By Gilbert Ward Kane
All Souls is a new guitar heavy, melodic rock band from L.A. with heavy ties to the desert. They feature an all-star lineup featuring Erik Trammell of Black Elk on guitar, Tony Aguilar and Meg Castellanos of Totimoshi singing and playing bass respectively, and Tony Tornay of desert rock godfathers Fatso Jetson playing drums. They are set to make their desert debut May 6 at The Hood Bar and Pizza. This is a show not to be missed. All Souls is a name you will be hearing a lot of in the future. Supporting All Souls will be local favorites Fever Dog and Herb Lienau’s avant garde alter ego, Herbert.
In anticipation of their desert debut, we sat down with them to figure out a bit about the formation of the band.
CV Weekly: What age did you know you wanted to be a musician?
Tony Tornay: “My pops was a drummer. When he was a younger he played in a band called The Premiers. They played shows around Philadelphia when he was younger. Both of my parents were really into music and rock ‘n’ roll, so I grew up around it. One night when I was about 5, I started banging on the kitchen table waiting for dinner to be served and my mom looked at my pops and told him it was probably about time to pull out his old set and get me going on it!”
Erik Trammell: “I never really decided to be a musician, it’s just sort of obligatory.”
Antonio Aguilar: “Probably 6 or 7. I used to watch Gene Autry movies and write my own cowboy songs when I was a little kid. I’d sing them on my porch. I’d start with one part then add another then add another. My big brother kicked me in the head once because I wouldn’t shut up. I didn’t hear him, I was lost in my song.”
Meg Catellanos: “For me it was more about performing. I was the young girl pretending to be Mick Jagger singing into a hair brush in front of the mirror at age 7.”
CVW: What music did you listen to growing up?
Tony Tornay: “When I was a little kid I was listening to my parents records… Hendrix, The Beatles, The Stones, and Pink Floyd. Then I started finding some things on my own in the late ’70s, like AC/DC, Van Halen, The Ramones… a few years later the bad kids who sat at the back of the bus started turning me onto hardcore: Black Flag, Minor Threat, Discharge…”
Erik Trammell: “I grew up going to punk shows in the San Francisco bay area so I started there. I got into Black Sabbath and The Cure after that, I still love tons of songs from those bands.”
Antonio Aguilar: “Early on Country, Mariachi, and Nortenos. My dad loved Honkey Tonk; Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens (I grew up 45 minutes from Bakersfield). He also loved Mariachi, Vicente Fernandez, Antonio Aguilar, Javier Solis – the real classic full orchestra Mariachi’s. He used to take us down to LA to the Million Dollar Theatre to watch the Mariachi movies. My mom listened to mostly Nortenos music. Tigres Del Norte was a huge staple of my youth. I also loved Gene Autry and oldies doo wop music. I heard Jimi Hendrix when I was about 13 and it changed my life. It scared the shit out of me at first. After that Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy. I was a metal kid. Oh, and Pink Floyd – that was a massive influence when I was a kid.”
Meg Catellanos: “I was obsessed with Jim Morrison and the Doors. I loved early hip hop – Grand Master Flash, Sugarhill Gang, B52’s and Adam Ant brought me the weirdness. And the Clash, early U2 records and Dead Kennedys opened my young mind to political and protest songs.”
CVW: What was your first band, and what type of music was it?
Tony Tornay: “Well, I started about 30 different bands starting in the 3rd grade, but we never actually played together. I had some friends at school or in the neighborhood and we all wanted to be in a band but we had no clue what that meant. My friend Josh had an older brother Mike who had a band called Dötted Swiss and we basically just wanted to be them.”
Erik Trammell: “My first band that toured was ADD-X in Portland, OR. It was psychedelic with lots of improv, weird costumes and stage performances.”
Antonio Aguilar: “The singer was an older dude who always had a huge glass of vodka. We just did covers. It ended badly.”
Meg Castellanos: “My first band was called Valley Fever with Antonio Aguilar and a few other friends that are still playing music today. It was circus rock. I still listen to that cassette.”
CVW: What are you listening to most right now?
Tony Tornay: “PJ Harvey, Neil Young, The Obsessed, The Cure, Bauhaus, Deerhunter, Black Flags unrealeased 1982 demos…”
Erik Trammell: “Lately I’ve been listening to Boards of Canada a bunch and Swans. Skinny Puppy and Killing Joke have been in heavy rotation too.”
