The animated video for Phonolux’s “Regime” shows Donald Trump in bed with Big Pharma and a bloodied, dead woman. In another scene, a whip-wielding Melania, clad in dominatrix gear, holds a “Castrate the Quitters” sign while the President is about to remove Uncle Sam’s balls with a guillotine. In another, the MAGA Supreme Leader sits on a toilet looking as if he’s masturbating, although we soon find out he was only tweeting.
And on and on and on.
In case the San Antonio rock band’s latest vid wasn’t in-your-face enough for you, the single’s cover illustration shows a hand holding Trump’s decapitated head, in a sort of Brujería’s Matando Güeros
-meets-Kathy Griffin nightmare or dream — depending on which side of the aisle you’re on. The imagery is all backed up with a fierce rocker of a tune that suggests band leader Buddy Calvo is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore.
“It’s a satire, it’s a joke,” said Calvo, the band’s keyboardist, vocalist and drummer. “What the video says is, ‘You better be careful, because we never thought we’d be down this road we’re currently on.” And, he adds, things could still get worse.
Calvo started uploading new Phonolux songs in January with the new lineup: Art Romo on guitar and Mando Mora on bass. Art Guillermo Jr., who performs on bass and drums, is the only member remaining from an earlier quartet lineup of the band.
The reconfigured Phonolux will continue releasing a song a month until January 2021, when it will drop a new, still-untitled album that will be released with two additional new songs.
Phonolux formed in 2007 and put out its self-titled debut in 2009. Both it and the follow up, Nashville Fires
(2012), were among the best local releases in their respective years. Yet another album, Feather Fortress
, came out in 2016, followed by silence. Then, the two-song EP “JeJune”/“Letters Make Words” dropped in January, “Regime” in February, “The Mourning” in March and “The Vine” in April. Two more EPs are scheduled for May and June. Phonolux was also scheduled to play live for the first time in many years at the Aztec Theatre’s Facebook Live page on May 1.
Even though Phonolux always displayed a talent for songwriting and ambitious, Rhodes/Wurlitzer-based production values à la
Supertramp, the new tracks offer a more direct, guitar-oriented sound and rank among the best work yet from the band.
“Three upcoming songs have the ‘old’ Phonolux sound,” Calvo said. “Nothing wrong with that, but hopefully I want to feel that we’re growing.”
Whether the upcoming album will earn any new fans, especially after the polarizing, provocative nature of “Regime,” only time will tell.
“It’s not that we had so many fans to begin with,” said Calvo, half-joking. “Sure, yes, but what do you want me to do? The song is out there, and it is what it is.”
“When I saw the [“Regime” video and cover], I went, ‘Oh, shit… This is going to start something,’” band member Guillermo added. “I’m not a Trump fan at all, but at the same time, [we knew] some people wouldn’t want to share this, so I was, ‘Oh, fuck it, let’s do it.’”
Guillermo was right. As of press time, the “Regime” video — released in late March, directed by Calvo but not associated with Machina Cinema, his wife Perla Rivera’s film production company — only had 165 views on YouTube. The clip was “mysteriously” taken down after he tried to post it on his Facebook page. When he tried to share it from the band’s page, the service “wouldn’t even let me boost it … ‘Your video contains blah blah blah…’”
Nothing New Under the Sun
Phonolux not only burns pianos — as it did for a Current
story in 2013, photographed by Josh Huskin — but it’s only continuing a proud tradition of pissing people off left and right. And loving it.
“We have a running joke with the band, ‘Phonolux: Burning bridges since 2007,’” Guillermo explained.
“I’m sure it all started with me saying something to the effect of, ‘I don’t want to play with such-and-such band’ or ‘at such-and-such venue,’” said Calvo, who’s notoriously — and appropriately — picky when it comes to live sound.
“We always expect more of ourselves and the venues and people we play with. … When we voiced this, people that didn’t like what we had to say cut ties with us.”
Calvo wouldn’t mind neo-Nazis “cutting ties” with the band, but he also wants to keep the record straight.
“[With ‘Regime’] I’m not promoting the idea that we should behead Trump,” Calvo said. “I’m promoting the idea that … it’s important to remind ourselves and those in power that we can change things. As Jim Morrison once said, ‘They got the guns, but we got the numbers.’”
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