The Bronx frontman Matt Caughthran says the inspiration for starting a new band that specialized in the playing of norteño-flavored punk music came out of thin air one day. “It was in the name of trying to do something different.” Now he fronts two bands. “The Bronx is loud and aggressive, and it’s an abrasive band, and we always want it to be that way. But people kept asking us to strip it down and do, you know, a crappy acoustic-rock thing. We didn’t want to do that, so we tried to find a creative solution.” The solution, it turns out, was mariachi. The first round of critics assumed it was a punk sarcasm; it was not. “Being a band from Los Angeles and being surrounded by Hispanic culture, it seemed an obvious thing to try.”
Once they mastered the music, he says, Mariachi El Bronx realized they were onto something. What it was exactly, they weren’t sure, says Caughthran by phone from L.A., but they knew it was the beginning of something out of the ordinary. “And two albums later, here we are.”
This is not the first time punk and roots have shared the same stage. During the 1980s, Los Lobos brought pop and traditional acoustic Mexican music to Black Flag and X mosh pits. “That’s the kind of thing we get off on,” Caughthran says of the Bronx. “The idea that punk’s not necessarily limited to a sound.” What’s the response been like from audiences that have no idea what they’re walking into? “I’m not gonna sit here and say everybody fuckin’ loves it, you know, but I think what gets people is we approach music from an honest and creative place. We love doing it, and I think that translates when we play.”
Foo Fighters and Cage the Elephant also perform.
MARIACHI EL BRONX: Viejas Arena, Monday, October 17, 7pm, 619-594-6947. $34.50 to $59.50.