Speaking | The Mescaleros
emily blunt interview
is an old pre-Joe Strummer Passing Interview...]
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As you know
Blunt Review has kind of taken on the role of talent scout for
you, the blessed reader
and I've rooted out some damn straight
talent that you may have missed if you blinked. The folks that
don't get the airplay, the mega deals, or the sweet multi-million
dollar contracts. Well, I've found another can't miss group
for you to slip your ears into; The Mescaleros.
I cheated with The Mescaleros since the front man of the group,
Joe Strummer, is a demi-God in my eyes.
Joe's best "known" from a while back in time, when
he hit mega-fame with legendary punk/anarchist group The Clash.
He wailed out lyrics about standing up for yourself, getting
involved and every once and awhile about just plain old gluttonous
merriment. He disappeared after his solo attempt, 'Earthquake
Weather', was less than enthusiastically embraced. Shame.
did some mental cool-n-out and emerged with an old buddy, Tymon
Dogg and a new and diversified deliciously delectable bevy of
chaps to create a couple of knock-you-upside-the-head-in-musical-awe
cds. Both 'Rock and the X-ray Style' and 'Global a Go-Go' have
fresh ditties filled with Joe's self appointed missionary work
of merging world cultures with his signature beat poet style
put to music laced with unusual driving rhythms that seem influenced
with sounds, one feels, he's experienced (along with his band
mates) abroad. His mission on this Earth? Getting folks colliding
gleefully and grooving to the beat of, not the same drum, but
getting each drum to coincide, harmoniously, in one simultaneous
and borderless rhythm we can all enjoy. At least that's what
always with Strummer's music you'll need a world atlas, and
a quick brush up on current-ish cultural events to fully understand
the words behind the music (and his new guys only double the
scholastic perquisites with added bits of obscure references,
yummy chunks of distant cities, and menu items that Sherlock
Holmes' Doyle might have once sat quietly in a pub dining on
with a few theatrical friends). Intelligent, whimsical, ear
pleasing stuff that puts an immediate smile on your face as
the cd begins its rotations.
instruments are more than standard boy-band Beatle wear. When
was the last time you heard the melodica
laced into a modern beat? Or a fiddle whining to a 4/4-drum
riff? There's a whole world nation of sounds streaming from
Joe's new line up of blokes called The Mescaleros.
You can just tell money and popularity were not in the rafters
at this studio, it's old school musicianship--rocking out and
jamming till the sun comes up. Getting in tune with the straight
and narrow, as another legend
once put it...
I had a chance to chat with the multi-talented Mescaleros (minus
Joe who had some big interview) the English accents of
different regions were flying about as my mind became dizzy
in an odd euphoria of lilts. I met the blokes after sound check
at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. Each was cuter than the other.
I mean what's sexier than musicians? RIGHT! Musicians with British
here's Tymon Dogg (violin, guitar), Simon Stafford (bass), Martin
Slattery (organ, melodica, guitar, saxophone etc etc
and Luke Fuller (drummer). Joe was M.I.A. and Scott Shields
(guitars) was ill.
So hello boys, let start with how did you all get together?
How'd it happen?
Tymon: I was in a room in Willston about 11at night at a place
called Battery Studios. Joe just sort of called us in and he
had Martin coming down and could I bring a violin. We were just
looking at one another.
Martin: So, Scott and Joe and Pablo all got together and made
a record did all that nonsense. When it came to do the tour
live we fired the drummer so we had to get a new drummer. Scott
wanted to play guitar so we had to get a bass player... So,
Simon came on board.
Who makes the decisions on what songs get played? Who's the
Tymon: In what way? On stage?
Emily: Yeah, but also in the music
it's so eclectic.
Tymon: well we sort of only had so many songs at first that
we'd been co-writing. So that sort of limited it when we started.
'Cause when we did the thing in the stores Joe was determined
to do mostly new songs from the first inclination of the band,
the one we took on the Who tour. We did mostly new songs in
the first half of the set and mixed it later.
Simon: He does listen when other people's ideas come up. But
when he says that's going to go there now, and that happened
here, he's good at lettin' up...for a lead singer he's quite
Martin: But you have to remember, he's very much a forward thinker,
so he's always thought of it before you even get there
just kind of gets it out there.
