Howdy! I am thrilled to announce The Sweet Leaf's next show with legendary band Los Esquizitos at Foro Alicia on Friday February 6th, 2009. It is no casualty that both bands are playing together, as years ago, both TSL & Los Esquizitos used to share the stage with several bands that built the alternative scene in Mexico. On this very special occasion, Los Esquizitos are celebrating 15 years playing, so the party dress code will be the quinceañera style for girls and boys. I still wonder what to wear that night :P Anyhow, it's warm here. I'll be back soon! I'm off to some sunny days at the Caribbean. At last!
The Sweet Leaf se presentará el próximo 6 de Febrero en el Foro Alicia celebrando los XV años de Los Esquizitos. Nos vemos allá vestidos de quinceañeros y chambelanas.
This was some time ago, but anyhow I really wanted to publish that I've been featured in Dr. Alderete's new illustrated book,"I am nobody"/Yo soy un Don Nadie". Published by Black Bones Editions and introduced in September 2008 in Mexico City, Paris and Lyon, the title ironically points out the low brow celebrities that have built Mexico City's underground scene at Foro Alicia.
Let me tell you a little about this place. Started back in 1995, the Alicia was one of the very first that organized counterculture shows in Mexico City. Back in those days, mainstream and big record labels highly controlled the way music was going to be listened and consumed in Mexico. Let me remind you, young kids, that there was no internet, no myspace, no facebook. And of course, along the big names and bands, there was a small scene that was generating in the city, against the trend of the city's listener who used to (and still!) spend the wage at a cover bar. This subterranean scene embraced then-unknown styles such as surf, garage, hip hop, punk and metal. This is where Alicia broke through, opening an alternative space to shelter the non broadcast music, the unpopular sounds and guitar solos, the screams and the soon-to-be legends several years later: Los Esquizitos, Sekta Core, Las Ultrasónicas, Lost Acapulco. Inside, colorful paint murals bear witness of thousands that have played in the venue, the aisles that keep secret encounters and innocent kisses, beer clinking, laughs and disputes. Besides being a musical venue, Foro Alicia is a record label and studio: Grabaxiones Alicia: Música contra el Poder (Music against Power) and has published several records through the years.
THE TEN CAKE @ Foro Alicia / 2001
I remember well the very first time I step in at Alicia. It was the debut of my brother's punk rock band, The Ten Cake in 2001. This was the very first time I visited a rock venue like this. Some years later, I decided that the place would fit perfectly for a presentation for INVASION!, my co-founded fanzine with Alejandra Espino. Little I knew that some years later I would take the scenario with Dagger, Occulta and The Sweet Leaf.
Dr. Alderete's book feature aesthetically what you would encounter in the place: sharp color palettes and shiny silver motifs that fill Lucha Libre masks which now stand for one of the most popular genres in Mexico: surf rock. Some say that kids that attended wrestling matches at the Arena Mexico some blocks near from the place, would later head to Alicia still wearing their masks. The book's portraits speak of each particular soul: there's Ultrasonicas's drummer Jenny Bombo posing with her characteristic tough attitude, there's Ali Gua Gua unveiling her big sweet heart, there's Nacho Pineda, Alicia's head man, captured with that respectful and calm air. When Dr. Alderete asked me if he could take a picture of me for a new book project, I just smiled shyly.
It was some months ago that Iván Nieblas encouraged me to join a band called The Sweet Leaf. I only knew the band by some brief references during my period playing with Occulta. I never imagined I could enjoy singing in The Sweet Leaf so much. That very first rehearsal was dazzling and open eyed. After several months of shutting up my inner voice, I soon found myself in some special realm surrounded by melodies that speak of old.
As every band that barely reaches widespread success and crawled into the underground due to a musical uncultured audience, TSL story has those drama aspects which fall behind the band's natural faculties. No matter how much they apparently failed to reach stardom in dark times, their solely striving makes The Sweet Leaf already a legend.
The Sweet Leaf was founded by Fernando Benítez (Raxas, Acrostic, La Orquesta de Animales, THC) in the early nineties in Mexico City. By that time, stoner rock was unforgivably smashed by the mainstream, the mexican new wave of rock which stand for banning all English references such as lyrics and latin sounds were encouraged.
Despite these hurdles, TSL toiled in the club circuit playing with several punk, glam and testosterone-fueled biker-metal bands. One of their most important shows was as an opening act for The Obsessed, who hit mexican soil back in 1994.
A year earlier, they released a 7’’ called Rotten, which lately met the vehement ears of Cathedral’s Lee Dorrian and catched the attention of Germany’s Hellhound Records. This EP is very hard to be found and it raises in some retail collector’s stores up to 30€. In 1996, a cassette was self released titled Take a hit with Adela Mizrahi’s vocals. Yet again, this work is tough to get.
