduced to the band through my friend Pablo, and he heard of, or better said, read about the band on a magazine, so we didn’t know the actual impact and popularity of the band in the States and abroad. As far as we were concerned they were some sort of gurus, with all the Palm Desert scene, playing in the middle of nowhere, just surrounded by cacti, and enlightened by the creative and magical power of weed…or something like that.

I think the cult towards this band had to do with this mysterious halo they were involved, at least we perceived it as such, and the evocative music combined with wonderful hard guitar riffs.

scott reeder

I was talking about Welcome to Sky Valley, huh? Getting back to it, there’s one more thing. I’d like to give the credit to one of the most remarkable bass players in rock/metal scene, Scott Reeder, who joined Kyuss at this point, but I think he earned by far enough credit to be recognized  as THE bass player in the band. His style, his rough way to play, and his attitude just made it. We always focus on the roles of John Garcia and Josh Homme, comparing them to another rock couples such as Plant and Page, Slash and Axl, or Tyler and Perry, as they’re more remarkable and easy to identify and analyze, and after all, their current bad relationship with suing involved makes us all wonder what happened between them, forgetting the rest of the members in the band and their contributions. I couldn’t affirm which is the main Kyuss drummer though, Bjork or Hernandez, no matter their influence on other musicians after their contribution to the band, however, regardless the fact that Nick Oliveri was there first on the 4 strings, Reeder won his place in rock history.

 

GARCIA: WHAT HAPPENED?

No doubt John Garcia has one of the most powerful and unique voices in stoner-metal rock. His role as the lead singer and frontman of Kyuss created a pattern and meant a huge influence for many bands and musicians. The legacy left by this band is outstanding and meant the foundings of the style.

kyuss band

Unfortunately at some point, like many bands, members decided to split ways, being Josh Homme the most successful thanks to Queens of the Stone Age, a project whose first album saw the light back in 1998 and has been following a rising career up to the stardom. John Garcia though, throughout these years, has been trying luck with different projects, which were never steady nor constant, and characterized by remaining in a more underground (almost nonexistent) scene.

Many people sure think it’s not fair to compare both artists, but as a fan, in an attempt to understand what’s going on with Garcia, it’s difficult not to do so.

Back in the day, Garcia released with Slo Burn one of the most epic ep’s I can remember, Amusing the Amazing. 4 songs of pure energy and rage, proving there was life after Kyuss, and creating great expectations among fans, who were delighted. Slo Burn kept part of the desert essence of Kyuss, but at the same time it was more metal, and very straight to the face. I missed their last show in London for 2-3 weeks, a pity. I’m sure probably I’d be adding it to my fave shows, but fate didn’t want to favor me this time.

Once the project was over, Garcia set up another band he led named Unida. They only released an album, Coping with the Urban Coyote, which was also terrific. I remember back in Spain, when internet was a modem (not modern)  luxury and downloading a song used to take ages, there was a second album rumored which never saw the light, and there were leaked songs circulating, which were pretty good, actually. I never understood what happened. Again, the project didn’t manage to stand for itself, and the band disintegrated.

At the same time, Homme, who had been collaborating with Mark Lanegan among others, finally created QOTSA, a band which has been rising step by step, with no major quality failures except for the weird Era Vulgaris, but lots of changes in the lineup, which didn’t affect the evolution of Homme, who was and still is in control of everything.

Garcia came up to the ring with Hermano, band which released three albums. Only a Suggestion, the debut, was pretty cool, the second, Dare I Say, is expendable and not quite remarkable, and the third, Into the Exam Room wasn’t that bad. And then again, the union failed. Hermano hasn’t officially split, but hiatus has lasted for long time.

garcia

In the last years Garcia has been attempting to try luck by resurrecting his old projects, including Kyuss, under the name of Kyuss Lives, with Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork, which was followed by a lawsuit from Homme and Scott Reeder, for bad use of the trademark. I saw them a couple of times at two festivals, and it was a good exercise of nostalgia, obviously, and the band was tight and solid, but…you know, that wasn’t Kyuss. After this trouble, Vista Chino rose from the ashes of Kyuss Lives as a trio, but frankly speaking, the work sounds repetitive and monotonous, and eventually I’ve finally lost my interest completely.

Last week Unida were confirmed as part of the lineup of a Spanish festival and I just couldn’t believe it. Unida again? WTF? John, man, what the hell is going on?

Trying to be as much respectful as possible, these continuous attempts to succeed through the reunion nostalgic effect are, in my opinion, a way to creep after your legacy in a classless way, and I find this whole decline a bit pathetic. I don’t care whether it’s for the money or the success, I thought Garcia was really taking care of his business, trying to go on with his style avoiding becoming mainstream, but now, I only see a caricature of the powerful leader he used to be, and that makes me really really sad.

John, man, what happened?

