“I’ve known The Bronx since ’02 and have always been intrigued by both their sound and their demonic deconstructivist work ethic. We have interacted on various collaborative aesthetic/acoustic efforts over the years. The skate in question is the logical extrapolation of too much time spent hanging together. In the cartel’s motor home, which is affectionately known as Baked Goods, monotony inspires all and fandangos are endemic.” – CR Stecyk…
Story by Indigo Smith...
The punk band of California locals that call themselves, The Bronx, are releasing a new album, “Bronx VI”, on August 27th, via Cooking Vinyl records. The Bronx has shared four tracks out of the eleven: “White Shadow,” “Superbloom,” “Watering the Well,” and “Curb Feelers” alongside projects with various artists such as Estevan Oriol, Jeremy Dean, DABSMYLA and Brian Montuori.
Today, the fifth single, “Mexican Summer” from the album “Bronx VI” drops in collaboration with a limited edition skateboard featuring artwork by the multifaceted creator, Craig Stecyk III.
CR Stecyk is a Southern California icon responsible for much of the documentation and creation of counterculture in skateboarding and surfing and more, thanks to his photography, writing, street art, propaganda, etc…
Read on for interviews with Joby J. Ford and CR Stecyk as they discuss “Mexican Summer”, and keep an eye out for The Bronx X Stecyk skateboards at https://shop.thebronxxx.com/
The Bronx are Matt Caughthran (vocals) and Joby J. Ford (guitar), Ken Mochikoshi (guitar), Brad Magers (bass), Joey Castillo (drummer), and Mariachi El Bronx’s percussionist, Alfredo Ortiz.
JOBY J. FORD
JUICE: In what way does The Bronx song “Mexican Summer” embody and take inspiration from your alter ego band, Mariachi El Bronx?
FORD: When we were working on this song, it wasn’t really going anywhere very exciting and the parts seemed so drastically different that I was ready to dump it. We tried it a million ways and finally someone in the band said that it sounded like a mash up of both our bands. Instantly, the tune had a direction and a compass that made it easy to finish the song. When we were recording, I explained the direction to our producer (Joe Barresi) and it was his idea to use the Latin instruments that are heard throughout the track – so lots of credit to him for taking a loose idea and bringing it to life.
JUICE: You are releasing 225 limited edition skateboards featuring artwork by Craig Stecyk to coincide with the release of your song “Mexican Summer”. Who is making the skateboards and what are the dimensions and concave and wheelbase?
FORD: They are standard 8-inch popsicles. Originally, Powell Perelta was going to produce them. One of the trumpet players in our mariachi band is roommates with Mike Taylor at PP but, due to the pandemic, getting boards is like winning the lotto these days, so the owner of South Bay Skates sourced them for us – no clue how… possibly stolen?
JUICE: How does surfing and skateboarding culture influence the band?
FORD: I would say that both surfing and skateboarding had a huge effect on us as kids and still do. I still skate and my son loves to surf. Growing up in the ’80s, my life revolved around the Bones Brigade and bright neon colors and I rode everything that had “board” at the end of it. The connection that music and skateboarding has is a match made in heaven to me. Ride fast / Play fast. Seeing my favorite pros playing music, it blew my mind. Seeing skate companies release decks for bands in the same way they would release a deck for a pro, it further cemented the bond.
JUICE: You’ve collaborated with some of the heaviest hitters and artistic subversives, from Craig Stecyk to Estevan Oriol to DabsMyla, Brian Montuori, Tim Armstrong and Jeremy Dean to create art projects to accompany your music releases. Did you have a wish list of creatives that you wanted to work with or are these collaborations just natural occurrences and how did they come about?
FORD: It’s probably a little of both. First and foremost, we are incredibly lucky to have all of the people lend their talents to our band. Some we were friends with and some we reached out to. One threatened to sue us after we stole some art for a tshirt back in the day and others play music as well and we have performed together in the past.
JUICE: What was the process for putting pen to paper for the song lyrics for “Mexican Summer”? Did the music come first or the lyrics?
FORD: Music generally comes first. Matt wrote the words after we had the musical roadmap.
JUICE: How does Stecyk’s art correlate with the stark subject matter of “Mexican Summer” and how was it working with a mind like Stecyk’s?
FORD: Honestly, I knew of Craig’s work before I knew who he was. The early days of skateboarding were so branded and everyone did it differently, but no one branded like Powell, and Craig was ground zero for that company. I probably had hundreds of items that had the vato rat logo on them, and his glyphs from “Skate and Destroy ” are so recognizable and iconic that, at this point, it’s quite humbling to have him do a deck for us. I didn’t want anything else other than his glyphs. I am in love with typefaces and that one in particular is timeless to me and represents an era of skateboarding that changed the course of my life into wanting to make things that were as cool as all those old graphics. Thankfully, Craig was into that idea.
