The Jacuzzi Boys are a three piece rock and roll band from Miami, Florida consisting of Gabriel Alcala (guitar and vocals), Danny Gonzales (bass) and Diego Monasteri (drums).
Interview by Emma Kathan
I met up with Danny, Gabriel and Diego of the Jacuzzi Boys in Florida on their last show of tour and we started out talking about psychedelics, Ayahuasca/DMT in particular:
…Well, I think most people in North America smoke it and with that it hits you quick and hard, it’s like being slammed into a dream world for fifteen minutes but when people in South America take it, it’s in a drink form.
Danny: Like a tea?
Yeah and has a longer, slower climb, lasting about eight hours and usually it’s done in a proper environment with a skilled shaman who knows the plants effects and can help guide you through the trip.
Danny: Yeah, a professor of mine in college would go do that every year in South America. He was very smart but also pretty eccentric.
Diego: Don’t they use DMT to help heroin addicts recover?
Yeah, and alcoholics too. I guess it’s really supposed to help people get to the root of their addictions or problems. I’m sure it takes a couple of times, like any kind of therapy but…
Danny: Don’t people start vomiting violently?
Yeah, I think your body purges itself from both ends usually, ha.
Danny: Actually in that book Breaking Open the Head (Daniel Pinchbeck) he talks about these high class Manhattan parties, maybe where people were taking ayahuasca and because it makes you shit your self, people would wear adult diapers and it’s funny because it’s this high end thing with people in a Manhattan penthouse wearing Pampers.
Ha, how funny! That would make a perfect scene in a film, very Woody Allen.
Diego: But it is supposed to really help people with addictions right? I think heroin addicts will go to those ceremonies in South America and because the drug takes you into this other realm you can get away from your physical…?
Gabriel: Well, there’s a story I heard about a heroin addict who got into a car accident and went into a coma and when he came out of it , he had no desire to do heroin at all.
Emma: Wow, yeah, it might be something similar that happens in the brain a loss of memory for what you were addicted to or a certain re-wiring of the brain if you’re away from the substance you were addicted to for a certain period.
Diego: That was easy.
Diego: So, the people don’t know where they are anymore?
I personally haven’t tried it but yes, I hear that you lose touch with reality in a way that’s different than acid or mushrooms, which I have tried, but on those, you are always still in your surroundings, this, from what I hear is like falling asleep into a dream, so you no longer see the tables and chairs and room around you, it’s as if you’re in another world.
Gabriel: What if you are really tapping into an parallel universe?
That’s what I find so fascinating about it because people from all over the world have very similar experiences with what they see in this dream like state…
Danny: Don’t people see snakes a lot?
Yeah and reptiles and elves. There’s a lot of similar things that people experience which is so interesting because it could be a parallel universe we are able to tap into when were are in that state or it’s just a part of our mind that we are all accessing while on this certain drug which we don’t normally which accesses certain memories or visions in our head. We just haven’t figured it out yet.
Talking about drugs taking you to another reality, I always think it’s strange too that all animals like to get drunk or high off of things and they just don’t do it once but again and again, which shows that it is really not just a human inclination to take drugs or drink alcohol. We all want to get high or transform our daily reality in a different way.
Gabriel: Yeah, have you seen that video with the monkeys who live on some tropical island and go down to the beach resort bar and steal people’s drinks? It’s so hilarious. The monkeys just walk around stealing the people’s drinks and then they’re just stumbling around, falling over and passing out.
Danny: Remember that one about the animals eating the fermented fruit too? “Animals are Beautiful People” it’s amazing. You see all of these animals who wouldn’t typically interact with each other all go eat this rotting fruit which makes them drunk and they’re all just drunk and hanging out together. The best thing is that in the morning, you see them all waking up and they’re just completely hungover, shielding their eyes from the sun.
It’s crazy but yeah we all do that, ha. Speaking of which, is it hard for you while being on tour to keep the partying in moderation or to abstain?
Gabriel: We pretty much drink every night we’re on tour but we’ve gotten a lot better at making sure we stay hydrated. I hate being hungover it makes me have anxiety.
I’ve heard that some people get panic attacks while hungover, just to make things worse right?
Gabriel: I also really don’t like getting too fucked up because I have this thing about losing control. I don’t like to take psychedelics like we were talking about because I can’t stand the thought of not being in control of myself. So I think the anxiety comes from that .
When did you all start playing together ?
How did you all meet each other?
Gabriel: I went to high school with Diego and then we met Danny later.
