Crannk Interviews Nahuales Underground

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Mixing elements of Rock,Ska,Punk and Reggae are Nahuales Underground a Mexican/American fusion band from Chicago who have a really exciting sound and style, they recently released the track Gusanos from the forthcoming sophomore album to follow up the 2017 release Politico Incorrect. Jai recently caught up with Nahuales Underground for Crannk to have a chat about all things Nahuales Underground.

Q: First off who are Nahuales Underground?  A: (Chente) Nahuales Underground is based on 5 members from Chicago IL, USA. Loco Dub and Chente combine the guitars and vocals. Ismael plays the bass while Javier performs the percussions. And at the drums we have Mikas.  

Q: How would you describe your sound and style? 

A: (Chente) We have a diverse style with a unique balance playing from ska to cumbia and mixing some breakdowns while we rap all above. I can honestly say you can hear multiple genres in one song alone.   
Q: When and How did Nahuales Underground form?  

A: (Chente) Nahuales was formed in early 2003 with Loco and our first drummer Gallo. They started to jam out and from the streets of Little Village and Pilsen they met other musicians at local bars like La Justicia. They had a friend named Leo who would hang out and Gallo told him to pick up the percussions. Ish was also playing guitar in another band around that time and his singer Manny got invited to jam out with Nahuales. Manny feeling unsafe invited Ish to join him and shortly after they both joined Nahuales. A couple years passed and their bass player left to Mexico due to family relations. With a couple minor changes Ish decided to play bass while his little brother Chente (Me) played the guitar. Manny and Leo decided to leave and with a change in drums we brought Mikas who we knew back in the day. Javi would be at shows and one day he told us if we needed a percussionist he would love to try out.  

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Q:I love music and one of the things that music can do is really reach across the cultural boundaries and Nahuales Underground is another band that manages to be able to do that really well creating a really cool sound mixing various elements this is obviously something you all set out to achieve from the get go can you tell us about mixing all these different elements ?  A: (Javier)Well we all come from different backgrounds. Not all of us are born in the United States but also, we are from different parts of Mexico. We were exposed to many cultural and political changes throughout the years. We grew up listening to different types of music, rather its music from our homes or a friend showing us a tape or cd. So, we like to incorporate those influences, taking some of their elements and fusing them with our lyrics to make each song unique. 

Q: So, if you had to play three tracks for someone first experiencing Nahuales Underground which tracks would you pick and why?  A: (Javier) 1. Situación Is a song full of energy and has elements that will make you want to dance. The lyrics talks about a being in a very unstable relationship that more than one person can identified with 2. Falsas Promesas (Fake Promises) Is one of our songs that combines English and Spanish. This song is a different side of Nahuales where infuses genres like reggae, rock, and ska into one song. 3. Gusanos Is one of our newest songs from the new material that we are about to release through this year. Also shows how much our tone has change and new mixtures of genres and cultures into one. These 3 songs are a good way to start diving into our music for first time. Showing the diversity from sounds, influences, cultures, and the personality of each member from Nahuales Underground. 

Q: How and when did you first get into/start playing Guitars/bass/drums?  A: (Ismael) At the age of 12 a buddy and I got into a lot of trouble and especially in church. In that time, the church was putting together a choir of kids (100 kids or so). So, they started educating us, how to sing (Which I was never good at) violin, guitar, etc. I made it to the choir and they taught me guitar. But then got kicked out for being a goofball a couple of months after.  

Q: What was your first Guitar/bass/Drum kit?  A: (Chente) When was 14 I started using my brother Ish’s guitars and since he didn’t like me touching his guitars on my 15th birthday he bought me my first guitar. Yellow/Black Fender Squire HH. I still have that guitar till this day. 

Q: And what kit/guitars/bass are you using now?  A: (Loco) I use an ESP LTD EC-1000 guitar with an Orange Crush CR120C 120-watt 2×12″ Combo Amp. Orange gives the band a particular large sound. (Vicente) I have an Ibanez Iron label S-series 7 string guitar with an EVH 5150 50w head combined with a closed back 2×12 Orange cabinet.  (Javier) I use an Alesis Strike Multipad, Sound Percussion Labs Baja Timbales, Latin Percussion Cabasa/jam blocks/cowbells/shakers and tambourine. Everything mounted on a Latin Percussion everything rack with a Pearl stand.   (Ish) I have a Fender Made in Mexico P-Bass with an Aguilar 500 Amp combined with a 70’s 8×10 Ampeg Cabinet.  

Q: Who are some of the people or artists that have helped influence and inspire you so far musically?  

A: (Ismael) Inspire me so far……hmm. Got to say this indie band from Chicago named Sasquatch Turf War. Those guys are filled with tons of energy live and it shows from their album. Their bass player and I go way back and he’s very talented. I would say one of the best bassists in Chicago no doubt.

