CVIndependent

Fri09252020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

It’s 8 p.m., and Freddy Jimenez is taking a break from working on a project for local artist Cristopher Cichocki to practice playing drums—before checking Instagram regarding details for his next project.

At the age of 28, Jimenez is finally the self-sustaining artist he set out to become. The path was not easy, but his dedication to technique, artistry and community has sustained him and made him into a driving force in everything he does.

Jimenez is a simple guy: He wears plain black clothes; he has short hair and no visible tattoos; he doesn’t drink or smoke. Thanks to his passion for art and love of community, Jimenez has managed to create a name for himself by producing both high-quality art and events, collaborating with numerous local artists, musicians and designers along the way.

His company, Blue Hill Studios, is a homegrown operation, started out of his parents’ house in Coachella. His parents supported his desire to print shirts, but they initially didn’t see it as more than a hobby—because they didn’t really understand the work that goes into producing shirts. However, they’d soon learn.

“The screen-print dryers I was using were too powerful for my parents’ house. I could have blown out the fuses. I had to get generators for the dryers,” Jimenez said with a laugh. “The process was so loud, too. I don’t know why my neighbors never said anything for, like, two to three years.”

Today, Jimenez operates full-time out of a studio in downtown Indio, which celebrated its grand opening in March 2018. It’s adjacent to the Indio Performing Arts Center, the city’s artistic center; down the street from iconic Mexican-food restaurant Rincon Norteño; and a hop, skip and a jump from Club 5, Indio’s newest community-minded dive bar.

Jimenez comes from a musical background. He’s played music his entire life; his first instrument was the flute, then the trumpet, followed by bass guitar. His uncle and dad played music, and so did his brother, playing in a local cover band doing romanticas—a genre of Spanish adult-contemporary love songs.

“Seeing my family play music was my first inspiration, but I started going to local house shows in sixth- or seventh-grade with my friends Joseph and Michael Torres,” Jimenez said. “We would go to death-metal shows, which inspired me to play guitar. My brother had a drum set, though, and that’s how I picked up the drums. From there, I started bands here and there, but it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I started a band called A Curious Case, which was an indie-dance band. That band lasted two years; then I started Tribesmen.”

Behind the drum kit with Tribesmen—an instrumental, post-rock band—Jimenez has played many shows in the Coachella Valley and beyond, including the Tachevah festival in Palm Springs.

The late ’00s—as he was graduating high school and shortly thereafter—were a particularly creative time for Jimenez, as he started both doing shows and doing screen-printing. He started screen-printing using a small Yudu machine, but his practice expanded once he got a full-sized manual screen press. However, it wasn’t easy.

“It was so much harder to use the press, learning to make screens; I kind of underestimated it,” Jimenez said. “I was going to sell the press, but the guy I bought it from, Sam Orozco, told me not to sell it. He had moved out of town (which was why he sold the press); he promised to come down to teach me how to work it. But he died a week later, and he never showed me.”

Jimenez kept the press out of respect for Orozco and his wishes, and committed himself to mastering it. He learned mostly through trial and error.

“I fucked up a shit ton of shirts. Prints, too,” he said.

Today, however, Jimenez knows what he’s doing, and he has steady work, thanks to a good reputation, mostly through word of mouth. He’s printed shirts for many local businesses and organizations, including Fresh Juice Bar, Palm Springs CrossFit, Raices Cultura and Cactus Tattoo, among others. He’s also made items for local bands such as Pathos, Plastic Ruby and Black Market Jazz, as well as his frequent collaborator, the Coachella-based artist and illustrator ANTA.

Learning how to produce serigraph prints, the hand-made prints made popular by Andy Warhol and Shepard Fairey, proved to be his most challenging yet most rewarding artistic pursuit.

“Printing serigraphs is different from a shirt. It’s a lot harder. It takes up so much time,” Jimenez said. “Everything must be aligned perfectly. That’s why nobody really does this kind of print. It’s also expensive, but it does result in a certain quality and unique effects that cannot be achieved with digital prints.”

Jimenez endures, however, in part because of his love for the eastern Coachella Valley and the local artistic community. He employs the serigraph technique to produce instantly recognizable show posters for the music events he produces.

The name Blue Hill Studios came to him one day as he was driving home.

