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Huntington Beach, California, United States | INDIE

Huntington Beach, California, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Americana


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"Women, Booze & Damnation"

The Winos Interview With Broowaha!!!

Women, Booze and Damnation
by Gary Schwind (writer), December 24, 2007, published in BrooWaha Los Angeles

An interview with "dirty rock and roll" band Bastard Winos (Harlis Sweetwater, Chile Thomas, Greg Garcia, Chris Garcia)
Bastard Winos is a four-piece rock and roll band with one foot it classic country and the blues. At the Blue Cafe in Huntington Beach, the band discussed wire hangers, developing their sound, and what it means to be a bastard wino.

I'm going to direct this first question at you, Harlis. I want you to tell me about your previous bands Barrelhouse and Thrill Deluxe. And I have been instructed by Odessa (P. Coaltrain, formerly of Barrelhouse) not to let you downplay either of those.

(HS) Oh shit! Odessa! Barrelhouse was a straight soul band. I molded it after Otis Redding. He's my all-time favorite singer. I molded the band after his style, his singing, and that old Stax/Volt sound. We had a lot of great shows, a lot of good times. It lasted I think eight years. Played some killer shows, had some good parties and it really stuck to the soul music for the first four years. Then it gradually got into a little more rock. But it was straight soul/R&B stuff. Killer band, really tight. The chemistry is what really was the best for me. It got to the point that we practiced so much and we were around each other so much that if I wanted to go longer on a song, or I wanted them to hit on a song, we just had that connection. I could just make some kind of movement or eye contact and they would know. One of the most important things of the band was that chemistry. That's what I had with them.
Thrill Deluxe is still going. Actually, Barrelhouse phased into Thrill Deluxe after all the members in Barrelhouse phased out. The sax player, the trumpet player, the guitar player. There was just three of us: myself, the bass player, and the drummer. So we started Thrill Deluxe, which was supposed to be more mainstream rock. Those guys dropped out, other guys came in. Now we have what we have. It's still a little bit bluesy, but more geared toward mainstream rock.

You didn't downplay it at all.

(HS) Let him know. Tell him I didn't.

How did you come up with the name Bastard Winos?

(HS) I was driving in the car with my lady. I forget how I came up with it. [Greg enters] There he is. You're just…not on time. Just come down off the mountain? I was like, it'd be cool to name a band The Bastards, or The Winos. I just came up with it and I didn't know if it was going to be silly or if it was going to be way cool. It turned out to be way cool. People seem to always laugh and say, "That's cool! Bastard Winos." What's really cool about the name is that it conjures up these images. It makes what we do a lot easier, with promoting, with our sound.

(CG) It's not like we're boxed into anything. It's pretty wide open. We can do whatever we want to do.

(HS) It's almost like Sergeant Pepper's, where they made album as Sergeant Pepper's. We're making the band as though we are bastard winos, almost like a character. The Thrill Deluxe thing…I wasn't doing the blues and the soul music that I love. That's my main bag. Bastard Winos came about because I wanted to get back to the roots of what I like to do. Then these guys are all my buddies. My brother-in-law (Chile), I've known this guy (Greg) for twenty years, this guy (Chris) too. The name Bastard Winos just conjures up all these images and ideas of music.

(CT) It's gritty. It's not pretentious. It's raw, which is exactly what we want to be. We don't want to be a squeaky-clean, polished Orange County band. We want to be bastard winos. We want to be dirty.

If you're writing the copy for the label that goes in the corner of your jewel case, what would you write?

(CT) We've had arguments about this.

(HS) To describe our sound, I would just call it dirty rock and roll. My motto for the band when we started was "Women, booze and damnation." It's got that AC/DC and Hank Williams vibe.

(CT) Cash meets Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

(HS) It's gritty down-home rock and roll. I mean rock and roll: Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters. We all like that kind of music. [The band at the Blue Café starts to warm up with the keyboard player playing bits of "When the Saints Go Marching In" followed by "Silent Night."] We're more comfortable in a dirty old bar than a big stadium. That fits our style. I would just say dirty rock and roll.

How did you come to your sound?

