Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Year Of Santeria - Review and Interview!

SANTERIA – “Year Of The Knife” CD ’08 (Golar Wash Records & Labs, US) – I’m no great chef. Just ask my wife and kids. If I put out a cook book, the mutha would be a short one: spaghetti & meat sauce, hot dogs, hamburgers, sloppy joes & chicken in the crock pot. It’s a joke that when my wife calls each night on her way home from work, she asks what I’m making and then runs to the nearest fast food place to find something actually edible. Hell, the only one who likes my stuff is the 17 year old and…well, he’s also the only human being I know who has made a sandwich out of potbellied pig feed. Ok, so I’m exaggerating a bit…he added some mayonnaise. The thing is, the fact that I am about as kitchen-challenged as Angelina & Brad have kids has never stopped me from enjoying the works of those who are not. See, I like to watch cooking shows and my favourite of all-time was the one by Cajun master, Justin Wilson. He was a delightful old guy from Louisiana who used to open his show with a robust “How y’all are?!” and would then proceed to whip up some fiery concoction that could singe as well as fill the belly. He’d finish up by taking a taste himself, then issuing a totally-satisfied “Hooo-weeee!!” Anyway, I just used to love watching him, listening to him talk in his deep accent, sharing his passion and “guar-on-tee-ing” that you were just gonna love his latest dish. It got me to really wanting to find a band from Louisiana who truly exuded a feel of the place. Sure, there were groups like Eyehategod, Crowbar & Down, all somehow connected to the New Orleans sludge thang, but where was a hard rock/metal unit that was really imbued with the spirit of the region? Enter SANTERIA, from Lafayette, Louisiana. To begin with, I’ve gotta say that I’ve been a Johnny-come-lately with these guys, being that their first record came out in 1998. (“Santeria”). They put out a disc of live/demo etc. stuff in 2000 (Apocalypse, Louisiana) in 2000 and then I finally stumbled upon ‘em in 2003 with their “House Of The Dying Sun” CD released that year. It was good stuff and caught my ear, surely as sonically-heavy as the crop of so-called stoner stuff inhabiting my listening at the time, and yet there was a significant depth to the songwriting that said “Something more is going on here.” The musical and lyrical dynamics stood out, as did a certain feeling I got from songs like “Laredo” and “Morningfall.” They spoke of their heritage, Louisiana and the South in a way that was far from the typical southern, pick-up-driving, Skynyrd-worshipping stuff I was used to. I looked forward to what this SANTERIA bunch would do next with great interest. And I looked forward…and looked forward…and, eventually, I kinda put ‘em on the back-burner as there was just no activity. Well, unbeknownst to me, there was some pretty serious activity. You see, drummer Krishna Kasturi had been involved in a very bad car accident and was unable to do any kind of playing for a long time. And, as I’ve come to learn, singer Dege Legg and guitarist Primo are not your run-of-the-mill, let’s-move-on-at-any-cost kinda guys. Instead, being super-righteous friends and band members, they decided they’d rather put things on hold and wait for Krishna to be able to return to the fold. And, so he has…along with new bassist Chad Willis. Together, the four of them have now produced a new CD and their first in 5 years, “Year Of The Knife.” To say that it’s a blinder would be the understatement of the year.
“Year Of The Knife” is an album of the rarest breed. By that, I don’t mean it’s hard to get. Just go to the SANTERIA site and you can have this puppy for $10 & change. You should. Soon. Yesterday. But more on that later, folks. Bear with me for the moment and I’ll try to explain why. You see, “Y.O.T.K.” is the kind of album Led Zeppelin used to make in their hey-day. Remember “Physical Graffiti?” Who doesn’t, right? Could you explain to someone what that whole record was like by playing “The Rover?” No. How ‘bout spinning “In My Time Of Dying,” would that sum it up? ‘Course not. Would you cover all it’s nuances by hitting “play” on “In The Light?” Not even close. That’s what kind of gorgeous art SANTERIA have created here. Man, the first 3 songs in and this baby’s got me reeled in already. This is massive, catchy-as-fuck hard rock from the word go, from the minute Primo audibly switches on his amps at the beginning of “Come On, Baby” through the grooving “Leave Something Witchy” and on to the Thin Lizzy-funk of “Nowhere To Go,” there simply isn’t an opening triad as sweet anywhere. Dege’s rich Lynott-like pipes fit like a glove and the band simmers like Cajun heat. And, then, just as soon as you think you’ve got SANTERIA down, they open up a can of “Haunted Heart” and swallow you into an emotional gulf that will leave you wrung out to dry. Surely, this mid-paced seether features a vocal performance by Dege Legg that is for the ages. When he belts out the chorus, I’m telling you, you’re going to feel chills that won’t stop for a long time. And then…the album starts to get REAL interesting! SANTERIA sweep you down a long and winding road into the heart of their country, into a place that is truly the deep south of their own, a land filled not by stereotypical southern trappings but a deep, visceral Cajun world that understands life at it’s most pure. It is a world that also understands that rock came from far older places to get to where it is. Listen to songs like “Mexico,” “HWY To The Morning Star,” and “My Right Thing Can’t Go Wrong.” Echoes of everything from Zydeco to Black 47 blend and flit like fireflies on a humid summer eve, as this band percolates with a heat very few will ever achieve. But, like any great band, SANTERIA don’t let you mark them for long. More heavy rawking comes your way shortly, courtesy of “You Got What I Need.” Is there a better chorus hook than this one out there in 2008? Play it for me. I know, you can’t. This is like a cross between something on “Jailbreak” and “Powerage,” just freaking awesome. And so, this wonderful band continues on, pulling one rabbit after another out of their hats. The truly haunting re-look at “Haunted Heart” in “Haunted Dub,” the closing twin pillars of “Year Of The Knife” and “House Of The Dying Sun,” yeah man, it’s all here. Much in the same way as those classic Zep albums like “…Graffiti,” “IV” and “Houses…,” “Year Of The Knife” is a simply fantastic union of styles, shades and colours that fuse together to create a whole much, much greater and far more beautiful than the sum of all their parts. If you only buy one rock album in 2008 thusfar, this should be the one…I GUAR-ON-TEE! 10.0



