Chagall Guevara MCA Press Release

January 1991

Chagall Guevara is not a person. In fact, the two opposing surnames have no relation to one another except to serve as the crowning moniker for a group of Nashville-based rockers who are as different as they are alike. Throughout their self-titled MCA Records debut album, this tribe of five -- Steve Taylor (lead vocals), Dave Perkins (Les Paul guitar, vocals), Lynn Nichols (Rickenbacker guitar, vocals), Wade Jaynes (bass) and Mike Mead (drums) -- recall the intense spirit of the Clash one moment and charge into a raging fusion of pop and psychedlia the next. Their lyrics often unfold like left of center, provocative literature.

...all of us Neros fanning ourselves
damp with the sweat of regret
just killing time with our eyes ot the skies
waiting on science, our saviour...

"Murder In the Big House"

Chagall Guevara is one of those albums that challenges listeners to think as it invites them on a fascinating journey of sounds and images, revealing new elements each time through. The source points in Chagall Guevara's music are many.

"Most bands are drawn together liking the same music from the same era," says Taylor. "With this band, we're all drawing from a lot of different wells. Lynn knows '60s psychedelia. Dave has a wealth of influences from early to mid '70s bands. Myself, I don't remember anything before London Calling."

...through the passing strange I fell
to the wide-eyed opposite
my agenda was hidden well
now I don't know where I left it
I woke up in Escher's World today
my mother said it was OK...

"Escher's World"

Each member of Chagall Guevara has previously made a mark on his own. Their intersecting backgrounds include success as solo artists, session musicians, and independent record label executive. They also hail from different geographic regions. Nichols arrived from Upstate New York via Los Angeles. Perkins is a musical product of the Greenwich Village/Soho scene. Taylor clings to his Denver roots, hoping to offset five jaded years in Greater Hollywood. Mead still mentally vacations in his hometown near the Canadian border, and Jaynes wisely returned to his Nashville birthplace after experimenting with starvation in Burbank.

Why Nashville? "We wanted a place to develop without the influence of the New York and L.A. music business," says Nichols, "and soon after arriving, we began to experience some interesting things in our writing." Perkins adds, "We found that our approach to music is similar to the Southern Gothic style of writing: a semi-freakish mentality and religious sensibility, with a fairly distorted view of the abnormalities of existence."

...Creep Quasimodo
Yeah, I am a likely target
sure, I'll play the part
born with the face of an old DeSoto...

"I Need Somebody"

After mapping out their debut album with demos recorded in their home studio -- a 24-track facility rigged up inside a 1948 Flexible bus parked in Perkins' backyard -- final tracks were recorded with producer Matt Wallace (The Replacements, Faith No More) at the Bennett House, an old Victorian Mansion 20 miles from Nashville. Sprawled out through the spacious rooms, Chagall Guevara and Wallace were intent on making a record "that sounded wonderfully peculiar." Says Perkins. "We knew from the start that we could use the house's unique sonic ambience and not change it with devices like digital reverb."

Wallace liked the band's preference for "first takes." Taylor recalls, "We did that a lot of times, on everything from vocals to instrumentals for solos. It was like, 'You got an idea? Fine. Go for it. But you've only got one time to get it right. Or get it wrong.'"

No song illustrates this recording ethic better than "Play God." While wondering whether the band could afford to hire a horn section, Nichols reluctantly volunteered that he had played trumpet in the seventh grade, to which Taylor confessed he'd been a first-string 'boneman in high school. Perkins, who once owned a harmonica, led the way to the neighborhood music store, where horns and harp were rented for the afternoon. In the spirit of the project, there were no rehearsals, and the magic of the moment was captured in the first few takes.

Perhaps it's that trait the group describes as "suicidal self-sufficiency" that pushes Chagall Guevara forward and makes their live show a must-see experience. In the words of Sid Vicious, "All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy." In the words of Chagall Guevara, "We want to make intelligent music and play it like mindless fools."