Some of the most rabid revelry in metal fandom can be found in Latin America, where the devil horns fly hard by the hundreds of thousands.
Mosh pits the size of soccer stadiums are the norm, and music about fighting oppressive and corrupt regimes hurtle the masses into cathartic euphoria.
Metal supergroup De La Tierra hails from Guadalajara, Buenos Aires, and Sao Paolo, with members from the world-famous Maná, Sepultura, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and A.N.I.M.A.L. Here's what founding drummer Alex Gonzalez had to say about hardcore punk, Suicidal Tendencies, and stupid critics.
Crossfade: Wasup, man. You're from Miami?
Yeah. Iwas born and raised here in Miami and moved to Guadalajara at age 15.
How'd you get into metal?
I was always into music. I come from a very well known pop rock band called Maná and I always played music all my life. And the two bands that first got me into were The Beatles and KISS. That was why I started playing drums. People all over the world know me for Maná, but around 2010 I started wanting to do other things besides that. It's just four guys who wanted to play something outside of their respective bands, and that's how it was born.
How'd you come up with the name?
Andreas Kisser came up with the name. In English it means "from the land." We all come from Latin America, which is so full of culture and history, and is musically incredible. We have one guy in Guadalajara, one from Sao Paolo, two in Buenos Aires, and we all get together and play what we want.
Many people have been surprised at your metal drumming powers, is that part of why you did this band?
No, because I already know that myself. A lot of people only know the Maná side. If it wasn't for Maná I wouldn't have traveled to so many countries all over the world and met Andres in Brazil or Flavio in Argentina. It has given me so much, but there's a lot of music I listen to. My mom is Cuban, my dad is Colombian, so there was a lot of Latin music in my home. I listen to rock and roll and reggae and heavy metal. I'm not closed minded when it comes to music. I appreciate music and musicians. It's cool to be able to share another side of me. I love music and playing drums. I love metal and hardcore punk. I love Suicidal Tendencies. There are so many great bands out there that inspire us.
How'd that crazy tribal beat on San Asesino come about?
When I heard the demo here was no peruccions on it, just straight bass, guitars, and drums. So I put my Latin influence on it doing something unconventional, out of the box. And when you do stuff creatively it gives the song that extra kick.
What do you think about the Spanish language 'Chitlin circuit,' of Miami, Houston, Dallas, LA, Bay Area, Chicago, New York City. Will you expand as more people concentrate in other places?
One of the biggest challenges that we have as a band is to find holes in the calendar where each one of us can play and tour together. This is a long term project, not just one album, not just one tour. But at the same time, we do have our respectve bands. I'm here in Miami recording a new album with Maná. Sepultura is on tour. Flavio is doing so mu ch between Los Cadillacs and surfing. And Andrés is recording with Demente. These first 7 shows are more about going to the main cities that a majority of Latinos live because we only had an eight day time period to do it in. It's better to play where you can. It's easy to make excuses not to. But there's a lot of cities we want to play.
So this time next year?
This time next year we'll be coming to do the big festivals and opening for important metal rock bands. Our first four shows as a band were opening for Metallica. 120,000 people saw us in those first four shows. It was a tremendous honor.
What is the song "Maldita Hisotria" about?
It's a song that basically talks about the maldita historia in Latin America. The lyrics are put together between Kisser, and Gimenez, and Flavio, and everybody brings their talent and intellect; everybody pitches in. SO basically it talks about the history of suffering Latin America has gone through. The biggest cancer is corruption. Besides poverty, lack of education, and health care...the list goes on. But there can be change, and that has to start within us as a people, as a society.
What you think about the history of Death Metal in Florida
It's huge, like it is in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. And Ft Lauderdale has an important reputation. It's a genre that basically I don't personally listen to a lot, but I respect. A lot of the musicians who play it are tremendously talented. At the end of the day it's music...whether it's punk, metal, heavy metal, I don't care the title or label, what's important is that it connects and gives you something you enjoy.
What's your message to the critics?
It's easy to criticize. If you can do it better, then do it. For the future generation of musicians out there, you have to go against it. Forget it and do what you love. Fuck criticism.
Have you had a hard time getting this music out as far as you want it to go?
The business is difficult. In our case, there's no radio support. Even though we come from very important bands that have been part of the history of contemporary Latin music, we started from zero. We finance the records ourselves. We have Warner Latin and Roadrunner giving us marketing and distribution support, but at the end of the day, we're doing the work. Even me, having contacts in the media, and on tv, and radio it's not easy. For the average band it's 1,000 times harder. So the message is never give up on doing what you love.
What's the idea behind "Poder Latino?"
Hahahaha Andrés Gimenez has that tattooed on his arm. It's a positive thing, like we have the power and a positive way of doing things as a culture and giving it to the community. We have the credibility of a hard working people, and if we fall down, we get up again and keep on striving to achieve our goals and keep on going as a society and culture. It's a cool way of saying, "we can do it!"
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Can you talk some about the song Cosmonauto Quechua?
That one is like a full blown hardcore written by Flavio, and it's a very interesting lyric that talks about how the ancient cultures like Maya and Azteca see themselves as from another world. So it's Flavio's take on a little bit of science fiction. How human being here on Earth are from super amazing ancient cultures. When we play that live, people go bonkers. That's when the big slam and pogo starts, and all hell breaks loose.
CANCELED De La Tierra. With Black Jacket and Suffering Tool. Presented by NYK Productions. Friday, September 5. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $30 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.