Magic realism: Sacramento’s Red Tyger Church

The Red Tyger Church’s Mike Diaz pontificates and stuff

Tyger Church roll call.

Tyger Church roll call.

Check out the Red Tyger Church’s MySpace page at

Jesus Christ, Mike Diaz, guitarist/vocalist for the band the Red Tyger Church, can be one depressing dude. Seriously, if you ask him a question like, “Hey man, what’s up?” he might be like, “God is up, but there is no God, so nothing is up,” or something like that. But here’s something else about Diaz: When you ask him about his band, he’s not one of those guys who tells you that they’re what Jesus would listen to if he was around. You know those people? The kind who just talk about how fucking historically important they are all the time?

Mike Diaz is realistic. He’s just a dude who plays music in a band, which might not fit the mold of typical rock star, but it is really a nice change, nonetheless.

“We enjoy ourselves. And if people say, ‘Hey, this sounds like the Saints or Dead Moon or the Fall,’ and they go back to these great records, that would be cool. We just hope to be a cog in the wheel of all this great shit,” he says.

You don’t hear Bono talking about being a cog in a wheel. Nine times out of 10, Bono says that Bono is the wheel—and the fucking chariot he rode in on.

Anyway, the story of how Red Tyger Church came to be is epic. But it’s best if you just go to their Web site ( and read it there. Seriously, Diaz wrote it himself. And it’s really good, so I won’t spoil it for you, but one of the highlights includes Diaz’s membership in a cult based on the teachings of British magician Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Anger films. Read that sentence again and then have a smoke.

It’s pretty fucking rock ’n’ roll.

Speaking of that, RTC’s third album, Memory Sounds, is heavy. And it benefits from this fluid combination of male and female vocals on top of an incredibly massive backdrop. “Like Ike and Tina Turner backed up by Blue Cheer or something,” says Diaz. RTC bassist/vocalist Brad Teichman (the Ancient Sons) has an uncanny ability to harmonize, while Sunny Balfour and Karen Simmons bring a sonic pureness and vocal energy that perfectly tempers the band’s brick-weighted sound. Add to the mix Sean Kehoe (drums), Aaron Richards (guitar), and of course, Diaz, and you’ve got, well, a big-assed band.

“We got some psychedelic songs,” says Diaz, who is hard-pressed to give his music a genre. “I tried to write a soul song, but I don’t think [the band] liked it.”

See? There’s that self-deprecation again, rearing its ugly head.

“But the band made [the] album really awesome. … They fill in their own parts and it’s surprising and cool; they just always seem to hit the mark. Like when I was a drummer in one band, they would dictate every beat I had to play—might as well be working the graveyard shift.”

Which is weird, because Diaz has been working the graveyard shift at his job with the homeless. As a side note, in his life, Diaz was also: a military brat, a tagger on the streets, an addict and, worse yet, an SN&R intern.

But at this moment, it’s playing in Red Tyger Church that currently is bringing him a great amount of unbridled joy.

And before he gets all negative on you, just remember that Red Tyger Church is just one of those bands that you hear—the thick wall of guitar, the power and wisdom of the voice and the strength of the backbeat—and you know they’re in it for the right reasons. Especially because those reasons also include transsexuals and heavy drugs.

Any parting words?

“It’s just down to fun at this time,” says a reflective Diaz. “I’m too fucking old to wear spandex anymore.”

Don’t be silly.