May 2003 - SANTERIA
SANTERIA is definitely one of the most interesting bands of the south of the USA. They describe their sound as southern tribal rock, what means that it's full of mystizism, trance-like drums and heavy riffs. Ok, there's more to discover, but once again words can't desrcibe the beauty and magic of SANTERIA. Their new album "House Of The Dying Sun" is still in my personal heavy rotation and I guess, it will be until my dying days. Ok, enough pathetic words, better check out the interview, wich I've done with multi-talent and frontman Dege.
How are you doing?
Dege: Real good. Living in a motel and loving it. I don't need a home just pure inspiration. Drinking in Mexican whorehouses. Sleeping in girls' dormitories. Searching the backroads for the ghost of Robert Johnson. Single. Writing. Reading. Working on new Santos songs and a new solo CD. I`m writing two new books: "Folk Tales of the American Longhair" (a prose thing) and "Pussy" (a novel). Also, I'm compiling a selected writings book called, "The Grand Mal Hallucination" with all kinds of insane shit in it like goofy suicidal shit I wrote when I was 15 to goofy shit I wrote a year ago. Ain't a damn thing changed.
First off, please give us an historical overview about the band. When did you founded the band and how was the SANTERIA sound in the early days?
Dege: Born 1994. I had just been released from a mental institution. Met Krishna. We got a crazy Mexican on bass. Psych-trio. Had a good vibe. Played interesting shit together...and kept going. And we're still going. I'm amazed it's gone this far considering where we're from and the lack of opportunity...staying together this long is a blessing and some sort of weird milestone for all bands from Dead towns around the world. I hope, in some way, it is an inspiration to people.
Is it true, that you're playing with two drummers and was it planned right from the start?
Dege: Yes, we have two drummers. Krishna on trap kit and Rob on two big ass djembes plus some other percussion. It's the jungle vibe. Not "techno jungle," but apocalyptic-beating-on-real-goatskin-jungle with malarial fevers and sweat. In the beginning, it was just Krishna. He sounds like two drummers playing anyway, so if you punch additional percussion into the equation, it just gets even deeper up the river. Drum jams. I like shit that makes me want to move and dance. Not disco dance, but just move in an uninhibited manner kind of possessed. It is a tradition in many ancient cultures that's somehow been X'd out of the equation by the Metal Machismo Wars of "heavier than thou" politics and uptight dude trips. Yawn.
I've noticed on your website, that you have released some albums before the new one. How would you compare them to the actual release?
Dege: First album was recorded in 3 days in Colorado, USA. It's a little more raw and unfocused like most bands' first albums, but I still dig it and recommend it for people into everything from the The Fucking Champs to Converge to Pink Floyd to Cat Power. Second CD: "Apocalypse, La" is a scrapbook of sorts 1998-2000. Four-track stuff. Unreleased stuff. Guerrilla spoken word. Tons of live shit from different places. I love it. It's not an official release; it's like a secret. We just burn them for people who send word and know the vibe.
For me, your new album "House Of The Dying Sun" was one of the outstanding releases in 2002, and it's still in my personal heavy rotation. It's not easy to describe the beauty of your music, with its soulful heaviness and a good sense for well-written emotional songs with remarkable hooks. How was the worldwide feedback for the album?
Dege: Thanks. Reaction was really surprising, strangely enough. We've never really been part of any scene just floating through the fringes of very different underground scenes. The stoner rock people kind of cracked the door and let us in like a stray dog which we completely appreciate. Many of those listeners are open-minded and incredibly thoughtful people. Since the release of "House of the Dying Sun," we've gotten word from Japan, Slovenia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, France, India, Hong Kong, Spain, Russia, Argentina, etc. I dig that. Sometimes I sit back and send out telepathic messages to all the people I imagine are out there in small dead towns across the world. Just waiting for something to happen. I`ve got a lot of empathy for people stuck in Nowheresville Towns, Earth Station Places. It`s so sad and quiet, but it is in those dusty towns where great art is created, then trued like an iron wheel by the silence.
Let's talk about single songs. "Wrong End of the Day" is a track, where Skynyrd would have died for. Southern-blues heaviness, combined with a strong emotional approach (as the whole album) and emotional depth. What's the story behind this song?
Dege: Each song is written open-ended for multiple interpretations. "Wrong End" is kind of like a day in the southern kaleidoscope Rorschach-machine. Waking up late. Wasted and lazy. Worried about irrelevant things like DNA sequences being copyrighted by labor corporations. Whiskey colored suns. You know just blowing through the day and making it rock. All of the songs on this record serve as a sound track to our lives. The swamps. The ghosts of the Civil War. The mystery and the voodoo of the Unknown. Bugs. The isolation. The loneliness. The lack of opportunity. The poverty. The beauty. The August sun. The summer. Everything. I love it all. Good and Bad. And I want to write about all of it. We`re not done, yet. There`s so much more to express I just hope there`s enough time.
How long much time have you spent for the recordings?
Dege: We`re pretty fast in the studio. With "Dying Sun," we got bogged down in bad luck, voodoo curses, and a myriad of other things. Two years of exploding cars. Cow hearts in mailboxes. Men jumping from the shadows. Silhouettes of evil passing. It`s part of life down here in southern Louisiana but we just got a big fat dose of it, consistently and over the course of two years.
You have combined so much different styles in your music that ranges from the big names as The Doors, Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin to The Cult and Soundgarden and of course, 50's Rock 'n' Roll and the old travellin' blues musicians. The impressive result is a sound your very own. What do you think about the music you write and play?
