CVIndependent

Fri08172018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Marlon Wayans has come a long way since In Living Color, Scary Movie and Requiem for a Dream.

Last year, NBC gave him his own television series, Marlon. After premiering for 10 episodes in the fall of 2017, Marlon was renewed for a second season, set to air later this year. He also had the leading role in the Netflix movie Naked in 2017, and in February, Netflix released his standup comedy special, Woke-Ish.

He’ll be returning to the area to perform at Spotlight 29 on Saturday, April 7.

During a recent phone interview, Wayans said he was proud that Marlon had been renewed for a second season.

“I worked hard to promote it, and I’m glad that it found an audience,” Wayans said. “People enjoy it, and I’m hoping we can build on that this upcoming season. The episodes have been really funny so far, and I can’t wait to just stand behind it and present it.”

Despite many years as a comedy-film star, Marlon had never done standup comedy until fairly recently.

“When you do these jokes and tour around the country with them, and it sticks, then you present it to the home audience, and they appreciate you. A good joke is a good joke,” Wayans said. “When you put it on Netflix, and it’s worldwide, you hope it connects as well. … I feel a difference when I hit the stage, and it’s exciting. Before, (audiences said), ‘Let me see if he’s funny,’ and now it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s funny!’”

Wayans said it has not been a problem to balance a television series with doing standup comedy at venues across the United States.

“I love it. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and I don’t have idle hands at all,” he said. “To me, it keeps me focused, keeps me grounded, keeps me in front of audiences—and I’m only getting better. When I do a movie or TV, I have that audience in my head. I think of what joke works the best or what joke goes too far. Everything prepares you for something, and I’m happy I found my purpose at a young age, but I’m mad that I started doing standup too late. My peers are tired of doing standup while I’m excited.”

In 2000, Wayans starred in a live-action film based on the famous role-playing board game Dungeons and Dragons. While the movie was a failure, he said the experience was a lot of fun.

“I did Requiem for a Dream, Scary Movie and Dungeons and Dragons concurrently. I was hopping between Vancouver, New York and Prague doing those three movies at the same time,” he explained. “It was fun to do Dungeons and Dragons, and it was a cute movie, but I wish it had a bigger budget. A movie like that should cost millions and millions of dollars.

“My kids cried when I died, given they were little at the time—all like, ‘Daddy’s dead!’ I had to reaffirm to them and be like, ‘No, Daddy is right here! That’s TV; Daddy is here.’ I used to play Dungeons and Dragons growing up during high school, so it was really surreal doing that movie.”

Despite being mentioned many times in Wayans brothers productions. Mrs. Wayans, his mother, has never made an appearance in any of their films.

“She keeps asking, but I know my mom,” he said. “I tell her, ‘Ma, you’re not going to like fame! If someone bothers you while you’re eating, you’re going to cuss them out.’ We call our mom the creative producer; she created all of us.”

There is one topic Wayans is dismayed to discuss.

“I hate having to talk about race in 2018,” he said. “I think South Africa had it right when they imprisoned someone for being racist. I think at this point in time, we should try to do away with racism and stop seeing the world in black and white. It’s sad.”

Marlon Wayans will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $25 to $45. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.

Barring any huge surprises, Coachella 2018 will be known as the year of Beyonce … and no rock headliners.

The lineup might be hard to navigate—but I have you covered with this compilation of acts you should make time to check out.

Friday, April 13 and 20

The Buttertones: OK, we did not say Coachella 2018 was going to be completely devoid of rock. The Buttertones are a Los Angeles outfit that has been getting buzz for its brand of garage rock. The band features Sean Redman on bass (formerly of Cherry Glazerr) and Modeste Cobián on drums and other instruments. (I remember Cobián from Jeffertitti’s Nile; he’s a show of his own.) If you want to hear how weird this band can get, check out new track “Baby C4.” If you’re a fan of bands such as Shannon and the Clams and Ty Segall, you’ll love The Buttertones.

Perfume Genius: I first saw Perfume Genius at Coachella in 2015—and it was one of the most mesmerizing things I’d ever seen. Mike Hadreas has invented a pop sound that’s all his own. A lot of his songs are semi-biographical and address the bullying and death threats he received during his youth for being gay. He’s also written songs addressing other controversial subjects, ranging from domestic abuse to the problems younger gay men face in today’s LGBT world.

The War on Drugs: I know a lot of local musicians who were playing the War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream in their cars or in their practice spaces circa 2014 and 2015. Why? Because the War on Drugs is a great band that has warm psychedelic jams. The band’s keyboard and guitars make me feel like it’s well worth putting down some hard-earned money on their vinyls.

Jamiroquai: My Jamiroquai superfan editor would raise hell if the British nu-funk band were excluded from this list. I’m fascinated by Jamiroquai, given the group is downright huge in Europe—yet all Americans seem to remember about Jamiroquai is the smash-hit song from the late ’90s, “Virtual Insanity.” Jay Kay and co. have been on many Coachella attendees’ wish lists for years. If you’re in the mood for some disco dancing and fantastic funk music, Jamiroquai is who you should see.


Saturday, April 14 and 21

Cherry Glazerr: Named after NPR news personality Chery Glaser, this Los Angeles indie-rock band fronted by Clementine Creevy has been plagued by lineup changes—including going from a four-piece to a trio—but the music has remained fabulous, including sophomore album Apocalipstick in 2017. Creevy is the subject of a documentary put out by VICE called Clementine Creevy: The Millennial Punk Feminist Icon.

