Special to Metromix.com
Jan. 17 sees the official release party for the self-titled debut album from Mariachi Static at The Rock. And, no, it’s not a mariachi group, though the music is often acoustic-based.
The indie rock band – Alex Gilblom (singer, rhythm guitar and main songwriter), Bobby Keene (saxophone, bass), Nick Veomett (lead guitar) and Ian T. Montgomery (drums) – has been together a little more than a year. For their first gig, the group competed in the Tucson Acoustic Battle of the Bands in November 2007.
We caught up with Gilblom and Keene via e-mail recently to pick their brains about all things Mariachi Static — how the four factor in school, what inspires the songwriting and how Warren Zevon left an indelible mark.
What was the inspiration for your first album, and how long did it take to record?
Alex: It took about 18 months, since we’re all full-time students. . . . I sort of take over the process and record when I’m free since the studio is in my house. When there’s a space for a guitar solo, I’ll ask Nick to come in and do it since he’s an excellent lead guitarist in the vein of Eric Clapton and George Harrison. I hope our next CD features more of Nick. I’m lucky to be given so much freedom by my bandmates. . . . Life inspired the music. It could be described as somewhat of a downer, but it’s not whiny. Life isn’t always ecstatic and I can’t find it in myself to write things I’m not feeling. . . . The song “It Won’t Kill You” deals with watching my mom go through chemotherapy for breast cancer two years ago. (She survived.) That definitely put me in a bad mood and paved the way for cynical writing like the first two tracks, “Til Bored Do Us Part” and “Newborn Prayer.” . . . The idea is balance, because I appreciate the humor in sounding so happy about something so miserable.
Has MS received positive feedback from fans or venues?
Bobby: Our friend owns a cafe (the Glass Onion) which features music on Fridays and has given us a new audience and they give us great feedback. A lot of positive comments come from them, especially our covers of the Beatles.
Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your songs.
Alex: “Tokyo Rose” is my take on right-wing talk radio. The narrative is sarcastic in tone but comes off as sincere: a left-leaning soldier who keeps hearing Rush Limbaugh (or insert your favorite political commentator here) on the radio saying he’s an idiot for his views while he’s the one out there fighting the war. . . . He’s sarcastically saying, “Yes, you’re right, I have no mind of my own and I’m out here with my gun and my radio and the second “Tokyo Rose” gets on and says I should surrender, I’m going to, because after all, I’m weak and I vote for Democrats.”
Your band got its name from a Warren Zevon tune. Can you explain the song and why you chose to name your group after it?
Alex: I love Warren Zevon. . . . I regret that I never got to see him live. In his song “Carmelita,” he sings achingly to his girlfriend in L.A. about the pain he feels watching his life go down the drain because of his heroin addiction. Part of his first-person narrative is, “I hear mariachi static on my radio/ And the tubes they glow in the dark/And I’m there with her in Ensenada/And I’m here in Echo Park.” It’s beautiful, sad music and I feel as though I write the same way.
With all the members of MS in school, does the band come first? Any rock star dreams?
Alex: Being a rock star means different things now than it used to. . . . Did you know that our own local Tucson band, The Bled, released major-label records and toured internationally for six years but many of their members still have to work full-time day jobs? . . . I guess rich doesn’t go with famous anymore. I would just like to have an audience that appreciates the music and wants more. . . . I’d love to do it full time but there’s probably not enough money in all the local music done in Tucson to support my lifestyle. That’s why I’m getting an engineering degree. My bandmates are all very educated and have high hopes as well for their futures.
What would you say to people who have never heard of your band?
Bobby: To give us a listen. We’re a hardworking band and we’re getting better all the time.
IF YOU GO
What: Mariachi Static CD release party, with Triple Double, John Clark, Tragik Ruins and Kings of Arizona
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave.
Price: $7 in advance (at myspace.com/mariachistatic), $9 at the door
Info: 629-9211, rocktucson.com