Joey Burns is excited about playing the Sydney Opera House. “All my friends who I tell that to, their jaws drop and you can see the pop bubbles going, which is really nice,” he says. “They start to drool and I have to remind them, ‘Hey, you’re drooling’.”

Burns, with drummer John Convertino, is Calexico – a fascinating post-rock, country and mariachi hyrbid (among other things) from the border town of Tucson, Arizona. The pair is touring on the back of their latest album, Algiers, recorded in another city on the crossroads, New Orleans. “It’s the stepping-stone,” explains Burns. “I really enjoy being in a place that isn’t sure of itself, that’s constantly changing and is weird.”

Calexico have always been the favourites of your favourite bands, touring with the likes of Pavement and Arcade Fire. The band found acclaim for their early album The Black Light and 2008’s Carried to Dust, with critics praising their ability to subtly weave familiar country rock with Latin and even Asian influences. “Our influences are wide-ranging,” says Burns. “Some of these ideas we experimenting with in 1996 or 1997 weren’t really that common. So it’s interesting to see some of these threads become more popular or more touched on in recent years.”

For Calexico’s Australian tour, Burns and Covertino will be performing as part of a seven-piece, featuring jazz musicians and mariachi brass. “Maybe there’ll be some surprise guests as well, you never know,” he teases. “It’s an exciting show.”

Besides the Opera House, the band will place Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre, The Spiegeltent in Brisbane, and, that compulsory stop for any international touring act, the Meeniyan Town Hall. While they’re already pretty well travelled in terms of Australia, Burns holds out hopes of getting even more regional: “I’d still like to go further in, deeper.”

Sunday, September 22
Sydney Opera House, Sydney

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