Kuato & Quaid Brings Sludgy Sounds and Silly Total Recall Jokes to the Valley Music Scene
Guitarist Sonny Decarlo readily admits that his sludge metal/crustpunk quintet Kuato & Quaid probably won't to amount to much in the grand scheme of things.
Ditto for his other groups PV Casualties, a sloppy Misfits cover band, and Level T, a weirdo rock ensemble that's featured pots and pans as instruments.
But while the 30-year-old says that while all three acts will ultimately wind up as footnotes in Valley music history (at best), its members are collectively having a blast going nowhere fast.
"Not a lot of people like our sounds, but we like playing 'em," Decarlo says of Kuato & Quaid. "We pretty much play [the Palo Verde] every week because it's like our practice pad. No one ever shows up, but we keep rolling on."
And they're also rolling on with the endless jokes about Total Recall, the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi flick (which recently remade as an summertime action vehicle for Colin Farrell) that inspired the band's name.
Decarlo, a veteran of a handful of Valley rock and punk bands like The Tightholes, formed Kuato & Quaid as guitar/percussion duo in the spring with drummer Danny Dominguez (a.k.a. "Chinga tu Carne"). A longtime fan of '90s schlock sci-fi, Decarlo conjured the acts name based on a combination of Schwarzenegger's character Douglas Quaid from Total Recall and a memorable Martian mutant from the film.
"It was originally going to two-piece at the beginning with me and Danny and I had just bought Total Recall on laserdisc," he says.
Decarlo's also quick to point out that it had nothing to do with the recent remake, which was released last weekend.
"I don't even think that the character of Kuato is even in it," he says. "It doesn't even take place on Mars. I want to see it anyways, I think it looks alright. Not the greatest thing in the world. I don't like remakes, in general, except I'm excited for Judge Dread. I love those '90s shit movies, like Demolition Man."
He's not the only one eager to see the Total Recall reboot, as Dominguez and the other two members of Kuato & Quaid plan to check out the flick.
Despite its conception as a duo, Decarlo quickly began expanding the act's lineup, bringing in his friends Josh Halvorson (formerly of screamo band Gay By Default) on bass and Scott Casello to help drop in sound clips from movies during and between song (he also recently became the band's second guitarist).
"We've all known each other way too long," Halvorson says, "We're talking decades."
Decarlo and Halvorson previously were in a band called Aborted Christ, which had the honor of opening for a Buzzcocks/Lunachicks gig way back when.
"That was a fucked up show. We got kicked out because we got naked onstage," Decarlo says. "It seems like we've all been in bands practically our whole lives."
One of Kuato & Quaid's Total Recall-inspired fliers.
The easygoing and convivial atmosphere that typically develops when the members of Kuato & Quaid hang out perfectly illustrates their longtime friendship. While on a break during a recent weekend gig at the Palo Verde Lounge in Tempe, all four members tossed numerous jokes at each other's expense while musing over about their shared histories or cracking on Halvorson, the band's whipping boy of sorts and a frequent target for japes.
When Decarlo and Dominguez attempt to recall (natch) Kuato & Quaid's origin story, Casello quickly interrupts with his explanation.
"I'll tell you why the band formed, because Sonny quit drinking and he needed something to do," he says.
Decarlo pauses for a beat before continuing.
"It's true, I stopped drinking four months ago because I was homeless and fucked up. I was the best man at Scott's wedding and his in-laws had to bail me out of jail so I could make it to the ceremony after I got arrested at the bachelor party," he says. "I had to keep busy and I didn't have a job. I was homeless. So Kuato & Quaid came about just out of boredom. We're thinking about going back to a two-piece because we don't really need [Josh]."
Halvorson grimaces comically before adding, "They don't like me at all."
"Because you don't go to practice a lot," Decarlo says in response. "That's when we make up the songs, when you're not there."
"He really made the mistake of letting this guy join," Casello pipes in, taking another shot at Halvorson's expense.
"Yeah, that's when things started really going downhill," Decarlo agrees.
"Fuck you both," Halvorson fires back.
Despite their humorous bickering, the members of Kuato & Quaid form a tight unit when it comes to performing their gristly brand of sludge rock thunder, which the band's Facebook page describes as a product of "combing the semen from Steve Albini, Steve Ignorant, and Steve Martin."
"It's just what we like to hear," Decarlo says. "You can't put a label on it. Its just shit fucking crust slow-ass rock."
Dominguez -- a native of El Paso, Texas who says he was raised on "powerviolence, hardcore, stuff from Slap-a-Ham and Victory Records" -- agrees with his bandmate.
"Its just a hard sound that grinds away," he says.
Inevitably, the conversation winds its way back to Total Recall and the most important issue of the evening: Does the remake have the triple-breasted prostitute that the original did?
"Is there three chi-chis in it?" Doninguez asks.
"I think there might be three chi-chis in it," Decarlo respons. "Colin Farrell passes some hooker on the street with three breasts."
Dominguez considers this for a moment before responding. "Then I will like it," he says, "I want to see it now."
That's not good enough for Casello, who states, "You're not going to get to see her nips, because it's PG-13, man."
Decarlo, however, wants to see something more than a trio of nipples on some futuristic floozy: "Does anyone know if there's some fucking crazy midget bitch shooting up the place with a machine gun? I loved that part."
Such are the concerns of a teetotaling guitarist who admits, "Hey, I'm going nowhere these days, but at least I'm sober now and want to see a good movie."
Kuato & Quaid and PV Casualties are scheduled to perform on Friday at Goat Head Saloon in Mesa.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.