By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Growing up as a rockeroin Monterrey in the early 1990s meant living in isolation from a wide variety of musical ideas. Mexico's only real rock en españolscene was in Mexico City. But these days, the members of Zurdok cite this deprivation as the source of their musical evolution.
"That's what sparked such creativity—music without pretension or much outside influence," says David Izquierdo, guitarist for Zurdok. "You didn't aspire to become famous or record discs. All the bands played music they liked without worrying about impressing others."
Monterrey's DIY environment helped spawn such wildly diverse groups as cumbia conjunto El Gran Silencio, rappers Control Machete, techno freaks Kinky, and countless others who've turned the northern Mexican city of more than 4 million into one of the world's sound mines for alternative music.
But even among such a rich lode of originality, Zurdok stands out. It is one of the pioneers of the Monterrey scene. The band is philosophical rather than political, universal rather than local. It merges existentialist themes with the epic sounds of rock epochs past to become one of the finest rock enany language bands.
The quartet (guitarist Izquierdo, singer/keyboardist Chetes, bassist Maurizio Terracina and drummer Fletch Sáenz) put Monterrey on the musical map in 1995 by winning a nationwide Battle of the Bands—the first band not from Mexico City to win it. At the time, critics pigeonholed their hard rock and electronic beats as the next rock en español group ready to make it big. Zurdock rejected the tag immediately.
"We did not want to be known as a certain type of music," Izquierdo recalls. "If we were to play what we were expected to play, we'd become stagnant."
Zurdok incorporated new sounds with 1999's Hombre Sintetizador(Synthesizer Man) and last year's Maquillaje(Makeup). Zurdok's experimentation signified something atypical of recent Latin alternative music—they ignored the Latin American part of it. Only the Spanish lyrics hint that Zurdok's members are proud Mexicans.
"It's like this: if we just sing about Mexico or Latin America, it's too local," Izquierdo says. "We play universal music. This way, anyone in the world can identify with us."
Instead of incorporating Latin American rhythms, Zurdok's music constantly mixes the best aspects of history's finest rock bands during their greatest periods—the lush harmonies of the Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds, the dramatic tympanis of the Beatles' "Every Little Thing" and the electronic weirdness of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The last time you heard this type of music, you were dreaming about Thom Yorke and John Lennon fathering a child together. The lyrics are just as grand—postmodern, philosophical musings about self-discovery and the ultimate subjectivity and randomness of existence.
"Our music is abstract on purpose, so that it makes people think," Izquierdo says with the enthusiasm of Socrates. "It's more interesting for us to state something ambiguously and leave it at that rather than dictate what we feel is right or wrong in this world. This way, people get what they want from the lyrics."
Such analytical ambitions might scare some people off, but that doesn't faze the band. Zurdok's outlook on the chances of success in the United States is positively Sartrean.
"The objective of Zurdok is to not forget that the music we make is for ourselves, not for anything or for anyone else," Izquierdo says. "We never think about winning fans over. Those who like our music, good for them; those who don't, well, good for them also. It's our music, anyway."
Zurdok perform with Jumbo at JC Fandango, 1086 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 758-1057. Thurs., March 14, 8 p.m. $20. 16+.