by Martin Savage
IJUST GOT THE GOSPEL SWINGERS LP THAT WAS RECENTLY PUT OUT BY LONESTARRECORDS AND REALLY LIKED IT SO I DECIDED TO DO AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEXCUERVO ABOUT WHY IT DIDNT COME OUT BACK IN ´95 AND WHAT HES DOINGTHESE DAYS. ALEX WAS THE AMAZING BASSPLAYER IN BLACKTOP, KING SOUNDQUARTET, NOW TIME DELEGATION, GOSPEL SWINGERS AND NOW THIS DAMN TOWN.
Firstof all, tell me about the Gospel Swingers. That band started rightafter Blacktop right? Who are the people in the band? Kari Luna wasalso in the Now Time Delegation?
TheGospel Swingers actually started well after the King Sound Quartet. Ihadnt been doing anything really noteworthy for a while. Steve Adkinsand I met when we were sitting in with a mutual friends instrumentalband. 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 opportunityto do a recording project in New York with Mick Collins and Matt VertaRay (from Speedball Baby/Heavy Trash) and I suggested we use Steve asthe drummer. Steve and I went up there and decided during the recordingsession 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 andthe 3 of us decided to go for it. We had another singer/guitar playerinitially - but it didnt work out with him. Eventually, QuincyHolloway and Chris Merlick (whod been in Fireworks) joined and theband kept the same lineup until its end. Steve and Kari and I did theNow 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?
Itwas a full-time band for almost 5 years. Steve and I had a falling outtowards the end and Chris and Quincy were both new parents and so lessavailable to rehearse, etc Kari and I were frustrated because wewanted 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 its own thing.
Ok, and the next question that comes to mind is how come all this great stuff has been unreleased for so long?
Yourguess is as good as mine. We sent that album to a bunch of labels, andnone of them were interested. The initial sequence had a couple songsthat didnt really work and were removed from the final version. Ithink its a lot tougher and cooler sounding without them.
The In The Red 7″ is really one of the best 7″ ever on thatlabel I think, how come he didnt want to do a fullength?
Thanks.We were really proud of the ITR 7″ - it really captured what we weregoing for. There were some other songs from that recording session thatdidnt but those 2 songs definitely did. I have no idea why Larrypassed on the LP - youd have to ask him. He was really overwhelmedwith releases at the time though.
And how come it finally ended up on Lonestar?
Harryfrom Lonestar liked the 7″ a lot, and had heard about the unreleased LPfrom somewhere. He contacted Larry at In the Red, and Larry put him intouch with me. The band had already been broken up for quite a while,but he liked the album, so he put it out.
Whatwas 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 nameof the band?
Wellwe did around 6 songs, and they were REALLY all over the place. One hada Beach Boys vibe, one was a Beatles cover (Im only sleeping - whichis actually a fantastic song), one was almost kind of disco, anotherone 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, sosubsequently none of it was ever released. I thought a couple of thesongs were pretty cool - and would actually like to release them myselfsomeday as a 7″. Well see - I dont know if anyone even knows wherethe original reels are.
Doyou ever feel you get in the shadow of the more famous people youwere in bands with like Mick Collins, Darin Lin Wood and Tim kerr?
Kindof, but it doesnt really bother me. Theyre all really talented people& deserve it. Ive learned a lot from playing with them, so Imgrateful for the opportunities Ive had to do so. Despite all the badblood between me & Darin I cant deny the guy was a great fuckingguitar player & if it wasnt for him i wouldnt have done any ofthis shit.
From what I understand you wrote a lot of the stuff on the Blacktop record but people still talk about Mick and Darin.
WellMick and Darin had previous bands that a lot of people were crazyabout, so it kind of makes sense. Yeah - I wrote a good chunk of theBlacktop stuff, but I was the new kid on the scene at the time. MickandDarin 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 havethis romantic notion of him being this mysterious black voodoo priestor something. Not so much now as they used to during Blacktop (andprobably moreso during the Gories).
Which leads me to another question, do you have any clue what happened to Darin Lin Wood and Janet?
LastI heard, Darin was living in Southern California and was married. Janetis back in Dallas - weve run into each other a few times.
Whatare you doing these days? We got the This Damn Town demo a while agobut the anti-hardrock people we are we thought it was a little toohardrock for our tastes. how is that going? You told me you had a bunchof singles on the way?
Man that hard rock thing really bums me the fuck out. Do you consider aFeast of Snakes hard rock? Where I come from Bon Jovi is called hardrock. I think maybe our definitions differ. Check out the SYA single,that one gets called rock-a-billy a lot - which I dont understandeither. Anyways - yeah we had a couple singles come out last year onSYA (from Italy) and Sonico (from Germany, it was a split w/ the GuiltyHearts, who are great). Theres a few more singles coming out this yearon Chicken Ranch (from Austin - itll be featuring Kari Luna onvocals), Perpetrator (New Zealand), and the stuff that you passed onwill be coming out on Solid Sexy Lovie Doll, which Im really excitedabout.
Who are in that band?
ThisDamn Town was initially started by Kari Luna and I with our friendsJeremy Diaz (who was in the Riverboat Gamblers are THEY hardrock?)and Dillon Strange. Kari moved to Portland last year, and Jeremy and Imoved to Austin. Alyse Mervosh (from the Manikin & the Winks) isthe new drummer, and Tom Kodiak (from the Kodiaks/Hatchbacks/DirtySweets) is playing 3rd guitar. Weve been writing a lot of new stuff & will be recording again real soon.
Any other projects/bands we should know of??
Idid a recording project last year with my good friend Dave Bessenhofferfrom Seattle and Alyse called the Brotherhood of Electricity. Dave isin an incredible band called New Fangs, who This Damn Town will betouring with in March. He was also in the Gimmicks (Estrus), and theBlow Up (Empty). We just had a single come out on Super Secret recordsand plan on doing some more recordings in the future.