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INTERVIEW WITH BRANT BJORK, Saturday June 20th, 2016

We had the chance to quickly interview one of the Stoner/Desert rock pillars of our time, Palm Desert artist Brant Bjork. Former drummer of the acclaimed Kyuss and Fu Manchu, Brant combines his holistic skills with great creativity and a particular music career, full of swinging and achievements. Just to name a few, his solo projects include albums like Jalamanta (1999), Brant Bjork & the Operators (2002) and Keep your Cool (2003). Later on, he toured Europe and America in 2003 and 2004 with a new lineup called Brant Bjork and the Bros and recorded Saved by Magic (2005) and Somera Sól (2007). Drummer, guitar and bass player, singer, producer… Brant Bjork music is anything it chooses to be, anytime, just like that. And every path he pursues results in astonishing music with a very special touch, no doubt the desert vibe runs through his veins. An almost complete Kyuss reunion resulted in touring as Kyuss Lives! and it all turned out to trouble for legal reasons, so the name switched again to Vista Chino and recorded Peace in 2013. Today we ask him about his latest band Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band and their album Black Power Flower, released on November last year.

Festivalphoto: Hello Brant, thanks for having us. How’s the album reception been so far?

BB: Good, pretty good, they seem to like it.

Festivalphoto: We’ve felt a “back to the roots” thing in this album. Did you mean it?

BB: Yeah, definitely. I wanted to get back to my 13 year-old, I just kept jamming in my studio, it was more of a psychological trip, getting back to the old stuff, and put the whole thing together.

Festivalphoto: Guess it was a fun recording process.

BB: Oh yeah! I had a lot of fun

Festivalphoto: What about the feeling with all the band members? They’re all old friends of yours right?

BB: Yeah, it’s fantastic, they’re long time friends and man it was pure chemistry. They come from the same roots as I do, and their musical background is very similar to mine, it all made things easy.

Festivalphoto: Yeah, I was about to ask you about that, your musical influences. Tell me about them, especially punk rock music. What about it? When did it hit you at first?

BB: I got into punk rock when I was quite young, couple neighbours got me into it. I kind of grew up with the old stuff, early eighties punk. Then I got more into hardcore punk like Black Flag and so on.

Festivalphoto: What about the title of your album “Black Power Flower”? No need to overthink about it, but it is quite an original title.

BB: Yeah, I move back to my youth for that too. California, the hippie times, 1968’s summer of love... The USA was changing and it had a huge impact on everybody. Hippies and Black Panthers, rock ‘n’ roll, freedom, this is what it was all about!

Festivalphoto: Can’t imagine a better time in history to be summed up in a record title! So, moving on, your music is very eclectic, and you are a very versatile musician. What about jazz and soul in your music?

BB: Oh, jazz and soul are big influences on me as sell as swing. I like most of the 60’s stuff, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dizzi Gillespie, and also the early 50’s rock music, where it all started, Bo Diddley…all of that!

Festivalphoto: And then you add your own touch of “Low Desert Slow Motion” into all of that. Tell me about the desert, such a landscape is definitely a trade mark on your music.

BB: Yeah! The desert has such a vibe that pushes you to meditation, otherwise it can drive you nuts! It can be quite psychedelically intoxicating living in such an environment. I just chose to relax, enjoy the place and get inspired by it for my music, and of course, smoking some marihuana! (Laughs)

Festivalphoto: Regarding your one-man projects, which you create, produce and edit entirely on your own; is that a specific need of creation? Or some sort of personal reaction?

BB: Well, when I started playing punk rock music as a kid it was all about being in a band, it was about collaborating, a team thing, a shared vibe and spirit. “Let’s get together and jam”. But it is really difficult to keep a band, to find people you really click with. I kind of became a solo artist by accident. There was a lot of music inside of me that needed to come out and I just started recording stuff and it all took shape. What I enjoyed the most is that you can control everything production wise, things take shape exactly the way I want it, it is very gratifying.

Festivalphoto: Indeed it must be, no one telling you what to do! So, one last question. What is Vista Chino’s current state? Any plans in mind after all the difficulties you’ve been through?

BB: I don’t know, I really don’t know what we’re gonna do. After the last record we made last year, or two years ago I don’t remember now, I’ve decided to concentrate more on my own music, that’s all that counts now. I really can’t tell whether we’ll record anytime soon or not.

Festivalphoto: Thanks Brant, see you out there, we are thirsty of your music!

BB: My pleasure, see you.

Once you get to know a musician like Brant Bjork, any expectation is a waste of time. He can come out with anything so the show becomes a jam, a desert session where music wanders around.

The eve started with Too Many Chiefs…Not Enough Indians and that drove the audience through a stoner, trance feeling. It certainly looks like they are old pals jamin’ and having a good time. Guitarist Bubba Dupree nailed the riffs and followed Bjork’s path with complicity. Low Desert Punk stroke us all with powerful drums and Bjork’s versatile voice turned the song into something different, and so he did with Inside of You, such a great song! Controllers Destroyed opened the list of songs from the last album though the gig was not completely focused on it. Freaks of Nature was a great anthem with strong drums and that groovy, funky feeling. The show was one to remember and definitely stands for a “back to the roots” where one could feel a harder vibe. The audience loved every minute and some said it was like “The Brant Bjork’s Experience”, wink to Jimi Hendrix. The desert formation indeed flows with funky tempos and even if you are tired or not in the mood, you will end up shaking your body. We are thirsty of more, so lets have some more of The Low Desert Punk Band!

Writer: Beatriz Yoldi
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