NOTE I: Since I’ve started my venture into a numerical rating system for albums here on the ‘REALM, I’ve given a handful of “10’s” to new albums (not counting classics in the Grand Halls). Each one of those, as is the nature of the beast in my opinion, has been at the absolute top of the game. “Year Of The Knife” is at the top of a lot of games. A LOT of frickin’ games!

NOTE: Read on for an interview with Primo and Dege Legg of SANTERIA. Much like their music, these are the words of men with great thought, depth and as such, have given me one of my favourite interviews ever. Read on!

RAY - I’m just going right for the jugular here to start out. I know that SANTERIA is the name of a religion, am I correct? Are any/all of you members of this faith? I don’t know a whole lot about it, but from what I understand, it’s gotten a bit of a bad rap from the general public due to people not taking the time to understand it. For instance, I seem to remember an episode of the TV show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” that didn’t paint it in a very good light. Can you shed any light on any of this? Or, perhaps you simply picked the name because it sounded cool and I’m a raving idiot?

DEGE - 1) It sounded cool. 2) It kind of summed up who we were as a band—a rag-tag collection of dudes from different ethnic backgrounds and upbringings and such…kind of like the origin of the Santeria religion, which is like this colorful combination of things. Part Africa, part Catholic-honky, part Cuban/Latin-American.

PRIMO - In New Orleans the mixture of West African slave religion and Catholicism is referred to as Voodoo, in the Caribbean it's called Santeria. Anyone who has been down here has felt it….there is always a strange “Halloween in the air” of New Orleans. The name is a mystique to me more than anything, yet south Louisiana has its share of haunted haunts, creature infested swamps, and Hoodoos. Over the years, the band has consisted of many different faiths...Catholic, Hindu, Rasta, and Agnostics.

RAY - Are you guys all from Louisiana originally?

DEGE - I was born & raised in small town Louisiana—Cajun-Irish with some Cherokee. Krishna is from India. Primo and Chad were raised here, too. It’s a strange place to grow up—it’s like this strange tropical-ghetto-European paradise with people speaking bastardized French/Creole, eating bugs out ditches, cooking pigs in the ground, flying around on fan boats, trapping reptiles, and have a really good time doing it. My grandparents had 5th grade educations, worked in the fields, and saved enough money to send my mom to college. Hard working folks with an indomitable spirit and great sense of humor—a righteous combination. I have much admiration for them. They were tough. Soulful and not mean spirited. People equate toughness with this me-first-you-later mentality, but true strength is measured in how much you give without being asked.

