JOHN GARCIA - “Keeping Your Eye On The Fucking Ball Is What’s Important”

July 18, 2014, 3 months ago

By Kelley Simms

feature john garcia

JOHN GARCIA - “Keeping Your Eye On The Fucking Ball Is What’s Important”

John Garcia, “The voice of stoner rock,” is mostly known as the original vocalist of seminal stoner rock band Kyuss. He also fronted minor league bands Slo Burn, Unida and just last year, Vista Chino. Currently, Garcia is about to release his first solo album of his career, something he’s wanted to do since he was 18 years old. Kyuss formed in 1991 in Palm Desert, California, Garcia, along with drummer Brant Bjork, guitarist Josh Homme, bassist Nick Oliveri (and later Scott Reeder), laid the groundwork for an entire heavy metal sub genre. Kyuss went on to record four full-length albums before tension between band members involving the direction the music was heading in creeped in and the band split up in 1996. Homme formed Queens Of The Stone Age (Oliveri joined later) while Garcia and Bjork eventually went on to form Kyuss Lives!, playing an assortment of Kyuss material live. For some unanswered reason and seemingly out of the blue, guitarist Homme, along with Reeder, filed a trademark infringement and consumer fraud suit against Garcia for using any part of the Kyuss name. Garcia called it a bully move. In the interview that follows, you’ll hear Garcia’s side of the story, what’s important to him in life, and what these new songs on his first solo album means to him.

 

 

BraveWords: What was the reason for doing a solo album now after just launching Vista Chino not even a year ago?

John Garcia: “Me getting back into music was always my number one priority. I was using Garcia plays Kyuss and Kyuss Lives! to help propel that. What a great stepping stone to let people know to not sweep me under the carpet just yet. it was always a conduit to my solo record. It just so happens that I did not expect to enjoy playing with Brant Bjork so much. It was always again my plight to have that be my stepping stone for the record (Peace). Not Vista Chino really, that was on a side note. I just love playing with Brant and Nick so much and of course Bruno Fevery that we just decided to do it. I fulfilled my commitment. We did a record, we toured the world. We had some commitments that we had to fulfill again and we did that and I moved onto my solo record. And that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

BraveWords: Who did you get to participate on this project?

John Garcia: “Nick Oliveri is on it, the Slo Burn guys are on it; Damon Garrison, Chris Hale. Danko Jones, Robby Krieger of the Doors and Mark Diamond of the Dwarves. This is a collaboration of songs and musicians that I’ve had in mind for 20 years. It’s a big collab of all the songs that I’ve had that I’ve written in my past that didn’t go with Kyuss, or Slo Burn, or Unida. It’s a collection of songs that I’ve had that I’ve held onto that I wanted to release properly.”

BraveWords: Are all these brand new tracks or Vista Chino leftovers?

John Garcia: “That’s the wrong verbiage to use; leftovers. These are songs that mean a lot to me, that I kept in my back pocket for me and me alone. I felt that when I did have these songs, I wouldn’t present them to Kyuss. I wouldn’t present them to Slo Burn. These are my songs. These are songs that meant something to me that I wanted to release on my own. I’ve always wanted to do a solo record ever since I was 18 years old living with Nick Oliveri in north Palm Springs. This is something I’ve always wanted to do. But I put other bands and other people first. Now, I want to do it for me. I love playing music and I want to be able to do it by myself, on my own. Which is exactly what I’m doing. It feels good to be contractually obligated to put something out and say no to everybody else and say yes to me. And that’s what it comes down to; saying yes to something I want to fucking do for the first time. Every one of the guys said to go for it. It’s great to have that support from the guys.”

 

 

BraveWords: Is Vista Chino officially over then?

John Garcia: “I would certainly consider doing another record if it ever comes to that, then we’ll go from there. I think Brant’s really busy, too. He’s going to have a solo record coming out. We’re going to park Vista Chino in the garage for a while and maybe one of these days we’ll take her out for another spin. But right now, we have our hands full with our own solo thing. Vista Chino is not officially broken up, we’re just in an idling, park the car position.”

BraveWords: “Her Bullets Energy” boasts The Doors’s Robby Krieger on the guitar. How’d you get him to participate?

John Garcia: “Through a very close friend of mine and producer of the record, Harper Hug. It was his idea and we decided to reach out. I’ve been a fan of the Doors forever. It was just a matter of asking him. He heard the track, came into the studio with two or three different guitars and started laying down some stuff. It was a great experience, one I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. To have him play on the record is phenomenal.”

