Chris Church chats to the ex-Kyuss man about his new solo album and life on the road
It was hard for me not to be a little star-struck, standing about awkwardly at the back of an empty Academy 3, watching John Garcia do his soundcheck. This is a man who is considered by many to have been a pioneering musician within the genre of stoner rock, a genre which is defined by its heavy riffs, drum solos and fuzzy distortion, drawing heavy inspiration from the likes of Black Sabbath and Cream. As one of the original members of Kyuss, together with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, John played a key part in writing many of the songs on their 1992 album Blues for the Red Sun, an album which is often regarded as still being both artists’ magnum opus, despite their prolific careers post-Kyuss.
I join John on his tour bus for a chat about what to expect from the show. I tell John that the last time I saw him in Manchester was at Vista Chino’s performance at The Ritz back in October 2013, a re-union of sorts for Kyuss, following a legal dispute with Homme over their current name, involving him and fellow original member Brant Bjork (also currently touring with his solo project). “Yeah”, he pauses, “I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember a lot of that tour. It was long and chaotic, and to tell you the truth I was glad to see the back of it.” Having as prolific a career, involving as many bands as it has, doesn’t come without its consequences, as John explains to me. “I’m not saying that doing what I do for a living is tough Chris, but touring ain’t always easy. If one guy on this bus gets some sort of illness before you know it we all have it. There’s always going to be tensions on any tour too.” This current tour is in support of John’s eponymous solo debut. I’m interested to know why he’s decided to make such a move at this particular point in his career. “I’ve never wanted to be tied down musically to one band for too long, as far as I see it I’ve always got to keep moving onto new things. I’d always intended to do this. Right from when I first started out when I was 18 years old, I’d always known that I wanted to make music just for myself. The songs that you’ll hear on this album have been ones that I’ve had stored away ever since I first started making music for a living and they span right across my career.” I’m curious to know if these songs in particular take on a different meaning for John than those of the likes of Vista Chino. “I think that music can take you to a certain point in your life or a certain experience and for me growing up in the desert a lot of these songs take me back to a lot of my experiences there. They have certain connections to relationships and events in my life, and it’s been great to finally get recording them.”
The final song on John’s new album, ‘Her Bullets Energy’, featured a guest appearance by guitarist Robby Krieger of The Doors. I ask John what it was like to be working with a man who is considered a rock ‘n’ roll legend. “Obviously at first I was at a loss for words. I was just like ‘Can we do that?’ you know? ‘Am I allowed to have Robby Krieger on my album?’” he jokes. “It was great working with him. We went around to his studio at his house in Los Angeles and he started shredding for the track. He didn’t even know who I was, not that I’d expect him to, you know? I think he thought I was one of the sound guys.”
In a recent interview with Bobby Black of High Times John spoke of the importance of family to him, as well as working alongside his wife in Veterinary medicine. I’m interested to know how he finds balancing such a prolific career and reputation with these aspects of his life. “You know I’ve never wanted to be cool, I’m just a regular dad at heart. I’m never as happy as whenever we’ve come off the road and I’m leaving my son off at school and trying to re-establish a bit of normality in my life. And like my wife Wendy keeps telling me, if I ever want to give up music there’ll always be a place with her working with animals back home in the desert.” With this point in my mind, I finish up by asking John what the future does hold for him beyond this current tour. “Right now I’m completely focused on my own music. As for Vista Chino, I can’t see that going anywhere again in the future. We’re all too focused on doing our own things now and I’m more interested in taking the music that I’ve been working on over the years for myself and seeing what directions I can take it in.”