By at 8:20 AM Thursday, August 29th 2013

 

Good Morning, Wasteland: AQ Talks to Vista Chino

Vista Chino, Interviews

 

Before Queens Of The Stone Age, desert rock’s beloved ambassadors to those of us in the grasslands was Kyuss. We only picked up the first Queens records because they had Nick Oliveri, and “the guitarist” on them. Times have changed, at times rather violently so. Queens are the toast of the town these days, but for better or worse frontman Josh Homme has gone as far as filing a lawsuit with Scott Reeder to ensure that Kyuss’ official time of death stays fixed in 1997. Yet founding members John Garcia, Brant Bjork, and Oliveri got back together in 2010. For all intents and purposes they resurrected Kyuss, first under the legally obligated moniker “Kyuss Lives,” and, post-lawsuit, as Vista Chino.

vista-chino-wheaties

Peace, the debut album by Vista Chino, is due out on Tuesday, September 3rd. In advance, we caught up with John Garcia and Brant Bjork to see how things were going, to shoot the shit, to get a little weird… And also to try and set the record straight. It wasn’t exactly Kumbaya, but at least we know exactly where the guys stand, and can now let them focus on playing the old songs, playing some new songs, and inevitably, writing and recording more.

I spoke with John and Brant separately, over the phone, while the band and crew were enjoying a barbecue at guitarist Bruno Fevery’s house in Antwerp, Belgium on a day off from touring. For the sake of a coherent narrative, and since I asked both a lot of the same questions, I’ve consolidated the conversations into one piece, and ditched a few wild tangents. Aside from that, the content of the talks are unedited and straight, as it came, just like always.

So let’s get the lawsuit shit out of the way, and then we can talk about weird shit. We were following that story, and I just wanted to kind of wrap things up for the record. First, do you think the media got the story straight?

Brant Bjork: No. The media, you know, nine out of ten times, never gets the story straight. And I think part of [Josh Homme’s] strategy from day one was to, you know, set things up so the media wouldn’t get things straight. That’s kind of been the cornerstone of Josh’s whole trip for years. And this lawsuit was just a super extreme extension of that kind of manipulation and falsity. It’s a real drag and it really makes it stressful and painful and frustrating, because you know, he’s got a voice and he’s got a lot of money. When you’re dealing with someone who is aggressive and bitter and bullying you with that kind of power, it’s a difficult thing to manage.

You think he manipulated the media as just a “scorched earth” move to make his point, or what?

Brant Bjork: Well, I think he just wanted to smear us and, I mean, he falsely accused of things that we never did. In fact the irony is that he publicly accused us of something that, technically, he did. If anyone infringed on a trademark, it would have been him. But once again, when you get pulled into a lawsuit, it’s not usually based on law or principle, it’s usually based on economics. He knew from day one that we don’t stand a chance economically. John and I fought as hard as we could, and we educated ourselves, and I studied the law every day, but in the end we just couldn’t afford to move forward, there was just nothing we could do.

John Garcia: The whole thing was unnecessary. We never tried to steal the name. I think it could have been settled with one phone call, by Josh calling me and going, ‘hey dude, change the name or I’m going to sue you.’ As simple as that. But it was, you know, I think it was a huge embarrassment, for Scott and Josh, and as well as Brant and I.

Brant and I don’t like parking tickets, let alone federal lawsuits slapped upon our… I mean, who does?

I can relate.

John Garcia: To answer your question, sorry about going off on a different avenue there… I didn’t really read a lot [of media reports], but the truth of the matter is that it was truly unnecessary. It could have been settled. Brant and I fought, I think put up a pretty good fight, but in the United States, sometimes those with the most money – I think the majority of the time, those with the most money – win. And we decided that it was worth the initial fight, but in the end, it got to the point where we thought it would be much much better to stop it. The lawyers, and the bills, it took a little bit too much of a toll on us, and we said, ‘look we’re going to change our name.’

If Josh had just called you up, ahead of time, and said, ‘look, change the name or I’m going to sue you,’ are you saying you would have done that, you would have changed the name? Or did the fight have to happen, in some form?

