Monday, 10 January 2011


Rodeo Massacre Interview
The Blues Kitchen
Camden Town

Rodeo Massacre. The band that has been getting the most plays and replays on my ever growing play list recently caught up with me for a chat regarding their new album 'If You Can't Smoke Em', Sell Em'. Located in the newly refurbished "authentic" bluesy atmosphere of Camden Towns 'Blues Kitchen' we discuss their goals, plan for 2011 and the beauty of a warbling Yoko Ono vocal inflection. Lovely.

Interview with Izzy (Vocals, Tambourine) and Zorba (Guitar,Drums,Vocals)

Q) Are you happy with the album?
A) (Izzy ) Overall I think we are really happy with the album, but there were 3-4 songs that were added at the end. The majority of the song's we'd been playing for over a year live and there were a few unfinished even up to a few days before recording, but we thought it could be good to add them.

Q) Which tracks were these? That were added at the end?
A) (Izzy) 'I've Got A Big Foot Now', (Zorba) 'Deadly Bite' also, all recorded at Raezor Studio's in Putney.

Q) Your sound and overall style on record particularly is very much in the same vein as early Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and some of the other Nuggets/ garage rock psychedelic bands of that era, what is it that attracts you to that type of sound and style?
A) (Zorba) It's more to do with making songs from your heart, writing a song, getting it down and recording it, bands now tend to over think every little thing, in the late 60's when they played live it was always a different experience from the album, and that's the way it should be I think.

Q) In relation to that have you found it difficult to reproduce some of the arrangements of the songs live as your line up is ever evolving and changing and you don't always have everyone who played on the recording to hand i.e. some gigs are just 2 piece.
A) (Izzy) Well we change them slightly although we have Pat (Pat Dam Smyth - Keys, Bass, Vocals) although its complicated, I try and explain it like we are a bit like an Art Collective which sounds a bit arty farty to say but we feel that we've had so many people involved since the start and keeping people hired always brings issues like money up and a lot of them just didn't have the dedication, they just wanted to be in a band really. They want a major record deal and get money and blah,blah but have no real passion about what they do. We make the sound as good as possible in the studio and then live we have friends coming up on stage and do it that way. (Zorba) That's why live I play the guitar and drums at the same time so some of the parts are simplified from the record, although we try and replicate it as close as possible although keep it interesting as well, more raw.

Q) Does this mean that each performance is actually different from the last? Even though you might be playing the same songs, the arrangements are slightly different every show?
A) (Izzy) That was the idea to keep it fresh every night. (Zorba) I have seen some bands that I like, for example Interpol I saw them twice and I don't need to see them three times, I've been to that show you know? (Izzy) We came to London and our mission is to bring some colour and generosity on stage to each other, we have seen bands that just reproduce over and over the same thing, we have an innocent mission to change all that.

Q) Listening to the song 'Desert Man' it uses brass and horn arrangements that create almost noise and dissonance at the ending, is someone like The MC5 and Sun-Ra influence you and this more free-form playing style?
A) (Zorba) Yes definitely, it was improvisation where like you had a point A and a Point C and how you got from one to the other was purely improvisation, (Izzy) I would like to just say that my favourite parts of the album are when I'm not singing (laughs) I love the ending of that song, its like an elephant march (sings) do,do,do,do (laughs)

Q) The song itself sounds almost like a long lost track from a Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez film, would you ever allow your songs to be used in a film or do you feel each track is part of the whole album and should be listened to as a whole?
A) (Zorba) They can take whatever they want (laugh) (Izzy) That actually is one of our dreams to record a soundtrack for a film that would be amazing. I know that movies are important to us when we are writing songs and composing.

Q) What influences your writing and playing, especially for this album?
A) (Zorba) I listen to the same stuff that I always listened to, Gun's N Roses, Alice Cooper. (Izzy) We have very different tastes in music, I listen to mainly soul and blues records although I feel that the influences just kick in automatically when I'm writing. With vocals though its mainly male vocalists I like, more important than female singers.

Q) On the album you've covered the Alice Cooper track 'I'm Eighteen', how did that come about?
A) (Izzy) Well it was a dream to play this song anyway and to play it, but not just make a copy of it as we would always fall short of the original, we just played it in so many different ways in the studio before we decided to do it more of a campfire type arrangement (Zorba) When we recorded it in the studio it was done live and had Marco Pirroni (Adam & The Ants) on guitar and first he started playing it like the original but we changed it around and hope people don't think its too much of a crime or massacre of the original. (Izzy) People used to cover great classics in the 60's but nobody doesn't do it really any more, The Magic Numbers covered that Beyonce song (Crazy In Love) and made it into a really cool rock song.

Q) Is there any bands from today that you like or is it all 66-71 forever?
A) (Zorba) It's not like we are stuck in the past and have total blinkers on although there isn't really many bands I listen to from now, The Mars Volta were probably the last ones that surprised me with something good and original that rocked also Jack White is always great, The Black Angels I really like, Arcade Fire's new album is good. Bands now tend to come and go, they have a few hits, live they aren't so great and then they go. (Izzy) I would say that Pat Dam Smyth has just finished a solo album that is really great, I'm not sure if its out yet, but its very good, definitely one to listen to. I did want to get this 60's Indian psychedelic compilation that I saw in Rough Trade today but it was £16 and I only had £10 so I guess I'll have to wait for that (laughs).

'If You Can't Smoke, Em'Sell Em' is out on Label:Smoky Carrot Records on the 31st January

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