Music News

Say Hello to Bloody Basin, Josue Rodriguez's New Project

Rodríguez's band Rum Drinker playing at the 2016 Endless Bummer fest.
Rodríguez's band Rum Drinker playing at the 2016 Endless Bummer fest. Benjamin Leatherman
Seeing live music can be exciting, but go to enough shows and the thrill of it all wears off. Musician and Casa Butthole Record Collective founder Josué Rodríguez knows that feeling all too well.

“Nothing is more boring to me than six bands in a row,” Rodríguez says. "Even if they’re all rad bands, by the end you’re gonna be tired of standing there listening to your friends blow out your ears with song after song of the same genre.”

Because of that frustration with predictable booking, Rodríguez has decided to switch things up with Bloody Basin, the banner under which he and some close collaborators are producing a new series of live events.

In a music scene full of "six bands in a row" shows, Rodríguez is eager to make Bloody Basin stand out by putting on theatrically tinged events that, he says, "incorporate dark cabaret elements" and "spooky, twisted burlesque."

Since 2015, Rodríguez had been organizing shows as Casa Butthole Record Collective, a Sunnyslope-based tape label that put out adventurous releases by groups like Sugar Skull Explosion, Cult Of The Yellow Sign (editor's note: this article's author was a former member of the group), and Rodríguez's surf-punk group Rum Drinker. CBRC would go on to produce the marathon Endless Bummer concerts: all-day shows that featured a murderers' row of Phoenix and Tempe's best underground bands playing at venues like 51 West and The Trunk Space.
While music was the main focus behind CBRC's shows, Rodríguez says that it was important for him to mix in different media and art forms to keep the shows fresh.

"With the last Endless Bummer, we had my friend Jett Pirouette do a freak show set that included fire-breathing, glass-walking, and a lot more. I look for artists like Jett that can add something special, something the crowd won't expect."

Casa Butthole will release two more tapes by Smiling Faces and Trash Mullet in 2018 before closing up shop.

"After these releases, we won't be releasing any more albums or booking any more shows for the foreseeable future," Rodríguez says. "For a number of reasons, it doesn't accurately represent what I want to be doing, and my close relationship with Slope Records and Related Records kinda leaves me unable to provide anything that I don't think either of them could do better."

Rodríguez will continue booking shows as Bloody Basin productions, which he hopes will distinguish themselves from CBRC shows with Bloody Basin's emphasis on multimedia performances and goth and death rock sounds.

It isn't his first goth rodeo, either: Rodríguez experimented with doing "a spooky multimedia event" last year for the winter solstice.

Working with Briannin Gross from Tempe dance night organizers Mutiny Phoenix, the pair put on a dance party at Rips called The Longest Night, which mixed burlesque with DJ sets and live performances by Man Hands and Rodríguez's death rock group Hex Wave.

For the first official Bloody Basin show, Rodríguez plans to add some visual art components to spice up that alchemical formula for putting on solid gold shows.

"There will be weird projections and visuals featuring scenes from old silent horror and Japanese gore flicks," Rodríguez explains. "We wanna keep it weird, mean, harsh, and heavy."

Bloody Basin's inaugural event, titled Love + War, is scheduled for Thursday, February 22, at Rips. Sunn Trio and Hex Wave will be performing. The show will also include burlesque performances by Dahlia de la Nuit and Aluna Reign, as well as a special "witchhaus" set by DJ Lady Dinosaur.

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Ashley Naftule