Emily: The music is all over the place, ethnically [Group laughter]
how do the influences come in? You can't really pin point your
"style" which is fantastic.
Well I think world music has been a particular thing of mine
and Joe's for like thirty years. We always had it. We still
have records we haven't taken back to the library So if I took
back we'd have to sell something really expensive to pay the
fine! There's record's from Timbuktu and god knows where! I
think that world music has always been
Martin: Well, put a bunch of guys in a room and it's what going
to happen. It's not very complicated.
Emily: Yeah but it is.
Martin: No! I mean the reason
The reason's not complicated.
If you put one guy into a room and he's into Marvin
Gaye and other guy's into the Ramones
some pretty interesting music is going to come out!
Tymon: It's like what Martin's been into. It's been really interesting
working with Martin and Scott cause their comin' from a different
angle, not just age but also musically. If you take two different
things and just some how make two people, not exactly opposite,
happy... then something gets born from that, you know?
Emily: Yes..Let's find out where you come from..How about you
Luke? (Blunt aside: Luke's the spitting image of director Stephen
Luke (drummer): London. I moved there about ten years ago and
studied music and just been playing London bands ever since
Emily: How'd you meet the boyz?
Luke: I was doing a session in west London and I met Scott and
Emily: Aren't you a lucky man.
Martin: NO we are! the lucky ones!
Emily: Yes, you are very talented! And Martin, you were
in the Black Grapes (Blunt aside: I crack myself up-I've never
heard of this band and have no idea of their history-I'm grasping
Martin: Yeah I was in the Black Grapes an Irish band and some
other stuff. I've been in bands for years.
(Blunt aside: I bet this guy Martin was the cutest kid...He's
got those brilliant eyes...just a thought)
Emily: And you Simon (...you big handsome accented bass player/stud
-- thought not spoken)?
Simon: I was in a band called Lawn Pigs.
Emily: Lawn Pigs?
Simon: Yes. We split and Antony, who did the X-ray Style album,
he's from Sheffield and that's how I met Martin and that's how
come he asked me to play the bass when they ran out of other
bass players. [All: Laughter]
Emily: Tymon, I know you're an old friend of Joe and been there
for ever! Let me ask about the name Mescaleros does it have
something to do with the Apache Indians?
Martin: Yeah, it's an Indian tribe from Arizona apparently.
That's about much as we know
They use to hide behind rocks
and fire arrows. Some tactic thing going on. But, I kind of
remember hearing Joe explained it one very very late
night, but, I cant really remember what he was going on about.
[said with a smile]
Emily: I knew it had to have some deeper meaning if Joe's responsible
Simon: It's the sound of it that's good 'idnt it? It sounds
kind of like bandits doesn't it!
Tymon: The Mescalettos! As well I thought it was more to do
with mescaline the drug or something
[grinning with a wink]
Emily: I thought of Troubadours, like in Spain.
Simon: I thought it was like tequila at first. Like Tequila
Tymon: Do you think we have Mescalero enough names though? That's
Emily: It's the name game here
Simon and Tymon and Byron
Then you switched members on me so I have no idea who
this gentleman is...(pointing to Luke-even though I very cleverly
made them introduce themselves at the beginning of the interview,
due to the rabid flu I am coming down with probably from
chatting with missing, ailing, Scott -- I am but a puppet with
a microphone folks
) There's no information on your site.
Martin: Yeah we gotta do that.
Seriously, I was up till 200am trying to squeeze information
from the web.(-like the new band mate names!)
Simon: Yeah, especially in America that's how you get your info,
I mean Joe's not like selling thousands of records to teenagers
is he...So, it will would be really important to get a website
Martin: Yeah, we've discussed it recently and we are going to
get on it. There's some stuff though
you been to
the Road to Rock and Roll site?
Martin: Have you not? (<-Such a cute way of saying that!
Ah, but he's Married girls, natch) If you go to joestrummer.com
there's a link to us, or any Clash site.
Emily: I did, in my defense! I did! I went to joestrummer.com.uk
or something via AltaVista...
Appleseed, is that the only video to date on the new cd?
Group: Yes, yeah, mmhm.
