Luna Catches Dengue Fever - and it Rocks!
Cambodian-American rock band Dengue Fever makes music as infectious as the virus from which they take their band name. This unique, six-piece, LA-based group, fronted by vocalist Chhom Nimol (a pop star in her native land), released their third album, Venus on Earth to critical acclaim early this year and have been traversing the globe ever since, playing festivals and shows from Seattle to Portugal.
Traveling to exotic places is nothing new for Dengue Fever. The band was formed in 2001 by guitarist/vocalist Zac Holtzman (also of Dieselhed and the Haden Triplets) and his Farfisa organ playing brother, Ethan, who was musically inspired on a trip to Cambodia with a friend who actually contracted dengue fever from a mosquito while there.
Named "Best New Band" by the LA Weekly in 2002, Dengue Fever has graced soundtracks for the 2005 film, "Broken Flowers" the 2001 film "City of Ghosts" and the second season of the hit Showtime series, "Weeds."
Many of Dengue Fever's songs are sung in Khmer and include psychedelic covers by Cambodian artists Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea as well as originals that are composed in English and then translated.
Luna's unique style also translates well with this unusual band. Bassist Senon Williams has an
Andromeda Phoenix bass while guitarist/vocalist Zac Holtzman plays a Luna Muse which,
up to now he says, he has only used in the studio.
Senon, who also plays in the Radar Brothers, likes the Phoenix's "large range of tone, deep lows to bright highs, all at the same time." Zac is impressed with the Muse's playability and plug-in jack - high praise coming from someone who builds his own instruments as a hobby. He has built a fretless banjo, among others. "I built my dream resonator guitar," he says, "but it plays kind of rough."
Fortunately, Zac's Luna does not. When he lets friends play it, "they love the way it plays and sounds," he says.
Senon counts "carpentry and romance" among his other passions; Zac enjoys bike riding.
As for sacrifices made in the name of rock, "I never gave up on my passion," Senon explains. "I've traveled the world and made many friends. If living hand to mouth and buying used cars is a sacrifice, bring it on."
Watch for an upcoming Dengue Fever DVD entitled "Sleepwalking through the Mekong," which follows the band through their 2005 Cambodian tour. "I'd like to help the young musicians we met in Cambodia," Zac says.
Check out Dengue Fever at denguefevermusic.com.
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