Two young, talented Hispanic metalheads frustrated with their sprawling metropolis’s comparatively tiny music scene: sound familiar to anyone in San Antonio? When Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero couldn’t get their thrash metal group Tierra Acida off the ground in their native Mexico City, they simply ditched their homeland and the metal band in favor of two acoustic guitars and a nomadic life. After landing in Dublin and busking on the streets for years, the duo’s self-titled album debuted at No.1 on the Irish charts … in world music. Since that 2006 success, the pair has gained global acclaim, played the White House (for a State Dinner this spring), and watched 2009’s 11:11, an homage to their disparate musical influences that range from Palestinian oud group Le Trio Joubran to thrash metal pioneers Testament, climb Billboard’s world music (No. 1) and rock (No. 12) charts. Their unique, rapid-fire instrumentals are often mistaken for flamenco, but really have their roots in the duo’s thrash background, minus vocals and electricity. Sanchez told the Current exactly how much metal remains in their acoustic instrumental success.
Are you going to play any metal songs for us here?
Yes. We normally play some. We know, of course, that San Antonio is a big metal town.
Of course? Have you played here before?
Never. It’s the first time we’ve played there, but it’s very well known `as a metal mecca`.
Any metal covers in particular?
For sure we’re going to play “Orion,” the tribute we made to Metallica.
Do you still listen to metal?
Yeah. We come from there. Especially nowadays, we have a lot of friends from the metal scene that used to be our heroes and now we can actually share the stage with them. It’s awesome.
Who are some of your metal heroes you play with now?
Metallica, Testament, Rage Against the Machine. Recently, when we played `Colorado’s` Red Rocks, Zach de la Rocha joined us there. We were playing and he was doing a little speech about the Arizona SB 1070 boycott and then we played “Bombtrack” with him. `Hear Sanchez’s thoughts on the SB 1070 bill online at sacurrent.com/music.`
Do either of you have a background in classical or Flamenco music?
Not at all. We both come from a metal background … we learned everything from there, really. We actually did a test to get into the Conservatory of Music in Mexico, but we were rejected (laughs). That was it. That was the only attempt we did, so we continued our metal school. We love classical music, we love jazz, we love flamenco; we just don’t know how to play that. So we play a mix of Latin rhythms and a mix of our metal and that’s pretty much what we do.
What did you learn to play first, electric or acoustic?
That was a key. We didn’t have electric at first. My brother, who’s five years older, was into metal. I was like nine at the time. We used to play covers with two acoustic guitars that we had at our home from my dad. After three or four years, we got electric. I think with Gab it’s the same; she was playing acoustic before electric.
How did it translate? Playing electric guitar with a pick is very different from playing acoustic and all the fingerwork.
We learned playing the acoustic as if we were playing the electric. To this day, I play with plectrum `guitar picks`, but Gabriela stopped playing with that and started to develop these rhythms with the right hand. She learned from Irish musicians that play this percussion called bodhrán, it’s like a little drum you put in your left hand. You use it with a stick in your right hand and you move it like crazy. You play all around on the drum. She learned a lot from that. That’s why she developed playing all around the body of the guitar. And then she created her own rhythms. At the beginning, a lot of people confused those with flamenco. Now, it’s clear that she doesn’t play flamenco. I kept playing with the plectrum and a lot of metalheads recognize that, the technique and the riffs and the licks that I do with the plectrum. There’s a huge link still to our music. •
Rodrigo y Gabriela
7:30pm Sat, Sep 4
The Majestic Theatre
226 E. Houston