Emily: Are you planning
now this gentleman here with us
is filming...Are you creating some sort of video for the fans
of the tour?
Martin: Yeah, mixed in with this. He came out on the program
tour about two months a ago, just around, due in stores, and
he's come out on the road with us this trip. Then the idea is
to put together some kind of documentary of the band.
Tymon: And now we're absolutely totally limited 'cause we're
being filmed! And we just sit around, don't we, just being good.
Emily: Just edit
What's a mushy pea? [mentioned
in a song off the cd--listen for it...]
Martin: It's a part of what England has shared with the world!
Part of their culinary skills!
Tymon: Badly cooked peas. (Blunt aside:This man's the sweetest
human I've met in years...There's just a peace around him; he
should bottle his karma and give it as holiday gifts)
Martin: It's kind of like garden peas
If you cook garden
peas for ages you might get somewhere near mushy
Luke: If you think of refried beans its kind of that consistency.
Emily: So it's like thicker pea soup
stuff. ( pretending
to just not get it-- having fun with them now!)
Group: Yeah, yep, mmhm.
Tymon: You leave it boiling for a long time and you end up with
Martin: Work it out mushy
and peas Emily
Emily: I know, but I thought it couldn't be that obvious certainly
it's not pea soup!
Group: IT IS ! [ All:laughter]
Emily: I went to England like twenty years ago and immediately
lost twenty pounds. Everything was animal innards with a side
of innards. I would have loved mushy peas; I lived on salmon!
Martin: Sure you were in England?
Tymon: Are you a vegetarian Emily?
Emily: No, not really.
Tymon: You just don't like intestines? (delivered with the sarcasm
only a true vegan could muster -- I am immediately guilty for
ever scrap of dead animal I've eatenever !)
Emily: No! That Sheppard's Pie thing had me in therapy.
Simon: There's plenty of nice
food in England. Most of it isn't English. Various bits
and mushy peas as well! There's fish and chips. You can get
great food from around the world there.
Martin: There's jellied
Emily: [horrified] WHAT? See! This is what I mean
Martin: It's an English dish. And winkles
Simon: Nobody eats mushy peas any more it's an old traditional
food! (poor Simon, defending the mother land)
Emily: What's a winkle?
A small cockle ( we could have done the "what's a cockle?"
"A small univalve." "What's a univalve?"...
But, they may have really thought I was a bit slow and I wasn't
myself chills/headache etc.)
Tymon: People go down to the beach and eat them.
Emily: Oh, okay we use to do that too. Periwinkles. You've done
Rock and the X-ray Style, Global a Go-Go and wasn't there another?
Did you have a bootleg?
Group: No, nah, mmmno.
Tymon: Joe has made a solo record Earthquake Weather that was
twelve years ago wasn't it.
Emily: There's another cd listed on a site.
Martin: Maybe it's the "Yalla
Emily: No, it had a different title (I saw it damn it - must
be a bootleg). I just want to cover all your music
(wiping the sweat from my brow) Where are you guys going
musically? Are you going to stay together in this ensemble?
Martin: Yeah, there's a strong possibility of that. We'll be
probably do a bit more touring
But everyone does their
own stuff as well. So it's kind of "we'll finish this tour,
go off and do our things and come back together"
we'll go in the studio next year or something. I really don't
know. What ever will be
Tymon: We tried to ad an Oud
to this show actually.
Emily: A what?
Tymon: An Oud. An Arabic
instrument. It nearly came on tour
But we had some feedback
problems. If we'd have brought it we would have had a different
kind of feedback problem. I think
I think it would have
know cause it, you know the Arab thing. We're working with a
couple of things on that.
trying to bring the world together.....They had to start getting
pretty for the show, and I was slipping into flu-coma so we
said our good-byes. They were off to Japan after LA. I worried
about Scott. It's aweful to fly with a bad cold, I left a pleasant
cd of calming music behind for his journey... The group is out
after each show mingling till the wee hours...Then up at the
crack of noon to meet and greet folks so they are pretty tired.
No wonder the lad got ill! With Joe, some
things, apparently, never change!
you see Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
heading to your town-- get there! They are truly talented, swell
on the retina, and each member is filled with multiple spirits
of musicmen from around this small world.