Luis Illades lives the immigrant work ethic. The Tijuana native and graduate of North Park's St. Augustine High plays in four groups.
After joining San Diego bands that fell apart during the mid-'90s, Illades moved to San Francisco when he passed an audition to join gay punk/indie act Pansy Division. After a decade and a half of touring, Pansy Division has wound down to an occasional gig.
In San Francisco, Illades drums in the Cheap Trick cover band Southern Girls. He tours the world with both the Plus Ones (due at the San Diego Sports Club on September 30) and a reformed Avengers, the pioneering West Coast punk group that opened for the Sex Pistols' last show in 1978.
During a recent American tour, Illades and Avengers bandmate Joel Reader opened the show with their band the Plus Ones every night. One weekend earlier this month, the drummer played a set with each band at Manhattan's soon-to-close CBGB, then four sets the next day: a Saturday-afternoon radio show with the Avengers in Jersey City; both bands at Maxwell's in Hoboken; then a late-night gig in Brooklyn. The next night, Illades played two more sets in Boston.
Over the holidays, Illades visits family and friends in TJ and S.D. and runs a catering business. In S.F.'s Mission District, he DJs regularly at Club Unicornio, a Latin music night that he founded with fellow tijuanense Julio Cesar Morales; they offer everything from the latest Mextronica to mambo to vintage Spanish psychedelipunk.
"We did name it after the Unicornio in TJ, sure," confirms Illades, referring to the notorious transsexual club. "When it finally closed last year, we even bid for their sign on eBay. Couldn't afford it -- but we tried."