Aug 7, 2007

Meta(l) Thrash

The Village Voice is presently running an article on the "comeback" of metal thrash led by Latino bands from California and Central/South America. It's a mildly interesting article, but it doesn't really pick up on a much more interesting topic, namely the political bent of many of these bands. Instead, the article idealizes the "original" thrash metal scene, led by bands like Megadeth and Slayer (recognizing, of course, that while Slayer's lead members are Cuban and Chilean, it is historically the mainstream white audiences that popularized them). In idealizing this original, American-based scene, it relegates the Latino Thrash/Punk/Metal scene to a regurgitation of mainstream, "white" culture, while anyone who has heard some of these bands knows they are also hell-bent on different agendas.

The band they feature, Fuled By Fire, is non-political if you check out their myspace. They don't seem too concerned with the borders, Indigenous Rights, or the Zapatistas. In theory, they're participating in some larger Thrash scene that doesn't pay attention to your skin color, or what you're thrashing about. It's the re-emergence of a "pure" Thrash. The article goes on to quote Latino band-members saying things like "'...But to tell you the truth, we don't really know why thrash is so popular with Latinos. We never really think about race when it comes to thrash, but we have noticed that there are a lot of Latinos in the thrash scene.'" And later: "'I don't think that race/ethnicity have something to do with this...Don't matter what is your race, [but] how much metal you have in your blood.'" In this mode, Thrash/Metal/Punk music is oblivious to where you are born, and thrashing has nothing to do with anything except, well, thrashing. Thrash becomes an elevated, universal concept, which people of any culture can take part in.

This may be true. Thrash Metal rocks!!!, afterall. But let's not overlook the fact that there is a Latino Thrash/Metal/Punk scene, and that there may be very concrete reasons for its existence. The article hints at these reasons, quoting Luis Jorge Saldarriaga of Bogota, Colombia's Death Hunter--"I think the interest comes from feelings of rage, and also unhappiness about certain things occurring in our countries that lead us to look for an aggressive type of music that we can identify ourselves with, and expresses something similar to what we feel..." The article doesn't follow up on this, however, and instead focuses on Latino bands' attempts to "revive" the good old days of the scene, making sure the entity of Thrash doesn't die out.

But there are reasons that Latinos identify with and re-create the Thrash/Metal/Punk scene.
Check for instance these bands-- MasAcrE, La Grita, and Eskapo, three Northern California bands not only doing their part in keeping the scene alive, but continuing another very important historical thread of political music. Connect to any of them and you'll see that they connect to other bands equally as political, many or most of them Latino Thrash/Metal/Punk bands. And let's not forget to look at their politics: Leftist, Anarchist, all for extreme change, expressing deep rage at the world. We listen to them not only because they rock, but because their music is driven by purpose.

The Latinos quoted in the Village Voice article may be interested in keeping the old "scene" alive, and may not have political lyrics. But their rage remains, their metal blood still boils. Thrash is inherently about expressing rage. Whether they realize it or not, they too are political.

-Juan Cicada

news flash:

.................. HBO FILMS to begin filming in Gridley this October. ! According to C. Barajas an old friend since back in the El Campo days tells Luiseño this morning that his brother Jesse, Gridley High School Counselor and local soccer Coach was contacted from New York about the issue facing a lot of the soccer players in the leagues. Apparently the teams from Gridley, Orland and Yuba City have been doing very well for the last few years, yet no college scouts have come to visit or at least are reluctant to visit because of the fact that a high percentage of the players are undocumented.

More to follow.

Another documentary project being filmed around Gridleyland. HBO, exciting. !

Aug 6, 2007

Assimilation, Branding, Lynx

Since our inception, I haven't been able to "wrap my head around," or "put my finger" on one of our many "raisons d'etres" as an artist collective, until we recently put together an artist statement for EnFoco. We struggle to give context to many issues, and one of them is a term i learned way back in high school, when I spent a summer at UC Berkeley (at an Upward Bound Math/Science summer-session): assimilation.

Sometimes I question my own voice, my own relevance in this project. Shouldn't some "newly arrived" kid from Puebla be fighting for for our culture? Shouldn't he/she Belwether? At least he/she could do it in Spanish! Me, I have to revert to cliches of the English language!! (see quoted expressions above).

But in the end, I figure that Cultural Resistance has no formula. We stay true to ourselves, and the just fight continues.

Article in Today's NYTimes Magazine.

-Don Quezada

Now playing: tim hecker - shipyards of la ceiba
via FoxyTunes

Aug 5, 2007

Our Town

An interesting article from NYTimes Mag profiling the effects of anti-immigrant business policies in a small town.