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On One with David
By Andy Argyrakis
Take experimental guitar playing, tongue and cheek lyrics, and a certain sense of artistic mystique and you've got David Garza, a Texas native of Mexican descent with a brand new CD under his belt. Garza is no stranger to recording, thanks to his independent label Wide Open Records, but with his signing to Atlantic Records in 1998, his music has been able to reach the masses.
But Garza hasn't exactly become a mainstream triumph thus far in his career, simply because of radio's selective nature, although that's certainly not his main purpose. Garza's not the type to lose any sleep or sleep with anyone else for the sake of a radio single (just listen to "Say Baby" off his latest release Overdub. "Everybody complains about the radio when they're not on it," he says via cell phone from his tour stop in Massachusetts. "I realize that's not original to rebel against, but it just disappoints me that every city I go to, I hear the exact same songs. I don't want to be apart of a manufactured scene, but at the same time I really miss radio stations having a local sound with the possibility of having regional hits."
Although Garza may be strong in his stance, one might question the apparent irony of his latest release being breathed out of a giant corporation. But Garza doesn't see it that way. "The records I make on my own label are on four track and are usually a little more sloppy," he admits. "Obviously on a bigger label, the sounds are cleaner and the production is bigger. It's like going to dinner at coffeehouse versus a fancy restaurant. You may wear different clothes to each, but you're still the same person with the same hunger."
Thus Garza feels particularly proud of "Overdub," his latest hybrid of spacious guitar sounds and echoing drums, influenced by the playing of Keith Richards and Jimmy Page. "While recording it, it was like I had a lot of people looking over my shoulder in the kitchen," he recalls. "The label wanted to make sure I was doing okay and they were there if I needed them. Nine times out of ten, I agreed with what they had to offer because I respect their tastes and wouldn't have signed with them if those tastes didn't reflect mine."
Part of the splendor behind Overdub comes from the unconventional recording location of most tracks found on the record. A traditional studio was too small, according to Garza, so the confines of the Dreamland Studio in New York were a necessity. The studio is actually an old church with high ceilings and stained glass windows that ensures a free flowing, unprocessed sound.
Besides just being recorded in an old church, Garza's work has some ties to faith as well. Overdub, as well as his 1998 project This Euphoria are loaded with religious euphemisms. "I was brought up in the Catholic faith and my parents are still devout followers of the faith," he says. "I've experienced a lot of that culture and have been influenced by it strongly. It's also been a source of doubt and questioning, which I suppose make for interesting songs."
Some examples of Garza's
pondering on Overdub are "Drone" and "God's Hands," the latter of
which Garza said was fueled by feelings of anger and doubt. "I grew up
with the idea that if I put my life in God's hands, I'd find happiness,"
he says. "I tried doing that and I'm still waiting for life to be beautiful."
Regardless of his personal beliefs, Garza strives to communicate his emotions
freely and encourage others to feel the power of his words. Although he
is not a believer in Internet-based communication, Garza is one of the
few entertainers these days that actually responds to fans by writing letters.
"Writing letters seems to be a lost art form these days," he says. "I get
so many fantastic letters from people and I write back the same way because
it means more. Plus, it's a lot quicker, more personal, and cheaper than
making a cell phone call." At least until this year end, Garza will have
to rely on his cell phone to keep in touch with those he works with at
the label and the friends and family he has back home. He's currently in
the midst of a promotional tour in support of the new project. All in all,
the record's a solid example of a modern day troubadour that isn't a slave
to industry standards. It's artists like these that deserve time on the
airwaves and even if that's not possible, Garza will continue on his path
of producing stylistically pleasing sounds and heartfelt lyrics.