As the lead singer of the brilliant Elefant, Diego Garcia brought sexy back to the alternative world, but wrapped it in a cloak of fantastic songwriting. There was nothing superficial about this group and their reputation as an amazing live band was well earned. Anointed as “the next Interpol” (much to their dismay!), they became college radio favorites and seemed bound for legendary status. Mysteriously, the band disappeared and it’s been a while since we’ve heard from Diego. Upon hearing that he was preparing to release a new record, we lept at the opportunity to interview him. While we found the music to be a change of direction, his reputed swagger clearly hadn’t left him. Here is what Todd was able to glean about the past and future from him.
TDOA: Hopefully you haven’t grown tired of the questions about the dissolution of Elefant. Let’s get this over with, so that we can focus on the future. Rather than ask the obvious “why did the band break up” (which you’re free to answer!), let’s ask how your expectations for the band changed and why going solo is the right place for you right now.
DG: This record is too important to treat it as a “solo/side project.”. Ending “Elefant” removes any sort of security, making this next chapter in my life even more focused and real. The public can feel it when someone’s heart is not 100% there.
TDOA: How did you meet Dhani Harrison and can you talk about playing with him? Will he play on your solo record?
DG: We both were at university together (Brown University), met while playing futbol (soccer) with some friends. That very same day we started making music and have been brothers ever since. I believe the first song we played together was “No Fun” by The Stooges.
“You Were Never There” came together at his house in Los Angeles. And yes, we plan on recording a duet version of this song in the near future.
TDOA: Rock seems to take these cyclical rides where fashion is important and then it isn’t. How would you feel about a rock world where fashion was irrelevant?
DG: Both of these mediums are a way to “express” yourself. Both should come from a place of truth.
TDOA: If you had to describe You Were Never Here to someone that hadn’t heard it yet, what would you tell them it sounds like?
DG: Tt sounds like “the sun setting of the coast of Capri in 1973.”
TDOA: The first time I saw Elefant was as an opener for Interpol. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Interpol, but I thought you blew them off the stage. How was that tour and how do you feel about the direction Interpol has taken?
DG: Elefant was tight. A very powerful band live. That tour was so long ago, (with) many beautiful memories. Paul and I have stayed close. He’s quality. I wish Interpol only the best.
TDOA: We’re thoroughly interested in musicians who’ve been around for a while and can look back on their art with some perspective. Can you talk about the evolution of lyrical inspiration as you grow older?
DG: What’s important is having something to say. How you say it is is different for all artists. There is no right or wrong way as long as its sincere and honest.
TDOA: The New York scene has been legendary for eons. Do you still consider yourself to be part of that scene and do you think NYC is still an integral part of the music world?
DG: I’m not to concerned with being part of any scene, but having your finger on the pulse is important. It’s essential to surviving as an artist. NYC is still very important, but much less integral with the introduction of the internet. The web has changed things.
TDOA: How far into the process of writing and recording a new record are you?
DG: Record is finished.
TDOA: How different is the process as a solo artist, versus working in the confines of a band?
DG: A band is defined by its limitations. While a “solo” career is a much more conceptual journey. Both can produce wonderful results when the stars align.
TDOA: What do you hope to achieve with the new record? Do you want the cover of Rolling Stone or a 10 from Pitchfork? What’s more important?
DG: My work is done. I made an album without compromising. I made it to survive. Lets hope the kids like it.