JUICE: What do you want people to know about the ideas that you wanted to get across on your new album “Bronx VI”?
FORD: Do what you want and do what makes you happy.
JUICE: What was it like having Estevan Oriol direct the music video for “Curb Feelers”? What was the best part of that experience and do you have a favorite Estevan Oriol photo?
FORD: Estevan is great. We met him in 2006 when he sent us a scorching email because we ripped off his “LA Woman” photo for a t-shirt. I remember scanning it off the cover of “Anthem Magazine” and illustrating it and never thought much about it. I had no idea who Estevan was or that he even took that photo, but the image really blew my mind. Estevan was a lot cooler to us than he could have been. At the time, Matt and I were playing in another band called the Drips and somehow through all of the email exchanges, we got him to shoot a video for us for our song “16, 16, 6” where we went down to Mexico with a Bolex camera and a ton of 16mm film. Also his dad came along to translate for us. It’s been really cool to see him climb the ladder of the arts community over the years and we always jump at the chance to work with him.
JUICE: What’s your connection with Powerplant Choppers and your relationship to the motorcycle scene?
FORD: That was all Joey C. He has been hanging around Powerplant and he is the one that rides choppers in the band. He and the owner, Yaniv Evan, have been very close for years.
JUICE: You’re releasing your music digitally and on 7-inch vinyl. Do you find that there is a separate audience for each format and could you describe the artists contributions for the vinyl releases?
FORD: Everyone in the group grew up on records. I am happy it survived all the format changes over the years. A few of the guys have pretty extensive collections, so it makes sense to us to continue to release them. We put lots of effort and thought into making each release something that is collectible and, ultimately, worth the insane price that they go for these days. Personally, I love the digital format with almost every record at your fingertips. No more lugging around Case Logic cases.
JUICE: Why is your motorhome called Baked Goods?
FORD: Its color scheme resembles most shelves in a French pastry shop.
JUICE: How was it working with Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, Coheed & Cambria) and why was he the perfect guy to produce this record?
FORD: Joe = Guitars. Bronx = Guitars. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone with more amps, pedals and guitars than him. Joe was actually supposed to produce our second record for Island Def Jam. I’m a bit cloudy on the details, but I do remember Josh Homme introduced us and we started working on tunes together in our rehearsal spot and then there was some issue with our A&R guy and him and it didn’t work out. We have kept in contact throughout the years and our schedules finally aligned and we knocked this album out in three weeks. We had a great time and I’m proud of the work we did together and hope we can do it again some day.
JUICE: After almost two decades of making music, how do you deal with burn out and idiosyncrasies within the group to keep things rolling creatively?
FORD: I would say the mariachi band kept us from losing it. Even though, at times, we would pull double duty at festivals or on tours, it was nice to put down the electric instruments for a while and break the cycle of writing, recording and touring an album. Also on the flip side of that coin, it’s nice to put away the acoustic instruments and crank up our amps again. I doubt if we didn’t have the duality between the projects, that we would still be playing music at this point.
JUICE: Do you find yourselves adopting different personality traits when you play shows as Mariachi El Bronx compared to The Bronx?
FORD: To me, it’s the exact same thing, except we look better in the mariachi band.
JUICE: Was the COVID-19 pandemic the cause of the theme of mortality on this record or was it something more?
FORD: Not really. The album was in the bag and we had a whole world tour booked and then the pandemic hit, so like most, we had to hit the pause button.
JUICE: The Bronx (@bronxovision) only follow 1 person on Instagram: Taco Bell. What are you hoping to see from the Taco Bell Instagram to the exclusion of all others?
FORD: Hopefully, our own item on the menu. We are meeting in September… fingers crossed.
JUICE: What kind of music gear and equipment do you each currently use, and what was your first guitar, bass, drum set, etc?
FORD: That list is way too long, as well as top secret, but there is a talk box somewhere in there. As far as first instruments, I studied both piano and cello in my formative years – which I thought sucked. I wanted to play drums and guitar. My grandfather took me to a music store when I was 17 and let me pick out a guitar. Based on looks alone, I chose a Washburn acoustic, which was borderline unplayable and I never put it down. I also developed some pretty bad habits trying to get sound out of that thing. I still have it and it’s been on a grip of records because it sounds insanely weird.
