A year ago, we reviewed Joe Volume‘s Lonesome Water, Lonely Sea and got in touch with him to get a few details about life, the universe and country blues. Fast forward a year and we’ve gotten back in touch with him. We ask him about tour life, Los Vincent Black Shadows and his new album, The Sullen Years. Enjoy:
1) Hey, Joe, what’s up? Been hearing something about issues with the band?
There is no band, the way I see it is we did a Tour together and that’s it, Los Vincent Black Shadows are a great memory, I really had a blast with those 4 guys onstage, you can hear it in the Bootleg. But social dynamics kinda drifted during the tour. I’m not a total connoisseur of music, but I’d like to think I know something and I’m open to every type of music. I’m not an elitist. But soon I realized that these guys weren’t there for the music, they love their fly-against-the-wall rock n’ roll and at these point in my life I’m ready to do anything music-wise. They were there for the girls and the drugs and I guess for the music in the sense that music could get them drugs and girls. All of this really made me feel like an outsider, I was paying for most of the band’s bills. And also another band we were traveling with. I lost money on that tour just so they wouldn’t starve or sleep on the street -as we actually did once in San Francisco- I think the worst part was when B. Riot was back in Mexico and he bought all the bullshit the other guys were saying.
He’s been my songwriter partner for 11 years and suddenly he started ranting about, posting I wasn’t the actual and factual leader of the band and that he wrote “half of the Lonesome Water Album“. Which is an utter and complete lie. He wrote some of the tunes, good songs, he’s an excellent guitar player but he cannot understand that that’s it. He plays guitar on that record and he does so with amazing skill and ability. But a songwriter he ain’t. That’s what got me really upset. And kinda sad because he know I work hard on the songs. But nobody in that band understands that making a record is just not pressing “Record” and playing. It takes a lot. It takes a lot from you. I still love P. Riot. Always will, he taught me how to play the guitar. I’ll always be indebted to him. But if he wants to buy a bag of shit, I’m no one to tell him the contrary.
2) We thought the tour was going swell, what happened?
I was kinda out, with my booze and my pills and my books and my own career. The bass player really resented that. One day I showed him some of the new songs I’ve been working on. The next day he was “writing” new songs, he’s a fool and a big fat copycat, not only with me. He has a reputation for not being neither very talented nor very original and in my own humble opinion not too smart.
3) So you don’t have anything to do with the shows in Mexico?
That was the real tipping point for me. They first told me they were gonna play ONE show for this journalist that saw us and liked us in San Francisco and I told them it was cool to get some promo. Next thing I know the bass player is selling shows all around saying I was on my way and nothing had happened. That’s when I told them to back off or else. For me it was dragging our name trough the mud. Los Vincent Black Shadows is the four of us onstage. No less, No more.
4) You mention you have the rights for the songs and band name; can’t you veto other people from using them?
Yes I can, actually that’s what I did. Like I said, they were never very savvy legal-wise. I always registered everything and paid for everything myself so yeah. It’s painful but as Chilly Gonzales would have it “Entertainment is War”. It had to be done.
5) For the record: what did you play / produced / wrote during your Los Vincent Black Shadows era?
Well I think that’s the real knocker. There’s only two albums out of five where the name Los Vincent Black Shadows is used. Real not Right (2006) and I heart broken hearts (2007). I co-produced the Real not Right with Escar Casablanca and B. Riot played one guitar. I played and wrote everything else. And in I Heart Broken hearts once again I co-produced with Escar Casablanca, I played everything because Pepe Riot had od’d on Heroin and left the band for a while. Daniel Barquet plays some drums but we ended up using them as samples, is fair to say that the same drums you find in songs like ‘Lies’ are the same drums used in ‘Stupid to Begin With’. He basically gave us drum sounds and we used them in different tracks. This being said, I have an enormous amount of respect for Danny Barquet, he really surprised me in this last tour, he was the most fun to play with during the live shows, so I gave him a turntable in return. I think he’s gonna do great things, he’s a pretty smart guy.
6) Tell us a bit more about The Sullen Years, you next album? When is it out? Which format will it be available?
I dunno about the format yet, I would love to put it out in cassette tough, but it’s hard to phrase the “concept” of the album. It’s divided in two parts or “chapters”. It’s a very ambitious production that details all of my history so far in a musical, lyric and conceptual manner. For example the first songs are punk-rock and I talk about skateboarding, my dogs, simple things I grew up with, my drug problem, finding the blues, that sort of stuff, but the very end is very experimental and weird. So it’s kinda of a “How I got here” album, painfully autobiographic. Working on the lyrics has proven to be a great challenge.
7) Was The Sullen Years recorded in another blitzkrieg recording session for you? Or was it more of a slow paced approach?
I’ve been working on The Sullen Years for over 14 months now, so yeah It’s kinda far fetched in terms of production. I understand it’s also very egotistical to make an album about your life. But I believe in the songs, also I don’t sell a lot of albums so there’s no rush in finishing it. I just want what everybody making record wishes: A good solid album. This time is harder but I’m up to the challenge. A lot of it is just that I’m not used to working in LA. And I’m doing this album by myself… in LA.
8) I usually play ‘The Kids (Still Waiting)’ to the people in the UK and they really enjoy it. I don’t know how open you are to talking about lyrics but here it goes: what is the song about?
Is funny you ask cuz (spoiler alert) there’s a part II to that song which will appear on The Sullen Years. The song talks about how -at that particular time- I had these vision of the kids being bored and becoming these 7-Eleven parking-lot-generation. So it’s mostly about apathy. Then we had the Rock N’ Roll renaissance with The Strokes and The Stripes and bands like that. We suddenly had a vehicle. Part II is about how bad we drove that vehicle. We crashed the car, We sank the ship. The Music Industry is more corrupt than ever. So I guess in the end ‘Kids’ is just a song of never realized wishes and lost hope.
9) Any plans of re-releasing the older stuff that is no longer available? Or will it just be water under the bridge with previous releases?
I’d give my albums for free if it where up to me, and yes a couple of people have approached me about re-releasing the older stuff. Which I’m quite keen on. But right now It has to be a really good deal for both the public and me. We could make a Blue Vinyl limited-edition newly mastered version of the old albums, but I want it to have a fair price tag, specially for the public who cannot afford 40 bucks per album. At some time, eventually, it will come. I’m sure. The recordings are there. I’m proud of them.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López