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Fri09222017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Brian Blueskye

I’ve watched several of Sleazy Cortez’s recent performances—and the band keeps getting better and better. While Derek Timmons handles bass and vocal duties, Nick Hales plays a mean guitar, and his solos are actually quite impressive. For more information on Sleazy Cortez, visit sleazycortez.bandcamp.com. Hales was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The first concert I remember attending was the Steve Miller Band at Fantasy (Springs) when I was 11 or 12. I totally met Brian Setzer in the front row without even knowing who he was at the time!

What was the first album you owned?

Nirvana’s Nevermind. It only took me a couple of weeks’ allowance, because I bought it new, like a dumbass.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Johnny Winter, Deftones, Spirit Caravan, Hendrix, Lamb of God, Destiny Potato, and Type O Negative. I’m all over the place lately.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Most new rap and country, but I love old rap and old country.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Slipknot for sure. I’m still disappointed in myself for not seeing them yet.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Oh, that would have to be Lana Del Rey.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I might have to say Pappy and Harriet’s outdoor stage. The sound is always balanced, and your ears won’t bleed afterward.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“In this great future, you can’t forget your past,” “No Woman No Cry,” Bob Marley.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Tenacious D. They were the reasons I started playing guitar.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

To Billy Joe Armstrong: “Do you have the time to listen to me whine?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Nine Inch Nails, “Heresy.”

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

If I gotta pick one, it might be Queen’s A Night at the Opera. I’ve got my Top 5 for every genre, though.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Backwoods Woman” by Sleazy Cortez. Listen at sleazycortez.bandcamp.com or on Spotify. (Or scroll down to hear it.)

It’s undeniable: Paul Rodriguez is a pillar of standup comedy.

Rodriguez has drawn the ire of some of his fellow Latino comedians in recent years because of his support of the Republican Party. Party affiliation aside, however, his loyalty to the Latin community runs deep—no question.

Rodriguez will be stopping by Spotlight 29 on Saturday, Sept. 23, as the headliner of the Latin Kings of Comedy Tour, along with Manny Maldonado, Joey Medina and Jackson Purdue.

During a recent phone interview, Rodriguez said that he still enjoys standup, and tries to keep doing it, no matter what other projects in which he’s involved.

“I’ve been preoccupied with a play I’ve been doing that’s getting some attention called The Pitch. It’s funny, but it’s not a standup show,” Rodriguez said. “In between—to pay the bills, and what butters my tortilla—are standup shows. When I do standup, it feels good, and it’s therapy for me.

“It’s the reason why I’m in show business. There’s no danger of me winning an Academy Award or anything like that—maybe an Emmy. … Standup is what I really enjoy. I never feel as free as I do when I’m onstage. It’s like therapy; you get whatever angst you have inside of you out. I try not to burden the people who come to see it with my problems, and they’re not paying for that, but tragedy and comedy are next-door neighbors.”

One of Rodriguez’s closest friends is Cheech Marin, who put Rodriguez, unknown at the time, in his 1987 film Born in East L.A.

“We remain friends to this day, and I talked to him a couple of days ago. Hardly a month goes by when we don’t talk about something,” Rodriguez said. “We were set to do a TV series with Cheech, my son and myself called Three Generations. It inspired the play I’m doing right now. I’ve always looked up to Cheech, and he’s been one of the most generous people I know. Everyone always says I’m the first Latin standup comedian, but in reality, he was. He precedes me, and he’s maintained his presence, and our friendship has endured. When I met him many years ago, he said he had an idea for Born in East L.A., and he promised me a part. He kept his word, and our friendship has remained strong. I look up to him, although physically, I’m taller.”

The absence of positive Latino representations in film and TV has long irked Rodriguez. One of his 1990s HBO standup specials featured a rant about his hatred of the Taco Bell Chihuahua commercials.

“There have been a lot of great Latino films, but if you look at the credits, the stories aren’t being told by us,” he said. “I would rather have a mediocre story than a fabricated story. It’s a syndrome I call, ‘America loves the taco, but they have a problem with Paco, who invented the taco.’ Case in point: Antonio Banderas is a close friend of mine, and he played Pancho Villa. Pancho Villa was not 5 four 4; he was a monster of a man, and he didn’t talk with a lisp, either. It was Hollywood’s idea of it. Marlon Brando played Emiliano Zapata, but there were others who would have made a better Zapata. Hollywood picks and chooses the things that they want. It’s an ongoing struggle. But if I’m the only squeaky wheel, I’m glad to do that. … I was just reading an article on the Associated Press wire (about how) at the entire Emmy Awards, the Latino community is a blank. There are no nominations, no stories, and yet we are the largest minority. How could this be? There was actually more representation of us in the past. Today, we’re hard-pressed to find something.”

He mentioned that he and other Latino actors such as Marin, Gabriel Iglesias and Anjelah Johnson have had deals with studios for TV shows—yet the projects never even made it to a pilot, staying at script level.