JUICE: Did Joey C bring a faster tempo to this album with the bionic pace of his drumming?
FORD: Joey is great. All of us are on the same page and the songs sound killer when he hits the gas.We are having a pretty good time.
JUICE: You are going out on tour with Rancid and Dropkick Murphys. What are you expecting out on the road as compared to touring before the pandemic and what are you looking forward to about playing out again?
FORD: Honestly, I really don’t know. I feel like it’s gonna be extremely familiar while being extremely foreign at the same time due to new safety precautions, but I do hope we all get to cross the finish line together on this one.
JUICE: Artwork often identifies a band. How have you used the art that you have created for the band and your album covers to bring your messages to the masses?
FORD: First off – quick shout out to my band for letting me make the covers. From an early age, album covers were really important to me. Every time I would play a record, I would pour over the liner notes with a fine tooth comb, read the lyrics and memorize what every member looked like from the photos and I would kinda make these little music videos in my head of what the band looked and played like live (which was never anywhere close when I eventually saw the band), but writing a song and making a cover is almost the exact same process to me – type + image = music + words. I see no difference other than the medium as I (we) wrestle to get them to work together. I constantly try and simplify both – that’s the common thread I think – it’s super easy for me to make both unnecessarily complicated and I’m constantly working on making things translate better, be more simple and work better together without all the fodder. Sometimes when I do art or make a song, it’s like having a moustache in junior high… just because you can grow one doesn’t mean that you should.
JUICE: What’s unique about the Bronx VI album in comparison to the previous The Bronx albums?
FORD: New tunes, new drummer, new producer = new fire. All of the albums we have made are special to me in some way shape or form. They all take me right back to where I was when we were making them… the emotions, the relationships, the ups and downs, the cities I lived in, the friends I had, the inspiration behind songs etc… They all kinda feel like my sonic children and I love them all equally.
JUICE: How does the need for catharsis fuel your art and your music?
FORD: It’s probably one of the few things that makes sense to me. I love the process, the problem solving, and the feeling of climbing a mountain when these things finally make it out into the world.
JUICE: After 19 years as a band, what are some of your future plans?
FORD: I hope we get to keep going. I have no plans of stopping. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have played my instruments and to design album covers for 20 years. I hope it never stops as those two things truly make me happy. Traveling the world with my homies playing tunes and seeing my work on other bands albums, it’s the best to me.
JUICE: How did you get to know The Bronx?
STECYK: I’ve known The Bronx since ’02 and have always been intrigued by both their sound and their demonic deconstructivist work ethic. We have interacted on various collaborative aesthetic/acoustic efforts over the years. The skate in question is the logical extrapolation of too much time spent hanging together. In the cartel’s motor home, which is affectionately known as Baked Goods, monotony inspires all and fandangos are endemic.
JUICE: What skateboards are in your personal collection these days?
STECYK: There’s no collection per se. I am involved in ongoing development projects with Paul Schmitt and I just make up boards from pieces in the discard pile. Choice cut offs!
JUICE: Did Joby Ford’s existing relationship with art make it easier to collaborate with The Bronx on this project of making graphics for the band’s skateboard?
STECYK: It didn’t hurt! Ford’s greatest motivational skill is that he uses Pavlovian conditioning on you. Ergo: “No art equals no ride out to Curtis Novak’s for custom wound gold foil pickups.”
JUICE: What are your thoughts about the Bronx “Mexican Summer” song and The Bronx contributions to the punk rock scene and Mariachi music?
STECYK: Maintaining a groove for 19 plus years is an accomplishment. I have also toured with other Bronx permutations such as Pounded By The Surf and the Drips and those variant lineups kill too. The proto El Bronx gig at Safari Sam’s was over-the-top epic. Shortly thereafter, I attended their first official headliner at The No Tell Motel in Surf City, which generated so much excitement that the Huntington Beach PD arrived to clear out the crowd. And the band kept playing throughout. Conjuncto Norteno Del Sur horn crescendos serenaded the cops. Meanwhile next door to the Notel, the resident oil pump kept on sucking up dinosaur juice.
JUICE: How does the Bronx skateboard artwork and transitional fade of colors reflect your interest in auto body painting techniques?
STECYK: It’s fairly direct as I utilized a vintage 1936 Sharpe model 25 automotive spray gun, which I inherited from an ancestor, to lay down the hues. As a lad in LA my family would go downtown to their factory on Wall Street to rummage about. It was tremendously informative to see the equipment being made to order.