PRIMO - I was born in El Paso, TX….My dad was stationed there after Vietnam. When I was a year old, I made the journey back to Louisiana in the backseat of a yellow Volkswagen beetle with no air conditioner. When we approached the Louisiana boarder I began to sweat profusely, so my parents stripped me down naked to keep me from having heat stroke…..Welcome to Louisiana kid!

RAY - How does the music of the geographical area you’re from come into play with your music? Did music from the area such as Zydeco influence you at all? What else played a role in inspiring the musicians that became SANTERIA, early in your lives and now?

DEGE - If anything, we rebelled against the Cajun/Zydeco influence because it was all around us and we wanted to do something other than squeeze accordions. What you realize later is that you can never completely purge those roots—it’ll always find its way back into your art. Everything around you is an inspiration—you just have to see the meaning in it. That’s the challenge and the “art.” Everything—even the bad shit—is a celebration of life.

PRIMO - Well, it all seeps into you from an early age. People love their good food, drink, and merriment around here. Since both my parents worked quite a bit, I spent a hell of a lot of afterschool time with my grandparents. They were from a time long gone. A generation that survived war, poverty and recession. From them, I absorbed the Cajun culture. Be it music, food, or the oral tradition of storytelling. It made me who I am today. Back at home, it was vinyl, 8 Tracks players in plush 1977 custom vans, and the steady infusion of classic rock n’ roll, vintage R&B, and old country…

RAY - I’m a bit geographically-challenged…among other things…but, how close is Lafayette to New Orleans? How were you guys affected by hurricane Katrina a few years back? Is it still affecting your daily lives?

DEGE - Lafayette is two hours west of New Orleans. When people think of Louisiana they think of New Orleans, but they visualize swamps, alligators, Cajun hillbillies, and water everywhere. We are the swamps. New Orleans is more jazz, funk, and urban sprawl. Lafayette is like the Cajun Capital. We were just grazed by Katrina. I had a job driving a cab at that time, so I saw lot of shit first hand. Ferrying carloads of people to and from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles. It was like the Wild West in blackout mode. No speed limits. Buses and boats everywhere. Dead cars lining I-10. People getting drunk on FEMA cards. Families sleeping in cars in Wal-Mart parking lots. Hotels booked solid for 4 months. Very strange and apocalyptic, but also freaky-cool in a pre-end of the world kind of way.

PRIMO - A lot of death and insane constitutional breakage went down that no one has ever questioned. Someday there will be books written about the conspiracies behind New Orleans and Katrina…Enough said. Being two hours away, Lafayette became a spillway for the poor displaced people of New Orleans. Overnight, military Blackhawk helicopters began to buzz about town like it was a DMZ…a real warzone…the president was here. National guard troops everywhere. So, I go down to the corner store to get a six pack and notice a mini-van stalled at the pumps…there is an elderly man in the driver’s seat…he is white…he is dressed like he is on his way to church….his head is in his hands….crying there is a wife…and a daughter?…also a child…all dressed for what seems like a funeral...there are cardboard boxes crammed within to the roof…..I look at them and say, “Can I help you?”…and his wife answers, “You can pray for us…we have lost everything…our retirement home…everything.” I said, “Sure, I can do that. God bless you.” The media often portrayed New Orleans “refugees” in an unfavorable light, but in reality, there were many many good folks displaced. Some great people fell in love with Lafayette and made it their home.

RAY - Sticking with this Louisiana subject…I promise, I’ll get off it in a minute…are you guys friends with people in the so-called NOLA scene like Down, Eyehategod, Crowbar, etc.? What is it about the area that you think produces such sludge-infected, heavy stuff? How do you feel your stuff differs?

