Tucson sounds: The catchy, quirky, weirdo rock of Deschtuco
Deschtuco is a very weird band, in the best of all possible ways. Influenced by oddball sounds ranging from Zappa to Weezer to Captain Beefheart and composed partially of the staff of a local recording studio, the band's musical sensibilities are definitely in the weirdo rock and roll camp, down to the unorthodox substitution of electric tuba for bass guitar on many of the group's songs.
With that said, the band's members couldn't be nicer, friendlier or more down to earth. And their live shows, at times goofy and at other times as serious as a heart attack, are an absolute joy to behold.
So when the band first announced a live show after a one-year hiatus, this reporter was eager to catch up with them.
TucsonSentinel.com: Hey there! For those unfamilar, what's Deschtuco's origin story?
Seth Mauzy: "Once upon a time, a long time ago at Bonnaroos in the mid-aughts Tucsonans Seth Mauzy (rhythm guitar, vocals,) Melissa Mauzy (drums,) and Chris Levesque (electric tuba, bass) met James McGinnis (lead guitar) from Knoxville, Tenn. Tucsonans were just so nice James moved to Tucson for grad school, and the band Deschtuco was born..
"Deschtuco's first show was at the Red Room in November of 2011, just before the Red Room closed..
TS: It's been a while, but the band is back! Is this for good? What have you all been up to recently, musically speaking.
"Technically Deschtuco was never on hiatus, but had some lulls in activity as Melissa had taken a job that was hard to balance with music, especially playing out live. That inspired us to work on finishing our first album since not everyone had to be in the room at the same time. When we did get everyone in the room during the last year it was all about writing new material."
"Melissa has sworn off professional jobs for a while, so expect to see a lot more of Deschtuco..
TS: Thoughts on recording and live gigging? What have been your past experiences? What about the future? I imagine since three of you have been deeply involved in running a recording space, that it colors your efforts!
SM: "We didn't spend much time recording Deschtuco in part because we run Baby Gas Mask Recording Studio, located just south of downtown Tucson. We have been focused on the other bands or audiobooks we were recording."
"As we develop new techniques and upgrade gear, we have used the band to test how the upgrades sound so there are experimental tracks buried in a file somewhere. However, this past year has been a new phase of recording Deschtuco songs and we intend to continue recording. What makes recording fun is the ability to experiment with one line of a song and try different effects until you get it just right."
TS: Future plans as a band? Long term and short term.
SM: "Releasing music! The first album has a lot of the tunes people will be familiar with from shows we were playing in 2017 and 2018. But there are many more songs we have cycled through, plus we are writing lots of new material, so a second album is inevitable..
"For some reason we needed a break from playing live to start recording and writing again, but now that we are in the groove with recording and writing we are ready to get back in the saddle of playing live again. It is just so much fun."
"The next eight years will be several live shows a year, plus releases which can be found on YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify..
TS: Thoughts on the overall state of independent music, especially locally?
"Independent music is alive and well. Just check the internet! However, music and artists aren't funded the way it needs to be at both a national and state level with artist grants, so bands, venues, labels, etc. can be ephemeral. A lot of the bands that were playing live when we started are no longer together, or have morphed into other bands..
"The new bands that are playing now are just as great as the previous bands, so it is great to see the excitement of making music is still alive and well."
TS: Favorite local venues to play past and present?
SM: "If anything, the reduction in the number of venues over the past decade has been the greatest damper on local bands playing out live."
"Flycatcher was hands down our favorite venue to play, so that was a big loss. Luckily there are still some great spots like SkyBar, and there are new ventures like Groundworks that catered to younger musicians that will provide more space for local musicians."
TS: How did you each discover rock and roll? And how did you fall in love with and start playing music? What are your favorite bands of all time and influences?
SM: "We all came together with a mutual appreciation for rock and roll acquired in our childhoods. We had similar taste in music so it was easy to find common ground to start playing."
"Chris and I had played together before under the name Ten Eldritch Acres, which was inspired by They Might Be Giants and Weezer. Melissa brought the RiotGrrrl sensibility to the band with influences like Bikini Kill and, while James brought the blues guitar riffs and jam-tastic solos he has learned from listening to Phish. The rest of the band has forgiven him for liking Phish."
"We all like Ween, Sonic Youth, and Yo La Tengo so there is a lot of those influences in there as well."
TS: Favorite current local bands.
SM: "On Saturday we will be playing with Demonyms who have been playing as long as us. We met them at one of our first shows, and they were just starting out too. They are doing some very intricate material that diverges from our free and loose live sets. We are also playing with Geoff Boyce, who has been writing music for years. His music is wonderfully heartbreaking and danceable at the same time."
"Other bands out there that gives us goosebumps are Logan Green, Demons of South Tucson, Belinda Esquer, Naim Amor, Taco Sauce, Bryan Thomas Parker, Tongs, Golden Boots, and Michael P. and the Gullywashers."
TS: Best gig you've ever played live? Worst? Weirdest?
SM: "The answer to all three of these questions is the Halloween show at Danny's Baboquivari. I won't tell you why, you just had to be there. Let's just say Melissa, the drummer, the one who is supposed to be holding down the beat, has no memory of this show."
TS: Tell us about your next gig!
