Calexico, the Tucson-based collective led by founding members Joey Burns and John Convertino, have long had a penchant for grandiose arrangements and genre-defying songwriting, but at their core they’ve always gravitated toward the traditional music of their home in the American Southwest. And like the band, that region’s cultural heritage is inextricably linked with the music of Mexico.
So it may come as surprise that before their most recent album, the group had spent little time south of the border. In fact, the sessions that would become Edge of the Sun marked the first time in the band’s nearly twenty year history that they had taken the creative process abroad. Recorded in the Coyoacán neighborhood of Mexico City, Edge of the Sun is a sweeping and beautiful 12 song effort that showcases a reinvigorated band at the top of their game.
Before a recent performance with The Decemberists at Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon, opbmusic caught up with Calexico, and the full seven piece group performed songs for us in the vineyard at the nearby Edgefield Winery.
Lead singer and songwriter Joey Burns also chatted with opbmusic about the band’s experience in Mexico, their passion for musical collaboration, and their upcoming projects including a possible new album with Sam Beam of Iron and Wine.
Joey Burns on the potential follow-up to the Calexico and Iron and Wine 2005 collaboration In The Reins:
We do want to do some more work with Sam Beam of Iron and Wine. There’s talk of maybe doing 4 or 5 songs just as a two-piece [accompaniment], kind of a garage style recording with just John [Convertino] and I— John on drums and myself on guitar. And then maybe I was thinking of turning that into the same 4 or 5 songs but doing it completely acoustic. And then we’d put that out and go tour and play some of the places that we don’t normally get to play— the smaller towns both in Europe and in the United States.
On recording in Mexico for the first time and working with Mexico City-based musicians like Carla Morrison who appears on the track Moon Never Rises:
It wound up being a great opportunity to get outside of our normal way of doing things and to look at the band from a different perspective. And so part of that perspective was trying to invite some of the musicians that we had either heard about or had met in Mexico City [to perform on the record].
On Calexico’s upcoming film soundtrack work:
The next film we’re going to work on is also based on the relationship between the United States and Mexico but it has to do to with the declining population of the monarch butterflies [that migrate between the two countries] because of logging in some of the old growth forests in mountainous regions in northern Mexico. I met the filmmakers and we’re going to try to do it next year. So hopefully it’ll come out either at the end of 2016 or early 2017.