He's just 30 years old, but alt-country singer-songwriter Javi Garcia has the world weary soul and voice of someone in their 50s. As such, even though the New Braunfels native has only been playing music professionally for a couple of years, his songs reek with the pathos and anger of post-addicted Steve Earle.
Garcia and his band, The Cold, Cold Ground, recently self-released A Southern Horror, their debut full-length. The double-album release is packed with gritty tales of life lived on the fringes. Songs such as "Lose Control," "As Wicked as You" and "The Pills" show Garcia to be a talented songwriter who doesn't mind hanging out on the dark side of town.
Speaking from his home in New Braunfels and in anticipation his show tomorrow night at Dada, Garcia shed some light on his unique take on Americana.
Do you think it's too ambitious to make your debut effort a two-disc set?
I like to think I am ambitious. I did self-release this record and produce it. I take pride in saying that it was done in-house. A little bit of help doesn't hurt, however. I am not one of those guys who never needs a little help. Everybody, especially in this business, can use some help. I think it's a great record and I am proud of it.
How long have you played professionally?
For two years. I tried school and work and I realized with school that I couldn't stop working. School was in the way. I moved to New Braunfels from Weslaco, and started writing songs and playing wherever I could.
Do you play most of your gigs in Austin?
There are a few places to play in New Braunfels. We've done Gruene Hall and the Phoenix Saloon. We kind of switch out between the two.
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Your songs definitely have some dark overtones. Are you just a pissed off sort of guy?
Generally, no. I do write about some dark subjects, but I'm not angry all of the time.
In the song "Weight of a Gun," you sing, "There ain't much difference between a killer and a cop." Are you worried that some might be offended by a line like that?
It is a serious song. The stuff I write is serious. The way people interpret it is their prerogative. A lot of my stuff might have a double meaning.
I don't hear a lot of humor in your work.
[Laughs.] No, I am pretty serious about the writing. Stuff that kind of moves me is usually the darker stuff. I am not interested in writing a pop song.
A lot of people compare you to Steve Earle. Do you think that's valid?
Well, the kind of singers I listen to will probably sound kind of cliched. I love Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, early Springsteen, Little Feet, and of course The Stones. I listen to a lot of Stones
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Are you a Gram Parsons fan?
Really, I'm not. I have a lot of friends who are. I've had this conversation during some late night drinking. It's just one of those things. I appreciate the guy's music. I like it, but I don't have any CDs by him.
The devil seems to make an appearance in several of your songs.
Well, our logo is the devil. When I first started thinking about making a band logo, I knew I wanted it to be the devil. It's kind of one of those things that represented the other side of things. I've thought about it a lot since then. When I first drew it up, I was thinking more of a circus-like devil, not one of those guys who kills chickens. I don't want to pour blood all over my kitchen sink. I think, in the days of the carnival, the devil was more cartoonish. This was years before Marylin Manson came along. People didn't take that image so seriously. Most of things in my songs have happened to me and those memories are dark. Also, I like to read Charles Bukoski and he's a pretty dark guy.
In the song "Losing Control," you sing "I'm so sick of this goddamn heat." Aren't we all?
Yes, I know. Tell me about it.
Javi Garcia & The Cold, Cold Ground performs with Graham Wilkinson on Thursday night, August 11, at Dada