"Deschtuco hasn't played a show in over a year, so the show this Saturday, December 7, beginning at 9 p.m. at Saint Charles Tavern, we will showcase a year's worth of behind the scenes work recording our first album and writing new songs. And yes, it has taken eight years to finally record an album. The four of us love the live performance and riding a psychedelic jam as far as we can, so previously we spent far more time playing live than recording."
Tucson bands have got you covered...
It's that time again... multiple Tucson bands convene across three nights and two venues to pay homage to some of their favorite bands and raise money for a good cause. In fact, your favorite local music columnist might just be up on the stage one of those nights, as are some of your local favorites.
This year's Great Cover Up benefits KXCI Community Radio and begins next Thursday night, December 12, at 191 Toole. Friday night, the action heads over to Club Congress and Saturday night's showcase returns to 191 Toole.
As always, it'll be a secret which group of locals is playing which set of famous covers until each band hits the stage.
For those who plan to attend, here's the line up of bands and covered artists by day and by venue:
Thursday December 12 at 191 Toole at 7 p.m. local bands Mr. Manager, Fontana Love Triangle, BreakingGlass, Smallvox, Southbound Pilot,the Distortionists, the Minds,the Bennu, and Nick Prevenas will be paying tribute to George Michael, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Janis Joplin, Daniel Johnston, Sex Pistols, Squeeze, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Linda Ronstadt.
Friday, December 13 at Club Congress at 7 p.m. local bands Taco Sauce, Armando Moreno & the Southern Revival, Just Najima, Eugene Borrow, Paul Opocensky, the Muffulettas, Miss Olivia & the Interlopers, and Natalie Pohanic will masquerade as Lana Del Ray, Chris Cornell, Cream, Al Green, Jeff Buckley, the Pixies, the Eagles, and the Doors
Saturday, December 14 at 191 Toole at 7 p.m. local bands Eric Schaffer & the Other Troublemakers, Stripes, Diluvio, Roll Acosta, Little Cloud, Mike Dixon & Friends, Still Life Telescope, Kuasura, and Fitter Happier will interpet Tom Waits, The Clash, Guns & Roses, Dolly Parton, No Doubt, Alabama Shakes, Arctic Monkeys, R.E.M., and the Police.
The Great Cover Up 2019 takes place Thursday and Saturday nights (December 12 and 14) and 191 Toole and at Club Congress on Friday, December 13. Doors open at at 7 p.m. each night.
Check your local listings...
Each week this column compiles a choice selection of live gigs in and around Tucson with the help of good venue and band event announcements and other resources. If you've got a gig coming up and you'd like your event listed in this space (or if your local band has a major announcement or a new release) drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, December 6
- Omni w/ Anchorbaby and Jade Helm - 7 p.m. Club Congress
- Winter Reggae Fest - 7:30 p.m. 191 Toole
- An Irish Christmas 2019 - 7:30 p.m. Fox Theatre
- The Paper Airplanes Project - 8 p.m. Crooked Tooth
- Son Jarocho Collective - 8 p.m. Exo
- Funk Yo House - 9 p.m. Irene's Donuts Tucson
- Cool Jazz at the Dusty Monk - 9 p.m. The Dusty Monk Pub
- Mute Swan, Neglect - 9 p.m. Owls Club
Saturday, December 7
- Arroyo Cafe Holiday Radio Show - 2:30 p.m. Rialto
- C*nts Being C*nts Talking About C*nts: Anna Valenzuela - 7 p.m. The O
- Carlos Arzate, Ryan Alfred, Adam Bruce - 8 p.m. Exo
- Cristela Alonzo - My Affordable Care Act - 8 p.m. Rialto
- Luna13, Casket Snatch, Sonic Sirens, Flying Half Full - 9 p.m. House of Bards
- Joe Pena - 9 p.m. Dusty Monk
- Funky BonZ & Los Streetlights 9 p.m. Sky Bar
- Mark Farina - 9 p.m. 191 Toole
- Acorn Bcorn - 10 p.m. Owls Club
- Birds and Arrows - 10 p.m. Che's Lounge
Sunday, December 8
- Tom Walbank - 7 p.m. The Coronet
- Tablao Flamenco - 8 p.m. Exo
- Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - 7:30 Rialto
- Stevie Rose - 6pm Che's Lounge
Monday, December 9
- Mishka Shubaly & Jake Flores - 8 p.m. Surly Wench
- John Waters Christmas - 7 p.m. Rialto
Tuesday, December 10
- Holiday Song-O - 7 p.m. Crooked Tooth
Wednesday, December 11
- Bayside with Capstan - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
- Little Cloud - 7 p.m. Public Brewhouse
- Vasectomy and Just Najima - 9 p.m. Crooked Tooth
- Losers' Lounge 16: Louise Le Hir - 9 p.m. Owl's Club
Thursday, December 12
- Great Cover Up: Night One - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
- Mega Bog w/ Karima Walker and Stripes - 7 p.m. Club Congress
- Silver Cloud Express - 8:30 p.m. Tap and Bottle
Friday, December 13
- Manly Manlesque Show: Silent Night,Deadly Night - 9 p.m. Surly Wench Pub
- Great Cover Up: Night Two - 6 p.m. Club Congress
- The Walking Toxins - 7:30 p.m. Irene's Holy Donuts
- Xylouris White & Kyklo - 8 p.m. Exo
- Exbats,Wanda Junes, Golden Boots - 8:30 p.m. The Quarry (Bisbee)
- The Rifle, Hemlock (Lafayette), Honey the Fool - 9 p.m. · Sky Bar