The Melvins have inspired countless bands, from Nirvana to Tool to Mastodon, but the one they're bringing with them to the High Noon Saloon June 26 is among the most refreshing. Built upon two Oakland residents' shared embrace of heavy music and Latin American identity, Totimoshi transforms sludge-rock into a celebration of culture clashes and musical mashups.
I spoke with bassist Meg Castellanos about Totimoshi's Cuban and Mexican roots, the group's upcoming album and its members' friendship with King Buzzo and the Melvins gang.
How has your cultural background - and vocalist/guitarist Tony Aguilar's - influenced the band's sound?
Tony grew up in a Mexican family and listened to a lot of roots music from Mexico. My family's half-Cuban, and I studied flamenco dancing and listened to a lot of that music. As a couple, we think Spanish sounds are really beautiful, and it's just part of who we are.
I heard you're recording a new album. How's that going?
We're in the middle of writing it. So far, we've got seven songs written and five recorded. It's a bit of a departure from the last one [the 2008 concept album Milagrosa, Spanish for "miracle worker"] in that it's a little more rocking. We've been touring a lot and want to play songs that aren't quite as introspective but fun and outgoing and aggressive.
You guys are often described as "inspired by the Melvins." What's it like touring with a band you look up to?
I was listening to the Melvins when I got into really heavy music, before I'd even picked up a bass. They were the ones I would drive, like, 17 hours to see live.
We've known them for a while now and are pretty good friends, but we're still learning so much from them. Every night of this tour, we're trying to soak up what they do and how they carry themselves, hoping it'll rub off on us in some way. To be as relevant as they are after 25 years and be calling the shots the way they do, that's really impressive. So even though our sludgy sound is coming from a really different place, we're always honored to be compared to them.