The Austin singer/songwriter named artist of the decade by No Depression magazine comes blazing back with the aggressively rockin’ Real Animal (Back Porch/Virgin) disc, an amped-up salute to his glam-rock and punk roots that he’ll be showcasing at the Mod Club Monday (July 7). $18.50. 416-870-8000, myspace.com/alejandroescovedo.
Real Animal sounds like it was inspired by Iggy & the Stooges, T-Rex, David Bowie and the New York Dolls. What brought about this change in direction from your twangy introspective stuff?
It wasn’t some teenage rebellion against the music of our parents, for me at least. It was more like a strange kinship I felt with the music I knew from my youth. When I first heard the Kinks doing songs like You Really Got Me, they sounded like a Chicano band for some reason. And there was a connection between the glam look and the costumes I saw the mariachis wearing. It all made sense to me.
Why did you work with Chuck Prophet on the new album? Was Linda Perry busy with Courtney Love?
I actually tried to write with people other than Chuck Prophet – not because I wanted to, but once the people at my label found out I was interested in collaborating, they tried setting me up with some alt-country songwriters, people I respect but not people who grew up having similar experiences and influences as me.
Apart from being a fantastic songwriter and an excellent guitarist, Chuck comes from Orange County like me and had also been a surfer. Even though he’s a couple of years younger, his older sisters were going to the same parties, dances and concerts as me. Besides our similar backgrounds, we both enjoy telling stories, so when we get together we’re always trying to one-up each other with crazy anecdotes about bands, clothes and funny things that happen. We tape these sessions on a hand-held recorder, and in between the fits of laughter we find these bits and pieces of stories that we turn into songs.
The decision to have Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T-Rex) produce the album was brilliant. What happened with Glyn Johns?
The deeper we got into the sessions with Glyn Johns, the more we realized it wasn’t going to work. I’m not trying to put him down, but we really needed a producer who was a musician to make this album, and Tony Visconti, besides being an amazing piano player and arranger, knew exactly what it would take to get the band where it needed to be to bring these songs to life.
For someone so connected with the guitar, it’s interesting that you’re not wielding an axe on your most flat-out rockin’ recording in ages. What’s up with that?
That was a conscious decision to focus on my song delivery. And not playing the guitar has been very liberating for me onstage, allowing me to concentrate on telling the stories and move around more, too. I’m no Iggy Pop, though, and you won’t see me doing any stage-diving – the crowd would part and I’d end up splattered on the floor.
Your recent tour opening for the Dave Matthews Band seemed like an odd pairing. Did you have anything thrown at you by his fans?
Thankfully, no. But if they had thrown stuff, I’m sure it would’ve been recyclable. Dave was very gracious and came out each night to introduce me to his audience. I’d love to do more shows with them.