Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Feb 9th 2010 3:05PM by Jason Jach
Portland-based group the Chicharones are gearing up for their 12th visit to SXSW, as well as the release of their new album, 'Swine Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' due out this spring. Between touring, recording, running a record label and performing at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Josh Martinez, one third of the Chicharones, found time to talk to Spinner.Your biographies tend to describe the Chicharones as "underground hip-hop." Is that a fair way to describe your sound?
We're trying to change that description entirely because I don't think that's what we even do. We may have come from that scene, but I feel like the music that we make has more in common with a Beck album or a Black Keys album. It's so stupid in music because everything sounds like a hybrid of ten other things, and we're exactly that. But I just don't think anyone's rearranged the pieces like we've rearranged them. I like to say underground pop because we're stealing the stuff from pop music that we like, that we already listen to and are picking up on, but trying to use more subversive themes. There's rap on it, but it's not an indie rap album. I think it fits with Gnarls Barkley or the Gorillaz. It's genre-less. It steals and borrows from everything and sounds current.
How did your band form?
We met 11 years ago at our first SXSW. We've been to 11 straight now. It's become a centerpiece of our year to spend time out there, and any new material we release as a group, we always try to bring it to a show at SXSW. This time, we've tried to add a Broadway appeal to our show by bringing a live band out and doing a magic show.
Tell us a little more about the magic show.
Both Sleep and DJ Zone are magicians. They both were in magic schools. At one time, DJ Zone was a traveling magician, all over the world. So, we incorporate various stage magic tricks that he picked up. Some illusions. Levitation. I don't do shit. I'm the rube. I can't give you too much more without giving too much away.
A magician cannot reveal his secrets.
And the rube can definitely not reveal the magician's secrets because he will get his ass kicked, revealing tricks that he doesn't know anything about.
Did Sleep and DJ Zone know each other before the Chicharones? Or is it just a weird coincidence that they both were magicians?
It's a ridiculous coincidence. DJ Zone came into our lives two years ago. Me and Sleep are both 28. DJ Zone is a 22-year-old, so he's this young kid. We met him two years ago when he shouldn't have been in a club, and he was doing magic after being a DJ. He was showing card tricks. I was like, "That's the DJ!" And Sleep just went over and grabbed him right away. With the Chicharones, he just proves to be such a good performer that he just kind of worked himself into being the third part of the band.
How did you name the band?
Chicharones are a deep-fried pork fat, and definitely spiced heavily. Sleep is from Farmington, New Mexico, and whenever we're in the Southwest, we go and visit his family, and on numerous occasions had chicharones, and it just fit so well for the music we were making.
What are your musical influences?
I really like old rock and doo wop and Jamaican melody groups. Definitely anything that's got four guys in it, like the Gladiators, the Mighty Diamonds, the Ethiopians, the Beach Boys. Anything with multi-group harmonies, I love. Also, I like raw old British three-chord rock. We're an amalgam of all the different things we like.
What are your musical guilty pleasures?
The two JT's: Justin Timberlake and James Taylor. I don't know if it's a guilty pleasure, I just think maybe some people think it's a little syrupy. I just like whatever's in my ear. There's a Grizzly Bear song out right now that sounds like it should be a guilty pleasure, but it's just f---ing perfect.
Beatles or Stones?
Beatles, and I would even go more specifically and say Paul McCartney. I love rock 'n' roll, but I love melody more. Had it been between the Who and the Beatles, I would've had a harder time. But I'm undoubtedly a Beatles fan.
What's the craziest thing you've experienced on tour?
In France, my tour manager drank my DJ's piss, thinking that it was Jack Daniels. [My DJ] couldn't find the bathroom, because everything was written in French, and so he peed in an empty bottle. Then my tour manager wanted to impress us, so he took a shot of the JD before he was told there was piss in there. But I think that's fairly common, the friend who drinks the piss of the other friend. I think most of us have had that happen.
What's in your SXSW survival kit?
You need a solid backpack, so you can go out and pick up things that get tossed your way, like free beer and shirts. I mean, you don't take the beer in the backpack, but you put the shirt in the backpack and drink the beer. Sunglasses, for sure, because then you can even put those on indoors when you're looking crazy. I'm a big fan of earplugs. That's just about the most important thing to have because you can sleep through just about anything. Also, certain shows are terribly loud and they'll kick your ass if you're going to music for six days in row. And bananas. Because if one thing is going to f---ing keep you going, it's bananas. It's got potassium, sugar. You're good to go. You can forget to eat, you can have a lot to drink and [bananas] will help you out.
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