* Currently listening to Coping with the Human Coyote

ALBUM OF WEEK 36: COUP DE GRACE

coup de grace

When an opening song of a rock-metal-whatever the hell you want to label it-record starts with a guttural super rough yelling FUUUUUUUUCKKKK within its first 15 seconds, it’s the right sign to stop what you’re doing and focus on the album. It might be a piece of shit or terrific, but just for that you have to give it a chance.

I can’t remember when I purchased this album. Probably in the US or Japan, which means it was 3-6 years ago, however I started playing it more often a couple of them ago. I had always thought the 2 previous one Time Travelling Blues and The Big Black were my favorite, but at some point I changed my mind and Coup De Grace and A Eulogy for the Damned occupy the podium nowadays, probably because they are less metal, and the vibe is more hard rockin’.

I like Coup de Grace because the influence of punk is very present, leaving aside the cover of The Misfits’ song We Bite,, but also 70’s hard rock is there. Probably the result of the guitars is the most remarkable feature of the albums, with very powerful riffs and fast solos and also the bass lines and drums keep on the same solid level. I reckon it’s a very straightforward album which avoids too many ornaments in the songs, becoming one of the grooviest ones.

These album is full of many different references in the style, being Scott Reeder (Kyuss) the producer, featuring John Garcia (more Kyuss) in Made of Rats and the extraordinary Jesus Beater, under the adorable drunk Lee Dorrian‘s (Cathedral) record label Rise Above  and Frank Kozik, the renowned artist and founder Man’s Ruin Records, responsible for the super cool artwork.

This is the typical underrated record which contains awesome songs such as the above mentioned Jesus Beater, which is quite accessible to not so into hard rock music, yet the riffs are absolutely brilliant, or my personal favorite, Rage of Angels, which totally reminds me of 70’s British hard rockers Nazareth and includes a super cool sampler from the movie “Convoy”. And then you find instrumental Graviton, a break which brings you back to the paths of a more lysergic trip. That’s the greatness of Coup De Grace. The mixing of styles makes this album very enjoyable and dynamic, so you don’t feel like there are songs which should have been left out.

In my coolrockmeter, the measure is quite simple. If I’m headbanging from the first song, that means the record is great, and this is what always happens to me every time I listen to this album. I never get tired of it and puts me in high spirits. Well yeah, sometimes I’d like to throw a TV set through the window, but believe me, such desire is another sign of the great quality of what I’m listening.

 I leave you with a song while I’m finishing packing. Catching a train to my hometown in a couple of hours. This is my birthday celebration party weekend and I got the feeling is gonna be one of the wildest parties in the last years considering the lineup of friends who are gathering. If I survive I’ll tell you about it. In the meantime, enjoy the tune and have a fab weekend, friends!

 

ALBUM OF WEEK 4: …AND THE CIRCUS LEAVES TOWN

circus leaves town

I’ve just discovered that, inexplicably, there isn’t any album by Kyuss commented here up to date. I’d even say it’s unacceptable I had allowed this to happen, thus first of all I’d like to apologize and amend my mistake immediately.

I wouldn’t spend so many cheap words into something meaningless, but Kyuss is one of these bands which back in the day also left a mark on me.

I’m not 100% sure of having explained the way I got acquainted with this band from Palm Desert, so briefly I will give the credit to my friend and also a great artist EvilMrSod, who used to record albums in cassette almost 20 years ago, and he sent me three tapes with one of the holiest (stoner) rock trilogy in my life: Blues for the Red Sun, Welcome to Sky Valley,…And the Circus Leaves Town.  Inevitably Kyuss drove me crazy and managed to earn all my attention, but sadly they broke up too soon.

These guys had something special, a combination of many features which turn them into something genuine, unique. As usual, everybody highlights John Garcia’s powerful voice and the amazing riffs created by wonder boy Josh Homme, but their legacy and future influence over many musicians and rock lovers are beyond them. Drums by both Brant Bjork and Alfredo Hernandez marked a difference, Scott Reeder’s bass lines merging perfectly with drums and guitars, building a heavy and solid body of sound, their style moving from pure heavy metal to progressive rock, the simplicity of some of their compositions facing other complex pieces…

For long time I used to be obsessed with understanding the lyrics, till Ben Ward  said “who the fuck cares about their lyrics when they play awesome?”. That was the end of the discussion. He was right after all. Years later, let’s say lyrics aren’t their strength nor key for their music.

I’m experiencing a kind of stoner revival lately thanks to bands such as Orange Goblin, or my last two discoveries: Baroness and Clutch (finally, after some friends talking wonders for years. This new decade seems to bring back the essential stoner, closer to classic metal, separating from the doom tendency predominating  years ago. Thus, with this thought, first I paid my respects to the great Lullabies to Paralyze, and then I stepped back further to Down on The Upside.

