Saturday, March 3, 2012
Mar 4, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Mar 4, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Mar 4, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Mar 4, 2012
From left to right, Chris, Jim, and Gian Ortiz.

INTERVIEW: Jim Ortiz of Amplified Heat

Jim Ortiz, lead singer and guitarist of Amplified Heat, talks New Year's Resolutions, what his favorite candy is, and how his bro rocked so hard his amp almost caught on fire.
From left to right, Chris, Jim, and Gian Ortiz.

The Ortiz brothers are a tanned trio of Austin musicians that make up the thunderously loud bluesy psychedelic rock band, Amplified Heat. I've been watching Jim (vocals/guitar), Gian (bass) and Chris Ortiz (drums) melt ears around town for half a decade, but they've been making music together for much longer than that. The group has been rocking since they were just kids.

The local band is one of three Texas acts that David Fricke, senior editor at Rolling Stone, said he “fell over – and in love with” last year in an article he wrote about SXSW. The other two bands on the list were Austin's psych/drone lords The Black Angels and Denton's Explosions in the Sky. Pretty good company I'd say.

Gian's amp? It was a brand new Marshall head that he had built for himself, and it lasted the whole set before going up in smoke on our last song.

Last month, I caught the end of Amplified Heat's set when they opened up for Clutch at Emo's East. They were so awesome they almost set the stage on fire. Seriously - there were more than just sound waves streaming from that amp, there was smoke.

This week I snagged an interview with Jim, the eldest Ortiz, and he humbly shared his two cents on music inspiration, Emo's, and what's next for AH.

Miranda Macias: Since it's the first week of 2012, Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions?

Jim Ortiz: Well let's see here... I have resolved not to cut my hair until my birthday.

How did you ring in the new year?

JO: We rang in the New Year by playing a gig at Club Deville. Jake and Abel Garcia hooked up with my brothers and did a really awesome Black Sabbath tribute set! It was amazing!!!

How old were you when you guys started playing together as a band?

JO: When we started we was just kids, I believe I was around 10 or 11, and Chris was 6 or 7. Gian didn't get into the fold until he was a little bit older, but we hired him on bass officially when he was about 13 or so. He just picked up a bass and started playing, and he played all the bass parts exactly how we wanted them played ... so I bought him a bass and an amp, and away we went!

What is the best and worst part about being in a band with your two brothers?

JO: There really is no worst part of being in a band with my two brothers, we love each other very much and we have each other's backs no matter what. It isn't always peaches and cream, we do get into fights and arguments just like any other band. But we hold no grudges, we just let it all out and then we make up and it's all good again!

I think that Amplified Heat has a really great, deep, bluesy, psychedelic, good ol' fashioned rock 'n' roll sound to it. Which bands, would you say, have influenced your band the most?

JO: Our influences are as follows and not necessarily in order but off the top of my head, here goes... The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Black Sabbath (1968-1978), Deep Purple (Marks I and II), The Who, The Beatles, Rolling Stones 66-71, Motor Head, Savoy Brown, Cream, Blue Cheer, Johnny Winter band (1969-72), Led Zeppelin, John Mayall's Blues Brakers (1964-1969), Van Halen (1978-84), early Jethro Tull, (When they didn't suck!!!), Fucking ZZ TOP ... the list is almost endless! Canned Heat, 50's Rock N Roll and the Blues! All the greats but mainly Lightnin' Hopkins, SRV, Muddy Waters, Freddie, B.B. and Albert King, John Lee Hooker!!! Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers! I can go all night, baby!

I caught the end of your set last month when you opened up for Clutch, you guys rocked. It was apparently too much rock for the amps to handle because during the last song, I saw smoke. What happened to Gian's amp?

JO: Hahaha! Gian's amp? It was a brand new Marshall head that he had built for himself and it lasted the whole set before going up in smoke on our last song! Luckily, Gian had his Fender Bassman 135's on deck for back ups. I'm still using my beat up Fender Bassman 50's and two, sometimes three Marshall stacks!

Since you have now played both venues, what did you think of Emo's East compared to the old Emo's?

JO: I really dug the old Emo's. It had a smaller stage and it was more of an intimate set up, which is what we prefer. The Emo's East set up is great, but way too big! Next time we play there, we're gonna need more Marshalls! Hahahaa! Something about the size of the joint just sucked up all the tone. But we would love to play there again opening for bigger, more established acts!

As a musician who has played there a number of times, how do you feel about the downtown Emo's closing?

JO: I am really saddened by the old Emo's closing down, I've had many good times playing there and hanging out, getting drunk and so forth and so on. I miss it already!

Amplified Heat's Facebook page says that one of the band's interests is candy. What is your favorite candy?

JO: Chocolate! I don't eat too much of it but I dig Chocolate!

When is the next album coming out?

JO: The next record will be out hopefully this year. We have been working on new material so we can't wait to get into the studio and lay down some new Heat tracks!

What's coming up next for Amplified Heat?

JO: A tour is in the works, I love to tour! I really do get depressed when I don't go out on the road. That's pretty much it! We are here to Rock n' Roll your asses off! and if you don't like it loud, then don't come to the shows, just buy the records!!!

* * *

Catch Amplified Heat in Austin again with Sons of Hercules on January 13 at Beerland, and on February 5 at Swan Dive with Kentucky Knife Fight and Scorpion Child. They will also be in Houston on January 7 with Eric Tessmer at the Continental Club, and in San Antonio on January 27 at the Limelight.

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