Interview with John Garcia: An Emphasis on Creation

Posted in Features on August 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

In talking to John Garcia about his self-titled solo debut, the one thing that seemed to keep coming across was a central appreciation for the process of creation, the actual making of the album. It couldn’t have been easy to put together. Released by Napalm last month, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) utilizes just one drummer, Tom Brayton, and of course just one singer, but a slew of guitarists and bassists, among them members of Garcia‘s own past outfits, including Slo Burn and Hermano, whose guitarist, Dave Angstrom, was also an essential part of the creative process. The songs come from decades of demos and penned-out pieces stuffed in a cardboard box in Garcia‘s closet, and after talking about a solo project for years, it’s fitting it should come together around material he’s lived with this whole time.

Likely I don’t need to rattle off the list of bands for which Garcia has served as frontman, but I will anyway because it’s fun: KyussSlo BurnUnidaHermano, as well as countless guest spots live and recorded. He was one of two Kyuss members whose tenure spanned the entire length of the band, and no less essential to crafting their influence on desert rock than was guitarist Josh Homme or fellow Kyuss songwriter Brant Bjork, with whom Garcia reunited for last year’s Vista Chino full-length outing, Peace (review here), which, like John Garcia, was recorded at Thunder Underground Studios in the California desert with producer Harper Hug. His voice is like an unmistakable signature — a gritty, stomach-tightened soul that bursts from a subdued croon at a syllable’s notice — but on the album, it’s as much about the songwriting itself as what Garcia is doing vocally, and both impress.

And with an assortment of players involved, John Garcia also manages to sound cohesive and fluid from front to back, opener “My Mind” starting the record with one of its grandest hooks and setting the stage for a progression varied but never derailed, even as the fast-rolling “All These Walls” gives way to acoustic closer “Her Bullets Energy,” which is distinguished by a guest appearance by The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. For someone who’s long-since cast his legacy in stone with his vocal style and not his songwriting, it’s a particularly bold venture, but Garcia thrives on the new ground, and if his passion in realizing this material is anything to go by, a second solo outing may not be far off. He gives some hints in that regard as well.

For fans of Vista Chino, they’ll find that band on hold while Garcia and Bjork pursue their solo outfits and Mike Dean returns to C.O.C., who are also touring and have an album out. Garcia has put together a live group with whom he’ll tour much of the next year, including guitarist Ehren Groban of War Drum, and bassist Mike Pygmie and drummer Greg Saenz of desert-dwellers You Know Who. In the interview that follows, Garcia talks about transitioning out of Vista Chino and forming this new band, as well as assembling the songs and players for the record, his time in the studio and the prospect of touring a set spanning his illustrious career.

Full Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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John Garcia, John Garcia: The Time was Right

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Over the last two-plus decades, John Garcia‘s voice has set the standard for the sound of the California desert. His work in genre-progenitors Kyuss speaks for itself — loudly, and with much fuzz — and subsequent outfits UnidaSlo BurnHermano and more guest appearances than one can count have kept his presence steady in the international underground he played an essential role in forging, and his first solo outing, John Garcia, arrives via Napalm Records following a run with the semi-Kyuss reunion outfit Vista Chino, which ultimately brought together Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork with guitarist Bruno Fevery and Corrosion of Conformity bassist Mike Dean to tour the world in support of their 2013 outing, Peace (review here), after a couple years prior on the road as Kyuss Lives!, that project born out of Garcia‘s own Garcia Plays Kyuss, which launched at the 2010 Roadburn festival. In some ways, the album John Garcia is an extension of Vista Chino, particularly in terms of Garcia‘s performance and in terms of the production. An 11-track/45-minute full-length, material was culled from years of Garcia‘s own tapes, freshly arranged by the singer with some input by Hermano guitarist Dave Angstrom, and brought to bear by producer Harper Hug at Thunder Underground, the same studio where Peace was recorded. However, since some of the source material for these songs is older, and because there are a variety of players appearing throughout, from The DoorsRobbie Krieger on acoustic-led closer “Her Bullets Energy” to Danko JonesAngstrom himself, Nick Oliveri and The Dwarves‘ Mark Diamond and Tom Brayton, there’s also no shortage of diversity in the sound.