DEGE - We’re not really tight with those bands. Not sure why. I respect them, but we’re more like freaky geeks from the country…and they’re the masters of sludge. I don’t know why we sound different other than we live in our own bubble and follow our own vision of things. I mean, we probably could’ve gained a lot of fans by jumping that train, but it absolutely would not have done us right on the long run, because it belongs to them…and what we have, I can say with modesty, belongs to us.

PRIMO - The sludge comes from the surrounding swamps…or better…the humidity. It makes your underwear stick to your ass…you need a shoehorn to get them off.

RAY - RED LIGHT CHALLENGE: What’s up with the Saints? How come they’re not 7-0? Have you sent Drew Brees a copy of “Year Of The Knife?”

DEGE - It is what it is. Getting emotionally involved in Saints football is like riding in a hot air balloon full of weird gas. After a while, you just let it be.

PRIMO - My philosophy is that there are too many distractions in NOLA…too many drugs…too many women…and enough drink to drown your soul. Drew bought one.

RAY - Your last record came out in 2003 and, from what I understand you guys had some real personal problems during the period after that. Wasn’t Krishna in an accident or something like that and you decided to wait for his return, is that right? If so, that’s some seriously righteous stuff on your part, man.

DEGE - House of the Dying Sun came out in 03. We gigged and toured for another year, and then Krishna’s car got hit head on by an 18-wheeler guy who’d lost control of his rig. Two broken legs, an ankle, and an arm. Bad times. We were ten years in as a band at that point and Kris was in a wheelchair for the next year. Followed by another of physical rehab. We put the band on hold, till whenever, not really knowing what would happen. Finding another drummer was never an option—he and I are the founding members of the band. Plus, no one can play like him—a weird polyrhythmic Hindustani style that we all adapted to, because we didn’t know any better. “Don’t all drummers play like this?” Everyone went back to the straight world and I played music and toured while Kris rehabbed. A few years later…and he’s ready to play again and wants to record. I already had 90% the songs written for the next record, so it was just a matter of working them out with the band and recording. It’s kind of like Def Leppard without the money, label, fan base, limousines, or houses.

PRIMO - It’s a mystery and miracle Krishna is still alive. Kris broke quite a few bones, but thank God his spine and cranium were untouched. After many surgeries, rods and pins later, the album title “Year of the knife” has new meaning. Ha. So, when Kris called and said he was ready to make a new cd….Dege and I had our doubts…but after 3 years of inactivity…we converged in the studio and laid down the entire album of basic tracks in three days. Krishna is back and badder than ever. There was never any thought of replacing him. He is irreplaceable.

RAY - Finally (!!!) getting to “Year Of The Knife,” it’s hard to know where to begin as the album has such depth. Your music does not sound like “southern rock” per se and yet, it has an unmistakable feel of being from the south. Does this make any sense or do I sound just like some poor journalist who is floundering for questions?

DEGE - No, you’re on the money. The thing is with this record I wrote about things outside of the sphere of the South. But however spacey we try to get, it still ends up sounding like dudes from the Deep South. We try to write about our version of the south, rather than the beaten-to-death-one that has come before. I see the south more like an alternate American reality. Like a haunted, national subconscious. Dying Sun was a like a soundtrack to us growing up. Whereas Year of the Knife is like us stretching our legs and taking on things outside the borders of the south. More like a national or world perspective as in “Where the fuck is humanity going? What does it all mean? When will it end?” And why?

PRIMO - Yes, it does make sense. Culture influences life, while art imitates life. So, even if a small fraction of the sights and sounds of Louisiana mysteriously permeates into our song, it’s something special and unique to this world.

RAY - The album has a real interesting flow. Ok, that was a weak. It goes from song to song. I thought that was an interesting attempt at humor! No seriously, the album starts out really heavy and rocking, then goes into an interesting stage in the middle where a lot of other things creep in, more acoustic work, more haunting kind of stuff, before moving back to more hard stuff again. It’s a flow that works really well and I’m wondering if you’d like to comment or, instead say something smart-assed like “Then what the fuck order do YOU want the songs in, Ray??!”

PRIMO - You hit the nail on the head Ray. We have always considered our albums as a whole work, and have pulled songs if they didn’t work into the grand scheme. A well thought out running order can make a good album a great one. Since “Year of the Knife” is such a dense album, it was grouped into sections of emotion/mood shifts like classic bands used to utilize on sides of vinyl. Slowly, as this album builds, it gets a bit more southern and then a bit more strange….after the hard rocking coda of “You Got What I Need”, the listener is really taken into unchartered territory. Hopefully, the listener will discover something new on each subsequent listening.

