Interview: The Last Hombres
Mon, 02 Jun 2014 10:50:18
The Last Hombres make the kind of old school blues rock books are written about. It’s salty, swaggering, sweaty, and soaring at all the right moments. Their latest opus Odd Fellows Rest carries on that tradition successfully as well, making for one of their best outings yet.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Paul Schmitz of The Last Hombres talks Odd Fellows Rest and so much more.
Did you approach Odd Fellows Rest with one vibe in mind?
Yeah, which is a bit weird, because there are three songwriters and none of that was planned. We reformed and said, "Well, what do you got?" The songs are really talked to each other, and I didn't realize that until in mastering. They all went together, and there was a certain cohesion. That was what surprised me the most. It's an album. A lot of people just put out one single these days. It's changing obviously.
How do you feel like the songs talk to each other?
Well, I think there are a bunch of characters in different situations with a certain amount of desperation. They're making decisions, and that's creating where they are. I look at them as little movies. Those little movies strung together ended up Odd Fellows Rest. I saw the mental picture of it, but I didn't see it while we were doing it. All of these characters have a string of desperation about them. They've made decisions in their lives that brought them to where they are. It's a character-driven thing. All of these people know each other. However, we didn't write any of the songs in the same room. The three of us came in with different material. There's a certain synergy that happens. It's very un-planned. That's just how it turned out.
What's the story behind "Streetlights"?
It had a weird life to it. I demoed it out a couple of years ago. I loved the song. I showed it to Tom Ryan, and he dug it. We tried to record it with a full band, and it just flopped. Tom wouldn't let it go though. He brought the bones of the song down to New Orleans and had the The Hot 8 Brass Band do horns on it. I sang it back in New York, and it was what it was. It went through so many incarnations. First, it was your standard blues tune. Then, it became this vibe-y thing. It was all Tom to be honest with you! There were a bunch of happy surprises.
Of course this changes, but what song from the album means the most to you right now?
That's tough! I generally go and listen to other things, but there are certain things that just tickle me. There's the song Russ wrote "Doll's Head". That's one of my favorite songs on it. Usually, by the time I'm done with these things, I don't ever want to hear them again. I can listen to this one, and I like it still though. I'd say "Doll's Head". I really like "Desiree", which went through so many changes in the studio. "Unforgiven Man" has a cool vibe to it as well. I can listen to different songs from this record. They stand up on their own. Then, when they're together, they make sense too. You can pull one song out and go, "Okay, I like that".
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
That's what I do. I approach everything like a little movie. To me, "Unforgiven Man" is a Clint Eastwood movie. It's a guy standing on the gallows bragging about all the bad shit he did, and he really didn't do any of it. They're about to hang him, and how heavy of a situation is that? He's just barking orders at people. That's a very fun one live too. That's the strongest movie. It's how I try to write. I try to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. It's how I approach writing.
It feels very organic.
In my opinion, if we don't have it in three or four takes, move on to something else. That's our approach to recording, and it works for us.
What have you been listening to?
I got into Boardwalk Empire. Then, I got into music from the twenties. I listen to a lot of that. I'm a big Los Lobos fan. I think they're currently my favorite band. I see them every time they come to New York. I dig Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan, obviously. I really go for lyrical content. That's what I'm listening for.
Have you heard The Last Hombres?