LOS STRAITJACKETS at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Saturday (July 7). $8.50. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
LOS STRAITJACKETS at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Saturday (July 7). $8.50. 416-598-4753.
maybe it's just a coincidence, but soon after Los Straitjackets released their surfed-up cover version of My Heart Will Go On (the theme from Titanic), Celine Dion announced she was leaving the stage. Admittedly, it's pretty far-fetched to think that the nutty instro-mentalists' cleverly twanged-up reinvention of the tune had anything to do with Dion's decision to put down the microphone.
But it's heartening to imagine that Dion could've heard the song and, realizing she'd been soundly trounced, decided to retire rather than deal publicly with the shame of being outdone by a bunch of guitar-gouging geeks in Mexican wrestling masks.
"We're reluctant to take full credit for Celine Dion's retirement," deadpans guitarist Eddie Angel. "But the day after we appeared on Conan O'Brien's show doing the song, she made the announcement. So who knows?
"Initially, covering that song struck me as a horrible idea, but I think it turned out pretty good. And the concept of doing songs off the charts sits well within the tradition of instrumental bands.
"We started playing it before our Velvet Touch Of Los Straitjackets (Yep Roc) came out, and you could tell by the look on people's faces that it sounded familiar to them but they just couldn't place it. Once it finally clicks, everybody really gets into it. That's one of our big songs now."
Lately, the secretive Los Straitjackets have been spotted sneaking around recording studios with -- dare I say it? -- singers. Yes, instrumental fans, it's true. Los Straitjackets are going full-on vocal for their next album, tentatively titled Sing Along With Los Straitjackets and due out in September.
"Because we're an instrumental band, we always try to come up with something new for each record. We'd done a version of Freddy Fender's Que Mala with Big Sandy for a single five years ago, and that worked out well, so we thought, "Why not try it with some other people?'
"So we're doing I'll Go Down Swinging with Exene, which I think she found on a Porter Wagoner record. Allison Moorer does a Waylon Jennings song called I Ain't The One in a southern soul style, and there's a lot of other folks involved, like Raul Malo from the Mavericks, Dave Alvin, El Vez, Nick Lowe and Lee Nash from Sixpence None the Richer."
Country stars singing soul ballads on a Los Straitjackets record? Is nothing sacred? There's going to be trouble in surf circles. What's next, the masks?
"We don't consider ourselves a surf band. We're a rock and roll band that happens to play instrumentals, and we'll keep doing the music we like.
"We'll never take off the masks. If we did, we'd just be another band playing instrumental music that people would ignore." @@@@@