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La Hell Gang interview with Francisco “KB” Cabala

September 21, 2014

La Hell Gang interview with Francisco “KB” Cabala

I’ve been tipped off to more music by Permanent Records than
I can even begin to imagine, but it’s more than just the bands themselves.  They’ve introduced me to entire countries and
movements of music, to stuff like Chilean psych, and for that I will be forever
indebted to them.  There’s been so many
bands that have just melted by face from over there it’s crazy, but there’s a
few that stand above the rest and I’ve got a series of interviews coming up
exploring the region and those bands that have piqued my interest the
most.  I had a very short list of people
I wanted to get in touch with and talk to in the beginning, and La Hell Gang
was at the top of that list!  Founding
member, guitarist and lead singer Francisco “KB” Cabala graciously offered to
take time out of his insane schedule to talk all things La Hell Gang with all
us lucky folks here at It’s Psychedelic Baby. 
A warm, melting conglomeration of shoegaze and heavy, head drone psych,
La Hell Gang have just loosed another platter of dystopian melancholy
psychedelia on the world in the form of the Thru Me Again 12” for Mexican
Summer.  Throttling back from 2010’s Just
What Is Real
for BYM Records, La Hell Gang have settled into a sound that’s
quite reminiscent of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club when they were at the top of
their game, mellow, yet harsh, and meticulously and intricately constructed;
and I mean that’s as a compliment of the highest degree!  Raucous and spacious guitars paint a luscious
landscape in which the bass and drums fill in the colors and bring the listener
along for a demented Technicolor trip across the worlds of sound.  Enter a universe devoid of self-consciousness
or doubt.  Enter the cosmos of La Hell Gang.  Trust me; it’s much more pleasant than it
sounds!  Enjoy your stay.  You can thank me when you get back…
Listen while you read: 
http://lahellgang.bandcamp.com/
What’s the lineup
for La Hell Gang at this point?  Is this
the original lineup or have you all made any changes to the lineup since you
started as a band?
The line up has been the same since the beginning, Francisco
“KB” Cabala – Guitar and Vocals, Ignacio “Nes” Rodriguez – Drums, and Rodrigo
“Sarwin” Sarmiento – Bass.
Are any of you in
any other bands or do you have any active side projects going on?  Have you released any material with anyone in
the past?  If so, can you tell us a bit
about it?
I have another project called Chicos de Nazca, we’ve got
four albums, released by BYM Records and Hozac Records in Chicago.  My first band called Cindy Sisters I had with
my friends from 2005 to 2008 had one single released by Hozac Records too. 
How old are you
and where are your originally from?
We’re from Chile.  I’m
twenty four, Nes is twenty eight, and Sarwin’s twenty four.
What was the music
scene like where you grew up?  Were you
very involved in the music scene?  Do you
attend a lot of shows or anything?  Do
you feel like the local scene there played a large role in shaping your musical
tastes or in the way that you perform at this point?
When I started with Cindy Sisters around 2006, we played in
the Chilean scene with amazing bands like The Ganjas and then bands like Watch
Out!, Follakzoid or Holydrug Couple strated to appear.
What about your
home?  Were either of your parents or any
of your close relatives musicians or maybe just extremely interested or
involved in music?
My big brother’s a guitarist; actually he’s playing bass in
Chicos de Nazca.  My father was a bassist
in the 60’s as well, I grew up playing guitar, and Nes’ father’s a drummer.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
Was when I was sixteen years old in 2006, with my friend
Vicente Schiesewitz.  Together we formed
Cindy Sisters, he now has his own project called The Psychedelic Schafferson
Jetplane; really good music.
When did you
decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what
brought that decision about for you?
I wrote my first song in 2006 which was released by Hozac
Records.  The song’s called “She Is
Burning Inside”.  I just felt that was my
way, something I had to do.  Now I’m
always thinking of melodies and songs.
When did you get
your first instrument?  What was it?
I don’t remember when I got my first guitar, but I was a
kid.
How did you all
originally meet?  When would that have
been?
I met Sarwin in school and Nes around 2008.  We met and recorded “Just What Is Real”, with
songs that were written after Cindy Sisters broke up, some jams, and then two
songs written by Sarwin on bass.  We
recorded this album in 2009.
When and what led
to the formation of La Hell Gang?
In 2009, after Cindy Sisters broke up, there was no time to
loose.  So, I met up with the guys and we
recorded.
Is there any kind
of mantra, creed, code, or ideal that the band shares or lives by?
We like to jam a lot. 
The songs are extremely free, anything could happen when we’re playing
live.
Your name
seriously just sounds bad ass, like Samuel L. Jackson’s wallet in Pulp Fiction
bad ass or something.  What does La Hell
Gang mean or refer to in the context of the band name?  Who came up with it and how did you go guys
go about choosing it?  Were there any
close seconds or runners-up you can think of?
We were a kind of Hell Angels when we were boys, but in the
good way, ha-ha, walking around the city free with our psychotropics, boots and
leather jackets.