DEGE - It’s a seduction process. Here’s what you know we can do…and now here’s something you may have not heard before…but it’s still us. And to be honest, it’s always been us, but we weren’t necessarily good enough to pull it off on past albums. But it gives us something to strive toward. Even if it’s was just a simple song that requires playing less and instead of showboating and ham boning. The key to a great song is not wanking—it’s in trying to make the next guy’s part sound better. It goes round in a circle.

RAY - There are a couple songs in particular I was wondering if you could comment on, both musically and lyrically…if you don’t mind (I’m making a couple comments myself, so there!)

a. “Nowhere To Go” – Kind of a Thin Lizzy vibe to this one, especially.

DEGE - It’s like a small town mantra: I got nowhere to go; you got nowhere to be. And there’s nothing really to do here—not even the prospect of going out in a some kind of dramatic fashion. Lyrically, it’s a pretty simple song, which I like. Not every song has to take on the world, because that just gets ponderous and annoying. It can just lay there and be about something simple as nothing.

PRIMO - Sonically, it kinda evokes those 70s classic rock songs that didn’t necessarily make the radio, but ended up in the cassette deck of your old man’s Pontiac…at the drive in…with your high-school-pink-pantyed-girlfriend’s ass in your face.

RAY - b. “Haunted Heart” / “Haunted Dub” – The first one is just really super-intense, the chorus, man when you sing “haunted heart,” the vocals just go right to my core. “Haunted Dub” I was a little afraid of before I heard it, I was thinking, “Fuck, are SANTERIA doing a dance mix or something?!” But it’s not at all. Can you explain the connection between the 2 songs?

DEGE - Those guys were deathly afraid that people were going to think “Haunted Dub” was some kind of dance/disco rock song, because the groove is deep and jamming. It makes you want to move. We got in NUMEROUS arguments over it. I had to pretty much threaten to quit the band to get them to agree to put it on the record. There’s a conservative streak in rock music that says “If it hasn’t been done before; DON’T DO IT.” It’s limiting and honestly not that inspiring to me. Not that we’re reinventing the wheel. The original “Haunted Heart” was a song I demo’d on 4-track—same arrangement, riffs, lyrics—and “Haunted Dub” is a trance-like mutation of that. I like the idea of shaman and music serving as some kind of spiritual conduit to something bigger and unknown.

PRIMO - Well, Dege really fought to get “Haunted Dub” on the album…Kris, Chad, and I all feared people would hear it and be turned off…Still, Dege wanted it explicitly called “Haunted Dub.” I tried to bargain. So, the placement in the running order was crucial. It’s basically the same song stripped down with a different grove and some vocal hijinks.

RAY - c. “My Right Thing Can’t Go Wrong” – Just a really different song!

DEGE - Basically, it’s I-IV-V blues song…but with a Major VI – Flat VII change. That’s probably the most boring thing I’ve ever said in my life. I hate I-IV-V songs—they kind of bore me, but you can’t get away from them—they’re everywhere. So I’m like, “Fuck it, I hate I-IV-V’s—let’s write one!” It’s a fun song and it lightens the dark moodiness of the record. I like music that doesn’t always brood. A whole record of broodiness is, like, “Fuck, I’m brooded out.” I love Slayer, but I also know those guys have kids and probably go to Disneyland and shit with them once in a while—why don’t they ever write about that?

PRIMO - It’s the equivalent to “Hellbent Woman” from our last cd…in vain of the Rolling Stones, “Dead Flowers” or “Sweet Virginia.” We wanted to give things a South Louisiana Cajun/Zydeco feel. Though the song may be slightly different from our musical norm, it’s not too far a stretch considering our cultural surroundings. We called in a few friends. The song includes prominent Cajun musicians Steve Riley (accordion), Roddy Romero(slide solo), and Sonny Landreth’s bass player, David Ranson. Dave saved the day after our bass player Chad Willis was sick in hospital fighting malaria. Tony Daigle rounded it all up by playing rub board.

