If you’ve ever hiked in the woods near Julian, you’ve seen those holes in hillside boulders where the native Americans used to grind acorns for food.
Dean Osuna, drummer of hard rockin’ Warpath, explains what happened to the ground-out granite: “If you’ve ever seen pictures of our elders, you’d see their teeth were ground flat.”
All four Warpath members have the bloodline of two local tribes: Santa Ysabel (near Julian) and Barona.
“We’re in that dog-eat-dog industry,” says Osuna. “Everybody in rock has a gimmick. We are all about native American culture. Our gimmick is the truth of what we are.”
Besides warpaint, Warpath mixes into their show pow-wow drums, chants, and rattle rhythms. Osuna admits that such elements are not usually associated with San Diego County’s 17 indigenous tribes, but, “We’re all native Americans. We’re all related.”
Warpath, he says, has “the Pantera vibe” but doesn’t play the metal growling game. “We want to play music outside of the norm of metal. At what point does the growling and the madness become too much?”
Half of Warpath, says Osuna, are bona fide “per capitas,” which means they are privileged tribal members who get monthly four-figure kickdowns from the casino on their reservation.
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“Chance [Perez, lead singer] and I are the two members who are broke mother fuckers,” says Osuna. “But it doesn’t matter. The other guys work as hard as we do.”
Osuna says his tribe did not win on its gambling venture. “We tried a casino [Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino] but it wasn’t successful. But that is not what keeps us afloat. It’s our everyday hard work and brotherhood that keeps us together.”
Still, casino riches aren’t corrupting native Americans says Osuna. “Quite the opposite.
They are furthering the native American culture. Our culture almost went extinct with the generation before us.”
Warpath appears Halloween night at Molly Malone's Waypoint Saloon in Ramona; and at Brick by Brick November 9, opening for Dope and hed P.E.