“There are 12 African-American TV shows, and we’re out of the picture,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know why, because our numbers keep growing, and our presence in television diminishes, but yet in other art forms, we dominate. Our music is so strong that we have our own Grammys. … These studios don’t have any Latinos in any position to green-light projects. Their idea of a minority helping a minority is always an African-American person who is able to green-light. Now, I’m not insulting or demeaning the African-American struggle; they deserve what they have because they have protested. What I’m saying is it’s our fault that we’re very passive. … It’s bad for our kids when my grandchildren sit down to watch TV, and they only have Dora the Explorer. We shouldn’t be an apparition or a surprise, but it should be like how it is in real life, where you can’t really go anywhere in any major city and not run into a Latino.”

In 1994, Rodriguez directed and starred in the film A Million to Juan. The film tells the story of a man, in the United States illegally with his son and two brothers, who sells oranges; he encounters a mysterious man who gives him a $1 million check, with the condition that he must give all of the money back after 30 days. It remains Rodriguez’s only film-directing credit.

“That is one of my favorite movies, not just because it was one of the only times I directed, and it was profitable,” he said. “That idea came from a Mark Twain (story) that I read in college called The Million Pound Bank Note, and it was based on the idea that a fool and his money will soon be parted. I got that idea, and it’s an American idea, but it fit into the idea of where Latinos are today. Especially with the DACA thing, for example: There are circumstances that happen where legitimate people born in this country, though no fault of their own, are being displaced.

“One of the biggest Latino icons was (longtime Cathedral City resident) Lalo Guerrero, who wrote the music for Zoot Suit, and people don’t know that despite the fact he was born here, the Eisenhower administration deported many people like him to Mexico. Here’s a story that explains that: Lalo Guerrero, who was born in America, had the right to be an American, and yet was deported. People say, ‘Oh, that’s a made up story!’ No, it’s not a made up story! It happened to Lalo Guerrero! The Million Pound Bank Note was an inspiration, but I turned it and Latinized it into something that I knew about. It has found a place in the hearts of a lot of Latinos. Every Cinco de Mayo, I see that movie played, and it has stood the test of time. I’m proud of that movie. That was my graduating thesis just to prove I could do that.”

Rodriguez also talked about one thing that makes his blood boil … something you may hear about in his comedy show.

“Parking tickets: I don’t understand why 25 cents will give you 15 minutes, but if you’re late, you have to pay $50. Those numbers aren’t even in line with the crime: $50 versus a quarter? That’s a higher rate than the mob would give to you! I now understand why meter maids are now internationally disliked. It’s a civil-service job, but I don’t anybody who wants to have a fundraiser to help meter maids, and they’re just working Joes!”

Paul Rodriguez and the Latin Kings of Comedy will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $20 to $35. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

Old Crow Medicine Show is one of the most successful modern folk bands—yet founding member Willie Watson decided he needed to walk away from the group in 2011.

After struggling initially as a solo artist, Watson has hit his stride. In 2014, he released his first solo album, Folk Singer, Vol. 1—and this month, he’s releasing the much-anticipated follow-up, Folk Singer, Vol. 2.

On Friday, Sept. 29, Watson will be appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

During a recent phone interview, he explained his love for the folk music he’s played most of his life.

“It goes back to my early days when I first discovered it,” Watson said. “I was probably too young to realize exactly what it was and dissect it in a way to know how it was making me feel, but in the early days, I thought, ‘I really like this banjo thing, and I really like what it stands for and represents.’ It’s like country stuff; it’s like living out in the mountains, and it went along with a style. It went along with a way of life that I was intrigued by.

“Over time, that grew. You start to listen to the songs and start listening to what they’re about, and you realize there’s a lot of depth and (there are) a lot of ways that it can reach you. It reached me and it dug into my heart and my soul. I started to connect with the stories and really feel the music. Fiddle tunes would make me cry. I formed a really emotional and spiritual connection with music.”

Watson has said he has no regrets about leaving Old Crow Medicine Show—citing personal responsibilities and creative differences—although it was not easy.

“(It was hard) to break away from a group of guys that I spent some really important years of my youth with and not having that bond anymore,” Watson said. “The dynamic of the relationship of a band is like nothing else. Unless you’ve ever been in a band for a long time, worked with that band, and lived with that band for many years, it’s hard to understand. People probably have a general idea. It’s like having something you’d die for. It was hard to lose that relationship.”

Watson talked about his brand-new album.

“It’s really the same program as Folk Singer, Vol. 1: It’s folk songs, and half of the record is just me playing solo, no other musicians or anybody else. The other half, we added some players,” he said. “I have Paul Kowert from the Punch Brothers, who is also who I play with in the David Rawlings Machine, and he’s playing bass on the song. Morgan Jahnig from Old Crow Medicine Show plays bass on another song. We also brought in the Fairfield Four, who are a pretty infamous gospel group, to sing backup vocals on a few songs.

“It’s got a bit more of a full sound. That first record is very sparse and real bare. (Some fans) either love that, or they hate that, because they need a richer, fuller sound. I think this record will reach more people who were turned off by the first record who didn’t hear the technical things they expected to hear from professional musicians.”

