Rob Castle & Andy Aldridge - XX Cortez - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Sunday, 08 August 2010 05:00



Why does the mainstream music press ignore quality music? Your guess is as good as mine...but they do and, whether it's political or because they're clueless, they tend to miss some of the best bands currently out there. I'm not sure it's ever been as dumbed down or bland as it currently is, which is where Über Röck comes in. The best bands who don't get the props they deserve elsewhere....well, they certainly get them round here and XX Cortez will get the coverage the music deserves.

Since catching the band live and the release of their debut album it was time you good people got exposed to the wonderful world of XX Cortez and find out what makes these boys tick. There is a rock 'n' roll revolution a-coming people and you need to make your choice now! Stand toe to toe with the bands who matter or fall with the fakers; me, I'm nailing my flag to the mast and proud to fly it - XX Cortez have the chops and I'm backing them all the way. So, enough of my waffle ladies and gentlemen, I give you Andy and Rob from XX Cortez.....



Who are you and what are your chosen weapons in XX Cortez?

Rob Castle - vocals/guitarxx3
Sam Kinsella - lead guitar
Jake Griffiths - drums
Andy Aldridge - bass
Jim Jeffries - founding lead guitarist and mentor


Going back to the beginning of the band - how did it all come about?

Andy - Me and Rob went down to check out a rockabilly band that a dude we knew was playing in. I can't remember where it was, I think it was in Botley? It was in a shitty little pub anyways. Jim happened happened to be there too, and him and Rob got to talking and started to hatch plans of world domination. They got Jakey in on drums and his mate on bass, but he didn't really fit in with the sound of the band so Rob told me they might be looking for a new bass player. So I said I'd be up for it but I hadn't played bass before (I've played guitar for ages so it wasn't too much of a stretch). So Jim lent me a bass and we played our first gig two weeks later in Rob's back garden. We went on to play some awesome gigs but Jim was being stretched with his other band commitments  (playing for Mad Dog Cole and fronting his own band the Whip Cracking Daddies) so Jim said we should get a new guitarist who could commit 100% to XX. It just so happened that Jake's housemate and long time friend was a fucking sweet guitarist and an awesome dude so in came Sam and that brings us up to now.


What's the story behind the name XX Cortez?

Andy - Jim came up with it. Apparently it's from 'Cortez The Killer', the Neil Young song about Hernan Cortez, a conquistador who conquered Mexico for Spain in the 1500s. The XX was added to make it more, I dunno, punchy? I should probably mention that XX was a band Jim xx7was trying to get started for years but kept running in to line-up problems and the overall sound of the band changing so he put it on hold until he met Rob.

Who are the bands that influenced how you sound?

Andy - I guess we're influenced by a lot of older stuff, not just punk but the 60's garage stuff like The Sonics, Count Five and then all the usual suspects - Dead Boys, The Stooges, MC5, NY Dolls. There's also a bit of American 80's hardcore in there too - Black Flag, Minor Threat, Circle Jerks; there's probably loads more but I can't think right now and this will just become a big list. I guess people will have to have a listen and see for themselves.

Rob - I think everything we all grew up listening to I guess - Thin lizzy, Sabbath, Motorhead, Johnny Thunders and all the general heavy rock 'n' roll bands that our dads listened too. All of us through teenage years to now have been taken over by the '77 sound of British and American punk...Satan's Rats, The Cortinas, The Joneses, Dead Boys and New York Dolls. It just has that relentless not-giving-a-shit feel and attitude. Also I think it varies as most bands we meet and get into, for instance The Adjusters, The Barracks and the Hip Priests, influence us a lot as we wanna go nuts after listening to the way they play.

The album, 'Hands Up', has just been released - tell us a bit about it? 

Andy - Well, we recorded the album in a dirty little caravan that belongs to Jim. It's a proper 70's shithole of a caravan, everything in it is brown or orange but it's quite cool - it's where we used to rehearse so we just set up some mics and recorded on to this digital mixing desk thing and then took the raw material to Rich at Old Blacksmith's Studio for him to tart it up a bit and master it. I think all the songs we had at that point went on the record, maybe two or three that never really got past the demo stage got cut. It's why this is a fun band to be in, there's no fucking about, no arguments, no lingering over a song for too long. I think it was important for us to do it so fast, we didn't want to be one of those bands that just exist in someone'sxx8 bedroom. It was also why we put the album out ourselves - we didn't want to wait ages for the go ahead from someone else, we just want to get on and start writing for album 2 and get better at what we do.