Jason Bentley: You might know him from your daily commute as the DJ on KCRW, but he’s also a DJ in the Los Angeles club scene. He told me when I interviewed him a while back that his favorite music to play is house music—specifically at 124 to 126 BPM. Considering he has an ear for great music, Bentley will be a fine Coachella catch.

Chic featuring Nile Rodgers: Nile Rodgers told Rolling Stone that he would be playing Coachella in 2017. That didn’t happen; turns out he was a year off. He played a big part in Daft Punk’s 2013 megahit album, Random Access Memories, and he’s been part of recordings with David Bowie, Duran Duran, Madonna, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga and so many others. Oh, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Need any more reasons to see him?

David Byrne: Many Coachella attendees will be millennials who have never heard of the Talking Heads; they will be wondering who in the hell David Byrne is. Well, he’s not just a musician; he’s an author, a soundtrack composer, and an artist who created an interactive exhibit combining music and technology, allowing people to “play the room.” Considering he’s worked with St. Vincent, who is performing on Friday night, they may appear during each other’s sets.


Sunday, April 15 and 22

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Thisis a pop band out of Australia that has received praise from a lot of rock writers, including the legendary Robert Christgau, who is not easy to win over. The band has a lot of catchy tunes that will get stuck in your head. The group put out the EP The French Press on Sub Pop Records last year, and fans have been waiting patiently for a full-length album. This is one band that could make pop music cool again.

Motor City Drum Ensemble: German house-music producer Danilo Plessow (below) goes by this moniker and is becoming one of the most recognizable producers in the world. The one thing I love about his stuff is that it has elements of soul, disco, jazz and ambient music. Just about anything he puts together can get you grooving. He’s proclaimed he’s bringing the soul back to techno and house … and it’s about time!

The Drums: The Drums made a big splash in 2010 with the group’s self-titled debut album. The duo of Jonny Pierce and Jacob Graham did quite well for themselves in subsequent years, too—but Graham announced he’d left the group last year, leaving Pierce to carry on. The latest album, Abysmal Thoughts, is solid all around, so it will be interesting to see The Drums live without Graham. I’m betting that Pierce will keep the band going successfully for years to come.

Kamasi Washington: You probably recognize his name if you’re a fan of Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar or Run the Jewels—and his collaborations with these acts have made him almost as famous as they are. This jazz saxophonist is no stranger to Coachella, having performed here in 2016—and it has warmed my heart to see jazz at Coachella in recent years. I’m really stoked for Kamasi Washington.

April is the final month of the busy season—and it seems like some venues have saved the best for last.

April marks the final full month of events at the McCallum Theatre. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, Lucie Arnaz—actress, singer, producer and daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz—presents Stepping Out for College of the Desert: Latin Roots. The show will pay tribute to Arnaz’s Latin roots, especially the man who helped bring Latin music to America—her father. Tickets are $67 to $127. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, enjoy a rock show by Boz Scaggs. His soulful singing combined with his rocking guitar is always a treat—and “Lowdown” is a great song to hear live. Tickets are $100 to $250. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra will be performing A Tribute to John Williams. Considering how many great films for which Williams has composed soundtracks, this should be a wonderful show to take in. Tickets are $87 to $137. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is hosting two fine events in April. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, comedian and puppeteer Terry Fator will be performing. Fator’s wildly popular shows are always funny and entertaining. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, enjoy a double-bill of Latin music when Los Lobos (right) and Los Lonely Boys perform. While Los Lobos is best known for the cover of “La Bamba” for the 1987 biographical Ritchie Valens film, there are a lot of cuts the band recorded early in a 45-year career that are political and go deep into the Latin-music genre. Hopefully some of that will be played here! The group Los Lonely Boys is best remembered for hit-song “Heaven,” and the band has sold millions of albums. Tickets are $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has one compelling music event in April: At 8 p.m., Friday, April 6, The Doobie Brothers will be performing. The famed Northern California rock band is no stranger to the desert. The group has won four Grammy awards and has sold 48 million records. Tickets are $60 to $80. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has an event in April comedy fans will love: At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7, Marlon Wayans will be returning to the area. I spoke with the comedian and actor last year, and during the interview, his mother—the famous “Mrs. Wayans” referenced in Wayans brothers comedy—actually called him on his other phone. Marlon is hilarious, and he’s proven himself to be a talented actor outside of the comedy genre—see Requiem for a Dream—and has worked as a screenwriter and producer. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa doesn’t have any big music events in April, but get ready to celebrate, ladies … that’s right: At 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, Australia’s Thunder From Down Under is BACK! The all-handsome, all-hunk, all-male revue is a hit, and the shows usually sell out—so get your tickets while you still can. They cost $25. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will probably be bonkers with surprises in April thanks to Coachella and Stagecoach—and already, there are a lot of sold-out events. Here are some great shows with tickets left as of our deadline: At 9 p.m., Thursday, April 5, bass-and-drum duo Sumo Princess will take the stage. Sumo Princess features Abby Travis (KMFDM, Eagles of Death Metal, The Bangles) and Gene Trautmann (Queens of the Stone Age, Mojave Lords, Mark Lanegan). Also on the bill is Elettrodomestico, featuring Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos. Tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 6, talented local musician Gene Evaro Jr. (pictured below; photo by Guillermo Prieto/irockphotos.net) will be performing an outdoor show. Also on the bill: His sister, Gabriella Evaro. Tickets are $15 to $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a busy month of April, per usual. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 14, Palm Springs cabaret star Jerome Elliott will be performing. Elliott will sing hits from Broadway, the world of pop music, and the Great American Songbook. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Saturday, April 21, internationally known singer and pianist Lori Donato will take the stage in a show celebrating Marilyn Maye. Donato has a vocal range that allows her to master blues, jazz and other genres. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 8 p.m., Friday, April 27, Ann Hampton Callaway will perform songs from all the divas that we love—Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and many others. Tickets are $55 to $65. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Punk-rock band FIDLAR released its self-titled debut full-length in 2013—creating a wild party that seemed like it would never end.