Gospel music is a big part of folk music, and Watson agreed that whether one is Christian or not, the songs resonate.

“In this world of folk music and the roots-music canon, people like gospel music as much as the blues, because it fits in with the whole genre,” Watson said. “I don’t know if people really think too much about it. I don’t know anyone who is turned off by it. Me, personally? I love it. I’m very moved by old gospel songs. A lot of it has to do with how the songs are put together and the chord structures. The melodies fit on top of those chord structures, and are beautiful and glorious, just as they’re intended to be. They give you that feeling of togetherness, hope and dealing with hardships. If you’ve ever been through real troubles in your life, and you hear those songs, those songs are speaking to you. That’s what draws me to it.

“I don’t call myself a Christian. I just can’t get there, and there’s a lot of information out there these days when it comes to science and other religions, but I wish I could. I’m envious of devout Christians, that they can just put all their faith into Jesus. I’ve tried to find a balance between that, but I think the messages those songs carry ring true, no matter what you believe.”

We discussed the Old Crow Medicine Show song “Wagon Wheel,” which has become a ubiquitous cover song; some music stores have even put up “NO ‘WAGON WHEEL’” signs above the guitars.

“I met Ketch (Secor, who wrote the song with Bob Dylan) of Old Crow Medicine Show in 1997. Not long after knowing him, I heard that song for the first time in a kitchen in New York. I immediately thought it was great,” he said. “We started that band, and we sang that song for many years before we put it on that record (O.C.M.S. in 2004). We were glad that we were finally doing something with it—putting it on tape, and getting it out there. When I think about it, I wonder why we didn’t record it sooner. We were that old-time string band. We were making records in our living room; we were doing jug-band songs and mountain music.

“We were learning a lot when we made that record, especially about how to make records—how to play a song in a studio and these little things, like not playing as hard as you think you need to play, what the editing process is all about, and all of those things that go into making a record.”

Watson said he has a deep appreciation for Pappy and Harriet’s.

“People can go to the Hollywood Bowl, and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is a huge show with this prestigious band. They’re really far away from me, and I’m all the way in the back. I don’t feel connected in this situation.’ … Pappy and Harriet’s (is) a room with so much character and a setting with so much beauty, and being out in the desert like that, it’s got a vibe of its own. All of those things combined make for a good time for everybody.”

Willie Watson will perform with Bedouine at 9 p.m., Friday, Sep. 29, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real may be the luckiest band in America.

Make no mistake: The band, helmed by a son of Willie Nelson, has made a name for itself, in part, by playing excellent modern country music. However, the band has been blessed to back Neil Young (even during his performances at Desert Trip last year), and recently filmed scenes as Bradley Cooper’s backing band in the upcoming remake of A Star Is Born.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real will be performing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Sept. 30.

During a recent phone interview, I learned right away that Lukas Nelson prefers to let the music do the talking: It wound up being one of the toughest and least-insightful interviews I’ve ever done. His bus had just arrived at a tour stop, and he seemed irritated; everything I asked him about was “great,” or he didn’t want to answer the question.

On the subject of participating in the remake of A Star Is Born, he sounded somewhat excited.

“It was great. I loved the experience of it and would do it again,” Nelson said. “I think Bradley did a great job, and so did Lady Gaga.”

Nelson hesitated when I asked him what it was like working with Lady Gaga.

“It was great. She’s a good friend; she’s a beautiful musician; and she’s a nice person,” he said.

Neil Young is like family to the young Nelson, so it makes sense to have Promise of the Real backing him.

“It’s been great, and it’s been a wonderful experience. He’s a great mentor, and I can’t say enough amazing things about it, to tell you the truth,” Nelson said.

I asked Nelson if this could be one of the greatest times to be a country musician, considering the budding underground country scene and the big mainstream scene. He responded, simply: “Sure, you could say that,” so I asked him what songwriters he currently likes in country music.

“Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Margo Price, Nikki Lane and Nicki Bluhm. There a lot of good ones out there,” he responded.

I asked Nelson where he finds himself within country music. That proved to be a mistake.

“That’s a question I don’t want to answer or really care about,” he replied. “If you don’t mind me saying, that’s a question for writers and not for musicians. I’m not looking to where I fit in anywhere. I’m just playing music.”

It was more of the same when I asked him about his band’s just-released, self-titled album: “A lot of great music on there,” he said.

When I asked him what his favorite studio is to record in, he mentioned three places in Austin, as if I were asking for suggestions on places to personally record.

Finally, I asked him about Pappy and Harriet’s. For once, he didn’t use the word “great.”

“I love the vibe there. I like it out in Joshua Tree, and it’s beautiful out in that area,” he said. “I really like the feeling there.”

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

In the early ’80s, REO Speedwagon dominated the radio waves.

Songs such as “Keep on Loving You,” “Take It on the Run” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” brought REO Speedwagon fame and success—and the band continues to ride the popularity of those hits today. REO Speedwagon has teamed up with Styx for several tours across the country; the band also toured with Def Leppard last year. The group even recently recorded a song with Pitbull, “Messin’ Around.”

