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Dragons (interview -- Dig It! # 29)

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An interview with Mario and Ken from...


First, your album called Rock’n’Roll Kamikaze was out just before the terrorrist attacks. Did you have any problems with it since ?

MARIO-Well, first of all I am very patriotic about the USA. It was a very sad time and we woke up to the attacks on tour in Kansas City. The senseless loss of so many people is devestating. RockNRoll Kamikaze is a great record and unfortunately it never had a chance...First of all not a great time to push a record called
"Kamikaze" right after the attacks and second of all Junk records lost its distrobution deal shortly after its release for unrelated reasons. you must know to for every
one thing that is wrong with the United States there are a hundred good things.

Don't you think  that too much patriotism can be dangerous ?

MARIO - Too Much of anything is dangerous, but that's never stopped me before. There are serious questions about this war in Iraq and things like that that our conservative President has got us into, but post 9-11 there are so many more questions than answers and the world is different of course. But travelling this country there are so many good and descent people out there...especially the ones who love RockNRoll....It's the working man's music!!


Sin Salvation is your 6th studio album, the Dragons were formed a dozen  years ago. How do you see the evolution of the band and his sound ?

MARIO-The song writing has grown immensely from just making a song up to actually crafting something...that is if you can craft something after a half bottle of
Jack, but I say YES!Gearhead wanted a record in the RLF category...pretty much straight and fast rockNroll songs with no room in between and that's what we
delivered. I had written some more diverse songs but the label questioned my ability to rock and pissed me off so I wrote three more songs that are on the
album..Ignition LZ, play for keeps, and Kiss Me.

I feel that your sound is getting tougher even if the main influence is  still Johnny Thunders’eternal punk rock. Do you agree ?

MARIO-Sure, I mean Johnny Thunders is a main influence, but There's so much that we've experienced and grown since we first stay alive in this
business you have to be tougher. The weak of heart never survive...but at the same time I think the songs are open...raw, and emotional...Tougher okay, but not

One thing I really like on Sin Salvation’s songs is the repetitive choruses. It’s like mantras. Where does it come from ?

MARIO -Lyrically I think this record actually spells out a lot more...from fighting my own demons to fighting through all the bullshit out there that so pretentious and righteous. I have seen so many stupid things done in the name of Punk Rock, but it's substance that counts in the end...perhaps the repetitiveness is me trying to convince others it's true.

By the way, what does the title "Ignition LZ" mean ?

MARIO-I was watching a war movie and they would call certain battle grounds an "L-Z" like a Landing Zone
and at the time the label questioned our ability to rock and I was saying I'm out here in the LZ fighting the good fight...and if you want to come join come on down to my LZ... Ignition LZ.


About the Dragons' sound, there is something you always had, it's that  kind of intensity, this tension. Where does it come from ?

MARIO - The Love of women and broken hearts Hell I guess I'm restless and unsatisfied with just about everything including myself...but there's always in any good story.

Can you tell us more about this song with french lyrics "Je Suis" on  Cheers To Me ?

MARIO - It was a little encounter with a French Sweetheart who then broke my heart....But that's the story of my life. It still makes me want to drink when I think of her...ohh Sweet Kisses.

What are your favourite songs on each of your albums, and why ?

MARIO - Painkiller-"Sometimes" because I didn't care what happened to me at that time... and it was so much fun.
Cheers to me I would say "Loaded" just came to me in seconds and it is still true Today . I feel alright when I'm loaded.
RLF - "Killing Time" because it reminds me of being in the van when we're travelling to the next show.
Kamikaze- "Three Steps..." It's just fun and simple and It makes me feel good.
Sin Salvation- "Ignition LZ" I guess because I have a little more angst these days.


You said on the liner notes that Sin Salvation was your "effort to slap rock'n'roll across the face ? Why rock'n'roll should be slapped across the face for you ?

MARIO-I guess if you listen to the radio for 3 minutes in California and you'll know what I mean...The "cutting edge stations" are still playing
Grunge Bands which to me are two steps above Sunset strip hair bands and one step lower then Boy Bands. and they're all ten steps lower than POP Music. I must
admit RockNRoll is a thousand percent better than it was five years ago, but there's still such a long way to go. I just think people have to go by their influences then
throw it away and start with themselves. Not necessarily in that order??

 What do you think about the current new rock or new garage hype  with the succes of The Hives or The White Stripes ?

MARIO=At the minimum, I think what they are doing is Honest and Passionate, but true... like a sexy feline. The White stripes were playing to twenty people here in the US before they hit it big in Europe and the Buzz started, now they sell out every show. and lets face it the Hives are Cool, I like them.

How did you get on Gearhead and what’s up with Junk Records ? Are they out of business ?

MARIO-We had been fans of the Magazine first of all and then did a single with Mike Lavella years ago. Junk lost its distribution deal and although we loved
Louie...It was time to move on...there's still so much music to make. Right, plus Mike is one of the most passionate men I've ever met about RockNRoll.

About Gearhead, what kind of contract do you have with them ?

MARIO - Top secret Stuff.

If you are contacted by a major, what is your answer ?

KEN-Show us 10 million dollars in cash now! Honestly I don't
know. There is not much difference between a major or indie anymore. Is it good to be on a major label that gives you no support and treats you like shit, or be on a indie label that gives you everything you need. But the bottom line is to get your record out all over the world and as many people to hear it as possible.