“Blue Hill signifies the east valley to me. As the sun was setting one day, I looked at the mountains, and they looked blue to me,” he said. “I immediately thought Blue Hill Studios would be a great name for my production company.”

Jimenez has ambitions to also create a full recording studio and record label, along with the printing studio. Jimenez said he has engineered recording sessions with many local bands, including Ocho Ojos, CIVX, Kayves, and Venus and the Traps. However, the printing aspect has taken off much faster, though Jimenez is still collecting gear and improving his recording techniques.

Collaborating with other artists and having the means to make products is the most rewarding part of Jimenez’s work, he said.

“All my friends are artists and are really supportive,” he said. “That’s the reason I keep doing this. They give me work to do. I’m lucky to be part of this scene. Blue Hill also gets a lot of respect, because what we do is seen as more of a craft.”

In a sense, Blue Hill Studios is sort of a miniature, local equivalent of Warhol’s Factory. Jimenez has collaborated with many well-known artists, including Armando Lerma/The Date Farmers, Albert Reyes, Cat Cult and Tommii Lim, among others.

In his early days as a printer, Jimenez admits that he tried to rush jobs and move quickly between orders. Now that he is more successful, he takes things slower, and he gets to be more selective about the jobs he takes on. His next step would be to perhaps hire an employee.

“But I don’t want to get too commercial. I don’t want to be just another print shop,” he said. “Taking my time and putting out good work is always the most important thing for me.”

Immediately after our interview, Jimenez went back to playing the drums and working on shirts. When you’re your own boss, the work doesn’t stop … unless you want it to.

Blue Hill Studios is located at 45130 Smurr St., No. 6, in Indio. For more information, call 760-501-8766; visit www.bluehillprintstudios.com; or check out @bluehillstudios on Instagram.

Local music fans have been waiting for years for Tribesmen to release some recordings. Back in October, that finally happened—albeit in limited fashion.

The band’s new EP has just two songs: “Oceans Ocean” and “Ethos.”

The instrumental band from Coachella offers hints of psychedelia, ambient and rock in its sound. The band played at the first Tachevah Block Party in 2013 in downtown Palm Springs, and has developed a loyal following that shows up whenever and wherever the band plays.

During a recent interview at Tribesmen’s practice space in Coachella, drummer Freddy Jimenez said “Ethos” was the second or third song the band wrote—about three years ago.

“We wanted to save the rest, just in case we get hit up by a label or something. We’ve spent so much time writing and recording,” Jimenez said. “It takes forever to do all of that for us, because we have shit going on.”

Guitarist Wilber Pacheco explained why these two songs were released first.

“We’ve recorded all of the songs we have written so far,” Pacheco said. “These are the two songs that came out the best. In case we do get hit up by a label or something, we have time to make adjustments to those songs we previously recorded.”

Bassist Leslie Romero talked about the origins of “Oceans Ocean.”

“‘Oceans Ocean’ is kind of a mixture of an old song that we stopped playing for a while,” Romero said. “We had new ideas for it, so when we brought Christian (Leon) into the band, we combined his style of playing into that song, and we updated it.”

Guitarist Leon said that when he first joined Tribesmen more than a year ago, “Ethos” was the first song for which he wrote parts. In fact, writing that song was deceptively easy.

“For ‘Ethos,’ it really wasn’t hard,” Leon said. “It came right off the bat. Everything just popped. … At first, it was a challenge, but then it was like, ‘Yay! Everyone is cool with me now.’ It then became really hard to write parts for the other songs.”

While the band includes three guitar-players, it does not include a vocalist—a fact which has led some local musicians and music-writers to criticize Tribesmen. However, all-instrumental bands are far from obscure, and those who say Tribesmen needs a vocalist don’t understand what the band does.

“That whole thing doesn’t bother us anymore. We’re so used to it by now. We’re over it,” guitarist Alec Corral said about the criticism.

Pacheco said he understands why people question Tribesmen’s lack of a singer—although he does not agree with those questions.

“We hear that, but it’s not from people who have made music their passion,” Pacheco said. “It’s so common. … If you don’t have (a singer), it’s going to raise questions like, ‘Why don’t they have a singer? Can’t they find one? Are they not good enough?’”

Some instrumental bands record albums with tracks that transition into each other. Corral and other members of the band said they like that idea.

