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Possibly Pissing Into the Sea: Interview with Ola Podrida

I first heard of Ola Podrida from Johnny Christ, their ex-guitarist, who I knew from drinking at a pub in Dallas but first hung out with in a Mexican restaurant in New York City.  While his past involvement with Ola Podrida helped me understand why he was playing air guitar to the Cure in a packed restaurant, it was a fact that I filed away, sure it would never come up again.
One year later, Deli asks me to interview David Wingo of Ola Podrida.
I emailed Christ to tell him of the upcoming interview with his ex front man and he added some questions to mine. Through the magic of email and phone, Christ and I resurrect the band’s past and examine its future.
I sent Johnny an email, telling him I was interviewing you and he sent me some questions to ask you, if you wouldn’t mind answering them.
Oh shit. Let me have them.
He wants to know if you’re still composing for film. He told me you did soundtrack work with David Gordon.
David Gordon Green—I’m staying at his loft right now. He sort of lives in Austin but he’s always doing movies so he’s never here.

You worked with Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite?
Yes, his most recent movie that came out last month--Gentleman Broncos. It’s the biggest budget film that I’ve worked on yet which was really good because it allowed me to move here and not worry about work for a while.  I also scored a documentary called Soundtracker that hasn’t come out yet while I was here. Throughout most of this decade I was focusing on [soundtracks] instead of my own stuff. I was recording and giving it to friends, not really pursuing it, until I moved back to Austin. I felt like time was getting away from me and that I needed to make a record.

What’s the difference between writing music for film versus writing music for Ola Podrida? Obviously, it seems like you have less freedom doing soundtrack work because of the script, but in terms of the creative process, is it the same?
I try to make the core of it the same.  It reminds me of doing art projects as a little kid in school. You’re given supplies and tools and you’ve got to make something.  It’s a totally different process but still gratifying in its own way. You’ve got to take a few tools to make something that can make a wide array of emotions pop. However, I do think that it has helped me with my own stuff because I’ve learned to have a single-minded focus and to not use the blank canvas to my advantage. I have parameters now. I’ve learned to gauge what the song needs. It’s helped to maintain the “less is more” aesthetic for sure.
If Belly of the Lion was a movie, what would it be about?
I think this album would be about a weird, oppressed teenage kid in the suburbs doing what he can to have a bit of freedom in the claustrophobia while trying to meet girls and doing some drinking in the process.
Why are you so focused on suburbia?
It just ended up being that this record was influenced by the music I was listening to when I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of Dallas.  I was also getting back to playing electric guitar.  It’s a bedroom CD—it feels like a kid in his bedroom writing songs and listening to his music even though I was in my own bedroom, making music at the age of 33.
Who do you imagine would listen to this record?
Definitely people who like to get to know a record in a more intimate way other than putting it on when cleaning the house or when friends are over.
If this was a bedroom CD, how many dates do I have to take it on before I really get to know it?
I would hope that the audience would be composed of people like myself who have nothing to do but put on a record and soak it in a few times to get to know it.  It’s definitely dynamic in terms of loud to quiet but the flow doesn’t hit one over the head. It grows subtly. Lyrically, it’s pretty subtle too. I wanted the lyrics to match the emotional feel of the music. Some of them, like My Fathers Basement, are very explicit but even though it’s painting a specific scene, it’s just [putting] up images. It’s not linear—A to B to C.
Is there something you would change on the record?
There are a few songs on the record that hardly have any percussion to them and [while] I was looking for drummers to tour with, I would ask them add a little something.  It has made me think that it could have been interesting to go back and make this song have more of a rhythmic compulsion to it but I don’t think I’d go back.  It captures a moment in time for me. I recorded this record all day everyday for two months and I like that about it. I stretched the recording of the first record for a long, long time. I was working at Waterloo Records at the time so I would record before I went to work. [Belly of the Lion] was a very different experience for me. I wanted to capture what I was listening to and what I was feeling like and I feel like [this album] did that.
Johnny wanted me to tell you that Sink or Swim is a masterpiece.
Thank you Johnny. That was one of the ones that I thought needed more drums. But if it has Johnny’s seal of approval, I’m not changing a thing.
He also wants to know if you’re ever going to record Pissing into the Sea?
That’s a good question, Johnny. I hope so.

