Tijuana Cartel: still fightin’ the good fight

Tijuana Cartel have been getting Gold Coast audiences off their butts and onto dancefloors for nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they got their first decent break with single White Dove getting airplay on Triple J.

That break opened up plenty of new doors for the GC beat merchants. Mella Bunker talked to Paul George (lead guitar and vocals) just before their Bluesfest performance about what’s happened since then and how 2014 will unfold for the lads. Story by Samantha Morris.
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“We did tour a lot, we had a swell of people coming and we were selling shows out everywhere, but we were a bit under the radar,” he explained.

“When we released White Doves which was pretty popular on Triple J, a lot of doors really just opened to us,” Paul said. “A lot of festivals and things that wouldn’t talk to us beforehand.”

That single was the catalyst for a European tour and a short stint in the USA. Paul (pictured perfoming at Bluesfest) said they went to California trying to get a record deal.

“We ended up with a management team there who actually do pop bands, which is funny for us. But you know, they’ll bring us over and we’ll tour and take it from there. We’re starting from scratch in America so it could be a lot of empty pubs I suppose.”

The current format of the band comprises Paul as lead guitarist and vocals, Carey O’Sullivan on keys and production and Daniel Gonzalez on percussion. They’ve been working hard over recent months to finish 10 songs which will make up a new album due for release in October.

“We only have a couple more to go,” Paul said. “Now it’s just a matter of when we’re going to release it, what we think are the singles and how we work them into our live shows.”

And of course, on the back of a new album comes tours. Paul hints at a gig at Rabbit+Cocoon in the near future as well as the summer festival circuit to promote their new offering.

From what’s on the horizon to the band’s past, Paul reflects a little on how Tijuana Cartel actually came about. He and Carey started out doing chill-out type sets in cafes and hotels around the coast.

“We enjoyed it, but started to get a bit bored. We just loved getting people dancing, so as we played our beats got louder and faster and it evolved from there,” he said.

“One problem we did have as a band was that we kept changing directions for a while. To do well in terms of marketing you need to do one type of thing and we’re too bipolar to stick to it.”

“We don’t really fit into a box. You don’t know what people are going to like,” he said.

Tijuana cartel played a couple sets at Bluesfest, their sixth time at the event but first go on the main stage. They’re also playing at Ningaloo Shark Festival in WA where Daniel their percussionist now lives.

Paul sounds a bit like a hippie when he speaks of his love for the Gold Coast hinterland. “You can go up to Springbrook and have a whole waterfall to yourself,” he said. And he’s just as quick to praise Gold Coast’s music scene.

“I don’t get to come back here often enough. Karl S Williams, I see him around. I like Bleeding Knees Club but I’m nearly too old for that,” he said.

I think there’s quite a few good things: the things going on at Rabbit+Cocoon and Swingin’ Safari,” he said.

We’ve got a good little underground scene going on and it’s not too bad for the size of the Coast,” he said.

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Image courtesy Gina Martin.
You can listen to Tijuana Cartel’s brand new single Still Fighting at soundcloud.com/tijuana-cartel
Or you can catch them live at Soundlounge Currumbin on Friday 27 June.

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