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John Garcia: "I'm not a poet, my stories are just abstract fiction"

Never one to settle on one project for too long the ex-Kyuss frontman John Garcia has decided it's about time he did his own thing and has put Slo Burn, Unida and Vista Chino to the side while he gives us his debut eponymous solo effort. Here's what desert rock's big daddy has to say about John Garcia, rattle snakes and mushroom margaritas.

Where did the idea come from to release a solo album?

“I had this collection of songs in what I call my ‘safety deposit box’ (when in reality it was just a dusty old cardboard box) and I’d look at that box every single morning while I made the kids breakfast. I’ve been wanting to do this record for years and years so I finally stopped thinking about it and stopped saying yes to other projects and I said yes to this project. And boy it feels good! I shouldn’t have waited this long.”

Does going solo give you a sense of freedom?

“Anyone that knows me and knows my career knows that I don’t stay in one place for very long and in the end I had to say no to John Garcia plays Kyuss, Vista Chino and Unida. It’s not that I’ve been hiding behind band names but there is another sense of exposure that this album gives me. These are the songs that I had a personal relationship with and I’ve had them for years so to give them the freedom and the sense of liberation when I uncuff them is a bit of a monumental moment for me.”

Does now feel like the right moment to do it?

“It wasn’t that there was a right moment or wrong moment; actually, I wish that I had done this in 2009 and not 2014. I’ve finally stopped neglecting these songs and my solo career.”

Your album has been described as stonerish classic rock among other things. Are you okay with that?

It’s been called desert rock, it’s been called stoner rock, classic rock or just straight up rock n’ roll . The fact is I set out to make a simple classic rock record. My producer said ‘You’re filling the songs with too many vocals. Let’s simplify it, let’s get back to basics.’ In the end we had a mission and the mission was ‘simple passion’. It’s kind of like my personality, I’m a simpleton! There’s nothing special about me, I’m not a rock star. I’m a father, I’m a husband and I’m a realist.

You managed to get Robby Krieger from The Doors to guest on your album. That’s pretty damn cool!

“We wanted some Spanish guitar on Her Bullets Energy, the only acoustic song on the album, to make it special. When my producer suggested Robby Krieger I was speechless and the next thing I know I’m at his brand new Horse Latitudes studio in California and he’s laying down this amazing Spanish guitar. Talk about a monumental moment and a living legend! Even being in the same room as him was pretty nerve-racking and awe inspiring.”

And Danko Jones, too?

“Danko Jones wrote 5,000 Miles specifically for me. He wrote it for me about nine years ago and that demo stayed in that cardboard box… until now. What an incredible honour, he’s a dear close friend of mine.”

The video for My Mind features a man wrestling with his inner demons. Is the song a commentary about mental health?

“Yeah, it’s about inner conflict. It’s a gory and extreme narrative [Leatherface-meets-Hannibal character], almost like Summer Of Sam where the guy hears voices and thinks the Labrador is talking to him. All these songs are about personal relationships with oneself, conflicts with oneself, relationships with substances, people and materialistic things. I’m not a poet, I don’t claim to be a poet, my stories are just abstract fiction.”

You’re born, raised and live in the desert. Was it important to you that the video was filmed there?

“Oh yeah, we filmed it in Salton Sea in Slab City, the desert where I grew up. I’m very proud of where I live and where I was born and raised, there’s something about the desert that resonates with me. My house is literally in the middle of the desert and I have to drive about a mile and a half of dirt roads to get to my place. I live on two and a half acres just north of Palm Springs but I have to scan the place for rattle snakes before I can let my kids out to play. Quite often I find them too! But you know what? I live in their place, I’m the invader and I try to respect environment as much as I can.”

Looking back on your musical career, what were the best times?

“The best thing that could have happened was Kyuss breaking up. That was a really good time for me because I wised up really quickly. There were times where I wanted to say to the younger John ‘Wise up and appreciate what you have!’ When Kyuss broke up I had a big slice of humble pie shoved down my throat, I found out truly who my friends were and then I went off and started bands like Slo Burn, Unida and Hermano, and it was really was the best time of my life. That might sound weird and selfish but it’s not, that’s the truth.”

Did you enjoy those hedonistic days with Kyuss?

“Back then it was just a party for me and I wasn’t appreciative of what I had but Kyuss had some really good times in that studio out in Joshua Tree. I did partake 100% in things like mushroom margaritas; we did a lot of creating and we got really creative on sessions like that.”

John Garcia’s self-titled album is out now on Napalm Records. Order it here.

With over 10 years’ experience writing for Metal Hammer and Prog, Holly has reviewed and interviewed a wealth of progressively-inclined noise mongers from around the world. A fearless voyager to the far sides of metal Holly loves nothing more than to check out London’s gig scene, from power to folk and a lot in between. When she’s not rocking out Holly enjoys being a mum to her daughter Violet and working as a high-flying marketer in the Big Smoke.