“We’ll get into that over time as we record in the studio,” Corral said. “Most of our songs are in the same key, so we can really do something with that.”

Tribesmen continues to improve and evolve, the members say. In fact, the band no longer plays some of its older material.

“There are a bunch of songs we have that we don’t play anymore, because we’ve grown out of them,” Pacheco said. “We matured a little bit, and we’ve outgrown them.”

The band members have struggled to properly record their own music. Thankfully, Jimenez spent time as an intern at Indio’s Music Proz and has recorded other bands, including as CIVX. That experience has proven to be helpful.

“We were just trying to do it in the garage here, and one of us would mess up and be like, ‘Oh man! Let’s do it again!’” Romero said. “We had to do that whole thing again, over and over. But Freddy found little techniques that they taught him where we didn’t have to scrap the whole thing and start from the beginning. It made it a lot easier to record.”

What does the future have in store for Tribesmen? The members say they’re continuing to spread the word about the band, and they’re planning more shows—including a possible summer tour.

For more information on Tribesmen or the ‘Oceans Ocean’ EP, visit tribesmenmusic.bandcamp.com.

The area surrounding the city of Coachella is dominated by farms, ranches, orchards and the laborers who work on them.

As I drove to meet Armando Lerma at his Date Farmers art studio, I passed fields where migrant farmworkers were doing their jobs under the brutal summer sun. This is one of the places where Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers union fought for the labor rights of these migrant farmers.

Today, Coachella is becoming known for more than agriculture; it’s also getting more and more attention for its rising arts scene—and much of that attention is directly due to Armando Lerma and the Date Farmers studio.

When I arrived at the studio, which Lerma started with Carlos Ramirez (who was not present; he apparently avoids interviews), Lerma greeted me. Lerma’s two large dogs jumped around in excitement as he opened the door to show me the garden area out back as he explained what made him and Ramirez start the Date Farmers.

“It’s complicated,” Lerma said. “We try to keep the tradition alive of Mexican art—the culture and the traditions from the ancients to modern Mexican/Chicano art. That’s always been the inspiration. It’s something that relates to our community.”

Lerma said that when he began making art two decades ago, there wasn’t much inspiration to be found in Coachella.

“It’s kind of hard for us, because we weren’t taught those traditions and were kind of out here by ourselves,” he said. “We had to teach ourselves. Back in the ’90s, when I was in high school, there was no real art or anything that really talked to us. The art I remember that people would be talking about would be on El Paseo in Palm Desert in those galleries. I’d be looking and trying to understand whatever it was. I wanted to understand it, but I couldn’t—and I didn’t feel anything there.

“I met and talked with people who pointed me in the right direction and started teaching myself about the traditions. I found my way and the direction I wanted to take.”

Lerma said his initial ignorance of traditional Mexican art has made him appreciate art even more.

“No one in my family understood art. My parents had no clue and didn’t teach me about art,” Lerma said. “We had encyclopedias, and I remember going into those for art. Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh—all that stuff was cool. When I got a little older and started learning about Mexican history and people like Diego Rivera and all the Mexican muralists, I went deeper and deeper.”

He said a pilgrimage to Mexico helped inspire him and his works.

“I saw all the Aztec murals, the Mayan ruins and all that stuff,” Lerma said. “It’s a tradition that I wasn’t taught. That’s where I come from, and I had to teach myself, because the generations before me didn’t have time for that. Through my parents’ hard work, they were able to give me a good education. … I felt fortunate I was able to meet so many people pointing me in the right direction.”

Lerma said the collective’s name comes from the heritage of both his family and his hometown.

“That’s what established this community—the agriculture and farming,” he said. “My parents were migrant farmworkers and worked here in the desert. We had a date farm; my grandfather was a farmer, and my uncles are farmers.”


The Coachella Valley consists of nine different incorporated cities and various unincorporated communities, ranging from some of the richest areas of the country to the poorest. As he was growing up, this disparity confused Lerma.

“I felt stupid! I felt really dumb. For so long, I was like, ‘Why are things the way they are? I’m living in Coachella. I guess this is kind of cool,’” he remembered. “Back then, things were sort of junk (in Coachella) and not looking so nice. I went to school in Bermuda Dunes, and when you are going through Palm Desert, you can see the transition—and you don’t understand it. My parents didn’t know how to explain it to me. No one talked about it.

