Talk Music: Toxic Fuse is way cool
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Toxic Fuse at Shenanigans Fest
• WHEN: Noon-2 a.m. Saturday
• WHERE: The Mustang, 309 Crestwood Drive
• ALSO FEATURING: A.A.O.G., Ambient, Closed Eyes Open, Davy & Amelia, The Flying Buttresses, I-69 Victoria, Jared Harville, Legal Limit Band and Poor Favor
They came to Victoria like a herd of buffalo: kicking up dust and crushing everything in their path.
Blending the spirit of an old-time western with the energy and flare of their psychedelic spaghetti counterparts, Toxic Fuse takes the best of both worlds - the old and the new, the classic and the far out - and throws it all in the air with a laugh.
Frontman Chris Ordonez caught up with Get Out to talk about the making of the band, its plans to put out a new record and why his record collection is bigger than yours.
You guys are coming up on your 10-year anniversary. What's kept the band together?
Toxic Fuse started in 2005. Me and Mellisa have been the core.
It's me writing the music, and she's my wife, so we spend a lot of time together playing. She supports me, so that's pretty much the reason. Other than us two being constant, we've had a lot of different members come and go.
Who is in the newest lineup?
Me and Mellisa, Chris Scott on drums and currently Stephanie Perry on guitar.
Stephanie used to play with Mellisa and I in the Helltones; we played together many years with her.
When I started Toxic Fuse, I had different guys playing guitar, but I don't really recall what happened with us and Stephanie that she came back around.
She was just kind of bored and wanting to play music again, and I offered for her to play with us. She's been with us about a couple of years now.
And Chris, he was a friend of a friend. He was in a band called Gusto Pan; I met him through Danny Kuykendall. We just hung out after a show we played together and became friends. I saw him at a restaurant, and it just so happened I was looking for a drummer. It worked out.
What role do you see your music having on the Victoria music scene?
We really just play for our own enjoyment. I'm not really trying to set any trends or make any plans or fans. I just play because I have to.
Sometimes, people come up to us and say they enjoy it; sometimes, people don't really respond at all.
I would hope that it would at least get people to try to play music and start their own bands.
There's already a lot of bands playing and doing different music styles; I don't think I really have any influence on that. It's just the town and the people growing.
Did you grow up in Victoria?
I've lived here all my life. I had an older cousin who moved here from Houston when I was 11. He turned me on to punk rock. Back then, we were going to Corpus Christi a lot, and I got into skateboarding.
Skateboarding magazines had a lot of music and band reviews, so that's where I really got into punk.
I didn't get into garage or blues until I went to Victoria College when I was 18. A few guys I had known growing up, but I didn't really know, turned me on to the garage and '60s music.
A lot, too, had to do with the band The Cramps. They covered a lot of rockabilly and garage songs. When I found out they were covers, I would dig up the original versions, and that's where that came from.
I had a lot of time on my hands because I was a lonely teenager. Now, I have a huge record collection, and that takes up most of my time.
What inspires your songwriting most?
Lately, we've been doing mostly all originals. We may do a few covers for these next couple of gigs. As far as our catalogue, it's probably more on the original side, but we have a lot of covers we like to do.
The songwriting is mostly inspired by personal relationship experience; most of them are love songs or something that have to do with me and my wife.
I don't write songs about made-up situations; they're all real-to-life stories. I don't just sit down and say I'm going to sit down and write a song. If I go through something hard - a life lesson or something that was painful - then I'll be able to write. It's an outlet.
What do the people you work with say about the band?
I work for an oil-field repair service. They tease me if our song comes on the radio in the shop. They're real cool. Some of the guys have gone out to see us play. Other than that, they just treat me like a normal guy.
It seems your music takes on more of the retro, garage punk style. What's the experience like playing music with decades-old influences?
I like a lot of '60s garage music and roots music like rockabilly and country and '60s soul music. Of course, I got into punk when I was younger, and I've always liked it. This is kind of a mix of a lot of those influences.
A couple of years ago, I got into psychedelic music; it doesn't show a lot, but it's an influence stylistically.
I think we sound more rootsy with cowboy chords and progressions.
We're not really going for a specific style - it's just whatever comes out. All the other guys in the band, they have their own influences.
I've met a lot of people that like this kind of music, blues and soul. I'm about to be 40, and I have friends in the mid-20s that are collecting '60s soul records. Once vinyl started making a comeback, a lot of people started looking to older music. When I started out, there was really no one who was into garage music, but now, I think it's getting more common among young people.
A lot of times, people don't understand what we're doing, but compared to five or six years ago, people are getting it more.Do you have big plans with the band for this year?
We want to do some recording. We have a lot of songs that need to get recorded and put out.
My wife has a record label, Helltunes, and we put out our LP and few singles that we did the last couple of years. It's been over a year since we released anything, so that's our main focus now. The gigs just come up.
We're going to just continually play at least once or twice a month, but right now, we're really trying to get into doing some recording.
What else is on your mind?
I love music, and I think it's important for people. Sometimes when people feel like they're alone or are going through something that no one can help or know about, music can always help. That's been one thing for me listening to other bands and hearing the songs they write. It's inspired me because this guy went through the same thing I did. It's just something I think is good therapy.
I want people to enjoy the music. A lot of time, people can't enjoy the lyrics in the live setting; that doesn't bother me at all. I'm not in a bad mood all the time. I like to have fun, and we try to stay upbeat so people can dance.
I think when people have private time and can dig into what the songs are about, they may find that there's a whole different story they weren't aware of or maybe will relate it to something they're going through.
Melissa Crowe will listen to anything once, twice if she likes it. Got a song you'd like to share? Chat with her on twitter @MelCrowe or message her at firstname.lastname@example.org.