Interview: Johnny Otis Davila

Photo: Kianí Medina

It’s been a prolific 11 or so years for Johnny Otis Davila since San Juan garage pop rockers, Davila 666 parted ways in 2007, but not a period without its challenges. Johnny Otis is fighter, though, and through it, he’s battled his share of demons (heroin addiction) with a wicked sense of humor as well as written and recorded some gritty, top-tier power pop with Davila 666 bassist y Terror Amor vocalist, AJ Davila, despite the very real health problems he’s faced along the way. With a stack of solo tracks, an upcoming album, with Mexico City based Xenu and The Thetans, and a SOLD OUT Davila 666 Reunion Show in San Juan (Don’t worry, San Juan 666ers, you can catch ’em THIS FRIDAY, January 11th at La Repuesta!), Johnny Otis be killin’ it!

MM9: Can you tell me a little about your music and life post-Davila 666 

JOD: Davila went on a hiatus in 2012 and for 6 years, the beast would slumber, ha, ha, ha! I played with AJ for a while who went solo after we decided to take a break from Davila 666 but I had been writing my own songs for what would become my solo project. I moved to LA a few years after Davila went on hiatus. Truth, I needed to get away from the island after Davila went on hiatus and I was strung out on dope. I was methadone on and off for 11 years. Then I went to LA to get clean, ha, ha, ha. It worked. I originally wanted to form a new band but I just said, “Fuck it, I’ll go solo!” ha ha! It really wasn’t easy, I had no clue of what to do, I still don’t, but I got some friends together and started playing shows, record songs, etc. Put out the PIFF tape in October of 2015 and kept playing more shows and writing more songs. Then about a year later I had to move back to Puerto Rico for health reasons. I almost died cause kidney failure. I was clean for 2 years when I relapsed, but I didn’t get hooked again. I had plans to go to Mex and record my record when that shit happened. I even had nerve damage in my left hand and couldn’t play for over a year. What happened in LA was pretty gnarly. But I’m alive. I had necrosis on some muscles in my leg, so they removed ’em and I cant move my left a lot. It was a whole thing. I’m tougher than I realize, sometimes.

MM9: Can you tell me recording about “La Noche Llega” and the inspiration behind the song?

JOD: “La Noche Llega” was recorded also with Miguel at Vesubio this past year. I wrote it when I was homeless couch surfing in LA, ha-ha! It’s about heartbreak and missing someone. I always wanna dress up mental illness as monsters in my head. It’s more fun to dress up your loneliness, depression and anxiety as mutants, monsters and shadow people.  Sappy shit, ha, ha! My good friend, Johnatan Mateo was in Mexico playing with Bad Manners and we got him to play the horns on it.


MM9: Can you tell me a little bit about Xenu and The Thetans?

JOD: Before all that drama with my health went down in LA, I had been making plans to go record my solo record in Mexico City with AJ Davila who had moved there after the Davila 666 hiatus. I had enough songs for a full record. I was back in PR for about a year to heal and as soon as I was well enough to play, I moved to Mexico City. There I met the most awesome people but especially Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles who had been playing with AJ. I moved to DF in Jan. Brandon and Julian (singer of Xenu) had the idea and the songs for Xenu and The Thetans. Brandon sent me some demos of the songs and asked if I wanted to join ‘em in playing some fast angry punk rock. I heard the songs and said hell yeah and started playing shows. The first show I played after not being able to for a year was the Xenu debut show in Mexico City. That  felt really good. We proceeded to record our debut record in Vesubio Studio with Miguel Fraino from the band Cardiel and its supposed to come out this year on Slovenly/Musica Para Locos. So now I have recorded a full solo record which is still unmixed, recorded the Xenu record, recorded songs for AJ’s next solo record, recorded a songs for my friend, Kate Clover’s record. Also Brandon and I demoed my next solo record on Garageband. I’m gonna call that one Rey de La Basura. We hope to record it this year at Vesubio.

MM9: You’ve played some shows, recently, too. How have those been going and are you playing the new stuff there?

JOD: Yes, I played 2 shows in PR while on my Xmas vacation visiting my mom. Most of what I’m playing in those shows are the new solo songs which have been getting a great reception. Mostly the PIFF stuff and what will become Rey de La Basura and I play “La Noche Llega”. I’m gonna be playing on St Valentine’s in Puerto Rico with Bajo Mundo before I go back to Mexico.

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MM9: Can you tell me a little about your upcoming Davila 666 reunion shows? Can you give me a little background on how that came together? Show dates?

JOD: Well, the Davila reunion came cause it needed. We all did our own thing but nothing equaled what we had with Davila. The chemistry we have is undeniable and in my humble hoodrat opinion, created something very special. I’m gonna turn 40yrs old while playing the reunion show if that is not special idk what is haha. It was time to set aside whatever differences we had and come together. It’s the 12th of January but it sold out, so, we doing the 11th, as well. 

MM9: Any other upcoming projects you’d like us to know about?

JOD: I have a solo record coming out sometime this year, Xenu and The Thetans debut will also be out soon and hopefully tour with all my projects and make lots moneyyyyyyyy, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Look for Xenu and The Thetans’ new record soon on Slovenly/Musica Para Locos and follow Davila 666 on Facebook and Instagram for  Reunion Show updates and more!

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Ms. Moneynine

Musician, Music lover, Maniac! I’m also a freelance writer and contributor at Please Kill Me. And I’m presently calling the PDX my home. You can also follow me on Bandcamp.

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