John Garcia on John Garcia...

Finally, after many years, we get a solo album...

John Garcia is wide awake and on the ball (well, running some lunch-time errands actually) but it’s 5:30am for me. I’m pretty damned knackered but I still jumped at the chance to discuss John’s debut (self-titled) solo album and upcoming Australian tour. As always, John is the epitome of humility and good manners.

So what prompted you to finally put out a solo album as opposed to another record with one of the many other bands that you work with? He’s the first to admit that “I do sing in a lot of bands and obviously I don’t like to stay in one place too long but I’ve always wanted to do this, ever since I was 18 or 19 years old, and I’ve collected these songs over the years. I have to tell you that it’s really awesome when you have a relationship with a song for so long and then you finally have a release date to have it set free and liberated; it’s been quite some time comin’ and it’s taken a while to get here but I’m in a good spot.” He does indeed sound very joyful and brimming with anticipation at the release (which hits Australia in August).

Robby Krieger does some guest guitar work on the track Her Bullets Energy; how did you pull that off? Putting it mildly, though still with a sense of disbelief, he says “I’m very fortunate to have had Robby Krieger from The Doors playing on it, and credit where credit’s due, my producer Harper Hug, when we were selecting songs, he told me that he heard (that’s ‘imagined’ to you folks) Spanish flamenco guitars on that track and I asked him ‘Who do you know who plays Spanish guitar?’ and he said ‘Well, I know Robby Krieger from The Doors…’ and obviously I fell over in my chair and I said ‘Do you think he would do it?’ but Harper said ‘Hey man, let’s not get our panties in a twist over this – the first piece is getting him on the track, the second piece is if he likes it and the third piece is if he wants to do it’ and everything fell into place and the next thing I know I’m in his [Krieger’s] recording studio in Los Angeles laying down the track. What an awesome experience.” I suspect that John is still having trouble getting his head around it and he adds reverentially “Talk about a monumental moment! To be in the same room as a living legend like that was pretty amazing…”

And what’s with the other track His Bullets Energy; why the two? “I wrote Her Bullets Energy many years ago and after playing it for so long it naturally transitioned into something that was heavier and harder and His Bullets was naturally spawned from Her Bullets so it’s a progression type of thing; really I think it came from the sheer boredom of playing that slow acoustic song for so many years turned it into something heavier and meaner.”

The last time we spoke Vista Chino’s Peace was about to drop, you were all heading out for Big Day Out and now you’re already returning (well, in September actually…) to kick off your world tour in dear, sweet Australia. He’s mad-keen to get back and runs the dates off without a second thought: “September 11th through to the 14th, I’m doin’ Sydney, Melbourne, Brissie and Byron Bay and I’m super-excited about it; really, really excited – I love your country! I love the people and I love the environment – it’s a beautiful country. There’s something that resonates within me about Australia that I just absolutely love.” And you’re doing a free meet and greet before each gig? No cash and no catches? “No catches! This is my way of saying thanks to my supporters. I’m not backstage tryin’ to be, or wantin’ to be, a rock star – that’s not me – I’m a husband and a father and I appreciate the support throughout all the years and this is me sayin’ ‘Hey man – come on down – you wanna take a picture or you wanna hang out?’ It’s just my way of sayin’ thank you to all of my supporters.”

Getting back to the album, baby-faced rocker Danko Jones wrote the song 5000 Miles for you? “Yeah! What an honour! Danko is a good friend of mine and talk about a genuine, super-awesome guy; he’s all of those things and to have him write a song for me – I gotta tell you I couldn’t be more excited and more stoked – and I can’t thank him enough. I’ve got a lot of players on this record, from Nick Oliveri to Danko Jones to Robby Krieger and Mark Diamond,” he runs through a list of musicians, adding “I’m fortunate to have these guys to share the passion with me. They were equally as passionate about these songs as I was and I’m lucky, especially for having Danko write a song specifically for my solo record so a big thank you to Danko. I love him to death, he’s a great guy.”

And you covered Black Mastiff’s Rolling Stoned? “That’s it. When I saw Black Mastiff open up for Vista Chino I immediately fell in love with them, and I heard their song Rolling Stoned and I reached out to them and said ‘Hey man, I love the song, I wanna cover this track’ and they gave me their blessing and here we are. Eventually, believe it or not, they came out to Palm Springs and I just produced their new record and we now have a brand new relationship and their record should be coming out at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. A great band and I’m a big fan.”

And you did some guest vocals for Steak’s Slab City album too. “Yeah – I’m taking those guys out with me in Europe, we’re going on a big 25 date tour and I dig ‘em. They’re heavy and they’re the real deal so it’s gonna be Waxy, Steak and myself. For Australia, I gotta let you know that Waxy is comin’ over to open up for me, another California desert band, so I’m excited to be bringing a little bit of the California desert to Australia.” We must not forget to add that Mammoth Mammoth will be also entertaining the Australian fans too...

Blimey! You’re a busy man; are there not enough hours in the day for you? “You’re right; there’s not enough hours in the day – and I’m busy! I always try to put my family first and I’m gone so much that I wanna spend as much time as I can with them. It’s rough but I like staying busy and I plan on stayin’ here for a while. I’m very happy where my career has brought me so I plan on sticking here for a long time but when the opportunity arises, we’ll probably do another Vista Chino record or another Unida record or another Hermano record – maybe even a new project?! I don’t know – I go where my gut tells me…”

At least you have plenty of options! Our time is nearly up so I ask one final question about the set-list for his up-coming tour. “I’m doin’ Kyuss songs, I’m doin’ Slo Burn songs, I’m doin’ the new record for the set so to have Australia be the start of the world tour, it’s very fitting.”
John Garcia; loving Australia and loving life.