That being the case, John Garcia ran a pretty hefty risk in the making of coming across disjointed, but the consistency in the production and of course the focus element of Garcia‘s voice tie tracks together neatly, the album opening with its biggest chorus in “My Mind,” a track that immediately casts the wide-open spaces in which the rest of the songs will take place. Those familiar with his work will hear shades of various Garcia-fronted bands throughout the album, from the Slo Burn-style rush of later cut “Saddleback” to the Vista Chino-esque bounce of “Rolling Stoned,” a cover of Canadian trio Black Mastiff which undercuts some of its laid-back vibe with the opening lyrical threat, “If you leave me, I will kill you.” Nonetheless, “Rolling Stoned” follows “My Mind” as part of a strong opening salvo that continues through “Flower” and “The Blvd” and “5,000 Miles” to proffer memorable hooks, compressed but warm tones and an engaging presence from Garcia, who departs from the post-lawsuit bitterness that comprised much of the thematic of the Vista Chino offering to tell more of a story, as on “The Blvd” or the following “5,000 Miles,” which resounds as a classic coming-home song set to a particularly effective riff, somewhat more open than the first four cuts, but still largely consistent in pace and quality. Truth be told, though the mood changes somewhat along the way, there really isn’t a point where John Garcia falls into clunker-ism. And neither should there be. This project was years in the making and even more years in the discussing, and with Garcia‘s experience in the studio and on stage, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that if something wasn’t working toward the benefit of the album, it would be discarded. Over repeat listens, John Garcia begins to give that impression — not of being a confessional, exactly, in the way that some “solo albums” are, but of being carefully constructed selections chosen to represent this singer and his songwriting process.

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John Garcia Reveals Album Art and Release Dates for Solo Debut

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The PR wire doesn’t take long in confirming the release dates for former Kyuss, Slo Burn, Hermano, etc., and current Vista Chino and Unida frontman John Garcia‘s forthcoming solo debut. Napalm Records will have the disc out in Europe at the end of July and North America/Australia early in August, and along with that little calendar-worthy nugget, the cover for the album, which is self-titled, has also been revealed, with a touch of ram to go with the desert landscape. Looks pretty good from where I sit.

A Garcia solo-project is something that’s been sort of hinted and bandied about for probably over a decade. As early as 1998, a John Garcia solo track called “To Believe” appeared on the Welcome to MeteorCity compilation (discussed here) that served as that label’s introduction, and while obviously there’s nothing to say it would be at all representative of what might show up on the album John Garcia some 16 years later, it goes to show how long this idea has been in the works. Last I heard, Garcia was looking to tour the project as well, which opens up interesting prospects for who might show up in his solo band. Not sure on the level of involvement of The DoorsRobby Krieger, if he plays guitar on the whole album or just one song, but he hardly seems like a bad cat to have around.

Here’s how it is:

JOHN GARCIA Unveils Release Dates & Album Artwork From His Upcoming Solo Release!

Long seethed in the rumor mill of the stoner rock community, but now it’s official: On August 1st 2014 in USA/CAN & August 8th 2014 in Australia/New Zealand the highly expected solo album John Garcia by JOHN GARCIA (Ex-KYUSS, VISTA CHINO) is set to be released via Napalm Records. A few weeks ago the Desert Rock mastermind unveiled the news about his solo debut and also that the phenomenal musician Robby Krieger (THE DOORS) plays guitar on the album.

Release Dates:
Europe: 25.07
Australia/New Zealand: 01.08
USA/CAN 05.08

For More Info Visit:
https://www.facebook.com/JohnGarciaOfficial

John Garcia, “To Believe” (1998)

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Friday Full-Length: Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley (1994)

Yeah, I know. It’s technically self-titled. But you know, sometimes majority rule renames a record. The White Album was self-titled too, and I consider Welcome to Sky Valley no less pivotal in the influence it’s had in the two decades since its release — the 20th anniversary is June 28, wanna have a party? — bands around the world picking up the elements of what would become desert rock largely in this album’s wake. Kyuss‘ legacy is ongoing in Vista Chino and Queens of the Stone Age and all the groups who’ve taken cues from these tracks, presented in three distinct movements (plus a goofy “bonus” cut), but Welcome to Sky Valley, like any monument, is cast in stone.

