Chicano Batman: Transporting their Sounds to the OC
Ever get that sensation of pure excitement after you made a new discovery? Like, “Am I the only one who knows about this? Who else knows? And why didn’t anyone tell me?” Well that’s how I felt the moment I stumbled upon Chicano Batman’s music.
Many times my Angelino friends have made fun of me, “It’s because you’re from the OC,” they say (like being from Orange County is a bad thing). But perhaps in this case they were right. Maybe we “OCers” are a bit sheltered, and unexposed to the rich and soulful art and music, that which L.A. is constantly showered with. So allow me to sprinkle some flavor into your life because after all, this quartet is coming to town.
What is Chicano Batman?
Chicano Batman is more than a catchy name; it’s the coming together of four creatively artistic men trying to pay homage to the musical giants of the past, by staying true to their Latin roots and family upbringing.
This is especially true to the band’s lead singer, Bardo Martinez. As we both sat in his parent’s backyard in La Mirada, the very home where he was raised, he recollects about a time when he was eight years old, and his father played “Como Te Extraño,” on the stereo, an early 60s hit by Leo Dan, an Argentine singer.
Now, more than 20 years ago, that memory is still vivid in Martinez’ mind.
“That song hit me hard,” he said. “For whatever reason, I loved music as a kid; my dad would play it all the time.”
He went off by singing the chorus, “Como te extraño mi amor por que será, me falta todo en la vida si no estas…”
And like that memory, the guitarist, singer-songwriter, shared many more anecdotes about his father’s eclectic taste and collection in music, which largely and in part influences Chicano Batman’s music today.
But how would I describe their music?
Personally it’s difficult to put it under one genre since their music encompasses a variety of styles, however, their online bio describes it as a mix of “60s and early 70s Brazilian bossa nova and samba, spacey psychedelia, slow-jam soul with a pinch of surf-rock cumbia.”
Sounds like a tongue-twister, however, once you hit play many of you will find yourself transported to a time and place that brings fond memories of your parents, tios and tias, weddings and quinceañeras, the same way I was taken back. It’s suave enough to listen while you cruise down PCH, and rhythmic enough to dance around the house with melodies like, La Manzanita and Um Dia Do Sol, the latter being an example of that bossa nova and samba flair.
Similarly, the guys who make up the band are just as diverse as the music they create; together they come from Mexican, Colombian and Salvadorian backgrounds.
Most of them grew up in California with the exception to the drummer/percussionist, Gabriel Villa, who was born in Colombia; however, before turning 18, he fled to France to escape the draft. In France, Villa studied music.
Bass player, Eduardo Arenas, is the only one that was actually born and raised in East Los, BoyleHeights to be exact. He describes growing up in a “carne asada culture,” where relatives would gather and listen to Los Yonicks, Los Bondadosos, and Bronco with the “occasional Led Zepplin blasting through the sound system.”
To Arenas, “Chicano Batman is a graduation of all these transitional periods of music and of life. It’s about the past and the future being recycled in the present. It’s about passion, intensity, patience and honesty.”
On the other side of town, in Rialto, was Carlos Arévalo. He was the first guy Martinez met, but last member to actually join the group. He recalls growing up in an area that “lacked spaces for independent/underground music and art.”
To Arevalo, Chicano Batman represents the music he actively sought out while growing up.
Together Bardo, Eduardo, Gabriel and Carlos are Chicano Batman. Now, four years from the release of their first self-titled album, and one year from the release of their EP, titled Joven Navegante, the guys are back in the recording studio.
This Saturday they will be in Orange County. You can find them in their baby blue ruffled tuxedo shirts on stage in Fullerton inside 2Js Cocktail Lounge. They will cover songs from their upcoming untitled EP, “Magma,” “Existential Rhyme” and “La Romantica.”
A new album is also in the works with a release date yet to be announced.
In describing their latest project Arévalo states, “It’s very different from the first record. I would say Joven Navegante gives hints into the direction we are heading into with the second full length album. The big difference for this record overall though would be how the songwriting process has evolved. There is more collaboration and more material being written by all the members.”
Visit Chicano Batman’s website to follow the latest news at: http://www.chicanobatman.com/
You can purchase and download songs from Joven Navegante here: http://chicanobatman.bandcamp.
You can purchase and download songs from their first album, Chicano Batman here: http://chicanobatmanbandcamp.com/album/chicano-