(HS) You can hear in the background the sound we're really going for. It's Christmas-y. (laughter)

(GG) The original ideas come from these two (Harlis and Chile). What's cool about it is they just come with the ideas. It's not like, "Here's my song." The music, it becomes its own. It has its own little life, character and attitude. The sound comes from however we feel that - Broowaha Magazine

"Empty Bottles..."

O.C. Register C.D. Review!!!

Orange Pop: Local acts release a spring bounty of new albums
Special to the Register

Bastard Winos "Empty Bottles …"(independent) – If members of AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd joined forces with blues greats Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, the sonic outcome might well sound like the new debut from Bastard Winos.
Fronted by singer Chile Thomas, the rip-roaring outfit also includes guitarist-singer Harlis Sweetwater, bassist Chris Garcia and drummer Greg Garcia.

Echoes of everyone from Little Richard ("100 Proof Juice") to the Georgia Satellites ("Bottle of Ink") abound on this set of raucous rock ’n’ roll.

Is this band’s boisterous approach the real deal? You bet.

Bastard Winos and Barrelhouse will perform at Fitzgerald’s Pub, 19171 Magnolia St., Huntington Beach, at 9 p.m. on March 29.

You might like if you enjoy:AC/DC, early Led Zeppelin, the Georgia Satellites.

- O.C. Regigster

"Hell Raiser"

Bastrad Winos ~ By Lucky
(SugarBuzz Hollywood)
SugarBuzz Magazine

Hell-raiser: one given to wild, boisterous, or intemperate behavior….namely an individual that partakes in the Orange County outfit Bastard Winos.

Hard drinking and hell-raising is what's in store for those who dare to hang with these bad boys. Spearheaded by our guitar slinging homie Harlis Sweetwater (the ruffian who brought you Thrill Deluxe), fronted on saucy slices by Chile Thomas, and powered by the rock solid Garcia boys (Chris and Greg, bass and drums respectively). So get your fire in the can, find some shorts for smoking, cause were going downtown with the Bastard Winos.

Get ready to boogie on down as "Storm Called Me' starts to brew. Channeled by blues legend gods and a good dose of Boone Farm Apple this opener is a big swig from the jug. Switched up vocals from Chile and Harlis give it good. Halrlis is big blue lung, while Chili is the wood chip, both down right distinctive.

"Rock Me" is a super straight ahead Harlis charged vehicular slaughter. Down home finger picking with super solid bad. Bass rooted and punctuated for that feel good deep penetration. Slamming Twitty.

Clap your hands together and raise a holler, "Mexican Girl" sports the stuff with some god damn great vocal melodies, barrio motif, and enough spice to make your eyes water. Clean ass old school rock n south of the border roll.

Boogie Woogie in the yard as "Lonely Dog" gets caught being taught some new tricks. The likes of Perkins and Cochran may cast a shadow at this outlaw hop. Beat on your suitcase, swing and shout, Bastard Winos are going out.

Nothing better than a "Warm Woman" to set a soul free. Or tie it up in knots. A swampy intro ala Stray cross fades to Hook and the Show. Edgy and strong. Greg hits hard.

"Bottle of Ink" sounds like Canned Heat doing The Standels. Yeah, it's that good! 12 –Bar Blues, and I am not talking about the nights of my infamous pub crawls. Harlis and Chile just get frantic. What the fuck? Great big legged women? Count me in!

Mix Godfather of Soul, Sly and his Stones and Paul Butterfield and you get the styling of "On My Way". Super danceable upbeat and just ripping guitar with super fucking fly Chris bottom.

Stand behind me Satan, "100 Proof Juice" of Traveling Man Berry Richard. Shuffle on up and get your fill. You are gonna have some fun tonight. Duckwalk optional.

"9 Gates" lead to eternal bliss on the golden road of rock. Repetitive under texture makes the necessary foundation for the layers of sediment a top. Funky Railroad goes off the tracks.

Closing out and last call, "Orange Blossom" is some down and dirty scrape your knees while you hit the ground blues. You can't fake shit like this, live it or go home. You've been there or you haven't. Separates the real deal from the pretender. Fucking killer tone as Harlis makes her cry and cry and cry. OMG!
Blues, old school jam, real deal rock. Can you dig it? Better get it.

- Sugarbuzz Magazine

"Orange Pop: Bastard Winos do old-school rock"

Orange Pop: Bastard Winos do old-school rock
The Huntington Beach band puts a modern edge on familiar styles.
Special to the Register
Comments 0| Recommend 6

For listeners who like the infectious and distinctive rock 'n' roll of pioneers such as Little Richard and the Rolling Stones, but spiked with the fiery style of hard rockers such as AC/DC, the Sex Pistols and Hinder, prepare to become a fan of the Bastard Winos.

"We're doing old school rock in a whole new way," explained Harlis Sweetwater, who plays guitar and shares lead vocal duties with Chile Thomas. The Huntington Beach-based quartet also features bassist Christopher Louis and drummer Jimmy Sena.

Sweetwater is best known as the singer of the now-defunct Thrill Deluxe, a strong trio that was a staple in area clubs in the early '00s. Fans of that band will enjoy Bastard Winos, but so will just about any rock fan tired of the slick production that has stripped so much emotion out of much of modern rock.

"Women, booze and damnation – that's kind of what the songs are about," Sweetwater admitted.

Indeed, tracks off the band's excellent full-length debut "Empty Bottles …" deliver fully on those themes. Songs such as "Bottle of Ink," "100 Proof Juice," "Rock Me" and "Lonely Dog" explode out of the speakers.

"I also wanted to play with my friends. Chris I've known 15 or 20 years," Sweetwater said of the group's genesis.

Louis agreed: "We're a good group of friends. If we weren't in the band together, we'd still be friends."

Bastard Winos have only been playing on the area scene a couple of years, and already have a strong following. The band was featured on the Main Stage at the Orange International Street Fair on Aug. 31 and is opening for the Gasoline Addicts at Fitzgerald's Irish Pub in Huntington Beach on Sept. 27.

"I dig the music," explained Sena of his excitement of joining Bastard Winos in 2007. "'Familiar' is a good word to explain it."

Indeed, there are tracks on "Empty Bottles …" that recall a wide range of rockers, but listen to the performances and there is no doubt it is a modern rock outfit dispensing the sonic goods.

"We're not reinventing the wheel, just putting some killer rims on it," Sweetwater said of Bastard Winos.

Added Sena: "I think once you see us live, there is no way you can label us a classic rock band."

- OC Register

"Rock n' Roll Muscle"

The Footnote Interview!~By D.J. Kirkbride

The Bastard Winos are four guys who just want to have a good time rockin’ and rollin’. Made up of Harlis Sweetwater on vocals and guitar, vocalist Chile Thomas, Estaban Camacho on drums (stepping in for original drummer Greg Garcia), and bassist Chris Garcia, the band has been playing shows in the Orange County, CA area and have a newly released CD for your listening pleasure. Here, Harlis and Chile talk with the footnote about their musical mission…

How did you Bastard Winos get together?

Harlis Sweetwater: We all had the same prison pen pal! Naw, fer real, I’ve known Greg and Chris Garcia for a long, long time. We always wanted to do a project together, but it never seemed to materialize. Recently Greg had to split outta state for reasons we can not disclose, but we have a great new cat in the band, Estaban Camacho playin’ drums for the band now. He’s a cool cat and a great drummer! Chile is my brother-in-law and sings in a band Thrill Deluxe used to play shows with a while back, and I asked him if he wanted to jam with us. But what happened was, I wanted to get back to the roots of what I like to do, and that’s soul and blues music. It’s what I’m most comfortable doin’. I also wanted a side project I could be in that didn’t have the pressure of "trying to make it." I don’t wanna worry about writing a hit or how many people show up at a show and all the bullshit that goes with being in a band. The Bastard Winos are laid back. We’re up there to drink and have fun and play music as a family. If people jump on the train... cool... if not then we’re still doin’ what we do.

Your sound is pretty bluesy, as you said, but with lots of rock ’n roll muscle… Was this a conscious decision? Or did the music just naturally evolve when the four of you started playing together?

HS: Dang man, I like that term "rock ’n roll muscle." Can we use that? When people ask us "What do you sound like?" or "How do you describe your sound?" we can say, "Rock ’n roll muscle, fool"! Ha ha. No ain’t a conscious effort. Nothing we do is. That’s the beauty of the BASTARD WINOS and being in this band. We just bring in the songs and start jammin’. Everyone throws in what they wanna do, and there ya’ have it! It’s all just a mesh of what we grew up listening to and the kinda music we love to listen to and play.

Chile Thomas: Yeah, that is it! We wanted a project where the music moved, whether it was blues, soul, country, rock, or punk it -- just had to be something ya’ wanna get outta your chair for. Damn, I am sick of barstools, benches, and chairs! Burn ’em and let’s party! Interact ya’ know.

Is this band really made up of bastards? You seem like nice fellas…

HS: Make no mistake. We are ALL complete Bastards.

CT: LOL! Yep!

Your CD will be out by the time this interview goes online… Was it a challenge capturing your live sound in a studio environment? How was the album recorded?

HS: Our goal was to go in and record pretty much what we do live. There are over dubbed rhythm guitars on each track, but basically we went in, set up, and rolled tape. We wanted everything in one or two takes. Chile was in the booth doin’ the vocals, and we were set up in the studio room all together playin’ live. Then, as I said, I would over dub a rhythm guitar and do my vocals. The important thing was to capture the energy, and I think we did that really well. We intentionally did wanted an UNDER produced record. Ya’ know when ya’ go back now and listen to Zeppelin or the Stones or Chuck Berry, any of those old records the mixes are really shitty, but they capture a vibe and energy, and that’s what we wanted to achieve. We weren’t concerned about the mix of the song, just the vibe and performance.

CT: Basically, we had all recorded big digital multi track monsters with our other bands and were thinking we wanted this album to be the opposite. You know what I mean? More raw and dirty, more true to our roots and what we are trying to express. We wanted those extra studio sounds, laughter when we choked on a part or extra squeaks when I bit the spit guard on the mic -- more like we enjoy and have in the studio and at live shows.

You’ve been playing shows in the Orange County area, and it looks like you have quite a few coming up… How’s the reception been?

HS: Ya’ know it ’ s been really cool; I think people are really diggin’ our songs and the way the band runs. Ya’ know everything’s about drinkin’ and havin’ a good time and people seem to really be latchin’ on to that. I think they feel it’s a refreshing change to other bands that are out there honing their skills and show. We don’t do smoke and lasers and practice what to say in between songs and all that crap. We load in order our drinks and play what ever we feel. We don’t do set lists; we write down the songs, but we call ’em out as we feel ’em.

CT: I think people - The Footnote

"The Real Deal"

Orange Pop: Local acts release a spring bounty of new albums
Special to the Register

Bastard Winos "Empty Bottles …"(independent) – If members of AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd joined forces with blues greats Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, the sonic outcome might well sound like the new debut from Bastard Winos.
Fronted by singer Chile Thomas, the rip-roaring outfit also includes guitarist-singer Harlis Sweetwater, bassist Chris Garcia and drummer Greg Garcia.

Echoes of everyone from Little Richard ("100 Proof Juice") to the Georgia Satellites ("Bottle of Ink") abound on this set of raucous rock ’n’ roll.

Is this band’s boisterous approach the real deal? You bet.

- OC Register


Empty Bottles... (2007)
Bastard Winos -4 EP (2010)



Bastard Winos was formed in 2007 in Huntington Beach Calif. by Harlis Sweetawater, former frontman for THRILL DELUXE and the critically acclaimed Orange County soul band BARRELHOUSE.

With Harlis on guitar and vocals, Chile Thomas on Vocals, Jimmy Sena on drums and Chris Lou playing Bass, the band recorded their debut CD "Empty Bottles" in 2007 and followed up with the 4 song EP simpley titled "Bastard Winos 4" in 2010

The Band would rise to the occasion when asked to open two shows for ZZ TOP on their 2009 North American Tour, and has open shows for Los Lobos,Supersuckers, legendary singer Exene of the band X, as well as prominant punk bands such as The Dickies. Their music was featured on Roy Varga's 2009 Pinup Girls of 2009 Compilation,as well as three Gasoline Records Compilations and Garage Punk Hideout's Compilation "Noise From The Hide Out Vol. 6." In 2009 Bastard Winos earned a nomination for "Best Live Band" for the OCMA's

Currently the band is writing,arranging and recording a whole new batch of songs for the newst record due for release in Fall 2011.