Si O Si Que (Elektra)
An interview with singer Dave Alvin
by Chaz Thorndike
The title took me a while. On the new release, White Trash have kept certain elements from the debut, taken some further and deeper, and scrapped others entirely. First off, Mike and Aaron from the original line up are now in Hash. Likewise, Craig and Eric from Hash are now driving the rhythm of Po’ White Trash. Dave Alvin, screecher, whiner, and bawdy vocalist extraordinaire is still slapping his signature voice on each and every song to make it indistinguishably White Trash. But now there’s another Dave, too. Dave Barckow, drummer of mysterious origin, is now kit thumper. One last change, the Bassass Brass has been booted. The horns that appeared in only a couple songs were studio fill-ins and who knows what they’ll do live. The new material is more screaming guitar oriented than funky slither, anyway.
The thirteen songs on Si O Si Que seem so much faster and more frantic than on the debut. You only really notice when doing that compare/contrast CD flipping thing that drives everyone else around you nuts. The groovable horn parts have been phased out, but replaced with such intricate guitar rhythms and fills you’d scarcely notice. The songs overall are much rawer and the guitars are meaner and more centerstage, unlike the slicker accompaniment to the funky horns of the ’91 release.
In a mile-a-minute rant/interview with da boys, Mike blamed the slick shit on their old (stressing that word) management and producer. “The fat, lazy bastard did all these overdubs and over produced the whole fuckin’ album. He packaged us as this clean, funky crossover thing.” The latest release definitely seems rougher around the edges and more live-oriented.
“We left in wrong notes and shit. A wrong note can be an entity in itself.” philosophized Craig. The songs, as a whole, are heavier and crunchier when they slow down and more ripping when they pick it up.
One of White Trash’s finest attributes in daze of old was Dave’s rather twisted poetic lyricisms. In other words, he’s a sick pup. Who could forget quotable tunes like “Buzz!,” “The Crawl,” and “S.D.A.S.E.” (Sleazy Dumb Anorexic Suicidal Epileptic)? In response to questioning their choice of topics, Dave spouted, “We wanted to write stories that haven’t been milked by everyone else. Last time, we wrote about sex, this time we wrote about…” Dave paused, thinking vile thoughts, and the ever-ready pen hovered, “Sex with dead people.” Lovely, Dave.
Another highlight is “Electric Messiah/Leather Priest.” It starts as a cool song with a silly title, but builds and builds into an extended jam punctuated with screams and way-wahed guitars. “It’s like the soundtrack to the end of the world with Christ coming back as Schwartzenegger and kickin’ ass.”
As far as what the future holds for White Trash, best to let Mr. Mouth answer, “We’ll keep changing so people can’t categorize us. We’ll evolve ’cause we still have influences we haven’t ripped off yet. Like what? Like King Crimson, old Primus, Tom Waits…” Yeah, that one I’ve got to hear. Dave finishes, “Until then, we’ll just keep watching pornos, smoking dope, and offending audiences any chance we get.” White Trash are ambitious, huh? So get their new release and suck on it.