With an upcoming album release on the horizon, Gold Coast electronic-rock outfit Tijuana Cartel are ready to return to the road.
“The craziest gig we ever played was one we played a couple of years back, where a few of the audience members got naked at a place we used to play at on the Gold Coast,” frontman Paul George says with a chuckle. “And that was pretty interesting. It actually ended with the owner, Neil, who's a good friend of ours, was chasing this lady — she was a Swedish backpacker — around the car park telling her to put her clothes back on. It was a good time.”
It hasn’t all been nudity-related fun and games for Tijuana Cartel, with the group about to embark on a series of interstate gigs to promote their new single, 'Candy'. “I'd say it's an extension of our earlier work. It relates particularly to the sound we've been developing between the last album and this one. But it's probably a bit more electro, it's probably a bit more pop than anything we've done before too.”
Paul acknowledges their sunswept hometown was not an ideal environment for budding electronic artists, but they made the best of it nonetheless. “There wasn't really a scene; we just kind of made what scene we could. It wasn't too bad in a way. You know, there were a few bars and clubs that we could play every week. We used to get quite a good following, we used to play at a place called Central Bar and I think we used to get to 400 or 500 people in a week, and we thought we were quite famous in our early twenties. It wasn't much, but it was enough to keep us going.
“I've always wanted to play music for a living, and then I guess it was just trying to pursue something that I had passion for and that I'd enjoy doing for a long time. I mean, sometimes I second guess it. I'm not sure how I ended up with such a random sound. It was never a conscious decision, we just kind of write and it happens as it does."
With the life of the band never stronger, Paul says the group are beginning to gain a more sophisticated narrative to their songs. "It's a little bit different now. We're sort of maturing. We're now starting to think, why are we choosing this? What does this song represent? That's a fairly new occurrence.
“There is a common theme in our music. Not one that I can put into words, but there's definitely common influences between most of the songs. Mainly we write songs that people can dance to, with some kind of Middle Eastern or world influence I suppose. [The songs are] generally about touring and personal things, women and life, I think.”
No strangers to the furthest reaches of Australia, Tijuana Cartel have played their fair share of regional centres. "At first, to be honest, we were scared of a few places that we went to. For instance, Port Hedland in Western Australia, or the more regional areas [the crowd must have] thought, ‘Well, here's a band with some weird influences, electronic music, no drummer’. We thought we were going to get killed.
“One common thread is people in Australia like to dance and drink, and generally by the third song we've found we've turned the town, town by town. Now when we go to towns, people know what we're doing, and we're quite happy with the crowds we get, they keep us in business, and we love it.”
The development of Tijuana Cartel’s sound has mirrored the rise of live electronic acts. "There's so many different sounds coming out all at once, it's not like when we first started. It was always cross-genres and things, but it tended to be more specific, whereas I think every month there's some kind of new sound I'm hearing from somewhere.”
Tijuana Cartel perform at the New Globe Theatre December 7. ‘Candy’ is available now.