Zero Mile Presents
Mon · September 17, 2018
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm
40 Watt Club
$12.00 - $15.00
Tickets at the Door
This event is 18 and overhttp://www.georgiatheatre.com/event/1726402/
Frontman Bardo Martinez met bassist Eduardo Arenas in 2008, and they quickly found common ground in the work of Caetano Veloso and other Tropicalía performers, as well as the kind of vintage soul and pop heard on “the albums our parents have in their closets.” They recruited drummer Gabriel Villa and made their first album as a trio; guitarist Carlos Arévalo joined the band in 2011 and they released The Joven Navegante EP the following year.
Chicano Batman’s look has done as much to set them apart as their sound or their name. Since the beginning, they’ve performed in matching suits and ruffled shirts; Bardo explains, “We’re making a particular reference that some people understand—Los Ángeles Negros, Los Pasteles Verdes. In the ’70s, it was a big thing where all these cats were playing romantic ballads, but they were funky as hell.”
That sharp funk groove shows up throughout Freedom Is Free, but especially on the title song. Bardo’s uplifting lyrics, delivered in his uniquely dreamy/romantic style, are bolstered by the backing vocals of New York’s all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache.
“It’s a counterpoint to the propaganda catch phrase that was invented by the US government during the first Iraq war, ‘Freedom isn’t free,’” he explains. “It’s a counter-narrative…the song itself relates to the idea that freedom is inherent to every individual on this planet and in the universe. I live in Los Angeles, and people are pretty jaded; everybody’s so caught up in their routine they can’t tap into their own spirits. For me, music is about the spirit.”
The first single, “Friendship (Is a Small Boat In A Storm),” is an organ-driven soul jam with buzzing, psychedelic guitar from Carlos (who wrote the music). “I’m not a lyricist,” he says. “I brought in the chords and the instrumental melodies, and I gave it to Bardo. So he wrote the lyrics and the vocal melodies, and then we brought it to the band and they added the rhythmic elements and the overall feel.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise on Freedom Is Free is “The Taker Story.” Over a slow, ominous groove, Bardo unleashes a stinging indictment of imperialism and conquest, with the Mariachi Flor de Toloache amplifying his simmering fury as the band channels the Funkadelic of “March to the Witch’s Castle” and America Eats Its Young.
“That’s all Bardo; he composed the bass line, he composed the chords, he had the whole idea for it,” says Carlos. “That’s the only song on the album where the vocals were tracked live. What you hear is what we did.”
Freedom Is Free reflects Chicano Batman’s decision to foreground the soul and R&B elements of their sound. To achieve their ambitious sonic goals, the quartet worked with producer Leon Michels (El Michels Affair, The Arcs) in his Diamond Mine Recording studio in Long Island City, NY. Michels, a veteran in the New York soul revival scene, has performed in Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, The Black Keys and The Menahan Street Band. In addition to tracking the album to analog tape, Michels contributed keyboards and his trademark horn arrangements (he’s been sampled by Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah). The partnership between Michels and Chicano Batman truly captures the band's live energy and brings their aesthetic goals to life.
“They get together, they rehearse every week, they fight about the arrangements, they have a classic band dynamic,” Michels says. “So for me it was really just about shaping up the songs. They were already there, but some of them were eight minutes long, so we had to cut them up and make it so you were engaged from start to finish. They had just come off a tour, and they were tight as hell, so it was just a matter of getting the right take. At the most, we did three takes of a song.”
Recording with Michels allowed Chicano Batman access to his collection of vintage gear, which helped expand their creative palette. “The possibilities were sonically endless,” Carlos says. “If you wanted to do something, it was like, ‘Yeah, I have that over here. You want a Mellotron? I have a Mellotron.’ He had amazing equipment, and his aesthetic is right in line with ours.”
Outside the studio, Chicano Batman have built a stellar reputation through heavy touring across the country. They've played major festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Opening for Jack White, Alabama Shakes, The Claypool Lennon Delirium and Gogol Bordello on recent tours has given them the chance to win over thousands of rock fans, night after night. In 2017, they’re planning their own national headline tour, sharing with anyone who wants to hear the news that Freedom Is Free.
magnetkingmagnetqueen (Normaltown Records) takes a wide swath of influences ranging from the guitar tangle of Television and the tripped-out introspection of Yo La Tengo, to the angular experimentation of Can and the harmonic bath of Magical Mystery Tour; and combines them into something entirely unique.
magnetkingmagnetqueen has it all. The album reveals New Madrid’s evolution and collective growth, resulting in the band’s most complete work to date. “Don’t Hold Me Now” is like Pylon channeling the preTommy Who. “Untitled III” is a pint-sized epic, with several movements in a three-minute window. On the other end is the dark, onolithic stomp of “Guay Lo” and the dirge-like march of “Shades.” Bringing it all together are centerpieces like “Summer Belles” and “Darker Parts,” songs with an undeniable pop sensibility that go through the looking glass and emerge as the sonic amoeba well known to fans of New Madrid’s live performances.
magnetkingmagnetqueen was made with engineer/producer David Barbe (Deerhunter, Drive-By Truckers, The Glands) in two primary locations. The group started out recording at Dogwood Lodge, the site of an unused summer camp on Lake Chickamauga in a large, open room with mobile recording gear over a week in the summer of 2015. More recording and mixing was done at Barbe’s Athens, GA studio, Chase Park Transduction with additional recording at New Madrid’s home base, The Barn.
New Madrid formed in the fall of 2010, and shortly after was approached by Barbe, who invited them to his studio to record their first full-length album, Yardboat. It happened fast. Inspired, they finished in three days.
Signing with Normaltown/New West Records, the band released their sophomore album, Sunswimmer in 2014. A live EP, Dawn Teeth Rattling, was released in 2015.
Since then the band has toured consistently across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. When not on the road, they live together in The Barn (a literal barn located in the agrarian outskirts of Athens) constantly working on new ideas.
40 Watt Club
285 West Washington St
Athens, GA, 30601