Haochi Waves has been living up to the second part of its name for some time now.
From the ashes of Pretty Please, husband-and-wife creators Juan Oña and Ana Farina Mackliff reemerged, joined again by Didi Aragon. And now they're poised to release their latest band's first full-length album, Peggy.
In anticipation of this debut slab, we here at Crossfade spoke with drummer Juan Oña about the band, legal ordeals, and what's in the future.
Crossfade:What have you guys been up to since 2012's Apparatus?
Juan Oña: Apparatus isn't a release we're particularly proud of, we'd actually like to brush it under the table as a "demo." Pretty Please had just broken up and we were eager to maintain the momentum we had all worked so hard on, so we rushed into the studio and pooped out what we had at the time. Since then, we have been writing, developing our style, polishing our sound, and finding our true voice.
You've been working with Didi Aragon and Ana Farina Mackliff for a while. I take it Didi's situation with immigration was resolved?
Her immigration status is still pending, but we're all very hopeful that her case is on its way to being resolved. We had just started working on the new recordings when Didi's situation took a dramatic turn. At the time, she was unable to work, drive a car, or even go to school. In her desperation, she self-deported to Chile, simply because she wanted to be able to work and provide for herself. Within a month of leaving, she finally got her day in court, the day she had been waiting on for over a decade. Working with her lawyer and her family, we proceeded to move heaven and earth to get her back for her court date. Didi flew to Mexico and we drove to Texas to meet her at the border with all the legal documents at hand. We were at the border for a week, stuck in bureaucratic hell, trying to get her across. In the end, that attempt was unsuccessful. However, that attempt was enough for the lawyer to get an extension. The lawyer then pulled a miracle, was able to get Didi back into the country, and Didi was able to have her day in court.
The whole experience was really trying for the band: Pretty Please breaks up, then we have to redefine our new sound, Didi leaves, then Farina and I have to redesign our sound once again as a two-piece, Didi returns and we have to do it all over again to incorporate Didi into what Farina and I had developed. It was frustrating, having to pick up and start over so many times.
However, I don't think our sound would be what it is had it not been for all that chaos.
How is it being in a band with your wife? And think before you answer.
Challenging and rewarding, to say the least. We were in Pretty Please when we first started dating, which was breaking rule number-one: Don't have relations with your band members! But we did anyway and we fell in love. During the Apparatus production, the band actually took a big toll on our relationship. At the time, Farina and I were living in a 250-square-foot space, both working from home, both of us in the same band. It just became too much. We broke up, saw other people, and fought all the demons associated with heartbreak and jealousy. After a few months, we got back together. Then one night at Churchill's, I decided to propose to her in the same exact place where I had fallen in love with her a few years back: the cockroach-infested laundry room while having a drink.
How romantic, right? We were married by Ferny Coipel of Humbert in our back yard. I think it's also worth noting that I walked down the aisle in crutches and even crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in a wheelchair. I had a shattered heel from a ladder accident that happened while trying to decorate our house for the wedding. That's the kind of luck I have.
Farina and I are now stronger than ever because we have learned boundaries. We have separate work spaces, for starters. But most importantly, we try not to let relationship issues interfere with the band. In the studio, I'm her drummer, she's my bass player, and that's it.
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So let's talk about Peggy. How did this album come about?
This album is a direct result of the experiences we have been talking about. Peggy was only one song before, but it quickly became the title track as it became clear to us that this song embodied the vibe and emotion of the rest of the album. "Peggy" is a character Farina created. She lives inside of all of us. She comes out when we are heartbroken, in pain, and usually alcohol is involved. She's somebody we try to suppress, but she inevitably comes out, and when she does, she's irrational and dangerous. Didi was "Peggy" when she picked up and left the country. Farina and I were "Peggy" when we were seeing other people. Have you seen the video? That's what it's about.
I'd also like to take this time to acknowledge the few people who helped us. Omar Garcia (The Brand) helped me mix the album. Rat Bastard did all the mastering. Jorge Gonzalez-Graupera (The Brand, Jorges, Plains) plays guitar and noise on "Machine." We even stole a song called "Love My Love" from Omar and Jorge's old band, The Inside, for a cover.
There's a slightly darker quality to these tracks than your previous efforts. Was that a deliberate act?
Yes and no. We really don't have any control over what we write. What comes out, comes out, and is usually influenced by the circumstances around us. What is deliberate is our desire to not sound like Pretty Please or The Brand. Fuck that happy shit, right? I know that Farina likes to fight with preconceived notions. When we get up on the stage, if you've never heard us, some might have certain expectations of our sound because we are mainly women. The idea is to punch those expectations in the face.
Even the cover art looks suspiciously like a metal album and not your brand of jangle pop dance punk. Tell us about that.
I really don't know shit about metal, so I have no point of reference here, Donnie.
My name's Abel.
Right. The album art is a collage of Didi's own drawings. The artwork is really about the liberation of the female body. So much rampant misogyny still being spewed by conservative media, where people are told that dressing provocatively is a justifiable excuse for rape... Well, this artwork is a "fuck you" to that notion.
You've released a ton of music, but I'm under the impression that this will be your first vinyl release. Is that right?
Well, we were going to press vinyl. We were also going to press vinyl for other previous albums. But mo'fuckas be broke and shit.
Truth is being a true independent band takes all your time and all your money with little promise of any kind of return. I have actually been turning down jobs and only taking on enough work to make ends meet, so that I can have more time to work on this album. It sucks being fucking broke all the time, but not as much as sitting in someone else's workspace, working on someone else's dream, and having little to no energy for your own ambitions. Donations accepted: money, gear, food and/or booze will do.
So how will Peggy be released?
We've always been fans of all things analog: vinyl, film, books, etc. I've always loved the idea of seeing my album in a full 12-by-12-inch color sleeve, pulling out the record, looking at the grooves, smelling it, then dropping the needle on it. But there was never a market for it. Now there is, but shit's expensive.
We're actually trying to make tapes, but I got four decks here, three of them borrowed, and none of them work, argh! For the release, everything will be done by hand: CD burning, (maybe) tape dupes, printing, cutting, folding, gluing, and stuffing. Hopefully, we can make enough money from selling some music and merch at the release so that we can press vinyl. It's our only shot, 'cause we're making nothing from the show since we decided to make it free at Churchill's on November 15!
Where will the album be available?
The full album will be available at 12 a.m. on November 15 as a digital download through iTunes, Amazon, BandCamp, SoundCloud, etc. Right now, you can go to here and download a song from the album. You can set your own price from zero to a zillion. For the time being, the only way you can buy a physical copy is by coming to the FREE show. Do it, it's going to kick ass with Shark Valley Sisters, Bleeth (formerly The Astrokats), Wastelands, The Bearings, and Landica!
What kind of support will you guys give the album? Any touring plans on the horizon?
We have every intention of whoring ourselves bloody. As soon as we push this record out, we will play anywhere, everywhere, anytime! As soon as the hangover from the release is past we will be booking away.
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When we were in Pretty Please, like Haochi Waves, we had spent years developing that sound. As soon as we released that Pretty Please album, I bought an almost brand new Ford E-350 van, expecting to hit the road hard, we did one trip in it to SXSW, and then the band broke up. I have refused to return it despite how expensive and impractical it is; knowing that one day we will regroup, and be ready to go on tour. So to answer your question, you bet your sweet little ass that we have touring plans! Don't know the how's, where's, and when's just yet but we expect to be on the road for most of next year.
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Haochi Waves' Peggy Record Release. With Bleeth, Shark Valley Sisters, Wastelands, The Bearings, Kazoots, and Landica. Sunday, November 15. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. and admission is free. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.