Ten years ago, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, who records under the name Shakey Graves, released his debut album, Roll The Bones, on Bandcamp. Even without any real promotion, it quickly earned him a cult following and has since sold over 100,000 copies, but for a decade it remained a Bandcamp exclusive that required fans to do a little more digging to track it down.
My goal was always tohave people just take an extra second to go try and hunt it down, Rose-Garcia tells InsideHook. Butafter 10 years, I feel like I got to do that, and at this pointIm just ready for it to be released. Its like, Its time for you togo off into the world, record. Youre not my baby anymore. I can tell youreall grown up.
Now that its all grown up, its being reissued as Roll The Bones X and accompanied by the additional 15-track Odds + Ends LP, which features early demos and recordings and deep cuts Rose-Garcia pored through his archives to select. Ultimately, the process of revisiting his early material led to some poignant self-reflection.
When I listen to it now, I hear myself longing for my life, searchingfor myself, trying to figure out who I am, craving a lot of travel and kind of wishing that I was in some sort of position to trust myselfmore, he says. And in the journals, I made a lot of wishes about what my careermight look like. I drew a little suitcase drum, like Maybe I could put something likethis. And basically, I realized how many of these wishes or like vague things Ikind of shot out into the universe have come true. It was a good reminder to just be mindfulof what I wish for.
To celebrate Roll The Bones X (which is out now), we caught up with Rose-Garcia to hear about the music that shaped him as a kid, his go-to road trip music and what hes currently obsessed with.
Whats the first album or song that inspired you to start writing your own music?
Alejandro Rose-Garcia: I genuinely dont know. The first album that I remember, the first song I remember jamming out to as a very little kid was the overture of the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, which is like aggressive organ music. And theres a really heavy 80s beat over it, which I guess kind of influenced my approach to a lot of stuff, kind of over-dramaticized. Maybe Shakey Graves actually secretly looks like the Phantom of the Opera in my mind. Ive never really thought about it that much. But Im sure that had some huge effect on me trying to go forward in my life and being like, Be a mysterious dude that haunts a theater.
Whats the one album that, if you had to guess, youve listened to the most times in your life?
Id say Bruce SpringsteensNebraska is up there. Its just a record that kind of magically seems to come on all the time.My dad usedto listen to it a lot when I was a little kid, and I alwayskind of rebelled against it, like, I dont like Bruce Springsteen becausehes super corny. And my dad was like, Youre wrong. My mom was the same way. And then years later, I startedlistening to the album on my own in high school. And then my friends startedlistening to it, and then it became kind of a virtuous staple for me too.I had it on a cassette tape in my first car. And then kind ofever since, its just sort of one of those ones that if I start listeningto it, I just listen to the whole thing.
Do you remember what the first record you ever bought with your own money was?
No. I mean, my mom had one of those I forget what its called, it was this mail-in catalogues where its like, If you buy 10 CDs, you get 200 CDs for free. And so thats where I got them actually, middle-school CDs. But again, when I was a little kid, I listened to music on the radio and then didnt know what I wanted to get. So I would buy like movie soundtracks when I was a kid. I very much remember buying the Predator 2 soundtrack, which, I dont know why I thought that was a good idea. So I was like, I like Predator 2! Im not sure exactly what I was expecting, but yeah, I guess I was that weird kid that youd walk in and it was just scary movie music playing in my room.
When did you make the shift from the movie soundtracks and whatever was on the radio to having more of a focused interest in seeking stuff out?
Ive always lovedpop music too. I used to listen to a kind of blend of radio stationsin my town that I was listening to that was straight up saccharine pop music andlike TLC and the Spice Girls and N SYNC and stuff. And then also the alternativeradio station, and so I would have to listen to Papa Roach and shit. [laughs] Somewhere in between that. I mean, in middle school, I started having to I say having to, because Ivehad a lot of CDs that I didnt like listening to like Korn CDs, andInsane Clown Posse CDs because I just didnt want to look crazy, which is hilarious.But at that point I started to find stuff like Weezer and Dr. Dre. And then I got into pop-punk for a while in high school. I remember going to, I think it was literally a Blockbuster Music,which makes me sound like Im a 300-year-old man, and getting a Get UpKids record called Something to Write HomeAbout, which is still one of my favorite records. Its definitely a pop-punk record, but its on the side of the fence thatI dont feel terribly embarrassed about listening to.
