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Wild Eyes AKA Wild Eyes S.F. interview with Carson Binks and Janiece Gonzalez

June 10, 2014

Wild Eyes AKA Wild Eyes S.F. interview with Carson Binks and Janiece Gonzalez

Someone call Marty McFly because I found a time machine, a
surefire way to hit eighty-eight miles per hour in thirty seconds or less…  San Francisco’s Wild Eyes are dishing out
seriously fuzzed out riffage a la Deep Purple and Black Sabbath like hits of
acid at a Dead show!  Lead singer Janiece
Gonzlez’s voice is a smoky, powerful and intense experience easily shredding
through the din of distortion and thunderous bottom end.  She reminds me a lot of the strong female
leads of the late 60’s and early 70’s, Joplin or Melanie meets Mia Zapata, a
twisted chanteuse-esque blast of power and emotion.  The guitars carry a twinge of tasty southern
rock as they jump between meating out gnarly riffage and melting the fret board
off with mind bending hard psych rock solos that build up like frenzied sky
scrapers of sound, before imploding and tumbling back into the melody of the
song, like a tsunami wave carrying the listener off into the ocean of fuzz and
distortion!  Usually I struggle with what
to call a band, what to tell people they sound like when they might have never
even heard of them before.  That’s not
the case with Wild Eyes.  They’re hard
rock, period.  End of sentence.  Straight up, no nonsense, no bullshit, real
deal rock ‘n’ rollers; and god damn is it refreshing to hear a band like
that.  They’re not striving for some
retro sound, they’re not hung up on notions of what they should sound like,
they’re just out there kicking ass and taking names.  With one self-titled album under their belts,
rumblings on the street of another release and recently interviewing their
label mates Hot Lunch (Interview here), it was time to stare down these Wild
Eyes long enough to get them to answer some questions about the band!  Just trust me and stream the debut album at
the Bandcamp link below; you can thank me later.
Listen
while you read: http://wildeyessf.bandcamp.com/

What’s Wild Eyes’
lineup these days?  Is this your original
lineup or have there been any changes since the band started?
Janiece:  Wild Eyes
started super randomly!  I was singing
karaoke in The Mission and Justin Caucutt, our original guitar player, saw me
and was like “Dude!  Wanna
jam!?!”  I had no idea what that meant,
so I asked my ex Jesse and his bud Carson if they wanted to come; I was nervous
and didn’t know shit…  They showed up
with me and it kicked ass!!!  Since then
Justin has gotten married and Jesse and I broke up.  Chris was a good bud and a killer guitar
player and he agreed to link up with our train. 
Carson found Ben after touring with Saviours on the east coast…  I couldn’t be happier with the lineup now.
Carson:  This is
Carson Binx, bassist in Wild Eyes speaking. 
Our original lineup was myself, Janiece Gonzales on vox, Justin Caucutt
on guitar and Jesse Thompson on drums. 
Justin quit before we played our first show and was replaced by Chris
Corona.  After we recorded the first
album, Jesse was replaced by the mighty Ben Richardson.
I love playing
musical connect the dots, there’s nothing more fun than trying to figure out
everything that someone’s been up to, expect for maybe cheating…  Are any of you in any other active bands at
this point?  Have you released any music
with anyone in the past?  If so, can you
tell us about that?
Carson:  This is
Janiece’s first band, but the rest of us have been in plenty of bands.  Currently, I also play in a band called
Saviours.  In the past, I’ve released
music with Parchman Farm and Dzjenghis Khan. 
Chris is in Floating Goat and Hazzard’s Cure.
Where are you all
originally from?
Janiece:  I’m from
Long Beach California.  A true rock n
roll hood rat who survived and got the fuck out!
Carson:  Ben is from
Washington D.C., Chris is from Southern California and I’m from Toronto.
What was the music
scene like there when you were younger? 
Did you see a lot of shows?  Do
you feel like the scene there playing a large, important role in shaping the
way that you play today or in forming your musical tastes?
Carson:  I’ve been to
hundreds of shows over the years, but can’t say I’ve ever been influenced by
any scene in particular.  I moved to San
Francisco thinking I’d find lots of other people who wanted to play super heavy
rock in the vein of Blue Cheer, but it ended up taking ten years to get the
band that existed in my head to come to fruition.
Janiece:  I grew up
sneaking out of my super Christian home to go see bands like The Angry Samoans
and The Mormons.  The music scene in Long
beach was shitty, but we had to make what we could outta it I guess.  I’m just glad I didn’t end up a square like
all those other dudes.