You can catch REO Speedwagon at Morongo Casino Resort Spa on Friday, Sept. 29.

During a recent phone interview with bassist Bruce Hall, he said he couldn’t remember how many days this year the band has been on the road.

“In this band, we don’t really stop touring. We just take little breaks,” he said with a laugh. “We don’t like to take too many days off. We do have families and like to spend time with them, so we try to go out no more than two weeks at a time. We do take off the dates around the holidays, and we’re usually home at Christmas. Sometimes we’re playing on New Year’s Eve, but most of the time, we’re on the road working, and I think we’re pretty lucky to be able to keep going.”

REO Speedwagon remains in high demand, a fact Hall attributed to not only the music, but also the band’s reputation for good live shows.

“I honestly think (audiences) love the music, and we spend a lot of time writing and putting together our music,” he said. “I also think the people who know us and keep coming back see that we have a lot of fun. For grown men, this is a hell of a way to make a living. We still act like a bunch of kids. When you strap on a guitar, you feel like you’re 17 again sometimes. We enjoy each other’s company, and I think people see that. We try to include everyone in the show, and Kevin (Cronin, the front man) does a good job of that and talks to the audience to make them feel comfortable.”

REO Speedwagon formed in 1967, but it wasn’t until the late ’70s that the band’s popularity took off—after the members changed how they wrote and performed.

“When I joined the band, my first album in 1978 was You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish, and there was a new idea among the guys to try to get songs on the radio,” he said. “We were really trying hard to write songs that were better, because before, the band was doing good songs and had extended jam parts in them—things that weren’t really friendly to AM radio, and were more friendly toward FM radio and college radio; we were trying to get to the AM crowd more. We started writing our songs to where they weren’t over five minutes long, and (we started) being better craftsmen of our music. We were trying a tougher sound at that time with hard rock. When we released Hi Infidelity in 1980, everything took off like a rocket. I think we were ready for it, but not really ready for it.”

On July 13, 1985, Bob Geldof organized the Live Aid concert, largely a two-venue event from Philadelphia at JFK Stadium, and London at Wembley Stadium; concerts at other locations around the world were also held to raise money for the victims of famine in Ethiopia. REO Speedwagon was on the bill for the show.

“Live Aid was a great experience. We got a chance to play in Philadelphia, and it was in the early morning,” Hall said. “It was crazy. We had just gotten there, and we had flown all night to get there. … Things were a bit chaotic, but they had a handle on it and had a rotating stage to where they were setting up one band on one side, with a band playing to the crowd on the other. It was a lot of fun, and it was over real fast. We just got started, and it was done. We had another gig to get to that night. We’re still like that; we never stop playing.”

Hall said REO Speedwagon has a number of younger people in its audiences, and the members realize how fortunate they are to keep reaching younger generations.

“There are a lot of younger people, and they know the words to all the songs, too; it’s amazing,” he said. “I think their parents raised them listening to this music, or they got turned on to it as they became older. …. I think it’s good music, and I know we take a lot of time doing the best job we can, and I really hope that’s why they come back.”

REO Speedwagon has made some new material, but Hall said the band is reluctant to release it at this time.

“It’s much harder these days to find people to play your new record on the radio,” he said. “Maybe they’ll play a song from a new record once or twice, and mostly on adult-contemporary stations. One of the things we learned to do as artists when we were younger to stay competitive was learn how to write good songs. You had to learn how to record. That’s something that doesn’t go away, and we’ve gotten better at it than ever, but we don’t know what to do these days with it when we’re done recording it. We don’t want to just throw it out and let it vanish without a chance, so we’re just kind of sitting on it for a while.”

Hall hoped that people who have never seen the band perform live will come out for the show.

“If people have never seen us before, maybe they’ve at least heard of us,” he said. “If they like the music, they should come. They won’t leave disappointed. We take a lot of pride in our live show. For us, traveling around is the hard part; rocking is the easy part.”

REO Speedwagon will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, at Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon. Tickets are $59 to $169. For more information, call 800-252-4499, or visit www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Over the past year, the local band Waxy seemingly disappeared.

Recently, Waxy has resurfaced by playing a couple of shows. The band will also be playing at the Desert Stars festival at Pappy and Harriet’s, which takes place Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert, Waxy frontman Robbie Waldman discussed the band’s inactivity.

“You could make the argument that we’re still kind of inactive,” Waldman said. “I’m always writing songs. Waxy has had a lot of people who have been in and out over the years. We started in 2006, and it’s sort of been our Achilles’ heel: We get some momentum; we do some really cool things; and then it comes to a screeching halt. I had a recording studio for 20 years that is now closed. It’s been back to basics.

“Damien (Lautiero) and Jeff (Bowman) have kids and families, which I don’t. I have a girlfriend and regular life duties. So we’ve been hibernating, but we have a new record coming out. Our new record should have been out a while ago. We’re pretty excited about it. I’ve been working on the artwork for it, and I’m working with a talented artist named Rick Rodriguez, who I call ‘The Ricker.’”