“When I came into my own and started understanding these things, I felt like that tradition (of understanding my community) was taken away from me. I should have known that stuff; I should have been more aware, and I should have been more self-confident and proud, but I wasn’t. I thought we must have been doing something wrong, because I didn’t know why we were in that position when I was growing up.”

Some other members of the Coachella Valley arts community believe this perspective has led Lerma to, at times, be over-protective of his community and his art. I reached out to a variety of people to discuss the Date Farmers—and almost none of them were willing to discuss the Date Farmers on the record. Off the record, some noted that Lerma can be eccentric, is often unafraid to state his opinions, and is overly suspicious and untrusting of anybody he views as an outsider.

However, almost everybody I talked to praised Lerma for being an inspiration to his community—and mentioned that he’s becoming more and more of an influence in the California art scene.

One person who was willing to talk to me is Freddy Jimenez, an artist and the drummer for the band Tribesmen. He has been working with the Date Farmers for years and has played various shows at the Date Farmers studio. He said he understands where Lerma is coming from.

“He doesn’t want anybody to just come in here, because this part of the desert has been neglected, and a lot of people have talked bad about it, especially from the west side of the Coachella Valley in Palm Springs,” Jimenez said. “Now all of a sudden, Armando is doing murals in the city of Coachella, and we’re doing shows here, and a lot of people are starting to recognize it and wanting to do shit out here. People just want to suddenly jump on the bandwagon. … You just don’t want to let everybody in. I don’t want to work with just anybody when it comes to throwing shows or doing art. We’ve been building this local scene up.”

As a result of the Date Farmers’ increasing influence, their pieces have been seen everywhere from the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles to the most recent Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—you know it simply as Coachella. Lerma said he’s happy to have his art in these places, in part because he feels people can learn from his art.

“With Mexican art in general, I think a lot of it has to do with teaching,” Lerma said. “If you take anyone’s art at the highest level, it’s teaching you something. That’s in Egyptian art, Chinese art—and you learn from it. It’s not just art for art’s sake.

“In Mexican culture, it’s also ceremonial to teach the young people to hold to the traditions. We’re kind of like orphans culturally. My generation, my parents’ generation, my grandparents’ generation—there was no art, and it kind of stopped. They had to work and do what they had to do to survive. But the spirit is strong, and it came back. That’s how I see art and where we’re coming from.”

The Date Farmers’ piece that was on display at Coachella, “Sneaking Into the Show,” was sitting in the gallery disassembled during my visit. Lerma mentioned during an April interview with LA Weekly that the work symbolizes the disparity between Coachella, the city—low-income, working-class—and Coachella, the music festival.

Lerma told me he is not a fan of Goldenvoice, the promoter that puts on Coachella and the other gigantic festivals that happen at Indio’s Empire Polo Club.

“It’s not something that’s talked about: Even the politicians here don’t step up and say, like, ‘Hey, we’re right here!’” Lerma said of the disparity between the festival and the nearby areas. “The things Goldenvoice does, like stopping people from selling T-shirts, is something I don’t understand. As an artist, I feel the most important aspect is to be honest, and I think we’re lucky, because we can talk shit. (The piece) was about bringing people from Coachella into the festival.

“I have this cousin who’s very inspirational to me as a kid. He was a gangster, and he had the cholo tattoos back in the ’80s when no one had tattoos. He looked like a pirate back then or something. I remember looking at him back then and saying, ‘You’re never going to get a job!’ He didn’t have to worry about it, because he ended up in prison. But he was a bad-ass artist, and that’s kind of the artwork he did, that reflected his experiences and his friends and family. It inspired me how he used art to tell his own story. He passed away recently, and the piece was a nod to him, because he sort of started me off.”

Lerma is also outspoken about the bad rap Coachella gets in the media. Earlier this year, The Desert Sun published a piece titled “The Warlords of Coachella,” about the city’s gang problems. Lerma said the piece was not a fair representation.

“That’s all bullshit!” Lerma said. “It makes us look so bad when it’s on the front page. … There are gangs here, but I don’t see them as much as I did when I was a kid. There used to be a lot. I probably wouldn’t have come to a party in Coachella during that time. It’s changed, and it’s not like that anymore.