Rob - It was put together in a mish mash order after just throwing songs together in the good old practice caravan. An old 1960's caravan with an interior that a hippy would think the colours were completely fucked! Still, it did the job and sounded awesome in or well at least the states we played in there it was bound to. All the tracks to date were recorded live there and just mixed at the studio. The album has been getting some good feedback so far and we're happy, just four freaks smashing the hell outta what they have in front of 'em I guess. 'Hands Up' is a self released album and we just wanted to throw it out there raw and exactly how we'd play it if we were in your lap.

Did you find it difficult getting together with other bands in the UK and playing gigs?

Andy - I don't think we found it too hard to get together. I think we all had similar musical backgrounds so it just kinda worked, although if it wasn't for Rob and Jim's chance meeting or Castle's enthusiasm to actually make this band a reality we might not be here. We've played with a lot of the original punk lot - The Vibrators, 999, UK Subs, Chelsea, The Lurkers, Vice Squad, The Slits. As for the contemporaries, we play with The Adjusters quite a bit and those boys are fucking awesome. There's quite few good punk bands at the moment - The Blowouts, The Ten O Sevens, The Gaggers. We got to play with the Hip Priests lately which was cool. I think we fit quite well on a more of a sleazy rock'n'roll bill so hopefully we get to play with those boys again.

Rob - We rarely gave a shit about most things, we just wanted to go nuts and hope people had a good time with us. Things got a little wild when Jake moved back to London with Sammy K and we had to plan how we all would get to shows but it's never been too much of a problem. xx1It was real good to play with those guys Andy mentioned and was good to hear their feedback and happy they were into what we were doing. Bring it all back!!

How about dishing the dirt? Any juicy stories you can share?

Andy - Shit, I can't it's normally people in the crowd that do funny shit like getting knocked out on the edge of the stage or get ejected out of a fire escape. Rob was passing a bottle of Sailor Jerry's round the crowd at the album launch and a couple of people took a bit hit of rum and instantly puked - that was quite funny. The only other thing I can think of is when Rob either fell over or was laying on the stage and Sam fell over him and I looked down and they were in a heap both trying to keep playing - it looked pretty funny, a bit like a rape gone askew.

Rob - Shit, there are tons.....One that springs to mind is....since like the sixth show XX have played I have a nervous shit roughly 20mins before playing. I had a rough week and didn't eat a great deal of healthy food and out of the four dressing rooms only one toilet. The band returns to find me on the stairs grinning and laughing only to turn the corner and find Beki Bondage gagging/throwing up by the stench of XX's vocals assss!!

What are the plans for the rest of 2010?

Andy - Well we just recorded a couple of tracks which we want to put out as a 7 inch, maybe as a split with another band to help spread the cost. I guess we'll be writing when we can and gigging as much as possible. We really want to get out and do some shows in Europe, so any foreign promoters out there give us a shout. We are playing our first festival of sorts at Guilfestxx5 on the 16th of July so that should be a new experience. I guess we'll see what comes up and do as much as possible

Rob - The 7" vinyl will consist of two new tracks, 'Suicide' and 'Taking Back Control'. Other than that just getting it out there and playing and smashing up a new place or city somewhere.

Over at Über Röck we like to see what bands are listening to at the moment so if you have an mp3 player at hand put it on shuffle and give us the first 5 tracks that crop up (no cheating) and let us know what you think of those bands and songs?

Andy; The Obsessed - 'Mourning'
The Obsessed were rad, as is much of what Wino has ever done. Sabbath-esque doom at its finest and Wino fucking shreds.

Samhain - 'Let The Day Begin'
Danzig! I think that covers it really, Misfits 2.0 All Murder, All Guts, All Fun!

Dock Boggs - 'Oh Death'
I'm quite in to old Americana and country blues stuff. Dock Boggs was an Appalachian folk musician in the early 1900s. He plays banjo and mixed the bluegrass stuff with African American blues. Give him a listen and Hobart Smith while you're at it.

The Dicks - 'Hate The Police'
"Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Look at your son" - Mudhoney did a cover of this. Both are fucking excellent.

T.S.O.L. - 'It's Gray'
I really like the 'Change Today?' album. I know a lot of people are Jack Grisham fans, but I really like Joe Woods' Jim Morrison-esque vocal style.