Dege: I love it. I really do or I wouldn`t be playing it. I want to push it further artistically with the next full-length record. Go into the dirt earth stratosphere. I`m not even going to explain what that means, because I`ve already seen jokers trying to crib my trips.
It seems to me, as if the lyrics are playing an important part in your songs. They are all written by lead-singer Dege Legg. Are you only writing song-lyrics or have you done short stories or stuff like that?
Dege: Lyrics are very important. It`s not the most important thing, but it`s in the top three. Music Lyrics. BOOM! I was born to write. Maybe not "War Peace," but maybe, "War The Motel PoonTang Diaries" or something like that. Other than songs, I`ve written a book, "The Battle Hymn of the Good`ole Hillbilly Zatan Boys," (available through GolarWash.com for $25), a screen-play ("How to Kill a Horse"), numerous Santos Tour Journals, a bunch of short stories, and a bunch of other crap that I wouldn`t call poetry, but it`s somewhere in that league without all the weasel screams and whiney noises. Also, a bunch of stuff that makes no sense but makes me laugh. I love to laugh. Laughing is my religion.
Is everyone of the band involved in the process of song writing?
Dege: Yes. I write all the lyrics, but the band works out the music together in a democratic, but highly infantile and aggressive manner. Sometimes taking months to complete a song. That`s the price of democracy: you`re free to do your thing, but you`re buddies have the option of bitching at you while you do it.
How was the last year for the band? Have you played a lot of shows and done interviews etc. to promote the new album?
Dege: 2002 was rough emotionally like a ricksha ride through through Boot Hill Cemetary, but it paid off big time in the end. I have no regrets. Lot of good shit happened, too, which I am totally thankful for, but at the same time, there was this dark, swirling undercurrent to everything around us. We were cursed. Interviews? Yeh, been busting a few interviews and doing a lot of promotion. Radio, cable access, tours, zines, rubber machines, etc. We ain`t lazy. We`re not a punk rock band, but we operate with a punk rock-like system of work ethics.
Dege, apart of being singer and guitar-player in SANTERIA, you've released a few solo-albums in the last years? What's the motivation behind your own work, and how would you describe the difference of your sound to the music of SANTERIA to the readers?
Dege: My solo CDs are my little babies. Usually just me, acoustic guitars, and junkyard and UFO chaingang sounds. No loud amps just mysterious haunted delta blues songs with reverse slide guitars going in slow-motion to the sound of old women crying.
What about the other members of the band? Aside of Dege, is someone of you doing other creative things when not playing with SANTERIA?
Dege: Primo plays guitar, reads UFO books on Roswell, and hangs with his girlfriend. Krishna works a straight job, gets flighty ideas, and calls me a "fucking bastard" occasionally (you haven`t been cussed till you been cussed by a 200lbs meat-eating Hindu). Rob makes bird noises with his mouth and does tweaked-out, Squarepusher-influenced drum bass stuff on his computer. Jay does his Tiny Tim on PCP thing. And that`s about it.
I'm not the greatest friend of the combination music/politics, but I like to ask you what you think about the current foreign politics of the US administration and can you share the patriotic feelings of a lot of US people? What's your personal point of view?
Dege: It`s a confusing situation. I think war is inevitable at this stage of human evolution, but there`s little pockets of hope. I think contributing to your immediate surroundings in a positive manner does a whole lot more for "world peace" than stomping around downtown with a simplistic-rhetoric sign after you`ve been bitching out your roommate all week long about petty domestic shit. Or screaming "Stop the War" at a traffic light. It`s all fucking weak and trite. Anybody with any sense knows that the Bush League are Big Money titans and they are going to do whatever they deem morally acceptable by their consciences. That knows no bounds. Those dudes got clowns like Rush Limbaugh to con the public into the buying old lies like Sunday Cartoons. It`s up to people, like us, with less money and power to take them down or keep them in check at least whether it be through new intellectual means, art, music, or something. I don`t know. I don`t have all of the answers. Just a bunch of questions. People of the World-Counter-Culture need to up their game Bigtime if they`re going to keep up with the Money Men.
If the Aware People of the future can keep their egos in check and win over the working class meat potatoes crowd, something will eventually change. Until then, I don`t know. I have a hard time keeping the peace with the people around me much more keeping the peace of the rest of the world. That`s just an honest personal assessment. It may sound like a selfish cop-out, but if you say to yourself: "What Would Uday Do?" you get a really creepy feeling up your spine. Uday would rape all the Peace Keepers in the world if he had a chance .male or female. I really don`t want to see people get hurt. I don`t want to hurt anyone. I don`t want anyone to hurt me, but then I`ll drive out into 5 o`clock traffic and it`s a war zone of egos and afternoon vengeance. When I macrocosmisize that on to the rest of the world, I don`t get a good feeling. I feel like we`re heading towards the Revelations Armageddon Trip.
What are SANTERIA's future plans for this year 2003? Is there the possibility that you will come over to Europe for some shows?
Dege: We`re going to keep pushing "House of the Dying Sun" for 2003. Maybe record an EP. Tour the US East coast. I don`t know about Europe. I`d love to go, but we haven`t had many offers to tour your land. In fact, we`ve had none. But I`d go in two seconds. Believe it. I`d tour Europe in a trash can just to see all of the amazing things there.
Thanks a lot for your answers! Any last words?
Dege: Thanks to everyone for everything we NEVER take any of it for granted. Hopefully, the world will mellow out somewhat. If not, take care of each other and look out for your fellowman. He`s hurting, too. You`ll feel better in the morning.