THESE GUYS ROCK. THEIR CAUSES AND SOCIAL INVOLVEMENTS ARE REALLY COOL. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THEY CAN MAKE YOU SHAKE. THIS BAND IS HUGE. JUST ABOUT EVERY TYPE OF INSTRUMENT IS REPRESENTED IN SOME FORM. MY FAVORITE PART OF THEIR PERFORMANCE IS TWO FOLD: I LIKE HOW THEY TRADE INSTRUMENTS BETWEEN MEMBERS AND I DIG HOW THEY EXIT THROUGH THE CROWD, WHILE STILL PLAYING. THAT IS WHAT LANDED A FEW OF THEM IN AUSTIN JAIL DURING LAST YEAR’S SXSW. THAT SITUATION CAUSED NO ILL FEELINGS FROM THEM TOWARDS AUSTIN. IN FACT, THEY RECIEVED ALOT OF SUPPORT DUE TO THE INCIDENT. THEY WILL ALWAZE STOP THROUGH TOWN WHEN THEY CAN.
YOU CAN CATCH THEM AT THE PARAMOUNT AS PART OF THE AUSTIN WINTER NIGHTS SHOWCASE ON JANUARY 29TH, 2005 .
WE SHARED THESE WORDS WITH TWO MEMBERS OF THE BAND AT STUBBS BEFORE THEY PLAYED.
INT BY R&W
TRANCRIBED BY JOBETH, JBLUNT & R
AD: What does the band’s name mean?
O: Ozomatli is an Aztec word. It literally means monkey and it’s the character on the Aztec calendar that means dance, fire, passion, and it was the birth sign of the original drummer and he told us the name and when we found out what it meant and we liked it and kinda made sense. It just seemed like something that made sense for us as what our energy was about and the differences that we have. It was cool.
AD: I’m sure it’s a question ya’ll get asked all the time but how do ya’ll fell about coming back to Austin after what happened at South by Southwest?
O: We love coming to Austin, you know it’s never been a thing… That incident that happened at South by Southwest is completely separate from any of our other experiences here and we see the difference between the city and the police department versus Austin being a great music town and one that’s always been accepting of our music and supportive of it so, that’s never really come in our question like aarrgh we shouldn’t go back there. That was never a point. We’ll keep coming back here.
AD: Did it bring positive commotion?
O: Any time anybody gets arrested it is not fun, and I guess it is definitely a learning experience you know life and yourself and the way things work.
: like you said the city was totally behind us, that is something that is cool.
We were walking around handing out shirts and people were just like “Hey”! Everyone seemed to know about what happened and locals and people who were visiting as well. It was just a trip the amount of support there was for the band. It feel really good. That was the most positive thing to come out of that.
AD: I guess the big question is will you be back during South by Southwest.
O: I don’t know. If they ask us to, we will have to decide at that time if we can or not. If we don’t it won’t be because of that incident.
I don’t think we would make a decision based on that “incident”. It would only be because we have some other thing in another part of the world or something. It wouldn’t be because of the police.
In fact we’d probably want to do it because of that.
If you know anything about our history you know we’ve always been involved in community activism and we played at the DMZ and we march at anti-police brutality marches every October whenever we’re in Los Angeles. So we are always up for getting out there and being with people. Supporting and being active. So we might want to come back to play South by Southwest.
AD: What do you think about the current political climate? Like now that Bush got another four years do you think..
O: I don’t it changes anything. I don’t think that if Kerry was in office it would have changed anything in reality anyway. All the people that got excited about what’s going on in the world. I know, it’s like, I hope it encourages them to go out and continue doing good work that has to get done anyway regardless of who is voted into office. I don’t think it really would have made a difference anyway. Those are all external things. The real change comes from, without sounding cheesy, but the real change comes from inside that’s were the real change happens. I don’t know if it makes any difference really.
It’s a bummer right now, the intensity of the war has gone up in the last few days and that of course, is something you know, it’s a real fucking drag. I was watching the news and they were gonna show Saving Private Ryan and they cancelled it. It was supposed to be on ABC or some regular station like that and they cancelled it because they didn’t want to show the graphicness of the conflict. That’s pretty weird because that is really what is happening. A bomb goes off! And you know if it’s not in your own backyard… It’s almost like the American message you know if it’s not in your own back yard then don’t worry about it. It’s all good. That’s the message that I get. That’s not the way war works. It’s a real thing and real peoples lives are getting fucked up and real people are dying. That’s not right.
