El Paso Music Scene

Interview with Chris Gaffney of The Hacienda Brothers

Since combining to start The Hacienda Brothers, Chris Gaffney of Cold Hard Truth and Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men, and Dave Gonzalez of The Paladins, have been playing a mix of traditional country music and soul. Their producer, Dan Penn, famous for writing for Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, calls their music, "Western Soul." EPMS caught up with them as they were driving in the hill country west of San Antonio, where they performed the previous night. The cell signal was tenuous during the whole conversation, but we did get in a number of questions with vocalist Chris Gaffney before losing the signal altogether.

EPMS: Tell us about your recent three-week tour in Europe?

Chris Gaffney: It was wonderful. Great scenery, beautiful people. We went to Holland, Belgium, Germany, and England. All the shows were great. We went to Ireland, too.

EPMS: Had you ever been to Europe before?

Chris Gaffney: Oh, yeah, probably four or five times, with Alvin, but also as a solo performer. I first went over in '93, I think.

EPMS: Really? That's seems unusual.

Chris Gaffney: I didn't come to the U.S. until I was four. I was born over there, in Vienna, Austria. We lived in Italy, after World War II.

EPMS: Let me ask a naive question: y'all seem to be big in country music. Why not just stay in Nashville year-round?

Chris Gaffney: I have nothing against the town, it's just that I'm not desperate. I'll do things my own way, that's why. I tell you what, right now, we're in Comfort, Texas. There's beautiful countryside here, and you don't get to see that in Nashville. We're going to be in Alpine tonight, and then tomorrow we'll be in probably one of my favorite Texas cities, El Paso. El Paso and I go way back. All the way back to Fort Bliss.

EPMS: When were you at Fort Bliss?

Chris Gaffney: 1968.

EPMS: Do you still tour with Dave Alvin?

Chris Gaffney: Yes. Now about three-fourths of what I do is the Hacienda Brothers, and about one-fourth with Dave Alvin. He's my best friend. I'll be back on tour with him if I have down time.

EPMS: How many days a year are y'all on the road, each, in your different bands?

Chris Gaffney: I'll guesstimate that we've been out since March, after this tour is over, we'll probably have two weeks off, then go out again to the West Coast, up to Seattle, then probably Scandinavia in the fall.

EPMS: How hard was it to decide to start the Hacienda Brothers?

Chris Gaffney: We've been friends forever, we have a love for the same music, and we played a birthday party in Tucson, which is my hometown, that worked out pretty well, then we decided to write, and it took off from there. Then Dan Penn came, we recorded some songs, and Dan went back to Nashville and mixed it.

EPMS: How is the second album coming?

Chris Gaffney: We've cut a few songs, we're not all the way done yet. We'll probably get back to it in the Fall. We have seven or eight songs. It's on the back burner.

EPMS: What are your goals for the second album?

Chris Gaffney: To make lot of money. LOL. I kid. We're writing a lot. Just to have a quality record. We're gonna be playing it the rest of our lives.

EPMS: How will it be different from the first?

Chris Gaffney: You'll find similarities, but it'll be different. I'm so sick of me. I have to change up things a little bit. After hearing myself so long, I wish Tony Bennett would sing for me for a while. I have to keep things fresh.

EPMS: You and Dave are both supporters of the traditional country style and tradition of music?

Chris Gaffney: Yeah, you might as well play the right stuff. I don't care for new country that much. I wish the people that are doing it well, but it's not my cup of tea. I love the hell out of soul music.

EPMS: Where is the soul influence from?

Chris Gaffney: I don't know, anywhere from Otis Redding to Sonny and the Sunlighters. Dan had a lot to do with it.

EPMS: Your partner, Dave Gonzalez was quoted in All the Rage (Nashville), as saying, "We can play a rock joint, but if someone wants us to play a dancehall in Texas, we can do that too."
Do y'all play rock joints?

Chris Gaffney: You mean honky tonks? Yes, honky tonks and dance halls, I've played 'em all my life.

EPMS: What instruments are played by your band?

Chris Gaffney: Steel guitar, Bass, Drums, Guitar, and Accordion.

EPMS: How long have you and Dave been playing professionally, each?

Chris Gaffney: That's very kind of you to say, 'professionally...'

At this point, after constant static, the call was finally dropped.

The Hacienda Brothers will be at The T Lounge on Sunday, May 29. If you want to see what "Western Soul" is all about, take this opportunity to see them.

- Charles Hurley

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