Getting to Know... Davila 666
Members: Carlito Davila (vocals, bass), AJ Davila (bass, vocals, piano), GiGi Davila (guitar), Johnny Otis Davila (guitar), The Latin Snake (drums), and Panda Davila (tambourine, maracas)
Album: Tan Bajo
For fans of: The Ramones, Menudo, The Black Lips
Davila 666 is more than just a Puerto Rican garage rock band. These guys are masters of making rock ‘n’ roll fun. On Tan Bajo, their latest, you can hear traces of girl groups, swamp blues, doo wop, power pop and ‘60s garage—and then they put the spook on it. The record is full of creepy voices buried beneath fuzzed-out rhythm guitars and fiendish vocals. (You don’t just adopt the name “Davila 666” without throwing some spooky shit in there.) But the most impressive thing about Tan Bajo isn’t its creepiness— it’s the hooks. The Davilas (surnamed a’la the “brothers” Ramone) have perfected the art of catchy songs. Now, they’re ready to show off those songs over two months of touring across the U.S. Paste spoke with singer/bassist Carlito Davila about the album, the tour and the unholy wedding of rap and rock.
Paste: When did you record these songs?
Carlito Davila: The record was recorded in May. We recorded some more stuff after that that will be out later in the year.
Paste: You already have more material that you’re planning on releasing this year?
Davila: Yeah. There’s more stuff that In The Red has put away for a little later in the year. I think it’ll be something just for the label. I think it’ll be an EP, probably. There’s nine songs. I guess that’s an album. It’s a short album; let’s say that. We sent Larry [Hardy] from In The Red a bunch of songs. We were going to take what’s left over and make some 45s, but Larry wanted to use all of them this time. He liked them a lot.
Paste: There’s one song on the record, “Yo Seria Otro,” that sounds like a girl-group song. Do you guys listen to that stuff?
Davila: Yeah, man. I’m heavy into that shit, man. That’s exactly what I had in my head when AJ, the bassist, came up with the bassline. Right away, that sort of melody came up in my head for that song. Yeah, it’s really supposed to sound like that—like some girl group, Phil Spector shit.
Paste: The album’s title translates to “so low,” correct?
Davila: Yeah, like “so low” in the sense of “lowlife,” I guess, but also in the sense of when you’re not feeling awesome and you feel low. [laughs] You know, something like that.
Paste: So, it’s sad, lowlife music?
Davila: Yeah, pretty much. It’s music to make sad lowlifes happy.
Paste: I love that a lot of writers have picked up your MySpace description of “Sounds Like: Menudo on lots of drugs.” Are you guys cool with that becoming your unofficial tagline?
Davila: Yeah, yeah! If you’re a person who knows what Menudo sounded like in the ‘70s and the early ’80s, we have songs that are really similar to that. Most of our songs. It’s really hooky. Everything’s a hook. It’s obviously more fucked up than that. But in real life, Menudo was more fucked up; they had all kinds of crazy shit happening to them. But music-wise, it sounds like a real strung-out Menudo.
Paste: I’ve also read people who said “Puerto Rican Black Lips.” Is that weird for you guys to read?
Davila: It’s weird. The Black Lips are our friends, you know? But they can tell you as well as we can tell you: We don’t sound alike. We do kind of the same thing where we take from the ‘60s and punk. But I’m not offended. It would be funny if someone wrote an article about them and said, “They sound like the American Davila 666.”
Paste: You’ve got a lot of singles out on a lot of great labels. Are there any labels you’d like to release stuff on?
Davila: Yeah, we’d like to put something on Goner Records; we really like Goner Records a lot. And Trouble In Mind; they’re from Chicago, they put out really good 7-inches. As far as new labels, we’d like to put out something on a label that’s not necessarily a garage label. If there’s anybody from an underground, independent label, even an independent hip-hop label… Because we do make a lot of songs with sample drums.
Paste: Would you ever want to collaborate with an MC?
Davila: Not on a song. [laughs] I have a strong thing against mixing rap music and rock music.
Paste: You’re against the historic merger of Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith?
Davila: Yeah, man. I didn’t like it when it came out, either. And everything I hear that’s trying to fusion those two things together, it freaks me out.
Paste: Like all that Lil Wayne and Travis Barker stuff?
Davila: Oh man, that shit is horrible. Lil Wayne shouldn’t do any rock. Lil Wayne should rap. Anybody who says that he doesn’t [make great rap music] isn’t listening. But anybody who says he can make great rock music good isn’t listening, either. He’s really bad at that.
Paste: Any other plans?
Davila: I’ve got some side projects that I’d like to put out some singles, too. I’ve got a side project called The Oil Sheiks, and I’d like to put that out on some sort of label. Other people in the band, like GiGi and The Latin Snake have this other band called Ardillas, and they have an album coming out in a month or two. And if you’re having a really kick ass house party and you want us to play your house party, please call us, pay for our plane tickets, and we’ll play it for free, man. We just wanna play a fuckin’ house party.