BraveWords: Were there any instructions you had to lay out for Robbie?

John Garcia: “No, no. When you’re Robbie Krieger, I don’t think you need any instruction at all. We were just hoping to have him do whatever he felt. We knew it was an acoustic guitar piece, but on the flip side, we had one of his engineers come in, a guy by the name of Michael Dumas. He brought this old Strat. Robbie wanted to play a little bit of electric on it as well, which was a complete surprise to us. But you can hear a little bit of flavor in there. It was just a great experience and there was no instruction. He’s Robby Krieger. I wouldn’t say one fucking word to Robbie about what I think I’m hearing. We knew we heard almost Spanish guitar. There was that verbiage, ‘This is what we hear, but we want to know what you hear.’ And that’s all it took.”

 

 

BraveWords: The cover art is mesmerizing and very fitting. Who was the artist and who came up with the concept?

John Garcia: “The artist of the ram itself is a gentleman by the name of Sam Yong. He’s based in Melbourne Australia. And the basic layout and additional artwork was done by Jared Conner. It was his idea to superimpose the ram over an open desert road. There were many ideas tossed around but I knew this was it when I saw it. I gave them some general direction, but Jared came up with a great concept that fit me perfectly.”

BraveWords: Was Napalm Records a comfortable fit for your solo album since they had released Vista Chino’s Peace and you already had an established relationship?

John Garcia: “They were. The relationship between myself and my liaisons over at the record company have been great. You have to give and take. If they don’t like something, they tell me about it. I don’t get upset about it. We’ll work it out and do something we like mutually. There’s always going to be spots you have to iron out. How you deal with them is obviously important. You can’t fly off the handle like maybe I once used to do. They’ve been very outgoing and it’s nice to know that a company cares. That’s what I like about them. They all have an equal passion to release a great product. It’s great to have the backing and support of Napalm. Some artists and some bands are at constant war with labels, and maybe they’re for good reason. But for me, I’ve been very lucky and fortunate that everybody over there really cares about the project.”

BraveWords: So I can’t let you go without asking you a Kyuss question. Was the lawsuit brought on by Homme and Reeder a head scratcher? Meaning, what brought it on all of a sudden?

John Garcia: “It was a head scratcher, and you just have to move on. With that being said and how you move on, is when you see drama coming, you turn around and you leave, you bail. I don’t want anything to do with drama. That (situation) was two kids, one of them being a fucking bully poking a stick at the other kid on the other side of the fence. That’s all that shit was. I don’t do that. Again, if I see drama coming, I turn the other way and bail. My life’s much easier. You’ve got to keep your eye on the ball. What’s important here? It’s not the name. It’s not even the music, it’s not even the band. What’s important is my family. I just got back from fishing with my son. We spent three days up in the mountains. That’s what’s important. Keeping your eye on the fucking ball is what’s important. Everything else and the lawsuit and the drama is not important at all. I’m so glad that’s out from underneath me. I’ll still say it and I say it to this day, that I’m very fortunate to have played with such great musicians in the past. And that includes Scott Reeder, he was one of the one’s who sued me. That includes Josh Homme. It’s just drama. It’s high school bullshit, so I turn around and leave. And it’s uncalled for, it’s unnecessary, and I’m not that person to respond. I’m going to continue to play Kyuss songs. That’s my God-given right. They can never take that away from me and I plan to do so. It’s me keeping my eye on the ball, which is my family. I’m not pussy whipped by any means, but they allow me to do what I do. They’re the unsung heroes here; my daughter, my son and my wife. It’s great to have the support of your family when you’re doing this. My life is better that way.”

BraveWords: What’s your future plans?

John Garcia: “I have things planned up until the end of next year (2015). Right now were in rehearsal. In September we go over to Australia. November/December we do a big European tour. January/February we go back over to Australia and add New Zealand in that run. Before the summer, I’d like to do a US west coast/east coast run. That’s pending. Next year we’re going to be doing the summer festival run in Europe again for a month. We get back from that and we do another John Garcia record and then we’ll probably start the cycle all over again. That’s the plan anyway. We’re nailing it down one by one and we’re just going to keep on working and playing as long as my voice lets me. We’ll see how far we go.”

Check out an album preview below:

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