Mexico City band Zoé breaks rock’n’roll divide

Mexican rock band Zoe

Photo: Courtesy

When Spanish-speaking rock groups from Latin America tour the United States, they usually headliner their own shows or share the bill with other performing groups. rock in spanish. They don’t normally roam the country with an English-speaking rock band at the same level of popularity, drawing crowds from across the cultural chasm that previously may have been only vaguely aware of each other.

But that’s exactly what the guys from Mexico City Quintet Zoe – a band formed in 1994 and now a hit band on their own turf – did in 2019 when they hit the road with English-speaking indie-rock bands. by Toronto Metric and July Talk. for a 27-city tour that included a show at the Revention Music Center in Houston (now the Bayou Music Center). The group – consisting of singer / guitarist Léon Larregui, guitarist Sergio Acosta, keyboardist Jesus Baez, bassist Angel Mosqueda and drummer Rodrigo Guardiola – have also performed at festivals such as Austin City Limits and Coachella, further expanding the reach. musical from his brand of alt-rock reminiscent of bands like Phoenix and The Cure.

For Acosta, it’s just common sense. “It was something we were trying to achieve years ago,” he said recently by phone. “Because we said to ourselves that it would be interesting to share audiences with a group that has equivalent ticket sales, so not necessarily an opening for a large Anglo group. But just find a band that we like and we could split the audience and do this double bill. It was presented to several groups – I’m not sure which exactly – and Metric was the one who responded very positively. It was awesome, man. It was definitely one of my favorite tours.

MEXICO CITY – OCTOBER 05: Musician Sergio Acosta of band Zoe performs during the Zoe MTV Unplugged at Estudios Churubusco on October 5, 2010 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Photo: Photo by Victor Chavez / WireImage, Contributor / WireImage

The reaction from Metric fans has been overwhelmingly positive. “Some cities were more filled with Zoe fans, less metric and some cities it was the opposite,” he continued. “And these towns, I was like scrutinizing the crowd and I could see that some gringos were happy with the show and participating in it. And this tour that we’re doing (now), I’ve seen more (non-Latino). I liked it. There should be more like this, not just to stick to your Latin market.

The group – which Acosta says was influenced by bands like The Cure, Pink Floyd, Stone Roses, Talking Heads and The Smiths as well as Latin American bands like Fobia and Soda Stereo when they debuted – even recorded a few tracks in English over the years. “It was basically Leon’s call. Some songs, he said, came more naturally in English, ”Acosta says. “They were never meant to be single or trying to crossover.”

The current tour, which features five shows in Texas including Houston’s House of Blues on September 23 and the Aztec Theater in San Antonio on September 25, does not feature a popular English-speaking group on the bill. But this follows another experience: working with British-born American producer Craig Silvey on the most recent album, “Sonidos de Karmática Resonancia” (Sounds of Karmatic Resonance), influenced by the 80s.

Silvey, best known for overseeing albums for The National, Arcade Fire, Florence + The Machine, Arctic Monkeys and REM, replaced Phil Vinall, who had been producing Zoe since the early 2000s. Silvey mixed the band’s previous album, “Aztlán” in 2018 and Acosta was impressed. He decided it was time to try something new as the last project approached and convinced the rest of the group to make the switch.

AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 11: Sergio Acosta (L) and León Larregui de Zoe perform in concert during the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 11, 2014 in Austin, Texas.

Photo: Photo by Gary Miller / FilmMagic, Contributor / FilmMagic

“I really wanted to change. Phil was very important to us. He was a teacher for many, many years for many albums together, ”explains Acosta, who goes on to say that working with Vinall had become very stereotypical. “It was very computer driven, and I really wanted to go more into the organic and live side of the recording approach. And he was (saying), ‘No, I don’t think you can do that.’ And I was, ‘What? Why not?’ … (With Craig) it was a different process. It was faster. … This album was recorded almost entirely live. All of the songs had four, five, or six people playing at the same time.

But the registration process featured an unexpected guest: the pandemic. Even so, Acosta says he brought a silver lining with him. “Because we had more time to review a few songs that we maybe weren’t so sure about,” he says. “Leon and I live in Barcelona so we worked on a few songs and sent them back to the guys in Mexico. And then when we got together eight or seven months later, we finished (the songs). … In that sense, it was good for the album. We never considered recording remotely. We had to be in the same room.

The tour concludes on October 3 with Zoe’s biggest headlining show in the US at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, with a capacity of 6,000, showing the group rising to the level of other Mexican rock exports like Maná and Café Tacuba playing major. rock venues in the United States

“We’ve been going to the United States for so many years… but in the end it paid off,” Acosta says. “It’s also nice to see that the Latin crowds are (larger), it’s not just Mexicans. This New York and Miami show were good examples of this mix of Latins – and some (non-Latin Americans) as well. “

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  • Cary Darling

    Cary Darling joined the Houston Chronicle in 2017 where he writes on arts, entertainment, and pop culture, with an emphasis on film and media. A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, he has served as a reporter or editor at the Orange County Register, the Miami Herald, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In addition, he has worked as a freelance writer for a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News.

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