|still mad after all these years
Andrew Frisicano - September 2, 2008
The members of Mad Juana change hats so often – from
old-world tarantella to international reggae to downtown art punk to the Eastern
European cock-rock of Gogol Bordello– one finds it difficult to envision
a place and time where they don’t fit. The band, led by NY Dolls bassist
Sami Yaffa on acoustic guitar, counts instruments varied as tenor saxophone,
accordion, violin, trumpet and congas in its 8 member lineup. Front-woman Karmen
Guy’s always-on-edge voice evokes the gruff caterwaul of The Slit’s
Ari Up with such sharp teeth it’s questionable whether she made a deal
with the devil for it. Spiritually, the originator of the band’s name,
which as you can see below comes from Patti Smith’s 1978 book “Babel,”
ties its disparate threads together with an overarching theory of swagger, theatrics
and rebelliousness. Mad Juana is a band created for a block party if I ever
First of all, what’s up with the name?
It’s from a Patti Smith poem.
New York has always been a melting pot of cultures. Which foreign cultures
do you find most interesting personally?
How about musically?
Eastern Europe and Brazil.
You use such a large range of instruments live. Do you have any interesting
stories about dragging all your gear, or even your members themselves, to gigs?
Not that you can print. It's "from" the gigs where it gets interesting.
The last show we played we somehow managed to get locked in from the inside,
so we continued playing until the daylight until the porter showed up.
Which NYC neighborhood feels most like home for your music?
East Village as far as evolution is concerned, but our music is homeless…we
are globalistas and our spirit is universal. Playing-wise, uptown, downtown,
Brooklyn, and outwards, it's all the same. NYC has become so homogenized in
the last several years that it's lost some of its character. The dirty, sleazy
glamour element has unfortunately disappeared, but that's what happens when
gentrification moves in.
The dirty, sleazy glamour element has unfortunately disappeared [from NYC].
"Bruja on the Corner"
listen to "
From old-world tarantella to international reggae to downtown art punk to the Eastern European cock-rock. For those who like: Manu Chao, Gogol Bordello, Velvet Underground, Nina Hagen