By Rachel Montoya
Aphrodisiac Jacket is not the traditional “tribute” band. They will be the first to tell you that although they pay tribute to The Cult they are more satisfied with describing their efforts as a “Salute to the Music of The Cult”. Even the term ‘super group’ is not a label they are comfortable with. This modesty and humility merely touches the surface of these six seasoned veterans of the desert music scene. Marcos Gentry is on guitar and vocals, Randy Caserta on lead guitar and vocals, Martin Barrera on guitar, Rob Martinez on bass guitar and vocals, Benny Cancino on drums and Noe G. Gutierrez on lead vocals. They made their debut last Saturday night at Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert performing with Gentry’s band Mighty Jack. Aphrodisiac Jacket, a less familiar and classic Cult song title, was borne out of the enthusiasm that Gentry has for The Cult. “I’ve been a fan since 1987, my sophomore year at Indio High School. I started with Electric and backtracked to Love and Dreamtime”. Only meeting as a band for the first time a couple of months ago and with three legitimate rehearsals under their belts Aphrodisiac Jacket performed a high energy set that did not allow for a beer or bathroom break.
The best descriptions of the evening come from long-time friends of the band members and fans of the music. Valerie McClure, owner of VM Artist Management, shared her enthusiasm, “Had the best night ever! LITERALLY, I had the best night ever! Just amazing all around. I’m still wowed!” Johnny Sugarbritches of Sugarbritches Productions stated, “They were really good.” Steve Young of Steve Young Photography shot the show and shared this, “Opening show and the guys killed it. Everyone was rocking! Can’t wait till the next show.” The sophisticated music connoisseur Nathalie Durieux, who is also the sweetheart of Mighty Jack lead vocalist Charlie Ellis had this to say, “So much fun! I’m usually anxiety ridden but tonight it was laughter and fun all night long!” Tarver Marsh, VM Artist Management President had the best quote to describe the show, “I turned my back and I heard The Cult.”
Gentry is well known for his band The Pedestrians and Mighty Jack. He is adamant about The Cult and their early influence on his life. “I remember checking out some way early tracks when they were the Southern Death Cult and the Death Cult. Sonic Temple and Ceremony were pretty good too but my favorite is still Electric.” This early imprint The Cult left on Gentry is visible to this day. You can see Gentry sporting The Cult concert shirts on any given day. “My old friend Jeff Brown and I saw them together three times live and I have seen them at least eight times live. We even took a road trip up to Sacramento to see them headline the Arco Arena back during our senior year. That was rad.” Gentry showed his attention to detail and his knowledge of The Cult with his expressive rhythm guitar playing.
The Cult continues to make new music and have remained a steady rock and roll band with the combination of Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy. Gentry concurs, “They are still a great hard rock band to this day. Billy Duffy is one of the most under rated guitar players. He still shreds.”
Randy Caserta is a solo artist and released an album in 2013 of original rock music entitled Long Stories Short. Caserta admits The Cult were not as prominent in his musical upbringing. “Ok it’s pretty simple for me, other than their tunes that were on the radio at the time, I wasn’t that familiar with them. But after hearing the other stuff when putting this project together I developed more of an appreciation of their music.” Caserta brought his virtuosic technique to lay Duffy’s solos while reintegrating into the songs. Caserta wowed the crowd on each song.
Benny Cancino, Jr. currently plays in the Kyle Turley Band and Alyce Bowie. He has played in The Whizards and InVitro respectively. Cancino may be too young to have witnessed The Cult’s heyday but he nonetheless has a lot to say about the music. “The Cult has been around and are still around and relevant to this day. They fucking rock end of story!” Cancino went through several pairs of drum sticks during the set. This is the Cancino we know and love, unabashed and heavy. He drummed himself into a migraine but he says it was well worth it.
Rob Martinez is one of the most versatile bassists and musicians in the Coachella Valley. If you mention his name the response is always a positive one. You can catch him performing at The Wine Bar at Old Town in La Quinta every Friday. “I first heard about The Cult in 1985. I then just always liked their songs. I didn’t follow them closely but always loved the hits and YES! Billy Duffy is a great guitar player and song writer. They are true Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Martinez laid the foundation with Cancino, fell into the pocket and never left. His background vocals were right on.
Martin Barrera is the desert backbone when it comes to guitar and is consistently in demand. He has played in B Movie Super Stars and currently performs with Michael Keeth at The Wine Bar at Old Town in La Quinta every Sunday. “For me it started with the Love album. I always liked the delay and flanger sound. I saw them a couple times live and they never disappointed. They started doing drop D songs on the album Beyond Good and Evil. I still love the straight forward rock songs.” Barrera, along with Gentry, allowed the multi-faceted approach to The Cult’s music to shine. Barrera knows where to fit in and when to apply the colors through his guitar playing.
Noe G. Gutierrez fronted rock and roll cover band Wyte Gye for almost ten years. Gutierrez and Gentry had the first conversation about this project and it steamrolled from there. “I only became re-introduced to The Cult after performing with Wyte Gye. My favorite songs to sing were The Cult songs.” The Cult has significant prominence in the desert beyond their epic performance at Coachella last year. Gutierrez echoes this. “I remember a conversation with John Garcia about the song “She Sells Sanctuary”. He first heard it during our freshman year in high school and he told me that song is what did it for him. So in essence, we owe a lot to The Cult.” Gutierrez has found his comfort zone with The Cult’s music. “The songs are well within my range and it’s full of soul, the blues and passion. Ian Astbury is not as recognized as he should be for his vocal abilities.”
Aphrodisiac Jacket will be performing at least once more before mid-year. Please find them on Facebook and share your memories and passion for The Cult.