FIDLAR’s songs—with lyrics paying homage to wild partying and skateboarding, all with a psychedelic/surf-rock feel—were a breath of fresh air, and paid tribute to the original days of Los Angeles punk.

Then came follow-up Too in 2015. Frontman and guitarist Zac Carper was singing a different tune with a new perspective after a stint in rehab—although the songs sounded just as gnarly and chaotic.

The Los Angeles outfit, whose name stands for “Fuck It Dog, Life Is a Risk,” also features Elvis Kuehn (guitar) and Max Kuehn (drums)—both of whom are sons of T.S.O.L. keyboardist Greg Kuehn—as well as bassist Brandon Schwartzel. The group will be performing at Coachella on Sunday, April 15 and 22.

During a recent interview with Schwartzel, he said the band members were amused that they were finally offered a Coachella slot.

“Funny enough, we never thought we would ever get to play Coachella,” Schwartzel said. “Bands that we knew or played with were playing it, and we were like, ‘What? Why don’t we get to play?’ Then we kind of just figured, ‘Fuck it; it’s never going to happen, so let’s just not even think about it anymore.’ Then when we stopped thinking about it, it happened. I don’t know how it happened, but we were like, ‘OK!’ That’s par for the course for our band: As soon as we stop caring, shit starts happening, and we get the thing we were thinking about.”

FIDLAR had been busy after the release of Too.

“We had been touring for a while before and after the record came out, until early 2017,” Schwartzel said. “We took a minute just to be human beings again and live in the apartments that we pay rent for. We kept busy doing a few shows. I worked on a lot of artsy video shoots for other people and arts-department kind of stuff, keeping busy. Half the year passed by, and we started working on new material that we’re finally starting to finish up.

Too had a lot of lyrically heavy songs about sobriety and a new sober perspective on life from Carper. I asked what’s ahead on the third record.

“The first record was where we were at as an individual collective; that was the vibe of partying and getting fucked up,” Schwartzel said. “On the second record, Zac had gotten sober, so a lot of it was us and him collectively dealing with that. The third record will be about what’s been happening since then. It’s always very in the moment. We’ve been a band for a while now, and now people know who we are, and with that comes a lot of different things. We’re not four dudes living in the same apartment anymore. We’re not dealing with Zac getting sober anymore. It’s just about life now, dude.”

On Too, there’s a song called “Stupid Decisions,” on which Carper screams: “And I took too many drugs, and I drank too much. Yeah, I made some stupid decisions!” I asked Schwartzel if he feels like the band is maturing as the members get older.

“I think the biggest thing we joke about is that we wish we didn’t start playing live as high-energy as we did, because now it’s a lot more exhausting than it used to be,” he said. “You go from being 21 to 30, and your back hurts; your neck hurts; and you start to feel it a lot more. I think that’s the biggest insight to getting older so far. We’re still who we are at the same time, so we’re not completely changing who we are.”

The subject of what, exactly, is or is not punk rock has been thrown at FIDLAR before—and Schwartzel has an interesting perspective.

“It always comes down to: ‘What is really punk?’ That’s something that we’ve always had trouble defining for ourselves,” he said. “We have an attitude that’s very punk, I guess. We’re not a super-agro ‘fuck the government’ punk band, though. When it gets genre-specific, there are electronic artists who are more DIY than the most-DIY punk bands, but it just sounds different. I feel like (the members of) Die Antwoord are the most punk people out there, because they just do whatever the fuck they want, and are wild and weird.

“Who fucking knows what punk is anyway? There’s nothing more freeing than creating stuff. You get good at it and don’t have to worry about having to pay a bunch of people to make a bunch of mediocre shit for you.”

Skateboarding and surfing have been the subjects of FIDLAR songs in the past—but probably won’t be in the future.

“None of us really skateboard anymore,” Schwartzel said. “We’re in a band that tours all the time, and we can’t afford to get hurt. We can’t play through a 10-week tour, break an ankle, and do what we do.”

Being one of the few rock bands at Coachella this year is not a problem for FIDLAR.

“In a way, it’s kinda tight, because we don’t have much competition in our genre,” Schwartzel said. “If there are any rock people who go to Coachella, hopefully they watch us play. Hip hop is the new rock, or something, and it’s cool because it’s different. We’re not all like, ‘Fuck, we need more rock bands out here!’ We just happen to be a band that plays loud rock music.

“I’m stoked to play with Beyoncé. Hopefully she’ll come onstage during one of our songs, and we’ll try to work it out. But I’m stoked to see her, and I’ve been a long-time Beyoncé fan. It’s cool that there are no scenes or genres anymore. Everyone listens to everything, and that’s cool. You just like the music you like.”

In 2014, Benjamin Booker became one of the most-talked about independent artists of the year—earning a slot at Coachella in 2015. Today, he’s still dazzling audiences with his brand of garage rock mashed up with soul.

He’ll be making his second trip to Coachella on Saturday, April 14 and 21.

Booker released his self-titled debut album in 2014, and spent two years touring behind it. He emerged again in 2017 with his second album, Witness.