Rob, you ride BMX - have you had any concerns about damaging your arms and not being able to play the guitar? I saw some clips of you riding and pulling off some xx2serious manoeuvres - have you considered going retro and trying those moves on a Chopper or a Grifter?

Rob - HAHA! I'll consider pulling them off on whatever I could if it seems like a good idea! Yeah, I've thought about it a lot more recently as we've been getting more and more shows, but it's real hard sometimes when I get something into my head I wanna do. I have to do it and get it done.

Is there a big audience for BMXing you could tap into with XX Cortez? A lot of the skateboarding and BMX crowd like their music. Have you played any of the festivals?

Rob - Yeah, I'd like to think there is a big thing for it! A lot of the guys I ride with and ride for are into what we do and I think also playing the kinda music I can ride fast too and makes others get wild is a good thing. We've not yet played any festivals of such but lots of premieres of videos and after parties, such as the CASE bmx mag launch party.........resulted in 18yr old models being dumped beer on and thrown off stage into a crowd of bmx riders as XX burst into the first song. Fuck yeah, there's definitely something in the air for it!!

Your live shows are a full-on experience; how has the feedback been after your shows? Recently you played 'Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth', also a Stooges track and 'Pillbox' is covered on the album. What else have you covered in your set?

Andy - Yeah, the feedback's generally good even if we think we've played shit. I think people are just being nice like "don't be mean they're all mentally retarded, just say somethingxx6 encouraging." I think the only other song we cover is a Thin Lizzy song called 'Are You Ready?' It's pretty cool. I don't think they ever released it officially but it's on one of their live albums. We also did 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' at the show in Castle's back garden just to fill out the set. Easy to play, impossible to make it as good as the original.

Rob - We always try and get the word out of the bands and songs we love and songs that make us go wild! We've covered Misfits, The Mummies, Dead Boys and The Stooges songs, but if something's fast and makes you grind your teeth, we're in!! We may have done 'Ace Of Spades' at one point but was so messed up it turned into a car crash of spit and alcohol.


People say music comes in cycles (no pun intended there) so is now the time for a good punk resurgence with more and more bands playing punk rock 'n' roll? Will the Myspace and Facebook generation catch on?

Andy - Fuck knows? Hopefully. Surely everyone's had enough fucking indie and glittery shit pop for a while. Don't get me started on all the fucking whimsical folk dog shit. All these art students who think they live in the 1920s, ride an old bike with a basket on it, have sepia tinted vision and only take photos with a polaroid. Fuck off! And I think mainstream rap music has been regurgitating the same shit for at least 15 years now so who knows? I reckon "Dirty Digital Cuban Bossanova Fuzz Beat" is the next hot ticket. Everyone's gonna look like they're in the Buena Vista social club but with tin foil Panamas.

Rob - I really hope so! There are definitely more bands doing it and putting it across well in this period of time. I think more bands/people need to realise the punk bands of the time are starting to reach their end of time. This is when the new bands need to take what they can from the old and ram it back up peoples asses as it was back then! That's why when we play with bands as I've already mentioned like The Adjusters, Blowouts, Electric Cocks, London Guns, The Barracks, The Ten O Sevens, we get that massive surge of energy as they are all new and fresh and wanting it more than ever! With the vibe in the air at the minute with all the bands out there and promoters wanting to put punk on we can only hope everyone comes together and comes up with the new punk wave.


Tell us something amusing about each member of the band that would shock and amuse our readers? Anyone a closet Pet Shop Boys fan or collect stamps whilst doing flower pressing?

Andy - Jake owns his own dojo and has adapted his fighting style "the Ocelot" into a work out video. Rob slept rough in Hamburg for 18 months because he got lost on a school trip in year 7. Sam's parents forgot his name and still call him Rick. I died in 1987 and was replaced byxxcortez two midgets in a raincoat, my lower half later featured in Willow.

Rob - When in America there was a girl I was seeing, I used to climb in through the fire escape after returning from a night of drinking and fuck this girl. One night I came back so fucked up I begun fucking her almost ready to blow the whistle, fell off the bed and then came in my own face instead of hers.......... Jakey G once took the time to make a mould of his cock for his girl for when we are away. It took three attempts and third time he managed to get his cock outta the mould before it set his dick in it ............Andrew Aldridge only eats Lego. Sam Kinsella has received a blowjob dressed fully as a lady.............maybe on more than one occasion.......


There you have it folks - XX Cortez. Now clicky the linky and buy the album. Big thanks to Andy and Rob for their time.