Breaking Bread over a Calimocho or three
It took an express airmail consignment of his favourite tipple Calimocho - that'd be cheap red wine and cola, for the uninitiated - before we at The I-94 Bar persuaded RAFA SUNEN to take on this assignment. The mission for the singer from Los Chicos, Spain's premier party punk-country-garage-soul band, was to pin down members of Melbourne's R&B garage veterans The Breadmakers and interrogate them about their new album, "The Breadmakers".
Los Chicos have toured Australia many times and anyone who's seen them will know that keeping Rafa still long enough for him to fire off a few questions was half the challenge. Digging up members of the shady crew called The Breadmakers - in a fit state to undergo questioning - was the other.
The Breadmakers live.
These mysterious characters don't do the Interwebs. During these COVID-19 times, their natural habitat of Melbourne's bars are boarded up tighter than a nun's nightdress. A message was to go out via Melbourne's network of weekend record fairs - but they're all closed, too.
Eventually, a go-between by the codename of "Dogmeat Dave" arranged a conversation over a crackly phone line between Rafa in Madrid and Breadmakers singer LAZY DIK and drummer BOOTPOLISH LACEY, both locked down in a boarded-up Melbourne speakeasy. Dogmeat operated the transcription machine. Calichomo and beer were consumed. You could call it a meeting of partying minds. Here's the result.
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RAFA SUNEN: Los Chicos are really slow. But how did it take you so long (ED: It's 10 years since their last live record and 20 since their last studio effort) to record this new album??? Too many long nights at The Old Bar or what?! What was the drive behind putting this one out and getting on the road?
LAZY DIK: Hola cabrones! So many questions, within the questions! How long you got? Sometimes you gotta let the dough rest no?
BOOTPOLISH LACEY: G’day from waaay down south! We know that this is not a race. When you’ve been playing rock n roll for 30 years, what’s a year or two lost here and there between friends. We started writing a couple of years ago, and we recorded what we had. Then we wrote some more and recorded the rest. We couldn’t learn too much at the one time because we wouldn’t remember how they all went.
RS: What was it like to work with (producer) Mikey Young? Would he try Calimocho? From what I heard The Breadmakers were quite essential in making him take his first steps in the music biz?
LD: Mikey is genius, and good to hang with. When he was muy joven he saw us playing a gig in the city outside a now defunct record store in Melbourne CBD, and of course became a lifelong fan. He later worked at Corduroy Records under the watchful eye of (Breadmakers bassist) Cadillac Slim. Calimocho? Por supuesto.
BL: Yeah, that gig was on the footpath and there were too many people there to see us play. Sadly, some people spilled out onto the street, and the show was called off by the cops when a Japanese tourist got run over by a car! I don’t think she died, but it was very disappointing for her, and for us because we were rockin’ out at the time.
Mikey liked it though, maybe because of the drama of it all. He was just teenager and easily influenced, and his obviously VERY cool mum who brought our record for him at Christmas obviously triggered something deep inside him. His recording of us as Shutdown 66 was his first recording I think. Sound Flat are releasing that record soon finally I hear…
RS: Some 17 years after your last trip to Europe you did come back to Spain. What were your strangest stories and the weirdest tapas you did?
LD: I had this crazy Catalan dish…BBQ spring onions! Too much is not a good thing. What can be strange in Spain? The whole country is crazy!
BL: Sorry Slim, but the strangest story was Cadillac Slim thinking that the edge of the stage had a wall he could lean on while playing, only to discover that it was a curtain! Behind the curtain was a long drop that meant he rotated onto his head. The strangest part of it was we couldn’t see where he went. He was there one second, and next he was gone!!
So we kept playing of course, hoping he would re-appear, but he didn’t. So we played the song and suddenly a very primal bass sound started up. We thought (without words, but expressions because we were still playing) he must have been injured pretty bad, because he was sounding like a moron, from behind the curtain… Suddenly, up springs Lluis Fuzzhound from Thee Cha Cha Chas with Slim’s bass on, playing!!
We continued on as long as we could, but I must say, that was not the last time that Lluis saved our arse on that tour! No weird tapas for me. It was all sooooo unbelievably good. You lucky people!
RS: We have classified info about some Breadmaker collapsing in glorious Keith Moon fashion during your gig at Wild Weekend in Mallorca. Can you ELABORATE PLEASE?
LD: Cadillac Slim??
BL: Oh sorry. See my previous answer…
RS: We feel like we get better on every album — but not always!. In that sense we always have something to look forward to regarding new songs and staying together. Is this the way it works for you too?
LD: We now have more originals...that’s cool. We hardly move forward, so we can catch each other up.
BL: You guys sound like you are getting better every record—and your shows kick it—always! We love writing new songs, but don’t really play them until they are at least five-years-old! It takes us a while for them to sink in. We just love playing together. Revving each other up!!
RS: This feels like your best album — a MASTERPIECE you kings! — and you even called it simply "The Breadmakers". Is this the best you’ve recorded?
LD: Thanks hermanos! It felt good making it, and we been getting some nice words.
BL: Gracias Chicos! Coming from you guys it gets me psyched! It’s been a while, so I’m enjoying it coming on the radio and surprising me! I had forgotten that feeling!
RS: The record sounds JUST like you do on stage, which is absolutely amazeballs! How did you get that AWESOME GROOVIE KILLER COOL BRAVO live magic? Were you allowed to drink in the studio?
