2011 embarked the year of the reunion of Brant Bjork, John Garcia and Nick Oliveri as Kyuss Lives! After legal disputes, the band added guitarist Bruno Fevery and rebranded themselves as Vista Chino. Their debut album, Peace, only solidifies Vista Chino as a staple stoner rock band. mxdwn recently had the chance to speak with founding member and drummer, Brant Bjork. We talked about their debut album, recording in Joshua Tree, and the future of the Vista Chino. Peace will be available through Napalm Records early September.
Hey Brant! How are you?
I’m good, how are you doing?
I am good! Thank you for sitting down and speaking with us. I know you guys have a busy schedule ahead. Vista Chino will be releasing their debut album, Peace on September 3rd.
Yes, it is coming out the first week of September.
Can you tell us a little bit about this album?
Well, I can tell you a little bit. I can tell you a lot a bit. It’s a record. It was a record that was recorded at my studio south of the desert in Joshua Tree. It’s a good old fashioned rock record. We are very excited about the end result and we are excited to go out and start performing stuff live.
How did the actual full-length album come about and how was recording process for this album?
Our guitar player, Bruno, lives in Belgium. I’ve never made a record with him before. I had to develop a new writing chemistry with Bruce. So, I would have him fly out in the middle of the desert and we would just sit on the porch, play acoustic guitars and have cold beers and talk and bounce ideas and riffs and concepts off each other. We would go into the studio and jam and work on ideas and start fleshing out some stuff and arranging. After a while, we developed a chemistry that was really organic. About that time, we knew it was time to start rolling tape. I was building the studio as we were working on our chemistry. The planets just lined up-– we hit record and just started dropping tracks.
You mentioned that the whole album was recorded near Joshua Tree. How was recording as a full band?
The record was technically recorded in Joshua Tree and we mixed the record in Palm Springs. It was just a lot of jamming and experimenting. I really enjoy classic sounding records. I listened and studied a lot of jazz and blues records. We used minimal mics on the drums and experimented with guitar sounds. It was really a creative venture. We just took our time but we didn’t rush but we didn’t lollygag. We didn’t want to get too comfortable, but we didn’t want to pull our hair out. It was just a good all around musical adventure.
I wanted to talk about the first single off the album, “Dargona Dargona.” Can you tell us about this particular song? What is it about and how does it represent the album as a whole?
Well, it doesn’t really represent the record as a whole. I mean, it’s just one song and no song really represents the record. We don’t write singles and we never single out songs even though some songs are for necessary purposes. Ultimately, the record is a body of work. We had many songs written, arranged, recorded. We choose these ten songs because they worked well as an album together. They had a sonic consistency to them. “Dargona Dargona” is just a good old fashioned swinging rock song. I don’t think it has any problem leading off the record. I don’t honestly know what it means, John Garcia wrote the words, and you’d have to ask him. I think it’s a great song just sitting on top like that.
Where did the name Vista Chino come from?
Vista Chino was originally the title I had presented the band with what was going to be the new Kyuss record. When we had to [change] our name, we just decided to use that as a name for the band. Vista Chino is just a name of a street. It’s just a name that we grew up hearing. It takes us back consciously back to our roots.
I know you have side projects as well-– will this album be your main focus for a while? Do you plan on continuing with side projects?
We will always return to our individual projects. We are individual musicians and therefore we do individual projects. We’ll get back to those at the appropriate time. We made a commitment to this band and we knew what kind of commitment that would involve. We just created a great record and now we have to go out and support it. We are equally excited to go out and perform it and we were to make it. We will be busy doing that for the next year. When we finish up with our tour cycles supporting this record, I think we are going to jump back into the studio and do another one. We are writing new material while we are out. We want to get another record out there as fast as we can. At that point, we will see where we are.
Exciting! I know you have a busy schedule ahead of you. You guys are currently touring in Europe, correct?
We are here in Belgium. We have the night off, so we are just here at our guitar player, Bruno’s, house. We are just chilling out and having some food and beers. We are here for another week and then we come home and to get ready for the North American tour.
What are your live sets looking like during this tour? Is it a mix of Kyuss songs or are you focusing on new Vista Chino material?
Well, right now we are including about five new songs from the album in the set. They are sounding great, they are sounding better each time we play them. It’s hard for us to rehearse so we usually rehearse on stage. I think we will always play Kyuss classics. We enjoy playing them and the fans love them. We are also really excited to play the new material. As of right now we don’t have any plan not to play Kyuss material. We will just have to see how the new Vista Chino material evolves.
Can you give us a little rundown of Vista Chino’s touring schedule for the rest of the year?
We are here in Europe for another week and then we are hitting home for a North American tour and Canada in September. I believe in October/ November we will be back here in Europe for the headlining tour. After I think we are heading down to Australia in January.
Well, I hope to catch you in September at one of your North American dates. I hope you guys have a great time touring. Congratulations on the release of your debut album!
Thanks a lot!