John Garcia: Well, it could have been that simple. But because of his, you know… At first he loved the idea. I mean everywhere [he] went, ‘hey, what do you think about John and Brant doing this stuff?’ ‘Oh yeah, go get ‘em guys, fuckin’ more power to you, fuckin’ kick ass…’ And then all of a sudden, he thought that we were trying to steal the name, to trademark the name. And that was not true. We were never going to be called Kyuss. It was always Kyuss Lives. And we had three band members, four of them, fuck, me, Brant Nick and Scott Reeder are playing in the band. So, you know, we never meant to steal the name, we never wanted to steal the name… But I think, yes, to answer your question, I think if Josh would have called me up, or emailed me, and said ‘hey, change the name, or I’m going to sue you,’ I would have said, ‘okay.’ Absolutely, 100%, yes.

Brant Bjork: No one wants conflict. John and I want to make music, you know? We all have our own individual beliefs, and John and I, and I think I speak for Nick as well, John asked me in 2010 to get Kyuss back together. He didn’t ask me to start a new band. I wouldn’t have been interested in starting a new band. And that’s what we did. Kyuss was, you know, I feel obligated to say it these days, but you know, Kyuss was a band that I started, and it was a name that I found. I didn’t see any reason in having to change it. And if we would have been threatened, we might have looked at other options to avoid any kind of complications, just so we could focus on getting the music to the people, but it just never happened. He kind of waited until the whole thing had kind of ran its course. It was very strange, and I’m still a little shocked to be honest, a lot shocked to be honest.

I sat down with Nick in a bar, like last year when he was quitting, and we talked about a lot of different things, and at the time, he said he felt the lawsuit was going to end friendships and ensure you guys were never going to play with Josh or Scott again. Now that it’s behind you, how has the fallout been? Are the friendships fucked up?

Brant Bjork: Well, I mean, Josh and I haven’t been friends for many years. There’s been pockets of time where we’ve been amicable and we tried to deal with our differences and whatever. Over the years, I’ve reached out to try and just kind of smooth things out, and for whatever reason, he just has always continuously fallen into this like, disdain for me. I don’t know what it is. It’s no big deal to me really. I don’t really care. I don’t need him as a friend, and Scott, I could say the same. I mean, there was a time I respected them as musicians. But after something like this, I don’t have any respect for them. I think they’re shallow people. I think they’ve got serious ego problems, and they’re just all-around negative.

This lawsuit affected me and my family, man, you know? I can’t tolerate that on any level. Scott Reeder and Josh Homme are two people that I just don’t recognize, I don’t believe in them at all.

John Garcia: You know, I’m not the type of guy that holds a grudge. There’s a word I’ve used only once in the past, it’s the ‘pardoned’ word. And I pardoned them. I’m willing and eager to let that all go behind me. And move on. It’s not that I’m eager to go and kick the ball around with them at the park or anything like that. I’m more concerned about, really, what type of fishing bait I’m going to be using when I get back to California and I take my kids fishing. That’s what I’m more concentrating on. We’re all family. Brant has two beautiful boys, I have a son, I have a daughter, Bruno has two wonderful girls, and we’re just glad that we’ve got a nice fresh beginning and we’re moving forward.

When we were doing depositions, we should have been in the studio. That was the hard part, that was the weird part. And now that we had to jump through a couple fiery hoops, we’re finally here. We’re finally touring. We finally have the record out. Peace is out. There are some remnants of Kyuss in there, a lot of exploration in the record, and we’re in a very very good spot right now, back to where we should have been a long time ago.

You still got Mike Dean?

John Garcia: Yeah, I’m looking at him right now, he’s talking to his wife back in North Carolina. We’re all getting ready to fire up the grill. The kids are in the swimming pool, we’re having a good time. I gotta say, I even get goosebumps talking about it, it finally feels good to be here. It finally feels good to actually be on the road, and touring the record… We’re playing half the record right now. Sweet Remains, Dargona Dragona, Planets 1 & 2, Adara… And how refreshing to put some new material into the Kyuss set. Of course, we’re still playing Green Machine and Supa Scoop, and Gardenia… We might even throw an instrumental in there from time to time… It’s great to have some new fresh tracks in the setlist, and I think they marry very well.

Did [Mike] have any insight into the fight over the name? Corrosion Of Conformity have kept their name through all kinds of crazy lineup changes over thirty years…

Brant Bjork: He understands our situation, and he’s sad and frustrated for us as well. He’s just mentioned, a couple different times to me, that luckily for him, the core guys in COC, probably being him, Reed Mullin and Woody Weatherman – They’ve obviously, I’m sure, had their moments of different perspectives as well – But he said it’s never gone to any place that would involve lawsuits, and I think because of that, they understand the nature of Corrosion Of Confirmity. When you’re around that long, it’s okay for a band to go up and down and all around, and pursue different avenues, and do it tastefully. And COC is definitely a band that has mastered that. They’ve always made great music regardless of whatever they were pursuing.

But you know, for Kyuss, that just wasn’t the case. There was some manipulative technical moves that were made at certain times that just ensured that Josh owns it on paper. John and I, as I said before, we could technically beat him in court, on technicalities of trademark law and stuff, which I’ve been studying. We just don’t have the money. There’s no way we could do it.

I’ve gotta ask what the status is with Garcia Vs. Garcia.

John Garcia: It’s turning out to be my Chinese Democracy here. You know, I really enjoy playing with Brant and Bruno so much, and it was unexpected, and really a left hook to the gut. I never expected to be wanting to play with Brant again this much. But, you know, it’s great to share the stage with them again. It’s awesome. We’re live musicians, we play live music, that’s what we do, and we dig it. That void is filled. And, you know, eventually… I’m still working on it. It’s about halfway done. It’s coming. As long as I’m on this earth, it’s coming. I don’t think it’s going to change the face of rock n’ roll or anything like that, but it’s been something that I’ve been wanting to do since I was eighteen years old, and I continue to plan to do it. So that’s next up on the list unless Vista Chino gets in the way first, and [there] may very well be a distinct possibility of doing another record, we’re already talking about it. So we’ll see what happens with Garcia Vs. Garcia.

Brant, whatever happened with Jacuzzi?

Brant Bjork: I actually just mixed that record, about three weeks ago. I’m hoping to release it before the end of the year.

Right on. It’s kind of a jazz thing, right?

Brant Bjork: Yeah, it’s just kind of like, I’m tapping into more of my jazz and funk influences, and break beats and stuff like that, all instrumental.

All solo, just you?

Brant Bjork: Yeah, it’s just me.

A little while back, I stopped by Jesse Hughes’ house, and he lent me a VHS tape, an old tape of you two playing Sabbath covers at Hot Shots. Do you remember that?

Brant Bjork: Yeah, absolutely, man. We were called, I think we called ourselves the Black List Heroes.

Yeah, that was what the tape said.

Brant Bjork: Yeah, those were good times man, that was fun.

When was that? He didn’t really explain it, he was just like, here’s an old tape, he wanted me to convert it to DVD for him.

Brant Bjork: Umm… Hot Shots was just a typical low desert watering hole, slash run down sports bar, that was mostly just a place where a lot of the working Mexicans in Cathedral City would go to drink beers and listen to the jukebox. But they would have live music on weekends, and any bar that was was willing to have live music, in the desert, we would all jockey for position to play, and everyone would try and get as many gigs in as they could, because these places would generally stop having bands after awhile. But yeah, so that was one of those places. It was pretty classic. I’ve got some cool photos from some of those Hot Shots gigs, for sure.

Was that just a spontaneous thing, like ‘let’s just do some Sabbath covers?’ Was there any other gigs?

Brant Bjork: Yeah, there was a moment there where we got tight. I’ve known Jesse, I grew up with him, went to school with him, since we were kids. I think he had just moved back to the desert, and he wanted to jam. He had just got himself a bass or something, and I was in between gigs, I think I was playing guitar with Fatso Jetson at that time, so I was ready to get back on the drums. So we’d just go over to his apartment, and we’d just smoke grass and jam Sabbath covers for fun. Just drums and bass. And then it was one of those things, where it was just like, ‘hey man, let’s just go do this at the bar.’ The last gig we did was in the parking lot at Ozzfest, when Sabbath headlined. We threw our shit in this guy named Matt Paisano’s motor home, and we rolled up into the parking lot, and he had a generator, and we set up our shit in the parking lot, and we started jamming Sabbath covers. It was rad.

Have you heard the new record?

Brant Bjork: I have. Mike Dean was actually playing it for me last night. There’s a few tracks that are exceptionally awesome. And then there’s some other tracks that are good, but not as moving for me. But all in all, I think it’s a pretty cool record. I haven’t gone super deep of course, but I think they made a pretty good rock record there.

What do you think of Wilk’s drumming, are you a big Bill Ward fan?

Brant Bjork: Yeah, I think obviously he’s a great drummer, and I think Rick Rubin just kind of hedged his bets, and was like, you know, the band was obviously not going to work with Bill, I know they have [Tommy Clufetos] who plays with Ozzy, and Sabbath live, and he’s a bit of a monster, too, he’s awesome. But Brad is a guy, he’s a timekeeper, he’s not a showboater, and he can swing and he can groove, and I’m sure he’s a force in the studio, and I think it was a smart move on Rubin’s part.

There was an interview, where you said, “I’m not looking for the big break, or the big record, or the big show or the big song,” and the way I took that was that you’re just getting into the studio and working, and not trying to look for some magic thing, you know, or a big “breakthrough” or anything like that. Was that a lesson you hard to learn the hard way?

Brant Bjork: Well, as a listener, growing up, I love all kinds of music. I’ve not really discriminated against any kind of music. Quality is what I’m looking for. Music that’s got soul that moves me. I listen to everything… Hip-hop, jazz, reggae… As an artist I’ve never been interested in pursuing commercial music. I have a natural passion for music, and it’s an extension of my artistic creativity, and I don’t need any kind of high level of reward or major level of gnarly ambition to recognize or for some kind of gain to represent my accomplishment as an artist. It’s not a destination for me, it’s more of a journey. I look at artists like Miles Davis, or BB King. They make 150 records, not seven. I’m not interested in masterpieces, I’m interested in just making good music, and enjoying the life and journey of being a performer and a recording artist. The reward is the life that I have, where I can just get up in the morning and be a musician.

I think some people just write hits, naturally. I don’t consider myself someone who writes “hit” songs. I mean, someone like Dave Grohl, he just writes hits. Even if he didn’t want to, I think he can’t help it, that’s just what he does. Paul McCartney wrote hits. I don’t look at myself as an artist like that. I’m just a guy exploring the world of music and doing what I love, without any kind of destination in mind.

Are there any artists that come to mind that you think maybe tried to… be that guy that wrote hits, when they could have just been… Like… Well, I guess it’s the sellout question. Making money making art doesn’t make you a sellout, what makes you a sellout is when you compromise your art to get that ring. Are there any artists that you think sold out like that?

Brant Bjork: Well… (Laughing) Part of me feels like I think I know where you’re going with this…

(Laughing) Ah, no, I’m not even going anywhere. I’ve asked it of a bunch of different artists, it’s just something that interests me. I’m not trying to get you to talk shit on anybody in particular.

Brant Bjork: I don’t know, like I said, I think what’s out there in the world kind of speaks for itself, and I think certainly anyone who has an interest in non-commercial music, and/or commercial music, you can pretty much readily see who’s who in the zoo, as they say. You know, I think part of Kurt Cobain’s hell is that he just wrote hits. I think sometimes it frustrated him. It’s interesting how he tried to respond to Nevermind with Steve Albini, and make this almost indie-sounding, rough around the edges rock record, but it still had wonderful songs on it. He just couldn’t [escape]. As far as an artist that strives for that, and just shamefully failed… Yeah I mean… I’m sure there’s quite a few out there as well. I don’t know. What do you think?

Well, the whole Cobain thing really interests me, because I mean, I was the perfect age when Nirvana hit, 14 or 15, and I followed it just enough to be kind of confused as to whether he was trying to be the biggest band in the world, or if he wanted to be a nobody.

I read stories about him going in to record Smells Like Teen Spirit, and he kind of presented this dumb riff, and just told the band, ‘trust me, this is going to be big.’ He knew how to write a pop song, he knew how to write a hit, and he knew when he was doing it. But then afterwards, it seemed like he was uncomfortable with what that brought. That’s one guy I wish I would have been able to talk to, even in private, just to figure out where he stood with that. He seemed like a paradox.

Brant Bjork: I agree, I kind of recognized that when Nirvana was around as well. As I said, I think a musician, or specifically a songwriter, I read somewhere a long time ago, Paul McCartney said (this isn’t verbatim, but something along these lines), he said, you never really improve as a songwriter, ever. You might study the mechanicals, but you just always write what you write. I think there’s a perfect example of that in the Beatles. George always wrote “George” songs. And they were always George songs, and the same could be said for Paul, and the same could be said for John. Paul is kind of this happy-go-lucky, skipping down the road kind of guy, and he wrote songs like that. There might be the odd Helter Skelter here and there, but generally speaking he wrote magnificent pop songs. John was a troubled soul, he came from a trippy upbringing, and he wrote troubled, trippy songs. Even though he embraced this whole life of peace and love and sending positive messages to the world, you can clearly see that it was a man trying to deal with the monkeys on his back. And that’s reflected in any songwriter’s songs.

Neil Young’s another guy, he writes a lot of songs, and he’s one of those guys that can just fall into genius. And he’d probably be the first to tell you, he doesn’t really know exactly how or why, it just kind of comes out of him. I definitely think Kurt Cobain was one of those guys.

I’m working with a guy right now, Dustin Hill, plays in a band called Black Pussy, I just produced their new record at my studio out in the desert. He’s one of those guys that just writes great songs. He was kind of struggling with that in the production process, because he was like, ‘I want to pursue some of this outlandish, jammy rock, where we can really push the envelope, and [do] ten-minute songs and shit,’ and in the end, I said, ‘listen man, you can do both.’ You’re a great songwriter, just embrace what you do. You write great songs, just embrace it.

For me, I can’t say that I write great songs or pop hits, I just write what I write, I create what I create. When I go back and listen to various records in my catalog, I can hear that it’s always kind of, just what I do.

When you’re writing, does anything surprise you, or make you feel uncomfortable? Like have you ever written something and then went… ‘I don’t know where that came from…’

Brant Bjork: Yeah, there’s definitely been some songs or some vibes that just kind of naturally fallen out of me, that definitely make me kind of get a little insecure or reflective.

When it comes to crafting songs, my hero is Phil Lynott. I really identify with Phil Lynott. He was a guy that was a biracial dude from Dublin, in the mid-sixties, and I was a biracial dude growing up in the desert, and it’s kind of this weird area to be in. I love black music, and I love white music, and obviously Phil does too. He’s trying to do – well not trying, he’s very successfully doing – both. I think that’s part of the charm of Thin Lizzy.

With my music, if there’s any one quality or just effect that I continuously and consistently hear in what I’m doing, it’s just that I’m bridging that gap, it’s this gray area between white and black music, if you will. Sometimes I like to go into one particular area more than another, and if I get super deep, I kind of have to come back and get balanced again. That’s just kind of my natural artistic equilibrium. And I hear that a lot with Phil’s music.

John, you got out of music to work in veterinary diagnostics, right, and now you’ve been doing music for awhile. Do you see yourself needing to get back out and get back to the clinic at some point?

John Garcia: That’s still a passion of mine. I live vicariously though my wife who is still in that field. I am… I very well could get back into it. I think that’s a possibility. I love it, so much. It’s so interesting to me. I just love animals anyway. I very well could get back into it. Right now, I want to fulfill my commitment to Brant Bjork and to Bruno Fevery and to my managers, and to the record, and I think it’s deservingly so, and we’ll see what happens.

I’m an animal lover too, and when I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian before I wanted to be a rock star, until I realized how much school it’d take…

John Garcia: If I knew then what I know now, I would have said, later. I would have been long gone [from music]. But I have no regrets.

How’d you get into it originally?

John Garcia: Ah, as a kid, when I was in high school, I started off working at pet stores. Then I went to boarding facilities. Then I went to no-kill shelters. I kind of worked my way to this veterinary clinic, and then worked my way up, self-taught, into a little bit of schooling, I actually took some pre-vet classes, and was planning to go to UC Davis, one of the best veterinary schools in the country in California, and I had my counselor, and was talking to him, and doing my classes, but music kept calling me. I came very close.

I eventually just got into, instead of just being a DVM, I eventually got into diagnostics, because I was so… Getting a doctor the right diagnosis, the right results so he can do a proper diagnosis, was super interesting to me, the technical side of that, was very very interesting to me, how they got those results. That gave me chills. I can’t explain it. I just had a really high interest in how they got those results. And I eventually went to work for the largest diagnostic blood company in the country, which is Antec Diagnostics… I loved it! Absolutely loved it. But the music kept calling my name, calling my name, and eventually I got out of it.

You know, again, I live vicariously through my wife who is still in the field, she works at Palm Springs Animal Hospital, she’s in surgery almost every day, and she sends me pictures and shit like that when I’m on the road… I’m still very much involved with it, one way or another.

Does leaving and doing the music thing disrupt your veterinary career? Is it hard to get back into it, or is the job always there?

John Garcia: Yeah, going back to, you know, working from seven in the morning to seven at night, that’s a pretty big change. But I don’t mind it. It’s like that old saying, if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life.

I just don’t want to blink and see my kids be 10 and 3, and wake up and then they’re 21 years old. That’s the part that scares me the most, I want to be there to watch them grow up. And there’s more to life than just busting your fucking ass constantly. There’s so much more to life than lawsuits. And that’s what’s really important here. I don’t lose track of keeping my eye on the ball. What is the ball? The ball is being a good father, and being a good husband. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not fucking… Some people need to be in the gutters to write fucking good music. I don’t need that. You know what I need to do? I need to be around my family to write good music. I’m inspired by my brothers. I’m inspired by Madison, Marshall, Wendy, Bruno, Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri, and Mike Dean, and the people I relate to, that I surround myself with. And that’s what’s important to me as the singer of the band. It’s not [about] trying to be cool. I don’t want to be fucking cool. What I want to be is I want to be a father and a husband, that’s what I want to fucking be. I don’t want to go and hang out with the fucking cool kids. That’s not my plight in life. My plight in life is wanting to hang out with my daughter, and if she wants to listen to Carly Rae Jepsen, I’m going to listen to it with her, and I’m not going to be afraid to say so.

I don’t give a fuck what people think about John Garcia. If I did, I’d be fucking bummed all the time. I’m an emotional person anyway, but I’m more in tune with my son and my daughter’s emotions than I am with somebody on the internet going, ‘well I don’t fucking like Adara because there’s some rattling on the fuckin’ drums,’ well I don’t give a rat’s ass, I could give two shits.

People are so bored with their own lives, they need other people’s drama to make their lives feel more complete. That’s what the fucking problem is. And you know what, I don’t do that. I can’t do that. And it’s weird to even be talking about it with a person that I… Don’t know, have maybe met in the past… But I appreciate this conversation. I appreciate somebody wanting to know, not just the inner workings of my life musically, but on the personal side, on the veterinary side, and you know what, it’s fucking refreshing to be quite honest with you, so thank you.

Look, for the record, you are my favorite working male vocalist, I love all of the records you’ve sang on. I know nothing about you personally, well I didn’t know anything about you personally. I’m not the type of person that when I like an artist, I start digging into their personal life. I just dig on the records. So I did some Googling just to figure out what would be cool to talk about, what I could relate to for a good conversation. There’s the shit that I had to ask, that we got out of the way, and and then there’s the things that are more interesting to me. I love animals. I’m always trying to balance career and family with this music shit, hanging out with rock stars and shit, and I always have to come home to my daughter, and get centered. I thought that’s something we could get into.

John Garcia: I appreciate it, again, it’s refreshing and awesome.

Another thing I wanted to get to, is I’m an animal lover and I eat meat. And some people, especially in certain parts of the country, get hung up on that. ‘If you love animals so much, how can you eat them, how can you support the killing?’

John Garcia: I’m an animal lover. What initially got me into working with animals wasn’t in the farm animal industry, it didn’t have to do with chickens or bovine or equine or lagomorph, or any of that at all, it was strictly the occasional reptile and occasional avian, but mostly it was domesticated companion animals, dogs and cats, that’s it. I do eat meat, I eat steak, I eat chicken. I’ve eaten some exotic things, buffalo, rattlesnake, I’ve even tried bear, up close to the border in Russia. I myself don’t go out and hunt. I’m an avid fisherman, I love to fish with my kids, but I do enjoy steak, and we’re barbecuing chicken tonight.

I grew up… My mother, she raised three kids, by herself, and I ate what was on the fucking table, man. I didn’t come from a wealthy family. We were very lower middle class family, and when you’re a mother of three, you’re going to put whatever on the fuckin’ table. If cow tongue is on the fucking table, lengua as I call it, which I happen to love, I was going to eat it, I had no choice. Or else I’d get a slap up across the head, ‘you better eat your dinner, because this is all we’ve got.’ So I grew up eating what I had to eat, and meat was part of that, and I’ve grown very accustomed to it, I love it, my wife and I, we love going out and enjoying a nice steak.

I could see where people have a conflict in that. I totally get it. I have… I told my wife one time, I said, ‘have you ever seen what they do, how they kill a cow?’ She said no. I said, ‘well, let me show it to you on the internet…’

Oh Nooo!

John Garcia: She said no. I said ‘I can guarantee you it’s going to change your mind…’ Now, some of that stuff is grotesque, and I think the way, at least in some parts of the United States has gotten a little bit of attention and has been a little bit more humane, ah, but you know, that’s a tough question to answer. I’ve never been asked that question before, but I’m trying to answer it honestly… Let me put it to you this way…

Me being in the veterinary field, I have helped put thousands of animals to sleep, from the time I was eighteen years old, to the time I was thirty-nine years old, thousands, because the quality of life was horrific, and that was the right thing to do. The flipside of that coin is doing it for consumption. So, is there conflict there, in my eyes? Yeah, there is. And it’s something that I’ve got to deal with, and when a journalist asks me…

(Laughing…)

John Garcia: It comes back to me getting a slap up across the head if I didn’t eat my chicken or my lengua that night, and I’ve grown very accustomed to that, and it’s just one of those weird things… I hate to throw the question right back out at you, but how do you feel about that? Have you given that a lot of thought?

Yeah, I got into it… The big example I tend to go to, there’s this story among my friends, years back, I was dating a Chinese girl, and she told a story about growing up in China, and one day she came home, and the family dog was on the dinner table.

John Garcia: The what was on the dinner table?

The family dog, was cooked for dinner. And she flipped out. And she’s telling us this story, and we’re all heartbroken, hearing it, and I mean I love dogs probably more than any other living creature, and everybody knows that about me. And she gets to the end of the story, and I ask, ‘well… Did you… Did you eat him?’ And she goes what, are you fucking crazy!? But I was like, well, if you didn’t… Did he just go into the trash can!? I think I would have eaten him with tears in my eyes, with mixed and horrible feelings of course, but with respect.

I think how I come at it is that anyone raised on a farm can balance that. They can say, I love this cow, I’ll take care of him, but when it comes time, he will feed us or he will go to market so that we can go on. But then there’s these privileged kids that didn’t grow up like you or I did, that have the luxury to say that they’re not going to eat meat or dairy, because blah blah blah…

John Garcia: Oh fuck. Holy shit, that would cause me to get a knuckle sandwich from my mom. Agreed. It’s, you know, because it’s so debatable. It’s debatable. I can see the hypocritical side of what I do, but you know, this is the age, and this is the life that we live in, and in 5,000 years, people might look back at our lifestyle and our culture, and go, ‘can you fucking believe what these people have done?’ Or it could be the exact same way, but it’s been going on for millions of years, you have to survive, you have to eat. I’m not a vegetarian, fuck man, I’m a meat eater, and I love barbecuing chicken. I do. And I’ve never gotten into an intense conversation. I have dodged the question, and I have just kind of shut my mouth, and moved on and gone, ‘well this person’s a hardcore pipe-hitting vegan who doesn’t eat meat.’

I mean, Brant’s drum tech is a vegan and does exactly that. I don’t think Jeff eats dairy or cheese or meat, he doesn’t eat seafood, and we haven’t sat down and talked about it, just because it’s so different, so different views, total ends of the spectrum, but I have mad respect for Jeff, he’s an amazing human being, an awesome guy, a great individual. That conversation can go on and on and on, debatable for months I think. It’s a tough question, I have to admit, it’s got my wheels turning for sure.

I’m just sick of people asking the same shit as everyone else.

 

Peace can be streamed in full right here on SPIN.com. Vista Chino’s US/Canada tour with Black Pussy kicks off on September 6th, and here are the tour dates. follow the band via vistachino.com or on Facebook.

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12 comments
  1. Funny how they say one thing but then their tour poster has “KYUSS” in letters just as big as the actual band name. Seems pretty clear why Homme felt he had to file the suit to me.

    • Olli Buster says:

      They should get things straight – it was Garcia who started the whole thing which ended up in a lawsuit. The trademark filings are sitting on the US Trademark website for everyone to see – signed by Garcia!

  2. Great interview and great talk with John Garcia, i wanted to know if there’s going to be more Hermano some day but Vista Chino is great too.

  3. Fred Bob says:

    I love homme and queens… Could he really be that sneaky? Brant played on the first album didn’t he? I hope it isn’t as underhanded as the guys say… Maybe beating a dead horse with chino vista holding scraps of kyuss… But JHo does like his celebrity status too…

    • Luca Schuldt says:

      No, Brant never played on a Queens album. It was Alfredo Hernandez, who replaced Brant Bjork on the last Kyuss album. Brant got out of the band after Josh neglected to play songs he wrote. They played on the first few Desert Sessions and a track of Nick Oliveri’s Mondo Generator debut, but since then they never did anything as far as I know.

      • brian says:

        the first 2 Mondo Generator albums both feature Brant and Josh. the first 2 Desert Sessions as well. John G actually sings back up on the original version of If Only that was featured on the Kyuss/Qotsa split EP. so i guess they were friendly around 1997 for a short period. gonna be honest, seeing KYUSS in big letters on all of their posters and seeing them tweet vids of them playing Kyuss songs helps me understand what the lawsuit was about. it’s unfortunate because the Vista Chino album can stand on it’s own legs.

  4. Stew says:

    Great interview skwerl, really enjoyed it, just wondering if any of the wild tangents that you ditched included Johns thoughts on Rick Rubins fallout with Sony resulting in the Unida, Great Divide album never seeing the light of day and lost in legal / lawyer shit.

  5. hmmm so is nick on any of this album at all??

  6. That was a great interview Skwerl. You did your homework, asked interesting questions, and it was a great read. Hats off.

  7. Bill Nic says:

    Great interview and interesting that it went off into the meat/vegetarian debate which I struggle with myself.
    But, you should have asked John about Unida. According to their FB page, they are planning a new album. Oh and Unida’s Arthur Seay is with Vista Chino in some capacity as he can be seen watching the shows in some of the youtube vids.

  8. Jordi Castellà says:

    Loved the interview… Though I’d love to hear the story behind “Barcelonian”.
    Cheers from Chile, dude!

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