RAY - d. “Year Of The Knife” – Gotta talk about the title cut, right?

DEGE - It’s a Middle-Eastern Spaghetti Western song. “Mexico” is written with the same kind of cinematic aesthetic—but more like a requiem for a Neal Cassidy-type character. I dig those old Clint Eastwood – Ennio Morricone soundtracks. I like it when songs seem like movies and have a big world inside of them….parallel to ours. I wrote the lyrics to “Year of the Knife” as a dystopian future revolution-escape from the burning of Sodom & Gomorrah post-New World Order type thing—if that makes any sense. Anunnaki Kings. Ancient Sumerians. Zecharia Sitchin. Off the grid humanoids turning to pillars of salt as they avoid FEMA concentration camps and the reptilian royalty/cowboy agenda of warmongers, greed, chem.-trails, and population control.

PRIMO - The song came from one of my experiments with a made up tuning several years ago. I gave Dege a demo, and he came back with a chord change and an awesome soul wrenching vocal and spoken word section. From there it was slowly built in our home studio to what it is today. Really, it was never truly finished. Like they say, good art is often never completed, it’s just abandoned. A song steeped in the vintage sounds of psychedelia. The lyrics evoke the ancient astronuts,
RAY - What would you think if, at a SANTERIA gig, the girl who played Calypso in “Pirates Of The Carribean” came up to you and said, “You guys are bigger rock stars than Johnny Depp, what are you doing after the gig?”

DEGE - I would assume it was case of mistaken identity.

PRIMO - I would probably think she was just a promo company represenitave in disguise. Always waiting for the sales pitch. For so long, we have done what we do without any real industry support. Other than a few friends that have helped us from the kindness of their hearts, we are alone and that’s ok.

RAY - What’s the next thing in store for SANTERIA? Do you plan on putting the next one out on an independent basis or are you looking for a deal? Do you think in today’s Internet environment, getting a record deal is as important as it used to be?

DEGE - Success is a weird concept. Do you measure it by wealth? Fame? How many people buy your record? Or know your name? Or do you measure it by how happy you are or by creative achievement? I think chasing the dollar or fame is a deadend empty promise. It’s like a drug that turns you into a fiend. And you need more. It’ll never completely satisfy you. So you end up chasing that carrot, rather than pursing the creative heights you should be going for. Friends, family, and creative/productive pursuits are the keys to a fulfilling life. I’m just grateful to be able to make music with people I get along with and to do it in a way that sends a secret, telepathic message to other people around the world. The record labels, the music magazines, and the promo companies—they all exist to feed each other. After a certain level, it’s not a matter of talent—it’s a matter of how much money they are willing to spend on your crap—even on the independent level to some extent. It takes money to push things into people’s faces, which is kind of insulting and disingenuous, I think. In some ways I think we’ve been blessed by the lack of interest from record labels, because it’s kept us hungry and pure. If you make good music, it WILL find it’s way to people out there. It may take years, but people will respond if it’s a true expression of who you are…even if that expression isn’t very flattering.

PRIMO - Record deals definitely help fund projects, but we are rely not relying on one. It’s amazing how we get overlooked. I’m not saying we are the world’s best band, but I know we have something unique to offer the world. Basically, if people get as much joy listening to our music as we do making it, our purpose is served. So, we have another album of material ready to rip, but it takes cash to buy studio time. We’ll keep releasing albums independently until someone wakes up.

RAY - Do you think the day is coming that there will be no more physical formats for music and it’ll be all download?

DEGE - Go one step further. What is there’s an apocalypse or a nuclear war and we have no electricity or computers or record players? Where will music exist? Will there be ANY formats? It’ll go right back to where it was hundreds of years ago—folk songs, Appalachian Ballads, oral tradition, bluegrass, Cajun music, and Delta blues. Electronic forms of music won’t exist—unless you are one of the elites living in an underground bunker, sipping tea while the world burns—because they are too dependent on technology. Death metal won’t exist because you won’t have distortion—maybe you’ll have Death Folk, but you can’t palm-mute a banjo. The only thing that will survive that kind of event is music you can play on acoustic instruments. That’s it! Good, simple songs that anyone can play. I love technology—I’m fascinated by it just like everyone. But in the back of my mind, I think, “What if it all disappears…just like during hurricanes when we have no electricity for weeks at a time. What will be left?” And the answer is: oral tradition and folk music. Everything else will slowly disappear into the collective unconscious until civilization rebuilds itself.

