By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Imagine a punk rock group named after a lethal flaming cocktail typically thrown at cops. Imagine that the cover of this band's first album is a photograph of the supple thighs of a Catholic schoolgirl in the back seat of a car, and that her frilly white panties appear to be sliding down her knees. Now consider the fact that the titles of this band's two most popular songs translate into English as "Faggot" and "Fuck Your Mother."
Now you know why Molotov is Mexico's most controversial rock group ever. But you still may not know much about this very angry band from a country not really known for angry music, but one in which millions of people live in poverty and suffer under one of the most corrupt governments on the planet.Listen to Molotov's Apocalypshit:
Download the RealPlayer FREE! Molotov's first album, 1997's ¿Donde Jugaran las Niñas? (Where Will the Girls Play?) still features the band's most compelling work to date, especially the mellow-melodied revolutionary anthem "Gimme tha Power" (Dame Todo El Poder). In trademark Molotov style, guitarist/MC Tito Fuentes' and American-born drummer Randy "El Gringo Loco" Ebright's vocals switch between English and Spanish, but unlike some of their other songs, the lyrics here aren't replete with slang, off-color jokes, double meanings and sexual innuendo. Instead, it's an urgent call for democracy in a country that has been governed by the same Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for the past 70 years.
"The situation in Mexico is very difficult right now with our government and society," Fuentes explains over the phone as he relaxes in a Venezuelan hotel room during a break from Molotov's ongoing Latin American tour. "We have groups looking for freedom, like the Zapatistas, but we've got so many groups right now that don't agree with one another. They don't think the same way; they have different ideas about freedom. It's very chaotic."
"Gimme tha Power" begins with the line "La policía te esta extorsionando pero ellos viven de lo que tu estas pagando" ("The police are extorting you, but they live on what you're paying them") and ends with a rousing chorus of "¡El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido!" ("The people united will never be defeated!"), a familiar socialist chant throughout Latin America that can still be heard everywhere, from Justice for Janitors marches in downtown LA to Zapatista rallies in the hillside villages of Chiapas.
Not surprisingly, the song isn't exactly loved by the Mexican government. Playing it aloud—whether at a nightclub or on the radio—is still considered an act of protest. One enthusiastic Mexican radio DJ was threatened by police after airing a Molotov song, and another was fired after putting the popular band in high rotation.
If "Gimme tha Power" is Molotov's angriest and most serious ballad, "Puto" is its most controversial—and misunderstood. Puto is a slang term for homosexual that derives from puta, which means "whore." In Latin America, however, puto also has a completely non-sexual meaning that falls somewhere between the English terms "coward" and "punk-ass." Anxious to advertise the band's non-homophobic philosophy, Molotov sat down for face-saving negotiations last year with such influential members of Mexico City's gay community as renowned intellectual Carlos Monsaivais. Those talks saved the band's rep, and the aggressive, Chili Peppers-ish rhythms of "Puto" still echo harmlessly throughout the gay nightclubs of Mexico City.
Other audiences have been a bit harder for Molotov to win over. After the release of ¿Donde Jugaran las Niñas?, Molotov was accused in the north of Mexico of being a satanic cult. They seized the moment, using it as creative fuel for "Exorsimio," a song on the band's new disc, Apocalypshit.
"This album speaks about that experience," says Fuentes. "You think we're fucking satanic? Now we'll be even worse than that." Being labeled Satan worshipers may also explain why no photos of the band accompany Apocalypshit, just a series of bizarre portraits showing each member smiling devilishly beneath a pair of protruding horns. Molotov wrote the album while performing in the U.S. during the recent Warped Tour, of which they were the only Latin participants.
Once again, the source of Molotov's anger is clearly identified. Apocalypshit's last song, the somber "El Mundo," laments how the world is dying from environmental degradation. Other songs attack everything from drug-addled losers ("Step Off") and rich people ("Parasito") to panic-inducing millennium fever ("Undertow" and the title track).
"We're very different from one another in the band," Fuentes explains. "We have different opinions about life, but we all like to be sarcastic about reality. That's very Mexican. We like to laugh about reality in order to make it easier.
"We thought this album would be lighter than our first," Fuentes adds. "But when we finished listening to it, we realized, shit, this is pretty angry."