August 30th, 2007 | Interviews

dan monick

Nine-piece band Jail Weddings were started by Starvations/Fortune’s Flesh singer/guitarist Gabe Hart and they played their first show last month. They will be releasing a 45 on Project Infinity. They speak from a gas station in Victorville on the way to Las Vegas. Singer Katya Hubiak, guitarist Brian Waters and saxophonist Brad Caulkins were not available at the time.

Are Jail Weddings going to Vegas to get mass-married?
Toney Love (drums): We’re going to shoot machine guns.
Is this your first out-of-town show?
Gabe Hart (vocals/guitar): The maiden voyage for the good ship Jail Weddings.
How are your spirits?
GH: Flowing right down our throats.
Are you still going to move the band from city to city every few months? Like a slow-motion tour?
Josh Puklavetz (bass): We’re actually thinking of relocating to Victorville. They treat us great.
They don’t call the cops when you stop to pump gas?
JP: We’re siphoning gas to save money.
Matthew Eagleson (piano): You know that old saying, ‘That girl can suck the chrome off a bumper’? Well, that’s my job.
Was Jail Weddings inspired by Richard Ramirez’ jail wedding?
Tornado Jane (vocals): There’s a storefront down by the Twin Towers jail, and it says ‘Jail Weddings’ with a number on it.
GH: The whole ‘jail weddings’ thing is like turning the whole concept of love on its head—you’re stuck with that person, but you love them. The salt-in-the-wound type of thing—you know.
Is jail love deeper than other types of love?
TJ: I figure conjugal visits are pretty hot.
TL: Every practice we have is a conjugal visit.
TJ: And we’re also in a really small concrete cell.
How does a nine-piece band manage to function? Like a baseball team?
GH: We just make Toney a really sweet leash—that’s one way. And then Budweiser and muscle relaxers.
Have you considered sponsorship?
JP: Unofficially. We don’t wanna tie ourselves down—too many sponsors are throwing a lot of offers at us right now.
ME: Black Velvet and Xanax are really interested.
GH: Tell him about the dry-cleaning sponsorship.
ME: These guys are sexy—they need dry cleaning.
TJ: The concept was to wear all white, but that means that five minutes later everyone would have dirt all over them—or red wine and the like—and so we’d need a dry-cleaning sponsorship if we wanted anyone to show up looking good.
Warren Thomas (chaperone): That’s why I’m not in the band.
TL: They wanted to give me one of those child leashes.
You’re doing pretty good if only one of the nine of you needs to be on a leash.
TJ: Well, we’re grading on a curved scale.
Gabe, how did you explain this band when you were recruiting people?
TJ: He got us drunk.
GH: When I first started, I wanted this huge band of nine super-strong personalities. The whole idea of talent was not a huge thing.
[Extremely loud background laughter.]
GH: Luckily I got both!
Hannah Blumenfeld (violin): ‘If you’re an asshole, you’re hired!’
TL: Gabe and I wrote the songs first—he got the biggest asshole first.
GH: And Katya kind of puts this John Waters spin on the thing.
Like Polyester?
GH: More like Desperate Living.
Did I just hear sirens in the background?
TL: Yeah, they’re coming for us.
How do you explain yourselves to people now?
TJ: What do you mean?
‘Hi, we’re Jail Weddings and we need 100 drink tickets, please.’
TL: When we explain it to venues or whatever, they always ask, ‘What? What do you mean? How many people are in the band?’ And we’re like ‘Nine people.’ And they’re like, ‘Here’s a half a ticket for each person.’
GH: They usually think we’re trying to pull off a big scam.
TJ: ‘Are you SURE there’s nine people in the band?’
GH: And then when they realize we’re telling the truth comes an expression I’ve seen a million times—it’s a cross between really respectful and massive pity.
ME: I also think that venues we play are actually really excited to have a band as big as us and as full as we are, once they get past the whole ‘I think you’re lying to me’ part. I think they’re really impressed we’re able to pull it together.
How do you pull it together?
JP: We got a book called How to Start A Nine-Piece Band For Dummies, and it’s really helping us out.
GH: Honestly, this is somehow the most effortless band I’ve ever done. Everyone wants to be there—everyone is excited. It kind of turned into this big fist.
With nine fingers.
