SXSW Wednesday Interviews
Nuevo Wavo returns. Samples schmamples – we've got a live band!
Joe 'King' Carrasco & the Crowns7:45pm, Austin Music Hall
Back when Austin was populated mostly by Austinites, Joe "King" Carrasco & the Crowns ruled.
It seems a bit unreal now, but there was a time when Carrasco, with his signature Tex-Mex beach punk, was a phenomenon. Given what else was happening with New Wave and post-punk, it was truly novel. Carrasco & the Crowns – Kris Cummings, keys; Brad Kizer, bass; Miguel Navarro, drums – were the inventors and sole practitioners of Nuevo Wavo.
"I started out in a lot of Chicano groups playing polkas and stuff," explains Carrasco, who now lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. "At the same time, I was hanging out with Speedy Sparks & the [Texas] Tornadoes. I liked polkas and I liked Doug Sahm and I liked ? & the Mysterians and Sam the Sham. For some reason that's the groove I took to.
"When we started playing Raul's, we were still playing polkas, then all of the sudden punk kicked in. So we kicked in more of a rock & roll beat to it. The skirts got shorter and the music got faster."
JKC & the Crowns cut two albums for MCA, 1982's Synapse Gap and Party Weekend the following year. The latter sold well but apparently not well enough, and it was soon over – for the Crowns anyway. Carrasco found success in Europe on the latter disc's follow-up, Bordertown, and with about a dozen releases since, he still records. Nuevo Wavo dissipated, but now South by Southwest gifts a second shot at the original quartet's recent reunion shows. ¡Que wow!
"You can't go back, but it was lots of fun," chuckles the King. "Go back? No. Re-live? Maybe." – Michael Bertin
Blue Sky Black Death9:50pm, 512 Rooftop
Blue Sky Black Death, based in Seattle, is the culmination of two production talents finally interlocking after years in orbit. In 2004, Kingston Maguire and Ian Taggart, aka Young God, were deep in solo work, but a collaboration in the mid-Aughts resulted in a double-disc debut for idiosyncratic hip-hop label Mush.
The next year, the duo produced albums for rappers Hell Razah and Holocaust – both MCs having worked with Wu-Tang Clan in some capacity – and followed up its debut with 2008's Late Night Cinema and last year's Noir. As those album titles might imply, the work of BSBD is cinematic and colorful where so much of today's production is dirty, forceful, and blunt. Noir in particular was a benchmark for the pair.
"I felt like we achieved something with that record," says Kingston. "Whether we thought we'd get recognition or not, that's another story. But we felt it was one of our most complete projects and something we're the most proud of."
As the group has grown and expanded, so has its predilection for live instrumentation, enough so that BSBD's approach to creating stirring tracks has itself flipped.
"We're not against samples – we still use samples," continues Kingston. "But our music used to be sample-based and then we'd add instruments. Now it's the other way around, where it's all live-based and if we add samples, they're finishing touches."
– Adam Schragin