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Q: Nahuales Underground last album was Politico Incorrect which was released 2017 yeah? And if you had to pick a track that you are most proud of off that album which one would it be and why?  

A: (Chente) Yes that is correct, from all 10 I’m proud of what we accomplished but I would choose……. Satira, it was my first attempt to sing and that song, no matter what mood I was in, it made me feel happy. It wouldn’t matter if I was listening to it in the car or performing it. Truly a get-up and ska song.  

Q: Poca Justicia is a track I really dug off that album can you tell me a little about this track and what it means for you? 

A: (Chente) I’m glad you like it. This song I brought to the guys with the riffs then I told them I wanted to rap in both English and Spanish. I had help from my bandmates with translation. I explain that no matter what country you live in there is always a form of government or corporations who abuse anybody below them. It’s the terrible truth to see how governments don’t care for our lives when it comes to war and it’s not their children sacrificing themselves for their lust for power. Even corporations who don’t give a f%#% if we can live off $10 an hr. and want ridiculous expectations with less than we had the year before but expect double the profit. It’s everywhere and in our planet, there is little justice (Poca Justicia). 

Q: The latest single “Gusanos” is from an album coming this year can you tell me first about this track and what it means for you? 

A: (Loco) Gusanos us a very significant song for me. I care about every word I say on that song. I had the lyrics for quite a long time in my head and I think is a beautiful poem about love and realism. The guys did a great job with the musical arrangements and how it was constructed. 

Q: Can you tell us a little how Nahuales Underground approached the song creation and song writing for this forthcoming album?  

A: (Ismael) Well everyone in the band has their own musical preferences. From metal, ska, even some Mexican folk music. Most of the times it starts with someone having an idea and everyone little by little adding on to it. Song writing… Loco is a pure lyricist. The way he constructs his words together in Spanish and creates an image in your head like your actually there. If there was an app for writing lyrics, the icon on the app would be his face. (He would be smiling tho haha)  

Q: What was the recording and production process like? 

 A: (Loco) We are still working on the details currently. The process was more serious this time around. We wanted to put on the table something raw. We learned the hard way with the details of preparations when it comes to recording. Time is money at the studio, so when it comes to not doing anything for a couple mins or making mistakes it cost us money. We learned from it and had fun. Also, it’s a different atmosphere this time around because we have a different engineer recording us this time.   

Q: Can you briefly tell us about the whole recording and production process and who you worked with for it?  

A: (Chente) Once we bring in our instruments it takes an hour or so to mic everything up. Especially the drums since that’s the first thing we recorded. We play it live and listen to it. Obviously, checking for any major or minor mistakes the drums made. Timing and avoiding any hiccups were our main concern, but overall it went smooth. Then bass, percussions, guitars and last vocals were recorded. Once everything was recorded, we listened to it for a couple days to check if there were any changes that needed to be made. After that we mixed and mastered. We are currently working with Jared at Kiwi Audio.   
Q: Have you done anything different with this album if so what?  

A: (Chente) We went heavier, on the previous album I wanted to growl and scream but some bandmates didn’t feel it was right. This time around we have songs that I would imagine sounding heavier and we succeeded with that. Also, this album is different than Politico Incorrect. It shares a high volume of the streets of 26th St and showing the power behind the garage shows we played back in the day. I’m quite excited to show these songs soon. 

Q: Are you able to let us know the name and when we can roughly expect it to release?  

A: (Javier) We have different names roaming around but not set on stone yet. But, it’s a very personal album where we bring back to life the very firsts songs that Nahuales Underground started playing in 2003-2008. The same first songs that inspired the members to name the band as how it’s known today Nahuales Underground. As far to have a specific release date we could say that it’s going to be by the middle of the year. But that doesn’t mean we are not releasing more songs during the meantime. 

Q: So, 2019 has just finished have you got any big musical highlights for 2019 and what are you looking forward to most in 2020?  

A: (Ismael) The highlights of 2019 for me…. was every moment I had to spend time with the band. From traveling to another state or recording our new album. We all have 40 hour a week plus jobs and the little time we have to be playing music, that’s a highlight. What I’m looking forward to 2020 is to tour new areas/record and spend time creating more music. 

Nahuales Underground thank you so much again for taking some time to go through these it is very much appreciated and looking forward to the new album. Cheers and Kindest Regards Jai That Aussie Metal Guy

Nahuales Underground are Loco Dub / Vocals, Rhythms Guitar

Ismael Echeverria / Vocals, Bass Guitar

Vicente Echeverria / Vocals, Lead Guitar 

Javier Pantoja / Percussions 

Miguel “Mikas” Garcia / Drums

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