Back to innocence

Javier Escovedo: “To the Escovedos, it’s weird if you’re not playing music.”
  • Javier Escovedo: “To the Escovedos, it’s weird if you’re not playing music.”

Javier Escovedo’s return to local music has been gradual. The guitarist/songwriter is an on-again, off-again San Diegan. He lived in Huntington Beach before moving to Chula Vista in his teens. In the mid ’70s, Escovedo’s first band, the Zeros, traded San Diego’s puny punk scene for audiences in Los Angeles. Roots-rock aficionados are more likely to know him for his work with the Austin-based True Believers.

“I was in Hollywood for twelve years, New York for two, Austin for five, and San Francisco for three. But everyone knows that if you want to make it in the music business, you should live in Chula Vista. I came back in 2007. For a few years I wasn’t doing anything locally. One day I realized, I live here — I should do things here. It’s been fun playing new places. I’ve found new musicians — Thomas Kitsos, Xavier Anaya, and Anders Larsson — to help bring the City Lights material across.

“The Zeros were about being in high school. We didn’t know what we were doing when we made those records — that’s why it worked. It’s what I tried to re-create with City Lights...I wanted to get back the innocence of when I started playing, that moment of discovery, that spark. I have a vivid memory of writing ‘Cosmetic Couple’ for the Zeros, at my parents’ house, with a reel-to-reel recorder. I recorded two tracks of guitar and double-tracked the vocals. I was so happy when I played it back.”

Past Event

Javier Escovedo, TomTen, Saint Shameless

  • Saturday, August 30, 2014, 8 p.m.
  • Tin Can, 1863 Fifth Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+ / $7

What about re-creating the wildness?

“I’ve had many wild nights...it would take too long. In Spain, with the Zeros, I fell off the stage, with my guitar — on top of a policeman. And that was at sound check. Thankfully, I don’t do things like that these days.

“After playing music for years, [now] it’s comfortable. It’s who I am. But performing is a very strange thing if you dissect it, and I have. To play in front of an audience is not very quote/unquote normal behavior — I see it as more odd than anything. To the Escovedos, it’s weird if you’re not playing music. I might even have not played music just to get back at my family. How messed up is that?”

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