[The following interview is transcribed from John Sekerka's radio show,
Tape Hiss, which runs on CHUO FM in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and is also run in John's
own magazine, Thrust. On occassion, Cosmik
Debris prints a transcript of one of these interviews, what with John bein' so
nice 'n friendly with us and everything, and, you know... us having the
negatives of the 1997 staff Christmas party in a safe place. This month, we're pleased
to bring you an interview with Mario of The Dragons. - Ed.]
Driving home to his family after monitoring police scanners for a news station, Mario
talks of his band The Dragons, their last studio album R*L*F (Rock Like Fuck, named
after a tour from legendary Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe), and his legendary
[Wanna hear The Dragons? Well how bout
hear? Gotta have Real Audio, tho.]
John: Where are you Mario?
Mario: I'm on the cell phone, on the 805 Freeway in San Diego.
John: Let's dissect your lineage. Are you the youngest of thirteen?
Mario: Yeah, lucky thirteen, the last one on the right. My two older brothers played in Santana for a couple of years, on the second and third albums I do believe, and went on to play more Latin jazz in the Bay area. That was Pete and Coke Escovedo. Pete is father to Sheila E. My older brothers Javier and Alejandro, Alejandro played in The Nuns, Rank and File and they both played in True Believers. Javier played in The Zeros, a legendary punk band from California.
John: You're like the Kevin Bacon of rock and roll.
Mario: True, there's nine degrees of separation between me and anyone in rock and roll.
John: What is the age difference between the brothers?
Mario: Javier is six years older, after that it gets kinda blurry, or they tell me to say anyway.
John: Alejandro doesn't like to give it out?
Mario: Naw he still thinks he's a teenager. When we go to liquor stores he still gets carded and I don't. He's got that baby face and he knows how to work it too.
John: So you must have been pretty young when all this early west coast punk action was taking place.
Mario: Me and Javier used to share bunk beds when he was in The Zeros and I was still in junior high. When the music was first coming over, he had it blaring all day long. Everything from the New York Dolls to Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers to the Clash to the Sex Pistols. He had it before anyone else. Seven inchers all night long. It was embedded in my mind.
John: Isn't it the Nuns who opened for The Sex Pistols on their infamous San Francisco date?
Mario: That's right.
John: Does Alejandro ever speak of those days?
Mario: Now and then. Those were good days, when everyone was learning how to play guitar and starting out. That's definitely one of his fondest memories.
John: Coming from such a musical lineage I would have thought you'd have been playing guitar early on, but that didn't happen until twenty years of age. Why is that?
Mario: I was the one in the family that was supposed to be a doctor or a lawyer or something, but that never seemed to work out. Javier took me out to Sunset Strip on Hollywood Boulevard and bought me my first guitar, a Gibson Melody Maker, and that was that.
John: How did your brothers wind up in L.A.?
Mario: At seventeen Javier was playing with The Zeros at places like the Whiskey A Go-Go with other legendary bands, sneaking in, pretending he was old enough. After a few years he dropped outta school left San Diego and went to Hollywood, and lived the life.
John: Let's get back to your oldest brothers.
Mario: Coke is no longer with us. Pete and Coke had a couple of bands after Santana, Azteca was the most famous one. I remember as a kid being dragged by the hand backstage to the Santana shows.
John: Did Carlos ever come over to the house to hang out?
Mario: (laughing) I'm sure he did, but I was pretty young then.
-just then the cell phone cuts out. a couple of minutes later the connection is made again-
John: Mario, are you okay?
Mario: Yeah I didn't kill anybody, I'm all right.
John: Let's get back to Santana. I wanna hear about concerts at bull rings.
Mario: I believe that was Azteca playing a concert at a bull ring. The fights were on during the day and the show at night. I'll never forget it cuz the backstage dressing room was where the bull fighters were treated. People were back there partying and there was still blood on the chairs.
John: And what about your connection to pro wrestling in San Francisco?
Mario: You might call it semi-pro. It's a show called Incredibly Strange Wrestling, which is theme wrestling with rock bands performing in between. You might see The Border Patrol vs. The Illegal Aliens and then we come on. They gave the audience tortillas, and when we came up the food started flying.
John: More reason for chicken wire. Where does that happen?
Mario: It was at The Transmission Theatre, but now they moved it to the Fillmore.
John: What is the history of The Dragons?
Mario: We've been around for ten years, and had a chance to play with a lot of people we've been inspired by, like Johnny Thunders and Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks. It's been a great ride so far.
John: Any good Johnny Thunders stories?
Mario: At that time he was in search of pot instead of that other stuff, so he was in a good mood, and it was just nice to talk to him about the Yankees. He was a big baseball fan. I'm also a fan, though I'm stuck with the Padres down here, but they'll be coming around sooner or later.
John: Who have you played with recently?
Mario: X, the original line-up. The Supersuckers.
John: Now that would be a smoking double bill.
Mario: Dan has actually moved down here from Seattle. Picture someone walking on Ocean Beach with that big cowboy hat and boots, with surf trunks on and carrying a boogie board.
John: What a picture that is. Is there a close San Diego scene?
Mario: Everything revolves around the Casbah club, and everybody hangs out there, and everyone seems to get along.
John: Is it true that you were courted by Malcolm McLaren?
Mario: That was a misquote. It was when I was between bands, just after M-80 and before The Dragons. It was actually Bernie Rhodes the manager from The Clash. He was putting together a band in L.A. and was looking for a lead singer. He took us out to dinner, it was pretty bizarre. He pulled in a hot rod with a long legged blond - he looked the part: a crazy old Brit who had seen it all. At the time Javier was in New York, and he was friends with a famous writer so I asked her opinion on Bernie Rhodes. So she got on the phone to Keith Richards. He said well you better call Joe Strummer, so she calls Joe Strummer and eventually the word gets back to me to stay away from Bernie Rhodes. The brother connections definitely help out sometimes.
John: What do your brothers think about The Dragons?
Mario: Javier has definitely been the biggest supporter, the closest in the family for me. Alejandro is a smart ass, always teasing me with lines like, "I like what you're trying to do ... what you kids are going for."
John: Have you ever played with your brothers on stage?
Mario: Yeah, one night when Alejandro was playing at the South By Southwest Music festival in Austin, he called Javier up, and the next thing you know I was up there. I don't remember much of it - a few too many Jack and Cokes - but I hear we played a pretty wild version of "Hot Legs".