Friday, January 09, 2009

The Sweet Leaf - Mexico

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...

© Cuauhtémoc Escárcega]

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!

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For some external references, and see how their 7'' gained so much recognition, check out the following links : 


1 comment:

sueño said...

Rrrreina, que la fiera dulcísima siga rugiendo. La adttmiro un montón y espero verla pronto en escena. ¡Venero su vestimenta para honrar a Jano, btw!
¡Abrazo de gaby a gaby!