Anarcho-Crust Punk Christian Rock Reggae Ska Band From South of the Border Calls Themselves Drinking Water
I first learned about Drinking Water at Ska Wars 2016. When they performed, I was struck by Henry’s voice and lyricism. My curiosity was tickled by [the drummer]’s mask, and I loved the music all together. I wanted to know more about this band from Las Vegas. Paco and I made our way over to El Monte, where we were scheduled to meet Drinking Water. After some vegan pizza and small talk, we made our way to the backyard where we would conduct the interview / photoshoot. With the band, an unofficial mascot, Rosie, was present. An adorable Pit Bull, she was a class act! Anyway, the interview is starting! Shhhh….
How did the band start?
David (Drums): Henry had already been playing music before Drinking Water. He played in another band, and that band broke up, and… I am a bad story teller.
[Everyone breaks into laughter]
Henry, being a natural story teller, steps in…
Henry (Vocals, Guitar): Once, there was a day, in a year, 2007 was the year. I was in a band called Peon Identity, we played a lot of shows. They’re from Yuma, AZ. Played a couple shows, recorded a CD. David was there throughout basically the whole time. He was there before I met anyone from Peon Identity. We were actually supposed to start a band way back in high school, back in like 2003, but never did. So naturally, when [Peon Identity] fell apart, I started a band with David. That was in 2008. We moved from our hometown in Yuma, AZ up to Flagstaff, AZ. Lived in our car for a couple of months, worked, and that’s where the whole name “Drinking Water” came about. That’s when it really began.
So, how exactly did the name come about?
H: Very simply actually. David had acquired work at a motel that was right down the main drag there in Flagstaff, and we got cool with the owner, the manager of the motel. He knew about our situation, and he allowed us to stay there at the motel just as long as we cleaned all the motel sheets and pillow cases and stuff like that. One day after scoring some herb on the street, we smoked it and came up with the name after looking at a gallon of water that we had been carrying around with us hiking through the mountains of Flagstaff. It was very profound to us. I basically saw the little sticker on the cap that said “Drinking Water” and I said it aloud, and we were already in the mind-state of trying to create a band name, so that was the one that felt very profound to us and it stuck.
We thought it had to do with you being from Vegas.
H: No, not originally, but we are based out of Vegas now.
We thought it was desert-related.
H: You’re right when you say that, because we’re from the sunniest place on Earth! Yuma, AZ! Desert, straight-up desert. We’re from Yuma, baby. 928, represent. Heheh. Not all of us are from Yuma, actually. None of us are really from Yuma, for instance, David and I just met in Yuma when we went to high school there. He’s actually from Palo Alto, CA. East Palo Alto. I’m originally from San Diego. Joab here is originally from Mexicali, and Anais is originally from San Luis. So Joab and Anais are Mexican.
Do you have jobs currently, or is the music your job?
H: Currently, music is our job. We all quit, but we did have jobs back in the real world.
What were your jobs from back in the real world?
D: I do roofing, and that’s about it I guess. Other than random side-gigs.
Joab (Keyboards, Vocals): I do HVAC, air conditioning, heating and all that stuff.
H: I help him with that. Doing air conditioning, and I Uber Eats deliver.
Anais (Bass): I currently don’t have a job.
Do you have any hobbies?
D: I guess I have a few hobbies, I like to make jewelry out of hemp macramé I guess you call it. Bracelets, necklaces. I skateboard, but not very often. I skateboard more to ride; slackline a little bit. I juggle, I like to do random things. I don’t know what you consider a hobby. I do a lot of random things.
What got you into juggling?
D: Mental stimulation, for dexterity… and it’s fun. It’s really fun. I read this book to “Keep your brain alive” to challenge your mind with little tricks like that, and that’s something I can do anywhere.
H: He’s always had this dream of becoming a Carnie as well.
H: I got some hobbies! Besides music, I would guess singing, even though that’s music, but I do like to sing quite a bit! I really like getting massages. I guess that’s not something that…
[Henry and David laugh]
D: Happy endings?
H: Happy endings! Honestly, I’ve never had a massage with a happy ending, but I am so down for that.
D: Let’s go after this! I got you, we’re on tour! Anything could happen on tour.