During a recent phone interview, Booker discussed what happened after the tour was over, and he returned to his home in New Orleans.

“I was riding my bike—and I got shot at while I was on my way to a dinner party,” Booker said. “I don’t really like to talk about it, though, because I don’t want to give New Orleans a bad reputation.”

After touring extensively, Booker was exhausted.

“We did a lot of touring,” he said. “This time around, I’m not doing that much touring. That is very intentional: It was way too much. But you don’t know your limits until you push them. It took me a really long time to get back to a good place after that, and it was a long recovery. It wasn’t until a year after that I started writing again. It was probably longer than that—maybe a year and a half.

“The first record was so surprising, and I didn’t really plan on playing music; I didn’t have a game plan. I think that was something I had to figure out at that point: If I was going to keep playing music, where was I going to go with this?”

After the trauma of being shot at, Booker took off to Mexico City, where he wrote the new album. The legendary Mavis Staples sings the title track with Booker.

“She is the best. I’m playing with her for the first time in the United Kingdom, and I’ll be opening for her, and I’m really excited about that,” Booker said about Staples. “I just like hanging out with her. When we were hanging out one time, she was telling me this story about how she met ‘Martin,’ and I was like, ‘Are you talking about Dr. Martin Luther King?’ She is one of those people whose life is just so rich and full of events and stories. It’s cool to hang out with people like that. I think that was a bigger deal for me than the first album I did. Everyone knows who Mavis Staples is, including my parents. I felt like my parents were so proud of me, and it was special to be able to do it.”

Booker said he still has a lot left to accomplish musically.

“I think that as a musician, you have to look at this whole thing as a process,” he said. “I don’t think that I’m where I want to be as a musician yet, but I think I’m working my way toward that point. That’s how I’m looking at this whole thing. We’re all just trying to make that record exactly the way we want it, so it fully expresses the feelings you want. Until I get to that place, I’m trying to enjoy the ride.”

What does Booker find enjoyable to listen to these days?

“I like SZA and that album Ctrl—that’s what I’ve been listening to a lot lately,” he said. “I listen to a lot of Frank Ocean, and I like Margo Price and saw her perform recently. I saw Parquet Courts perform here recently, and I love them. I’ve felt recently that I have that love of music thing going again, so I’m going to concerts and checking out new people.”

I asked Booker if he lost his love of music at some point

“Oh, definitely. Somewhere after that first album, I didn’t really want to play music anymore,” he said. “You really have to be strong to do this, and I didn’t think it was really for me. I had no idea what was going to happen when I made that album. When you listen to it, it’s literally a live album: We just pushed play and recorded songs. We did it in two days, and nobody thought anything of it.”

Booker said he’s looking forward to his second time performing at Coachella.

“I had a great time last time,” he said. “Good music is good music. I’m not one of those people who just listens to rock music, and I like a lot of the things Goldenvoice does. So I’m excited to see a bunch of people.”

A Perfect Circle will release its first album in 14 years, Eat the Elephant, on April 20—a date that just so happens to fall in between the band’s performances at Coachella, on Sunday, April 15 and 22.

The album is one of the year’s most highly anticipated releases; it’s the fourth studio album by A Perfect Circle, founded in 1999 by Billy Howerdel, who at the time was a guitar tech for the band Tool. Maynard James Keenan, the frontman of Tool and Puscifer, was interested in the project after hearing some demos Howerdel played for him. The band put out its debut album, Mer de Noms, in 2000, and follow-up Thirteenth Step in 2003; both went platinum. The success and popularity of the band continues to be on the same level as Tool, even after the controversial third album, Emotive, in 2004, which was a collection of “reimaginings” of famous anti-war songs.

The band went on hiatus in early 2005, but returned to touring in 2010. In addition to Howerdel and Keenan, the current lineup includes guitarist James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins; Palm Springs native and touring Eagles of Death Metal bassist Matt McJunkins; and drummer Jeff Friedl.

Eat the Elephant is another timeless rock album—in an age when rock records are being forgotten. (I received a preview copy before the interview.) It’s an offering that will offer hope to what is left of rock’s faithful audience, and will make for an interesting backdrop at a Coachella festival full of new-era mumble-rap artists--and very little rock music.

During a recent phone interview, I asked Maynard James Keenan why the band reunited.

“That’s a good question, but I don’t think it was about either of us missing it,” Keenan said. “I felt that Billy and I went off to do other things for a while, and he was very happy doing Ashes Divide, and I was doing Puscifer. I think it was just time. It wasn’t so much that we missed it, but we felt more like it was time to get back to work on that stuff.”

Tool and Puscifer seem to reflect different sides of Keenan as a music artist—so what does A Perfect Circle offer him artistically that his other bands don’t? He hesitated for a moment.

“I feel like it’s different conversation,” he replied. “… I don’t really think (A Perfect Circle) provides me with something that the other bands don’t; it’s just different puzzles—and I like puzzles!”

Between 2010 and the announcement of Eat the Elephant last year, fans speculated whether a new album would ever become a reality.

“We started recording it in late summer 2017 when I was in harvest”—Keenan owns wineries in Arizona—“and we hauled ass and finished it,” he said. “We had the first conversation about it and delivered it to be mastered in under a year. I think that’s pretty fast, honestly. Before, I would sit with Billy, and he would do what he was doing. I would try to get some vocals in there in between, but this time because of the digital age, I was able to share files, and I focused doing vocals with my Puscifer partner, Mat Mitchell, while Billy was doing guitars and drums getting all of that recorded. We could actually get twice as much done in a day. It was a nice break to get down with a vocal and look online, hearing stuff that he’d done that I hadn’t heard yet. It was pretty cool.”

