Friday, Nov. 2, 2012
By Dege Legg
Singer, songwriter and crazy-talented guitarist Jon Sanchez has one of the most insane résumés on the planet for a gigging musician. Born and raised in the chemical waste trap of Baton Rouge, Sanchez eventually migrated to NYC, Atlanta and then Austin in the ’90s. Sanchez began his trek into the music world, banging through the hardcore, punk rock wilderness of the 1980s — back when the internet was a Xerox rag and being cool came hard and slow to the low dudes on the totem pole. Sanchez plowed black chowder in No More Fun and later the thrashcore blitzkrieg of Chaos Horde — one of many under-appreciated Louisiana bands way ahead of their time. After a stint as guitarist in hardcore legends Agnostic Front during the mid-80s, Sanchez ping-ponged around various bands from Atlanta to Austin where he fronted The Flying Saucers and Summer Wardrobe. Sanchez currently plays guitar in the touring band for ’60s psych legend Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) and buzzes electo-bleeps in his latest musical journey, Paraguay.
History of Jon Sanchez in five words, more or less?
Found music, stayed alive, play.
Why music? Why not Jon Sanchez: false-proselytizing preacher?
It was the only thing I wanted to do.
You were a founding member of the legendary Baton Rouge hardcore/thrash-metal outfit Chaos Horde. What was the craziest gig y’all ever played? Who’s the most unlikely fan that’s ever approached you, singing the praises of Chaos Horde?
The craziest Chaos Horde gig was a street party in front of the ghetto apartments on Chimes Street. Somebody threw a teargas bomb at us in the middle of our set, and everybody thought it was some kind of stage gimmick. People were getting wild and excited until the cloud really hit. Then everybody ran screaming. The most unlikely person to bring up Chaos Horde to me was Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Down. He said that he loved C.H. and wanted me to sing it.
Any other cool memories of the ’80s hardcore scene in Baton Rouge? Sloan? Jacy’s?
Me and Sloan played in No More Fun together for years. He was the most committed and fearless skater I’ve ever met. Sloan was raw. I knew him when he lived in Austin, but by that time he was on the streets. We were so lucky to have Jacy’s. Hank cooking duck-neck gumbo in the back for Black Flag on the My War tour. Thanks to Larry Sorehead, I got to open for Ed Sanders of the Fugs there...I’ll never forget that. I had read The Family and got to ask him about it.
If I remember correctly, you worked as a piano tuner for a while. Weirdest item found inside a client’s piano?
I was tuning in a federal prison and found a nice, long, sharpened screwdriver hidden in the piano. A dwarf told me to keep it. I still have it. I’ve found drugs, Polaroids, weapons, you name it. I want to find a little gold in one.
You’ve got the craziest résumé of any musician I know. Tell me about your time as a member of Agnostic Front? Squatting in NYC? Vinnie Stigma? How’d you end up in the band? And what was that like?
I met the AF guys when we opened for them at Jacy’s in ’85. A few months later, they asked me to join. “Only if Stigma’s cool with that.” I ended up staying with Stigma on Mott Street in the Lower East Side and using his Marshall. Stigma is the coolest, sweetest guy you could ever meet. Funny thing is, he thought he was getting too old back then ...and that was more than 25 years ago. He’s still with AF. The shows were wild and violent. Hammers, guns, pit bulls, skinheads. I squatted with Roger on C and 3rd for a while. Rough neighborhood back then. I lasted two tours, then moved on.
What was it like playing on Conan or was it Letterman – I can’t remember which – with the Flying Saucers? Do you get hooked up in the green room? Are the sound people cool…or are they like: “Turn down all the amps?” and “You get NO monitors!”
That was Conan with Abra Moore. It was a great experience! Conan’s a good guitar player and jammed for an hour or so when we first got there with Max Weinberg. They all were super cool and treated us well. Conan liked my Casino. The one thing they stressed was “Don’t ever, ever play along to Max, EVER.” To this day, I will not.
What happened to the art of the badass riff? When are these bitches going to bring back some AMERICAN STEEL?
The badass riff is alive and well in America. Those devilish Scandinavians took that game to a whole new level, though. They kill each other.
When is it appropriate to wear an emerald-encrusted, fringed suede vest?
It’s appropriate to pawn that.
What’s the number one rule when jamming with famous guys like Billy Gibbons?
Treat ’em like friends and band mates, but don’t let him clip his beard over your crotch. It takes forever to get that s@*! out.
What’s the most profoundly weird thing Roky Erickson has said or done on the road?
He wandered the hallways at night like a ghost. He thought a hammer dulcimer was a BBQ pit being hit with wooden spoons. There’s this British writer who wore striped pants, and Roky thought he was trying to attack him on stage in various cities.
What’s up with your new band PARAGUAY?
I’m using electronic gear, which is new to me. We roll slow sometimes. Claire Hamilton sings like a bird, George Duron is my brother, and Rudy Eccles came straight out of King Tubby’s basement.
Name one thing no one knows about Jon Sanchez?
I’ve got a phobia about eating messy food in bright light.