43 years ago listeners from across the globe took the needle off of their copies of L.A Woman, left with nothing but the harrowing vocal refrain of Jim Morrison singing 'Riders on the Storm'. Over four decades later, Peru-based psychedelists, The Dead-End Alley Band, are bringing it all back. Taking inspiration from the past, this group are creating some of the most authentic-sounding blues-based, stoner rock to come out of the South American continent in recent times. Enjoy the latest instalment in our continuing series of interviews out of Lima, Peru. (read instalments one + two). - Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman.
Dan: Who is in the band, and who plays what?
Sebastian: Hi, Daniel. Well, this psychedelic adventure started with Javier Kou, playing guitars, bass and some vocal, and me, Sebastian Sanchez-Botta, playing vocals, organs, piano and some drums. Then, on the road, we added a couple of friends to perform live. They are Leonardo Alva on lead guitars, and Jaime Diaz on drums, so, the final line up is: Me on vocals and organs, Javier on vocals and bass, Leonardo on guitars, and Jaime on drums.
Dan: Where does the name The Dead-End Alley Band originate from?
Javier: Besides psychedelic music, I like some other genres and bands, so the name came up a long time ago between 2006 and 2007 when I was listening to Enrique Bunbury’s new album (in that time) in collaboration with another Spanish singer named Nacho Vegas. One of the songs of the album was ‘Welcome to El Callejón sin Salida’ and I liked the part of ‘Callejón sin Salida’ that in English is ‘Dead-End Alley’, so I just put the ‘The’ at the beginning and the ‘Band’ at the end and that was it: The Dead-End Alley Band. I saved that name for some years till I told Sebastian to start this project.
Dan: Some of the Dead-End Alley Band's songs are very organ-focused, not all too common in the often guitar-dominated world of neo psychedelia. What caused you to bring organ into the mix?
Sebastian: It’s because, our first influence to start making psychedelia were ‘The Doors’. Their music had a lot of Ray Manzarek’s organs presence, so we started loving that kind of mix between laced-cheesy-obscured organs with some delayed and fuzzy blues guitars.
Javier: Yeah, and also, in my opinion, the organ plays such a big role in the music we create, is like the nexus between the real world and the trip we offer.
Dan: Your sound contains a wide variety of band's, such as The Doors, The Deltones, Country Joe and The Fish, etc. What are some of your influences, and current favourite bands?
Javier: For the band, some other influences besides the ones you already mentioned are ‘Iron Butterfly’, ‘Phantom’s Divine Comedy’ and maybe some of ‘Vanilla Fudge’. Also when I have to create bass lines some of the influences are from Deep Purple’s Roger Glover and Black Sabbath’s Geezer Buttler. And talking about favourite bands, if I have to name 5 I would say: ‘The Doors’, ‘Alice in Chains’ (the old one without the new vocalist), ‘Alice Cooper’, ‘Héroes del Silencio’, and ‘Judas Priest’.
Sebastian: And for me, my personal influences in organs comes, besides Ray Manzarek, from classical music, some goth organs from Tim Burton’s movies, for example, or some sixties horror b-movies.
Dan: I notice that Javier Kou plays both guitar and bass on the records, how does this work in a live context?
Javier: Like Sebastian said, we had to add some people to play live, so, I play bass at the concerts, because Leonardo is so much better guitarist that I am.
Dan: Why was Leonardo Alva brought into play lead on the track 'The Cosmic Cry Out'?
Sebastian: When we included Leo in the band, we found that he is a blues man. He had a very sweet and sexy “hendrixian” way to seduce with his guitar. ‘The Cosmic Cry Out’ it supposed to be a very sensual track, so… the man with sensual bluesy solos must be there.
Dan: I feel like I'm interviewing a tonne of bands from Lima recently! First Montibus Communitas, then Spatial Moods, and now you guys! How do you feel about the Lima musical scene?
Sebastian: I have a personal feeling about Peruvian’s rock and music as well. I think that the most representative sound of Peruvian rock is the psychedelia from Traffic Sound, Laghonia, Los York’s, etc. Then, combined with the popular ‘chicha’ (psychedelic cumbia), it seems to be that psychedelic sounds are representative from this country. Is not weird, at the end of the day, to find out that we are living in a psych rock camp. A lot of bands here love having a psych sound in their style, and finally you realize that psychedelia is good looking outside, but in Lima, it lives in a very underground world.
Dan: What guitars were used on the Odd Stories recording sessions?
Javier: I like the question, man! Hahaha, Ok!, we used 3 different guitars, a Thomas guitar (A vintage Japanese copy of a Mosrite guitar), an Ephiphone Hollow Casino and 1968 Univox, provided by our friend, brother and co-producer, Chino Burga (from La Ira de Dios).
Dan: Also, what organs/keyboards were used on the album?
Sebastian: Since we started playing and recording, I play with a Farfisa Fast 5 organ, from 1969.
Dan: How about amps and effects (for both organ and guitars)?
Javier: Vox pathfinder and Marshall.
Dan: In a more general sense, what were the Odd Stories recording sessions like? Why did you decide to overdub the sound of rain onto tracks like 'Blue at a distance'?
Sebastian: We used to record in our home studio. Also, we record some tracks in some friend’s houses or studios. For example, drums were edited and mixed at Jaime Diaz studio. ‘Blue At Distance’ is a track with some feelings of loneliness. The story of a lonely guy walking through the streets at night, under the rain. We thought the sound of rain could increase that feeling of loneliness we wanted.
Dan: Who created the artwork of Odd Stories? And what does it depict?
Javier: Sebastian came with the whole illustration, and I made the work in photoshop.
Sebastian: It's an "odd story" too, hehe. The first song we composed for this album was Devil's Mask. It was my favorite song, and also, I told Javier to have that song as a single for the album. I thought the album will be called 'Devil's Mask', so I draw this weird guy with a 'diablada' mask, representative from the southern highlands here. When I wrote the lyrics and thought the story of the song, I decided to use that mask, because it's very crazy. It looks very mad and psych, too.
Dan: What's next for The Dead-End Alley Band?
Javier: Actually we are working in some demo's for the 3rd album, I guess we have the songs we want to record in a close future, but I would like to have more songs so we can choose some of them and save the others for b-sides or compilations with other bands. That’s all I can say about.
Dan: Is their anything else you would like to say or any shout-outs you would like to make?
Javier: Hmm, not really, we are preparing the official release of the LP here in Lima, also some labels here are working now on the CD and Tape editions of the ‘Odd Stories’ so it will be a complete album release, a big party (or slaughter… hehehe)! Also we would like to thank to all the people who have been supporting us since the beginning, I won’t say names ‘cuz it may take too long, and thank you for the interview and the time.
Sebastian: Just hit “play” and let yourself get carried away by a night of pure madness!!
Check out the fantastic new Dead-End Alley Band record, Odd Stories, here.
Also, make sure to like the band's Facebook page to keep up to date, here.