The Bronx board was painted using old school heated lacquer with an accelerator mixed in. The goal was to float fog it in a hot booth and have the paint particles dry just as they landed on the surface of the blank. Aerosol pointillism creates a really active surface visually.
JUICE: What is your preferred choice of paint to use in your art projects?
STECYK: Off the shelf: I prefer the Spanish Montana 94 as they offer variable pressures, oil and water bases as well as different finishes and effects paints. If I’m mixing colors I like old stock DuPont Duco lacquer. My DuPont manuals have all the colors and the component formulations for the different years. My recent pieces were achieved using only pre war hues that were mixed in accordance to the factory recipes.
JUICE: Fat caps or thin caps? Which do you lean towards when you’re creating a skateboard graphic versus poster art?
STECYK: New York Fats, Long Snoot Needle Caps .6, Variable valve chisel tips, Clear Universal .7 caps.
STECYK: I try and avoid conversations involving those three lettered words as they invariably promote conflict. ART, GOD, MOM, DAD, CIA and the KGB are all problematic subjects. Besides, the fact that I have participated in a couple of hundred international exhibitions conclusively proves that I know nothing about art.
RE: Music and Surfing and Skating
STECYK: The global telecast of the inaugural debut of Olympic Skateboarding featured the Faction’s “Skate and Destroy” which is very provocative. Melee songs immortalized Hawaii’s legendary swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku as far back as 1912. S.K. Bright and Sol Ho’opii had a major hit recording honoring Duke in 1935. In addition to his athletic prowess the man also ran a popular night cub, gas stations, produced lines of Aloha shirts and was elected Sheriff of Honolulu. It is important to further note that Kahanamoku manufactured numerous surfboards and skateboards. So music has long been intrinsic to the proceedings of surf and skate culture. Keep in mind that Duke also lobbied for the inclusion of surfing into the Olympics in 1912.
STECYK: I’ve been involved in shenanigans with Danny Gatton, Dennis Dragon, Billy F. Gibbons, Zach dela Rocha, Jon Theodore, Lol Crème, Otis Bartholomew, Dennis Wilson, J. Masics, Jan Berry & Dean Torrance, Dick Dale, Eric Clapton, Mike and Julian Ness and Kevin Ancell. All are players and each had an interest in surf/skate ethos. Jimmy O’Mahoney founder of the USSA is in a band with Seymour Duncan the sonic tycoon. Jim Fitzpatrick who was the first Makaha team rider also made the 1969 Beach Boys Surfing at Point Conception film. Zimmy Ganzer is another acoustically adept type. He was the Makaha Team manager who first signed on Squeak Blank and the Logan Brothers. (The former was on my little league team.) Ganzer in later years also set up deals with Ry Cooder, Johnny Ray Bartel and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
THE BRONX UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
with Dropkick Murphys and Rancid:
August 10 Waite Park, MN The Ledge Amphitheater
August 11 Kansas City, MO Grinders
August 13 Lincoln, NE Lincoln on the Streets
August 14 Wichita, KS Wave
August 15 Sauget, IL Pop’s Outside
August 17 Washington, PA Wild Things Park
August 18 Cincinnati, OH The ICON Festival Stage at Smale Park
August 20 Gilford, NH Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
August 21 Worcester, MA The Palladium Outdoors
August 22 Lewiston, NY Artpark Amphitheater
August 23 Columbus, OH Express Live!
August 25 Richmond, VA Virginia Credit Union Live!
August 27 Asbury Park, NJ Stone Pony Summerstage
August 28 New York, NY Forest Hills Stadium
August 31 Philadelphia, PA Skyline Stage @ Mann Music Center
September 1 Bridgeport, CT Hartford Health Care Amphitheater
September 27 Corpus Christi, TX Concrete Street Amphitheatre
September 28 Grand Prairie, TX Texas Trust CU Theatre
September 29 Oklahoma City, OK The Zoom Amphitheatre
October 1 Denver, CO Mission Ballroom Outdoors
October 2 Sandy, UT U of U Health Plaza Rio Tinto Stadium
October 4 Nampa, ID Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
October 5 Seattle, WA WAMU Theater
October 7 Palo Alto, CA Frost Amphitheater
October 9 Santa Ana, CA Observatory OC Festival Grounds
October 10 San Diego, CA Gallagher Square at Petco Park
October 12 Mesa, AZ Mesa Amphitheatre
October 13 Paso Robles, CA Vina Robles Amphitheatre
October 15 Las Vegas, NV Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
October 16 Los Angeles, CA Shrine LA Outdoors
September 18 Chicago, IL Riot Fest
September 25 Las Vegas, NV Punk Rock Bowling