Lucy: All right, we’re here [via web technology] with Daddy-O Grande of Los Straitjackets!
You guys are in the top six-pack of instrumental bands ever—and that’s no easy task, but you’ve managed to blend surf, rock & roll, rockabilly, garage rock, lounge, and retro ballads into one incredibly awesome and unique show—and you can even sing as well?
Daddy-O: Just to clarify, we don’t really sing, but we have quite a few friends who do so very well, and we enjoy backing them up on occasion.
Lucy: I’ve heard you introduce your songs [the other guys are silent] and thought you did some of the vocals, too. Your album full of guest vocals is pretty awesome: Sing Along with Los Straitjackets. I especially like “I’ll Go Down Swinging,” featuring Exene Cervenka.
When you’re pipelining into your surf vibe who gives you the most oceanic influence, Dick Dale, Nokie Edwards, Flipper?
Daddy-O: I suppose I get my surf vibe mostly from Dick Dale (although I never forget the roles that Nokie and Flipper play). I also want to put in a word for Bob Bogle. Though typically on the bass, he was on guitar for the first couple of Ventures albums, and I always thought a highlight of the show was when he switched to guitar for a few songs. I must give kudos to Paul Johnson and Carl Wilson too.
Lucy: Excellent. [Editor's Note: The Carl Wilson Foundation is having a 10th Anniversary tribute/fundraiser next month in Hollywood at The Roxy, featuring Alan Jardine, Billy Hinsche, Dick Dale, The Honeys, Carnie & Wendy Wilson and other cool cats. See: carlwilsonfoundation.org for details].
We love your version of “California Sun” with Dave Alvin. He wrote the intro for our book with Tom Russell. He seems like a great guy. How did you like touring with Alvin?
Daddy-O: Dave’s a great guy and a good friend. We’re actually working on a project with him right now, a contribution to his tribute to Chris Gaffney. All Dave had to do was call and ask, and we were happy to help.
Lucy: Can’t wait to hear it happen. What does Daddy-O Grande do when he’s not on the road?
Daddy-O in Sardinia, Italy (2008)
Daddy-O: I like to travel without the band, sometimes back to places I wanted to explore more. Touring rarely gives me time to explore. I spend most of my off time in Mexico. I can’t explain my fascination and love of that country, but it’s there. The last couple of years I’ve been busy with solo projects. I did some recording and touring in Mexico with my friends Lost Acapulco, and I’ve been touring a lot in Argentina, Brazil, and Italy the last couple of years. I’m working on some other new places for this winter.
When I’m actually at home, I like gourmet cooking. My specialty is chocolate truffles.
Lucy: YUM. Tell me a little about working in Nashville. How did the teens respond to four guys in Mexican wrestling masks playing surf music?
Daddy-O: Not too many teens in the Nashville bars, but we went over really well from the first show, although we tend to have more fans in other cities, Mexico City being the strongest. Now THERE’S where we have teens coming out to see us. Our audience in Mexico is mostly High School age. We’re pretty spread out now around the country, so we don’t play in Nashville very often anymore.
Lucy: What’s the best dance move at a Los Straitjackets show, the Watusi?
Daddy-O: Gee ... I think I’d have to say “The Daddy-O.”
Lucy: You’ll have to teach me.
Your Christmas album, ‘Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets is a holiday favorite on Mystery Island, “Feliz Navidad,” is so A+. What’s your favorite Christmas present you’ve ever received?
Daddy-O: I don’t exchange Christmas gifts much anymore, so it’s been a while. I’d say it’s between my first real guitar amp when I was 15, and a Christmas card I got from Nokie Edwards a couple of years ago.
Lucy: You have a lot of punk fans. Do you guys get a lot of punk rockers at your shows? Any punk songs you plan on covering?
Daddy-O: We recorded one earlier this year, but I don’t know if it will make it to the next album or not. The other guys will get mad at me if I tell you which one. I can say that I like it, whether the others do or not.
Besides that, does the Titanic Theme qualify?
Lucy: Yes, yes it does.
Have you guys ever recorded “House of the Rising Sun”? I would just love, love, love to hear that.
Daddy-O: Never have, good idea though, the Ventures did a killer version of course.
Lucy: And Dick Dale, of course.
What kind of guitar do you play and why?
Daddy-O: I play a DiPinto Galaxy. I used to play a Jazzmaster, and I still use one occasionally in the studio (along with other guitars), but the DiPinto has the versatility I want for live shows. Besides, I like the way it looks!
At home I like to play my Gibson acoustics and my Duane Eddy model Gretsch.
Lucy: Tell us about working on Psycho Beach Party. That must have been so fun!
Daddy-O: It was a LOT of fun. At first I went down to Malibu to meet Charles Busch and watch them shoot the beach scenes, then a few weeks later we shot the Luau scene in a big soundstage filled with sand. It was a funny movie that I’m very proud to have been involved in.
Lucy: Give us the latest 411 on Los Straitjackets. What do we need to know?
Daddy-O: Our DVD came out this year, but we’re taking it easy on the touring until next year when a new CD comes out. All-Instrumental again!
Lucy: Yay, I wanna see that DVD.
Tell us a Daddy-O Grande secret.
Daddy-O: I totally dig Lucy Hell’s photos.
Lucy: Thank you so much, Daddy-O.
Daddy-O: De nada!
Lots O’ love,
Lucy: Eddie said you might be able to elaborate on a crazy fun night you guys had in Moscow?
Daddy-O: I'd have to get to know you better before I tell you that one ...
Lucy: Who's your favorite superhero?
Daddy-O: Batman, but I should clarify. If it's not Adam West, IT IS NOT Batman!
Lucy: I totally agree! The movies have been very lacking, but the cartoons are good, too.
Did you read comics when you were a kid?
Daddy-O: I wrote my own.
Lucy: And we'd like to read them. What's your favorite Beach Boys song?
Daddy-O: I have two, "Don't Worry Baby," and "The Monkey's Uncle" featuring Annette. "Surf Jam" deserves honorable mention as well.
Lucy: "Don't Worry Baby" is flawless, and well you know how we feel about Annette on Mystery Island. She's a goddess, and "Surf Jam" is so cool!
[Editor's note: "Surf Jam" is a super bitchin' Carl Wilson instrumental from the Surfin' USA album circa 1963].
Lucy: What does Daddy-O Grande eat for breakfast?
Daddy-O: My own Eggs Benedict, of course!
Lucy: What's your personal favorite tune from the treasure chest of Los Straitjackets catalog?
Daddy-O: I can't pick a favorite, I love them all. There's a part of me in every one of my songs. (I stole that answer from a Dick Dale interview).