“We were at a City Council meeting, and there were some kids from Coachella Valley High School, and they took it upon themselves to do this video, asking people at their school: ‘Do you feel safe?’ ‘How do you feel about the gangs?’ Everybody was saying there were some knuckleheads, but there were mostly good kids.

“This is my community. I live here every day, and I don’t see the gangs anymore.”


The city of Coachella and the East Valley in general have not been embraced as vibrant arts communities. However, the Date Farmers are helping to change that perception.

The Crisalida Community Arts Project was designed to also help change that perception. The two year project, an effort of the McCallum Theatre, fostered connections with local artists of all types in the East Valley, and culminated in a showcase this past spring at the McCallum.

Lerma—ever territorial and opinionated—said that he was not a fan of the project, in part because he was not included in it.

“That was a bummer for me. David Gonzalez, who is from New York, came to our community, and the project was funded by the James Irvine (Foundation) through the McCallum Theatre. I don’t know what started their interest in coming out here, because they never came out here before. I’m a big influence on these young people doing art out here, and for them to just not even contact me—it was bullshit.”

Lerma was also displeased that the Coachella Valley Art Scene’s Sofia Enriquez painted a mural in Coachella as part of the Crisalida project. He said it did not sit well with him, in part because the Date Farmers were already working on another mural nearby.

“It’d be one thing if there was no mural project, but there was already something going on that we were working on,” he said. “Right now, we have 10 murals up, and we’re going to get some more up, but I was really pissed off with the Crisalida Community Arts Project.”

David Gonzalez was in Europe and unavailable for comment.

Lerma explained that art is not as simple as some people make it out to be. He said that art needs to be taken seriously, and should not just be made in an effort to achieve fame and fortune.

“You have to be honest with yourself. I get turned off by people acting like they’re artists,” Lerma said. “… Honesty makes good art. It doesn’t come easy, and there aren’t too many art geniuses. (Date Farmers co-founder) Carlos (Ramirez) is an art genius. He’s been drawing since he was out of the womb, and he knows how to draw. It took me a long time to learn how to draw and how to paint. With social media, it’s just so fast now, and that dedication to the craft isn’t there.”

The Date Farmers’ interest in art goes beyond what one would find in a gallery. In an area that is currently going through a resurgence of the house-party-style concert, the arts collective has been also focusing on music. During New Year’s Eve in 2015, Brant Bjork performed at the studio, and local bands including Tribesmen have played there as well.

“We’ve had a lot of music shows. We had parties on Friday and Saturday during Coachella,” Lerma said. “We can have 300 people in here, and they’re all mostly locals, and it’s kind of the way to give back to the kids who can’t go to Coachella. We go all out and throw a good party, exposing them to good music and art.

“They’re all cool art-type kids. When I was a kid, you’d get beat up for being an art kid.”

Jimenez, of Tribesmen, said that the Date Farmers’ music space is a throwback to the backyard scene that is now making a comeback in the Coachella area.

“Armando has provided a safe haven for the local East Valley scene,” Jimenez said. “It’s the same kind of feel and the same kind of passion that the backyard-music shows had. No other venue in the desert has the same kind of love. That studio makes it feel like you’re at home and shit. It makes you feel like you’re playing to people who actually care about the music as opposed to playing in a bar and people who are just there to drink and party.”

The Date Farmers studio is currently dealing with a financial setback, due to the bankruptcy and questionable financial dealings of Ace Gallery founder Douglas Chrismas.

“I should really be jaded with everything I’ve gone through as an artist,” he said. “We just finished working with the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles. They showed Andy Warhol and all kinds of big names. The guy who owned it, Douglas Chrismas, is notorious for being crazy, and he rips you off. It was all part of the experience. The business of art is why you can’t take the business so seriously—but then you do (need to take it seriously), and it’s a weird balance. It’s not easy.”

Lerma explained that there’s no grant money supporting the Date Farmers.

“We make money through making and selling art,” he said. “Most people never get to live off their art and have to do something else. We’re so fortunate to be able to sell artwork. But it hasn’t been easy, and people aren’t just throwing money at us. I don’t know where the money is going to come from, but I know that I have to sell some art. We don’t have the Ace Gallery anymore, so we have to find a new gallery to sell art through.”

Lerma is clearly proud of his hometown. He said that after dealing with the hustle and bustle of the Los Angeles art world, he’s happy to be home.

