“We knew it from the get-go,” says Electric Healing Sound rhythm guitarist Ricky Soltero when I refer to the Velvet Underground. “We even cover ‘Waiting for My Man’ live. We don’t hide our influences.”
Soltero came to the States from Mexico in the third grade and grew up in San Ysidro.
“I’ve been called pocho once or twice,” Soltero laughs over a beer at the Star Bar.
Fellow San Diegan Aldair Cerezo plays lead guitar and is joined by bassist Eric Curiel and drummer Cesar Ortiz, both Tijuana natives.
“We take advantage of the San Diego-Tijuana thing,” Soltero says. “Up here we are a TJ band. Down there we’re a San Diego band. People like it.”
Since their first gig last September at El Burro Reyado in Tijuana, Electric Healing Sound has been bringing San Diego bands such as Shiva Trash, Baghdad, and the Last Years to play south of the border.
“I want to get rid of the old clichés about Tijuana,” Soltero says. “If you go looking for trouble, yeah, you’ll find trouble. But Revolución and [Calle] Sexta is really chill. There are really good musicians down there, and it’s ridiculous that nobody knows about them.”
Stringent visa laws aside, Tijuana bands hesitate to play in San Diego because “they feel like they’ll get ripped off. There are places in TJ who’ll charge cover and won’t even give you a free beer. So, we started boycotting those places and playing other venues who give us drinks all night.”
“There’s a weird thing going on in Mexico,” says bassist Eric Curiel. “People get really excited when something from outside happens. That’s why we’re bringing San Diego bands down there. It keeps it exciting.”
“There’s a thriving scene down there,” Soltero says. “People are coming to our shows and being inspired. Bands spring up and ask to play. They open doors for us, and that’s the only way we will get our scene started. At the Dragon Rojo gig with Shiva Trash, we couldn’t even move. I’m looking a guy in the face while singing. They haven’t heard music like that in a long time.”