Eat the Elephant has a wide variety of different sounds that lead to all kinds of emotional possibilities for songs.

“The sounds in general are what I’m reacting to,” Keenan explained. “Whenever Billy comes up with things that are challenging or different, it inspires you to go down that rabbit hole and see how far you can take it.”

I asked what it took to make A Perfect Circle sound new in the modern era. “That’s definitely a puzzle, and you’re absolutely right. Trying to reinvent yourself can be daunting for people who have never had to reinvent themselves. I kind of do it for a living, so I’m covered,” Keenan said with a laugh.”

While Keenan has never publicly supported any political candidate, he is most certainly politically engaged. The press release officially announcing the new album joked about Keenan’s points of view about Donald Trump and former President George W. Bush.

“Boy, was I ever wrong about that guy. What I wouldn’t give to have ol’ Dubbya back in the White House right now,” he said.

Keenan said now is an important time for rock musicians.

“I think as an artist, in the words of Henry Rollins, this is what you train for, and why you listened to Dead Kennedys when you were a kid. This is your time, and this is our moment to shine as punk-rockers. This is it,” he said. “As far as expressing your opinion, politics is about people, and people expressing themselves and interacting. This is us interacting: ‘Here are a couple of opinions; here are some approaches; and here are some things you never thought about, and it’s your turn.’”

When A Perfect Circle released Emotive in 2004, George W. Bush was up for re-election, and the Iraq War was in full swing. Keenan said in a statement posted to the band’s website in 2004: “Look, clearly I’m supporting anyone but Bush in this upcoming election, but I’m not telling anyone who to vote for with this new album. I’m still just trying to encourage people to think for themselves … to stop buying into this absurdity and rampant fear.” When I used the description of “anti-war cover songs” to describe the album, he stopped me.

“Not necessarily; it was more about expressing the voices of people who came before us who had something to say, and presenting those stories in a different light—not necessarily in the specific music they used to express those thoughts; we expressed those thoughts in different beds of music,” he said. “Arguably, we pretty much rewrote the music to all those songs to give you an idea of what that story looks like or sounds like in a different setting.” 

I asked if Keenan was he surprised that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were, in some ways, still going on 14 years later.

“I drink a lot more wine now,” Keenan said with a laugh. “That’s my reaction: Yep, I’m going to have a glass of fucking wine.”

Speaking of wine, I asked Keenan—as a winemaker, the owner of Caduceus Cellars in Jerome, Ariz.—if making wine can be daunting, given there are things over which winemakers have no control.

“I think the hardest part for most artists—and I’m speaking to all of you artists out there—is knowing when the fuck to let go,” he responded. “You have a desire to create a thing, but once you’ve created it, and you’re going to release that bird out of the cage, it’s not yours anymore. You have to let that go. Letting go of shit you can’t control is probably the hardest lesson for anyone, really, but especially to artists who get all precious about shit.”

Keenan is also a vegetable gardener.

“I’ve done it all my life, having lived in Michigan in the middle of a bunch of peach and cherry orchards,” he said. “My dad had extensive gardens for our house. That’s basically what we lived on. It was always something that I was going to return to regardless. No matter where I’ve lived, I’ve always had a garden.”

Keenan said his upbringing in the Midwest contributed greatly to his outlook on hard work.

“I kind of refer to my people in West Michigan as snow-shovelers,” he said. “If you’re a shoveler, you know you couldn’t get from Point A to Point B in the winter without removing the obstacles. You get used to understanding puzzles and understanding what it takes to get somewhere. You start to respect or have an appreciation for or empathy and sympathy for people who do other jobs around you. When things are super-cozy, you end up with entitled people. People who somehow find success accidentally and end up touring or on movie sets, they don’t (appreciate) the grips, the carpenters, the stage managers—they don’t have any appreciation for those people and how hard they work if they’ve never had to actually do that job. You’ve heard that cliché before: If you’ve never done it, you just don’t actually know.”

Keenan has played Coachella in the past with all three of his bands—but this year is definitely different, considering how few rock acts are on the bill.

“I guess it’s an indication of where things are. It’s interesting,” he said. “You feel a little bit like a dinosaur, which is fine. Feeling like a dinosaur can be inspiring: Get off your butt, right?”

I asked what Keenan felt it would take to resurrect rock music.

“You’re going to see things coming at you that you didn’t even expect. That’s the nature of punk rock—that anarchist mentality, that reacting outside of the box intuitively, instinctively, situationally or even environmentally,” he said. “That’s what brought us N.W.A., and that’s what brought you the Stooges. All those things kind of happened, and you can’t plan it. I think we’re going to see a lot of reactions come out of this political climate, social climate, economic climate and artistic climate. You’ll see someone coming out and swinging for the fence in a way where they aren’t trying to do that—it’s just happening. But then it will settle back into the art.

“Back in the punk rock days, everything was about … just being mad, breaking shit and fucking playing as fast you can. Then someone comes along like Minor Threat, where there are almost melodies there. Ian MacKaye and those guys took off in a great direction, because they brought back an artistic approach to punk rock. Their attitude and what they stood for was more about the punk rock. The music started settling into something you could enjoy and listen to over and over again. The same thing (happened) with N.W.A., and that progressed into some amazing music with Dr. Dre.

“I think we’ll have our punk-rock moment soon. Maybe we’re already having it—and I’m just too old to recognize it.”

On the morning of March 7, a fire broke out near the kitchen of Bongo Johnny’s Patio Bar and Grille—about one hour before the Arenas Road restaurant in downtown Palm Springs was scheduled to open.