“After coming back here, I just want to start a garden and slow things down—slow it down as much as I can,” he said.

Published in Visual Arts

After a busy couple of years—including a performance at Coachella—local favorite CIVX seemingly disappeared, with months passing between local gigs.

Then in May, the band resurfaced with not only a slate of local shows, but a brand-new EP, Security Through Obscurity.

I recently caught up with frontman Dillion Dominguez and bassist Clay Samalin in La Quinta, and they explained CIVX’s absence and the trials and tribulations of making the new EP.

“We did everything differently this time,” Dominguez said about Security Through Obscurity. “We worked with Freddy Jimenez, from Blue Hill Records and Tribesmen. We were in the studio in the most DIY way ever. We had been working with Jesse James from Sourdough Records, but I guess they split and disbanded. I hit them up out of nowhere, and they were like, ‘We’re not going to be doing any recording anymore.’ They split all their gear between him and the other guy they were working with. Long story short, they’re not recording other bands anymore.

“Freddy had done some stuff with Venus and the Traps before. Glock Lesnar is a good friends of ours and told us we should hit up Freddy. We did all the recording with him, but all the tracking is done in the United Kingdom with Rhys Downing.”

Rhys Downing, who has done work as a mixing engineer with The Cranberries, Sarah Brightman, Mark Ronson and many others, has been working with CIVX for a while.

“We did one song with him and didn’t do anything again with him for a while, but we knew we wanted to work with him again,” Dominguez said. “A lot of it has to do with getting money to record. When we got that done, we worked with Rhys, and he’s been good to us through the whole process. We got it done during a weekend where we were free, and Freddy was free.”

Samalin explained that Downing has done all the mastering work for CIVX at no cost and as a hobby project, and that’s why a lot of CIVX’s recordings have been slowly released over time.

“It’s getting the tracks mastered that takes so long,” Samalin said. “Rhys is a pretty busy guy, and for him trying to find time to work on our stuff during all these other jobs, it’s hard.”

Dominguez said the band has already recorded another EP and is waiting for Downing to finish it. Meanwhile, CIVX has been playing gigs out of town and writing new material.

“We’ve been playing a lot in Los Angeles,” Dominguez said. “We tried to get out of town with all the venues (in L.A.). You also want to have a new arsenal of material, too, and that’s also been our focus right now.”

Looking back on the band’s 2014 Coachella performance, Dominguez said that the band was fortunate to get the gig—but in some ways was unprepared.

“It’s so weird. That was a big step and goal for us, but we had the transition after (former frontman and bassist) Nick Hernandez left and we brought in Clay,” Dominguez said. “It’s a really cool hook-up, and it’s really great to say you played Coachella, but it’s not smooth sailing after that. People were also asking us afterward, ‘Awesome. Who’s your booking manager?’ We didn’t have one, and we didn’t even have an EP album. It was our fifth-ever show. We went from playing a couple of backyards in Coachella to playing at Coachella.

“When we went up to perform that day, they put us in the corner of the Mojave Stage, and we were just a hassle for the sound guys. They were like, ‘There’s no kickport for the bass drum? Are you guys fucking serious? You don’t even have a kickport?’”

CIVX released an EP on cassette-heavy Burger Records—but by the time it was released, it was old and outdated.

“That EP was one we did when we still had Nick Hernandez,” Dominguez said. “Afterward, Burger Records approached us, and they do cassettes, and they wanted to press however many of them. They sold theirs. We still have all ours. They probably got stuck in cars for days in the heat. We’ll hand them out for free, and we tell people, ‘We don’t know how they’ll sound.’”

While CIVX has had played many memorable shows, I’ll never forget their performance at The Date Shed last September. It was a mess from the start, because Clay Samalin’s bass didn’t work.

“That was the worst show ever,” Samalin said. “The XLR cable was plugged into my amp in the back, and the guy had plugged it halfway in, so it was enough to where my amp would switch off. I was thinking it was my pedals, so I’m like freaking out and going through all of them, taking them apart, and I was like ‘Fuck it!’ The guy finally came around and switched the cable, and my bass comes on. By then, I was so pissed. Getting through that show was hard.”

Dominguez explained how CIVX continues to evolve.

