Jacuzzi Boys have evolved tremendously in the last nine years. The band started out with lead singer-guitarist Gabriel Alcala and drummer Diego Monasterios as a duo in 2007, with bassist Danny González joining soon afterwards. Punk prince Iggy Pop co-signed the trio after they played at Miami’s Sweat Records on the same bill a few years ago; he has since name dropped them in interviews and attended their local shows. Following the release of their excellent self-titled album in 2013, the band took a couple of years off to work on their new record Ping Pong, which is out now via the band’s own label Mag Mag.
Instead of bringing back overdubs and studio experimentation on this album, the band focused on taking a step back, switching to a more stripped-down approach that is reminiscent of the glossy garage of sophomore album Glazin’. “We were trying to make it more like the live experience. Trying not to experiment so much in the studio like other times, just kind of make it like what it would be when we play together live,” says Danny.
The album’s sound is occasionally more subdued, but it works well for this LP, as they continue to blend elements of pop and psychedelic rock, making each track sonically distinct. The bouncy power pop of “Refrigeration” sits right alongside the dismal teen angst of songs like “Seventeen.”
The record ends with “Tip of My Tongue/Edge of My Brain,” a slow, prismatic track that Gabriel considers one of his favorites from the collection, thanks to the sense of completion it brings to the album. “I think we’re all kind of really stoked on that song. That wasn’t one we had written when we started recording. As we were recording, we were waiting around for something to happen, we just started jamming and that song kind of like happened, “says Danny.
Jacuzzi Boys had the opportunity to experiment on previous albums, but this time around they wanted to focus on time and control, with the goal of creating an album they could feel proud of. “We would record for a few weeks then we’d take time off, and then we would record again for a few weeks and then take time off. We never really had approach like that before. Before it was just like, have the time in the studio, record every single day, and then just be done. This time we had time to listen back and make decisions,” says Danny.
The Miami-born band thrives off the eclecticism of their hometown’s music scenes. “There’s great metal bands; there’s weird noise stuff; there’s just straightforward rock ‘n’ roll bands. A lot goes on that people aren’t aware of and it’s cool. It’s always been that way, but I feel it’s always under-the-radar a bit because the Miami scene, it’s never been like – it’s like a little island. It almost seems like it’s just for us,” says Danny. He notes that the impact of Miami’s massively influential Latino communities is obvious in some bands more than others, but “everyone gets a little bit. It’s all around you, it’s kind of hard to avoid.” He points to Cave of Swimmers, a two-piece band that combines heavy rock with salsa for proof.
As far as the influence the scene had on the band, Danny says, “Miami’s party spirit has definitely played a role. People not from Miami are often surprised we’re from there, so [we’re] not sure if its influence is necessarily apparent to outsiders.”
Ping Pong brings Jacuzzi Boys back to their roots sonically, while showing off their versatility in creating something simple yet striking. Taking a step back from experimentation can sometimes hurt artists, but for Jacuzzi Boys, it has allowed them to mature and carry out the tenacious vision they had for this project.
Jaccuzzi Boys play a record release show at Miami’s Churchill’s Pub on November 19. For more info, click here.