Sasquatch! Music Festival lasts three days for most attendees, but the artists themselves are often onsite for mere hours. Despite their limited time to rehearse performances or admire the Gorge’s expansive scenery, DOPE Magazine managed to catch up—and toke up—with several of the weekend’s most exciting artists.
On day one, before their horn-laden set on the Yeti stage, we spoke briefly with Adam Castaneda of Houston soul band The Suffers, covering everything from pre-show rituals and Texas’ budding cannabis culture to Hurricane Harvey and its effect on their upcoming sophomore LP, Everything Here, to be released July 13.
DOPE Magazine: You mentioned you love Nashville. Was anyone in the band ever pushing to move to Nashville or the coastal cities to try and make it big, as many bands do?
AC: No, we’ve never had an inclination to go anywhere else. Once you hop in a van or plane, you can get anywhere anyway. Houston is still home to us—it’ll always be home to us.
DOPE: You guys were recently featured in a tourism ad for the city, too. Do you feel vindicated, becoming hometown heroes of a sort?
AC: A little bit. All of us came up in the scene and grew up in the scene, so our average age in the band is 32-33, but we’ve all been playing in bands since we were 16, 17 years old. We saw a lot of people leave Houston thinking they had to go somewhere else, and maybe that was the right choice for them, but I think we showed a lot of people at home that you don’t have to. You can if that’s what you want to do, but you don’t have to . . . You can come from any city you want, especially with the Internet nowadays. You can reach anywhere. Sometimes if you’re not from those towns, it can be an advantage, because your town isn’t as congested with other people trying to break out. There’s less competition on a Friday night for a show.
DOPE: You guys have used the term ‘Gulf Coast soul’ to describe all the different influences that combine into your sound. How do you think those influences evolved for your new album, Everything Here?
AC: When we first started The Suffers, we were all working 40-50 hour a week day jobs. We recorded that whole record essentially in one weekend, with a couple overdub dates for vocal stuff. It was really quick and really fast. Since then, we’ve done 500 road shows, been on five continents. Now it’s seven days a week all day, but doing the thing we love. We’re still influenced by the same things, plus more, because we’ve experienced more. Since all our time is now focused just on The Suffers, I think the new record is more a cohesive blend of those influences. It’s like when you’re cooking chili, and you let it simmer for a long time, like all the different flavors gel together better. It’s simmered into something cohesive, and I think that’s what you see on the new record. You can’t as easily go, ‘Oh, that’s a reggae influence, that’s a soul influence.’ It mixes together into a sound that’s a lot more unique, and hopefully a little bit better representative of our city and our influences.
DOPE: Given some of the developments in Houston since your last record—Hurricane Harvey, obviously, but also recent shootings—does that affect the music you’re trying to put out into the world?
AC: It has to. We love our city—a lot of time you don’t see people repping their city anymore. That’s something we really love doing. Everywhere we go, we make sure people know we’re from Houston. When we saw Harvey happen, that affected us deeply. We were at the airport when Harvey was on its way in. We were about to go to a festival in Virginia, but we had to cancel last minute. The way hurricanes hit, you never know where you’re gonna hit. They can go squirrely at the last minute, right when they hit the coast.
Luckily, we decided to stay home. We all had a hell of a time during the storm, none of us lost our house, but our community and our town was devastated. We all participated in the relief and help afterwards. I remember we were in the studio, two weeks after the storm hit. We were all tired and mentally exhausted from just living in that. We’d done a piece of the record before the storm, and then a large chunk of it after the storm, and there was actually a song that was written during the storm called, “After the Storm.” I think when we got in there the time after the storm hit, it was fresh on our mind, and it was in us, that exhaustion—that need more than ever to mascot your city and cheer ‘em on. It was a release of stress and tension and all those feelings about our home.
DOPE: Is there much of a cannabis culture in Houston?
AC: Obviously, we’re not legalized in any way. I believe now CBD oil is somewhat legal, but still kind of a gray zone—not that that’s stopped us before. We’re right next to Mexico, so we’ve always had the Mexican dirt weed, but nowadays, now that other states are opening up, we’re getting some good stuff. Still kinda expensive and tough to get, but it’s getting better—definitely better than when I was in high school.
DOPE: Does cannabis play a part in the band’s process at all?
AC: Not extensively. We all definitely smoke. Sometimes when we write or something like that, but we have a strict policy about no drugs or alcohol before the set. After the set, you can go bananas. But when we step out on the stage, we want to be as clear as possible. That’s just a kinda personal pact we all have.
DOPE: Before you guys go onstage, you also have a tradition of raising your hands and wailing all together?
AC: It’s called the Superman!
DOPE: I like that. How did it get started?
AC: Our drummer, Nick, found it in a health magazine or something, and it was like a yoga pose, or a power pose, where you put your hands over your head. So if you have a job interview or some big event that you’re trying to get confidence or inner serenity for, if you put your hands over your head for just like 15 or 20 seconds, it helps clear the air.