If you’re not familiar with Left Alone, you’re missing out on some wicked ska-infused street punk straight off the streets of Wilmington, California. I was able to catch up with Left Alone singer/guitarist Elvis Cortez during the first stop of the Warped Tour in sunny Southern California to talk about the tour, his upcoming solo album**, and what the future holds for the band.
Unfortunately, I missed their performance as the band was the first to perform on the tour going on at 11:15AM, 15 minutes before I was able to settle down and get through the press area. But fortunately for you all, you can check out my full interview with Señor Cortez right here.
The band’s latest album Left Alone was released in April 2009 on Hellcat Records
DS: So Warped Tour! another year, another tour…
Elvis: Yah, it’s a good one! There’s a lot of good bands. like today, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Swingin Utters, Far From Finished is on the whole tour, i think the Angry Samoans and Adolescents are playing, and GBH. It seems like it’s back to the “punk rock stuff” and there’s a lot of ska. there’s Monkey, there’s another ska band that i heard with horns playing, i don’t know who they are…
DS: Ah, they were called the…uh…The FuDogs
Elvis: Yah, it was good. Ernie Ball stage, right? It was really cool.
DS: Yeah, everyone was skankin’ around
Elvis: Yeah! Yeah, Right!
DS: But the best band on the entire tour, Left Alone, played at 11:15AM. What’s up with that, dude?
Elvis: Hahaha, you know what? I live 5 minutes from here and I was home 30 minutes before I played. It took me longer to get into the venue than it did to drive up here. But last year it happened the same way but it is what it is. Sometimes you get ‘em early, sometimes you get ‘em later but we don’t care, we just want to fucking play.
DS: Yah, so you have no preference to when you play?
Elvis: It’d be nice just because I don’t want to drink coffee and play, i’d rather get drunk and play but 11 in the morning is early!
DS: Yeah it is early. Were there a lot of people there or no?
Elvis: Yeah, and they started gathering more and more. You know, It’s cool we were the first band to play on the entire tour. We started off the 2010 warped tour.
DS: At least you don’t look look burnt like this dude (I point to their TOTALLY sunburned tour manager)
Elvis: Yeah, haha, this is Andrew. He was in the sun for a couple of hours yesterday getting our passes and got totally baked. That’s just how warped tour is.
DS: Alright man, lets talk about your latest album, the self-titled, and your upcoming solo effort, which I’m looking forward to. I’ve been listening to you guys for a long time, especially lately since the new album was released…but what’s up with the rotating members, guys coming in and out.
Elvis: Yeah. When you start touring, things change for a lot of people. Some people don’t really want to do it for the long term, they just want to go into it at the moment. And that’s cool, but it’s just hard to keep band members because it’s not that glorious. Some people find girlfriends or get ‘real jobs’ and then are like ‘why am I making this much money going out on tour and sleeping in a van when i can make some real money working in an office,” you know? It varies but it sucks. I wish I could have a band that’s old and all the guys have been friends from the beginning but sometimes it doesn’t pan out for some bands. But i’m not going to stop. This is my life, this is the only thing I feel really comfortable doing so I’ll keep it going.
DS: Is it tough when you get new members, getting them adjusted to a certain playing style or your writing style, or what?
Elvis: Well, you see, I’m not very militant about styles as far as, like, “Nah dude, the bass goes exactly like this.” I’ll let them sway their vibe on into it and it’s not really tough. I mean, it’s really cool when you just kinda jam out and start feeling each other out instead of me being like “here are my songs, learn them and lets go on tour” I don’t really do that. It’s more like “hey, lets do this” and we write songs together. I’ll write something and then give it to them so they can give their input on whatever so it works out together.
DS: You’ve been working on a solo album for the past couple of months. You have a couple of songs up on your MySpace page. Is there a release pending?
Elvis: It was supposed to come out a couple of days ago
DS: Yeah! The 14th (of June), no?
Elvis: Yeah, but what happened was I got busy with Europe and I wanted to write more songs. I figured i’d write more on Warped Tour since I record them on Garageband on my Macbook, it’s not some big studio production. I figured i’d do it at the end of the year, when we have a month off, i’ll just release the record and i’ll do a bunch of shows in bars and stuff. I’m thinking of October, but it didn’t pan out doing it earlier because of Left ALone. It’s mainly stuff that I write that wouldn’t fit into Left Alone and I released a couple of songs and people were really into it so I figured i’d continue doing it. **It sounds weird to me to call it a “solo record”–Kinda sounds cheeseball, like, “Oh yeah, I have a solo record.” Some people can do that but I don’t think I have that vibe. It’s just a collection of songs that I wrote that aren’t Left Alone-sounding so I’ll just release them separate.
DS: One of my favorite songs that you had up, you took down.
Elvis: Oh yah, which one?
DS: The song titled, Secret Kisses in the Alleyway, or something?
Elvis: yeah! that was the first one I recorded. It was actually recorded in France. We were there with my band and we were in this house and this rich girl took my band to party with these dudes that were doing heroine and I was like, “Nah, I don’t want to go” haha, so I stayed in her back-house and it was really nice where we were at. It was the first song I did. I was just learning that Garageband on my mac, you know, geeking out and shit, it came out really easy. Probably did it in an hour so I showed my band and they were, like, “that’s cool. It doesn’t sound like Left Alone but it’s cool” and I was like “alright” so I did another one, and another one. I have around 30 right now.
DS: So what do you want to cut that down to for the album? maybe like 9 or 10 or what?
Elvis: I think around 15
DS: 15 is a good number.
Elvis: but I want to write more so I have a bigger batch.
DS: Yeah, definitely. It seems like a lot of artists are doing this solo-record nowadays. Nick 13 from Tiger Army has his own solo country album and Joey Briggs is doing his own solo stuff. They all gather inspiration from a certain genre or time in their lives. What’s your inspiration?
Elvis: Things that i’ve gone through. Little bits and pieces that I just take from situations i’ve been through and I literally just sit there and write about it instantly and put the music and the song together and it’ll be about that exact little thing I was thinking about and that’s it. The funny thing about the songs is I’ll play at bars but I can’t remember the songs because when i’m at home, i’ll write and record them all within an hour and i won’t play them and then when I get to the bar, i’m like “what the fuck was that song” haha. I just do them real quick and get them out but yeah, it’s just stuff i’ve been through.
DS: Yeah man, they’re songs on a very personal level.
Elvis: Yeah like some girl said something about my bedroom looking very adult-ish because it used to be all punk rock with flyers and shit, and I just wrote a song about that. I wasn’t like “this song is going to change the world,” I just thought it was funny she said that. It stuck in my head.
DS: Alright, so what can we expect from Left Alone and your solo stuff in the future?
Elvis: Well, the “solo” haha, “collection of songs that I wrote that…” haha
DS: Yeah, that should be the title
Elvis: Haha, definitely. That should be out in october, end of year for sure. I’m hoping to go into the studio in December to record the new Left Alone record for next summer.
DS: Anything you’d like to leave your fans with?
Elvis: Come out to warped tour and come hang out at the Hellcat/left alone tent. We’ll give you water and a place to hang out at for a minute.