“With Nick Hernandez, something we did with him was structuring songs beforehand. Nick would write bass lines, and his vocals would come within those bass lines,” Dominguez said. “With me, I don’t think of vocals at all when structuring songs. I always have the microphone there, and I’ll always spew out melodies and listen back, thinking, ‘OK, that one is all right, and I’ll work around that one.’ I’m a very guitar-driven singer, no matter what. I’ll figure out how to sing and make it work until I’m confident doing the two things at once.”

For more information on CIVX, including a June show at the Joshua Tree Saloon, visit www.facebook.com/civxmusic.

By day, Freddy Jimenez is a talented screenprinter; by night, he’s the drummer for Tribesmen, the Coachella-based all-instrumental band. Jimenez’s drumming is extremely technical and compliments the Tribesman sound nicely. The band is recording an album that the members hope to have out soon. For more information, visit tribesmenmusic.bandcamp.com and www.facebook.com/tribesmencv.

What was the first concert you attended?

Coachella 2003, for the White Stripes and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What was the first album you owned?

Hmm, I think it was a Tupac cassette my uncle bought for me on my birthday many years ago.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m actually listening to the new Title Fight album, Hyperview, as I’m typing this. Amazing stuff! The new Turnstile album is pretty tight, too; Blonde Redhead here and there; and a whole bunch of other stuff that jumps around The Doors Pandora station when I’m screenprinting. Ha ha!

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Dang, don’t really know. If I don’t really dig a scene, I just brush it off and try not to really think about it.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I’ve seen Radiohead and Sigur Rós both, and, dang, I’ve never experienced anything like that at any show. I would love to see both of those bands again, again and again.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

One Direction. Ha ha! Just kidding.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Any backyard in Coachella.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

For me, it’s more of a melody that gets stuck in my head.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Metallica and Blink-182. I guess my taste just branched out after obsessing over those bands when I was 10.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I wouldn’t want to ask a question, but observe how Thom Yorke works during the writing process of a piece.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Well, that’s simple: It would have to be that one song by Rick Astley, “Never Going to Give You Up.” Ha ha! 

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

That answer changes every other week, but as I took a break from typing, I snapped a glance at my records and saw the Stan Getz and João Gilberto album, Getz/Gilberto, all out in the open, and that record is super-sick! So, as of now, that’s the one.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Pretty much anything on that Getz/Glberto album. You won’t regret it. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

One year after winning the chance to play at the Tachevah block party in Palm Springs, Tribesmen continue to gain notoriety throughout the Coachella Valley.

The group came together through jam sessions scheduled with the intention of forming an actual band. Alec Corral (guitar), Leslie Romero (bass) and Freddy Jimenez (drums) played a distorted style of rock ’n’ roll that Corral compared to that of the White Stripes.

Wilber Pacheco (guitar) was in another band at the time that Tribesmen formed, but soon became interested in what the three members were doing.

“I went to one of their band practices, and they were just going to play rock stuff,” Pacheco said. “I was like, ‘I’ll just hang out,’ and then (Corral) starts playing in this awesome tone. I was like, ‘Holy shit, dude! Does the offer still stand to be in this band?’”

Tribesmen doesn’t have a vocalist, and the band doesn’t plan on adding one any time soon; they originally intended to have a vocalist, but were unable to find one and decided to instead make instrumental music—something that few bands have managed to make work, outside of Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Red Sparowes and a few other groups. However, none of those groups were among their influences.

“We make the songs more along the lines of cinematic scores,” Corral said.

Pacheco explained further why the band doesn’t have a singer.

“We’re very specific,” Pacheco said. “… To be honest, I think (a singer) makes or breaks a band. I’ve heard some really sick (in a good way) intros before, and I think, ‘Oh, this band is going to be sick, I can tell!’ Then the lead singer starts singing, and I’m like, ‘Oh, never mind.’

“I’d rather be criticized at first because people aren’t used to it. We got a lot of criticism after our first shows, and people asked us, ‘Why don’t you have a singer?’ Now, people get it, or they’re starting to get it.”

Corral said the members of Tribesmen don’t necessarily think of themselves as musicians.

“We don’t know all these notes, time, key and all that stuff,” Corral said. “We just play whatever sounds good to us. If it sounds good, we’ll keep playing it and keeping it going.”

Their songwriting process tends to be rather complex.