Did you all play in bands before or was this the first time any of you had been in a band?
Gabriel: Danny had played in one band before us but this is the first band for Diego and me.
Where you all born and raised in Miami?
Danny: I’m Cuban but I was born in Miami.
Gabriel: Diego and I were born in Venezuela.
How long did you live there?
Gabriel: I came here when I was three.
Diego: And I came here when I was seven.
Do you go back to visit family, how would you describe it?
Gabriel: I went back when I was 18. Even back then it was really rough but now it’s even crazier. Just driving down the street you see houses built out of street signs and steel bars….
Diego: It’s just super unsafe. As soon as you come in from the airport people start following you for money and the cops are all mostly crooked and will pull you over just to get money from you.
Gabriel: Tourists get kidnapped a lot there too.
Diego: Yeah, they’ll kidnap you, take you in their car, get your wallet and drive you to ATMs and force you to take out all of your money from every account you have. Then, they’ll call your parents and tell them to get you back they need to send all of this money.
Gabriel: Yeah, and people will kill you over nothing, like they’ll ask you for your shoes and even if you give them, they still might just shoot you. Even my dad when he was living there in the early eighties got pulled over by cops for no reason and the cop was asking him for money and my dad said, “No I didn’t do anything wrong” he realized that this cop was dangerous and so he just floored it and the cop just straight shot at the car. But luckily my dad got away unharmed.
Diego: They even have this “service” where you pay the mafia a monthly fee and they’ll put a sticker on your car so that other mafia people won’t steal it.
Wow, that sounds terrible.
Diego: But it’s really nice.
It’s like Los Angeles. The nature’s beautiful but the people gotta go.
How did you like growing up and living in Florida?
Gabriel: Well, to me Miami isn’t Florida. I really love Miami.
Danny: Yeah, I don’t really care too much about Florida either way but Miami is it’s own little world.
Diego: It’s always nice to leave a place like New York City and come back to Miami, it’s just so relaxing.
Danny: It’s funny since I’ve grown up there my whole life, you think I’d get used to it but still I’ll find myself on the beach on a beautiful day and everything’s just perfect and I’m still just so impressed by it.
Gabriel: Yeah, you realize that you live in a paradise vacation destination. Our last European tour was especially gloomy, gray, rainy and cold. The sun would set around 4:00 in the afternoon and I remember the first day getting back home and walking my dog and seeing how blue the sky was with no clouds. It was just amazing.
Do you guys record your music yourself or do you go into a studio?
Gabriel: The first record we recorded in Atlanta,Georgia at a studio called The Living Room and the last two were recorded at a studio called Key Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
What’s the first album you remember buying that influenced you musically?
Danny: I listened to a lot of punk and garage rock. I remember buying Raw Power (Iggy and The Stooges) and being really inspired by that because it was so different than punk. I was also inspired by early Jane’s Addiction bass lines.
Diego: For me it wasn’t the first album I bought but being a kid, I remember my mom playing Fleetwood Mac and I loved it.
Gabriel: The first band that made me want to play in a band was The New York Dolls.
What’s interesting is you all met and hung out with Iggy Pop too, he’s a fan of your music, which must feel awesome.
Gabriel: Yeah we played a show in Miami that a record store put together and he was the guest of honor. He lives in Miami too and he showed up and he watched the first couple of bands from like a private area upstairs and then we started playing and then about the third song into our set I look down and there’s Iggy Pop fucking dancing to our music. Then he would talk about liking us in different publications and then recently there was a magazine that wanted to have us interview him and him interview us so he invited us over to his house and we were so nervous and we sat down with him and within the first few seconds of talking with him, my anxiety just melted away because he’s just so sweet and down to earth.
Do you have a certain rhyme or reason when it comes to writing your songs?
Gabriel: Not really, it just comes through us. None of us are very technical players or know theory.
Diego: I feel like with music, it’s better to not know a lot because then you just get too technical and the music just ends up sounding boring.
Gabriel: Yeah and process wise, I think it’s even more exciting when you’re discovering new things while writing rather than pulling from things you already know.
Danny: I think the magic comes from just jamming together, that’s when you come up with the best stuff. Unfortunately that’s not the stuff that always gets recorded, ha but it’s good to just be in the moment and be creative with it.
JACUZZI BOY’S SUMMER PLAYLIST:
Alex Chilton – All Of The Time
Devon Williams – All I Have To Do
Nikki Sudden – Jangle Town
Ned Doheny – What Cha, Gonna Do For Me
William Onyeabor – Atomic Bomb