Guantanamo Baywatch are a surf/punk/rockabilly band from Portland Oregon that remind me of The Cramps. They have a couple of EP’s and 7 inches’s out as well as a full length album, Chest Crawl. Their music has been released through Burger, Suicide Squeeze, Gnar Tapes, and Dirtnap. Most recently they released a great split 7″ record with country punk rock and rollers Natural Child.
They’ll be playing Galax Z Fair on March 10th 2014 during their second visit to the Rio Grande Valley. The groups lead singer and guitarist Jason Powell answered some questions about music, travel, the future, and the past. Read the interview after the jump (GBW on Chicago public access television:
I’ve read that the bands name was created kind )of randomly. Its an easy name though for people to attach political implications too. Do you ever get people thinking you’re a really political band who take the name very seriously?
Not any more. You’d be surprised how many kids now don’t even know what Guantanamo Bay is. We get kids at our shows all the time that can’t even pronounce the word Guantanamo. Different generation I guess. Its good for us because it’s a dumb band name.
Y’all once left a pizza box covered in tar that was full of gifts at John Waters house. I could see GBW fitting perfectly into a John Waters movie. Did you leave any contact info in the box? Do you know if he is aware of GBW?
Oh yeah, that was four or five years ago. He got the whole gift package. Does he know who we are? I’m guessing no. I think he gets weird shit all the time. I remember in one of his books saying that people leave him all kinds of strange chocolate and food stuff, and he eats it. So I like to think he at least listened to the tape!
What are some of your favorite bands playing right now?
Natural Child, The Chuckle Berries, Therapists, The Mold…there’s a bunch of other ones, But I’m high so I can’t remember.
Whats the status on your next album?
Going out to Atlanta to record it in early July. Super Stoked. Hopefully [we’ll get] a couple teaser 7″s released before. I’m excited, because its basically all new music.
You have done quite a bit of touring around the country. Is there any unique spots you recommend that people check out if they are doing some traveling?
Hawaii is rad, hit up Nick if you go. He will make you bomb BBQ. We love the south too. New Orleans is my favorite. Get Daqued Up, and get Crawdad po’ boys at the spot with Fats Domino on the wall. We always have an awesome time in Saint Augustine, FL. Go to Nobbies, we always make a pit stop at Loretta Lynns’ Kitchen in Tennessee (I think our picture’s on the wall there) to get hats and place mats and stuff. The Snake Stuff Store (I don’t know what its really called) going through Arizona is a spot we always stop at to grab rattle snake earrings and fireworks and gummy bears for Chris. Graceland obviously is great, but you gotta go to the unofficial gift shop next door. There’s an awesome chicken spot in Nashville, I think it’s just called “spicy chicken” or something like that that has insanely spicy chicken “sandwiches”. I like Peggy Sues’ diner when you’re coming out of Vegas into California. There are so many awesome dumb places on the road. I’m forgetting all the best ones probably.
Your Facebook page has a picture of you all with Lemmy from Motorhead and Hawkwind. Where and how did that meeting end up happening?
We went to that famous, and totally lame, strip club in LA with all the clowns on it. They can’t show pussy and if I remember right you couldn’t get a drink there?! Anyway, we left that place and went up the road (I think it was up the road) to this bar, and it was that bar in the Lemmy documentary that he hangs out at. And just as someone reminded me of that, I look over, and there’s Lemmy playing video poker or whatever with one of the other guys from Motorhead. I’m like, there’s Lemmy, and everyone’s like, go talk to him. But I really didn’t have anything to say to him that wouldn’t make me look stupid, so we sent Chevelle over. She hands him a whisky and asked if she could take a picture. He said yeah, after he finished his game. Well he’s really fucking good at this game, and it took him forever to die, and we’re all just standing there like a bunch of idiots. Finally he dies, and turns around and we all do our best to [not?] look like dumb asses with Lemmy.
Guantanamo Bay Watch also opened up a show for Dick Dale. What was he like? Do you know if he dug your set?
He definitely didn’t watch our set. He probably wouldn’t have liked it either. He wouldn’t take a picture with Chevelle, let alone talk to her or any of us. He basically wanted nothing to do with any of us and pushed us off onto his wife at the merch booth who tried to sell us some overpriced garbage. He’s an ass hole, and the wacko shit and recycled jokes he spouts out on stage (I’ve seen him 3 or 4 times and its the same routine) is annoying, but I still love him and don’t hold it against him. He’s real old and probably got screwed out of a lot of money from his record labels, and probably really does need the money. I can’t imagine doing what he does at 70 some odd years old – it’s pretty amazing. It was still a dream come true for me, and the dudes in his back up band were rad and partied with us a little bit. Also, his merch was super expensive and most of the people there were older, and older people want everything signed for some reason. For him to sign something cost way extra, and even then he wouldn’t sign old memorabilia for the fans, so lots of people were really pissed. [It] worked out for us though because those people ended up coming over to our little table and dropping bank on our shit because we’d sign anything for free. All in all, it was an awesome experience.
What are some other projects that members of the band are involved in?
Chris plays in a band called BOOM! who is going on tour with us in March. Chevelle goes to the gym a lot and watches Top Model. I play sometimes in this Batman band, and write some solo stuff that I’m thinking of releasing at some point. Here and there we all get asked to do stuff in other bands or fill in, but GBW takes up almost all our time besides that.
What are some of your favorite things about Texas and what was memorable about your last trip to McAllen?
Breakfast tacos. regular tacos. swimming. partying with our friends in Austin. As for McAllen, last time we were there it was rad. we played a set that morning at SXSW, and drank a bunch of tequila and tabasco at that show, and then had someone drive us to McAllen. When we got there we played for a bunch of young kids with Cum Stain. There were these three people there who were looking pretty hard and were maybe old enough to be the parents of most of the kids there. They rolled up with a their own ice chest of tecate. Not only that, but they had all the fixin’s: salt, lime, hot sauce. They were chillin and it was awesome. They made us mexican beers and were super nice, and come to find out they were in some kind of rock n roll, surf band.
There was also this little kid, maybe like 10, 12 years old, who came up to us and was like, “thank you for coming and playing here” or something like that. that’s really cool to me, because living in Portland or playing at south by, so many people get jaded about live shows. it feels good when someone is really stoked to see a show. And then some kids took us to this rad place for “pirate tacos”, which is just a code word I guess for fucking awesome tacos. It was a super fun time. Can’t wait to come back.