Seems like overkill to rant about how great it is. If you’d like more, it’s in the Canon of Heavy, and was voted number one on the list of the Best Stoner Rock Records of All Time in the poll taken here a little while back. I feel like there are very few things that can be universally agreed upon, and Welcome to Sky Valley is one of them. If you’re on this site, reading this sentence, even if you don’t actually press play and listen to the thing, on some level you can probably get into it. At least that’s the hope.

So, today was my last day as editor of The Aquarian, which if you didn’t know was the last dayjob from which I hadn’t been laid off. I’m now completely unemployed.

The last couple days I’ve spent applying for different jobs, editor gigs, corporate gigs, one or two public sector deals. Nothing back yet, obviously, but I hear that’s how it goes. It’s been a pretty downer week, to be honest. My boss told me he wanted to talk on Monday and then blew me off until Tuesday. That’s right. I got blown off from getting fired. Imagine how little what you do means when that happens. All of a sudden I was Milton from Office Space. Except he still got a paycheck.

Welcome to Sky Valley is the blanket I’ve pulled over my head. At least it’s warm. I also thought I was getting pinkeye last night, though that seems to have abated.

Things are lookin’ up!

Like I said the last time I lost a job, I don’t know what the future holds for me, this site or anything else. If anyone knows of any professional opportunities, my resumé is here. I’m open to anything.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Brant Bjork

Posted in Questionnaire on January 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Brant Bjork is the godfather of desert rock. As drummer and co-songwriter in Kyuss, he anchored some of the thickest and most influential grooves the world has ever known. Landmark albums like 1992’s Blues for the Red Sun and 1994’s Welcome to Sky Valley are not only genre staples, but have become the measure by which the bulk of the desert-influenced heavy is measured. Ceaselessly creative, Bjork joined Fu Manchu, whose 1994 debut he co-produced, for their The Action is Go, Eatin’ Dust, King of the Road and California Crossing albums between 1997 and 2001, also putting out the cult hit Sounds of Liberation with the short-lived Ché trio in 2000 and in that same period embarking on a solo career that to-date has resulted in 10 albums, 1999’s debut, Jalamanta, setting the course with what would become a signature blend of funk, soul, punk and heavy rock.

Bjork joined former Kyuss bandmates John Garcia and Nick Oliveri in Kyuss Lives! in late 2010, and after a lawsuit and name change (more on that in this interview), Vista Chino emerged to release one of 2013’s best albums in the form of Peace (review here) on Napalm Records, the touring cycle for which will take the lineup of Bjork, Garcia, guitarist Bruno Fevery and bassist Mike Dean (also of C.O.C.) to Australia’s Big Day Out this month. A funk-influenced instrumental solo album, Jakoozi, was also mixed last summer and is expected for a 2014 release.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Brant Bjork

How did you come to do what you do?

I was born with a genuine love of music. Growing up, discovering The Ramones and punk rock in general, gave me the courage to try playing music myself. It turned out I had some natural talent as well as a strong conviction to continue doing the thing I love most.

Describe your first musical memory.

When I was a little kid, I had this Fisher Price record player that my mom gave me, along with a stack of 45s. One day I went through the stack and picked one because of the attractive orange and yellow label. It was the Capitol Records label and it was a Beatles 45. It had “Help” on side 1 and “I’m Down” on the B-side. I put it on and John Lennon began to scream “help!” at me through the tiny little speaker. It scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know music could, would or even should sound like that.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

September 18, 1987. It was the first real concert outside of the desert I ever saw. The Ramones, in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Palladium, I was 14 years old. It was also Dee Dee Ramone’s birthday that night and to make things super rad, my first son, Swan, was born on September 18, 2010!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I always had a firm belief that The Stooges, the MC5 and The Ramones were the most radical bands of their time and they were releasing the best and most influential records of their time as well. This belief was tested after I bought and listened to the release of Death’s record, For the Whole World to See… a record that was recorded in 1974 but shelved until its release in 2009. This record is so good; I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. It’s almost hard to imagine what might have happened to rock and roll music, or even music in general had this record came out and the band had evolved. Unbelievable.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

For me, there is no destination for an artist. I would define artistic progression as a journey of experiencing your life as one of creativity. If you’re a genuine artist I think it simply leads to more art.

