By Alex Distefano
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If you own a Jucifer record, you're only getting half the picture. Yes, the studio version of Jucifer is awesomely good stuff—a varied and intricate mixture of blistering rock and beautiful melodies combined with a mélange of instrumentation spanning the spectrum of record scratches, organs, strings, tambourines and even banjo—but it's live and on tour where this husband-and-wife duo really shine.
Jucifer are so dedicated to their craft that they've literally taken to living on the road. Once guitarist Amber Valentine and drummer Edgar Livengood realized the road is where the heart is, they ditched rent, utility and van payments and got themselves a Winnebago, their very own home on wheels. So across the U.S. they travel with their two pooches; a hitch that hauls 15 yes-they-use-them-all-every-night amps, a gargantuan see-through, baby-blue drum kit, and glitter-flaked flying-V guitars (one complete with a devil-horned headstock); a handful of My Little Ponies (to sit on the stacks, of course); and their readiness to rock and rumble your world.
We gave Valentine a call on her "O Christmas Tree"-ringing cell phone in San Antonio, Texas, where she had just finished setting up the big wall o' amplifiers.
OC Weekly: What do you miss most about not having an actual home?
Amber Valentine: Not having our record collection at hand and the ability to have all of our instruments with us. [Ed and I] collected instruments in the same way we collected music. Guitars are like puppies—I want them all! A banjo just doesn't hold up so well in a trailer of big, heavy stuff, so we don't bring that on the road, and that would be really nice to pick up and play.You play banjo on your new EP,War Bird.
Actually, I got the banjo about a week prior to recording "My Stars," so I'm pretty proud of myself for having recorded with it. I pulled off what I needed to do to make the song I wanted to make, but I am by no means . . . the people who are really great banjo players, I can't even imagine how they do stuff like playing with the finger picks. I attempted to do that, but I was like, 'Okay, I'm not even ready for that.'"Do you worry that people won't see past your 15 amps onstage and they'll miss what the music's about?
Yeah. At some point, I'm not going to be able to have a semi hauled around. Nor do I have I bunch of hefty guys to haul it for me.Poor Ed!
Oh, no, it's me and Ed! I have the muscles to prove it. Oh, yeah, baby! I'm bench-pressing probably 400 pounds or something like that. I actually look forward to that workout. If we have too many days off, I feel like I'm slacking. But we didn't do the amp thing to be known for the amp thing. We didn't always do the amp thing, and we probably won't always do the amp thing because after a point, the maintenance on that amount of gear is just ridiculous. And the setup time! We are slaves to that gear. We've been a band for a pretty long time, and hopefully, people aren't so dependent on the amps that that's all there is for them. But if that's the case—if we don't always use them, or if we use different ones—people are just going to have to deal.Still, it's got to feel amazing up there.
For us, it's really good because it's this embracing, encompassing sound. It helps us totally lose ourselves and get off on what we're playing, and obviously, it looks spectacular to people, and I'm sure they enjoy that. Still, it kind of almost sucks for us because . . . [laughing] if we're not lugging around 15 amplifiers when we're 50, we've sold out or something.It's like, "Where do you go from here?"
Exactly. A lot of times, if we play a place we have before, the people who work at the venue will say to us, "I thought you had more," and I'll just say, "No, you just made it bigger in your memory."You could always just start bringing 15 banjos.
That would be amazing!You could be "the banjo band."
There's a whooooole new angle! I'm seeing it, and it's very funny—it looks like something you'd see through a kaleidoscope.Jucifer perform with Totimoshi at Alex's Bar, 2913 E Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292. Sat., 9 p.m. $7. 21+.