Before he knew a word of English, Arnie C found himself drawn to American and British rock and roll. Though he couldn't understand what the singers were screaming about, the message came through to him clear as day. "When I was six-years-old Pink Floyd was my favorite." he told us. "I loved 'Another Brick in the Wall.' I didn't know what they were saying, but I knew it was a great song with the energy, the feeling. Same with Nirvana, Social Distortion, and Rancid."
Arnie C — who grew up in Lima, Peru — is now organizing Radio Bemba Latin Rock/Punk Invasion, a showcase of Latin rockers that will take place at Churchill's on August 27. He wants to return the favor by providing Spanish language music that he thinks listeners can enjoy, whether or not they understand the lyrics. "These are five original rock bands, very different from each other. They each have their own statements and are very honest." The night's line-up consists of local bands Atajos, The Rockadictos, Aura Distorsiona, Uma Galera, and the band Arnie C sings and plays guitar for, Los Inmigrantes.
After moving to South Florida at the age of 17, Arnie C started Los Inmigrantes when he met bassist Frank L and drummer Chris Critic, a couple other Peruvians living in Hialeah. The three have recorded two distortion-heavy albums since they were founded in 2003 and are currently working on a third. Arnie C writes the lyrics while his bandmates do the arrangements. The lyrics, Arnie C says, are mostly based on his personal experiences. "Some experiences were good, most were bad. It's about relationships and problems with the police."
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Singing about love and rebelling against authority figures have made rock and roll a universal language for 60 years and he says this line-up is carrying on that tradition. "We've played in Churchill's or Tobacco Road for years and many times people who weren't Spanish speakers say, 'I don't know what you said, but I like your music.'"
Arnie C has a long list of seminal Latin rock bands listeners should check out if they like what they hear next Thursday night. "The most important time for Latin rock was the 1980's," he says. "You had bands from Argentina, Chile, and Mexico where people were making positive music out of the violence you could see with bands like Soda Stereo, Los Violadores, and Sumo. "
Arnie C's native language brings a different perspective to a genre long dominated by English speakers, and singing in Spanish isn't something he intends to stop doing. "I don't want to sing in English. I have a college education in English, but Spanish is my mother tongue and I feel more comfortable singing in it." In a city where Spanish is spoken just as much if not more than English, Arnie C is hopeful Radio Bemba can eventually become a weekly event in South Florida. "Sometimes the bands get lazy and they disappear for a while, but the Latin rock is always here."
Radio Bemba Latin Rock/Punk Invasion with Atajos, The Rockadictos, Aura Distorsiona, Uma Galera, and Los Inmigrantes. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, August 27, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Ave, Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Admission is $5.