“When we’re creating songs, we jam for two hours just on random stuff,” Pacheco said. “Either a small clip or just 10 seconds can make us stop and go, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! What was that you just played?’ We’ll just play that, and then we’ll work off of that for the next week or so, trying to make that into a song.”

All of this takes place in a Coachella practice space that has no air conditioning or heat.

“We’re working on it, though,” Corral said. “We’re working on adding more guitar pedals, and an A/C unit to help us out.”

Of course, the heat didn’t stop the band from holding an after-party at their practice space after playing The Hue Music and Arts Festival in Coachella last year.

“It was really hot,” Pacheco said. “I don’t know why, but we felt really compelled to have an after-party in our band room. More people than we expected came through. We had probably like 50 or 60 people; 30 of us were in the band room, and the rest were outside.”

When the band won the chance to play at the first Tachevah block party last year, the members were elated and nervous at the same time. They enjoy having a few alcoholic beverages before they perform, but one of the members of the band Passion Pit had just been through rehab—and the backstage area was an alcohol-free zone.

“They specifically said no beer in the green room or anywhere,” Corral said. “We were just in the green room chilling, just dry as fuck.”

The nervousness led to a bit of paranoia about their equipment.

“Nothing was going to mess up,” Pacheco said. “I opened up my amp and made sure there were no loose screws. I made sure everything was working, and I bought a bunch of new cables.”

Corral said his uncle helped ease their fears.

“As soon as he heard (about the show), he asked me if I needed anything. I didn’t ask him for anything, but when it came down to the wire, I asked him for some new cables. I bought a new amp at time—a tube amp instead of a solid state. We didn’t want to fail to impress.”

However, once they took the stage, the band members felt like they belonged, Corral said.

“It was an amazing experience,” Corral said. “As soon as we got onstage to set up our equipment and heard our sound, we went back in the green room, and we’re like, ‘You know what? We’re not going to play to a bunch of people, because we’re opening.’ As soon as we came back on, there were loads of people everywhere.”

Tribesmen went on to play several local shows in the past year, as well as gigs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A local show with the Sweedish band Truckfighters last fall wound up being particularly helpful.

“They gave us some good advice, along with touring advice,” Pacheco said. “The drummer, Poncho, bought one of our band shirts, and he was wearing it while he was playing the show! I was like, ‘The drummer from Truckfighters is wearing our shirt!’”

The band is hoping to play at the Tachevah block party again this year, and are one of the 10 finalists. (Cathedral City’s CIVX was selected to perform by judges after the March 12 battle-of-the-bands showcase; Tribesmen will play at the second showcase, on March 26.) They submitted a music video that they recorded recently for their song “Alpine.”

“Last year, Bolin Jue from the Town Troubles filmed our video, and we thank him so much,” Pacheco said. “This year, we couldn’t ask Bolin again, because he did it for us last year, and his band didn’t win, so I felt bad. Freddy and I know this guy named Manuel, and we decided to hit him up to make us a music video. Our good friend, Ken Foto, let us use his studio at the Coachella Valley Art Center.”

Corral said they were happy with the end result

“After we saw Manuel’s work, we were sold,” Corral said. “He did a good job with us. He had a good camera, good editing, and all of that. It was entirely last minute, and we told him, ‘We leave it in your hands; whatever you want to do, and we’ll do it.’ He said all he needed was a projector and a warehouse, and we couldn’t find a warehouse, but props to Ken Foto for letting us use his studio.”

As for the future, the Pacheco and Corral said they have a surprise for their fans that they will reveal within the next year, but they wouldn’t elaborate. They did say they’ve begun work on recording a full length album.

“We’ve been having some issues with recording,” Pacheco said. “We’re trying to do it ourselves and then send it out to get mastered. We’re having trouble getting the timing on the metronome. ‘Alpine’ was the first song that we were recording, so, fortunately, it was ready by the deadline to enter Tachevah.”

Corral said the band is continuing to work on new material.

“Definitely more songs,” Corral said. “Vocals, maybe: We’ve been talking about little oohs and aahs and some spoken-word stuff, but only on some songs, and we’re going to drown them in reverb to hide our ugly voices. We don’t want to sound too poppy.”

Tribesmen will join other Tachevah finalists at a show at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 26, at the Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. The show is free.

Published in Previews