Smile Politely

House party on tap for tonight

Stop by for our house party tonight, starting at 7 p.m. at 610 W. Hill St. in Champaign. It’s free, BYOB, and make sure to bring your ID if you want to drink. Here’s the slate of local bands ready to rock our living room:

Most of the bands on the bill are well-known around Champaign-Urbana, but one name you may not recognize is Jorge and Thee S-words. We’ve anticipated your perplexity, and asked the gents to give us the nickel tour of their little corner of the world.

Jorge and Thee S-words are: Mario Guzman on guitar and vocals, Nick Hagen on guitar, and Ryan Howes (drums).

Smile Politely: How did Jorge and Thee S-Words come together?

Nick Hagen: Well, Mario and I have been friends since 7th grade and we’ve played together, on and off, for a long time. We grew up in Bloomington, IL and both played in various bands during the 90s. Back then, I was a little more into 60s garage rock, surf instrumentals and early greasy R&B while Mario was going for some crazy mariachi style rockabilly thing. We have a lot of shared interests in music from the 40s, 50s and 60s that I guess stems from us growing up together. In 2000 we finally formally joined forces to start a band called Los Despeinados. It was a kind of electrified, rocked-up trio/mariachi sound. We played a bunch of songs that Mario wrote as well as some old romantic standards from Mexico and even a few old rock n’ roll covers from the 60s. Everything was in Spanish so we were kind of a Mexican garage/punk band, I guess. That band played out, though unfortunately never in Champaign-Urbana, until around 2002.

About a year ago we started fiddling around with playing again. I had since moved to Champaign to go back to school and had been pretty preoccupied with life and work. I began to feel pretty secluded musically, so when the idea came up that we should start playing again I was all for it. Since we both have a love for 50s and 60s instrumental music, that’s what we started messing around with first. We would sit around and strum through songs by Link Wray, Bo Diddley or the Astronauts and within no time that led to us writing some songs of our own in a similar vein to those early rock n’ roll instrumentals. We found ourselves a great drummer and started to write and practice this past winter. In addition to the instrumental originals, Mario has also worked up some pretty fun vocal numbers en ingles as well. Those combined with a few choice covers comprise our set at this point.

Smile Politely: Where did the name come from?

Nick Hagen: The Jorge part of the name is based on a character Mario created and wrote about in some short stories. It kind of developed into his pseudonym or stage name. The S-words (or Swords) is just something that sounded kind of ridiculous to us, so we tacked it on the end. I don’t know…I think it works.

Smile Politely: Have you played a house show before? Any complications or advantages that you expect?

Nick Hagen: Yeah, Mario and I have both played our fair share of house shows. As a matter of fact, I think I spent most of 1993-1996 playing nothing but house parties (and VFW halls) on the weekends. Truth be told, they’re my personal favorite venue. I’d much rather play to a packed basement or living room of 15 people than nearly anything else. It’s just way more fun.

I’m really excited about the show this Friday. In my experience, one great advantage to these types of shows are that they’re a great way to get to hear new music and for bands and the audience to get to know one another. There’s no “backstage” and there aren’t any barriers keeping the bands and the audience apart so it’s much easier to drum up conversation and get to know new people.

The only other thing I can say is: watch out for the fuzz. Where I come from, they love to shut these things down early. Noise + Beer = Cops.

Smile Politely: How would you describe your sound for someone who’s never heard your music before?

Mario Guzman: Imagine you’re lost within a labyrinth of surf guitars, flamboyant mariachis, and ’60s punk castaways…or something like that.

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