“If a technical bass player were to watch what I’m doing, they would probably start to cry.”
Guantanamo Baywatch is definitely NSFW. Listening to their laid back, surf pop melodies in any professional situation would surely induce the uncontrollable desire to strip off that business casual pantsuit, find a bikini, and head for open water.
We sat down with Jason Powell, Chevelle Wiseman, and Chris Scott over some frozen drinks at SXSW to talk about recent collaborations, unique approaches to playing bass, and their new album Darling… It’s Too Late.
VM: Do you guys prefer touring on the West Coast or the East Coast?
Jason Powell: LA is my favorite place to play. We’re going to move there next year. We play the East Coast a lot. We always play up and down it a few times a year.
Chevelle Wiseman: As much as we can; we’re just from the other side so…
JP: I like the East Coast, too; we recorded our new album in Atlanta at The Living Room studio. We were there for like two weeks, we’re friends with The Coathangers and Curtis Harding.
VM: Speaking of, how was it working with Chris Harding for the single “Too Late”?
Chris Scott: It was cool. I called him the day of, and he said, “I’ll be there in an hour.” He had never heard the song before in his life and then sang for maybe half an hour.
JP: He hit it all in the first try.
VM: Chevelle, you kind of just picked up the bass and started playing one day; do you feel you’ve mastered the craft now?
JP: She is truly one of the worst bass players.
CW: Just for fun, I’ve been working with one of my mom’s friends who is a professional bass player (who used to play for The Go-Gos). She was trying to show me how to really do it, and I realized my technique is just like – no one ever taught me how to do it. So I don’t know how to do anything on bass, and I have to start back from the beginning. I can do some things well, but there are others things that I’m just the worst. If a technical bass player were to watch what I’m doing, they would probably start to cry.
JP: But the audience doesn’t care.
CS: The funny thing is that bassists here at South by, they look at Chevelle and what she’s doing on the bass and say, “how do you do that?” There’s no rhyme or reason to it; she’s just hitting notes.
VM: Your fans have been anxiously awaiting new music from you guys since Chest Crawl. How long did it take to record Darling… It’s Too Late?
JP: It took a long time. It took forever for me to write all the songs, and then we had to head down to Atlanta and record. Even after we got back, I worked on the album for another two months down in my basement, adding and editing shit. Then we had to go back to Atlanta to get it mixed and mastered. So it took almost a year.
CW: We also lost all the album art because my computer got stolen on tour, so we had to postpone it two more months.
VM: “Too Late” is kind of a slower departure from the rowdy stuff we’re used to with you guys – can we expect more of the same on the album?
JP: Well, everyone puts out a single that’s a fast party song, so we said, “fuck it; let’s do the slowest song we can do.” When we were listening to it, we thought it sounded the best.
CW: It definitely stands out as the title track, but it’s also the slowest song on the album. I think there are a lot more mid-tempo songs.
JP: It’s a pop album. It’s not a punk/surf rock album, but there are a lot of instrumental songs – but even those songs are more like theme songs for a show.
Do you guys still play house shows?
CS: Yeah, we played two yesterday! But they’re getting harder and harder to come by, especially in Portland.
JP: Yeah, Portland’s changed so much.
VM: Is this your first time at SXSW?
CW: It’s our fifth!
VM: Wow! How many shows are you playing?
CS: We’re playing eight total.
JP: But last year we played like 15, year before that it was more like 20. We used to play around three shows a day, but why would you want to do that? I get sick, and my throat hurts, and my strings break, and I’m hungry, and I’m sleepy.
VM: Who are you most excited to see, or what’s your favorite band that you have seen?
JP: No Parents, Natural Child, Sheer Mag. The White Fangs show at the Mohawk was so sick. We kind of grew up playing with them, so we’ve seen them a million times.
CW: We tried to see all of our friends that we’ve seen before but don’t get to see very often.
CS: And its South by, so getting to see your friends play to a whole new crowd and see how they react is really fun.
VM: Are you barbecue joint or food truck people?
JP: Barbecue joint. I hate food trucks. They’re always bad. They’re expensive, they’re terrible, you get rained on, and they’re slow as shit.
VM: What’s next for you guys after SX and the album comes out?
JP: Touring Australia and New Zealand. Going to hang out with some Kiwis.