Botellita de Jerez Soon in Concert
By Sandra Ríos
On Saturday, April 18, El Sindicato will present the renowned and talented group Botellita de Jerez to mark the 20th anniversary of the cultural center. This Mexican rock band was formed in Mexico City in 1983, and they were the creators of “Guakarock.” They now have 10 albums to their credit, such as Forjando Patria o Naco es chido! and the most recent, No Pinches Mames. Currently, the band includes Armando Vega-Gil, Francisco Barrios “Mastuerzo,” El Señor González, and Santiago Ojeda. The concert will open with the local group Triclo promptly at 8:30pm. The ticket cost is 150 pesos. In an exclusive interview with two of the original members of the group, Vega-Gil and Barrios shared the following with us:
Sandra Ríos: Why did you decide to support El Sindicato and do this concert on its 20th anniversary in San Miguel?
Francisco Barrios: Beyond supporting culture and the workers who are organizing it, entertaining in a place that has to do with culture and makes it possible for us to be here flatters me.
Armando Vega-Gil: We know that El Sindicato has a long career of encounters with artistic activities, and this active part is what gets our attention. I was at the Writers Conference in San Miguel, and some people were talking about El Sindicato as a very cool place that pays close attention and is committed to art.
SR: Now that you have been in San Miguel de Allende, what do you think about this city?
FB: I do not know it in a deep way. I have been at some events that deal specifically with solidarity. For example, we participated in an event with our friend Tehua, rest in peace, and at another event for the father of Santiago Ojeda, the master Salvador “El Negro” Ojeda, rest in peace, too. To me it seems to be a beautiful city, with an interesting mix of population.
SR: How do you see the current music scene in Mexico?
FB: It depends on what kind of music scene you refer to. The music scene is very wide. What I see is that there are plenty of people who are creating, but sometimes they are limited by the system in which we live. My view is that it is permeated by a series of procedures that often deal with the money.
AVG: I think there are two scenes, one aligned to the commercial and capitalist international models and one more underground model, which is little known and is in search of a personal identity.
SR: How has your music developed over these 32 years?
FB: It has changed a lot. A little over two years ago, we were still a trio after having been a quartet. (We were originally a trio with Sergio Arau, and now we are a quartet again.) We contacted Ojeda and El Señor González, with whom we had experience between 1988 and 1996, to join us. Music has changed in many ways since the era of Guakarock. We have taken from rock music and Mexican popular music culture to generate a different sound. I think that also comes from a lot of years of experience that somehow prepared us because over the years we’ve been doing our own covers.
AVG: We now are returning as Botellita de Jerez to a new work encounter and very different tastes. It’s an experiment to see what will happen. There is a lot of energy and great determination to compose. We have had 15 years without recording new material, we were very stagnant in a comfort zone, and now with the departure of Arau, we suddenly saw ourselves over the years in the mirror. We had to rebuild and develop new proposals, a new panorama, and a new stage for the group. What we are doing now is obsessively composing songs. It may sound presumptuous, but we also want to write songs that our country needs right now since it is falling apart. People try to lift their heads, we lack the 43; some are putting the country on sale, murdering journalists, and dismissing Carmen Aristegui. What is happening is very serious, and I think we deserve a wall of accompanying music against all this that is happening. We have a very aggressive part in the songs and another very tasty part that has always been characteristic of Botellita. It has to do with taking life with good humor. These things that are happening are terrible, but we still put a fun part into our songs.
SR: What will your repertoire in San Miguel cover?
FB: It will be a reprise of the most important songs of Botellita de Jerez and the most recent. As an opener, we will perhaps play the song “El Fua,” based on the actual words of the now famous Nayarit teacher. Or maybe we’ll do “La Historia del Principitote,” the history of the princeling who grew up. We decided to do a tribute to the author of the book and the character. It will be a surprise. Another song that we could also brand is “No Pinches Mames,” a protest song with the theme of suckling.
SR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
FB: It is exciting for me to visit San Miguel, and life goes on!