Totimoshi: Rock road warriors
By Andrew Nickerson
Totimoshi embodies the kind of musical lifestyle I admire in a band (and I’m not alone) with their focus on touring and chugging along album after album for the sake of their creative output and the experiences that only life on the road can bring. Now that their latest album Avenger is being released on vinyl by Maryland based label At A Loss, they are returning to our corner of the country after a show with the Melvins at the Wild Buffalo last year.
Totimoshi began as a project between guitarist/vocalist Antonio Aguilar and bassist/vocalist Meg Castellanos in Oakland in 1997. They have rotated through drummers over the years but have been playing with Chris Fugitt on drums since around their 2008 album Milagrosa. Since their formation Totimoshi have put out six albums and have been on over an estimated 20 tours, including their national tour with The Melvins last year.
The band resides in the hard rock vein and ranges from gloomy angst to wanderlust rawk as exemplified in songs like “Waning Divine” and “Avenger” (both off of Avenger). The band ventures into classic rock throwback with songs like “Viva Zapata” (off of Ladron) which features melodic lead guitar work in the intro which thrilled me as it kept me in anticipation throughout it’s multiple build-ups and simplifications (this instrumental track was included in the 2007 SXSW Showcase comp). But the band travels further from the classic sound with tracks that sound more like a Steve Albini productions, such as the song “Mainline” (off Avenger) with start/stop song sections and tin-house reverb before sliding into a haunting harmonic chorus.
The band relocated to the Los Angeles a few years ago (Aguilar being originally from southern California) and Aguilar says that the move has changed not only Totimoshi’s sound, but also the music of other transplants like Big Business/Melvins and Tweak Bird. Aguilar cites the warmer climate for injecting a slight sense of optimism and melodic song structures into the products of L.A. bands.
“Oakland is a really dark place,” said Aguilar, “it’s really kind of a sad place… It’s almost like a city that verging on the point of boiling over continuously and I think that the music that comes out of Oakland, there’s a lot of sludge and grindcore and really super-heavy dark music that comes out of there.”
Touring, Totimoshi have experienced everything the road has to offer from the relentlessly monotonous drives with band members “acting like babies,” to the extreme, like an attempted suicide at a house they were staying at several years ago.
“I could write a book about this stuff at this point,” said Aguilar. “I like [touring] though. I like seeing new places. Life gets really boring when you’re continuously taking place in the mundane. At home, I would just be daydreaming anyway and wanting to get out.”
The majority of Totimoshi’s 2011 release Avenger was recorded and produced by Toshi Kasai of Big Business and Page Hamilton of Helmet in their practice space thanks to Hamilton’s mobile rig. Aguilar said this made the recording process more convenient and cost-effective which is becoming more and more important for bands these days. Currently, Totimoshi only has West Coast dates booked in support of the vinyl release but they would like to head back east if they can get bigger shows. The price of gas is keeping them locked into playing regionally, where they will be touring with Android Hero in Washington and Oregon and with Black Elk in California.
Coming up! Catch Totimoshi at The Shakedown on April 12. For more info about the band, visit www.totimoshi.com/