[Queens of the Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo caresses a SLUG]We weren't sure whether we were going to interview lead singer Josh Homme, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwan, who used to be in Failure, plays guitar in A Perfect Circle and might just have the most difficult-to-spell last name of any guitarist in the rock world, or the drummer Joey Castillo, who got his start drumming for punk bands like Wasted Youth and later drummed for Danzig. So we spent about an hour trying to sketch ourselves in on all three members, preparing three different lists of questions. Interesting, but not all that fun.
We took a cab out to North Austin with a cool female cabbie who seemed to be in her 40s and wouldn't say anything bad about her husband no matter how I tried to bait her. She's one of those Texas folk who are genuinely content with their life. And boy, could she badmouth bad drivers.
When we pulled up to the studio, I saw a really pretty girl sitting out front with rockstar glasses talking to Josh Homme and I thought, "Could that be Brode Dalley?" I was like, "Naw."
We went in to the back studio which was completely plush and posh and comfortable and had wood walls like a sauna or a remote cabin in the mountains—not unlike the walls of the Hard Rock Café Austin—and sat on mint-green velvety couches with nice black and white pillows that looked like they were all of two days old and waited for whoever it was we were going to interview. It was going to be Joey, the drummer.
Now sometimes, interviewees who want to interview big bands think, "Oh great, the drummer." Not us. Joey Castillo was the coolest. We spent about half an hour talking about his roots in the punk movement and how punk drummers broke all kinds of boundaries; how standing and watching a punk drummer at a show was so much more educational and intimate than watching a drummer at a big arena show, if your binoculaurs would reach that far. Joey said he learned a lot from watching punk drummers at cramped shows. We also talked to him about what it was like drumming for Danzig, how freezing it was in the airplane hangar the night before, and how Salt Lake has an awesome music scene. He recalled playing the Speedway back in the day. But you'll have to wait for the details about that when we publish the full interview! (Either on the web or in the magazine; haven't decided yet).
[The gracious and lovely QOTSA drummer Joey Castillo]
After the wonderful interview with Joey, the QOTSA publicists invited us into the kitchen to eat some of QOTSA and Co.'s leftover barbecue. I couldn't help thinking, as Josh Homme wandered into the room and insisted on us having more beans, "Am I really here, eating Queens of the Stone Age's leftover potato salad?" Josh told us our business cards were cool (they feature staff mug shots) and how we really looked like we were dragged through the mud for 'em, and I said, "Yeah, they aren't sexy at all; we weren't even trying to be sexy." He said, "But maybe that's exactly what makes them sexy." He picked away at his guitar, Joey thanked us for the interview and we went out on the porch so as not to be in their personal space and ate our barbecue.
The co-editor for The Sentimentalist, Stephen Chilton, came out on the porch too (he was in the other room interviewing Josh), and we chatted with him for about 20 minutes. Brody Dally strolled up—for it was her I had seen earlier—and we met her and Angela took a picture. Brode Dally is so gorgeous in person she made me feel like a shriveled, ugly scarecrow. Her perfect pale skin makes me want to cry, and I mean that in a very non-Radiohead type of way. She's gracious and her voice is kind of low and soft-spoken, not like her onstage scream. We then got in the official QOTSA courier van for the day and were ferried back downtown for free with Stephen.
[Cream of the hot: Brode Dalle of The Distillers]
We went to Stubb's, saw Chase and watched his daughter Ally getting her hair done at the Fructis hair center for free, then watched the New York Dolls.
We ran into Dan Nailen and I think he bought Angela a drink but I can't remember. Everyone was offering to buy us drinks. Too bad I don't drink or I could have gotten stone drunk every day several times over for free. The New York Dolls were rather fantastic, and they still looked like they were in their mid-20s; I think because they were all wearing sunglasses and were extremely gaunt. On the way back to our hotel right afterwards we saw the lead singer of the New York Dolls, David Johansen, walking ahead of us with what seemed to be his girlfriend. It turns out he was staying at the Omni and it turns out he got in the same elevator as us. Angela asked him if she could take a quick pic, and he said yes, but the tone of his voice said, "Hurry, I'm exhausted." I helped his girlfriend figure out how to get up to the rooftop pool with her hotel card, and then I realized they were actually trying to get to the health club on Floor 13. Ah, well.
[David Johansen on the Omni elevator, pooped after cavorting onstage at Stubb's]
After freshening up in our hotel room, I caught a tiny bit of the Red Sparowes at Emo's Annex (like a harder Isis; really awesome) and hurried to the Red Bull House to meet up with Angela.
[Crisis at The END Records' Showcase]
We took a cab out to The End Records showcase at the Back Room, saw Andreas there and caught the tail end of Lilitu (kind of a mix between black metal, emo and metalcore with very young members—they all looked 18 or something, but had to be 21, I suppose) and the beginning of Crisis' set. Karyn Crisis is one of the most amazing performers I've ever seen. Her dreads drape down to her ankles and as she sings and flings her dreads around, she looks like a deadly octopus in motion. The guitarists around her kept their five feet of distance to avoid the hairwhips. Karyn points to her forehead and out at the crowd again as if telling them to "Think! Think!" She grips her crotch, dances stomping her feet up and down, and never stops moving. Her face is as delicate as a winter fairy, but inside, her soul is a raging demon.
After Crisis, Angela and I went to our interview with Sunshine from the Czech Republic, which we found out got cancelled because of problems with visas. That sucks, because we could have stayed at The End Records' showcase longer and seen November's Doom. As it was, we met a girl who won a free trip to SXSW through Sunshine—some kind of promotional thing they were doing, and now she couldn't see them. The irony. She was really friendly. After that, we wandered around aimlessly for about half a minute—it's hard to be aimless when there are 600 bands playing within a mile of you—and then decided to try our hand at getting into Guitar Wolf. By then it was around midnight, they were going on at 1 a.m. and we knew it was going to be crowded. We were right. We got into Beerland quickly with badges—Chase came about a half-hour later with a badge he borrowed off a friend passing by. They let him in, even though it had a girl's name on it. He shrugged off his mad street skills, saying "I just have been doing this for so long." We listened to a little bit of The Mistreaters, who were good, and M.O.T.O., who were not, then listened to Guitar Wolf! Guitar Wolf could use a muzzle; they are rabid, out-of-control animals that deserve to be whipped! And I can only hope that I get to be the one doing it! It was one of the most high-energy shows I've ever seen. People in the audience were lifting up the guitarist on their hands so he was standing above the crowd while still playing; and he was crowd-surfing and bouncing around the stage and screaming. They looked like a Japanese version of The Ramones and played like it, too, but with more noisy feedback. They had a little roadie who came out and adjusted things that got beer spilled on them, fell down, splintered into bits ... you know. Angela took a lot of pictures.
[Lead singer/guitarist of Guitar Wolf crowd-surfing]
After Guitar Wolf, we were thoroughly pooped. But we went and got death metal pizza from Hoek's (this pizza place on Sixth Street that only has black lights on and plays death metal—nothing like a schtick). Then we called it a night, went back to the hotel and went to bed to prepare for our last day at SXSW. –Rebecca Vernon