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Bluntly Speaking | The Mescaleros
emily blunt interview
[This 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.

Technically, 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.

Joe 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 I think...

As 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.

The 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 accents!

So 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.

Emily: 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.

Emily: Who makes the decisions on what songs get played? Who's the boss?

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 democratic.

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…He 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.

Tymon: 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 Soderberg)

Luke (drummer): London. I moved there about ten years ago and studied music and just been playing London bands ever since really.

Emily: How'd you meet the boyz?

Luke: I was doing a session in west London and I met Scott and Martin there.

Emily: Aren't you a lucky man.

Martin: NO we are! the lucky ones!
[All: ooaaawwweee]

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 here…)?

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 for it!

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 Drinkers!

Tymon: Do you think we have Mescalero enough names though? That's the thing!

Emily: It's the name game here…Simon and Tymon and Byron and…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.

Emily: 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 together.

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?

Emily: No

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...
Johnny 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.
[All: Laughter]

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 peas.

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 mushy peas.

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?
[All: laughter]

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 eaten—ever !)

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 eels!

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?

Martin: 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 Yalla" EP?

Emily: No, it had a different title (I saw it damn it - must be a bootleg). I just want to cover all your music…anyway …(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"…Maybe 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…you know cause it, you know the Arab thing. We're working with a couple of things on that.

[end]

Always 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!

If 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.




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