This weekend, February 17 – 19, Cypress Hill will join a long list of musical friends for Cali Vibes, a three-day festival in picturesque Long Beach, California. Cypress will be on hand Saturday, along with Snoop Dogg, Dirty Heads, Damian Marley, Method Man & Redman, Matisyahu, J Boog and more.
Over the other two days, 311, Steel Pulse, Rebelution, Jack Johnson, Stephen Marley, Ben Harper, Tash Sultana, Warren G and many more will perform at the festival.
I spoke to Cypress’ Sen Dog (real name Senen Reyes) about the festival, why it’s like a family reunion, who would win a smoke out between all the Saturday vibes and listening to jazz music on flights to chill out.
Steve Baltin: Though you are a Nevada resident now, of course you are coming back out for Cali vibes.
Senen Reyes Yes, for sure. We’re all excited about it and just waiting to be around other quality musicians and get on some live shows and that’s what my agenda would be that day.
Baltin: When you come to a festival like this, do you hang out for a few days since there are so many people on there you know?
Reyes: Well, I’ll just hang out the day that we perform and check out some acts that day. I won’t go the day before, the day after, I usually have things to do. But that day of the show, it’s when it all goes down for me.
Baltin: That’s a pretty great day. You’re playing with Snoop, who you’ve known forever, Dirty Heads, Damian Marley, who I just interviewed, Method Man & Redman. Okay, wait, of all of these people together, who’s the best smoker?
Reyes: No disrespect to anybody else, but I think Cypress Hill wins that match-up every day anytime you have it.
Baltin: When you get to reunite for a festival like this does it feel like a high school reunion?
Reyes: Yeah, definitely. You get to see some of the homeboys, and we don’t always get to see each other because everybody has their own busy schedule to take care of. But when we do get together, it does feel like a high school reunion or a family reunion or something like that. Because we have known each other for over 30 years a lot of us guys, and especially with Snoop and Red and Meth, we’ve definitely known them for 30 years plus. So it’s always like, “How you been? How you doing? What’s been up lately?” Everybody wants to catch up on everybody’s activity type of thing. And it’s always a great time when you get to see these great musicians and be friends with them and just have natural conversations. It doesn’t always have to be about how big the band is or anything like that. It just could be like a regular deal. So it’s always good, man. It’s always good to hang out and not always have to be Mr. Raptor all the time and just be friends with people.
Baltin: I’ve talked to so many artists about this and people want there to be, or imagine there’s competition. But everybody’s friends, everybody loves each other and especially, again, all of the bands we’re talking about have achieved so much success. Really, it’s like you’ve got nothing to prove to each other.
Reyes: Yeah, that’s very true. The whole thing about everybody getting along, and almost like a family environment, I think it trumps everything else that is there in that equation. So when you see a Snoop or a Red and a Meth, it’s more of a celebration than it is a get together or a hang because we’re all top-notch at what we do, and we all enjoy each other’s music. So it’s a definite celebration of life and music and whatnot, and it’s always a good time. I always enjoy watching Snoop. He always got something crazy planned, [chuckle] so I’m looking forward to all that.
Baltin: What are you excited for musically that day?
Reyes: I just want to let all the friends know that I’ll be attending that, prepare for an entertaining day, not just from all the hip-hop guys. The Dirty Heads are really good too, and I think that everybody’s gonna be prepared to give their best on stage. Soo it’s gonna be a very entertaining day, and if I wasn’t performing, I most likely would be a fan and go to that show anyways, type of thing, ’cause that’s how highly I think of everyone that’s on the bill.
Baltin: You are playing the Queen Mary Park and just played the Coliseum in L.A.. You’re talking about two of the most iconic places in Southern California. So how much fun is it to get to go to these places that you probably have such a history with, just whether it’s as a fan or being here for all these years?
Reyes: Doing those kind of venues are great and everything, and I think that’s one of the best parts about the job is that you get to play these legendary venues around the world. There’s always an anticipation and an excitement about it, places that you heard, that [Jimi] Hendrix played or [Black] Sabbath played at and things like that. And it’s always an experience when you get to go to these venues. I’ve never played at the Coliseum before. No actually, I’m lying, we did a low rider car show 100 years ago [laughs]. But that was so long ago, I think this has to be a bigger deal. And I think that’s one of the best parts of the gig, is you get to go and travel and see some of the things that you’ve only heard about from other artists or interviews or magazines and stuff like that. So I’m very excited about both of those shows, and I think everyone in our band is too.
