Dreaming In Signals: An Interview with Jimmy LaValle and Luis Hermosillo of
Evening in front of the Paradox, pretty much Seattle’s only all-ages venue – which is kind of sad, but you know that they will get the good shows. Tonight, the good show is starting with local band Transmarine, followed by Gogogo Airheart, and then Tristeza, who I am about to start talking to. The soundcheck finishes, a crowd is already gathering outside the club, and I meet up with Jimmy LaValle and Luis Hermosillo, and we head into the Tristeza tour van for a little chat…
So how long have you been touring this time around?
Jimmy: This tour? About six days so far.
Is this just a short West Coast thing, or are you continuing across the country?
Luis: You can kind of look at it like a big tour, but we’re just basically doing the West Coast right now. Bellingham is about as far north as we’re going to go and then we’re back down to San Diego… hang out for a week an a half, and then we head out again.
Do you play many shows in San Diego, hitting the hometown audiences?
Jimmy: We try not to play there as much as possible… maybe four or five times a year.
Is that because of no audience or trying to keep a good audience?
Jimmy: Yeah, well, in order to keep doing good there you just have to spread yourself out a bit more. Wait for new songs, you know…
Oh yes. There are definitely a few bands here that seem to play a few too many shows… but, anyhow… this isn’t your first time in Seattle…
Luis: Nah, we’ve been here… three times? The first time wasn’t so good, but the second time here was amazing, and we’re hoping to do even better than that tonight.
So when you guys are on the road, what kind of music are you playing in the van? What are your driving tunes of choice?
Jimmy: It’s endless… lessee. Tristeza live, another Tristeza live… heh, No… just kidding. We just got these from someone. We have a pretty good hip-hop selection, some techno, some indie rock. A good mix.
You’re playing a few shows with Gogogo Airheart. Do you enjoy playing with bands that have a different energy than you?
Luis: Definitely. Gogogo are really high energy. We thought it was cool, because our first show this tour they were so funk and just groove. We thought it was very cool to go on tour with a band that was like our complete opposite.
Jimmy: You don’t want to go to a show and see a bunch of bands that all sound the same, y’know?
Your latest CD came out on Tiger Style. How did you hook up with them?
Luis: I think it was last summer, Insound wanted to do a tour-support series and asked us to do one. We did the first one for them and it sold out quick. We played a few Insound shows and they all were really nice and they liked us, so we just decided to work together with Tiger Style.
Your first release was on Makoto. Was that just a one shot deal?
Jimmy: Well, that’s a situation that’s just gone a little far, and it’s probably best to not talk about it right now.
Okay, no comment. How about a little discography for the people. You have two full-length CDs, the Insound release, and a few singles?
[Just then, a strange-looking man sticks his head in the window of the van, and says “All right… homeboys… oh, sorry. Wrong van.” and walks away. We all bust out laughing, as it turned out to be one of the Gogogo boys]
Jimmy: Sorry, what were you saying?
Oh… a discography of sorts, what’s out there?
Jimmy: There’s the first 7” on Caffeine vs. Nicotine, there’s a split single [sigma] it was an English split and they made like 250 copies that were gone in a week and a half, and one on Rocket Racer…
There’s that new green one with “Are We People”…
Jimmy: That was basically a teaser single for the record… not so sure about the point of that…
The hit single?
Jimmy: Yeah, whatever it is.
[And again, it’s a “Hey, oh, sorry…” from one of the Gogogo guys, as their van is parked two spaces away, and both vans are your basic dark shades…]
So who does the design for your releases?
Jimmy: It’s pretty much all us, except for the UK release, and the Rocket Racer single. We do the work, or our drummer does. It’s his thing.
Are there any bands around that you would really like to play with?
Jimmy: Well, we’re not really hip on the scene, but we are looking forward to play a show with Pele. We’re going to play with them in New York.
Luis: Broadcast would be nice to play with.
Jimmy: Stereolab would definitely be cool to play with.
Do you have a preference between recording or playing live?
Jimmy: Well, we actually kind of look at it like two completely different issues. There’s a live sound and a recorded sound. It’s just a matter of doing both well.
Any comments on the Album Leaf? Is it still going on?
Jimmy: Oh, yeah, it’ll always be going on. It’s basically my outlet for stuff I can’t do in Tristeza, so while my main focus will always be Tristeza, I think I’ll always have material that I want to do where I’m not playing guitar and get behind the piano or something.
I nod, thank the band, and head out into the Paradox, towards the enveloping sounds of Transmarine, just starting their time on stage. I take a seat and listen, anxiously awaiting the appearance of Tristeza in all their on stage glory. ◼