PRIMO - Oh, those days are upon us…sad indeed. As a young kid, I remember the magic of a gatefold LP, be it the Mexican food paradise of “Tres Hombres” or the twilight netherworld of “Houses of the Holy.” They were all larger than life to me. Album art is king. Thankfully, from what I hear, there was been a resurgence of vinyl. Time will tell if it’s just a retro fad. Someday, we would love to issue our last two albums on vinyl. A good album always deserves a good cover. I think we did it this time.

RAY - What is gigging like for you guys? Do you get many chances to play out in your area? Is halftime at a Saints game a possibility? What about touring, how far have you gone?

DEGE - Over the past few years, during Santeria down time, I’ve toured both the U.S. and Europe in various roots bands and I don’t plan on stopping. Whether or not these guys want to do that, who knows? If we had the backing of a bigger label, it probably wouldn’t be an issue.

PRIMO - Well, we are like the Beatles post 1965. Almost no touring happens other than the occasional rooftop gig. Instead, we chose to take a break and finish the album. So, we do a handful of gigs a year and they are always great events. Santeria have been all over the US, but never to Europe. The band has such an awesome following there that we would love to make that a priority. Saints fans would probably be upset to see our ugly mugs. I’m sure they would rather see halftime cheerleader T&A. We are talking about New Orleans!

RAY - Here’s one everybody seems to like! Tell us a story about something that has happened with the band, either on the road, in the bayou, wherever…that is crazy, nuts, insane or just plain sick!

PRIMO - Well, on the ‘House of the Dying Sun” tour through the west coast, I ate an ungodly amount of Mexican food. Spicy food is in my DNA! After a gig one night, in the early morning hours, Dege happen to be driving the van and Jay Guins (bass) was keeping him entertained. The rest of the band was thought to be asleep. Suddenly, my stomach began to grind. Unsuspecting to Dege and Jay, I hit them with a SBD (silent but deadly) gas attack! Dege and Jay were disgusted, perplexed, and somehow convinced that they must have ran over some road kill carnage. Anyway, my late night indesgressions and gaseous explosions warranted a sudden stop at a car wash. I played like I was sleeping and kept ripping the gas. I laughed my ass off while still acting asleep as Dege hosed off the undercarriage of the van thinking we’d run over a carcass or something.

DEGE - Last year, while I was driving a cab on the nightshift, I picked up a redneck in a trailerpark. He was drunk, nuts, and wanted to smoke crack. So we drove to this country ghetto drug spot. He bought crack there and insisted on taste testing it with his tongue. While he was doing that we almost got shot, so I floored it and we split. Upon arriving back at his trailer, he argued with me over the price of the fare. He went into his house to get more money. While inside, I figured I had enough time to piss in a cup I had under the seat. It was cold outside. Less than a minute later, he comes out. I’m still pissing in the cup, so I stop and set it on the dashboard of the cab. He hops in and gives me half of what he owes me. We argue. Voices and tempers rise. He pulls out an ink pen and tries to stab me. I push him away, and having nothing to stab him back with, instinctively grab the thing nearest—the full cup of piss—and throw it in his face. I don’t think he knew it was piss. I tossed him out of the cab and pealed out in his front yard like I was at a drag race. He was an idiot.

RAY - Any final comments?

DEGE - Keep fighting the Good Fight…there is no other. Seriously. Don’t settle for the lesser of two evils in any situation. Push toward the light. And purge the Fear from your body. Love is the way—it sounds silly, I know, like I’m some goony hippy, but it’s the truth. To quote Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night.”…but rage against the dying of the light. I’m totally fucking serious.

PRIMO - Buy the CD so I can eat more Mexican food. No really, the proceeds from this one will fund the next. If you dig the band, please kindly give us a hand. You wont be disappointed.

What a great conversation and what a great band. There are very few times that Ray is reduced to being un-wordy but all I can say is this. Buy SANTERIA’s CD’s. Now.


No comments: