Jacuzzi Boys Talk DJing, Crazy Costumes, and Going Heavy; Playing Churchill's on Sunday with the Strange Boys
Jacuzzi Boys have only been around for three years. In that time they've managed to frequently tour the U.S., put out a handful of fast-selling seven inches, release an album, and get noticed and respected on a national level. Not bad at all.
The band practices and finds inspiration at bassist Danny Gonzalez's home in Key Biscayne. In the middle of Bill Baggs State Park, they're surrounded by the beach, the woods, and snakes. While the sprawling backyard definitely motivates the group, it's inside the home where they really get their influences. Gonzalez has an intense music collection: Records, magazines, books, videos, and tapes. He's managed to store every song, photo, and random anecdote in his head.
New Times met up with Gonzalez to talk some shit and have some coffee at Sweat Records. We talked about his experience as a human music encyclopedia, being in the Jacuzzi Boys and their last show at Churchill's Pub with Houston's Wiggins -- where, according to Gonzalez, "he was having some weird technical difficulties, he tells the sound guy, 'leave the guitar out of it, I'm just gonna rap.'"
New Times: You were DJing at Churchill's in the year 2000, those parties in the back patio were some of the best times I ever had.
Danny: They didn't even have a bar in that back, yet. It was a disaster back there, but the vibe was great. People from the neighborhood would come by. This one guy was eating a basket of fries, his hands full of ketchup, and I was playing DEVO. He was like, 'I dig this. I'm gonna look into this!' Totally into it.
The Jacuzzi Boys were just a two-piece before you joined. How'd you end up joining them?
When I first saw Jacuzzi Boys, it was loud as hell! Gabriel was playing everything through a Big Muff. It was kind of a mess. But I felt there was something really good, something unique about it. When he asked me to join - and I never for one second thought, they need a bass player. You know, it's them two. And it's cool. I said 'yeah' because I wanted to be a part of it, but I thought, really, you don't need bass player -- but, let's do this.
I initially thought you guys were just a garage band, but now I can tell it's so much more.
On the first 7" we put a lot of reverb and buried the vocals a bit. On the new recording there's no reverb and the voice is clear as hell. If you hear a recording that the vocals are buried, the first thing you think is that's a lo-fi record. Any classic record you hear from the 60's and 70's, you hear the voice clearly. They used the top-notch engineers and the best studios. That shit sounds vicious.
Do you ever show the other guys any records to pull influence from?
One time we were having a rough practice, so we took a break and we watched a Guided By Voices documentary. They'd never seen it before. We were all blown away. We got up and said, 'Let's write a Guided By Voices song!' We came up with "Island Avenue," which sounds nothing like Guided By Voices. But, yeah, every now and then I'll pull out a record for inspiration, even something that sounds nothing like what we're working on, just to get perspective.
Your LP No Seasons sounds amazing, how did you feel about the upgrade in sound quality?
I remember being freaked out hearing the LP in the studio on headphones, thinking, this sounds awesome, is this too big? Does this sound like a stadium band? Nah, it sounds great. We just want to make the best records possible.
The sound got better and you guys used to dress up crazy for shows. I almost forgot about that. Why did you dress up? Why did you stop?
All 3 of us were all into dressing up for shows, making it more of a spectacle. I used to wear a cape. We wore ponchos and face paint. And slowly we were like, eh, forget that. When we first toured with the King Khan and BBQ Show, we were dressing up. They loved it. Khan's all about it. When we toured with King Khan and the Shrines, he asked, "Where the ponchos at?" He thought we were just being lazy; but really we were just more confident in our music. You know, let's just play the songs.
You guys just came back from New York, right?
We played a show with Nobunny and we recorded a song up there for a split we're doing on Vice. It was recorded by Ivan Julian from Richard Hell and the Voidoids.
No shit, and you guys are doing another new recording now, right?
The new recording at the Dungeon in Miami, it's 3 songs, it's pretty much done, except vocals.
What's it like working with engineer Ryan Haft?
It's great. When someone's recording you, they have a general interest and knowledge about music. We let the engineer do his job, do his thing. They're not gonna make us sound heavy or something.
Would you go heavy?
Maybe. Not like... Macho heavy.
Jacuzzi Boys play with the Strange Boys, Gentleman Jesse and His Men, and the Electric Bunnies at Churchill's, Sunday Septmber 5. Free with RSVP at sailorjerry.com/miamisept5
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