Glazed and Amused:
Jacuzzi Boys Got Ya Covered
Florida, especially south Florida, is largely out on its own, as far as any sort of happening music scene. A lot of bands don’t route their tours down there, and it’s a haul for south Florida bands to tour out of there. Subsequently, many people with ambitions to play original music at any sort of level beyond the local beach bar tend to relocate to other places further inland. There are tons of ex-Floridians in the Atlanta scene, for instance.
Heck, when Jacuzzi Boys first started playing around Atlanta, I sort of mistakenly assumed they were from here, since they gigged here so often. But they’re not, even though they fit in with our goofy little scene quite snugly. No, they’re from Miami, and damned proud of it.
“There’s not many things to do in Miami, but then once you know what to do, it’s, like, awesome,” testifies drummer Diego Monasterios from the trio’s van as they pass the phone around while motoring from Miami to Tallahassee, the first stop on their current tour. “I could never see myself leaving Miami. It’s home for me.”
“Also, I think, as a band, Jacuzzi Boys are really coming from Miami,” adds bassist Danny Gonzalez. “Like if we moved to Chicago right now, obviously it’s not like we wouldn’t be able to write songs anymore, but I just think it’s a very unique-to-Miami situation. It comes from there; it’s very much about that… Talking about animals and…references to the climate, and just the sort of isolation. I think all that plays a role in the songwriting and the overall identity of the band. It’s kind of constant heat here, and Miami is one of the few cities that you can buy drinks seven days a week, any time of day or night. The bars don’t really close – they close at five in the morning, and then you can go somewhere else if you wanted to. It’s this kind of like 24-hour isolated party. And the Everglades are nearby, and so you’re essentially in a swampland. Alligators in people’s back yards, and where we practice there’s like raccoons running around and possums and snakes and shit. We’re all Hispanic, living in Miami – it’s just kind of unique unto itself. It’s definitely unlike any other place that we’ve been to.”
But just because Jacuzzi Boys pride themselves on representin’ Miami, they’re far from a modern Miami musical stereotype. In other words, it’s not dance-club DJs or salsa moves that inspire them musically, but largely ’70s punk and rock ‘n’ roll. They sound like what you might expect (or wish) the daily soundtrack to a cool, mid-70s high school to sound like – or at least what got played at the weekend parties. Realistically, the number of high schoolers cranking up the Ramones and MC5 and Flamin’ Groovies at parties in the ’70s is likely negligible at best. But it’s fun to fantasize about.
Diego, 25, and guitarist/vocalist Gabriel Alcala in fact met at a high school party. “The cops came and broke up the party– it ended up in a huge fight,” Gabriel, now 26, remembers. “And I kinda got stuck with nowhere to sleep that night, and no ride. And so I ended up sleeping over at [Diego’s] house. And the next morning his mom cooked us arepas, which is like Venezuelan breakfast food. And we’ve been friends ever since!”
They first encountered Danny, 30, via similar means. “Our friend Rydel, who’s kind of like our friend, tour manager, spiritual guide and maniac, we met Danny through him, just like drinking and partying,” says Gabriel. Drinking and partying. They make things happen. It’s the Miami way.
Before they invited Danny along, Jacuzzi Boys had started in 2007 with just Gabriel and Diego. They’d always talked about starting a band, and once Gabriel acquired a guitar, Diego wasted little time in getting a drum set. The Jacuzzi Boys were born. Neither of them had ever played before. But they knew what they wanted to do.
Alcala: “I guess a real pivotal moment in getting into punk rock was watching this DVD…. We’d heard of this band before but we never really got into them, and we found a DVD of a documentary on the New York Dolls. And we literally just like watched it 50 times. I think it was called All Dolled Up. We were so blown away…”
That’s funny because I have that DVD, and when it came out I tried to watch it with this girl I was seeing at the time, and she decided she hated the band so much I had to turn it off. But I digress…
“We just started covering songs and stuff in [Diego’s] room. Trying to record stuff we would come up with,” continues Gabriel. “Garage songs, rock ‘n’ roll songs. Ramones stuff. Stooges…”
Bringing it all full circle, Iggy Pop himself, now a Miami resident, would later sing the praises of the Jacuzzi Boys after catching one of their shows in a Miami club.
