ARE LATINOS BORN 2 MOSH??? [VIA METAL PESADO]
¿¡Q-VO, CULEROS?! Te gustan EL MOSH?! Pienso que sí! Escuchame si te quiero EL MOSH tambien!!!
As you can tell from my terrible Spanish, I’m just a dumb güero who can barely tell a tamale from a taqueria. I might not be the master of foreign languages, but I do know that Latinos always been a big part of metal/punk/hardcore (even though nobody ever talks about it). Not only that, but Latinos might be a driving force in the future of the genre — in fact, I think the next big thing will be middle-class white kids jocking Mexicans!
In this post, I will discuss the past, present and future of Latinos in metal/hardcore/etc. Whether you’re a pinche white person like me or a Latino, tell me if you see things the same as I do. Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot/racist/troll if you want, but I would prefer legitimate discussion since I am genuinely interested in this topic.
Why is Mike Muir always wearing blue?? Why would someone want a 13 on their shirt, doesn’t he know that’s an unlucky number???
1) THE PAST: UNDERCOVER BROTHERS
Looking back on the past few decades, the overall impression I get is that Latinos have always been there, although I don’t think we knew it. I mean, the list of bands prominently including Latinos is pretty much a who’s-who of influential legends: Agnostic Front, Slayer, Black Flag, and Morbid Angel are obvious examples, but that’s really just the start. Which begs the question, if there are so many of them, why don’t we think of Latinos as playing such a big role in the formative years of metal/hardcore?
I chalk it up to two things:
- We didn’t know they were Latinos. Honestly, at that time I don’t think most Americans were really aware that there is such as thing as light-skinned Latinos who didn’t have strong accents. Remember, this was during an era in which Carlos Estevez changed his name to Charlie Sheen, presumably because he felt like he would be more marketable as an Anglo.
- Generally speaking, Latinos have never been big on identity politics or positioning themselves as outsiders As a whole, they have been more interested in assimilation and integration more than separatism, so while there were a ton of Latinos in high-profile bands, it flew under the radar because they never made a big deal out of it.
I think it’s pretty funny how so many Latino bands back then were accused of being racist (Slayer, Morbid Angel, etc). Not that Latinos can’t be or aren’t racist, but the white supremacist narrative doesn’t really apply, you know? In this case, the irony of calling someone born to Cuban immigrants anti-immigrant is pretty hilarious to me.
When it comes to sick 80s thrash, it’s pretty much a tie between the Germans and the many Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, etc in the Southern California scene. Although I loved Destruction, Sodom, and Kreator, there’s something about the slightly hardcore-tinged LA sound that I liked just a bit better. Evildead might be my favorite example of the “Mexicans in tight jeans with Charvels headbanging their balls off” thing.
A long time ago, I asked my Colombian friend if Tom Araya is from South America. He looked at me like I was crazy and said “Obviously, just look at him — he has ‘Chilean tortilla face.’”
Another classic example of uppity whites accusing a Latino-fronted band of being anti-Latino (their vocalist at the time was Chavo, aka Ron Reyes, and the drummer was a Colombian immigrant). OH THE IRONING! Why do white people have such poor sarcasm detectors??
I grew up on the West Coast, where Mexicans were obviously the biggest Latino presence, but I think it’s pretty important to note how much Puerto Ricans and Dominicans contributed to the NYHC scene. Check out Frank 151’s history of DMS for more details.
The Vandals are one of my favorite bands of all time, mostly because they are a punk band that constantly makes fun of punk. I’m also a huge fan of their bassist Joe Escalante, who grew up in a trailer in Gardena and is now the owner of Kung Fu Records, former attorney for CBS, radio host, and a judge in Orange County. Anyway, this song is about the tricky business of being a white dude who’s dating a Mexican girl (I tried this once, do it at your own risk for all the reasons outlined in this song). Also see “Pizza Tran” for some smart commentary on West Coast azn culture (srs).
I think of Brujería as a concept band about dumb white people who are scared of Mexicans. I could literally write a book about how many brilliant little gems are in their lyrics and packaging, but for now I will just mention two: naming their manager Pinche Peach and their label Kool Arrow.