What was your home
like when you were growing up?  Was there
a lot of music in the house?  Were either
your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely, involved or
interested in music?
Carson:  Growing up, I
would listen to my Dad’s records all the time, which included the rock
standards, The Beatles, The Stones, Zeppelin, Grand Funk and the oldies
station.  We didn’t have cable, but I
remember seeing some videos at friends’ houses and liking Michael Jackson.  The video for “Rockit” by Herbie Hancock
scared the shit outta me.  I especially
liked watching Solid Gold and Soul Train at my friend Gregory’s house; he was
black.
What do you
consider to be your first real exposure to music?  When did you decide that you wanted to start
writing and performing your own music? 
What brought that decision about?
Carson:  I was lucky
enough to see some really good shows when I was still a child.  I saw the Stampeders, who wrote the song
“Wild Eyes” which we’re named after, when I was ten and saw The Stones the
following year.  But one show that really
changed my outlook was a Toronto band called The Leather Uppers.  They played fast loud rock ‘n’ roll and
weren’t afraid to look like they were having fun doing it, pretty refreshing in
1995 when you weren’t cool unless you just stood there staring at your
feet.  So yeah, from then onwards it was
all about creating excitement through rock ‘n’ roll.
Janiece:  My best
friend Shayla’s dad Chris, was the first metal head I had ever met.  It was funny as shit, he would call me
“smoker” cause I’ve had a scratchy voice since I was a kid.  He introduced me to Judas Priest, Deep Purple
and Sabbath first!!!  Dude totally still
rules.
If you were to
pick a single moment, a moment that changed everything and opened your eyes to
the infinite possibilities of music, what would it be?
Carson:  For me that
would be finding the Blue Cheer single “Just A Little Bit” b/w “Gypsy Ball” as
a teenager.  I hadn’t heard the second LP
yet, and I remember taking it home to listen to with a couple friends.  We had a smoke, dropped the needle and were
completely blown away!  The other side
did not disappoint in the least either. 
At that point, I knew what kind of music I wanted to make.  Oh yeah, after that we smoked some more and
played it at 33 rpm.  I remember all of
us having the sensation of melting into a puddle on the floor and lying there
immobilized.  Doesn’t get much heavier
than that my friend!
Can you tell us
what your first instrument was?  When did
you get that and how did you get it?
Carson:  I suppose my
first instrument was a harmonica my aunt gave me, but I was like five and never
really learned how to play it.  I took
piano lessons later, but hated it.  Once
I figured out what a bass was I wanted one. 
So, when I was fifteen my dad bought me a Japanese United for fifteen
dollars at a garage sale and I knew right away it was the instrument for me.
When and how did
you all originally meet?  What exactly
led to the formation of Wild Eyes and when was that?
Carson:  We all met
through playing in bands and going to shows here in San Francisco.  Janiece toured with my other band Saviours
running the merch stand, always a bonding experience, and after we got back she
mentioned wanting to start a band.  I’d
been wanting to start a female fronted rock band, a la Shocking Blue for years,
so I offered to play bass immediately. 
I’d been in Dzjenghis Khan with Jesse so he was in, and Janiece found
Justin, so we had a band.  Then after
Justin left, Janiece recruited Chris who fit in perfectly.  Later, we were out a drummer and after
hanging with Ben I knew he was the man for the job.
What does the name
Wild Eyes mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it?  How did you go about choosing it?
Janiece:  We all
agreed to name the band Wild Eyes after the Stampeders song “Wild
Eyes”.  Those dudes killed that
song…  So fucking rad!
Carson:  “Wild Eyes”
is a song by the Canadian rock band Stampeders. 
We just like the song and the way the name conjures up the spirit of us
real rock ‘n’ roller, outta controllers.
Is there any
shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band lives by?
Carson:  Life is a
barbeque and shirts are optional!  Also
have a good time, all the time.
Where is Wild Eyes
located at these day?  How would you
describe the local music scene where you all are at right now?  Do you feel like the local music scene has
played a large or important role in shaping the sound of Wild Eyes or the sound
of the bound or do you feel like Wild Eyes could be doing what you are and
sound like you do regardless of your location or surroundings?
Carson:  We’re all in
San Francisco.  The scene is pretty happening
these days with lots of good bands which we always enjoy going to see.  Unfortunately, a lot of the artistic
community is getting squeezed out due to the city being taken over by IT firms,
but I won’t bore you with San Francisco politics.  I’d like to think that we’d sound like us
regardless of where we’re located.  We
are in the scene, but not of the scene.