Waldman said that although Waxy has released records and has toured around the world, the band still faces challenges.

“We’re fiercely independent and have been since the beginning. We don’t have a record deal, but we’ve come close a few times,” he said. “We’ve been writing songs and working on our live performances, and we always have cool ideas. We have a bunch of things (for live performances) that we haven’t debuted yet, mostly because none of us have a fucking van. We come in three separate cars all the time.”

Waldman talked about closing the recording studio he owned, Unit A Recording and Art.

“That was my second location. It was formerly Monkey Studios,” he said. “They made great records there before my time under that roof. Queens of the Stone Age made their first record there. Fu Manchu made a record there. Brant Bjork made a record there. Ian Astbury of The Cult made a solo record there, and there were very few places like that in the desert. I was in there for a long time, and I did a lot of really fun stuff in there. Solange Knowles came in; Brian Setzer came in; Fatso Jetson came in; Brant Bjork came in a couple of times. The Righteous Brothers came in, and John Garcia as well. I miss having it, but at the same time, I think it was time to try something else.”

One of the last projects Waldman got to work on with Unit A was former Kyuss frontman John Garcia’s acoustic record, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues.

“(John Garcia) is a close personal friend, and he’s such an undeniable talent,” Waldman said. “I only have nice things to say about that man. Waxy has been able to tour with Kyuss Lives! and his solo band. He’s a real brother in arms.”

Waldman said the biggest challenge for him regarding Waxy’s future involves expectations.

“We’re just a bar band now, and we have been for a while,” he said. “We haven’t really been out on the road since 2014. Even that was very short and expensive. I’m just happy playing with my friends. I’m not downplaying anything. I love playing at The Hood Bar and Pizza and other places we get to play, and I’m very honored to be playing Desert Stars. Traveling and tours are expensive, and we’re fiercely independent. I love playing music with Damian and Jeff. We have occasional guests who come through as far as the record is concerned, and a cast of characters who we enjoy the recording process with. In the end, we do it because we love it and have a good time doing it. I still hope for more, and I’m working toward more, but for right now, we’re just enjoying it.”

Waldman talked about the new Waxy material that is on the way.

“It’s been done for a while,” he said. “The songs are mixed, and the 16 songs we recorded are trimmed down to 11. I have a mastering session set up, and I’m working on getting the artwork finished. I wanted it to be done before Desert Stars, but definitely before the end of the year.”

As for Desert Stars, Waldman has one person in particular to thank for Waxy’s inclusion.

“The main reason were playing is thanks to Robyn Celia, who is one of the owners of Pappy and Harriet’s,” he said. “She put a good word into the promoter, and he said, ‘No problem.’ I really owe our participation to her.”

The Desert Stars Festival runs Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $29 to $59 for a one-day pass, or $99 for a weekend pass. For passes or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.desertstarsfestival.com.

When Garbage released its first self-titled album in 1995, it helped launch a career that has so far resulted in 17 million albums sold.

The band will be stopping by Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday, Sept. 15.

Started by famed music producer Butch Vig, bassist/keyboardist Duke Erikson and guitarist Steve Marker out of the legendary Smart Studios in Madison, Wis., the group eventually encountered Scottish singer Shirley Manson—and the rest is history.

During a recent phone interview, Vig said Garbage was quite different from the typical guitar/bass/drums bands that were dominating the radio in the 1990s.

“Personally, I felt a lot of pressure when our debut album came out, because everyone expected it to sound grungy like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins,” Vig said. “Quite frankly, I lost interest in guitar/bass/drums and was looking into samplers to bring ways to paint sonic textures and colors in the studio.

“That first record still sounds quite strange to me, and it definitely has a vibe. It caught people by surprise at the time in the way we sort of married the technology with analog tape, using samplers and old-school recording, and also bringing in electronic and hip-hop beats with fuzzy guitars and pop melodies. It stuck out, and we were very lucky that we had songs on there that caught people’s attention. That was a big record for us, but I felt a lot of pressure before it came out, because if it would have flopped, I’d be the one standing there looking bad for it. I’m glad it worked out. We all are, because we’re still standing here after 20 years.”

Garbage was selected to perform the theme song for the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. The song ranks high on lists of James Bond themes; Grantland ranked it No. 2 behind Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger.”

“It was pretty incredible. Shirley got a call one day to go meet with David Arnold, who is the composer who was doing the scores for the Bond films at that point,” Vig said. “He asked her if she wanted to sing for the Bond film, and of course she freaked out and said, ‘Oh my God! Yes! But I want my band. I don’t want it to just be Shirley Manson; I want it to be Garbage.’ They were over the moon to invite us all to record it. It was hard logistically, because we were on tour, and we had to squeeze in recording days on our days off, and … the film company gets a tax credit if they keep it within the Queen’s district: It had to be in England, Canada or Australia, or places like that. We went back to England to record, or we flew into Canada when we were in the States for a day or two to record.

