The Bronx on turning Mariachi
The Bronx are about as hardcore as they come. As a longstanding punk band with a dedicated following, and four self titled albums under their belt, they decided a few years ago to change it up by creating an alter ego with a mariachi influence. The result is the aptly named, Mariachi El Bronx, a side project that has seen two additional albums. They sat with us to discuss the challenges they’ve faced with having two distinct identities and how this seemingly random influence came about.
Tell us how Mariachi El Bronx started
We have a punk band called The Bronx that’s been around since 2002. Joby had called me and said he had this idea in his head called, “My Brother the Gun”, which he wanted to do in a mariachi style tune. That was kind of the exact birth. Now we’ve got our third record coming out on November 4th it went from an idea to a record into a legit band.
What exactly defines a song as mariachi and how do you translate that?
We play mariachi inspired rock music. It’s very truthful, heartfelt– it’s stories about the crushing existence that is life, it’s very honest music, it’s working class struggle kind of music. There’s a lot of things that I grab onto that are the same things I grab onto in punk rock.
Why have two bands? What is attractive to you about existing as two identities?
Singing a song about a beautiful woman or a heartbreak might not work in The Bronx but behind the musical background of Mariachi El Bronx, it fits perfect. So there’s just different things that we’re able to do with this band. Which is cool because in punk music you feel like you’re only able to express your anger or your confusion or your angst.. punk music kind of exists on the negative side of life and this band is a chance to focus on different aspects of life. As an artist you kind of are what you create and even though you don’t want to end up mad and pissed off—if that’s all you end up writing about you’re going to end up that way. It’s nice to have a creative outlet for the full spectrum of life. I feel more complete as a human being and as an artist rather than if I just had a punk band and it was just like, “FUCK THE WORLD”. That’s not my personality, it’s not anyone’s personality, it’s not that simple—life’s more complex. So it’s cool to have an outlet for everything—between the two bands we can cover the spectrum of human emotion and be able to be real about everything we do. It’s like a yin and a yang.
Do you have a different fan base for the two bands or is there a lot of overlap? How did the The Bronx fans receive your new mariachi venture?
All the Bronx fans were like what the fuck is this El Bronx thing, is this a joke? But then we did a tour where Mariachi El Bronx supported Bronx, and we’d play certain shows in certain towns and El Bronx would come out at the beginning of the show as the opening act and the club would be packed and we’d kill it, go backstage while another band played, then come back out as The Bronx and it’d be like half full. There’s definitely dudes out there that just like El Bronx and then there’s definitely hardcore dudes that just like The Bronx. But I think for the most part people like the duality of it because it’s different and each band has its own existence fan wise. There will be shows where a son will be there for The Bronx and the dad will be there for El Bronx. It’s hilarious. But it’s awesome.
Have you ever been met with any resistance with doing Mariachi El Bronx coming from a background that didn’t grow up with that culture or identity?
Every now and then you’ll come across some dude who is just fucking pissed, “you’re spitting on my existence and my heritage and my people”.. and it’s not that way at all. We were very aware of that going into the band and we’ve always just come from the approach where if you do something from the heart and honest and with respect then you’re going to be alright. That’s one of the big reasons why I didn’t sing in Spanish—I don’t know Spanish, I’m not going to fake it and slaughter the language, and it ended up being something that was really unique to the band that people trip out when they’re hearing mariachi music in English. If you go with your gut, follow your heart, and you’re honest there’s always going to be people that are pissed off but the in greater good you’re not really doing anything wrong. You’re being yourself . So if you’re true to yourself, you’re okay. For the most part though people really support the band, they understand it, they like what we’re doing and we’re stoked on that.
Make sure to preorder Mariachi El Bronx III here
The Bronx photographed exclusively for Milk Made by Koury Angelo