Where’s La Hell
Gang located at?
I’m living in Berlin now and the guys are in Chile.  I want to move to Australia, so I’m kind of
moving around and around and don’t have a home now.
How would you
describe the local scene where you all are at?
We have a home in Santiago where the BYM Records studio
is.  I was living there with Sarwin and
Nes, the drummer of Holydrug couple, and some other artists, almost all the
bands on the label play there.  We all
know each other.
Do you feel like
you’re very involved in the local scene or anything?  Do you book or attend a lot of shows?
In the past we’ve been very involved, playing all the
time.  Now we’re planning tours, and can
travel around the world.
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any local music? 
If so, can you tell us about that briefly here?
Nes is the head of BYM Records.  He recorded almost all of the bands on the
label in the BYM house, we do it as analog as we can and we always record on
tape.
Has the local
scene played an integral role in the sound, history, or evolution of La Hell
Gang in your opinion?  Do you feel like
you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of
your location or surroundings?
Yeah, I’ve been influenced by a band here called The
Ganjas.  My friend Samuel Maquieira is
the guitarist and I listened to their album a lot when I was starting…  Also, when I was in the school we jammed a
lot with some Chilean friends, an experimental jam band called La Bandas.
Your sound is
fuzzy as hell, but there’s a lot of killer stuff that I can hear kicking around
in there; traces of blues, garage and twisted psychedelia.  I’m curious to hear who you all would cite as
your major musical influences?  What
about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
I grew up listening to Jimi Hendirx.  Later, I discovered The Stooges, MC5, and
then Spacemen 3 and The Jesus and Mary Chain. 
That was my school.
How would you
describe La Hell Gang in your own words to our readers who might not have heard
you all before?
La Hell Gang is a psychedelic trio.  We respect the drone in the music, the
psychedelia, and freedom of mind when we’re playing.
What’s the
songwriting process like for La Hell Gang? 
Do you all get together for practice and just kind of kick ideas back
and forth, kind of distilling a song from the process and then polishing it
from there?  Or, is there someone who
usually comes in to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to
work out with the rest of the band?
On our albums, I wrote almost all the songs, but Sarwin
wrote a couple.  Then we started to play
together and Nes gave the motor to the gang and there’s a lot of songs that we
wrote together just jamming.
What about
recording?  I think that most musicians
can appreciate all the time, work and effort that goes into making an album
when they’re holding the finished product in their hands finally.  But getting to that point, getting stuff
recorded, and sounding the way that you want it to, especially as a band, can
be extremely difficult and trying on a band to say the least.  What’s it like recording for La Hell Gang?
I don’t think it’s too difficult getting the final album
when you are telling the truth.  I don’t
like it when music is too controlled and planned.  I like spontaneity in the music.  You can see a real musician when they can
record their music in one take, you know?
Do you all like to
take a DIY approach to recording where you all handle most of the technical
aspects of things yourselves so you can control the sound more precisely and
don’t have to work with or compromise with someone else?  Or, do you all like to head into the studio
and let someone else handle that side of things so you all can concentrate on
getting the best performances possible out of yourselves?
I like record our own stuff. 
When you record on tape there’s no too much work to do, you don’t need
to mix a lot, the music sounds alive and it’s easy to take the control.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into getting songs to sound just so-so, with every
part of them meticulously worked out ahead of time before you start?  Or, is it more of a case where you get a good
skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like in your head while allowing
for some change and evolution during the recording process when you feel it’s
necessary?
Almost always, we just do one or two takes of a song playing
together and then the guitars come in and record overdubs, but those are the
first or second take too.  Almost
everything is in the first take, the voice too, there are just some guitars on
the overdubs, but there’s not too much to think about.  It’s clear in the mind, just flow.
Do psychoactive or
hallucinogenic play any role in the songwriting, recording or performance
angles of La Hell Gang?  I know there are
a lot of people who really like to tap into the altered mind states that can be
produced by imbibing substances and I’m always curious what they utilize and
how it affects their music.
Of course marijuana always helps to make music and keep you
flowing the right way, and hallucinogens, of course.  In South America you can go to the jungle and
take ayahuasca, or go to the desert and take San Pedro cactus, to clear your
mind, the natural way.
You all released
your debut album Just What Is Real for BYM Records back in 2010, which is a
killer little slab of psychedelia.  Can
you tell us a little bit about the recording of that early material?  Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you
all?  When and where was it recorded
at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?
We recorded the album in a wooden house in the country, on
an 8-track reel-to-reel of Nes’, in just two days.  It was just us, nobody else as there.  It was really powerful…   We just one take, it was really funny and
real, ha-ha. I recorded with a vintage Vox Phantom guitar and a vintage fuzz
pedal from the 60’s, and an old console. 
It was the first vinyl BYM Records released, recorded in 2009 and
pressed in 2010.
