It has been 12 years since the beginning of Florida-based band Look Mexico. They are still in the music game and released a new LP earlier this year while juggling life, babies and relocation. That LP, titled Uniola , came out on Tiny Engines in June. Editor Samantha Barrett spoke with singer/guitarist Matt Agrella about Vin Diesel, the new album and The Fest.
You guys made a new album this year, itâ€™s been 5 years since your last release. What made you decide to make a new album?
Wellâ€¦ we started writing the record pretty quickly after we finished recording the last EP, Real Americans Spear It. We just wanted to put something else out, kinda going back to a style of writing and instrumentation to be more like what we listen to and what we enjoy to write. Itâ€™s funny because we were like â€œyeah, let's jump right into thisâ€ and then it took quite a long time to finish. We just wanted to put together a full-length that we were really excited about. Itâ€™s interesting how it ended up happening. We started recording it in 2012 and most of the music was finished. Weâ€™re all living in Austin at the time, so one by one we all weâ€™re moving back to Florida. After all of that kinda happened, we were not able to work on the record for a while. And within the last year or year and a half, we were just hitting it hard. So yeah, so it finally happened.
Do you think that the transition from moving from Austin, TX back to Florida helped change the lyrical direction with this album?
It's interesting because most of the music were already done. There was only one song that we were writing and recording once we were in Florida. But what is interesting is that… most of the music was recorded in Austin and then probably 8 of the songs, the lyrics weren't written for a while. For this one the guitarist and I kinda co-wrote all of the lyrics on this album. It's interesting because I guess that time spent in Florida most affected the lyrics. Just because the whole record is about the transition over the last 3 to 4 years. I think it also kinda changed the inflection, how the lyrics were sung and what was behind it. I think maybe it changed the tone, the tone reflects our move more than anything else just because the music was already there.
You guys released albums on many many labels before. What made you guys decide to release Uniola on Tiny Engines?
We have been talking with Chuck and Will for a while. It just felt the most right. I think since weâ€™re the first release on Tiny Engines, we also planned on being, I don't remember if it was the 40th release or the 50th. We were, like yeah it's gonna be this cool thing but then we took way too long to finish the record so that release number kinda passed. All of us was super excited and really stoked on what we could put together and they were also supportive of us not being the full time on the road musicians that we used to be and all that stuff. We have all the respect for what they have done and what they continue to do. It was just really exciting to get back to a familiar place. Chuck had done our PR since our second EP in 2005. He found us at a show in Charlotte, NC and we have had a long relationship with him. He was the biggest help, we would always call him with questions and a shoulder to cry on and all that stuff.
In the future would you go back to releasing things with?
Oh absolutely! They are awesome.
Some people say that Look Mexico is an underrated band. How do you feel about that?
That is a hard question to answer. I guess, sure, I guess you kinda think that about your band at any point. That there is kinda self-doubt, self-deprecation, always you feel like you are underrated. I'm gonna say Yes. I think we are, it's hard. I think that when we were touring 6-8 months out of the year that all we would think about is playing music and eating what we call it peanut butter spoon. It was a jar of peanut butter where everyone would use a spoon or two that just stayed in the jar and this was your meal. You know the dollar menu, all that stuff. It just got to a point where if we can refocus to music as being more of an enjoyment, an outlet where we can show our art and do it and not sleep on floors. I think it takes a long time of doing that type of things for bands to break through. We're just happy to be able to write, record music and play a show when we can and have opportunities like Fest, other festivals and great stuff like that.
You guys named your album Uniola, What is the meaning behind Uniola? Uniola is a type of plant that grows along coastlines and it can grow in sand. I think it is a sea oat, it prevents erosion. It kinda stays there even through harsh conditions and stuff like that. It just seems fitting. Something that just stays there, itâ€™s constant. We wanted to try to put some meaning behind the title. We wanted to have something that means something to us that went along with the album cover, it's a volcano in Costa Rica and that kinda goes along with it.
Is it kinda like a metaphor about your band?
Exactly and not just the band but as people in general. Everyone goes through their own stuff, to be able to still stick around and go through it together and still do your own thing. I guess it's just cool I guess.
What goes into coming up with your song titles?
All of the song titles are Vin Diesel quotes from his movies. Every single one. Basically, the original guitarist (Dave Bumsted) and I, when we first started college there was a dollar theater in town, Tuesday nights would be 50 cent movie night. It's funny, they called it that because it was just half priced tickets and it ended up being 75 cents. At the time a bunch of Vin Diesel movies had gone to the dollar movies or $1.50 movie. So there was xXx, Fast and The Furious, and Chronicles of Riddick… One of these Tuesday nights we were watching and we were like â€œMAN everything he says is incredible. This guy, his one liners are just epic.â€ I think one night we were like for sure these should be song titles, so we did it. The actual process is, I will sit down and watch a Vin Diesel movie and I'll have a (before i phones) a notebook and write down all of the awesome stuff that he said. Now it is much easier because you would just type it in your phone. I think for this last record I just watched 3 movies. After all the recording, all the titles are the very last thing we get together. We have running titles for the songs when recording and we do this process. I would have a few pages of titles ideas, we would get together, put the record on and listen to it. We would go through it and pick which song titles worked with each song. It's funny we kinda nerd out on it, we try to connect the lyrics to the title of the songs. This album has â€œWe are Grootâ€ on the record, I think on that one we talk about an oak tree that looses all its leaves so there was Groot from Guardians of The Galaxy. So that one was a little bit more on the nose that the other ones. There is definitely more to it than it might seem.
Are you guys actually fans of Vin Diesel?
Absolutely he makes entertaining movies. They do keep on making Fast and The Furious movies. Which is crazy to me, there are so many of them. It's like Land Before Time, there are like 10 of those.
Will you guys tour to support this release?
Yes. we have to do it a little bit differently. We have to spread it out. We already played some Florida shows, our plan is to kinda do some short dates in different areas. Kinda like the North East and just kinda go from there. None of us are in positions where we can do these nice two month tours anymore but we plan on playing as many spots as we can.
You guys have been playing Fest since forever, Do you have a favorite fest moment?
Personally, they're all amazing! Probably it must have been Fest 11, I have to check, we played before Braid. That was pretty awesome but my string broke during our set and my backup guitar was upstairs in the gear room, that was kinda embarrassing. That was amazing and embarrassing at the same time. I feel it was nervous to play with someone like that and break a string so…all was fine.