H: I’m down…. What else is a hobby? I like to cook! I like to cook for my friends, too. I like cooking good stuff, like when they eat it and say “Yeah, that’s good”, but I fuck up a lot though. Another hobby, I like hanging out with Anais over here. We like to go and eat food at places, and see things. Traveling is like the #1 hobby, honestly. That’s how it relates back into our band; we want to travel the world! We want to travel the world with this music.
J: My hobbies: Smoking weed, taking mushrooms, and going on long hikes on the beach. I also like going to drum circles, which is related to music, so pretty much we revolve around music. Everything we do revolves around music.
H: What about smoking weed?
J: No, that comes with it! That’s part of it!
H: Before I did music, I didn’t really smoke that much herb, but then I found out about it. They mix pretty well together.
J: And I forgot to mention the acid too. The acid’s what got me into music, so if anybody out there’s never tried acid, it will do great things for you. Well, for me.
A: Well, I enjoy doing photography and editing pictures, also hiking.
H: I like being alive
What’s the farthest you’ve toured as a band?
A: I guess the farthest north would be Canada, and the farthest south would be… Rosarito.
J: Farthest east would be Maine.
What was it like playing in Canada?
J: We weren’t allowed into Canada. David was barefoot, Ben was a felon, and Vanessa had DUIs. We didn’t look clean. They wanted us to have documentation stating why we were gonna be in Canada, like business stuff. We actually did get to Canada. Just far enough to get kicked back into America.
D: It was crazy, I thought, when I saw a bunch of the kids here, dancing around with these balloons and people standing in line for these balloons of nos. That was crazy to me, but I guess it’s not that crazy to some people. Just what it is hear; it was just new to me, to see that. People dancing with their balloons in the pit.
H: I got one for LA. South Central, Los Angeles, 2010. We played this fuckin gig at this abandoned lot. Right before they stole my guitar before we got to play. Right after that, actually. There was a group of 30 – 50 kids fighting each other. It was a royal rumble. I was blown away by this shit, because it was just pure anarchy. Like a real royal rumble. I can’t think of the craziest thing, besides guns and stuff. People getting crazy with guns and all that shit. That shit’s crazy too. People coming out with a shotgun. People getting stabbed.
You’ve seen someone get stabbed at a show?
H: No, but there’s been a show we were at where a guy got stabbed. It was either our show or a show that happened before. A hip hop show in Yuma, I think. I don’t know; there’s lots of things that come to mind. I’ve seen a lot of crazy things that didn’t happen at a show.
We’re always interested in stories.
J: We were chillin outside the van, when we woke up in the morning and we were blazing it, and all of a sudden I look towards the back of the van and I see the police rolling up. Like, you didn’t even hear this fuckers pull up. They just rolled up like hella stealthy. Henry was at that moment hitting the bong, and I’m like “Oh shit guys, there’s the cops behind us!” and at that moment Henry’s like “Alright everybody get the fuck out!” So then everybody gets out. David over here reaches into his pocket for some reason, and a cop puts him into a fuckin… They were about to arrest your ass!
D: As soon as I saw the first officer approaching the vehicle I jumped out of the van, and I for some reason had my hand in my pocket. He’s like “Pull your hand out of your pocket!” and he’s grabbing my wrist and shoving me. He tells me he’s just trying to figure out what the situation is and that I’m not under arrest. Then he walks me to the back of the vehicle. He started questioning us, asking us what we were doing outside. We were outside our friend’s house and our friend lives near a school, so we were… They said the school had called saying they saw a suspicious van outside. So yeah. They sat us on the curb.