It was just a matter of time Kyuss came to mind, thinking of the impact they had on me back in the day. Musically speaking, they meant the end of the Seattle sound chapter, and the starter for the stoner rock, which lasted several years too, sharing their hegemony with the Scandinavian punk rock bands. It’s overwhelming to think of certain bands as the beginning/end of different musical eras, huh? At the end of the day they also mark stages in life.

Kyuss

With memories and ideas twisting in my head I went straight to the CD shelves and chose my favorite album by Kyuss, which is …And the Circus Leaves Town. Love its title, by the way.  It’s one of my Winter albums. It spreads a scent of coldness and abandon hard to explain, which evokes the dead season.

Whenever I say  it’s their best album, diehard fans react surprised as Blues For The Red Sun is considered the best. Gotta say one of the reasons I got a bit tired of Kyuss has to do with their radical defenders. Narrow minded, too obsessed monothematic. You know what I mean,  for them John Garcia close to be a Messiah. Too boring!

…And The Circus Leaves Town is probably one of their most complete albums, combining trademark killing riffs in One Inch Man, lysergic passages such as in Catamaran or Phototropic, powerful in crescendo tracks such as the amazing Rodeo, those unique Hernandez’s drums in Hurricane or Thee Ol’ Boozeroony

But there’s a song I will never get tired of, which probably reflects the essence Kyuss at its best. It’s the fascinating Spaceship Landing, including a sequence of different parts, plenty of fuzz, riffs and solos, effects in voice, repetition, cymbals… so many details, one time is never enough to discover new things. I can easily imagine these guys playing this song at night in the middle of the desert, enjoying the effects of some heavy weed and perhaps some other downer, just allowing the music flow. So good…

Fate is tough and unpredictable. Josh Homme achieved stardom with QOTSA, Garcia the leader and one of the most charismatic frontmen in the last 20 years is doomed to start and eventually abandon every single project he’s gets involved with, and for some awkward reason, Hernandez plays for minor musicians keeping us deprived of his awesome skills. How come Kyuss was always a band for minorities? Some of the bands inheriting their legacy  however, are quite popular.

Anyway, sometimes it’s necessary to recover some classic albums I have to, and feel really good when I do it, because these records, already to be considered part of my life, bring back lots of past memories. This time it’s been greater, coming with this feeling of the stoner rock more alive than ever. Yeah, I dig!

ALBUM OF WEEK 15 – …ONLY A SUGGESTION

I used to adore Kyuss, and any single project afterwards, Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano, QOTSAJohn Garcia’s voice was, and still is, one of the most powerful, yet underrated, voices in rock, genuine and unique. Whatever his proposal was, I was up to it. But at certain point I got tired of Kyuss, and especially of the frontman.

I don’t listen to Kyuss albums very often nowadays, and reckon my interest falls directly onto Homme’s QOTSA. How come? That’s good question, and now I know the answer. You remember that funny statement which says something like “I don’t hate Springsteen, but his fans are loathsome”? Well, this is what happens to me. I got tired of Kyuss and Garcia, because of the tedious worship of the diehard fans towards the band. Same happened with Pearl Jam. I used to love them, they were my favorite band when I was 16, and remember myself trying to convert everyone into PearlJamism, till some day, for some reason the existing fanaticism started bothering me somehow, and I went easier. Not that I hate Vedder nowadays, but hmm, I don’t see him as cool as I used to.

Well, many people adoring Kyuss have got stucked in both the band and the style, with all due respect. Of course their legacy is outstanding, they opened a new path and inspired many great bands, but it should fair to remind that bands such as Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Monster Magnet, and many others were their influence. Stoner is nowadays a very generic label applied to any kind of bands, from Down to Fu Manchu, Nebula and Sleep. Well, labeling got crazy at some point and now there are lots of subgenres I can’t recall. I don’t know, I stand for the classics.

I’ve just remembered the first web and forum I subscribed to was stonerrock.com with my real surname, back in 2000, so innocent! Just discovered this site was sucked into the void in 2010. What a shame!

Good ol’ times! When I got back from London in 2000 I was referred as the Stoner girl, however, visiting my mates in  London, I was labeled as Toi the punk rocker, as if the two styles couldn’t  be compatible.

One of my first posts related to the album of the week last year, was related to Amusing the Amazing, that awesome EP by Slo Burn, the first, and probably the best project Garcia carried out once Kyuss were done for good.

Coping with the Urban Coyote, released by Man’s Ruin Records, was the second proposal Garcia surprised us with a new project named Unida. Unfortunately it didn’t last long, although there were many unreleased tracks travelling through internet. Yeah, those times when it took you 3 days to download a song at awful quality. I’m proud and lucky to say I saw Unida performing at the Garage in London, and I still keep a t-shirt, now shrunk, purchased at the show, which years later, was my outfit to see Hermano at Azkena Rock Festival. Never seen anyone from Spain wearing that tee, which makes it kind of unique item for me.

