Michael Durazo, the frontman of Slipping Into Darkness, called me one recent day with welcome news: The band’s independently released first album was finally finished.
We met at a location in Desert Hot Springs, and he put a copy of Shurpedelic in my hand.
Others will be able to experience the excitement I felt at that moment on Saturday, Aug. 9, at Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert, where the band will be celebrating the album’s release. Also included on the bill will be local bands Facelift, CIVX and Waxy.
Slipping Into Darkness, the Desert Hot Springs band that played on the main stage at Coachella in 2013, has long been at work on Shurpedelic. During a recent interview, Durazo and guitarist Adrian Carreno explained the delays.
“We had a bunch of setbacks,” Durazo said. “We had a change in band members, band members moving away, and money (problems). We recorded it, and it got erased by accident, so we had to start over.”
Carreno said he couldn’t believe how much time the album took.
“It took us almost two years to make this album because of all that stuff,” Carreno said in frustration, “changing drummers, changing recording studios, and (raising) the money to finally get it made.”
Slipping Into Darkness melds psychedelic rock with surf guitar and blues riffs, and the quality of the recordings on the album is excellent. Shurpedelic includes the songs the band has played live in the Coachella Valley over the past couple of years—songs the band’s fan base has gotten to know and love, like “Mexicali,” “Some Way,” “Tell It Like It Is” and “Ahh Doo.”
Then there’s the album cover: It shows a small child smoking a joint. (See below.) On the back is a group of Catholic priests standing on a street corner in the 1970s. Durazo confirmed the photo on the front cover is indeed real.
“It’s one of my family members smoking a joint at the beach in the ‘70s. (That family member) was probably 4 or 5,” Durazo said. “We thought it’d be great to fuck with people, with the kid smoking on the front, and the priests on the back.”
The album cover is sure to grab people’s attention. The songs are, too.
“They’re all about my life. I’m not really good at saying shit like this, but they’re all about my life experiences in the desert. I’ve lived in Desert Hot Springs for 23 years, and all my friends live here. We’ve been bullshitting for 22 years here,” Durazo said with a laugh.
On the day of the interview, Carreno was leaving to return to his home in Mexicali, Mexico. With the exception of Durazo, all of the members live outside of the Coachella Valley. (Bassist Nigel Dettelbach and drummer Nigel Carnahan live in Northern California.) So how do they all manage to come together for shows in the Coachella Valley? Carreno discussed how frustrating it can be to do so.
“It’s tough, because I have to wait in line at the border,” Carreno said. “It’s a half-hour to an hour to get across, and then I have a two-hour drive. Sometimes, the wait is longer, and I turn off my air-conditioning so my car doesn’t overheat. When there’s a show coming up, or we’re recording, they have to tell me about two weeks before just so I can prepare for all of that. I’ll usually stay at Michael’s house for four or five days.
“It’s tough, but at the same time, it’s refreshing when you start playing, because you haven’t seen each other in a long time. It’s not the same boring thing, and you have more ideas.”
The band has also played some shows in Mexico—and those experiences haven’t always gone smoothly.
“My friends got in a fist fight. I stopped it, and then the Federales thought I had something to do with it, even though I didn’t,” Durazo said about one incident. “They took us to the middle of the desert; they made us strip; and then they made us give them all our money.”
Carreno added, jokingly: “I think they made you do more than just strip.”
Durazo explained how the CD-release show came together.
“We wanted to do it at the Dillon Roadhouse in Desert Hot Springs, but they sold it, and it’s under new ownership,” Durazo said. “The people at Schmidy’s seemed really cool, so we went to check out the spot, and it was cool. Waxy will be opening the show, (followed by) CIVX, our best friends Facelift, and then us. In between sets, Planet Lunch is going to be spinning records. CIVX are buddies of ours; Facelift are like our brothers; and we just hit up Waxy, and they said they were down.”
The Slipping Into Darkness album-release party will take place at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, at Schmidy’s Tavern, 72286 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $8 and includes a copy of the album. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Slippingintodarknessmusic.