Grindcore/death metal band Brujeria have been active since 1989, and released this fall (September 16th) via Nuclear Blast its fourth full length album ‘Pocho Aztlan’ which translates from Spanish “Wasted Promised Land”. Along with this album they released the single ‘Viva Presidente Trump!’. Both very powerful; so we found the opportunity to ask them a few questions.
First of all, let me congratulate you on the new album. It is really powerful with a great production. Why did it take you so long (16 years) to release a new album and how did your paths cross with Nuclear Blast?
Well first of all it is not very easy to gather all the members of the band in the same place on the same day. The others have their primary bands that always have them very busy, they do not have much time to work with Brujeria. It was always difficult to get everyone together to work with Brujeria.
After the last cd in 2003 there were members who had free time to work. That’s when he gave us the idea of playing live shows and touring because before 2003 we have never played live complete shows or announced shows. So then we went out and played live shows and we did very well! The success came from the many fans who we really did not expect. With that we spent all our spare time to go on tour and play live shows.
We made it until 2007-2008 when the idea of a new record came up. We started to get together to write songs but it wasn’t till a few days off in the middle of June 08 in between some shows in Europe that we were able to write a good bit of new music. It was a good start. With no rush we wrote songs when we could until 2012 when we went looking for a record label to get the new album released. That’s when things started to happen that caused delays in getting this album out. For example the person who was going to mix the album suddenly needed surgery for his back. We waited a year and a half for him to return to work. There was always something that took a long time to close, but at last everything came together and it’s out on sale now.
Nuclear Blast has been great and patient with us! Couldn’t ask for a better label to work with. Hopefully we get to do another album with them but very soon next time around.
Tell us about the contribution of Russ Russell in the production of the album. Is this the first time you collaborate with him?
He always does a great job. We first worked with Russ on a song for a single back in around 2013. It turned out great so we decided he was the man to get it done for the new album.
This period you are on tour, first in the U.S. and then Latin America, and only Portugal and Spain regarding Europe. Are there any plans to appear live in other European countries?
Oh yes there is. We are planning some festivals in Europe and maybe even a month long tour in Europe around April so we are crossing our fingers that it all comes out and happens.
Your live shows began with your appearance in “Ozzfest Meets Knotfest” festival. Is it your first time in such a big festival? If so, tell us about this experience and the reaction of the audience who had been waiting to see you live.
Well it really was a big fest! We got a set time of 2pm which seemed way too early but that’s the way it is for playing these monster fests. Then we only got 30 minutes to play a set!! But we went on and played for 35min and blew away everyone! Jajaja I think we got everyone there at the fest watching our show. A lot of action going on too. Great show! We had a great playing and hanging out.
Now regarding the new releases. The single ‘Viva Presidente Trump!’ is obviously about the hard-line statements Trump made about Mexico and the Mexicans. What about ‘Pocho Aztlan’? Does it follow the traditional lyrical theme of your previous work?
‘Pocho Aztlan’ themes are inline with the previous releases. In a way it’s giving the 16 year updated status on matters like illegal border crossing, drug smuggling, religious topics. Giving an up-grade on how things are working now verses the same things 16 years ago. Things really have changed, more modernized things to sing about. Same ol stuff but different ways to do things. Our songs usually tell a story on how things are working in Mexico and on the border.
What I am getting from the band’s profile, is that you have incorporated a general cultural image of Mexico. You include everything associated with it: drugs, witchcraft, migration, etc. I personally feel that in this way you don’t idealize your heritage. Are there though negative reactions from the people you share the same heritage?
Well we sing about the heritage we are around. But we like to add a little humorous twist to things. Still hardcore subjects but then we throw in some cynical ideas etc. just to get a good laugh into the songs. No negative reactions come back to us because of these short lived humor snaps mixed into the songs. Otherwise it would all be just too negative and not amusing to listen to, boring. So we try to get that job done all the time! That’s the Brujeria style, a double sided point of view for everything.
The metal scene of Latin America is quite powerful and I think it includes a revolutionary spirit. Do you associate with it? What kind of connection do you share with the audience or maybe other bands there?
Well we don’t focus on a revolutionary spirt. I see our message more like one that empowers the individual, to make one stronger so he can put up a fight against all the negative crap out there that wants to put one down. To defend themselves by energizing their spirits and not to fear what’s against them. We don’t look for any connection to an audience other than having fun at one of our shows. That’s when we try to get everyone hyped up and energized for a while. That’s it. That’s what we want and look to share with people out there for a short time.
Two tracks have drawn my attention for different reasons. The first is ‘No Aceptan Imitaciones’, and the other is ‘California Über Aztlan’. I don’t speak Spanish, but I detect an irony in the first one. Can you tell us a few words about its concept? And regarding the second one, how did you come up with this cover and why did you modify the title?
‘No Aceptan Imitaciones’ means don’t accept imitations. It’s about ex-members of Brujeria who left Brujeria and try to start a copy band by ripping off the styles and look of Brujeria, as well as playing our songs. Our message in this song it telling the fans not to accept these imitation bands with clueless false messages in their songs, just trying to copy Brujeria to make money for themselves. So don’t accept these imitations that just want to make money ripping off our band.
As for the ‘California Über Aztlan’ song, that goes way back as the Dead Kennedys have been my favorite since the late 70’s. ‘California Über Alles’ means California over All, our version says California over Aztlan, with Aztlan being the Aztec Indians promised land. So over the promised land instead of over all. The title change was to cover the idea that some politicians of California have secret agendas against Mexican-Americans living in California… Pete Wilson with his proposition 187 in the 90’s. It’s just to bring some attention to those politicians who still find there way into politics. Mainly as good old Pete Wilson was Arnold Swartznegger’s manager while he was governor of California.
The band’s line-up has changed a lot through its course. Although the members use aliases some are known musicians of well-established bands. Are there any surprises this time, or are the members pretty much the same of the last years?
Well there are always surprises! But many of these different member situations are a result from members having their own bands that require more of their time sometimes, so if those members have to spend time with their bands but something comes up for Brujeria then we just go to our pool of musicians to see who is available for what we need. And we do have several well known guys that want in. So we have always had different guys contribute on album songs and singles, it’s been that way since day one and it will stay that way as long as Brujeria continue making music.
Photo credits: RBNS Photo