ACL Fest Friday Interviews
The Real Animal's vital signs
Alejandro Escovedo7:45pm, Austin Ventures stage
It's been a twisted, almost painful conversation, a talk of disease and how its presence manifests itself artistically after its uninvited intrusion. There's life, there's death, and there's dying. For Austin's Alejandro Escovedo, the process is lyrical, cathartic, and detailed with exquisite precision in the song "Golden Bear" from his latest, Real Animal.
"People are always asking me about success, because they claim I haven't had any ...," he stops in midsentence and laughs the word out, "success."
Escovedo's laughter is a spontaneous burst of irony and amusement, the elements clear through the underwater sound of a cell phone. Still enduring his own bout with hepatitis C, Escovedo doesn't achieve success through performing on late-night TV talk shows, with Bruce Springsteen, or even at the Democratic National Convention last month. It's waking up in the morning and being able to get out of bed and function and create.
"I have a friend with AIDS and hep C at the same time, and he told me 'Golden Bear' was the first time any song had related to the way he felt about going through that," says Escovedo. "It's a great gift to give; I am [thrilled] about that reaction. It took so long to make the record – convincing the company we had the songs, convincing them the story was worth telling. That a lot of people understand what it's about, that it means something to them, that's a good sign for me. You never know how a record will hit."
Real Animal's ferocious songs are more than autobiographical. They're biting aural diary entries, crafted with unvarnished sentimentality. "I always feel like the story on this record is one in which the outcome is a good one," Escovedo concludes. "If it was to end today, I'm very happy with what I've done and the people I've met, everything that's happened along the way. I'd like to change some things, but you can't change the past, right?"