Antonio Aguilar: “I’ve been obsessing on David Bowie’s Blackstar lately. That album is absolute genius. I also just bought Nina Simon’s Silk and Soul. I’m obsessing on that too.”
Meg Castellanos: “Ty Segall, Mastodon, Bowie.”
CVW: How did All Souls form?
Tony Tornay: “Antonio and I have been threatening to start a band together for probably the last 8 years. We finally made good on that threat.”
Erik Trammell: “I knew Antonio and Meg from playing shows with Totimoshi over the years with my old band Black Elk and I played a few shows with Fatso Jetson too. I was always a fan of their music and them as people so we just started creating music.”
Antonio Aguilar: “Meg and I moved to LA in 2009. I wanted to be in a band with Tony Tornay from the day I moved here. I’m a huge Fatso Jetson fan, and Tony Tornay’s energy on stage is a sight to behold. Back then Totimoshi (my former band) was still around, but I was gone all the time. (I used to tech for the Melvins, and Tour Manage Neurosis and Sleep). Needless to say, I was on the road a lot, which caused Totimoshi to be somewhat inactive. That inactivity eventually caused its end. Me and Meg were bandless. Occasionally I would run into Tornay at shows and we would sort of kick around the idea of starting a band. We jammed a good few times, and talked occasionally about starting a band. But then, Tornay would get busy with Fatso Jetson or some of the other bands he was in and our idea of starting a band would be back on hold. Erik Trammell and I have known each other for a really long time. Our bands used to play shows together back as early as around 2001 or 2002. Erik is an absolutely ridiculous guitar player. I’ve also always been a fan of Erik. We are such close friends that he would even take care of our dog while we were on tour when we first moved to LA. Well, Erik moved to Austin for a while. Eventually he moved back. After he moved back we started jamming, and writing and it seemed to work really well. I sent the recordings of some of our ideas to Tony Tornay and he told me he liked it and wanted to be a part of it. When we started talking about who should play bass – I threw Meg’s name into the pot (Meg is my favorite bass player). Everyone agreed that Meg should be the one. She not only plays a solid bass but her vocals add an amazing element to mine.”
Meg Castellanos: “Tony Aguilar and Tony Tornay were talking about forming a band. I would go drink beer with them and they would talk about who could play bass for them… I kept quiet and wondered how long it would take them to realize their best option was right in front of them! Erik was a natural addition too; all of our former bands have played together and there was a lot of mutual respect for one another musically. We all get along really well.”
CVW: The 3 songs on bandcamp are amazing. When can we expect more?
Tony Tornay: “Sooner rather than later.”
Erik Trammell: “Thanks, we’re really happy with them. It’s one of the coolest things about music/art, giving people the opportunity to feel the same way you do when you write it. When that works it’s killer! We’re done with a full length now that we’re hoping to release it this summer.”
Antonio Aguilar: “We already have 3 new ones mixed and ready for peoples ears!”
Meg: Castellanos: “We’ll be posting 3 more hopefully by the time this article comes out. We have a full album’s worth of material. We may self-release a 10″ vinyl record, but the hope is to find a home on a good label.”
CVW: Will any music be released physically?
Tony Tornay: “Yes.”
Erik Trammell: “Absolutely, that’s the plan!”
Antonio Aguilar: “Yes! Hopefully very soon.”
Meg Catellanos: “Yes!”
CVW: Is it difficult to juggle schedules with your other bands?
Tony Tornay: “With Fatso Jetson our tours are set up about 6 months in advance so I have a pretty good idea of what is happening. When things start popping up we let each other know when the blackout dates are going to be and plan accordingly.”
Erik Trammell: “Logistics are always challenging but we’ve been able to make it work. It’d be great to not have any other obligations, if we could play music all the time we would.”
Antonio Aguilar: “Not for me, Meg and I are in another band called Alma Sangre. It’s not that hard at all.”
Meg Catellanos: “So far it hasn’t been an issue. We’re trying to put this project front and center.”
CVW: Are there plans for a bigger tour?
Tony Tornay: “All things in due time!”
Erik Trammell: “Yes! We will be playing many, many more shows this year.”
Antonio Aguilar: “We are at the place where we are the new band. We would love to do a bigger tour, but it has to make sense. There needs to be a full release and there needs to be a really good tour on the table. We have all toured extensively in our other bands, and are all adamant that the touring has to be right. The right tour at the right time.”
Meg Castellanos: “We are considering all offers to open for bands we like and respect. We want to get busy!”