Baltin: Then you guys go off to Australia, which I imagine with COVID it’s been a minute since you’ve been there.
Reyes: In Australia, I think it’s been over five years, for sure. And not for any reason, other than we just have other territories to hit. So, once we go all the way out there, it’s gonna be a few years before we get back. But that whole traveling deal, it’s kind of cool to be able to go there and perform and have fans from either side of the planet check you out. We’re a touring band. That’s what we do. And like Lemmy from Motörhead said one day, “You’re not a real band, if you don’t tour”. So, I believe in that, too.
Baltin: You had Back In Black come out last year. So when you guys go to a place that you haven’t been in years and you have new music to play, does it have that same excitement and energy of just starting out?
Reyes: Yeah, there’s always a new energy after you spend a few years of not going somewhere and coming back and having, of course, your catalog and newer material to play, there’s always an excitement there. Australia has always been good to us. There’s always been sold out shows and stuff like that since the first time we went there. The anticipation is there from the fans, the energy is there from the fans, and it’s a good place to tour. It just takes long to get there, but once you get there and you unwind and start doing the concert, then you fall into this groove, and the groove only gets better as the shows go on,. It feels to us. or at least to me, that you’re getting better and better on stage. So as the tour gets longer, the performances get better, in my opinion. But that’s just my opinion. But, no matter what it is, you look forward to going places that you only ever read about in history books or seen on TV shows and that’s one of the cool things about it, is you actually get to go there and even if it’s only 10 days or whatever it, it’ll be cool. And the Cypress fans, the Cypress Army around the world from their side of the world will show up and it’ll be a good time.
Baltin: You mentioned the fact that it’s a long way away. What are the preferred methods to entertain yourself on basically what feels like a seven-day flight?
Reyes: I’ll hit the magazine rack and take three or four magazines with me. I’ll watch the movies. I’ll play a few games in my seat while I’m there, try to catch a nap and try to mentally prepare for the job or work I have ahead of me. And, try to envision a successful tour kind of a deal. And then, if you eat all the food and nap it out and this and that before, you just made the flight that much shorter, but you definitely have to eat and sleep and whatnot because it’s vital to us older dudes to do so. But not even really think about how many hours it is. Just get on there and go do it, that’s the best way. As far as the playlists, I like to listen to jazz when I’m on the flight. So I’ll pretty much stick to that. And as far as favorite movies that I could watch at any time, Scarface, Django Unchained and Apocalypse Now are just some of them that I could just watch it any time that I feel like watching, and it’s always refreshing to see those again. And as far as music goes, I recently started listening to a lot of jazz. It really calms me down and helps me process my thoughts and whatnot. So it’s almost therapeutic if you will.
Baltin: So what have you been listening to that really has excited you or some of the favorite stuff you go back to?
Reyes: Quincy Jones is on that channel, which is a really, really good deep musician to listen to. And then the stuff that my parents would listen to when I was growing up, like Glenn Miller and things like that, stuff to calm me down and chill out. ‘Cause me myself, I like hip hop and I like heavy metal. And, sometimes that’s just a bit agro. So I’ll just throw on the jazz channel and listen to whatever comes on. Most of the time it’s very relaxing kind of thing. The other day they had some Latin jazz on there and they were playing some of Willie Bobo, that’s my drummer’s father, Eric Bobo’s father. They were playing some Mongo Santamaría on there, which is really cool. So I just take it as it goes. Whatever comes on, I try to listen to and try to learn the most I can about this music that I happen to be excited about and listening to in recent times.
Baltin: Are there songs that you missed playing during COVID or have a new appreciation for?
Reyes: Yeah, definitely. Like I told you before, I like to listen to a lot of rock and metal stuff. So I’ve always enjoyed that fusion that we did a long time ago with “Rock Superstar” and things like that. It’s actually one of my favorite songs of all time for me, that “Rock Superstar” track. For every album, it’s getting reacquainted with the material on there. From Black Sunday I really like “Cock the Hammer” and “When the S**t Goes Down.” Those are two of my favorite head knockers from our catalog. “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That” is a song that I try to listen to as much as I can just to envision us with the energy and everything. It’s the energetic song to me, still to this day. From our last album, “Champion Sound,” I love the flow of that. I love the music on that. And like you were mentioning earlier when we make an album, we’ll make the album and come back and revisit it and see what we want to do differently on there.