You are just
getting ready to follow up Just What Is Real with your sophomore album, Thru Me
Again the end of this month (July 2014) this time for Mexican Summer
Records.  Was the recorded of the
material for Thru Me Again very similar to your work on the first album?  Did you all try anything radically new or
different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for Thru
Me Again?  Where was that recorded?  Who recorded it and when was that?  What kind of equipment was used this time
around?
We took more time to record this album.  It was recorded by Nes in the BYM House.  We played one take and then we did some overdubs.  Songs like “The Beginning Remains The End”
and “So High”, were jams.  We’ll take a
part of the jam and make a song.  “Last
Hit” and “What You Want You Got It”, were jams too, from beginning to end.  I wrote the rest of the songs.  It was recorded on 8-track reel-to-reel.
Does La Hell Gang
have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation
or a demo that I’m not aware of?

We recorded an EP in 2010, which will be released by BYM
soon, it’s called “There Is The Place”. 
Also, we have a cassette called It’s Live In My Soul, released by
Yellowmoon, which is a lot of songs we played live around 2010.
With the release
of Thru Me Again on July 22nd (2014) do you all have any other releases in the
works or on the horizon at this point at all?
Yeah, we’re going to put out some lost songs, that never
been released, and we’ll probably record another album during the Chilean
summer.  Also, Chicos de Nazca recorded
our new album, with me, Nes on drums, and my brother on bass, which is going to
be released at the end of this year.
Are there any
major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or
in 2015?
We’ve got a US tour from October 7th to November 15th; New
York to California in a van.  I’ll send
you the poster soon.
Do you all spend a
lot of time out on the road touring?  Do
you enjoy touring?  What’s life like on
the road for La Hell Gang?
We’re really friends, so everything is right!  I could live on tour.  Every gig is different as we jam all the
time.  We love to play all the time.
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large
extent?  Stuff like shirt designs,
posters, fliers, cover and that kind of thing? 
Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re trying to convey
with your artwork?  Do you have anyone that
you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to that sort of thing?  If so, who are they?
We’re trying to transmit, “Keep the music real”.  I like anyone who’s making real shit.  Our art is simple, to let the music flow,
always on the good side of the energy. 
And it’s trying to explain what it is to be an outsider.  The last art was made by a friend called
Zsueño, he did a good analog feeling job, and I’m happy with the art and the
way it represents the psychedelic aspects of our music.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why they choose and prefer the mediums of release that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own 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?
If stuff is released with good intentions it’s all
right.  I like to sell albums playing
live, to people who saw the band.  Here
in Berlin I’ve been playing in the street selling the vinyl and CDs of Thru Me
Again
, with my friend Vicente from Cindy Sisters and Psychedelic Schafferson
Jetplane, anyway to try to get people to meet us.
I grew up around a
collection of music and my dad would always take me out and pick up random
stuff that I thought looked or sounded cool. 
I developed a deep appreciation for physically released music from a
pretty young age.  I would kick back with
a set of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover artwork and just
let the whole thing carry me off on this trip. 
It’s something that I’ve grown a bit addicted to in my growing age
actually.  Just having something physical
to hold in my hands always made for a much more complete listening experience
for me.  Do you have any such connection
with physically released music?  If so,
can you talk a little bit about that?
Do you mean on vinyl? 
I collect all my music on vinyl. 
I like to feel all the frequencies, I love when I just listen to the
recordings from the tape.  The harmonics
are alive, the bass is so deep.  Anyway,
these days it’s so easy to make an album, if you release it on vinyl, you
actually feel that the process is complete.
Like it or not,
digital music is here and it’s here in a big way.  Digital music is just the tip of the iceberg
though, in my opinion.  When you team it
with the internet, that’s when you have something truly revolutionary on your
hands.  Together they’ve exposed people
to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and it’s allowed for
unparalleled levels of communication betweens bands and their fan bases all
over the globe effectively erasing geographic boundaries almost overnight.  On the other hand, while people may be
exposed to more music than ever they’re not necessarily interested in paying
for it and for many people music is becoming this sort of disposable experience
to be used and then discarded and forgotten about when you’re done.  As an artist during the reign of the digital
era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
There’s a lot of digital music around and it’s so easy to
make digital music and distribute it, at the same time it’s out there with all
the standard commercial music, so it’s difficult to find good new music, but
people who know about what’s real don’t have this problem.  People are realizing this more and more.  In my case I collected all my music on vinyl,
so I don’t follow the digital world much.
I try to keep up
with as much good music as I possibly can but I swear there’s just not enough
hours in the day to keep up with one percent of the absolutely awesome stuff
out there right not.  Is there anyone
from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have
heard of before?
I recommend listen some albums from Chile:
Los Vidrios Quebrados – Fictions (1967)
Los Macs – Kaleidoscope Men (1967)
The Ganjas – Laydown (2006)
The Psychedelic Schafferson Jetplane (2010)
DISCOGRAPHY
(2010)  La Hell Gang – Just What Is Real – digital, 12” – BYM Records
(2014)  La Hell Gang – Thru Me Again – digital, 12” – Mexican Summer Records
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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