Play Ethic: Jacuzzi Boys Love the Touring Grind Almost as Much as They Love Miami
No one gets a record deal slugging Tecates in a beach chair, although the Jacuzzi Boys might have you believe differently. In "Vizcaya," a track from the Boys' new candy-coated LP, Glazin', singer/guitarist Gabriel Alcala proclaims: "There's no place in the world that I'd rather be, than right here with my friends hanging here in the heat." And for the past four years, the scrappy Miami garage-punk trio has undoubtedly preached the virtues of sand, sun, and "raspberry feelings" for the opposite sex, but the band members' rigorous touring shows they're working hard so the rest of us won't have to.
Alcala, bassist Danny Gonzalez, drummer Diego Monasterios, and their manager, Rydel Baluja, wrap a 35-date North American tour when the Boys hit Respectable Street in West Palm Beach on Friday. The sweaty trek included the group's first CMJ Music Marathon appearances ever in New York, which had a bit to do with their recent signing to Sub Pop subsidiary label Hardly Art earlier this year.
The partnership got the wheels spinning on Glazin', which was recorded at Key Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in the dead of winter. On several of the tracks, Alcala's vocals were tripled, which makes them glimmer so bright, you'd think he swallowed a Miami Subs sign. Beyond lyrics referencing "melons on my mind," it's an instrumentally sexy record too. The surf-rock of "Cool Vapors" and stripped-down White Stripes vibe on "Zeppelin" give the guys a newfound heaviness.
Recent plaudits for Glazin', their second full-length, from Spin and other national publications have been nice, but aside from scoring an appearance on MTV Canada, the guys haven't let success go to their heads. In the midst of cruising in the tour van and paying tolls, Alcala and Gonzalez got on the phone with New Times to ponder writing a song about world hunger and to relay a traffic tale fit for a Michael Bay movie.
New Times: On a scale of one to ten, how insane has this tour been? One being Chips Ahoy before bedtime and ten being face tattoos.
Gonzalez: Ten being face tattoos? Face tattoos is pretty shitty. It hasn't been that crazy. It's run pretty smooth. The shows have been great. This was the first time that we went to Canada, which was cool. I've heard so many horror stories of bands being stopped at the border... even if there's no good reason.
What does the van smell like right now?
Gonzalez: I'm sure if you sniff around hard enough, you can find some pretty stinky spots, but for a bunch of dudes, we're very clean. We're one of the cleanest bands going right now. We don't punk it out too hard. We take showers regularly. It's the only way to feel alive.
So what's the wildest thing that occurred?
Gonzalez: When we were driving from Boston to New York, we witnessed a Hollywood-worthy accident on the highway 50 feet in front of us. A huge pickup truck carrying a trailer spun out of control and clipped a semi truck. The semi ends up flipping up on its side and clearing the median into oncoming traffic. Four cars end up driving right through the trailer part of the semi like a baseball through a sheet of notebook paper. There was shit everywhere. But everyone ended up walking out of their cars. I was driving. It was pretty scary.
Your current tour is in support of Glazin'. How did you get the sunny Miami vibe for that album up at Key Club during a Michigan winter?
Alcala: It was superfreezing. It wasn't snowing, but there was snow on the ground. Where we recorded, it was warm — we had a heater on. We wrote the songs in Miami. I think we felt comfortable, and the spirit of Miami came through in writing the songs.
Onstage, you often introduce songs by saying "This song's about baseball" or "This song's about fruits," but would you take the same approach if you wrote one about world hunger or something that can't be summed up in a couple of words?
Alcala: I think if we ever have a song about world hunger, it'll be pretty awesome. We can be like "This song is about mermaids" and then "This song is about freaks" and then "This song is about world hunger." I think it'll work. Hopefully we'll write a song that's about multiple things or something really long that we'll have to explain more fully.
How do you sum up the CMJ experience?
Gonzalez: This was our first CMJ. New York is pretty hectic on its own, and I was preparing for the worst. It worked out so well. Found a perfect place to park the van, got around easy. The Hardly Art showcase at Death by Audio was one of the best shows of the tour. It kinda felt like a Miami show. The place was warehouse-y, smoky, hot. It reminded us of [the now-closed Miami spot Bar]. It was kind of a drunken mess. Everyone was superwasted.
Any bands you caught that you'd like to tour with?
Gonzalez: We saw the band Bleached twice. The guitar player is a big fan of ours, and she was telling Gabriel that she wants to tour together. There's a bunch of friends of ours that I'd be down to tour with. We're friends with Pujol, and we played with them a couple of times. There's another band from Nashville, Diarrhea Planet — we saw them play yesterday and hung out.
What is the first thing you want to do when you get back into town?
Gonzalez: The last few times we've gotten back from a long tour, we've gone straight to the beach. When we get back this time, the water's already cold. It's not the ideal beach scenario, so I'm not sure. Sleeping in a bed is going to be nice, and eating some real Cuban meals. It was my birthday yesterday, and we had a big dinner at a Cuban restaurant. I'll put Cuban in quotations. The food was good, but when I ordered Cuban coffee, they brought out espresso with no sugar in it. Come on, man!
Presents! What did you get for your birthday?
Gonzalez: My mom sent a card for me. Diego gave me a Hall & Oates pin. Gabriel and his girlfriend bought me brunch, and he still owes me a massage. Rydel is still debating. Ruben Mendez from Hardly Art bought me two pieces of cake — a cheesecake with chocolate brownies on top and a coconut cake — at the Cake Shop, which was pretty appropriate.
Glazin' has a pretty fervent love letter to California called "Los Angeles." Have you ever seriously entertained relocating?
Alcala: No. We love Miami, we hate Miami, we love Miami, we hate Miami. We don't want to leave at all. That's our home; that's where our family and friends are. We love the vibe. We'll just keep on touring. We have those breaks out of Miami to experience other places, see new faces. [laughs] Whenever I start getting sick of Miami, there's a tour around the corner that I'm looking forward to. Then, on tour when I get homesick, it's usually toward the end.
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