I was able to see Indigenous twice in the space of three days in September. Once at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida and also at Skippers SmokeHouse in Tampa. While the House of Blues show was very good, the Skippers SmokeHouse show was awesome. Skippers is an outdoor venue. That combined with a hot muggy night, and a vocal crowd that really got into the show caused Indigenous to respond with a show that matched the heat of the evening. Hot Texas style guitar from the stage fueled the crowd and everyone including the band members really got into the music. One of the highlights of the night was the set ending song technically called "Third Stone From The Sun" but mixing in a good share of Santana's "Gypsy Queen" which could be described as "Hendrix" plays
"Santana" or the other way around.
Opening act Damon Fowler from Tampa started the evening off with a great set also. Damon left the stage literally covered in sweat.
One of the first things the record company mentions about Indigenous is that the band is comprised of Nakota Nation Native American's, but to me this fact is not necessarily a major point of interest. What is interesting is the strong sense of family ties and love of music that has been passed on to the band members by their parents and
grandparents. Even more interesting is that their father taught them all how to play; teaching each member of the family their particular instrument. Mato on lead guitar, brother Pte on bass, sister Wanbdi on drums and cousin Horse on percussion make up an interesting combination of sounds that mixes the aggressive rockin Texas blues, Santana style percussion, and Hendrix style guitar together for an excellent musical mix. Strong rhythm and percussion accent the aggressive Texas blues and the percussion particularly adds an different feel to the band.
Indigenous lead guitarist Mato Nanji is a quiet reserved person, who graciously agreed to a short interview before the Tampa show.
Murf: Can you tell me something about your background.....having the
Native American background that you have is not the normal path into the blues. I guess it was a convoluted path that you took.
Mato: (laughing) Actually we got it from our Dad. Kinda....we grew up
listening to...you know...all the music that our dad was influenced by....all the music that he was into. He was a musician, he played a lot of, you know a lot of blues...and a lot of the old stuff that he had....we listened to a lot of rock stuff he had, like Hendrix and B.B.
King, Buddy Guy, you know....just a lot of different things that we grew up listening to. I guess that's how we got into this kind of music that we play now.
Murf: I understand that you used some of his old equipment that was lying around the house? Did you guys take lessons...how did you learn to play?
Mato: Well actually, I found his guitar and his amps and stuff in the basement and that's why I got started. I'm the oldest of the band. That's kind of where it got started. And from there, he just went and just started getting the rest, like my brother and my sister....he went out and got drums and stuff and started putting it all together. That's kind of how it all started....and he picked my brother to play bass and my sister to play drums cause I had already started out to play guitar....and his guitar was all he had...and that's how the whole thing got together....and we just started practicing and he just started teaching us songs and different things. You know...just how to get everything together...just as a band. And he knew how to play all the instruments so....so we all learned from him.
Murf: Sounds like you had a pretty strong background from that point.
Mato: It's been pretty good...just getting the chance to go out and play and you know make music...make music that we love to play. It's good stuff.
Murf: Your dad is the only one that gave you lessons...he taught the whole band?
Mato: Yeah...he's the one...he and my mom got together and got us to...do what we do. When we first started out, they came out on tour with us, and they would sing and play guitar. My mom would sing...they kind of got us going you know....when we started touring and stuff. And after a few shows they said it was up to us...to start singing and everything.
Murf: So he basically kicked you out of the nest and said ....there you go?
Mato: (laughing) Yeah...pretty much...they just uh....got us going and said "it's up to you" from there.
Murf: Is that when you were sleeping in cars?
Mato: (laughing) yeah....we just....we just....I think a few years after that is when we started working on writing songs together, you know...original material.
Murf: Do you use any of your Native American background to write songs?
Mato: For me....I use my own personal feelings....to write songs...but the native American thing is just a different thing so ...for me personally, I just write about how I feel...who I am. I never try to get too much into that side of it. I usually try to do my best to....Actually the whole band, we try to do benefits to help out different things but we just write the kind of music that we write...and making the music we like making.
Murf: I notice that the "Live at Pachyderm studios" CD that you released is only a single disk, even though there was enough material for two disks from the show. Any chance that the rest of the material might get released?
Mato: The rest of the music from the CD?
Murf: From the live show...yeah.
Mato: I don't know...it might come up somewhere but I think that's
something the label...you know they liked all these songs, so they put them together and just released it. You know there wasn't too much promotion or anything, they just wanted to throw a live record out there....you know for the fans....for whoever wants to check it out.
Murf: That show was killer by the way.
Mato: Thank you....thank you....
Murf: You had that available on the Internet and you have a really nice web site that fans can visit. (www.indigenousrocks.com) Do you feel that the Internet and the access to your music has been a big help to the band?
Mato: I think it's....you know there's a lot more people getting into computers and stuff...and I think that's why a lot of fans come out to hear us. It's a good way to reach out to more music fans.
Murf: It was interesting...I first heard of you on the Internet from a guy in Germany who I was trading music with. He said, "here's a band you should to check out" and that's how I was able to track down your web site.
Murf: Is there any particular way you write songs?
Mato: Whenever I write songs, the music usually comes first most of the time. Then I get together with the band, and kinda just go through it and that's when the lyrics come....after we get it all together. I just like to think of it as building a foundation...you know....and then putting the rest on after that.
Murf: Does a lot come out of jam sessions where you work together?
Mato: Yeah.....that's where a lot of the stuff comes out too.
Murf: Circle had kind of a different vibe than your earlier CD's? Was there anything different in putting together that CD over the earlier ones?
Mato: Well we just....I guess we just wanted to try a little bit of a different kind of sound and a different kind of vein you know. That's where we asked big Doyle....Doyle Bramhall to come help us produce it, and he had a lot of influence on the record itself too and ah....and I think it just draws from all the people we grew up listening to. Like Santana and Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddie King ... everybody .... from all these different people you know. It just basically gives it back to all the fans and all the people that made that kind of music. And that's one of the reasons why I thought of calling the record Circle.
Murf: I gotta get some guitar geek stuff in here...I'm a guitar geek...sorry. You get a wide range of sounds without a lot of effects...just a couple of distortion pedals and a wah...it looks like. Other than that, it looks like you go straight into a couple of Fender amps.
Mato: Yeah...just straight through Fender amps. Just a couple of tube screamers, this little octavia thing and a wah.....that's pretty much it. That's just straight through the amps.
Murf: What's that blue hollow body strat style guitar your playing?
Mato: It's a custom guitar made by Benedict. (Benedict Guitar Company)
It's made up in Minneapolis.
At this point the interview concluded so the show could get started.
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This interview is copyright © 2000 by Robert Murphy, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.