Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bye bye Sweet Leaf

Photo: Camila Jurado

I remember perfectly the very first jam with The Sweet Leaf. I was awakening for a long infertile dream. The way the songs reverberated in my head, the way I was feeling I was at last joining a "real" band, getting inside this very creative rock-conscious group of individuals who carried a breathtaking musical history and experience. That night I finally doze off around 3 a.m. I was so excited and felt so blessed. 

The last time I played with them was in a Black Sabbath Tribute on May 8th 2009, organized by Stoner Rock Mexico. We had major fuck ups and failed terribly. And after that, everything started to sink. I couldn't understand what happened to the band that night, as we were improving so good. 

Anyhow, some days later we were invited by this guy that wanted to set up the tribute in his bar, northern Mexico City. The guy asked for the same line-up so I asked him to pay all the bands. Shockingly, this attitude brought up comments by my band mates calling me "Classist". It apparently means that for them $100 pesos ($7.4 USD) might not be a difference whether deciding for playing or not. Of course, we don't make a wealthy living from playing in this country.  But what I still do not understand is why you are not morally allowed to charge a fee for your performance, knowing that the promoter is going to receive a lot of money from beer and tickets. Some band members uttered that their musical work is made for art's sake only, for the people. And this is where the term "Classist" comes up, implying that musicians even in a great opportunity like this event, knowing that one could be decently paid for gas expenses, performance and gear investment, shouldn't charge.  This is by no means arguing against that music should be free and for the masses. It is just a matter of self-respect. No wonder why in Mexico City there are several promoters and bar owners booking bands with no remuneration guarantee. No wonder why several Mexican bands are playing for free. No wonder why most of them are really very bad bands who are satisfied with some loads of beer and long-waited stardom dreams. 

Ivan Nieblas and me organized this tribute months ago. I believe we started at the very beginning of this year planning, setting up, contacting people and bands. Aside from gaining some bucks, what we really were pursuing was to introduce Mexican kids to the Stoner Rock genre. Some people would say that maybe a better option would had been a Saint Vitus or a Kyuss Tribute. But culturally speaking, Mexicans know more about Black Sabbath and that was the hook to give kids an option to listen new bands, "new" genres. None of these motives apparently helped. 

I had enough. I always believed TSL would be playing big, they deserved it. I deserve it. So I quit the band. After spending most of my time dedicating to promotion, selling their records, designing several layouts for their myspace page, answering fan emails, uploading videos overnight... Now, everything is gone and it's sad to tell. Not that I have suddenly turned into a bigoted rant! It's just that I have been "there" before, struggling with Mexican Rock bands fluff. It still amazes me that none of them truly believed the chance they had now with a Myspace page or a FB page. This band was formed in the nineties and struggled with the fact that you had to wait two or three months in order to receive any letter or review from magazines.  Now it  seems they prefer to rock comfortably in "reality" rather than spending some moments virtually giving some time to some of several fans from the US, Europe and South America that contacted the band since their Myspace page was kicked off. It seems they have given up. 

No wonder why in Mexico, Rock music is falling into the hands of the execs. If independent musicians do not ask for respect and decent remuneration for their performances, then they won't ever have it. 

This is a video from a gig in Xalapa, Veracruz. That venue was really small, but we had an incredible time playing there. I really enjoyed spending time on the road with these "forever-rock" fellows. This is a way to somehow preserve the good memories. 

Bye bye Sweet Leaf.

1 comment:

Chico Migraña said...

Qué pena. Ojalá flying solo de cierta manera signifique retomar tal vez a Dagger. Y si no, sea lo que sea en el futuro, mucha suerte, Gaby.