Do you have a go-to record for this time of year, where its that first really warm day of spring, and youre maybe driving around with the windows down and basking in the glow?
Im not going to lie to you, my spring record this year has been ANTI by Rihanna, her 2016 record. Afriend of mine, Caroline Rose, is an awesome, awesome musician, and she made a reallyincredible pop record. Its called Superstar. Its kind of like a meta pop record. Butshe and I always talk about music like this. And she was like, Have youheard this Rihanna record? Oh no. No. I really dont know that much about Rihanna.And for some reason it came up and I started listening to it, and itsjust been playing in my truck for the last week. Especially this song Consideration, whichwas the first song up on that record. Ive just been driving around. Good, goodspring record.
Is there a song that consistently makes you cry?
Oh my god. The ultimate sad song. Girl from the North Country by Dylan always kind of gets me. Im not sure if that makes me the saddest, but it is definitely melancholy and has that pining, like Well, love is lost. I already messed it all up. You Were Always On My Mind is pretty heart-wrenching. Theres an acoustic version that Willie Nelson did. Its off of some VH1 Storytellers thing. Anyway, if you can ever hear him just play it with an acoustic guitar, its insane. That kind of reframes it. And again, and, with him, its like someone in their eighties looking back on their life and thinking, I mightve messed a lot up. But I was always thinking of you. And instead of it sounding shady where youre like Oh, thanks. You totally fucked me over, but the whole time you were like, I was thinking of you, its just wildly poignant. That one really gets me.
Whats an album or an artist that you think is really underrated or wish that more people knew about?
Theres a guy named Michael Hurley. Hes pretty well-known, but hes always been alittle underground. I think hes still alive. Hes in Oregon. He was the last personthat was recorded on Smithsonian Folkways, which is basically the Smithsonian Museum and Alan Lomax recorded all the old blues greats and stuff. And soI think he was recorded when he was like 20 or something like that. Andhes an older gentleman now, but hes always written just incredibly cool, kind of hisown weird blend of super off-brand kind of folk music and a kind of countrymusic. But hes got a really unique voice. And you know, I think hes madelike 50 records or some absurd amount of records. Hes a treasure. Fora while there it was like if you paid him like a thousand dollars, hed come play yourbirthday party kind of thing. Its like, do people just not know?
What do you like to listen to when youre out on the road?
One album from front to back that I absolutely love is Tame Impalas first record, Innerspeaker. Ive listened to that one a million times. Another one is The Infamous, which is a Mobb Deep record from 95. Thats ago-to. I can listen to Neil Youngs Harvest from front to backanytime, too. Thats a great one. Walk, Dont Run, Vol. 2 by The Ventures. Thatsa great one. Oh, and theres a record by The Flatlanders that I adore thatcame out in 2012. Basically it was recorded in the late 70s, the early demo. And then basically there wasan issue where the recording got all screwed up, and they just forgot about it. And thensomeone was cleaning out a recording studio on West Texas, and found this three-track tape,which no one even makes a three-track tape player anymore. They found a three-track, tracked the whole machine downfor it and put it on, and its this absolutely pristine folk record, country record fromthe 70s. It is awesome. It sounds like it could have beenmade right now. You know what I mean? But it has a certain type oftimelessness to it. Thats an awesome record. Also a good springrecord. Its called The Odessa Tapes.
Whats currently on heavy rotation for you? What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Theres a band called The Nerves that Ive been listening to a bunch recently.They were a power-pop group from the 70s. They wroteHanging on the Telephone, that was made famous by Blondie. And Ithink they started in 75 and they were finished by 78. But they producedan EP that had all this cool stuff on it. And they had a re-releasethat has some of the demos and stuff. Theyre just a super scrappy band thatI love. They sound great. I mean, honestly often I find myself listening to isa company called The Numero Group that puts out these, re-releases of stuff, and like compilationrecords of just kind of lost stuff. And usually I find myself kind of listeningto almost anything that they put out. They put out all these kind of strange,obscure compilations. But its how I find a ton of music. Theres also these really strangerecords called Songs in the Key of Z that are collections of outsider music.Like Daniel Johnston is one of the more famous outsider musicians. But its like foundmusic. Its like strange things, cassette tapes that people would find, orlike their strange neighbor or a crazy person that would sell CDs on the street.And I unabashedly jam those records.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero