After having been based in London for two decades, TexasBob Juarez now lives a global lifestyle. He has spent long intervals of time in recent years living in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Stockholm, Santa Monica and most recently Los Angeles, where he is now situated for six months of the year.

Juarez, who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas first came to London in 1996, entranced by the UK pop/rock scene and the music of the Beatles, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and above all early Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett. He joined the band of another fragile cult star, Dan Treacy’s 60’s pop-influenced post-punk act Television Personalities, in 2006. Treacy at the time was fighting long-standing, ongoing battles with both heroin addiction and mental health issues. The loyal Juarez, however, remained for five years in Television Personalities until that band fell into permanent hiatus in 2011 when Treacy, who now lives in a nursing home, was forced into retirement following an accident.

TexasBob Juarez’s self-released debut album ‘On a Distant Shore’ was a love letter to Stockholm where it was recorded and, dedicated to absent friends, is also about both Treacy and Barrett.

In what is our second interview with him, Pennyblackmusic spoke to TexasBob on the phone in Liverpool. He is busy, spearheading the Creation Dream Machine, a series of Creation Records-inspired bands nights, supported and backed by its former owner and now head of Creation23 Records, Alan McGee. Creation Dream Machine shows have so far been confined to Los Angeles, but now Juarez intends to take them onto a world stage.

He released his fourth album ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’ under the moniker of TexasBob Juarez’s *SparkleStars* on Burger Records at the end of last year. A sprawling, twenty-six song psychedelic masterwork and double album, it has so far just come out digitally, but is crying out for a CD or vinyl issue. It tells the story of two girls, Alice who is from Liverpool and Zheyina who is from Moscow, who come to Los Angeles chasing the Hollywood dream, but find themselves becoming the prey instead of the dark underbelly that lies beneath its superficial glamour. The stand-out track is recent single, ‘Hello Hollywood’, which merges soft psychedelia with crisp, bubbling pop beats. Elsewhere MGMT star James Richardson’s gorgeous French Horns appear in short intermissions between the main tracks, some lasting a matter of seconds, others a minute or two, and serve as a prompt for what is to follow next. As the album draws to a conclusion, it becomes increasingly melancholic. It closes, with both Alice and Zheyina having abandoned Hollywood, with ‘Goodbye Hollywood’ on a nearly ten minute single note of distortion, cacophonous chaos which serves as a symbol for Juarez’s feelings about the negativity and emptiness of much of the film and music industry.

The music business has not always treated TexasBob fairly and kindly over the years, and when Pennyblackmusic spoke to him he was still dealing with fall out through no fault of his own after a horrific experience with his still-to-be released third album. We, however, found him on typically exuberant form.


PB: Why have you decided to release this album under the moniker of TexasBob Juarez’s *SparkleStars*? What does that name'*SparkleStars*' suggest or mean to you?

TBJ: *SparkleStars* is a beautiful, magical, musical artistic vessel, bringing hope by restructuring the cruel, old music industry model and rebuilding the Utopian musical community again.

*SparkleStars* is also my loving nod to David Bowie and Syd Barrett. It is an amalgamation of my deep love and admiration for them both.

Hearing Bowie’s swan song ‘Blackstar’ album of 2016 broke me emotionally. It was the sad goodbye of our childhood rock god hero. ‘Blackstar’ was a powerful, heartbreaking album, his goodbye to us and much more, so as a tribute to him I wanted to create a project that celebrated him and Syd who were both my musical beacons.

I wanted *SparkleStars* to be filled with hope. I would like to think the utterance of the word brings a thought of joy and happiness, hope perhaps or maybe laughter or silliness or even disdain. That’s fine as well. I hope the name evokes something that shimmers and sparkles, the feeling that one receives when seeing mirror balls and neon lights cascading and splashing across a favourite venue or a ballroom from olden days and remembering ones you loved or fell in love with for the first time.

I also remembered Syd’s short-lived tenure in his last band/project with Twink of the Pretty Things and Pink Fairies and also Jack Monck. It was called Stars. His last performance at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on February 26th 1972 was the final time he ever performed with a band. Roy Hollingworth wrote an article in ‘Melody Maker’ that was meant as complimentary seeing as he was a massive fan, but Syd took offence at the article and never performed with a band again.

So, *SparkleStars* is my deepest bow and nod to my two musical heroes, but I am also trying to create a happy ending with this project.

PB: Do you see *SparkleStars* as a band?

TBJ: I guess that you could say that it is a collective. It is a beautiful magic vessel where we can all find the world’s wonderland and triumphant odysseys and install much needed hope in the world...

PB: You play six-string and twelve-string guitar and piano on ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’. The album also features James Richardson from MGMT on French Horn.

TBJ: We have been friends since 2008. Television Personalities supported them at many gigs. We had been meaning to create something together, and we had never managed to find the time to do it, and so I sent him the melody to a song, and he created this beautiful soundscape that runs like a thread through the whole album.

The French Horn signifies the two girls’ different emotions – happiness, joy, devastation, and, by appearing in these little segments throughout the record, serves as a hint of what the next track is going to be. It is basically the key to the whole record.

PB: Who else appears on ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’?

TBJ: We had a fantastic drummer, Tyson Sheth, who is a friend of John Griffin. John, who is my best friend, has always been there for me supporting my vision and is also my solid worldwide touring bassist. He is also the amazing guy who recorded, produced and mixed ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly', as well as my last three albums. I sent John and Tyson drum demos of each song as a reference. I played kitchen pots and pans on the balcony where I was living at the time in Santa Monica, California just yards away from Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean (Laughs) to let him and John know what I was looking for - “These are the cymbals here. These are the toms, the snare, the stops and starts, dynamics of each song” – and then I basically gave Tyson carte blanche and said, “This is yours. This is your album,” and what he came up with was fantastic.

The album’s finale - 'Fear to Love Another/Goodbye Hollywood'– features Brandon Rauch and Willem Broad on analogue synthesizers. They also play synths on two other tracks, They are in a band called Juggs. They are signed to Alan McGee’s Creation23 label. They live in Los Angeles and started co-organising and co-promoting the Creation Dream Machine shows there with Harry their manager and also Rose Knows and KAV from the Happy Mondays. I had a vision for this album I wanted to tie in of somehow recording 'Fear to Love Another/Goodbye Hollywood' in the Hollywood Hills, and it just so happened that a bit of serendipity, of synchronicity happened. Juggs invited me to record in a studio with them. Unbeknownst to me as I didn’t know before, Willem is Billy Idol’s son, and it was recorded at Billy Idol’s house in the hills, which was a wonderful piece of fate.

PB: What does the Creation Dream Machine involve?

TBJ: I guess that you could call it like an umbrella, a branch of Creation. I am one of the main promoters/organisers with Alan McGee for these crazy, magical nights in L.A. along with Harry and Juggs and Kav. The other team of Curt, Marieta, Pablo and PR Shauna McLarnon at Shameless Promotion are also an extremely good team to have on board. They make the magic happen. Alan McGee has basically given me his blessing and permission to run the nights in L.A., and I am also planning to run nights in Reyjkavik in Iceland and Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia this year.

There are so many young bands that were into Creation, and I want the Dream Machine, as Alan does, to be great exposure for these young up-and-coming bands or even older up-and-coming bands, and to give them the opportunity to have a platform, knowing that they played on a Creation stage.

PB: How often did these shows take place?

TBJ: We did six shows in L.A. last year. They started in April and they ran to December. Artist and all time fan of Creation, Shepard Fairey of OBEY joined us for two shows. The first four shows were at the Monty. At the fourth show the band Ride, who had been signed to Creation, came down to the Monty and were happy to attend the show and aftershow after playing their own gig at Terregram Ballroom and were hobnobbing with the fans. It was great. It just happened to connect. It was great synchronicity again as the Monty was only about 200 yards away from their gig that night, but that took the nights to another level. Many thanks to Shauna at Shameless Promotion for bringing this to the table and making it happen.

We had two more shows after that at the Hi Hat and some fantastic bands. There was a guy called Alain Whyte, who has written many songs with Morrissey and was his touring guitarist for many years. He really wanted to play a Creation Dream Machine show, and for the finale, the last show of 2019 we had him. We had a band called United Ghosts. We had our friends Juggs. Annette Zilinkas from The Bangles,Blood on the Saddle,and founding member of Creation band Medicine was DJing as well as Tony Knox from KXLU Djing and Joseph and Steve Labanda. We had a great band called Jagged Baptist Club as well on the bill. Jagged Baptist Club are really dedicated. They came to our first three or four shows, and we said, “We are not forgetting you guys. You have been supporting us and bringing your friends, so we are definitely going to put you on for the finale of 2019.”

PB: Where was ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’ mainly recorded?

TBJ: The album’s ideas came together and were formulised mainly in Liverpool and also in Stockholm and London and in St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia where I also played some gigs, but then I took these tracks to John Griffin, who has this huge, beautiful studio in Houston, Texas, which is built and constructed like a love letter to Abbey Road Studios. We recorded it entirely there, other than the sessions we did with Juggs in the Hollywood Hills and James who recorded the French Horns in New York.

PB: Did you always plan ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’ as a double album?

TBJ: Yes, I definitely did plan it as a double album as so many of my fave albums of the past were double albums –serving as an impetus to the concept of my album... mainly Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti', The Beatles ‘White Album’, the Who’s ‘Tommy’, Elton John's 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', XTC's 'English Settlement', 'Oranges and Lemons' and 'Nonsuch' as well as many others. I wanted to bring back the beautiful way music was recorded and structured back then, which was organically with analogue equipment.

PB: Were the two girls Alice and Zheniya on ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’ based on real people?

TBJ: They are based on people I have passed through in life. People have their hopes and dreams, and both these girls in their separate countries would go religiously to the cinema and stare at the big screen, wishing and hoping that they would make it out to Hollywood and L.A. They both act in small theatre productions in their home towns, and dream of being part of the big lights. They put pictures up on their wall of their favourite actresses, and people they look up to for inspiration, and want to be a part of that life, and so they take that chance and they save up and they head to L.A. and become part of that famous story of coming out of Greyhound bus station in Los Angeles and trying to find their way there.

PB: The last track ‘Goodbye Hollywood’ finishes on a single note of lengthy distortion. You have said that it is making a pointed reference to the vacuousness of both Hollywood and the music industry.

TBJ: The music industry is being whittled down, and all the DIY/independents are being eaten up. Everything is being whittled down into this one world corporation that has complete control of all the artists. Artists nowadays don’t get a chance to really explore different styles of music as they no longer have funding and development from labels, and there is this conveyor belt of blandness in which everything is being kind of reduced to this one cacophonous, sustained note. Is that what we are going to have in the future, especially with the closing down of all these grassroots venues and independents? It is stopping us from creating something together which is positive and beautiful.

In one of John Robb’s books he mentioned this. He said that there was a time in punk when the fabric tore just a little bit, and the lunatics were let in just for a while. For a brief period we had that time. The industry is, however, totally sewn up, and John Peel is no longer with us. That time when a punk band sent a demo to Radio One and John Peel played it and it changed lives has gone. That is what happened with Dan Treacy and Television Personalities, as well as a lot of other artists. I see Creation Dream Machine as being part of the guiding key to that door to letting in the lunatics (Laughs) and restructuring our industry and starting over again.

PB: Who are Burger Records who have released ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’?

TBJ: They are a label that is based in California. They have stayed independent but they are getting bigger and bigger, but they are still signing unsolicited bands, bands which don’t have management and representation. They give them a platform. It is important that there are labels like Burger left which subscribe to that DIY ethos.

PB: What are your plans for 2020?

TBJ: Right now I am getting ready for the next album, which is Album #5. This is the second part to ‘Through the Looking Glass Darkly’ and tells what happens to Alice next. It has proved a really beautiful and joyous, uplifting album as Album #3 was a very difficult sad, heartbreaking album, as we recorded some tracks in Santa Barbara in 2018 and the guy whose studio we recorded it in with completely disappeared and he never gave us the recordings back. For five or six months I tried to get my masters back.There are these beautiful twelve-string tracks that reference the Wrecking Crew, early Beach Boys and XTC. We lost it, and my dear friend and producer John Griffin flew over to L.A. and ventured to Santa Barbara to try to sort it out and ended up talking to him, but he said, “No, I’m not interested,” and kept my recordings.

PB: That is really awful. Why did he do that?

TBJ: When we were recording, he said, “You have got some really good songs there. I wish I could write songs like that,” and that will be why.

After knowing that he was not going to give me my songs back, I went immediately into my friend Kyle's studio Gaucho in L.A. for two or three days to re-record those tracks as fast as I could, emulating them to a tee as I didn’t want him to copyright my songs, which is what happened also to Dan Treacy and Television Personalities. I have done some other recordings for it as well, and I am hoping to release it in March/April to coincide with South by South West Festival or L.A. shows at which Burger Records have a two day showcase and at which I will be playing. The third album 'The Magic/k Mirror' seems a bit fragmented, but there was so much potential for it. It is so sad really, the great ghost album that never was...but it still has beautiful heart. So, everyone reading this give my 'The Magic/k Mirror' album some listening love. It is being released on my own label DIY Bedroom Recordings with heart and soul. It was recorded under duress with sparkling rapidfire immediacy and urgency.

The Creation Dream Machine will also be starting up again in March. We have got the next three shows in Los Angeles booked. We will be doing a Creation Dream Machine show at Gold Diggers Club in East Hollywood on March 25th with United Baptist Club, Strange Phases who will be launching their album and Sun Colony and feature DJ sets from Juggs and L.A. Drones!W e have then got two shows at the Viper Room in West Hollywood on April 16th and 17th. At the first of these what we are calling the Creation Dream Machine All Star Band will be playing, which will feature various special guests singing Creation label songs, and there will also be sets from L.A. Drones, Magic Wands, spoken word genius and magician Stevie Belowsky and singer-songwriter Jimmy Sweet as well as DJs Alan McGee and William Reid and special guests. At the second one on the 17th April, there will be a Q&A with Alan McGee, as well as performances from Juggs, TexasBob Juarez's *SparkleStars* and a band called the Brutalists. Two new members of The Creation Dream Machine Team Rex Roulette and Jimmy Sweet will also be helping to co-promote and co-organise the shows. We are also planning to take the Creation Dream Machine to Reykavik Iceland in June.

PB: Thank you.













Related Links:

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