“We’ve been playing that in the shows lately, and it’s been going down great. It’s one of those things, and we’ll always have that. It’s an amazing thing to be involved in something that iconic, and personally, I rank ours up there really high. We tried really hard to make the song sound like a Bond theme, so there are musical elements in there that are reminiscent of the old John Barry scores, and it still sounds like Garbage.”

Garbage’s third album, Beautiful Garbage, came out just a couple of weeks after Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was a horrible time. It completely caught everyone off guard,” Vig said. “What happened is the record labels stopped doing singles promotion; they stopped doing really any kind of promotion. They were taking bands off the radio like Jimmy Eat World, who had a song called ‘Bleed American.’ … Everyone was extremely sensitive. We were scheduled a few days after that to fly to Europe to do press, and first we said, ‘We should cancel it.’ But we didn’t want to cancel it, because that’s what terrorism does to you—it tries to disrupt your life. We flew to England and Europe and did a week-long press tour for the record, and it was a terrible time, because we didn’t want to talk about the record, and neither did the journalists; we just wanted to talk about what was going on politically. It was tough, and because of that, right out of the gates on that record, we felt we had a black cloud hanging over our heads.

“But the industry at that time was changing. Whether Sept. 11 would have happened or not, people’s tastes were shifting, leading from the ’90s into the start of the next decade. We’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and that was a pretty low moment.”

Vig has produced artists including Nirvana, AFI, Green Day, Sonic Youth and many others.

“Garbage is our band. I get to produce; I get to write; I get to play drums, guitar and keyboards; and I can order dinner with wine. We have our own little clique. I like being in a band, and it’s a different mentality,” Vig said. “We’re on tour right now, and the shows are going great, but I really like being in the studio. That’s my first love. Whether it’s producing someone else or being in the studio with Garbage, I’m a studio rat.”

Garbage recently toured with Blondie.

“It was fantastic. It was like a traveling summer camp where these two iconic strong female front women dominated the stage every night,” Vig said. “Debbie Harry is an amazing singer, and Blondie is in peak form; they sounded killer every night. I’m a drummer, and I got to watch Clem Burke play drums every night. He’s like Keith Moon—he’s badass. Shirley is in great form, and we’ve seen at the shows where half of the audiences are female, and there are a lot of young women there. One of the reasons they came to the shows was to watch these two outspoken and iconic singers. Blondie dominated the radio in the ’80s, and Garbage did the same in the ’90s, and we’re both still bringing it every night. That’s inspiring to a younger generation of women.”

Garbage will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $59. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Hang in there, because summer is almost over. The kids are back in school; it’s starting to feel a little bit like season; and there are plenty of great shows to see.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full list of September events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, former Traffic frontman Steve Winwood will be performing. Traffic is one of the most iconic British rock bands from the ’60s—and Winwood is a legend. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, it’ll be like rain on your wedding day, a free ride when you’ve already been paid, and the good advice you didn’t take when Alanis Morissette stops by. Alanis has had a fascinating career, going from You Can’t Do That on Television to a period as of the biggest pop-stars of the ’90s. Plus, it’s kinda weird that “You Oughta Know” is most likely about her tumultuous relationship with Full House star Dave Coulier. Tickets are $49 to $109. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, get ready to rock when Tom Jones takes the stage. Yeah … that Tom Jones. Does “It’s Not Unusual” ring any bells? Random factoid: I’m booking a series of shows at The Hood Bar and Pizza, and I asked Charlie Ellis, frontman of local band Mighty Jack, if he would be interested in playing that night. His response: He couldn’t, because he was going to see Tom Jones. Tickets are $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is offering a couple of events that will heat up your September. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15, Styx (right) will be returning to the Coachella Valley. The band just put out a new album titled The Mission—and fans are loving it. Former frontman Dennis DeYoung still is hoping for a reunion, but the band members have seemingly raised their middle finger toward that idea. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, Los Tigres del Norte will be performing. Los Tigres del Norte is just as successful as Metallica—only in Latin music; the band has sold 30 million records. That’s pretty impressive! Tickets are $65 to $115. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has some fun shows on Saturdays this month. Norteño music legends Ramon Ayala y su Bravos del Norte will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16. Tickets are $35 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, it’ll be the night of the Latin Kings of Comedy, with Manny Maldonado, Joey Medina, Jackson Purdue and headliner Paul Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a huge name in Latin comedy, and he’s appeared in numerous films. He’s probably best remembered for his performances in Born in East L.A. and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, get ready for a night of soul with Tower of Power (below). Despite some hardships, the band still lives on, and is known for fantastic live shows. Tickets are $20 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Beyond the nearly sold-out Thunder From Down Under show (Sept. 8) and the REO Speedwagon concert, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue, Morongo Casino Resort Spa has one more event you won’t want to miss: At 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 10, Bamboo and Morissette Amon will be performing. After watching videos of them doing covers of popular R&B songs such as “What’s Going On” and “Man in the Mirror,” I’ll say this will be a fun Sunday-evening show to take in. Tickets are $50 to $70. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, as always, has a crazy-good calendar. At 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, there will be a fundraiser to help Eagles of Death Metal bassist Brian O’Connor, who is once again battling cancer. On the bill are Chris Goss, Mojave Lords, Mark Lanegan and other special guests. Tickets are $50. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21, local band Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will take the stage. Giselle is one hell of a performer, and she’s always put on a great show when I’ve seen her. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, former Old Crow Medicine Show guitarist and banjo player Willie Watson will be appearing. Watson has been performing solo ever since leaving the band in 2011. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room comes back to life in September after taking a couple of months off. Jazz great Diane Schuur kicks things off on Sept. 1 and 2 with two sold-out shows, but there are tickets available for a lot of other great events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, get ready to swing to ’60s music with Kate Campbell and the Martini Kings. The Martini Kings are no strangers to the Purple Room; the band put on a great Christmas show there last year. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 17, Michael Holmes and the Judy Show will be celebrating 10 Years of Dezart Performs: All of the proceeds will go to our good friends at Dezart Performs, one of the valley’s best theater companies. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Back in the ‘90s, punk-rock fans looked forward to the Warped Tour every year.