GH: We have a very specific blueprint. It’s not like everyone changes parts all the time.
TJ: And there’s power in numbers.
How does Jail Weddings fit in with all the other bands you’ve been in?
GH: This is what I’ve always wanted to do, but I felt it was completely out of my grasp.
TJ: A giant leap off a cliff, basically.
GH: A huge leap of faith. It’s kind of been something that’s keeping me going. I told everyone I was going to do this, and everyone was like, ‘Oh, good luck!’ and shaking their heads. And these shows we’ve played so far have been a huge fuck you to all those people. A large amount of people in this band have been dear friends for a long time. Kind of a merry-band-of-misfits type thing. Some people are like, ‘All you guys together—it’s never gonna work.’ And it’s really gelled—it’s great. People are eating their words.
Eric Fisher (guitar): Toney just showed me his asshole. It’s disgusting.
Who would be the best spirit guide for Jail Weddings? Nick Cave, Phil Spector, Joe Meek or Charles Manson?
GH: Are those the only choices? Honestly, probably Charles Manson. There are times when I wanna bail out as far as being the leader goes. I guess the answer is there’s no room for a tenth member, so none of the above. Tell Charlie he can’t get in.
Are there any songs in Jail Weddings that are about Jail Weddings?
GH: Yeah—it’s kind of a cool thing. The lyrics kind of take on lives of their own.
JP: The song ‘Honeymoon Loop’ is about a night we all spent together—tells the story of the night and the drunken madness that ensued.
GH: Kind of a really dramatic night that happened between all of us. I won’t go into detail. But Matt came up with the song. It’s kind of a vow-renewal kind of thing, and we end our set with it. It’s cool because the set is a heavy-duty rollercoaster that runs the gamut of emotions, and it’s the last song we play so it kind of clears the air a little bit. It’s crazy, too—yesterday, my roommate was sitting on the couch and someone that works for that show The Shield came knocking on our door. This sounds completely unrelated, but basically they were like, ‘We want to use your house for an on-location shoot.’ And obviously they want to use our house for a crack den. They said, ‘Yeah, we’ll give you $2,000.’ So my roommate calls me at work and my jaw drops to the ground because we have a song called ‘The Spell Is Lifted,’ and one verse is, ‘Invaded my street to make a bad movie/used my building for the housing project scene/somebody got beat and somebody screamed/and I realized I’m acting in a movie for free.’
TJ: We used to live on Harold Way so it was like that every day.
GH: That’s where it was inspired from.
What made you say Jail Weddings is like Fitzcarraldo?
GH: You’ve seen the movie—it’s kind of an obvious thing. A guy trying to do a completely impossible thing, and he ended up completely doing it.
At the cost of his sanity.
GH: At the cost of his sanity, and the cost of enslaving the restless natives.
When Herzog finished that movie, he titled himself the ‘Conquistador of the Useless.’ What are Jail Weddings the conquistadors of?
JP: The Conquistadors of Victorville!
GH: No, who can answer that?
TL: [sings] Of alllllll the gayyyyyy rancheros…
JP: Basically, we just want to be a band that can appeal to a very eclectic group of people. We don’t wanna be scene-specific.
What’s the most romantic thing you saw happen in a Jail Weddings crowd?
TL: Oh my God, romantic? What do you mean?
Whatever made your heart flutter.
JP: Long Beach is probably the best city we’ve played. The response we get is very genuine. It’s a very genuine reception. People are screaming and dancing and applauding and that’s probably the very best reception I’ve ever received from an audience as far as ever being in a band.
GH: It’s probably just everybody moving in unison with the band and the songs—that’s something really cool. Some kind of collective mentality going on.
What’s your dream when it comes to making a record? Your perfect scenario?
GH: Something completely timeless. Something no one would go—
HB: Perfect scenario—what the hell is that? The police just walked in.
JP: It would be round and playable on a turntable and made of wax.
HB: Whose probation officer just went in the gas station? Do we have a head count?
GH: The cops are here. We gotta get out of here.