The Palm Springs Fire Department quickly put out the blaze—ruled an accident, after linens and oil-soaked rags in a laundry hamper spontaneously combusted—but by then, the damage was done: Bongo Johnny’s kitchen was essentially destroyed, while smoke and water damage closed three of the four other businesses in the building: Stacy’s at Palm Springs, Mischief Cards and Gifts, and the Palm Springs Piercing Company. Only Streetbar, located at the east end of the building, remained open.

More than two weeks later, those four businesses remain closed—and frustration is mounting over a Palm Springs City Council that Bongo Johnny’s general manager called unresponsive, as well as a landlord, Plaza Investment Company, Inc., that’s allegedly being uncooperative.

“My No. 1 goal is to rebuild, as soon as possible,” said Robb Wirt, the owner of Bongo Johnny’s. “The landlord is hindering that. At this time, it’s literally unknown when that will be. … They’re saying they aren’t responsible for the structure of the building. They are!”

Mark Hewitt, Bongo Johnny’s general manager, explained what was happening with the insurance companies, the landlord and the other three businesses.

“I don’t know if ‘fighting’ is the right word to use here,” Hewitt said. “When things like this happen, everybody has their own insurance company. Everyone needs to come to the table here, because at the end of the day, their building burned. Our business burned, and (the landlord’s) business burned. Unfortunately, the stance the landlord is taking is, ‘It’s all your fault,’ and they don’t want to bring their insurance company into it, because they want our insurance company to pay for everything. That’s not how the insurance game works.”

Plaza Investment Company, Inc., did not respond to an interview request as of our deadline.

Wirt said cleaning needs to get started at Bongo Johnny’s so the other three closed businesses in the building can reopen.

“The other businesses have smoke damage, and basically we just need to clean so they can start their process and open up while (Bongo Johnny’s) is under construction,” Wirt said. “We all share an attic space, so if we start cleaning, it’s just going to get dirty again, because the dust will go through the vents.”

Hewitt said they’ve appealed to the Palm Springs City Council for help. “I spoke to Mayor Robert Moon, and he told me, ‘I don’t want to get involved.’ He got involved in Wang’s (in the Desert) over vandalism, but he’s friends with the landlord, and that’s probably why he doesn’t want to get involved.

“It’s a nightmare. I’m under the impression that the City Council’s role is to help small businesses, because we bring in money to the city. I haven’t gotten any help. Geoff Kors hasn’t returned my calls; J.R. Roberts hasn’t returned my calls. I feel like the landlords don’t care. All of the tenants on Arenas pay rent to the same landlord, and (the landlord) hasn’t given back a single dollar to the LGBT community. Yet they take millions of dollars from us, and we all just pay our rent and taxes, and we get nothing out of it.”

Bongo Johnny’s will be closed for months. However, Stacy Louis, the owner of Stacy’s at Palm Springs, expressed hope that his bar could re-open by the end of March.

“There are so many things I’m dealing with, and I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.” Louis said. “I’m more of the guy who goes with the flow and doesn’t create problems. But when we can’t get action immediately after we’ve had a fire like we did … I am frustrated.

“I actually paid my cleanup company, who was waiting for the landlord to authorize, which took four days and through a weekend. … I could get this going if I have (an asbestos) test, and it comes back at a little less than 1 percent—which it did. I had to wait four days for the second test to be done, because the landlord wouldn’t approve it. My cleanup person paid them out of his pocket to get this second test done so I could get going. I shouldn’t have had to sign a contract with my cleanup company to get started because I’m waiting for one insurance company to work with the other—and I just gave them $5,000 out of my own pocket.”

Stacy’s suffered damage from both smoke and the firefighters’ efforts to put out the fire.

“I have a few holes punched through my restroom, probably from the axes of the firemen, and I have water that’s come in through that same restroom and into the offices and the bar itself,” Louis said.

The employees of both Bongo Johnny’s and Stacy’s are being paid their hourly wages for the time being, Wirt and Louis said, but for Bongo Johnny’s, there’s a race against time: The insurance company will only pay for two months of wages, and Wirt said he is paying his staff what they would normally make in tips out of his own pocket.

“On his own accord, Robb has decided that the little bit of personal cash that he has, he’s going to use to make sure the employees are whole first,” Hewitt said. “But what we’re getting from the landlord is, ‘If you can pay your employees, why don’t you just pay for everything else?’ Three days after the fire, we got all of the employees together and said, ‘We want you back, but we don’t know how long this will be for as of today.’ We’re going to continue to pay them for as long as we can, which is not the narrative you want to give someone sitting at home thinking, ‘I wonder what’s going to happen in two months?’”

Louis said his employees have benefited from the kindness of his fellow Arenas Road business owners.

“I said to (my employees), ‘I will pay you for your hours, and if any of you need help because you’re not making your tips, you can come to me, and I will take care of you until we get this figured out.’ But I think the kindest thing that happened was (at Streetbar). Dick Haskamp, the owner of Streetbar, passed away a few days before the fire. The employees of Streetbar came to me and asked if it was OK if (Stacy’s bartenders) could fill in during the memorial service. I can’t even tell you how many tears that’s brought to my eyes. So we made it all happen. We got a schedule together, and they trained them. … During this (service), all the sales would be donated to Stacy’s, on top of the tips that they would make.”

Wirt said he’s been overwhelmed by messages of support from Bongo Johnny’s customers.

