A Lyrical Quest for Unity Among Indigenous Peoples
The band is rehearsing and preparing for several important dates including an anti-drugs educational and music workshop for the Nuu chah nulth Nation in Canada in July. Reaching out to underprivileged Native youth is a priority for the band members who themselves faced many of the same struggles growing up around violence and poverty. “It’s about the language of expressing what we see in one another, helping give voice to the voiceless and shedding light on injustice,” says drummer Caxo.
The new self-titled album features an evolution towards a more global, humanitarian struggle. Traditional indigenous rhythms, modern industrial sounds, and the hypnotizing sense of timelessness of the songs stretch the boundaries from standard compositions to become 8- to 9-minute nonconformist journeys. Collaborating as a circle with no bosses and no leaders, each member contributes their personal story to the creation of a song. Four versions of the same story are told in four different ways at the same time. The bilingual English and Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) album, Aztlan Underground (2009), is available now on iTunes and in-stores July 2010.
The "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges" Tour is set to cross the Southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Southern California in the fall bringing their message of peace and unity. "Let us see Arizona's SB1070 for what it is; Devolution. Let us evolve together as a human family and abolish racism and nationalism forever," says the band. In addition to the tour, Aztlan Underground has been invited to perform at the 2010 Native American Music Awards in November where the new album has been nominated for an award in the Rock category.
Azltan Underground Performance Schedule
Venice Beach, CA
We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges Tour
Arizona Sux, Watsonville Rox
Death to Meth, Ukiah CA
Farce of July
Phoenix, AZ July 3
Tucson, AZ July 4
Additional Fall 2010 Dates TBA
Southern California, New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona
Nuu Chah Nulth Nation, Pacific Rim Festival
Vancouver Island, Canada
Educational workshops and outreach
Native American Music Awards (NAMMYS)
Award ceremony performance
*More dates to be confirmed
About Aztlan Underground
Aztlan Underground’s music reveals the unrestrained voices of global indigenous peoples combining hypnotic Native rhythms with modern industrial sounds. For 20 years, they have cultivated a grassroots audience across the world from Europe to Australia and Canada to Venezuela. At home, they are an institution influencing a new generation of musicians, bands, and free-thinkers. They challenge their audience to look within, to their own life-giving forces, and human potential. Their new self-titled album features an evolution towards a global, humanitarian struggle while remaining true to their name and beliefs by playing political rallies, underground venues, and anywhere the doors open.
Collaborating as a circle with no bosses and no leaders, each member contributes their personal story to the creation of a song. Four versions of the same story are told in four different ways at the same time. With this ritual, Aztlan Underground has independently produced and distributed three albums: Decolonize (1995), Sub-Verses (2001), and the self-titled album Aztlan Underground (2009). The band’s albums reflect a process of self-discovery and realization evolving from the anger of Decolonize to the new self-titled album featuring an evolution towards a more global, humanitarian struggle. The new album maintains the indigenous infusion of sounds and timelessness where the songs stretch the boundaries of the standard composition and become 8- to 9-minute nonconformist journeys.
Aztlan Underground is:
Joe "Peps"(Comanche*): bass, rattles, Native American wood and clay flute
Maker of his own gourd rattles, clay flutes, and bird calls, Joe is as much a visual artist as he is a musician. He joined Aztlan Underground in 1994 after a chance performance at the now defunct Popular Resource Center in Los Angeles, well-known for having inspired cultural movements. Growing up in El Sereno, an urban reality surrounded by the Chicano experience of Los Angeles, he fostered his talent as a painter, sculptor, feather-work artist, bass player, and Native musician. He captures his thoughts, indigenous worldview, and oral histories through his art and music combining both on-stage with Aztlan Underground. Joe currently teaches art to youth in juvenile detention facilities. His intent is to pose questions through art and music and address urban social issues within a global age of poverty and oppression.
“The power of music is beyond just me. We’re simply a vehicle to inspire and send a message to empower, and enlighten. The world is at stake--the war--we’re all part of the puzzle. Everyone is being conscious, aware that the earth is speaking, things are changing.”
Ignacio “Caxo” Lopez comes from a long line of musicians such as his cantina guitarist grandfather Luis, flamenco and orchestra musician brother Rodolfo, and upright bass player brother Rosendo. Together they grew up amidst the flourishing barrio music scene of East Los Angeles listening to his mother sing while his father blared music by Perez Prado, Roy Orbison, and Jose Alfredo Jimenez. Still, as most colonized Native children, he attended church at 6 am every Sunday morning while longing for the mindless entertainment of Sunday morning cartoons. It was there that a pint sized lady named Lucy inspired Caxo to create music as she belted out prayer songs with enormous strength and conviction. Her powerhouse voice inspired Caxo to imagine creating music around it. He since has delved in to writing, art, and music. Performing since junior high he joined Chronic Atrocity and the death metal scene followed by Tezacrifico and Kontraattaque in the do-it-yourself hardcore punk rock scene in Los Angeles. Caxo joins Azltan Underground in the 2003 where his unfiltered expression fruitfully emerges.
“It’s about the language of expressing what we see in one another, helping give voice to the voiceless and shedding light on injustice.”
Yaotl (Raramuri/Mazahua*): vocals, Indigenous percussion
Founding member of Aztlan Underground, Yaotl brings to the microphone the raw intensity of the concrete jungle that is the modern urban experience and combines it with the meditative chants of Ancient America’s timeless trance. The married father of four is determined to create a better world for the next generation having experienced a rough childhood filled with violence, abuse, and neglect. Having survived gang initiation and a violence-induced coma, Yaotl turned to music. “Music saved my life,” he says. Heavily influenced by punk rock and "do it yourself" ethos, he left the gang life and formed his own band. Listening to punk bands like Minor Threat and Rudimentary Peni who were anti-drugs, -alcohol, -war, and -authority, Yaotl began studying anarchism and thus began his insatiable thirst for information and truth. Fatherhood, he feels, has changed him completely. It now fuels him even more to create a better life, another place, another way of co-existing.
“It’s a reality check about the frailty of life.”
Alonzo Beas(Apache*): guitars, keyboards, synthesizer, native percussion, sequencing
Alonzo Beas is the electricity behind the innovative guitar playing and soundscapes found in Aztlan Underground’s music. Creating musical textures and beats through various instruments, guitar pedals, and computer software, he ignites the spark that takes listeners on a mystical voyage. His home base has always been the guitar, finding his center on the instrument. This is evident on-stage or in the studio. His musical influences are those that go beyond the scripted into the provisional, from rock to breaks, noise to industrial or even mariachi. He grew up in Northeast Los Angeles to Mexican parents and identifies strongly as a Chicano. His Mexican roots gave way to his vast knowledge of music. Always seeking a higher consciousness, he reaches beyond the barriers of labels to blend his past with the present to create cutting-edge uninhibited music.
“I want to convey a message of love, kindness, and peace when I create and perform music. It is significantly inspired by the mystery of where we come from and where we go when we die.”
*Refers to tribal affiliation.