Updated: 06/17/01

For those who think of Fenix TX as nothing more than Blink 182 clones, you should really check out their latest album Lechuza. There's plenty of heavy songs to be found, clearly showing that these guys know how to rock! While the Blink association has done nothing but helped them out, Fenix TX are clearly finding their own identity now and should win over hordes of new fans as well as keep the already converted very happy. Highwire Daze recently spoke with Damon De La Paz, who performs guitars, drums and vocals for the band. Topics included the all-new Fenix TX album, their fascination with Phoebe Cates, and what it was like to suddenly replace wounded Blink drummer Travis for a major tour…

Highwire Daze: Are you surprised with the success that your first record has had?

Damon: Yeah, kinda. I didn't think it would ever be a big record. I just always thought it would be our first record - and then we'd do another one and another one - but with that record, I guess people liked it. We were over it by the time it went to MCA. By the time they said, "Hey, we'll sign you guys! We want to re-release your record!" We were like "Aw, man, we want to do another record." And they were all, "No, this one is still new to people." So we were all, "Okay, I guess that makes sense." The whole time, we were sitting with that record, playing songs that were so old that we were sick of. Now we're stoked to have a good new record out. But yeah, we were surprised.

HD: When recording the new album, did you ever think you were going to go through that famous sophomore slump?

Damon: We didn't really think about it. We were kinda of the attitude the whole time of whatever happens, as long as we made our record that we were kinda stoked on, that it would be okay. But I don't think we really thought about that too much. You're the second part that asked me that. But whatever, and regardless of what comes of it - all we want is for MCA or for any record label - as long as we can make records and keep putting out songs - that's the one thing we wanna do. If we get played on the radio, then awesome. If we get to do videos, then we're stoked. But we just like playing music - we can't do nuthin' else.

HD: Will there be a video for this album?

Damon: They're talking about doing one for Threesome. I don't know what we're going to do. We're all trying to think of real cool ideas. So far we have a couple. But they haven't said for sure. I think videos all depend on if you have something to get the ball rolling - like if radio is playing you a lot or something like that. They decide if radio is taking a chance on them, then we'll spend money on them and make a video. I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

HD: Threesome sounds like it could be a porno.

Damon: I know. It's just Willie writing about goofy stuff. There's lighthearted songs on that record, and then there's stuff that I think is pretty serious to him. But that's one of the goofy ones. I guess if you're gonna have a single, they figure you might as well use a goofy one, and not one that bums people out. But either way, it's cool with me.

HD: Where did you get the name of the album Lechuza from?

Damon: Lechuza is when we were little - grandmothers and mothers would tell is there was this monster Lechuza. I always thought it was a gargoyle. But now that I've been reading up about it - it says that it's supposed to be like a half demon/half owl thing. It has glowing red eyes, and if you're outside at night and hear this time whistle and you whistle back - it would come and kill you or take you away. It steals kids. So it's pretty much a "Hey kids, you better be in the house before dark" kind of thing. It was just a thing that grown-ups would tell you about when you're little. Come to find out, it's pretty much only in Texas I guess, because no one else knows what it is. But that's kinda cool, because that's where we're from. People can go "What is that?" and then look it up. It's an interesting thing. It doesn't matter to most people, but it was cool to us from when we were little.

HD: What made you guys decide to write a song about Phoebe Cates and does she know about it?

Damon: I don't know. I doubt she knows about it, but it would be cool if she did. Just because, she's so pretty, dude. She was probably like the first girl me and Willie ever noticed. She kind of set the standard for girls that I thought were pretty. I like girls that look like her. She's just rad! She's just a pretty girl. That song is so super old! It was going to be on our first record. We didn't put it on there, because when we recorded it, it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. So we never recorded it. Finally, we thought we should put it in the (new) record. It's really old. It's not something that sounds like it belongs on that record. It sounds like what we use to do more than what we do now. But it was worthy of being on the record, because it hadn't had its time yet. It's a pretty cool song. It's fun and it's about Phoebe Cates and she rules!

HD: Do you have any idea what Phoebe Cates looks like today?

Damon: No, but you know what? I was watching Craig Kilbourn the night before, and he had that girl Jennifer Beals from Flashdance on there. And she was taking about how she just finished a movie with Phoebe Cates. And he was like "Oh, wow, does she still look good?" And Jennifer Beals said, "Oh, yeah, she still looks the same. She looks all pretty." So I'm gonna have to find that movie or go see it, because I'm dying to know what she looks like. She hasn't been on TV or anything forever. I want to see if she's still totally pretty. I know she's had like three kids or something like that, so she might be all "Mom" looking. But it's cool! Either way man, she's Phoebe Cates! But I would be stoked if she knew about the song. It use to be more about thinking about how she was rad. And when we recorded it, Willie changed some of the lyrics and put something about jacking off in there, which is kinda silly, but whatever. That's what he wanted to do, and he's the one who has to sing the words.

HD: If you had to write a song about any girl right now, who would it be?

Damon: Let me see, man there are so many! I think that Charlize Theron is beautiful and Elizabeth Hurley is pretty. One of those two girls probably.

HD: Speaking of girls, it's now time for the crucial Highwire Daze question. Who's better? Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?

