Who are you and where are you from?
I’m John Convertino from Calexico, living in El Paso, TX these days.
Who are your favorite artists from home?
Well…I’ve only been in Texas for half a year….but there are many artists I love from Texas, including Tom Lea, Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm, Charlie Sexton, Bob Wills and most of all Lightning Hopkins.
What’s it really like touring?
It depends on where your at in your career as a touring musician. Over here in Europe we have it pretty nice, a big bus and beautiful venues, I love it for the most part. I even loved it in a van. The hardest part for me is finding space sometimes, your cramped in a bus, cramped in small backstage rooms, cramped in planes and trains etc…. You have to get yourself out and walking or running and see the city or river or sea or walk in a park, get some air and move your body and drink lots of water.
What’s your favourite place to play?
There are many, we are playing the Paradiso tonight in Amsterdam, it’s a special place that we always love to play. More recently in the past few years we have played some amazing venues in Spain, the Victoria Theatre in San Sebastion is one. There is a little old theatre in Tucson we used to play called the Temple of Music and Art, it has the most incredible acoustics, a lot of the places we love we can’t play anymore because promoters want to put us in bigger venues.
What’s your ideal festival line-up?
Over here in Europe festivals can be much more diverse, which is always nice to see music from another country that you haven’t heard of. Ideally, I think two stages is the way to go, so that there’s not multiple bands playing at the same time, the sound at big festivals with all those bands playing at once gets so annoying and confusing, it really can zap your energy and mood.
Tell us a tour story…
When I first started drumming I learned the song ‘Roundabout’ by Yes. We were playing a festival somewhere in England and I was sitting in this tiny tent, and in walked Steve Howe pulling his wardrobe case behind him. It scared me half to death, I ran out of there, I didn’t know what to say.
What has been your biggest achievement of the year?
Well besides moving to a new house and painting all the walls cielings and trim, we wrote and recorded a new record called Edge of The Sun which was just released a few days ago.
What was the worst piece of advice you were given?
To get a home equity loan.
What do you do to relax?
At home I like to work on my 1958 Karmann Ghia, and playing piano. On the road I look forward to running everyday, besides playing it’s my favorite part of the day.
What are you reading?
I’m reading this book called Boys in a Boat about the rowing crew of 1936 from Washington State that won gold at the Olympics held in Nazi Berlin.
How about TV, anything good on the box?
Never watch it…. I did watch Olive Kittredge though, because I loved the book. The series was excellent as well.
Do you have a favourite YouTube video?
There are some great videos of my favorite artists that never have got to see live. I watch them often. Lightning Hopkins, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, Joni Mithcell and Miles Davis to name a few.
What website do you visit most?
thesamba.com and drumblog.com
What is your favourite:
Record? Monk Alone in San Francsisco
Song? ‘A Love Supreme’
Lost classic song? September Song
Record label? I love the old jazz and blues labels that gave African American artists a chance to be heard.
Who is your favourite current artist?
I really love this prepared pianist Hauschka.
A new artist that you are most excited about?
I’m really excited about the work our keyboard player Sergio Mendoza is doing, in his own band, as well as some of the projects he is involved with down in Mexico.
What was the last great gig you have seen?
Tweedy, and really enjoyed it. I’m a fan of Wilco, so it was nice to hear Jeff playing music with his son and having fun with the crowd.
What should we expect from your Irish show?
I’m hoping for some surprises…..when we surprise ourselves I think the audience is even more surprised…..having said that, you can expect some wonderful mistakes!
Calexico play in Dublin’s Olympia on May 4th, tickets are priced at €27 and available from here.