Today … not so much. The Warped Tour has evolved and no longer features such an emphasis on punk—and that’s where the It’s Not Dead festival comes in.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino, the second version of the festival took place. Unlike the Warped Tour, the It’s Not Dead festival is a one-day affair—and attendees have to make some tough scheduling decisions. Everyone who is someone in punk rock fills the lineup, and the main stage features most of the best bands, meaning it’s hard to break away to see some of the bands on other stages.

Shortly after the festival opened, Warped Tour/It’s Not Dead founder Kevin Lyman appeared on the main stage, talked briefly for a moment and mentioned that the large stage rotated. One side was named the Gary Tovar Stage, after Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar, and the other side was called the Gabby Gaborno Stage, named after the late Cadillac Tramps front man who passed away after a tough battle with cancer earlier this year. Lyman introduced the first act—Wraths, featuring Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg.

Wraths kicked ass—but many attendees hadn’t yet arrived or were in the parking lot tailgating, meaning they missed one hell of a show. Lindberg’s stage presence and intensity, which has made Pennywise great, was also present in Wraths. Toward the end of the set, Lindberg said the band didn’t know what to play, given they had only recorded a handful of songs and had five minutes left.

The Interrupters, a Los Angeles ska punk band that continues to grow in popularity, played after Wraths, as the crowd size continued to grow. The 100-plus-degree temps didn’t stop the Bivona brothers from wearing their signature white dress shirts, black ties and black pants, while frontwoman Aimee Interrupter was dressed all in black. The Interrupters put out a lot of positive energy, and most of the crowd was dancing, or slam-dancing in the mosh pit. Kevin Bivona declared that It’s Not Dead is his favorite festival, and that he hopes they come back in the future.

After skate-punk band Good Riddance put on a solid and energetic set, GBH followed—like a shot of adrenaline, which led to an even larger mosh pit. The members of the English street punk outfit that formed in the late 1970s might have appeared old, but they were intense. Vocalist Colin Abrahall declared that they were angry old men (in less appealing terms), and their set was brutal. I saw one attendee in a wheelchair go crowd-surfing—but his wheel chair tipped forward, launching him out of it. It wasn’t long before the guy was back in his wheelchair and rocking out on the security barrier.

Later in the day, former Black Flag frontman Keith Morris and his band OFF! put on a fantastic set. He took some time to talk about how he remembered coming to the Glen Helen Amphitheater in the ’90s for OzzFest, saying that the parking lot tailgating resembled what was shown in the ’80s documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, and adding a story about a young woman who said she needed to give blow jobs in the parking lot in order to pay for her ticket.

As early evening set in, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes took the stage dressed in disco outfits. Missing were two regulars—NOFX bassist Fat Mike and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett—with Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley and Face to Face guitarist Scott Shiflett taking their places. Frontman Spike Slawson sounded like he was calling San Bernardino “San Berdina” when he addressed the audience, and he was full of amusing anecdotes, including one about how he had the hots for some guy who also had the hots for him, and that they were busted in a park “finger banging.” One of the highlights of their covers-filled set was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

I decided to venture over to the adjoining Fender stages to catch headlining performances by the U.S. Bombs and Voodoo Glow Skulls. Duane Peters of the U.S. Bombs has received a lot of negative attention as of late due to … well, being Duane Peters. He’s made controversial posts on social media as of late, saying that Tony Hawk was involved in a conspiracy relating to his late son’s death after a car accident, insulting local pro-skateboarder Eddie Elguera, and using homophobic slurs. When the U.S. Bombs went onstage, Duane Peters required the aid of a cane, but quickly put it aside when he began to sing. The U.S. Bombs performed well, but Duane seemed to struggle a bit through the set.