“I’ve been getting e-mails from people on Yelp, Facebook and through my website,” Wirt said. “They’re saying, ‘I just landed; I’m on my way.’ They get there; they find out we’re closed; and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I always start my trip in Palm Springs at your restaurant.’ Bongo Johnny’s has been there for 12 years, and it’s iconic for the LGBT community. It’s their first stop when they get off the airplane, and I didn’t even realize that until this happened. Now they’re going somewhere else.

“People bring their dog because we’re dog-friendly. … (Customers) come in on a Friday night—and I can guarantee you they’re not eating anywhere else, because of how they might be dressed. They feel safe. Now that’s been taken away from them, and it’s a detriment to the community that we can’t reopen quicker.”


Following publication, we received this response from Geoff Kors:

I was surprised to see the statement that I didn’t return a call from the manager of Bongo Johnny’s, especially as your reporter never reached out to ask me about this issue or whether or not I received a call.

The fire occurred on the day that my husband’s mother died, March 7. We left for Scotland a few days thereafter and returned Tuesday night, March 20. During that time, I checked with our city manager about the situation and also spoke with a friend whose business was impacted due to the fire. I was told that both the mayor and Councilmember Middleton were working on the issue, and I would be briefed upon my return.

I never received any communication from Bongo Johnny’s, and checked with staff at City Hall today and was told that the only call that had been to the mayor, and it was from Rob Wirt. No message was left for me, and I was never informed of a call.

Trailblazing French composer and electronic/ambient musician Jean-Michel Jarre is largely unheard of in the United States—but worldwide, he’s one of the biggest stars there is.

I’m not exaggerating: In a career spanning almost 50 years, he has played before crowds of more than 1 million people. He’s performed political goodwill shows for organizations such as UNESCO. His shows have celebrated religious figures such as Pope John Paul II (during his visit to Jarre’s hometown of Lyon, France in 1986), and a concert in Monaco in 2011 celebrated the marriage of Prince Albert II and Charlene, Princess of Monaco. He was also the first western artist to perform in the People’s Republic of China. He’s collaborated with numerous artists you have heard of, including Gorillaz, Gary Numan and film director/composer John Carpenter.

He’s in the midst of his first-ever tour of the United States, including performances at Coachella on Friday, April 13 and 20. Jarre’s visual show is just as stunning as his music during live performances—so his is one performance you won’t want to miss.

During a recent phone interview, Jarre described what it feels like to play to crowds of more than a million—and then to much smaller crowds here in the States.

“It’s very difficult to describe,” Jarre said, “My manager is Irish, and she said to me once, ‘You performed to a crowd that’s the size of my country!’ It’s quite surreal, but I see it as a privilege, of course. Whatever the audience is, at the end of the day, the live performance works, or it doesn’t work. … I can play in a small theater, in an arena, or a big festival like Coachella. It’s just a matter of changing the size and performing with this stage design. I’m especially excited to share this with the Coachella audience.”

Jarre studied classical music, and there are many classical elements in his electronic music. 

“I was playing in rock bands when I was a teenager. I studied classical music, and then I discovered electronic music,” he said. “I discovered people were working and approaching music in a totally different way with notes, but also with sound and noise, which meant you could go outside recording the sounds of the street, the sounds of the car—and you can make music with it. To me, it was like cooking. It was sensual and very warm. It’s like Jackson Pollock: People would say, ‘Jackson Pollock doesn’t present anything.’ But he was doing art with sections, oil, and he worked with his hands. You work with your hands, even on a computer with a mouse, or working with knobs and strings. … I believed this kind of music would be a major art form in the 21st century.”

I told Jarre it feels as if electronic music today is huge—and continuing to evolve.

“I think that’s quite logical, because as you just said, it has no boundaries,” he said. “One of my latest projects in electronica was based on the idea of trying to gather around people who are sort of impatient with me and to electronics and technology … like Tangerine Dream, Pete Townshend, Moby, Laurie Anderson, Gary Numan and Pet Shop Boys—all who inspired generations with a style of music. There was one problem: They all love technology, and they’re all kind of nerds in their own way. … By the end of the day, music is technology.” 

The visuals during Jarre’s performances are stunning and innovative, even by today’s standards. I highly suggest checking out his video online during which he plays what’s called a “laser harp.”

“I’ve always been interested in my life to try to find additional correspondence for the electronic songs,” Jarre explained. “Staying behind your laptop is not the most sexy thing in the world, and people don’t understand what you’re doing most of the time. I really try to explore during performances. Because I was working with a lot of lights and lasers, I thought it would be cool to invent an instrument made of lasers where the strings would be played by lights and lasers.

“The idea of being outdoors, like at Coachella, where you have the audience far away from the stage—I’m able to convey what I do musically to people. You can see the music being played from miles away, and this is magical. This is what modern technology can afford. I can try to convey emotions visually and through sound.”

Jarre has long played events with a social message; he said music and politics are always linked.

“I think you always have two sides of art and music in general,” Jarre said. “You have the hedonist side, where you like to enjoy music, dancing until end of the night, and just the entertainment of it and having fun. … Of course, (with) any genre of music—like punk and hip-hop, or even techno—there are things linked to social movements. That’s what I tried to do in my collaboration with Edward Snowden … (show) the dark side of technology, and we know we’re spied on by the outside world. We know that in the near future, we’ll have to deal with machines competing with ourselves. I think that politics and music are linked together like any other kind of movement in history.”

Jarre is no stranger to the United States. He performed with the Houston Grand Opera at Texas’ 150th anniversary in 1986; he also incorporated the 25th anniversary of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center into the show at the request of NASA. But this marks the first time Jarre has actually toured America—and he’s having a great time.

