Godfather of Desert Rock, Trailblazer, Music Pioneer, Desert Rock Legend, Creator of the Generator Parties, Owner of the infamous Rhythm and Brews, these are just a few titles that have been used to describe the talented musician, Mario Lalli.
By Tracy Dietlin
While it’s been well documented that there have been more than a couple of feuds between some of the desert rock legends, one thing that all of them agree on is their love and respect for Mario Lalli, hence why he was awarded the “Pioneer Award” at the 2014 CV Music Awards.
Mario was not alone in paving the musical highway from the dirt roads of the desert- he had a little help from his friends. He is a humble man who continually gives credit to all the others who blazed the trail that created a whole new genre of music: “desert rock” or “desert stoner rock” to some. Either way, Mario’s name is synonymous with the creation of that genre and that genre is now legitimately cemented in music journals world-wide. And the notorious generator parties will go down in history and be talked about for years to come.
Lalli has been in many bands over the years including: Dead Issue, Across The River, Inglenook, Sort of Quartet, Orquesta Del Desierto and his two current bands, Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson, both of who he will be touring Europe with beginning February 3.
During an hour and 20 minute chat, Lalli shared his thoughts on the desert rock scene, the old generator party days, Joerg Steineck’s “Lo Sound Desert” movie and getting ready to go out on tour.
CVW: Please share with us your involvement with Joerg and his movie.
Lalli: He’s put a lot of time and effort into this and I’m sure he’s spent the last 6 years feeling really good about it and then losing inspiration and wondering ‘what the hell have I just spent the last 6 years of my life on’ and then rediscovering inspiration. You get so excited about the idea and at the beginning it’s all you can think about. You eat, sleep, drink it and then a year goes by and sometimes it’s stuff you have to take care of on your end and then sometimes you’re doing a lot of waiting on other people and then you start thinking ‘what was this all about in the first place’. And this has gone on for over 6 years so I think he’s looking forward to wrapping it up.
CVW: What made him decide to have the viewing at The Hood?
He originally bought plane tickets and he and his girl were going to come. We were talking about several different places to have the viewing like IPAC and Art Galleries, Hard Rock, Hacienda, Camelot, the old Plaza theater, and my first thought was to have it at the Riviera because that’s where you had the CV Music Awards and my family was so impressed with how that all turned out . Normally when I take on doing an event like this I have a couple thousand bucks to throw around to put down on a room, rent some chairs, and take care of business but that wasn’t the case. Then Jack (Kohler) said ‘Dude let’s just keep it simple. We’ll have it here at The Hood. We’ve got the screen, we’ll get some chairs.’ I think it will be fun and very fitting for the people in the movie because of the vibe at the Hood. It’s perfectly set that it should be at a rock club.
CVW: Are there plans for the movie after this viewing?
Lalli: I’ve been talking to Sarah Scheideman at the CV Art Scene about a concept where we will have an extended showing of the movie maybe once a month. My cousin Larry (Lalli) is a photographer and he has some really great old photos that nobody has ever seen before. Like Kyuss’ first promo photos. And there are a couple other friends who used to take a lot of pictures back in the early days. And we will ask Chris Miller and others to contribute current photos and we could put them on the walls for people to see when they come to see the movie. Sarah could be the Curator. We could have some merch and CDs available there and make it a really cool event.
When I thought about all the pictures that didn’t get used in the movie I thought this would be a great way for people to see all these groovy pics from the generator parties, garage parties, my old club. And people can look at them on the wall and say ‘wow! I remember being at that party or show’ and it take them back to that place.
I want to involve the CV Art Scene because I have a lot of respect for what they’re doing and they are like the second generation of artists.
It will be daunting to gather everything but it will be worth it. I still have flyers from shows we did back when I was 16. It’s like a scrap book of flyers. I remember when Agent Orange played here and TSOL did a show in Bermuda Dunes when I was in high school. Anyway we’re hoping to get that going in March.
CVW: So Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson are both going on tour together? When do you leave?
Lalli: We are flying to Germany on Feb. 3 and we’re doing the whole tour together. We scaled back both bands to be able to make it happen. My son Dino will be trading off bass and guitar with me in both bands and Tony Tornay will be playing drums for Fatso. For Yawning Man, Gary Arce will be playing guitar and Bill Stinson will be playing drums instead of Alfredo, because he’s got a bunch of other stuff going on.
The last few years this desert rock thing has become a bonafide genre almost like punk or ska and there’s this scene where when we first went to Europe years ago there were metal fans and punk fans and hard rock and now it’s like the young kids my son’s age have grown up with desert rock. When I talk about the music I grew up with I’m talking about Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendrix and the Byrds (laughing). I mean there are festivals over there now that are devoted to the desert rock scene. It feels like now we are able to pay for our air fare and come home with some money in our pocket.
We will be gone for a whole month. Josh (QOTSA) and Brant (Bjork), those guys have really opened a lot of doors for the rest of us to be able to go over there and do this.
CVW: It still baffles me that most of the desert bands go over to Europe to much respect and adulation and yet they don’t have the same reception here in the States. What do you think about that?
Lalli: That’s a really good question (laughing). I don’t know because I’ve never really tried. In the early 90s Fatso Jetson went on tour with Kyuss in the midwest and west coast. They had already toured with the Dwarves so they had built a solid fan base. I think that now because of all the popularity of Josh and Brant’s projects that it might be possible now to tour in the States, but it would be very different from over there. We really have the luxury of being able to go to Europe and they are prepared for us because Kyuss and QOTSA covered some of our songs and with the internet the fans over there do their homework and they are familiar with us.
I’m really excited about doing a tour here in the States since we have a booking agent here now. But we will have to carve out our own path here. I wouldn’t be surprised if we rolled into Dallas to play some bar and only 15 people showed up, but I’d be stoked that 15 people in Dallas wanted to hear our music (laughing). I mean sometimes I come back to where I’m from and only 15 people show up because they’re like ‘we’re over it’. In Europe there’s like a lore to it and I am forever grateful for how we are received there. I went to a friend’s record release party a couple weeks ago and the band that was playing was amazing and they were some of the most badass musicians ever and I was talking to them and they said ‘Dude you’re going to Europe. How do you get to do that?’ And I thought honestly bro I don’t know because you just blew my fuckin mind you’re so good, you should be going. We are really lucky.
CVW: What do you credit the longevity of you career to?
Lalli: I would say that we played for so many years without the distraction of being popular, being concerned about making money or the business. At the same time that kind of kept us in one spot. There are a lot of sacrifices that guys that tour all the time have to make. I wasn’t prepared to say fuck the restaurant, fuck my family, I’m just gonna go and be gone all the time. Bottom line is I think that we all just have a love for playing music together regardless of whether we made money or got famous.
You can see Fatso Jetson before they leave for their European tour at The Hood Bar & Pizza in Palm Desert. The screening of Lo Sound Desert will take place on Saturday, Jan. 31 with doors opening at 6pm and Herbert performing at 6:30. Movie starts at 7pm sharp. After party with the following bands: Blasting Echo 8:35/Hellions 8:55/War Drum 9:15/Hot Beat Pussy Fiend 9:35/Dali’s Llama 9:55/Family Butcher 10:15/Fatso Jetson 10:35/You Know Who 10:55/Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable 11:15/House of Broken Promises 12:35. All ages until 10pm. $10.00 Cover. This show will sell out.
Look for Part 2 of Mario Lalli’s interview next week on our website at coachellavalleyweekly.com.