LD: We were drinkin' Pimms...and beer...not in the same glass! Mikey has a way with the microphone. We recorded live in this surf life saving club's log cabin...during the day...it should sound shit and lifeless, yet somehow it doesn’t! And we trust Mikey to just get what he can on the day, then weave his magic later at home
BL: We have always recorded live, but because we recorded out of town, I had to drive. I was straighter than I’ve ever been and I’m so worried I’ll have to record that way all the time now! Mikey has a magic that can’t be underestimated. He had some microphone placements on my drums that I’ve never ever seen before! Part genius, part wizard. Fully great guy!
RS: Was this a more democratic record in the composing department?
LD: Siempre...though Cadillac Slim is the driving force.
BL: Yeah. Slim is the driving force, but his current job meant he had to check out early, which left Lazy, Tops and me to write stuff together for this record. That was cool—just jamming stuff. "Monkey Do", "Take the Lot", "The Savage" and more that didn’t make it on the record where written like that.
Other songs we each wrote separately too. "Storm" was a cool one, as Slim got the song in a dream, woke up and went into the bathroom to hum it into his phone so he didn’t wake up Janet! Trying to work out what he had in mind listening to that back was challenging for the band! We practised it once then recorded it.
We like recording like that. Always the first time is the best, as you end up doing a cover version of that first time for ever more. "Ain’t Goin' Nowhere", we never practised, but had time at the end of our last session. We did one take without hearing it (because we’ve loved it for years) and that ended up on the record! True dat!
RS: Which of this two options is the most depressing to you?
1) The idea that we will never see R.L. Burnside live in concert.
2.) To release a record just before March THIS FUCKING YEAR (our bass player did this with his band El Gobierno) in time for COVID-19?
LD: Both…glass half empty:)
BL: R.L still makes me wanna holla!
RS: Who did the cover and what’s the story behind it?
LD: Bootpolish Lacey, drummer and artist in residence
BL: Yep — me. Slim and I have always designed our covers together, but this time Slim more stopped us from killing each other as we couldn’t agree. The second version redo was what you see and it was worth all that bad juju. The idea reflects Lazy Dik’s lyrics on "Monkey Do". When you try to learn from your idols in your teenage bedroom as they play along with you. That’s what everyone in bands does, right?!
That's Rafa at right and three-quarters of his Los Chicos bandmates on tour in Australia with an innocent bystander.
RS: Do you expect a new and young audience coming to the bakery of The Breadmakers because of Mikey Young's participation? Los Chicos recorded for the Primavera Sound record label and expected a whole bunch of modern type dudes arriving to our gigs - which of course didn’t’t happen at all! Let us clarify: we do love bald people too — as you can tell by our baldness!
LD: Nah...maybe spark a little interest...until they see our photo.
BL: I hope so. Like you guys, our sound grooves all ages who still have something to move.
RS: What would you call the type of bread each Breadmaker would make if you had a real breadmakery besides the R&B bakery you currently have?
LD: Bocadillo Pequena
BL: Upside Gin Scroll
RS: The two covers you do on the album show that you are 45’s hamsters. Has your vinyl obsession slowed with age or has it got worse??
LD: It has no end date for me. I’m obsessed with '60s freakbeat and garage. My drug.
BL: I leave it to the obsessed others. Its more Lazy and Blacktop’s backyard!
RS: What’s the least attended show you’ve played?
LD: Haha..lots of shit gigs under our belts...there was one in Wollongong where only the headliners were there.
BL: One thing every band should pride themselves in is that it doesn’t matter who’s there — you gonna rock! I think some of our best shows are to the few. It only encourages us!!
RS: What’s that show where you’ve played to a huge crowd and you’ve felt like you are seated on top of the world?
LD: We supported The Australian Doors Show one time...huge crowd, but shit audience! “Can you play any Doors?" Fuck off...no!!
BL: We have never really felt at home on a huge stage, but we’re better at it though. I loved playing at our Melbourne Zoo at sundown supporting The Specials to a huge crowd! You could hear the animals hootin’ and a hollering in the background. Also, with Ed Kuepper recently with his The Aints! featuring Sunnyboys bassist Pete Oxley. So awesome!
RS: Worst case of drunk and disorderly on tour?
LD: Hmmm...Cadillac Slim??
BL: I lost it and fell asleep lying on a row of upright beer kegs in Madrid once, but I never got arrested for it.
RS: First gig you did? Tell us the shitty details, please.
LD: No idea. I can’t remember 1989.
BL: We started playing in a Aussie Hell’s Angels bar, so you can imagine we were out of our comfort zone. We did that for our first three months! We were never ever biker blues, even though the temptation was there in an effort to survive.
RS: Every time we go and play Australia we overdose on fried barramundi and kangaroo. Can you recommend any not too well known delicacy that we haven’t tasted yet (no Chiko Roll, please —we’ve done that: not nice).
LD: Surf 'n' Turf - a fat steak stuffed with seafood. Geraldo (Los Chicos guitarist) would love it!
BL: Wombat Tortellini is hard to find, but delicious!
RS: Do you miss us as much as we miss you?
LD: I am wiping tears from my face as I speak.
BL: Please can we come and see you soon!! You came to us last, we must play together in...Madrid at the Fun House...as soon as possible!!! Viva los Chicos!!