By Rich Henrich Above Photo by Itzel Martinez
Music, like life, comes in cycles. We have movements and waves and of course, there is always a scene in the usual cities that tend to recycle cool like plastic. Then, there are those places that are remembered, if not revered, places that may never be an epicenter of trend but are responsible for generations of music, places like East L.A.
On the other side of Silver Lake, one band has been continuing the legacy of the old neighborhood- CHICANO BATMAN, playing Sunday at Coachella.
Fresh off a mini-tour with Jack White- yes, these guys are that good and even cooler than you can imagine a band with such a name would be- Chicano Batman will bring their brand of music in two languages (Spanish, English) just to make sure no one misses out on the fun. Their facebook bio reads like a story from a fable about a band that once was yet can still be discovered if you still believe original music exists in the world. According to the facebook:
Chicano Batman is your sonic outlet from the monotonous, back into the soul. Ethnomusicologists in their own right…students of rhythm, globe trotting on a quest to reclaim and represent the musical roots of their past generations. Drawing from a broad range of 60s and early 70s Brazilian bossa nova and samba, spacey psychedelia, slow-jam soul with a pinch of surf-rock cumbia, the quartet uniforms their act in retro ruffled-tuxedo shirts from a thrift store near you. Chicano Batman…more than a musical force…an adventurous and opinionated superhero…
I gave Carlos Arevalo, the guitarist, a call the other day to talk more about music, festivals and the meaning of life.
CV: Have you been to Coachella as a fan?
CA: Yeah, it was in the early years, it was half empty, beautiful. I think it was like 2002. The last year I went was 2007.
CV: What bands are you looking forward to seeing?
CA: St. Vincent, Master Marko, AC/DC, Steely Dan- I have a soft spot for, Anti-Mask, and of course, Jack White.
CV: What does it mean to you as a musician, band member to be on that stage now?
CA: Wow. It’s such a good place to showcase diversity.
CV: Your blend of music is not common. Is it more of a challenge not being labeled?
CA: We’re just doing our thing. We’re not worried about that. We want the passion to come through. We’re bilingual which catches some people off guard. But the music transcends. We don’t think about fitting in.
CV: Like a Chicano…Batman?
CA: (He laughs) We’re coming from a soulful place. The root of “Chicano” means mixture. A lot of people can be a “Chicano” Batman. It’s about the roots of who they are, their identity.
CV: There is a lot of emphasis on you guys and racial politics. Is there a message you want to get out to the world?
CA: I don’t think we are in your face political. Our themes are universal- love, heart break, struggles. We like the juxtaposition of the UFW and BATMAN in pop culture. No matter where you come from, what you have had to overcome, we can all be superheroes.
CV: I love the universal message- be a Superhero or better yet, a Chicano Batman!
CA: You don’t have to have a Super-power to impact people positively.
CV: TRUTH! As recognized by Jack White…how was that tour?
CA: Ah, man, it was great. We learned a lot and want to keep that momentum going into Coachella and after.
CV: How has having a manager and a team helped you guys?
CA: It really helped us transition. Red Light is national, high profile. We’re really happy to be part of a team.
CV: Sometimes fans worry when a band starts to be recognized. How are your fans doing?
CA: I think some think we’ll forget about them but that’s not how we think, not what we’re about. We appreciate the support of all our fans. They’re diehard! They’ll keep us grounded as we branch out and bring the world together with our music!