Name: El Muchacho
Genre: Surf / Punk / Garage
Geographical Area: NYC
Interview by email with Mike Muchacho on 4/28/08
I've known Mikey since high school and Jim since we were in college. Mikey
used to work at a bar that had live music every night and a few years ago we
started doing a few gigs there, playing random cover songs just for fun with
various different band members and lineups. At one point we had a lead singer
who was originally from Columbia - we got the name "El Muchacho" from a local
underworld kingpin in the village where he grew up who met with an unfortunate
and untimely demise. We finally decided to go all-instrumental after he moved
down to Texas. I really wanted to get a saxophone player to replace the singer,
but we had a hard time finding someone who could really rock out on the sax and
would also be available for all the gigs and rehearsals and stuff, so we wound
up deciding to just have Jim play the electric kazoo instead. Looking back on
it, the whole thing was kinda ridiculous and it was pretty much done just
strictly for our own entertainment. I don't think anybody really thought we
were ever going to get any serious gigs or radio airplay or anything with a band
playing surf and punk rock covers and featuring an electric kazoo as the lead
instrument, but somehow that didn't manage to stop us.
We started out just playing covers exclusively [everything from old
instro-surf classics to 50's, 60's & 70's rock, punk and heavy metal], but now
it's getting to be closer to a 50/50 split.
have you done?
We recorded a couple of singles last year and just released our first
full-length record this year. We recorded and produced the whole thing
ourselves at our studio in New York, which turned out to be a pretty major
undertaking. The record features several original tunes, covers of classic
punk/rock songs by The Ramones, Black Sabbath and The Strawberry Alarm Clock as
well as some old surf standards. We were fortunate enough to have a really cool
and super talented surf/hot rod artist from California named Tom "BigToe" Laura
do the artwork for the record cover - check him out at
6. What kind of gear do you use?
Mikey Muchacho uses an old Fender Precision bass and a vintage Ampeg SVT tube
amp. I usually use a cheesey old 60's "Kapa" hollowbody guitar and/or a
home-made Telecaster copy that I built myself, which gets plugged into a
slightly hot-rodded old Ampeg accordion amp, three different distortion boxes
and a "decimator" pedal to kill all the resulting noise and feedback. Jim plays
an electric kazoo that goes through a fancy multi-effects unit and is strapped
around his neck with one of those "Bob Dylan" type harmonica holders so he can
still play drums at the same time. He also uses a sampler and a sequencer for
certain songs and whenever possible he uses somebody else's drums so that we can
manage to cram everything into the car for gigs!
What is your bandís favorite
We pretty much run on a steady diet of beer and pizza.
8. How do you get gigs?
Mostly through folks finding us on our website or just through word of mouth
and playing other gigs and going out to shows and meeting people. Local concert
promoters like Unsteady Freddie,
Frank Wood and
Bob D who runs "Surf Nite" up in
CT have also been kind enough to book us for a bunch of gigs.
Because we're sort of a genre-bending band I think the kind of music we play
has actually helped us to be able to fit in relatively well with a lot of
different types of shows - we've played gigs with other surf bands as well as
punk, rock, metal, rockabilly, psychobilly bands and somehow it still seems to
work, so I guess we've been kind of lucky in that sense. The whole music scene
in New York has been getting tougher and tougher though - rents keep going up,
places like CBGB and the Continental have gone the way of the dodo and it seems
like every year there are fewer live music venues left in town and more and more
musicians wind up having to move farther and farther away from the city. If
they had "Starbucks" locations on every street corner downtown back in the 70's
and a crappy little studio apartment went for $2500 a month when bands like the
Ramones and the Cramps were first starting, out the whole early New York punk
scene that was so influential to so many people might have never been able to
get off the ground...
10. What positive attributes does your band have that sets you apart from other bands (of any genre)?
Well, we jokingly refer to ourselves as "The Only Surf/Punk Electric Kazoo
Band That Matters" which I reckon is a fairly unique distinction right off the
bat. We also have a pretty unusual sound and a certain underlying sense of
humor and willingness not to take ourselves too seriously, which I suppose some
folks find sort of refreshing. We may not exactly be the most virtuoso
musicians on the planet, but we try to have a good time and make it fun for the
audience, which I reckon is ultimately more important.
What do you
hope to get out of being a NESMA member?
14. Anything else?
Alohas and thanks to you and all the folks from NESMA, as
well all of the other bands and fans and who help keep the surf music scene out
here on the East Coast rockin'!!!