“I’ve done a lot of one-off shows in my life, and I toured sometimes,” he said. “… I think of it as if I was shooting a movie, but I’m shooting a movie in my mind, like how I performed in China, in Russia, in Egypt, in Houston, and then when I was touring stadiums in Europe and Asia, I thought, ‘Why doesn’t this happen in America?’ I thought that this is something I really wanted to share with the American audience.

“I’ve actually been blown away and touched by the American audiences who have so far welcomed this tour. Every place I went … I was really touched by the audience saying it was different than what they were used to. As an artist, America has so many different styles of performances and artists, and I always thought you do something with the ambition of being different and trying to surprise people, and I think this electronica concert performance goes in that direction.

“I thank the American audiences who have welcomed this project with enthusiasm. That inspires me to go into Coachella in the best possible way.”

While the members of FrankEatsTheFloor are still in high school, the band has a ton of potential. I had a laugh when I saw the band perform recently—and frontman Matt King was wearing a cape. It reminded me of the episodes of F Is for Family with the fictional band Shire of Frodo. FrankEatsTheFloor will be performing as part of the CV Independent Presents show with Haunted Summer, Brightener and Rival Alaska at The Hood Bar and Pizza at 9 p.m., Thursday, April 12. The aforementioned frontman and bassist, Matt King, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Claypool Lennon Delirium at the Observatory in Santa Ana. I was right on the rail, and I spent the whole time in shock watching just how insane Les Claypool is on bass. That first concert was part of the reason I play bass today.

What was the first album you owned?

It’s hard to recall, but one of the first albums I remember playing a lot was The Beatles’ Help! I’m a huge Beatles fan, and tracks like “The Night Before” and “Ticket to Ride” were played a lot growing up.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Ron Gallo, Jack White, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Earthless, and Sleazy Cortez.

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

I’m very picky when it comes to music. I don’t really like pop-punky, whiny-vocals music. Many of my friends are into those types of songs, but I’m not really a fan.

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

I would sell my legs to see The Beatles’ rooftop concert. I don’t know how I’d make it up the stairs to see it, but that concert is just so amazing.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

It would have to be the SpongeBob SquarePants soundtracks. I’d be lying if I said they weren’t in my Spotify playlist.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Pappy and Harriet’s, because of the insane catalog of artists who’ve played there (Les Claypool, Paul McCartney, Earthless), and the fact that it’s a very cool place. I’ve played there for the open mic once, but would love to go back to do an actual show.

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

A song by Ron Gallo entitled “Please Yourself”: “Trying to please everybody, you just let everyone down, including yourself. Don’t wanna be like the old oak tree, spend my whole life helping everybody breathe.” These lyrics have rung true lately, and I think they’re very meaningful.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Beatles. My grandma bought tickets for me to go see the Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas about them, and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. I know every song like the back of my hand, and own almost every album, along with posters, shirts and shoes. The Beatles made me want to start a band; Paul McCartney made me want to play bass; and without those factors, I wouldn’t be playing music and doing what I love.

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

I would ask Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age what it was like starting a music career at a young age in the valley, and if he thinks it’s possible in the current era.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

This is a tough one, but I think I have to go with “Heart of the Sunrise” by Yes. It’s such a killer song, no pun intended.

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

Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles. It’s just an all-around amazing and super-trippy album. Goo goo g’joob.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Every one of you reading this should go listen to “School Food Sucks” by FrankEatsTheFloor. Vocals and bass guitar are by yours truly, and it is available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, YouTube and just about everywhere else! (Scroll down to hear it!)

Palm Springs native Matt McJunkins’ music career has thus far been pretty incredible: He's been a member of bands including Eagles of Death Metal, Puscifer, Ashes Divide and Thirty Seconds to Mars, and is currently a member of A Perfect Circle, which will be performing at Coachella on Sunday, April 15 and 22. McJunkins was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Doobie Brothers/Foreigner/Gary Hoey at the Twentynine Palms Marine base! It was also the first time I smelled the unmistakable odor of the whacky tobacky. There’s a bit of irony in there somewhere.

What was the first album you owned?

Skid Row. The first album. On cassette. Knew every song and every word. Still do (pretty much) to this day.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m all over the place on this one. Right now, it’s mostly a lot of Nick Lowe, Phil Spector stuff, The Jam, and the Boogie Nights soundtrack.

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

I can’t say that I “don’t get it,” but I would say dubstep generally didn’t bend my ear all that much.

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

TV on the Radio! It’s a band I’ve really fallen in love with the last few years but haven’t had the opportunity to see live.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance.”

What’s your favorite music venue?

That’s a tough one. Recently, I was floored by the beauty and design of the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Old theaters like that, that really have a unique design and some history to them, are always appealing to me.

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

“It’s a God-awful small affair to the girl with the mousy hair,” David Bowie, “Life on Mars.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Def Leppard was my first favorite band, and Hysteria was the first album that I really sunk my teeth into. I think I’ve been stuck on music since then. And that record still holds up wonderfully to this day.

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

Well, unfortunately, he is no longer with us. But I’d ask David Bowie, “Would you write and record a song with me?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance.”

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

Well, the kid in me would say Def Leppard’s Hysteria. But now at this moment, I would have to pick David Bowie’s Hunky Dory.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Chips Down” by Cody Chesnutt. Instant contemplative/good mood every time I hear it. I love songs like that, with multiple layers to it which require more than one listen to really get the whole picture. A beautiful song, really. (Scroll down to hear it.)