San Franciscans Tommy Guerrero and Gadget (known to his mother, probably, as Jamie Kahn) have been pals since childhood, sharing then a love of skateboards and music that would dominate their adult lives in the city by the bay. With their acclaimed album Hoy Yen Ass'n on the racks, Harry Guerin emails the duo about late night sessions, godfathers and the future.
Harry Guerin: How did you two meet and what were your first impressions of each other?Tommy Guerrero: We met over a decade ago through mutual friends, I found him to be quite a sarcastic jackass...kind of like myself.Gadget (Jamie Kahn): How dare you insult my artistic integrity! I'll have your head on a lacquer master, Mr Taco.
HG: Tell me about how the album came together: how long it took to record, musicians who play on it etc.TG: Like making a quilt...lots of ideas, pieces gathered from anywhere and everywhere. Beer fuelled nights. Most of the other cats are friends of Gadget's, he connected them into the 're-goofalator' to properly document the occasion.G: We both came to the table with a bunch of ideas and sounds for songs we started on our own and then finished them together. There were also a few we created on the spot. Crack only had a little to do with it.
HG: And the most difficult/challenging aspect of the album?TG: Sobriety.G: Committing to completion while sober.
HG: It sounds like you were having a great time during the track 'Out In The Village'. Was it recorded after the bars closed?TG: Before they opened.
HG: Tell me a little about the French vocalist, Selavie, who sings on the record. How did you meet and does he have any records out?G: One of my oldest friends married this guy and he's become a friend. He's from outside of Paris but his heritage and a lot of his family is from Cameroon. I heard some demos of him rapping both in French and in English. I really liked the French rapping with the sound of his voice so I asked him to come lay some vocals down. I know he's put a couple things out in France but I'm not exactly sure what.
HG: Gadget, your Godfather plays on the record. Tell me a little about him and has he played on other records?G: He's my Godfather because he used to play in bands with my Dad and was/is friends with my Mom. He puts a bunch of records out himself including Merl Saunders and the Rainforest Blues Band (proceeds go towards preserving the rainforests in the Amazon), but he's most famous for his work with Jerry Garcia in the 70s and 80s.
HG: Are there any new records/artists (from either San Francisco or beyond) that the world really needs to hear right now but hasn't?TG: Anything Chuck Treece does..he's from Philly...like Bad Brains meets Stevie Wonder.G: Azeem 'Garage Opera' and Toshack Highway (self-titled).
HG: If you had a dream list of people you could work with on a record who would they be?TG: Bill Withers, David Hidalgo, Stevie Wonder...too many to list.G: Posdnous, Jimmy Hendrix, James Jamerson, Black Sabbath (30 years ago) and the list goes on and on.
HG: What were the five most important records for each of you during your teenage years?TG: Sex Pistols, Sabbath, Rush, Bad Brains, punk in general.G: Black Sabbath, The Clash, Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy and mix tapes/djs/hip hop shows.
HG: What future projects have you planned?TG: An EP and album for Mo'Wax, an album by my side project Fotraque, a new Jet Black Crayon record, an EP with Chuck Treece and Monte Vallier (from the band Swell), sort of a dubby funk thing, a 12 w/ Gadget battling the Jazz Cannon. Plus a bunch of other crap.G: The 12" battle and Jet Black Crayon record listed above, the debut Gresham record, my debut solo record and the next Jazz Cannon record. Traveling and enjoying life.