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by Martin Savage

I JUST GOT THE GOSPEL SWINGERS LP THAT WAS RECENTLY PUT OUT BY LONESTAR RECORDS AND REALLY LIKED IT SO I DECIDED TO DO AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEX CUERVO ABOUT WHY IT DIDN’T COME OUT BACK IN ´95 AND WHAT HE’S DOING THESE DAYS. ALEX WAS THE AMAZING BASSPLAYER IN BLACKTOP, KING SOUND QUARTET, NOW TIME DELEGATION, GOSPEL SWINGERS AND NOW THIS DAMN TOWN.

First of all, tell me about the Gospel Swingers. That band started right after Blacktop right? Who are the people in the band? Kari Luna was also in the Now Time Delegation?

The Gospel Swingers actually started well after the King Sound Quartet. I hadn’t been doing anything really noteworthy for a while. Steve Adkins and I met when we were sitting in with a mutual friend’s instrumental band. At the time, Kari Luna and I had been dating for about a year. Right around the time that Kari and I split up, I had the opportunity to do a recording project in New York with Mick Collins and Matt Verta Ray (from Speedball Baby/Heavy Trash) and I suggested we use Steve as the drummer. Steve and I went up there and decided during the recording session that we wanted to start our own band when we got back to Texas. After some time, Kari and I started hanging out again as friends and the 3 of us decided to go for it. We had another singer/guitar player initially - but it didn’t work out with him. Eventually, Quincy Holloway and Chris Merlick (who’d been in Fireworks) joined and the band kept the same lineup until it’s end. Steve and Kari and I did the Now Time stuff while
the Swingers were still active.

Was the band more of a project or was it meant to be an actual band? If so, what happened?


It was a full-time band for almost 5 years. Steve and I had a falling out towards the end and Chris and Quincy were both new parents and so less available to rehearse, etc… Kari and I were frustrated because we wanted to do more stuff musically, so we decided to start a new band, and that band was the first incarnation of This Damn Town.

Was the idea to do a new band in the vein of Blacktop when Blacktop fell apart?

Not really - we saw it as it’s own thing.

Ok, and the next question that comes to mind is how come all this great stuff has been unreleased for so long?

Your guess is as good as mine. We sent that album to a bunch of labels, and none of them were interested. The initial sequence had a couple songs that didn’t really work and were removed from the final version. I think it’s a lot tougher and cooler sounding without them.

The In The Red 7″ is really one of the best 7″ ever on that label I think, how come he didn’t want to do a fullength?

Thanks. We were really proud of the ITR 7″ - it really captured what we were going for. There were some other songs from that recording session that didn’t – but those 2 songs definitely did. I have no idea why Larry passed on the LP - you’d have to ask him. He was really overwhelmed with releases at the time though.

And how come it finally ended up on Lonestar?

Harry from Lonestar liked the 7″ a lot, and had heard about the unreleased LP from somewhere. He contacted Larry at In the Red, and Larry put him in touch with me. The band had already been broken up for quite a while, but he liked the album, so he put it out.

What was this recording project with Mick C, you, Steve and Matt Verta-Ray? Has it been released? If not, what happened to it and what was the name of the band?

Well we did around 6 songs, and they were REALLY all over the place. One had a Beach Boys vibe, one was a Beatles cover (”I’m only sleeping” - which is actually a fantastic song), one was almost kind of disco, another one was kinda creepy film noir jazz thing (which I liked a whole lot) - like I said … All over the place. Nobody knew what to make of it, so subsequently none of it was ever released. I thought a couple of the songs were pretty cool - and would actually like to release them myself someday as a 7″. We’ll see - I don’t know if anyone even knows where the original reels are.

Do you ever feel you get in the shadow of the more “famous” people you were in bands with like Mick Collins, Darin Lin Wood and Tim kerr?

Kind of, but it doesn’t really bother me. They’re all really talented people & deserve it. I’ve learned a lot from playing with them, so I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to do so. Despite all the bad blood between me & Darin’ I can’t deny the guy was a great fucking guitar player & if it wasn’t for him – i wouldn’t have done any of this shit.

From what I understand you wrote a lot of the stuff on the Blacktop record but people still talk about Mick and Darin.

Well Mick and Darin had previous bands that a lot of people were crazy about, so it kind of makes sense. Yeah - I wrote a good chunk of the Blacktop stuff, but I was the new kid on the scene at the time. Mick andDarin’ have these personas that people seem to gravitate towards, and I was (and still am, actually) a pretty dorky/goofy motherfucker. In all fairness - Mick is a total nerd too - but people kind of have this romantic notion of him being this mysterious black voodoo priest or something. Not so much now as they used to during Blacktop (and probably moreso during the Gories).

Which leads me to another question, do you have any clue what happened to Darin Lin Wood and Janet?

Last I heard, Darin was living in Southern California and was married. Janet is back in Dallas - we’ve run into each other a few times.

What are you doing these days? We got the This Damn Town demo a while ago but the anti-hardrock people we are we thought it was a little too hardrock for our tastes. how is that going? You told me you had a bunch of singles on the way?

Man… that “hard rock” thing really bums me the fuck out. Do you consider a Feast of Snakes hard rock? Where I come from Bon Jovi is called “hard rock”. I think maybe our definitions differ. Check out the SYA single, that one gets called “rock-a-billy” a lot - which I don’t understand either. Anyways - yeah we had a couple singles come out last year on SYA (from Italy) and Sonico (from Germany, it was a split w/ the Guilty Hearts, who are great). There’s a few more singles coming out this year on Chicken Ranch (from Austin - it’ll be featuring Kari Luna on vocals), Perpetrator (New Zealand), and the stuff that you passed on will be coming out on Solid Sexy Lovie Doll, which I’m really excited about.

Who are in that band?

This Damn Town was initially started by Kari Luna and I with our friends Jeremy Diaz (who was in the Riverboat Gamblers… are THEY “hardrock”?) and Dillon Strange. Kari moved to Portland last year, and Jeremy and I moved to Austin. Alyse Mervosh (from the Manikin & the Winks) is the new drummer, and Tom Kodiak (from the Kodiaks/Hatchbacks/Dirty Sweets) is playing 3rd guitar. We’ve been writing a lot of new stuff & will be recording again real soon.

Any other projects/bands we should know of??

I did a recording project last year with my good friend Dave Bessenhoffer from Seattle and Alyse called the Brotherhood of Electricity. Dave is in an incredible band called New Fangs, who This Damn Town will be touring with in March. He was also in the Gimmicks (Estrus), and the Blow Up (Empty). We just had a single come out on Super Secret records and plan on doing some more recordings in the future.
Associated time: Friday June 1 1 2007 11:00
Last update: Friday June 1 1 2007 11:53

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