It was 2-3 weeks ago when my friend Xavi, precisely the one who was passing through a crazy Slo Burn mania stage when I wrote that post, visit me at The Hellhouse to have lunch together. While finishing cooking I asked him to play some music, and he chose an old copy of …Only a Suggestion. Needless to say, after listening to it several times in a row on my own, I purchased an original copy.

We were chatting and eating, but I couldn’t help stopping the conversation, and start an off topic regarding how good this album is. As if it was the first time I was listening to it. I’m serious saying at least it was 3 years, even 4, since I hadn’t played it. Don’t ask questions, I felt like an asshole, and had an unusual weird feeling: regret.

…Only a Suggestion was the debut album of Garcia’s most enduring project, Hermano, which I could see on stage a couple of times. With this band, it was confirmed one album/ep sometimes is better than a extended discography, as Hermano’s latest releases didn’t keep at the same level. However these 8 songs, 7 actually, are pure adrenaline. Straight to the point, no concessions, no filling tunes, just the essence of the band at its utmost. Play this album, at eleven, and listen to songs such as Manager’s Special, Senor Moreno’s Plan, or 5 to 5…you’ll shit on your pants, ha!

Thus, after all, I must admit John Garcia, aka Juanico has been, is and sure will be, a reference for many, and one of a kind, so who cares about the bothering fans? Not me anymore. Long live the stoner vet!!!

ALBUM OF WEEK 10 – AMUSING THE AMAZING

I know Amusing the Amazing cannot be considered a proper album, as it only includes four tracks, yet I’ve recovered from the shelf and I’m listening to it with complete pleasure.

Considering last week I chose one of QOTSA’s I’m definitely having a revival of my Stoner days, and yes, both bands are branches of the same mother tree: Kyuss.

Maybe it’s time to talk about Kyuss a bit. I don’t intend to preach on the wonders of the band, but they definitely left a huge mark on me, and many others.

It’ curious though that this is a cult band, totally underground, which never achieved major commercial success, but with the passing of time, were gaining fans all around the world.

I never saw them alive, however I think I’ve seen all their former members playing on stage in different projects, what is out of question is that they all are workaholics and love playing…and I’m grateful for that.

The two main brains here were John Garcia and Josh Homme, and it’s a tale like the way their careers developed once they split ways: Homme leading QOTSA and joining his strength together with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones with Them Crooked Vultures, and John Garcia trying to find his definite project, away from commercial success and recognition, at a minor level.

People adore Garcia, no matter what he does, who he plays with, he’s a true metal head, and will be till the end of his days. From time he gifts us with projects such as Unida or Hermano, but Slo Burn, man, I reckon this should have been the one.

Amusing the Amazing has these perfect four tracks you can listen one time and another, and another…so heavy and powerful, with strong and consistent drums, guitars with distortion turned to 11, and awesome riffs. Then you listen to John Garcia’s melodies and screams and think “Damn bastard! How can you be so good?”

There’s too much hysteric pose regarding Kyuss, I get sick of fans and forget about the band for some time. I’ve even admitted I get tired of Garcia’s voice, but whenever I listen to this ep, as I’m doing at this very moment, you forget about that crap, he’s a fantastic singer for sure.

I hadn’t listened to Slo Burn for aaages, and it’s funny a friend of mine is passing through identical stage, he’s completely Slo Burnian, and we are commenting every day. There’s not much to comment when there are only four songs, but it’s kind of funny because we are like Beavis and Butt-head:

–          The starting of Prizefighter is amazing

–          Yeah man! Fuckin’ A!

–          I said I Pilot I Pilot

–          I said I Pilot the Duuuuune

–          Huh huh! Cool!

–          He he he he! I got it in vinyl

–          You’re a basterd motherfucker!

–          Huh huh! July is cool, man!

–          Yes, it is! I had drinks with John Garcia once

–          What?? Yo, biiiiitch!

–          Huh huh huh! Cool!

Which is my favorite Slo Burn song? Uhmmm, good question, very few options. For emotional reasons Pilot the Dune would be the chosen one, it was kind of single I guess, and first time I listened to it was like a bomb exploding right in my face. However, as I’m listening the ep among 4-6 times a day (yeah! It’s definitely too short), nowadays my vote goes for July.

So that’s it, this is my album-ep of the week, I strongly recommend it to all rock and riff lovers, don’t think it will disappoint you at all, and in case it does, here you are a wall where you can post your comments open to discussion.

Next week I’ll try to choose something more relaxing, or better said, easy listening, although it’s not going to be easy, I’m too active and beside I’m seeing Electric Wizard on stage next Tuesday. Anyway, I’ll try my best.