What’s Pissing into the Sea?
That was one of the poppier songs we were doing as a band. I very much regret that we did not record the song before we all took off but I will not record them unless it’s with all those guys. I would love at some point to get Johnny and Robert to come in for a week (Kenny and Mathew are already here), to relearn the songs and record. 
Last question, what are your flossing habits like?
My flossing habits have become fantastic. They used to be terrible but I had to have a root canal and fix four cavities right before I moved to Austin. I’ve learned my lesson. I floss twice a day now.

--Resalin Rago

(Editor's note: Ola Podrida's album Belly of the Lion is out now on Western Vinyl, where he is in very good company - Balmorhea, Here We Go Magic, Sleep Whale, and more are labelmates. Belly of the Lion is getting a lotta lotta lotta love out there.) 


The Deli's Best of Austin Year End Poll

Musical peoples from Austin and beyond.

A few weeks are left before the end of 2009, and the time has come for our end of year musical "summary". Yes, you got that right: The Deli's "Best of (emerging) Austin 2009" Poll is upon us!

This year we are going to try to involve everybody on different levels: the readers, our jury of selected scene makers, our writers and - of course - the emerging local artists. The process we have implemented to choose the Best emerging Austin Artist of 2009 is a little complicated - if you are interested in knowing how it works please go here.

We'll just tell you that there will be prizes for the winners, such as: Deli promotion, free studio time, audio software + more!

But as we know most readers' attention span is limited, so we prefer to keep things simple on the homepage: in the next two entries under here you'll find what you can do if you want to be involved.

Have fun, and may the best music triumph!
[May also some people NOT get mad at us for some reason... it happens every year during the year end poll!!!]

The Deli Staff

P.S. Oh and if new posts here at The Deli Austin will be a little slow in the next few weeks, it's because our Austin Editor Tom just had twin girls!!! Double congrats Tom from all the Deli staff!


BANDS: Submit Your Music For The Best Emerging Austin Artist Of 2009

Three nominees for our Year End Best of Austin Poll will be chosen through an Open Contest (the other from a jury of local "scene makers"). Submit your music for The Deli's Best of Austin Year End Poll HERE by 12.17.2009. By submitting, you will also add your band to our chart system - which will get you some exposure in the future. To be eligible your band needs to have music available online and have played live at least once in 2009 (and not to be signed to a major).

The Deli's Staff


DELI READERS: let us know your favorite emerging Austin Bands of 2009

Let us know what you think is the best emerging artist of 2009 with a comment (click on "Add New Comment" under this blog entry), we want to hear the voice of the people!!! Besides, your comments may impress our writers who will have to choose the 3 nominees coming from the open contest above...

The Deli Staff


DJs Throw Down: It's a Melee, Red 7 12/6

Dj Orion

The busy folks of Learning Secrets will be the subject of our upcoming, and sadly final, installment of our DJ Education series (all written by the incomparable Tolly Moseley). Before we get to that, though, they're putting together another DJ Melee - what is a DJ Melee? Glad you asked. Here, in their words, because we're running low on our own words, is how it works:

"The DJ's select from the hottest record stores in town and are each given only five minutes to pick up 30 pieces of vinyl to use in a thirty minute set at a series of DJ Melee parties thrown at Austin's best clubs.  All vinyl goes straight into a locked box until show time, and local industry judges have the final vote on the DJ's mixing skills and music knowledge."

High pressure produces diamonds, is the idea here...check out their next event this Sunday at Red 7, with DJs Cauze One, Bigface, Manny & Orion (above).



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