Boca Abajo is a family affair. The Austin rock en español quintet’s members are all related: Patrick and Lionel Salinas are brothers; then there are the nephews Conrad, Peter and Joe.
“We’re one big happy family,” says lead vocalist/guitarist Patrick.
The Salinas family is originally from Pearsall, about 50 miles south of San Antonio. The band’s members migrated to Austin at different times. The band started the way many in their genre do: performing covers. Their live covers of legendary Mexican rock bands like Caifanes, Mana, and Cafe Tacuba earned the band much acclaim and they eventually graduated to originals, releasing a self-titled album of hard-charging, melodic Latin rock music written by the band.
Their influences are all over the place: Mana, Ramon Ayala, Toadies, pop-punk. But one thing they do well is play straight-ahead rock en español. We spoke with Patrick, the band’s primary songwriter and leader, to find out about Boca Abajo’s history and a new album to be released this month, entitled Otro Verso.
You can catch Boca Abajo at their CD release show at Mi Casa Cantina on Friday, Jan. 29.
Boca Abajo performs “Solo Con Amor Puedes Vivir” at Lucky Lounge
What drives you to play this kind of music?
Patrick: It’s interesting how we got into the whole rock en español scene. When I lived in Pearsall, I was in a Tejano band. Once I left home and moved to Austin, I discovered the whole rock en español scene. I was really never aware that this style of music existed and that you could do Spanish lyrics with rock music. All of a sudden it just seemed to make sense to me. We had grown up speaking Spanish and grew up listening to English rock ‘n’ roll. It was just a logical thing to want to do rock ‘n’ roll, but in our own native language, and it fit well too.
How do you think Otro Verso is different from or similar to your debut album?
Patrick: When we finally released the first CD, we were very proud of our work. The CD opened different doors for us and it made people aware of who we were and what we were all about. When we started out as a cover band, we would do all types of songs. I think this shaped the style of the first CD. There is a huge range of music styles on there. This new CD is a more defined sound. There are still different styles of songs on there, but it’s a little more uniform. It’s just a fun album from start to finish, I think. We also incorporated more instruments in this second album. There’s a song with harmonica, one with accordion, another with bells and chimes. We definitely were more prepared for this second album. We hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do.
Tell me about the making of the new CD.
Patrick: Well, making this CD was a lot of fun. The songs pretty much came out by themselves. We were able to record and work with different people we admire in the music scene. We worked with people like musician Ady Hernandez, producer Mark Dufore, legendary Tejano songwriter/producer Luis Silva, Tejano legend Paco Rodriguez, and Tejano producer/musician J.B. Hernandez. We didn’t push any of the songs to come out in the studio. We worked at our own pace and it felt very natural recording the songs, and that made it easy for us to figure out exactly the sound we wanted for the different tracks. One of the advantages of being an independent band like us is having all the recording freedom in the studio. The only downfall was having to finance it ourselves.
Tell me about the song “No Se Por Que”, which appears twice on the new CD.
Patrick: We did this song as a rock version with a twist at the end: We tear into the accordion and end it Tejano/Norteño style. This is a song that I had written years ago when I was doing my Tejano stuff. We brought it back because we thought it would be great to do it rock style, but then honor our roots and finish it as a ranchera. It’s a really cool fusion of these two styles. Then the song appears again as bonus track 13. This time we decided to do it more of how the song originally was written. J.B. Hernandez produced it for us and now it’s one of the more requested songs on the entire album. It’s funny how that works out. We’re a rock band, but our Tejano song is gaining a lot of recognition. It’s all music though and we love it!
What are Boca Abajo’s plans for 2010?
Patrick: The plans for 2010 are simple: We want our music to reach places and people we have never reached before. This would mean getting the band out there more, doing more shows and increasing our fan base along the way. Ultimately, we want people to be able to relate to, or feel influenced by our music.
Find Boca Abajo on MySpace: www.myspace.com/bocaabajo