MARIO-Gearhead is definitely where we want to be, we have learned so much from our mistakes with other labels and Gearhead is not about to make the mistakes that some of their contemporaries have made. The Hives helped put them on the map and Mike and Michelle are very business savvy.
I think The majors are looking over their shoulders and the days of a half million dollar budget are gone.


You toured with your new label mates The Riverboat Gamblers. How was it  ? Their album is really cool.

MARIO-The greatest thing is that they are from this small town two hours from Dallas and they are all bad asses that drink, fight and know they're music. Like Seiji
from Guitar Wolf once, told me, We are RockNRoll Brothers.

KEN-They were the coolest bunch of guys to tour with. Had the most fun out of most of the bands we've toured with. By the end of the tour we were all talking with southern accents.

I think you recently played in Japan, how was it ?

MARIO - Japan is brilliant. Sincere, passionate people with a love for they have a rule that your glass can never be less than half empty.

Have you ever made or think about an European tour ?

MARIO - It's in the works for next year...and I really look forward to it.

Any wild or funny anecdotes about your tourings ?

MARIO - There are plenty...Jarrod almost getting kicked out of The Troubadour for having sex in the dressing room...trying to golf in the living room of my friends house while wearing his best suit.

I’ve read you covered once on stage a complete Clash set. Can you tell us more about that show ?

KEN-We did it twice. Once in '99 and one two years ago. We did it for fun. We've also done complete sets of the Dolls, Runaways, Ramones few times, and we do a Stones one every year on Christmas eve with bunch of our friends and call it  "Exile on Kettner". This year will be our tenth anniversary.

MARIO-We love playing music and sometimes we'll finish an hour and a half set of our own and then play another hour worth of our favorite songs that we love...for us and the audience.

A word about San Diego ? How is the local scene ? How is it to live there?

MARIO-It's gone from being a major conservative city with a small town mentality to a metropolis in many ways. In the last ten years, The music Scene has grown
immensely...We have six major acts that have gotten signed and are on MTV and the radio in the past five years and there's a cool scene of underground and under
age bands as well. And everything from the art community has grown along with it. Just ten years ago it was mostly cover bands playing radio hits in every club.
almost every club. The Casbah has been a staple for indy music in this town for years.

KEN-The local scene is pretty good. There are reggae, indie, skate punk, Rockn'Roll. There are a lot of types of bands. For a while Pop Punk was really big, but Rockn'Roll always has its place. As far as living here, you can go to the beach, mountain, desert, snow, all within an hour. But it is a conservative laid back city.


Can you give us some news about your brothers Javier and Alejandro ?

MARIO-Javier has been in Los Angeles writing songs and working on different projects. HE HAS BRILLIANT SONGS, I just hope someone gets to hear them soon. Alejandro has been releasing records that can make you cry...the latest on bloodshot records, but recently he has taken ill. for more info go to

Javier sings a song on "RLF". Did you have any other collaborations with him or Alejandro ?

MARIO-Not recently, At one point Alejandro was going to produce Sin Salvation, but it never worked out because of his busy schedule.

What are the good and bad things being the younger brother in such a  great musicians family ?

MARIO-In many ways I think I've been fighting to maintain a standard that I hold those two up to and myself and sometimes it's unattainable, but that has made me and The Dragons a better band. we all look up to those two and there's no better time then when they are giving us a hard time about stuff. We call Alejandro "The Coach" and it's so funny to watch him giving us advice and making fun of our hair and leather pants, but sincerely they are both brilliant song writers.

What kind of stuff did you listen as a kid, and how did you discover rock’n’roll ?

MARIO-my brother Pete and Coke played with Santana and I will never forget being led into the stadium by the hand and seeing all those people. Alejandro had pretty much left when I was a kid so It was Javier that taught me the most about being in a band and playing guitar and writing songs. When I was a kid we used to share a bunk bed and he was one of the first teenagers in california to get the singles of punk rock like The Clash and sex Pistols and he would play them all night branding them into my head!

Can you tell us about M-80, the band you and Kenny were in before the  Dragons ?

MARIO- Kenny first arrived in san Diego after growing up in japan and I put out an ad about johnny Thunders and he responded. We played a show with
Thunders and I met him twice with my brothers, We also played with Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks and Andy McCoy's one time band Shooting Gallery and
Nasty's band Nasty Suicide.

The Dragons have the same line-up since 93. It’s pretty rare in the punk scene, any comment about that ?

MARIO-We all love what we are doing , but it's hard because our personal lives are growing at the same time as well, but we are like brothers when we are out on
the road together or on stage. No one can get between us then.

What are the Dragons new projects ?

KEN-Well, Sin Salvation just came out, so that is what we'll be supporting for a while. But we are
supposed to film a video for the song "Dirty Bomb" for the CD single with a video. Any bands,
records, books or movies you would like to recommand to our readers ?

Any bands, records, books or movies you would like to recommand to our readers ?
MARIO-well you know about The Riverboat Gamblers...they are fucking brilliant. and i am reading WOMEN by Charles Bukowski now. I also love the Neko
case CD Blacklisted.
Movies-I just saw Heaven, and Gangs Of New York and Pirates of The carribean (sp)...JOhnny Depp reminded me of Tyla From Dogs D'Mour

KEN-Bands-Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, Guitar Wolf, the Wildhearts
Records-Anything by the bands above.
Books-'Fargo Rock City', 'Battle Royale', 'Linda Linda Rubber Soul', 'the Dirt'
Movies-'I am trying to break your Heart', 'Blue Spring', 'Dolls'
Sylvain Coulon

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