AD: What do you think about the merging of morality and politics?
O: I think it’s a real, I mean its funny because you know everything is just played on you can’t really get into this thing…There is an article today in the paper here I think it was the Chronicle and there was a letter by John Sales and it first started out with you know Thou shall not steal or kill; and these are the moral things people are trying to come up with, but this is what people are actually doing, they are ripping off each other. People who have real close ties to the government are making a lot of money off of our backs.
AD: So there’s a shifting of morality.
O: That‘s the way politics is played. You play these phases out but really there not being it’s not about really living up to this. This is about using it for some kind of front. It’s not really true. They’re killing people, ripping each other off, big businesses is ripping off tax payers, but you know there’s millions of ways you can look at it. So the moral issue it’s just bullshit that people are like wrapped up in it because they think that….. I don’t know why anyone would fuck’n buy it.
AD: There isn’t really a separation of church and state.
O: The moral thing to do would be to go over there (IRAQ) and say “What does everyone really need here to rebuild this situation?” The amount of money we are spending, it could probably be a whole different situation if we were spending that amount of money helping people. If you want people to be on your side you don’t throw grenade’s at them!
I think religion has always been a part of politics and power. At one point religion was the political power. Even in the US, to a certain extent, it has always been there and it’s just the facades are crumbling now and they are being more blatant about it. I don’t think it’s really different now than ever, it was just done more behind closed doors.
AD: What do you thinking about the Electoral College?
O: Me personally I don’t even have much criticism towards the Electoral College. I think it’s systemic, like overall, there’s not enough people outside of the general sphere of that power that have a different view who are powerful enough themselves to really have enough impact. If Kerry had won I think things would be different, but not enough. It wouldn’t be enough to placate me. A lot of people I know, they’re not really into Kerry either. They are kinda like he’s boring. He’s not dynamic he’s not able to connect he’s not really saying anything. He’s not passionate. He’s not very inspirational.
That’s how I voted. It was an anti-Bush vote. I justified it because this time I understand what’s going on and we got g to get this mother fucker out of here. So I’m going to give the anti-Bush vote. I saw Leonard Peltier and I went, you know, that’s a real choice. But I didn’t go that way. I went along with the crowd and went anti-Bush.
AD: How has the band changed since you signed on with Concord?
O: Since we have been at Concord, I don’t think our label or any particular show might have an effect on or change the music we make. I know that being with Concord that they are an independent, a true independent and that we are a bigger fish there as opposed to being a small fish in a big pond. We are a big fish in a small pond, which is much better for us than being with a major label like Interscope. You have certain needs and you want the label that you are on to be into your music and to be promoted instead of being put on the shelf. So other than that our music creation I think we are always working at it and a lot of it is about our interpersonal relationship and how we get along as a band. That’s always something we are working on. We are always trying at some point trying to get to that. I think when we are all on the same page we make good music
and even when we are not on the same page sometimes.
Yeah, that’s true. But that is one of our goals is always trying to get to that deal you know of being able to communicate and understand where everyone is. Those external things, I don’t know I’m sure they do have an effect on our lives but I don’t know how much.
AD: Do you think your activism causes people to have certain vision of your band?
O: Political involvements or our relationships with other groups may have lost us some gigs I don’t know…..
I think we are banned in Leicester, Pennsylvania. It’s a small town it has this cool club that a lot of bands go to. We’ve played there twice.
AD: Why are you banned from there?
O: Because of our political views. Tessy, Michelle’s sister’s husband told me cause he’s from Philadelphia and it’s right outside of Philadelphia .
Hey, we should go there!
Yeah, that’s what I said.
Some people like us more because we at least associate ourselves with a lot of causes. We don’t do it as much as we like. But we talk about it a lot and I think some people like it. I think some people come for that. They say, “This band, they care about what is happening in the world.” And some people are like “I don’t think that way but they make me dance.” So, our audiences are really mixed. Some people want to listen to the lyrics. Some people want to dance and drink.