AWESOME HAWKS Centro-matic

Splitting the bill with Dual Hawks,
the Centro-matic/South San Gabriel
way.

 

BY JOHN SCHACHT

 

Seasoned
followers of what Will Johnson calls his “cottage industry” of musical outlets
sensed something was up when months stretched into years between releases. For
the hyper-prolific Johnson—who penned eight Centro-matic, two South San Gabriel
and two solo discs between 1996 and 2006—it’s rare for even 12 months to lapse
before something surfaces bearing his “The Headwound Was a Setback” BMI copyright.

 

But
now patient fans get their reward with Dual
Hawks
, a specially-priced split double CD featuring one disc of
Centro-matic’s high-octane guitar fuzz and fist-pumping anthems and one of South San Gabriel’s atmospheric experiments. (All the
Centro-matic members are also in SSG.)

 

“2007
was by far our quietest year since we started the band,” Johnson says, adding
that the idea of a double album has been floating around since 2006’s Fort Recovery. “We all felt that after
11, 12 records, why shouldn’t we just release whatever the hell kind of record
we want to?”

 

The
raucous Centro album was recorded in one week during the summer of 2006. The 11
tracks deliberately hark back to early rough-and-tumble efforts like Redo the Stacks, where most of the songs
were written in the studio and recorded the same day.
“Centro-matic is just about turning up the guitars and having
fun,” he says.

 

The
South San Gabriel side is another animal altogether. Johnson tinkered for
months with his most ambitious set of songs before the February 2007 sessions.
What he calls “sex and darkness” narratives are embedded in meditative winter
melodies and built on processed beats that contrast beautifully with chamber
string arrangements by Robert Gomez and Centro/SSG fiddler Scott Danbom. “The
beats give us room to play around and head out to open waters musically,” he
says.

 

“You’ve got to find
ways to have fun and see things anew and reinvent. There’s a lot of room within
both of those bands to keep our musical relationships and our friendships
healthy—that’s all I really wanted from the thing.”

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