Getting Paid: An Interview with Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez of Sci-Fi Funk Group Zechs Marquise

Imagine a soundtrack for a blaxploitation film starring Shaft in outer space and you’ll have an idea of what Zechs Marquise’s second album, Getting Paid, sounds like. The album is a harder, funkier successor to the group’s full-length debut Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare, which favored ambience and mellow dub.

I spoke with bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez over the phone about the album as well as a number of other topics including why the band is playing at a strip club in Hollywood, bass lines in latin cumbias and west coast hip-hop, Japanese anime, the period of time the band was named Mastodon, and a certain famous sibling.

(l - r) Marcos Smith, Matthew Wilkinson, Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez and Rikardo Rodriguez-Lopez

So you have a few shows coming up next week.

We actually start on Saturday. We have one here [in El Paso] and then the next one is in Mesa [AZ]. Then we play L.A., then San Diego, then L.A. again.

I was looking at those shows and I see you guys are playing at Cheetahs. How’d THAT happen?

We have a friend who books bands there and he saw that we were coming out and had a day off. And he’s like “It’s this bikini bar!” and the reason why we took it is because there’s no cover and we get to play all of our stuff. So we thought, cool, we’ll have one free show and one where people have to pay. We’re kind of interested in seeing how that works out.

Yeah, I read that and thought “When did Cheetahs start booking bands?”

[laughs] So is it like a bikini bar or like a strip club? I’ve been told it’s both, kind of.

I was there once for a friend’s birthday. It’s not a full-on strip club but you can get lap dances and all that.

Like a middle ground? [laughs]

Yeah, that’s why when I read about that show, I went “huh?”

That’s weird, yeah. [laughs] We thought the same thing too.

And then you guys are playing at Low End Theory later.

Yeah, we haven’t played Low End in like two years and we used to try to do it at least twice a year. Over the last few years, we never had a chance to schedule a Low End show, especially with how we’ve grown over the past couple of years, but we definitely like playing there. I think they’ve only had a couple of rock bands play there but all the residents there consider us residents so that’s cool considering that we don’t live in L.A.

The first time we did Low End we opened for Daedalus and Busdriver. We were totally stoked on that because we’ve been fans of Busdriver for so long.

And you’re actually playing two shows in El Paso.

Yeah, we have another one in October [at La Parada]. I guess it would be the equivalent of El Paso’s Low End Theory. It’s the first Friday of every month at the San Carlos building, which is a building a huge courtyard. They have lots of stores and stuff and they let these guys rent the whole space once a month with a few dj’s and live art. Sometimes they have a dance troupe play, they’ll have a band play, it’s really cool. We’re booking it as our vinyl release party since we’re playing two shows in El Paso so close together and because it’s mostly a vinyl culture as it is.

Are you going to add more tour dates?

We have a tour coming up in November. As soon as the routing and dates are locked down, we’ll be announcing those. The only reason we’re doing this one so short is because it’s right when the record comes out. We want to get out, play a few shows and give it some time to circulate for a minute before heading back out again.

Let it percolate for a bit?

Yeah, exactly. Let it settle with people. It’ll be nice to do these shows. The way it worked out was great with Low End capping it off and [brother/drummer] Marcel [Rodriguez-Lopez]’s birthday is the following day on the 29th so to come back home after releasing the record, especially after how long and how hard we’ve been working on it, it’ll be nice.

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