Riverside punk-ska legends Voodoo Glow Skulls have also endured some recent social media controversy, after now-former frontman Frank Casillas reportedly began making pro-Trump posts—upsetting the other two Casillas brothers, bandmates Eddie and Jorge. After Frank Casillas declared during a recent show that he was retiring from the band—an announcement which came as a surprise to the rest of the band—the remaining members recruited Death by Stereo frontman Efrem Schulz to finish out the tour. Voodoo Glow Skulls took the stage to a very large and welcoming audience, and Schulz’s stage presence was extremely high energy. The fans loved it.

Dropkick Murphys and Rancid brought their co-headlining tour to a close on Saturday night at It’s Not Dead. The first quarter of the Murphys’ hour-long set was all older material from their first two albums, including “Barroom Hero,” followed by “Do or Die,” “Never Alone,” “Boys on the Docks,” and “The Gang’s All Here.” The band always delivers a great set, and Rancid’s performance was just as good.

Beyond the music, the festival included a tent featuring artwork, photography and … books? Yes, books. In fact, Jim Lindberg did a book signing in the tent in the afternoon, as did Keith Morris of OFF! and Jack Grisham of TSOL.

“To actually be able to talk to the people that read your books, it’s cool,” Grisham said. “It’s the same thing to me as music. If they read the book and they enjoy it, it means we have a connection. We probably connected somewhere else down the line. I actually like to meet the people who like what I do.”

One of the more interesting selections for sale on Grisham’s table was a children’s book, I Wish There Were Monsters, which was written and illustrated by Grisham.

“It’s about a kid who has all this bravado and wants to fight all these monsters, and talking about all these monsters he wants to fight,” Grisham explained. “At the end of it, he says, ‘Hey, I wish there were monsters, just not tonight.’ He cuddles up in his bed with a cat. It was fun to do something that was laid back, and when I wrote it, it was never planned for release. I wrote it for my kids. I would just Xerox copies and hand them to friends.”

If you’ve never heard of punk-rock cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, you’re missing out on a lot of hilarity.

The San Francisco-based band is fronted by Spike Slawson, of the Swingin’ Utters, who is normally joined by Fat Mike, of NOFX, on bass; Chris Shiflett, of the Foo Fighters, on lead guitar; Joey Cape, of Lagwagon, on rhythm guitar; and Dave Raun, also of Lagwagon, on drums. The band has released some hilarious themed albums, including 2006’s Love Their Country, featuring country songs—covered punk-style, of course.

At It’s Not Dead 2, frontman Spike Slawson was dressed as if he was going to a disco, with white pants and a gold microphone. During an interview, he explained where the band gets its inspiration for albums.

“It’s generally Fat Mike (has an idea), and then we end up chasing our tails to meet some unrealistic expectation or standard,” Slawson said. “I think what we need to do, and what we’re probably going to do, is some 7-inch records here and there—do some AM gold or a German song. People aren’t selling records anymore, anyway, so a 7-inch is a good thing. It’s not super expensive, and people will buy it, and you have songs people are going to want to hear live.”

I made a suggestion that perhaps the band should make an ABBA-themed record.

“Sounds good, but there are already too many ABBA tribute bands,” he said. “That’s already been done, including one that a friend of mine, Chris Dodge of Spazz, put out. That (band was) Bjorn Again. They kinda did it more straight and dressed up, wearing wigs and disco outfits. But I don’t know; we’ll try anything once, as evidenced by our body of work.”

Slawson said that his favorite album is 1999’s Are a Drag, which was the band’s show tunes album.

“It was fun to dress up for it, and I like the way the songs came out,” he said. “I also like the production aesthetic of the record.”

At It’s Not Dead, two of the band’s normal members—Fat Mike and Chris Shiflett—were not present. Slawson explained the absences and the substitutions.

“Mr. Jay Bentley of Bad Religion will be joining us on the bass guitar,” he said. “Sir Scott Shiflett is on lead guitar, and he’s a very accomplished guitar player, so no worries there. It’s pretty much all the Gimmes who you know and love. As long as they know what they’re doing and play the set instead of playing with themselves, it always works out. Chris can usually never do it because he’s always busy. Mike is busy as well. So we work it out.”

Slawson said he enjoys being in a band with Fat Mike.

“I don’t have a word to describe it, but it’s interesting. I’ll put it this way: Ever since this ’90s (punk) resurgence, it’s gotten really white and middle class, and he kind of did a back-turn and flipped that,” Slawson said. “He was kind of one of the figureheads of the middle-class punk movement where everything sounds like it’s a fucking Toyota commercial, and he’s not living that kind of life anymore. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming, but I just see it for what it is—it’s rock ’n’ roll.”

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are planning another live record in the near future.

“We were talking about doing a live record at a quinceañera, just like we did with Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah,” he said, mentioning the band’s 2004 album. “(We’ll make it) more likely down here, though. We have them up in San Francisco, for sure, but they’re always bigger with so many more people down here.” 

I mentioned to Slawson that the Coachella Valley just might be the place for the album, given the quinceañeras here can even run all night.

“Really? Wow. Well, I figure there’s also Orange County, Los Angeles County or Ventura County, but yeah. In someone’s yard or something—I think that would be funny. We can learn and play a bunch of Spanish songs.”

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