Musicscan: How has the response to your new album been in Europe so far?
South San Gabriel: A couple of people told me it's been pretty good.
Musicscan: What first grabbed my attention was the unusual artwork of the record. With is overly simplistic and almost child-like approach it seemed very innocent on the one hand, but with a darker and more complex side to it. Similar to your music in a way. Would you agree?
South San Gabriel: I think it matches the music pretty well, and we try to go for that with the artwork on our records. I always enjoy when the sight and sound of a record fit together.
Musicscan: Please tell me a little bit about how you grew up and in what way you think Texas influenced you as a person and your music?
South San Gabriel: I spent the first twelve years of my life in a little cotton farming town in Missouri, then moved to Texas, where I've been ever since. There's a lot of room to roam here, a lot of space. There's also a lot of good and bad ghosts here, beauty and evil. I think you get that when you combine lots of space, many different types of people, and unbelievable summer heat. I think that does often work its way into our songs. All of my favorite storytellers (musical and literary) succeed at telling about their regions, and I've been inspired by that approach.
Musicscan: When did you first actively get in touch with music and what fascinated you about it? Has that feeling changed over the years?
South San Gabriel: My mom had a pretty extensive record collection when I was a kid. I didn't know how to work the record player yet, but I knew that I loved listening to music. I'd pick out records and she'd put them on for me. Drums were my first love, and I'd pay close attention to what the drummers were doing. That feeling changed and intensified over the years as I started to pay closer attention to melody, lyrics, characters within songs.
Musicscan: How is your songwriting process? Do you first write a guitar part and then go from there? Is there a certain formula or does it very much vary from song to song?
South San Gabriel: Usually the guitar part and the vocal melody happen at the same time. If the song doesn't come together in the first sitting, then chances are it won't at all. I don't really pine or brood over a song. I prefer to capture it all right then and there. Occasionally there are exceptions, but most of the time it's a pretty quick process.
Musicscan: Is there a theme that continues throughout the album that ties everything together?
South San Gabriel: I've noticed there are a handful of songs involving one character directly addressing another, usually with unfavourable results. "New Brookland", "St. Augustine", "Smelling Medicinal", "Everglades", and "Like a Madman" are all like that. They're all little horror stories involving the unraveling of very rural relationships.
Musicscan: How do you motivate yourself to work on another album after so many albums with Centro-matic? What is the best aspect of being a musician?
South San Gabriel: I'm always excited about writing the next album, or at least the next batch of songs. At least I have been thus far, and if it changes to where I'm not excited or motivated about it, I won't do it. I'll move on to something else. For now, though, creating pieces of music with my friends is where I want to be. I think that's the best aspect.
Musicscan: 3 all-time favorite records, books and movies?
South San Gabriel: Records: Robert Johnson - Box Set; The Replacements - Let it Be; AC/DC - Back in Black
Books: William Faulkner - The Sound and the Fury; Frederick Exley - A Fan's Notes; Larry Brown - Facing the Music
Movies: Ken Burns' "Baseball" Documentary; The Graduate; Caddyshack
Musicscan: What can we expect from South San Gabriel in the near future? Are there any plans to come to Europe?
South San Gabriel: Hopefully another record if we can round everyone up for it. Scott and I will be there touring and chain smoking in a couple of weeks, actually, so stop down if you get a chance.
Musicscan: Any last words?
South San Gabriel: Throw the levers, brethren!