2) THE PRESENT: PIERCETHEVEILCORE
The demographic shift in the metal/hardcore/etc fanbase is pretty undeniable, especially if you have been to a show anywhere in the West: brown people are running it. For example, when I was at the Revolver Golden Gods awards/shit-show with Axl and Vince the other month, we watched a seemingly endless line of Latin kids in Asking Alexandria and A7X shirts stream into the venue. Or at my grandma’s funeral in West Covina, all my little Mexican nieces and nephews were rocking skinny jeans, flatironed hair, DC high tops and Hot Topic/Pac Sun t-shirts. It’s not just scene bands: look at the members of your favorite brutal death bands and you will see a lot of last names like Diaz, Gutierrez, Valencia, Gomez, and so forth, not to mention the five zillion retro-thrash bands full of Mexican dudes in high tops and denim vests.
This is pretty interesting to me, especially given that one of the common criticisms leveled at metal/hardcore by snobby, leftist eggheads is that it’s an enclave for privileged white males. It’s even more interesting when you consider how underrepresented Latinos are in mainstream music/entertainment given that they are such a large portion of the American population. Other than a few notables like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Mario Lopez who are stars that just happen to be Latino, most Latino actors find themselves playing overtly “Latino” roles (George Lopez, Danny Trejo, etc), while the metal/hardcore/etc scene doesn’t ask Latinos to “act Latino” (sing in Spanish, rep the Mexican flag, etc).
I’m not that into them musically, but if there’s any band that exemplifies what I’m talking about, it’s Pierce The Veil: middle-class, suburban Mexicans with flatironed hair, skinny jeans and Vans who make panties wet across all racial lines. Not only that, but the fact that rappers like Jason Derulo and New Boyz conspicuously rep PTV shirts in their videos illustrates another interesting point about the state of music, which is that the current generation of kids are pretty much genre-agnostic (ie, they just like good songs and really don’t get hung up on genres like my generation did). But that’s another post…
The Xibalba video = everything awesome about West Coast hardcore. Maybe the best hardcore video ever made? Breakdowns and blast beats bring together Latinos, white trash and azns- moshing is truly the universal language!
I just wanted an excuse to include a picture of Demi Lovato, the world’s most famous Mexican deathcore fangirl and my #1 celeb crush. <3 u so much Demi, holler at your boy if you ever wanna make a Winds Of Plague vocal cover video with me.
Vocalist ANGEL OCHOA = the most Mexican name of all time; Cephalotripsy = MOST CRUSHING SLAMZ OF ALL TIME
Aztec warrior imagery + brutal fucking mosh = San Leandro representing in style courtesy of LOSE NONE
3) THE FUTURE: VIVA AZTLAN!
As far as the future of Latinos in metal/hardcore/etc, I’m no anthropologist or whatever, but I see two big themes: first, you’ll see even more Latinos in both bands and audiences, thanks to assimilation. Second, I think white people will actually start being influenced by/emulating Latino culture in much they same way as they did with black hip-hop culture in the 80s and 90s.
Famous Stars & Straps is owned by Blink-182 drummer and Fontana native Travis Barker. Ten or twenty years ago, who would’ve guessed that not only could you buy shirts at the mall that looked like something your tío Sleepy would draw on the back of an envelope he sent you from jail, but that the brand would be owned by a white person?! The IE going hard as always #909
Alternative white people have been fetishizing black gangster rap for years. Is it just a matter of time before they start jocking cholo rappers? In b4 the singer for some stupid breakdown band from Ohio thinks he’s the most hilarious bro ever and one-ups everybody with an ironic THUG LIFE tattoo by getting an ironic SUR X3 tattoo.
If I had a dollar for every “tr00 hardcore” band these days that uses cholo-style art like this, I’d have, uh, tens of dollars. It might not be as common as varsity fonts, but it’s definitely something that you didn’t see 5 or 10 years ago, especially not from East Coast bands.
You heard it here first: I think the next big thing will be white kids jocking Mexicans. Famous Stars & Straps is just the beginning. On the one hand, that’s kind of a cool turning point for the Latin community, but on the other hand it will also be a bummer in that alternative white people will latch onto the parts of Latino culture that most Latinos would probably not like to be associated with: gangs, taco trucks, and so forth. For whatever reason, middle-class whites are fascinated by that kind of thing, so look for lots of annoying white bullshit, but I guess you have to take the good with the bad. I suggest we punish them by forcing them to watch an entire year of El Sábado Gigante.
Viva Aztlan! I welcome our new brown overlords! Who wants to teach me Nahuatl??
Apologies for going on so long, but I think this subject warrants it — are Latinos indeed born 2 mosh?? Why don’t they get any credit for being in so many sweet bands? Am I racist???How long until hipster dads start having ironic quinces for their daughters???
Sergeant D. is racially sensitive every day at Stuff You Will Hate.