Damon: I got more respect for Britney Spears, because she acts her age, sort of. Not just because of that. But Christina Aguilera, she always looks all retarded and sh*t now. She was cool when she looked normal, but now she seems like she buys into her own personality. She's just turned into a f*cking cartoon. And Britney Spears, she may be goofy and probably can't really sing or dance or anything, but she comes off as a girl doing what she does - and that's cool. I can respect that.

HD: So how did you wind up playing drums for Blink 182 while on tour?

Damon: Well, they just asked me to and I was like, "Okay." We toured with them a few times before that. I kinda knew all the stuff Travis was doing so it took me a few hours. I ran through the songs with them and played that night. After a couple of days, it was really tight. But the first day, it was probably not so tight. I sure they thought, "Oh, man, dude! Did we make a mistake?" But that was pretty much it. They knew I played drums from a long time ago. I was there and I was available. It was either me or f*cking call somebody and cancel a couple of shows and get somebody to learn the drums.

HD: Were you nervous about it at all?

Damon: I wasn't nervous, like scared to play in front of the people. I was nervous that I was gonna f*ck up their show, because there were so many people there that wanted to see them. There's like 30,000 people every night - and if you mess up in front of all those people who paid their money to see Blink - I was scared that I would ruin the show. But it turned out great. I had the time of my life and it was great!

HD: Was Travis there and did he give you any constructive criticism?

Damon: No, not at all dude. He didn't come see me play one time. I was kind of hoping he would, because he's such a rad drummer, but he never did. He bailed that day right before the show - after he got hurt and I don't think he came to any of the shows actually. He came to LA but he left early. But I was kind of hoping he would. I would like for him to have said "Hey, you did this wrong," or something cool…

HD: Was that hard for you do to Blink's set after doing your full set?

Damon: It wasn't that hard. I've done that before a few times with other bands. I've always been in a couple of different bands. It didn't drain me or anything, but I lost a lot of weight. I f*ckin' got skinny on that tour! I came home all f*ckin' skinny as sh*t! But it's cool! I liked it dude! I wanna do it every night! If I could go on tour every night and play one whole set with a band on guitar and one on drums, I would do it. I like doing both in a show.

HD: When you were called River Fenix, did the family of the actor ever get in touch with you guys?

Damon: Yeah, his mother got her lawyer to get in touch with us. She made us change the name - I guess see wasn't backing it. But that was pretty much all the contact we had with her.

HD: What did you think of River Phoenix as an actor?

Damon: Oh, we thought he was great actor! Me and Carl, when we named the band - just him being in a lot of movies that we liked was one of the reasons we came up with his name. We totally meant no disrespect and we wanted to call her and tell her that, but no one would let us get in contact with her. I don't know, whatever - I wish we could get that name back because that's the best f*ckin' name ever! I don't hate our name now, I guess it's growing on me, but it doesn't mean anything to me. The River Fenix name was cool because that's what we came up with and that's what we meant to call our band. Now it's Fenix TX.

HD: Does Fenix TX have any groupies?

Damon: No, not groupies. We'll get girls who come to our shows, but usually it turns out that we talk to them and they become friends of ours. Not just girls, but dudes too. We just pretty much make friends when we go to another place. We always can look forward to seeing somebody that we know and haven't seen in a long time, so that's cool. We really don't have groupies - we just have pals everywhere.

HD: What are some of your favorite cheesy metal hits?

Damon: Metal hits? Man, I don't know. I like all kinds of metal. The cheesier ones - I like a lot of old Motley Crue Shout At The Devil stuff - Tommy Lee is such a rad drummer. But you name it - I probably like it or have at least heard it. I was like the biggest metal head ever.

HD: What can everyone expect from the new Fenix TX show?

Damon: It's way tighter than it ever was, which is cool because we've been playing so much together. It's fun. There's not a lot of bull sh*tting around anymore like we use to do - a lot of talk that use to go on onstage was pretty much just filler because we didn't have any songs. We were hating playing our songs. But all of us are really into playing the songs that we made now. We're just trying to cram as much music as we can into the time that we get to play. But it sounds different and everyone is better at their instruments and way happier to be playing the songs onstage. The other songs were so old and we sick of them. None of us even wanted to be up there playing them anymore. And now we don't have to! We'll play just a couple of them. But expect lots of new stuff!

HD: Do you have any messages for Fenix TX fans here in Los Angeles?

Damon: Yeah, dude. Los Angeles is always great. Thank you for coming to our shows and listening to our band and everything. We moved out to California because of the people in LA - they seemed to get what we were doing more than anyone in Texas or anywhere else that we played. And they were the first people who made us feel like "Wow! We could be a real band!" And that's why we went spent all our money driving out here every three weeks with The Hippos or something. We eventually moved out here because of LA. So LA kicks ass! I must say, it's a dirty ass city, but it's great to play there. All the people that always come to our shows rule in LA and it's always like a homecoming. So many of our friends live there now. So LA must have something that everyone likes...

The members of Fenix TX are Adam Lewis on bass and vocals, Damon De La Paz on drums, guitars and vocals, William Salazar on vocals and guitars, and James Love on guitars. Be sure to check out Lechuza by Fenix TX and get ready to rock it out!


FENIX TX: Their official Home Page!
MCA RECORDS: The record label for Fenix TX!
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