H: And then the story went on and on and on… Anyway, this is what happened: At the moment that fucking cop showed up, I was in the middle of taking a hit. I said “Everyone get the fuck out!” Everyone proceeded to get the fuck out, except our merch girl, Noel, who always takes her sweet time getting out of the van for some reason. I was like “Come on, Noel,” and I literally grabbed her arm and I yanked her out of the van. I shut the van and I locked it. At that moment I looked over and I saw David. He had his hands behind his back and it looked to me like he was being escorted to the curb. I thought he was already handcuffed. At that moment I blew out my hit, and that cop was looking right at me. I was like fuck it, we’re already arrested. All I know is I am not letting them search my van. That’s all I fuckin know. They’re gonna have to bring out a warrant and the fuckin Governator out here to get that mother fucker open. Anyways, the guy whose house we were at came out. He’s like “Yes, these are my guests.” The cops were interested in our van. I wasn’t even trying to fuck with them. They’re like “What kind of music are you in?” I was like “Rock,” and this guy was like “Reggae Ska.” Even though these guys have dreadlocks and I just blew out a hit, I wasn’t trying to admit that we were potheads yet. I was still in denial.
D: What kind of genre are we in?
H: Rock and roll.
D: But Christian Rock and roll.
H: Oh yeah, Christian Rock.
D: Christian Rock band.
H: Christian Reggae Rock band.
D: Christian Reggae Rock band that smokes God’s herbs.
H: There you go, that’s what we are now.
Is that how you would describe your sound?
H: What’s our sound?
H: Anarcho-Crust Punk / World
H: … David says Sublime.
A: Should we put flyers at churches? Put them at Korean churches, like “We’re the band, we’re ready to go on.”
What are your goals with the band?
H: Goals with the band are as follows: It’s different for every single person in the band, but I can say for me. I’d say #1 to get along and have an excellent time doing it. Have an EXCELLENT time with each other! #2 Make some good music, with a good message for the people and bring it to all the people we can, and visit all the places we can. Change, I want myself to change the most, that’s the biggest thing. It’s really hard, but through the music and through the band I know I’m gonna be where I need to be. Mentally and physically, and spiritually.
J: Henry said everything I had to say.
D: I just want to travel, and do some of the things Henry just said also. Yeah, and just have fun while I do it.
Do you have a favorite movie?
A: I really like Fight Club. I like to watch it almost every day. Batman movies, too.
J: My favorite movie would be The Goonies.
H: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone #1!
D: When I was younger I used to watch a lot of different movies; I used to like Braveheart a lot. Ninja Turtles, the original one.
H: HE SAID FAVORITE MOVIE!
D: TOP FAVORITE! TOP FAVORITE! You can have more than one! ... I mean right now I don’t have a favorite, but…
I understand, it’s a loaded question for me too.
D: Yeah, but uh, Natural Born Killers is a good one too.
If you had a million dollars to donate to a charity, what charity would you donate to and why?
H: If it had to be a legitimate charity, first and foremost I’d have to learn about charities. Learn about which ones are least to be crooks. Most likely somewhere in Africa, but number two: The charity of My Mama!
A: I don’t really know that much about charities either, but I guess I wouldn’t [donate], because I don’t trust them. So I guess I would just go out and donate or help whatever country needs the most help.
J: I guess a charity for animals, or something to do with animals. We’re an all-vegan band, so we’re against animal cruelty.
D: I would just utilize [the money] to build something myself, like Anais said, so I can see where my money’s actually going. Where I’d put it to work, that’s hard to say. Maybe for water in Mexico, drinking water. Maybe build something to make food, like a greenhouse kind of thing.
How often do you visit Mexico?
H: Not as often as we’d like. We play there at least once every four months or so. Sometimes even more. That’s basically our home town, San Luis, Sonora.
D: Rio Colorado.
H: That is our base. One of our bases. As well as Yuma, which borders it, basically. That’s where we’re from, so we always return there. All our original people are there. The people who originally started following Drinking Water.
Do you fare well in the heat?
H: I’m a desert rat; we’re all desert rats. This feels fresh, like I’m about to grab my sweatshirt and it’s like 70 degrees right now. It’s beautiful, I love it, but… At night time, it’s sweater weather for me over here. I think that goes for all of us here, possibly.
Do you have an album in the works?
H: We always have an album in the works, cos we have a plethora of songs that have yet to be recorded. This tour that we’re on now the 20 day tour is based on this album we just released. It’s actually a demo, not quite an album. It’s a three track demo called Asi Soy Yo. We just released this video called Asi Soy Yo, and this new demo with three tracks. It’s our fourth release to date.
Drinking Water will be playing the Roserito Ska Fest on Saturday the 24th
Recommended Listening: Asi Soy Yo