The Sweet Leaf quit the scenarios in 1997, and all members dedicated themselves to give birth to new projects that would take the lead for early mexican stoner bands such as El Diablo.
Adolfo (Sarabia) told me that during a nostalgia attack at some metal concert, he begged Fernando to bring the band back. It is also said that Claudio (Arellano) looked for Fernando too to revive TSL for many years. Whether the official reason for this come-back from the grave is clearly uncertain, The Sweet Leaf is back, and is playing with their last line-up and two new members:
Fernando Benítez (Drums)
Claudio Arellano (Guitar)
Oscar Montes a.k.a. El Compa (Bass)
Adolfo Sarabia (Keyboards)
Gaby de la O (Vocals)
The band hit the stage after 15 years on November 15, 2008 at the 4th Stoner Rock Festival at Foro Alicia in Mexico City. That night was packed with old fans that listened to the Sweet Leaf in the nineties and ventured once again to meet the band leaving their office suits at home and putting on the leather jacket. While my conversation with the band's espouses and girlfriends ran smoothly between how to rise a child properly and new waxing services, you could see younger kids stumbling upon the door enthusiastically. As mentioned before in this blog, stoner rock in Mexico is gaining some recognition gradually. Kids are asking for older bands and vinyl records, the ones that really emancipated the true rock n' roll tunes, the ones that originated that blasting spacey psychedelic sound that really crept to the bone...
[SOME PICTURES FROM THE 4TH STONER ROCK FESTIVAL / mexico city
We are getting ready for more gigs and a new website with updated pictures and information will be published soon. Meanwhile, you can visit the old myspace and the webpage, although you should consider to run across Adela's paintings rather than the TSL songs. Anyhow, her version of TSL history is quite interesting.
Finally, Here's a sample of the band's sound. The song is "Rotten" from the Take a hit cassette (1996). Enjoy!
For some external references, and see how their 7'' gained so much recognition, check out the following links :
–adjective 1. existing in a natural state, as animals or plants; not domesticated or cultivated; wild. 2. having reverted to the wild state, as from domestication: a pack of feral dogs roaming the woods. 3. of or characteristic of wild animals; ferocious; brutal.
It's been ages since I don't post anything in this blog. Wow, November 16, 2007! So many things have happened in one year, it makes me shiver, it actually gives me goose bumps! I was just visiting this morning and realized that I really like this blog. Even more than myspace's. Many times, I have planned to terminate it due to the lack of visitors and comments... Now I wonder who reads these words on the other side? And who's been reading it. It has, so much memories kept in a dream case, so many ideas lost in the process, people who have gone into another dimension, people who have just vanished from the surface. . . Overwhelming.
After our debut EP, The Mean Machine, Dagger has stopped rehearsing and playing. The very last time we performed was at the Indie O Music Awards at Polyforum Siqueiros, Mexico City. We sucked so much! I guess, I was driven by some pointless distress at the time, turning everything to a poisonous and fatal stab against me.
Now I realized that our real debut was long time ago. We kind of stuck on the fact that an EP album is the key to correctly and officially present your work. But now that I think about it, we gained some kind of reputation from our very first demo back in 2005. I still receive from time to time emails of people asking for that CD. The thing is that I have no time to print it right now (even though the solely work involved is hitting some Fedex Kinko's and print the damn cd label and booklet). Now things are different. Pablo left the band months ago (even though he tells me he might be joining again for some reunion gig soon), Ericka is still playing in Occulta, and Valeria, our recent bass player, is just holding there asking me desperately when she is finally playing live with us. But Dagger is having a break now. I am considering this period for a time to rest, to calm down, even that The Mean Machine EP won Best Metal Album Award, even we were performing better than ever... Sometimes you can't oversee when the time has come for some dear siblings to die. Sometimes you have to give things a rest.
. . .
But that doesn't mean I have a rock and roll break, I have joined The Sweet Leaf, a doom/stoner band formed in the nineties (more info soon to come). I was thinking, what if I open a new blog dedicated to TSL? But, it's going to be interesting to see what develops from now on and make a whole story out of all my musical work and projects. Anyhow, you can still visit Dagger's myspace and listen to some old classics, and one new track called "My Eyes Are Bleeding" which I entirely recorded myself some months ago.
Illustrator artist, musician and writer.
Co-founder for INVASION! Fanzine (2002 - 2007).
Guitarist and Vocalist.
Founder of several rock and pop bands in Mexico City such as Dagger, Les Sexotiques Diamante, Occulta, Los Fernanduccis.
Toured with Titan performed in TBA Festival, Portland, Or. (2005).
Former vocalist for psychedelic band The Sweet Leaf (Mexico).
Currently drawing compulsively