“Yeah, that was pretty freaky,” describes Alcala. “He was like hanging out, and then he came to the front and started doing some of his weird, spazzy, Iggy dance moves. That was totally a trip! We talked to him for a bit. He was hanging out with his wife. I was blown away by how short he was! Your idols, you think you’re going to look up at them in real life.” On the other hand, Gabriel stands around six-foot tall, so he’s going to look down on most folks, idols or not.
Jacuzzi Boys came to Atlanta’s Living Room studio to record their debut album, No Seasons (as in, summer year-round, constant heat). Tracked in Michigan, the brand new Glazin’ exhibits noticeably fuller production and a wider variety of songs, while thankfully retaining the group’s carefree, fun-loving spirit. They comfortably fit in with this trend in garage rock lately toward easygoing, sunshiny, reverby vibes – girls and boys and dumb fun in the sun. I ask Diego if he thinks it’s a reaction against anything, or just some natural progression.
“I think everybody just wants to have a good time, and young kids are realizing that’s what we’ve gotta do. That we can play music and hang out and have fun and meet up friends every once in a while in a different place. Beach party fun. Yeah, let’s do it! I think it’s natural for us. What are we going to write about other than beaches and partying and sun and stuff like that? It’s our surroundings.”
So what does glazin’ mean?
“Well,” Monasterios answers, “it has a bunch of different definitions. We searched it up on the internet after we had already come up with that [term], and I think it’s, um, it’s when a bunch of guys blow off on a chick, ha ha ha! And there’s a cooking term for it, but that’s not how we use it. For us, it was just like, ‘Oh, I’m hanging out. Just glazin’.’ Kicking back. That’s how we saw it. But yeah, there could be different ways. I guess if you wanna use it in a triple-X way, then you can use it in a triple-X way. We just choose to use it in our way.”
Speaking of, I think the porn industry is pretty big in Miami, second only to L.A. There’s probably lots of glazin’ going on down there.
“Yeah, it’s huge. I actually have a couple friends that work for a porn website,” says Diego. “Like, we’ve hung out at a bunch of places, and they’ve brought porn stars…I don’t know if they’re actually porn stars, but chicks that do porn…they’ve brought ’em out, and they’ve hung out, and my friend has told us, ‘Oh, yeah, she’s doing a shoot tomorrow.’ It’s just weird. I think the chick that they brought out, if you wanted to check her out, is Christy Marks.”
Hey, maybe she was getting glazed the next day. Seems like the Jacuzzi Boys could work out some sort of cross-promotional campaign there somewhere. Have their friends ever invited them to a porn shoot?
“No, no, no. But in Miami, for people who need quick cash, you can go and be like a…what’s it called? You can be in the background, and they give you a hundred and fifty bucks. I know people that do it, but I’ve never done anything.
Currently, none of the Jacuzzi Boys are holding down jobs back in Miami. They just tour their asses off. “But lately we’re like, ‘I wanna get a job. At least for a little bit,'” reveals Diego. “And so me and Gabriel, we were like, ‘Well, we’ll go through Craigslist, and check out what jobs we can get, part time jobs,’ and we actually went through the worst interviews and experiences! I went to apply at like a bar, and it ended up being a gay bar, which I was fine with – I would’ve worked at a gay bar. But right after my interview, the guy tells me, ‘Okay, well just go ahead and stand against this wall, and remove all your clothes, I gotta take pictures of you.’ I freaked out! I was like, ‘This is not happening!’ I was applying for a barback job, so I didn’t know why they needed to get me butt-naked right there. He pulled out a Polaroid camera, and I was like, ‘Really??’ I just stood up and walked away. I also applied at a catering company that only caters to funeral homes. But they didn’t want me. We’ve all had really bad experiences when it comes to getting jobs, It’s becoming more and more like, ‘I hope this band thing works, or we’re doomed!'”
With that, they pull up to a Subway to eat fresh, so I wind things up, telling Gabriel they seem like they’d be a fun band to ride around and tour with. How do the Jacuzzi Boys amuse themselves on the road?
“Rydel farts a lot,” he laughs. (See, this is high school.) “It’s pretty amusing, because they’re incredibly smelly. Every single fart is as surprising as the last one. It’s literally amazing. Someone should do research on his body.
“Other than that, we talk about girls.”
Photo by Ivan Santiago.