How do you define success?

To me, success is the result of looking at your current life situation and not having to wonder how the hell you got there.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

While on tour last month, I battled some boredom by watching the Star Wars sequel, Attack of the Clones. Holy moly. Super bummer. George Lucas should be ashamed of himself. And I thought Return of the Jedi was bad.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Even though I’m a musician and music is a part of my daily life, I find myself spending a lot of my time thinking about stories. About five years ago I started studying and practicing screenplay writing. I write a lot when I’m on tour… so much time on planes and buses, etc. I have a dream of creating and finishing a rad screenplay and having it picked up for a feature movie. I wouldn’t mind directing the movie as well but you know…. one dream at a time.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

A night without the kids and a nice romantic dinner with my wife at our favorite Italian restaurant in Santa Monica.

Vista Chino, “Sweet Remain” official video

Brant Bjork’s website

Vista Chino on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott Reeder

Posted in Questionnaire on December 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There are very few in or around heavy rock in any of its iterations who can boast a resumé to rival that of Scott Reeder. As bassist in Across the River with Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson), Mark Anderson and Alfredo Hernandez (later Kyuss), he took part in one of the formative moments of desert rock, and would later reinforce its ascent in Kyuss, playing on their seminal final two albums only after joining with Scott “Wino” Weinrich in the revitalized The Obsessed for their 1991 outing, Lunar Womb. He played on Unida‘s unreleased masterpiece, joined Goatsnake for the 2004 Trampled Under Hoof EP, and released a solo record, TunnelVision Brilliance, in 2006, all the while making a name for himself as a recording engineer and producer for the likes of Orange Goblin, SunnO))), Whores of TijuanaThe Freeks and Sixty Watt Shaman – later also recording in his Sanctuary Studio in the desert with Karma to Burn, Black Math Horseman, Sonic Medusa, Dali’s Llama and Blaak Heat Shujaa, among many others. His vocal contribution to “Garden Sessions III” from Yawning Sons‘ 2009 debut, Ceremony to the Sunset, remains a high point of that album.

In 2013, he found chart success contributing bass to the single “From Can to Can’t” on the Sound City: Real to Reel soundtrack to Dave Grohl‘s Sound City documentary, and in November he made his debut with Sun and Sail Club on their first outing, Mannequin, adding his bass to the guitar of Bob Balch and the drums of (a different) Scott Reeder, both of Fu Manchu.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott Reeder

How did you come to do what you do?

It’s in my blood — all four of my Grandparents have been musicians. My parents played music together before I was even born… so it’s always been a big part of my life. I’ve had a few non-musical detours in my life, but I always seem to gravitate back to being in or around it.

Describe your first musical memory.

My Grandparents on my Mom’s side would have jazz jam sessions at their house a lot when I was very young. My Grandpa is still one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen, but I would always be drawn to the bass amp, and I’d sit right in front of that amp for hours, feeling that thump, and hearing the walking bass lines weaving through the music. That guy’s name was Sid Fridkin — I was always amazed at how he knew the perfect “weird” notes to throw in.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I would have to say jamming in the Across the River days, around 1985 and ’86, with Mario Lalli and Alfredo Hernandez. We were really just starting out, and loved playing, and began getting better and better at expressing ourselves — it was really exciting to start realizing that we could do anything we set our minds to! Our garage was insulated pretty well and we painted glow in the dark stars all over — we’d jam for hours, exploring every weird little idea that came up… Mario and I both had our future wives, Nana and Renee living there with us, too — it was a magical time. And after our friend Dave Travis introduced us to the generator and we’d played a few crazy parties outside, we discovered it was nice just to go out ourselves into the desert and just jam under the real stars. The best times for me were when we just went out with our very close friends… it was peaceful, and inspiring. Later on, it turned into big parties, and eventually just got out of control. Knives, guns, fires, police… but the early days were pretty fucking awesome.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I had an out-of-body experience when I was 16, when I was fully conscious, before I’d had any sort of mind-altering substance. I was playing trombone with the local college’s jazz band, sight-reading a really tough chart with the band, when I “popped out” — I was looking back at myself from a few feet away, and I could hear every note coming out perfectly, even though I wasn’t conscious whatsoever of reading the music. There was a complete calm, like the quiet of diving under water and not moving… and then I snapped back to struggling through the chart. It seemed perfectly natural when it happened, but when I was waiting afterward for my Mom to pick me up, I realized it was a little weird. I had no idea what had just happened, but I stumbled upon a book a few months later about OBE’s called The Astral Experience, and it documented people trying to reach the experience with LSD. And so that became my next journey at age 16, before I’d even tasted a beer or took a puff off a joint. To this day, that book is on a table in our bathroom for our guests to check out… That initial experience made me believe that our spirit is indeed separate from the body.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I usually don’t have much to write about unless something is really eating at me. I’ve been in the studio singing a few times with tears streaming down my face, but then it gets transformed into something I can embrace — it’s like therapy, I guess. Recording some of them have been pretty painful, but it’s a huge catharsis to get it out, and it feels good when it resonates with a few people. As far as progression goes… I don’t think I’m going to have an epiphany someday on how to write a hit song, or anything. I’ve got all the tools I need to express myself — I suppose the songs will just slowly follow the course of my life over time. I’m not very prolific, but that’s fine — I don’t have a deal with a label breathing down my neck for “product.” I just trickle stuff out on iTunes or whatever… slow motion is fine for me. And I guess that if I only write when things are bugging me… then the fewer times I have to go through the process, the better!

How do you define success?

That’s a tricky one. There are small successes possible every day, striving to be the best you can be at everything you do, whether it be putting down a bass track or raking up some horse shit. Laughing with each other. Enjoying the simple pleasures. Life is in a constant state of flux — at the end, it won’t matter how much money you made, or how many things you acquired. I’ve lived among the rat race, with everyone stepping over each other, not thinking of any consequence to stabbing each other in the back — that’s not the life for me at all. I’ve tried to slow down my life, keeping it as simple as I can, for the most part. There have been some bumps in the road over the last couple of years, but it’s inspired me to focus on what’s important on a deeper level, I think, and I’m still searching. But I think the most important thing we can do, is to do our best to elevate each other.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Well… I guess this is supposed to be an ugly one. After my Mom passed away a couple of months ago, she was laid out on her bed. The coroner was running very late, so it was great to be able to take our time saying goodbyes. However, I was alone in the room about six hours in, and dark fluid started coming out of her mouth — I tried to quickly clean her face so that her husband and his kids and grandchildren and my brother wouldn’t have to see that, but it started streaming out faster than I could wipe it away, as I was desperately trying to keep everyone out of the room. That image will always haunt me. On the positive side, hopefully it helps me to process the reality of her death a little quicker. But, no rush…

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Hmmm… That would be our future swimming pool with a guest cabana and a big patio for barbecues!

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

That would definitely be the next time I take my horse out for a ride. That’s probably the only time I’m really away from music, even though you get completely enmeshed into the rhythm of the horse’s gait. It’s like a meditation, becoming one with the horse — it clears my head and calms me. I should be doing it every day, but I get busy…

Sun and Sail Club, Mannequin (2013)

Scott Reeder’s website

Sun and Sail Club on Thee Facebooks

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Friday Full-Length: Kyuss & Queens of the Stone Age, Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kyuss & Queens of the Stone Age, Split CD (1997)

If Man’s Ruin Records had never put anything else out, the 1997 Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age split would still make them legendary. The end of one era and the beginning of another. Of course, Man’s Ruin did put out a ton of other landmark albums from the likes of Acid King, Dozer, Alabama Thunderpussy and on and on, but to have the last Kyuss tracks and the first Queens of the Stone Age tracks on the same disc gives the split a momentous feel  in hindsight. Josh Homme had put out the Gamma Ray 7″ in ’96, and Queens would go on to include the track “18 A.D.” on Roadrunner RecordsBurn One Up: Music for Stoners compilation (discussed here) in 1998, but the three tracks on this split — “If Only Everything,” “Born to Hula” and “Spiders and Vinegaroons” — were the first to surface under the moniker.

And until John Garcia and Brant Bjork picked back up with Kyuss Lives! and continued into Vista Chino, the jamming cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Into the Void” and the two “Fatso Forgotso” tracks (both of which were included on 2000’s Muchas Gracias: The Best of Kyuss, the second under the title “Flip the Phase”) were the last of Kyuss‘ studio output. So yeah, something of a landmark. It was more the grooves of the thing itself than the historical aspect that made me want to round out the week with it, but I figured if the thing can be appreciated on multiple levels, that rarely hurts the actual listening experience.

