Smell disciples and tropical noise-punkers Abe Vigoda found themselves stranded last week, just hours away from the big city lights, in a place we like to call "New Jersey." Luckily the good people at AAA replaced their tire in timely fashion, and the Chino youngsters were able to safely make their way to Brooklyn for their five-boroughs debut. Dudes jingle-jangled their way through a frustratingly short set of jammers both new and old and plan to do the very same this month throughout the US of A. We sat indian-style with them on a Williamsburg sidewalk (uncomfortable yet quiet) before their set and shot pretty major shit, discussing their hopes and dreams as well as the many karmic pitfalls of touring those states that lie between Los Angeles and New York.
Did you guys all go to high school together?
J: Yeah, and I went to junior high with Dave. I've known Reggie the longest, but just because our moms hung out together at different events.
Isn’t it tough to juggle school and touring now?
M: We just kind of have to do it in winter or summer.
J: Unless something crazy comes up and we have absolutely have to do it.
Are you putting more tunes out in the fall?
M: We’re going to record in the fall.
J: Hopefully we’ll be back home in August and then for two weeks we’re not doing anything because Mike is going on tour with Mika Miko. He’s going to go with them on the West Coast for two weeks and when he comes back we’ll hopefully be able to record our new stuff.
M: That’s probably going to come out on that label, Teardrops. That guy Cali at Teardrops wants to do it. He’s super sweet and an awesome guy and he wants to record with us.
What does the new music sound like?
Does it still have that sort of dance-y, tropical vibe or are you guys going to get noisier?
J: It’s definitely still very tropical. We placed a lot more focus on the vocals than we have before and we’d like everything to a little cleaner. The songs are much more poppy and melodic— much less distorted, I guess you could say.
It seems like you’ve traced some of David Byrne’s footsteps a bit. Is that how you arrived at integrating elements of Tropicalia into your brand of punk?
J: Yeah we started listening to Talking Heads and world music a whole lot about two years ago. That’s something we wanted to keep working on in the new stuff we’ve written, but just trying as much as we can to keep things clean and melodic.
More pop than punk?
J: Yeah, and dancier, like you said. We’d like to emphasize our rhythm section more as well.
Have you guys considered experimenting with different drums, as opposed to the standard sort of drumkit? Maybe African or Brazilian drums?
J: Not really. We want to make the live set as close to the recording as possible. We do add drum layers and overdubs, but not stuff we can’t easily add to the live show. We just want to keep it simple.
So your tire blew out in New Jersey earlier today?
Juan Velasquez: It basically almost blew up, but on the freeway.
Michael Vidal: It took us like three hours to get it fixed.
What are you guys touring in?
M: It’s this like weird Ford Club wagon, like a twelve-passenger van.
Like a Mormon van.
J: Yeah, exactly! (laughs) Luckily it’s been pretty good before. Earlier in the tour Michael stole a dream-catcher at a gas station in Arizona or New Mexico. So I was like, “Oh, cool. We steal a dreamcatcher from a place like this, we’re going to get cursed.” So right after we stole it, ten minutes later, our van’s engine light came on.
M: Immediately we threw the dreamcatcher out the window (laughs).
J: You threw the dreamcatcher out the window. It was the only spiritual thing that has happened to us on tour.
M: I felt really sad afterwards because I looked at the tag and it had the name of who handcrafted the dreamcatcher and the name of the tribe.
J: Yeah, the van‘s been cool. Traveling hasn’t been that bad.
M: None of us have been out to the east coast before so this is our first time. It’s been really super beautiful and amazing.
So you like it so far? How have the shows been?
M: Totally. There’s been some funny shows and some really good shows.
Juan was saying earlier that you guys really hated playing in Albuquerque.
M: Well, it was a funny situation the first time we played there. We were playing at like, a total sports bro bar.
J: The sound guy told us we needed to turn it down because we were turning the customers away. We knew it was a bar, but we didn’t know that they were going to be so crazy. It was us and Mika Miko and out of all the people playing with us that night, only two people were 21. The rest of us had to sit or stand in this tiny area designated with tape off to the side. We couldn’t even go sell our merch.
M: This time Albuquerque was really cool. We played this house and it was like, 20 people with their shirts off dancing.
Like a jock orgy?
M: Yeah (laughs).
J: It was a little bit my dream. Our touring mate John [Trill], he took all these pictures because he knew it was my dream to play to a group of shirtless dudes that were rioting.