Janiece:  San
Francisco has so few rock bands left… 
The fucking tech nerds are kicking all the musicians out.  But the bands here are all our super good
buds.  I hope we keep it alive as long as
we can man, it’s becoming a bummer.
Whenever I do
these interviews I inevitably have to describe how a band sounds but every time
that I do it I end up feeling like I’ve put way too much of my own perceptions
of the music into the descriptions and I’m somehow selling the band short,
especially when I have a forum like this where I can offer them an opportunity
to do so for themselves.  How would you
describe Wild Eyes’ sound to our readers who might not have heard you
before?  And while we’re talking so much
about the basic DNA of the band I’m curious who you would cite as your major
musical influences?  You all have a nice throw-back
sound but I can hear some more contemporary stuff kicking around in there if
I’m not mistaken as well.  What about
influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
Carson:  I always just
tell people we’re a heavy rock ‘n’ roll band, nothing too fancy; we just try to
keep it simple and do it right.  As far as
influences go I don’t think the bands we all like will surprise anyone,
Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Sabbath, Shocking Blue, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Pentagram…  I could fill a page.
Can you describe
Wild Eyes’ songwriting process?  Is there
someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more complete idea to
work out and compose with the rest of the band or do you all get together and
kick ideas back and forth refining them into a song over a process of
exchanging ideas?
Carson:  Songwriting
is very much a group effort.  Although we
all contribute little bits to every aspect of a song, Chris usually comes up
with riffs, Janiece writes the lyrics and I do most of the arranging.
Do you all enjoy
recording?  As a musician myself I think
that most of us can appreciate holding an album in your hands.  There’s an undeniable awesomeness about
holding your own album in your hands knowing that it’s yours and that no one
can ever take that away from you. 
Getting to that point though, getting everything recorded and sounding
the way that you want it, well that’s a horse of another color ha-ha!  It can be a little bit stressful, to say the
very least.  What’s it like recording for
Wild Eyes?  Is there a lot of preparation
that goes into a Wild Eyes recording session? 
Do you spend a lot of time working stuff out and getting things to sound
just the way that you want them or do you head in and just kind of let the
songs have some breathing room and leave a little bit of room for change and
evolution in the recording process?
Carson:  Recording can
be frustrating, but now that we’re more solid as a band I hope the new record
goes smoother.  We’re going into a
studio, so we’re going to try and have as much worked out as possible just so
we don’t waste time and money.
You released your
debut Self-Titled Wild Eyes 12” on Who Can You Trust? Records who also released
the Hot Lunch LP which is how I heard you all to begin with, and is limited to
only 500 copies, which I can only guess won’t be around for long!  Can you share some of your memories of
recording that first album with us?  What
was the recording of the material for Wild Eyes like?  Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you
all?  When and where was it
recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?
Carson:  The first
record was actually recorded a year and a half ago at Lucky Cat Recording by
Phil Manley, who did a great job of making it; a pleasant experience for all.
Janiece:  We smoked a
lot of weed and ate a lot of pizza, ha-ha! 
It was super rad.
With the release
of the self-titled album not too long about ago on Who Can You Trust? Records
last year (2013), are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon
for Wild Eyes?  Where’s the best place
for our readers to pick up your stuff? And where’s the best place for our
readers, and your fans new and old, to keep up with the latest news like
upcoming shows and album releases from Wild Eyes at?
Carson:  The next
record should be out in October.  You can
buy our music from our Bandcamp site or, while we don’t have our website up yet
you can always find us on Facebook as well.
Are there any
major goals or big plans that 2014 has in store for 2014?  What, if anything, does Wild Eyes have planned
as far as touring goes for 2014 so far? 
You all have played with some great bands!  Who are some of your personal favorites that
you’ve had a chance to play with so far? 
Do you have any funny and or interesting stories from live shows or
performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?
Janiece:  We got to
get out to Europe!  DUH!!  Stoked to finally rip it out there!
Carson:  The new
record should be out by October in time for our first European tour, which
we’re excited about.  Hopefully we’ll
also do some touring in the states before then. 
We like playing with our label mates Hot Lunch (Interview here) and
Lecherous Gaze, but my personal favorite would have to be the King Khan and BBQ
Show, because they’re really old friends of mine and they’re hilarious.  My favorite band to be on tour with and watch
every night is Danava, since I think they’re the best band in the U.S.  We don’t have any really good stories yet,
but we haven’t actually done any touring. 