Kind of an odd bit of symmetry to the week by the end of it, right? One day, there’s an interview with Mike Scheidt about the Lumbar record, and the next, a live review of Scheidt playing in Providence. Then today, there’s a Black Thai track premiere and a live review of a Jim Healey set. Just a bit ago today, too, some Clutch news about a new live album, and tonight I’m going to see Clutch in New Hampshire as well, so there’s that to add to it. Strange but kind of cool. I wish I could say I planned any of it out, but I couldn’t be that coordinated even if I had mild interest in trying. Which I honestly don’t.

Next week, look out for a new podcast, a review of that Clutch show and hopefully one for It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Olde Growth and company on Sunday night in Boston — I’m going to Connecticut during the day, but provided I get back in time will hit up the show — and then a look at the new Horisont and Sandrider albums, as well as more in the “10 Days of Stoner Hands of Doom XIII” coverage, including a video premiere provided it comes together as scheduled and some words about the new Druglord tape, which is duly fucked up-sounding. I also took a poll today on Thee Facebooks to name a new vinyl column, so On Wax will start next week too.

Much to come, in other words.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend. See you back here Monday and in the meantime, please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Vista Chino Interview with Brant Bjork: Peace and Progress

Posted in Features on September 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m going to go on a limb here and say that while it wasn’t their first choice and something that was brought about through a lawsuit from former bandmates, the name change that turned Kyuss Lives! into Vista Chino was a good thing. My reasoning is simple. Kyuss is a set entity. It’s in stone. It’s done. It’s been done for over 15 years now. There’s a legacy born out of the California desert that’s influenced thousands upon thousands of bands, and without Kyuss, that just doesn’t happen. They were an integral part of setting forth a movement in heavy rock that continues to this day.

The difference is they were and Vista Chino are. Even if vocalist John Garcia, bassist Nick Oliveri, guitarist Bruno Fevery and drummer Brant Bjork — who toured and wrote songs together as Kyuss Lives! – had been able to continue using that or just the straight-up Kyuss name, they’d be setting themselves up to fail, because even if original guitarist Josh Homme – who along with former bassist Scott Reeder brought the lawsuit that was settled with the moniker switch– had returned to the fold and they’d worked with the same lineup that resulted in 1992’s Blues for the Red Sun, it never would’ve been the same. It may have been conflict that birthed it, but with the Napalm Records release this week of Peace (review here) as the first Vista Chino studio album, Garcia, Bjork and Fevery (Oliveri having left after recording his bass parts) are moving forward in a way Kyuss wouldn’t have been able to do.

It’s a question of freedom, ultimately, and where any output under the Kyuss banner would’ve resulted in an endless stream of comparisons set to the impossible standard of a decade and a half of lionization, Vista Chino are free to progress, both on a career level and creatively. Peace finds Bjork taking lead vocals on “Planets 1 & 2,” something that never happened in Kyuss (though certainly it’s happened plenty since), and works off a different, new instrumental chemistry and playing style from Fevery. The record isn’t about capturing something that used to exist and doesn’t anymore, and at its heart, that’s why it succeeds. I’m not sure Peace would’ve worked as a Kyuss album, but for Vista Chino, it stands not only as an excellent debut but a potential-filled sign of things to come. It makes the listener look forward to what could be and not back to what was.

So while it may have been plenty ugly getting to this point and of course no one knows what days ahead might bring, Peace establishes Vista Chino as a band with both a past and a future. In the interview that follows here, Brant Bjork discusses some of those prospects, particularly as relates to bringing in bassist Mike Dean from C.O.C. to fill the position vacated by Oliveri and held for a brief stretch by Billy Cordell, and also creating music for the first time alongside Fevery, the legal tribulations that made Vista Chino who they are, his relationship to Vista Chino as opposed to Kyuss, when he knew that Kyuss Lives! would result in new material, the group’s plans after the US tour they’ll soon start and much more. As he spoke, I could hear a desert wind come through the line in the background.

Complete Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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