There are members sprouted from the PanAmerican roots of Los Lobos and tweaked by the dark, swampy blues of The Gun Club. There are members who have refined their chops in punk, ska, and funk but inevitably turned their attention toward the roots of it all. United and propelled by a sense of family through blood, touring, and DIY culture, LP3 & the Tragedy posses a staggering combined mass of musical tastes, talent, and muscle memory. So how could I not ask my pal Louie Perez III about Southland Hum, the debut album from one of my favorite new bands, LP3 & The Tragedy?
When I hear the record, I think, “What if Elvis Costello was trapped in Straight To Hell?” Am I far off?
Hahaha! Dude, that’s hilarious! Didn’t Elvis Costello play Hives The Butler in Straight to Hell? I think The Pogues shot him in that movie. And although it was not my initial intent, I admire both comparisons. Any cinematic comparison to our band makes me really happy.
I know about Evil Hearted Eric Fuller and your cousin Ruby Rosas from Bongoloidz. How do you know the others in the Tragedy?
Well, our accordion player and organist Mike B. played in another band with Fuller. When I heard Fuller knew an accordion player I was like, “What! How do we convince this guy to jam with us?” Turns out, he required no convincing whatsoever and he’s also just about the most kind-natured, level-headed, and rad dude you would ever meet, and he always brings the best vibes with him. Carlos has been my road dog for just about forever. He’s been part of almost everything band-oriented I have ever done. He was even my guitar tech way back in Los Villains days, but that was just a great excuse to have a homey and accomplice to do hoodrat shit with in those days. He is a ready and steady mofo. He, too, is very level headed and if the Tragedy were a ball club he would be team manager.
Besides having more of a country sound than Evil Hearted You, there’s more working-class politics–which I definitely approve of. Are you a political guy? Maybe it’s just an election year?
We definitely lean towards a cowpunk/singer songwriter vibe. I would not consider myself into politics as much as I am against injustice. It seems pretty obvious who the real puppet-masters are. Everywhere you look, someone is spewing some garbage that promotes keeping us culturally divided, but it’s not race war. That’s a diversion. It’s class war: the poor versus the rich with the working class in the middle getting robbed by both sides in different ways. And staying educated is almost a criminal activity in the eyes of decision-makers, nowadays. We are living in an interesting time, and not using art to speak on it seems irresponsible to me.
Even the most epic songs on the new LP are still really trim. No filler. Do you try to pack it in or does it just happen that way?
A vinyl LP cuts best at about ten songs. We have about six more tracks in the can for 7″ singles, EPs, etc., that we will start releasing throughout the year.
I really dug all the covers you played at Alex’s and the Tatuaje benefit. Can you remind me what they were? Are there new ones in the rotation?
We have a ton of covers in our arsenal that we can play depending on the length of a set. One of my favorite things is curating our influences into a set. We frequently do a duet of “Dream” by the Everly Brothers and a gypsy stomp version of “Crying” by Buddy Holly. And there’s “Alone in the Crowd” by Johnny Thunders and the current audience favorite is “Search and Destroy” by The Stooges. We also learned about 17 of Alejandro Escovedo’s songs, and I really want to cover “San Antonio Rain” because every time I hear him sing it I want to cry. Ruby wants to do “Deer Head on the Wall” and Fuller likes playing “Arizona” a lot. We could have a seriously epic covers record, and I think we’ve already recorded a bunch of the ones I listed.
Will you be totally disappointed in the world if “Heart Locked in a Cell” isn’t a gigantic hit that people want to sing along in arenas? I would.
Well, I really appreciate the compliment, but I am more than content with watching our friends sing along. As far as gigantic hits and arenas go, we don’t posses the resources to make that a reality.
The SoCal tour with X, Lobos, and Blasters will be amazing, and then there’s more touring. After all those shows, will you be taking a sabbatical or plowing into more tours and more recording?
We are game for whatever the universe bids, but we may wait one hot minute before making another record considering since we are broke from making this one. Adding insult to injury, after being on the road for three or four weeks, we’ll return to the jobs we don’t have anymore, eviction notices, and a pile of overdue bills. But it wouldn’t be the first time.
I always wonder about your double life as tattoo artist and musician. Do you listen to the music that is inspiring you when you are inking a client? Or do you listen to whatever that person is into and hope it doesn’t suck? Maybe silence to concentrate or because you’re in a roomful of people with different tastes?
Music is very democratic at the shop. I tend to like everything, though, and find myself bobbing my head to even the worst shit. I don’t discriminate. We listen to a lot of good stuff from old Eastside Art Laboe oldies to straight wavy trap music. When I’m in my zone, I get down with the rootsy, bluesy stuff like Canned Heat or Jimmy Reed. And lately when I wanna amp up, I’ve been listening to high school faves like the first three Fugazi records or Jawbreaker. Those are mainstays. Silence is the deadliest of weapons and I avoid using it at all costs.
Yes, Louie’s old band Evil Hearted You played alongside Bob Forrest and The Bicycle Thief at one of the Save Music in Chinatown benefit matinees shows that my wife and I organize. Can’t wait to have LP3 & The Tragedy play for us, too…