Ferny Copiel has been recording musicians at his warehouse studio the Shack North for 26 years. The space is packed with the most interesting things mankind has ever produced. Graffiti ripped from the walls of the now defunct Washington Square, "Hialeah Kicks Ass" T-shirts for sale, an Uncle Luke 4 Mayor sign, huge statues of both Yoda and Jabba the Hutt. There's even a live snake (which, a sign says, you can touch). It all seems less like a distraction and more like a visual match for all the stimulating sounds coming from the studio.
Late Monday night, Copiel and his Humbert bandmates, Tony Landa and Izo Besares, were meeting up to practice for their upcoming opening set alongside Sandratz for Dead Milkmen show at Grand Central. It'll be a sort of family affair with Copiel's young daughter coming out and the addition of two special guest collaborators, Jeff Rolloson of Curious Hair and Night of the Weirds and multi-instrumentalist and singer Ali Culotta of Stop the Presses.
Humbert will have a mere twenty minutes to play the Grand Central stage on Friday, and so the five of them were meeting to decide which songs to play in that limited amount of time. This is Culotta's first time singing and playing accordion with Humbert. Besares said they at least knew they wanted Ali to join them onstage, "That's why 'Tradition' was for sure, 'cause it would spotlight that voice." Landa added that, "We thought I Don't Know, the old band, would be a better fit to play with Dead Milkmen, but that didn't work out, so we ended up playing an old song where (Ali) replaces Mark, our old singer."
Rolloson claimed the reason he was performing with the band was "because their first choice was busy." But Landa explained playfully that it was something else, "It's like one of the only sincere things he's said in the last few years, that he wanted to play with us."
Copiel added, "We actually had a horn section coming in, but they got called to do a, what do you call that..."
"A paying gig?" Rolloson laughed. This his second time performing with the band and he'll be singing a Lou Reed cover on Friday.
"Jeff really, really begged..." joked Copiel, "We needed someone who looked older than us and someone who looked hotter than us..."
"She doesn't look that old," Rolloson quipped.
After slimming down from four to three members, Landa said, "We weren't really prepared to do the trio thing yet." So they're filling in with guests until they're comfortable enough to go it alone. "And it's nice to collaborate with people we respect," Besares pointed out.
These guys have hosted Hialeah Fest for about 18 years. Landa said, "This is the first year where we don't know what's going to happen because of what's happening at Churchill's. It's always been at Churchill's." Speaking in regard to the recent sale of the venue. He added hopefully, "even if it's still open, and Dave's not there, we don't know that we wouldn't do it there."
The band will be performing at the bar before Dave's departure for Irish bartender Nicky Bowe's birthday on May 11. "We love that guy," Landa said. "A couple years ago, I found out he's doing a birthday show, and I was like, 'we're playing your birthday show.' And he freaked out because Dave had been trying to get us in there. So he's like," imitating a perfect perfect Irish accent, "'I can't fucking believe I'm going to tell Dave Daniels Humbert's playing my fucking birthday!'
"Actually, we heard the Jacuzzi Boys are playing his birthday, and we thought, 'we want to play with Jacuzzi Boys,' and now Jacuzzi Boys aren't playing, and we're still playing." Humbert had also tried to get them to play Hialeah Fest. The Jacuzzi Boys' answer was they wanted to play in Hialeah while Hialeah Fest was going on at Churchill's.
Currently, the band is recording their next release The Floating Legion of Joy, but until that drops, on Friday at around 8:20 p.m., there's promise of a "Perfect Day" with Humbert.
Dead Milkmen. With Sandratz and Humbert. Friday, April 11. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $18 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.