We’ve been kicked off stage for being too loud, but that’s about it.
Do you give a lot
of thought to the visuals aspects that represent the band like artwork for
fliers, posters and covers?  Do you have
any artists that you usually turn to in those times of need?  If you do, who is that and how did you
originally get hooked up with them?
Carson:  Our friend
Tim Lehi is a great tattoo artist and was nice enough to do our album cover
art.  He’s done art for my other band
Saviours as well.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums of release that they
do.  Do you have a preferred medium of
release for your music?  What about when
you’re listening to and or purchasing music? 
If you do have a preference can you talk a little bit about why?  I’m a junky when it comes to physical music
product.  I grew up around my dad’s
massive collection of vintage blues and psychedelia and I was encouraged from a
very young age to listen to and enjoy it. 
I remember I would go up to these shelves of music that never seemed to
end, pick something out, stick it in the player, kick back in the beanie bag,
read the liner notes, stare at the cover artwork and let the music transport me
off to another place.  Having something
physical to hold in my hands, something to experience physically along with the
musical always made for a more complete listening experience and offered for a
rare but brief glimpse into the minds of the artist that created it; at least
for me.  That connection with physical
music is something that I don’t think I’ll ever fully shake.  Do you have any such connection with
physically released music?
Carson:  We obviously
prefer vinyl, as that’s the only medium our music is available in besides
digital.  I prefer buying records that
include digital download cards, but I’ve got no problem with CDs, or even
cassettes.  Obviously it’s nice to have
an LP with nice artwork and some liner notes to read, but for me playing
records is work.  Not that it’s a bad
thing, but literally, a good chunk of my meager income comes from DJing, so
that’s when I interact with my records the most.  I’m only going to play things I want to hear,
but at the same time you’re trying to tell a story or make people dance.  I only use 45s so generally no pictures
unless they’re European pressings, but I really get much more enjoyment out of
records when I’m cranking them over a club P.A. for other people.  If I’m at home I’ll most likely put my iPod
on shuffle and go about my business.  No
decisions required!
As much as I love
my music collection digital music definitely has some major advantages to it
and when you team it with the internet you have a real game changer on your
hands.  Together they’ve exposed people
to an entire universe of music that they otherwise would know nothing about and
it seems to have levelled the playing field somewhat for independent musicians
willing to work hard and promote an online presence.  On the other hand though, illegal downloading
is running rampant and it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the completely
chocked digital jungle out there; nothing is ever black and white.  As a musician during the reign of the digital
era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Carson:  I’m all for
the digital leveling of the playing field. 
If more people get to hear it, great, if they want the genuine article,
be it an actual record or us ourselves playing a show, people can, and will,
pay for it.  People who are interested in
our kind of music generally want a record and they also want to see you
live.  Another thing that I see as
positive is, it’s putting pressure on bands to put on a more memorable live
show.  I know we deliver!
Janiece:  All I’ve got
to say is buy fucking records and quit being pussies!  Too many nerds…  Way to many.
I try to keep up
with as much good music and I possibly can by any means necessary but there’s
just not enough hours in the day to keep up with even one-percent of the
amazing stuff that’s going on out there right now!  Is there anyone from your local scene or area
that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?  What about nationally and internationally?
Carson:  Locally
there’s a great new band called Older Sun that just opened for us, and OVVL are
great.  Nationally Danava is always the
first band that springs to mind, and Joy are great too.  Internationally there’s the Motorwolf label
out of The Hague, specifically a newer band called Santa Cruz on that label who
are better than 99.9% of the bands out there but nobody knows it.
Thank you so much
for taking the time to do this interview, it’s been awesome learning so much
about your band and while I know it can’t have been super easy I hope it was at
least a little fun to look back on everything that you’ve managed to accomplish
in the last few years!  Before we call it
a day and ride off into the sunset, is there anything that I might have
possibly missed or that you’d just like to take this time to talk to me or my
readers about?
Janiece:  Life’s a barbeque
and shirts are optional.
Carson:  Not much else
to say, just come see Wild Eyes when we play your town, you won’t be
disappointed; and if you like this record just wait ‘til you hear the next one!
Oh yeah, remember that rock ‘n’ roll is where god and the devil shake hands.
DISCOGRAPHY
(2013)  Wild Eyes –
Wild Eyes – digital, 12” – Who Can You Trust? Records (Limited to 500 copies)
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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