All the joys of a summer day and a good surf-rock tune come together in La Vega’s music. These California rockers mix wailing guitars and lively dragged vocals with beach atmospheres, and their debut record Wave flourishes with the essence of fun times and joy. Wave will be released tomorrow (Tuesday the 13th), so to give you a little taste of what La Vega are all about, AMBY spoke with the hilarious band about their surf vibes, favourite songs off Wave, ownership, and Mini Me!
AMBY: Hello Daniel, Evan, and Andy! What’s the band been up to lately?
Daniel: We’ve been working on taking the record out of the studio.
Evan: Yeah, getting ready to tour is the biggest priority at the moment. That’s a brand new shift of focus though, at least for me. For the last few months I’ve been jumping back and forth kind of nonstop between the studio and the road, trying to get this album done and mixed in between a lot of touring with the other band I’m in, Wild Child.
AMBY: If you had to describe each member of the band with one word, which word would define them?
Daniel: Evan is the mastermind. Andy is the charm. Daniel plays the drums.
Evan: Me: monomaniacal. Andy: unflappable. Daniel: Rodney Dangerfield.
Andy: Handsome, handsome, handsome.
AMBY: We love your surf vibes. Who inspires La Vega’s sound?
Evan: Gee thanks, that’s nice of you to say. That’s quite a hard question to answer. If I had to really narrow it down, I’d say most but not all music that was recorded between 1954 and 1995. And a lot that was recorded since then, too.
Daniel: I like to dance. Surfy is dancey. That’s a big part of it.
Evan: For sure. I want to play parties, not shows. I always get bored at shows, and then I feel guilty about the fact that I feel bored. It’s quite a vicious cycle of feelings. I don’t want to inspire them in people who come to hear us play. I’d rather they ignore us completely and focus instead on having fun with the people around them. I want to help facilitate an experience, rather than being the center of an experience.
Andy: For me the surf thing probably comes from the Texas coast. That’s where I grew up, and a lot of my musical inspiration definitely comes from the beach, even if it is a beach in Texas.
Evan: I’m not sure we answered your question even a little bit.
AMBY: Your debut album, Wave, is rad. Which songs off the record are your favourite?
Evan: Gee thanks again, that’s also nice of you to say. Mine changes depending on the day, or the mood I’m in. Right now it’s either “Where You Normally Go” or “Jackie”, which are pretty far apart from each other along the musical spectrum of this album. “Where You Normally Go” is a two-minute, like, punk rockabilly song that suddenly busts open into anarchy halfway through. It’s really cathartic, really fun to play. “Jackie” is almost like an out-of-the-box Sixties girl group pop song for the first four minutes, but then it disintegrates bit by bit into a kind of abstract experiment in chaos and noise, where all the instruments fall out of time with each other and it becomes almost like a Pollock painting, musical paint splattered all over a canvas. The only thing those two songs have in common is that they both veer off course at a certain moment and become really aggressive, almost to the point of abrasive, even. Sometimes it’s just fun to make some noise, I guess.
Daniel: The title track. Much like the album, it’s called “Wave”. Strange coincidence.
Andy: KEY WEST!
AMBY: How would you describe your new album in three words?
Daniel: Dancing, Girls, Beer
Evan: United, States, America
Andy: Das, wuz, up
AMBY: One of my favourite songs on the album is Exit Tax. What’s the track about?
Evan: That’s the most lyrically direct song we have, actually. The songs on this album are like chapters. Whereas most albums seem to me more like collections of short stories—where the songs all tend to be of or about a certain time and place and mood, maybe, but don’t necessarily work together in a narrative way—I wanted Wave to function more like a novel, where the songs are like chapters moving together in a more linear context and collectively telling a longer-form, hopefully more dimensional and nuanced story. I think of “Exit Tax” as kind of the anchor of that story, the most literal, like, “Here’s what we’re really talking about here.” It’s about losing someone who was more than just a person you loved—someone you’ve built a whole life with, a home with, and with whom you’ve assembled the whole assortment of the little things that come to fill and in some ways define a life, a home, whatever. “Exit Tax” is about some of the physical, palpable aspects to that experience. The actual physical pain and discomfort and disorientation you feel when you walk away from a life you’ve shared intimately with somebody. It’s also about the most mundane stuff possible—by that I mean, just, stuff. Who gets to keep these dishes, who’s laying claim to this piece of furniture or that one, whose copy of Lolita or Revolver is this? Those fundamentally mundane sorts of questions can become very loaded ones, and almost unbearably sad ones too. Something about the song reminds me of those heart-wrenching photographs you always see in the days after a bad tornado, where a person is captured picking through the pile of total destruction where their house used to be, hoping probably beyond hope to find something in the wreckage of their former life that might offer them a bit of comfort.
It’s also about ownership, what it means to own something, or to be owned by something, or someone. What it’s worth, and what it costs, on both sides of that transaction.
Daniel: What he said.
AMBY: What’s the story behind the name La Vega?
Evan: Vega is Daniel’s last name. Far cooler to name the band after the drummer than after the front man, I thought. Especially when the drummer’s name is Vega. There are other things it can call to mind too—the whole lineage of Tarantino characters with that same surname, the sort of bizarre singular of Las Vegas, of course. Mainly, though, it just had the right feel. To me, a good band name has to reflect the band’s music somehow. On some sub-language level, I mean. How it looks and sounds and feels. I just thought that La Vega conveniently kind of hit that nail on the head for us.
Andy: My other band is called La Migra. So I guess I have a thing for La names.
Evan: Oh yeah! I almost forgot. Andy and I were friends before he joined La Vega, and I’d always go to their shows and think that La Migra was a cool band name. That for sure was one of the things that pushed us in the direction of the name we chose. Thanks, Andy.
Andy: No sweat.
AMBY: What would a movie based on the band be called?
Andy: Brokeback Mountain 2
Daniel: Revenge of the Nerds 5
Evan: Vetoed, vetoed. I don’t know what it’d be called, but Howard Hawks would come back from the dead to direct it, Elvis and John Wayne would both come back from the dead to costar, and Frankie Avalon would have a killer cameo that would revitalize his acting career.
Daniel: And the guy who played Mini Me would have a shirtless scene.
Andy: Verne Troyer.
Evan: Definitely. Verne Troyer would play a lifeguard.
AMBY: If you could invite any three of your influences to dinner who would you choose?
Andy: Joe Strummer, Craig Biggio, Bobby Bang.
Daniel: Ryan Gosling, Nick Waterhouse, Dave 1.
Evan: I met Dave 1 at a party James Murphy was dj’ing in New York last year. I bought him and his girlfriend a drink. They both wanted a ginger ale. Things got weird.
AMBY: What’s the best song of 2013?
Andy: “Kawnee” by Grape St.
Evan: “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend.
Daniel: Either “Falling” by Haim, “We Will Survive” by Summer People, or “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about La Vega that nobody knows yet?
Evan: Well, that we exist. We’ve kept this thing under pretty close wraps until recently, really just took it out of the closet a month or two ago. I think we have, like, 180 Facebook fans so far.
Thank you La Vega, for giving us your answers!
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