A little while back, I reviewed the debut album from Canada’s finest instrumental band, The Huaraches. The record is excellent, but I wanted to dig into their story a bit more. Their bassist Steve Sottile and I chatted over email about the genesis of the group, tobogganing into recording sessions, how the president of Queen’s University reacted to their bizarre video shoot, and the dangers of playing guitar with a sausage.
For reference, the band’s lineup is Chris “Cuz” Wood (guitar), Dylan Carquez (drums), Adam Weaver (lead guitar), and Steve Sottile (bass).
AR: How did the band come together?
Steve Sottile: Adam had the vision. He put the band together from players in our neighbourhood. We wrote three songs at our first jam. Dude knows how to put a band together, I guess. Our first drummer was Depravity Brown, a real heavy, check him out…he moved away, so we called Dylan, and first jam with him we wrote three more songs. Band came together like synchronized swimmers on Sybians.
Did you discuss your sound before you came together? How did you end up being an instrumental surf-punk band?
Us fellas in the rhythm section just followed Adam and Cuz…they sounded like they do from the first chord they played together…
Are there special challenges to being an instrumental band, or is it easier?
The main challenge is making sure we’re doing all the things a voice and words do with our instruments…signalling changes, creating suspense, setting the mood, etc. I think we can all say that it’s much better for all involved that none of us sing. It’s easier for everyone that way.
You guys run the gamut of what’s possible with your lineup. What kinds of artists influenced your sound?
Man or Astroman?, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Huevos Rancheros, The Sadies, The Meters and the Ventures – great bands that know how to put together short, tight, wordless, badass tunes.
What is it like to do what you do in a place like Kingston? (Small towns are typically more close-minded and I’m curious as to how you guys are received there).
Kingston rules. There is so much creativity and support here. Great players, great scene. Can’t say enough about the place, really.
The album: where was it recorded? By whom? How did you make those decisions?
We needed a place to record. You can pretty much toboggan into Cuz’s house from Zane Whitfield’s North of Princess Studios in the winter, so that was an easy choice. We just went in one Saturday and recorded the whole thing live off the floor. We wanted to get our songs out on a budget, we had a power outage in the middle of our session, and Adam was about to seriously die of the flu, so there was no time to even make decisions. We played and Zane captured it… well, except the flu, guy’s got some lymph nodes.
How do you feel about how the album turned out?
We’re really proud of it.
How does your live performance differ from the recordings?
Sonically, not much is different since the album is a live recording. The show itself is way different from listening to the album in your living room, unless you’ve got one heck of a party going on there…in jumpsuits…with a machete…and lucha libre go-go dancers…
What’s your personal definition of success? (or What would be your ideal level of success for the band?)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. [cue the sound of one band clapping]. We just want to stay together as a group, keep recording, keep touring, and hopefully make enough dough to do so.
Favourite show memory?
Anything Adam does during “A Fast One”. He’s jumped into Dylan’s drum set, crowd surfed, played a solo with a knife. Cuz and I just hope he doesn’t hurt himself one day.
Least favourite show memory?
Anything Adam does during “A Fast One” (Do you know how long sausage can make a guitar stink for? We do.)
Favourite song to play live?
They’re all super fun to play.
If you could open for anyone, who would it be?
We’re likely the only band to have played on a bill with both Sarah Harmer and Fucked Up in the same month. So, for insurance, we’d like to open for Riff Raff and Julio Iglesias in March – stay tuned.
What’s next? Another album, touring, world domination?
We’ve got a video coming out in the next week and a bit. Brent Nurse, who did Cuz’s cousin’s video “Out For a Rip” (that hoser rap track that’s going viral on YouTube), filmed it at CFRC, our local community radio station. Zane from North of Princess plays a scaredy cat sleazeball DJ, and there’s jumpsuits, a machete and lucha libre go-go dancers.
[Audio Reckoning note: Check out the video for “Saucy” below!]
True Story: The Principal of Queen’s University walked into the station as we were attempting to burn melted light gels off a lamp screen, in jumpsuits…with a machete…and lucha libre go go dancers. Dude didn’t bat an eyelash, walked into studio B, and recorded his weekly program in the glow of blue and red strobey lights…there’s windows between all the studios there…so on this particular Sunday, you’ve got a bluegrass band going live to air in one studio, the Principal another, and us filming in the third. It was a seriously weird day for all involved.
After that we’re going to record a 7” EP, play gigs, and keep on at it.