Manic Hispanic: ¡Pinche Punks!

Two decades of the greatest cult band (and Mexicans) in Orange County history

A fan passes by. "You guys don't dress like that every day?" he asks. The guys just laugh.

Everything is back to normal since Gaborno's stroke—back to the parenting, back to the jobs, back to this sweet release. Manic are writing songs again, preparing to record another album. They have eased into the role of veteranos of the OC punk scene. "When we started this band, we were kids," Rivera says. "Now, I have teens. My daughter is in the front row of the show. There are kids who know only our version and not the originals."

"Showing up to practices is like salvation for us," says Soto. "In the early days, we were all in bands. Now, everyone has families and careers. But maybe that's why we've stuck around for so long and still like one another."

Back row (left to right): Lujan, Soto, Renfrow; front row: Torres, Rivera, Gaborno, Schultz
John Gilhooley
Back row (left to right): Lujan, Soto, Renfrow; front row: Torres, Rivera, Gaborno, Schultz
“When other people try to write social commentary about us, I just laugh,” says Torres. “Everyone tries to be so political and righteous for the cause. it's just a funny song.”
John Gilhooley
“When other people try to write social commentary about us, I just laugh,” says Torres. “Everyone tries to be so political and righteous for the cause. it's just a funny song.”

Location Info

Map

The Observatory

3503 S. Harbor Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Music Venues

Region: Santa Ana

Details

Manic Hispanic perform with CJ Ramone, CH3 and the Henchmen at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Sun., 8 p.m. $17. All ages.

Cars stop to gape. Actual cholos literally rub their eyes in admiration. Gaborno is two hours late ("Gabby has a new drug," Torres says proudly. "Burritos"), prompting the photographer to wonder if maybe they should reschedule. "Two union guys, taking the day off for a photo shoot?" Lujan snaps. "NAH!"

Finally, Gaborno shows up, as impish as ever. He was at Leisure World Seal Beach, listening to a roots band, and forgot about the shoot. Now, everyone leans like a cholo, glowers like punks. And then, just five minutes into it, with no prompting whatsoever, they all hum in unison "El Jarabe Tapatio," the legendary Mexican song better known stateside as "The Mexican Hat Dance." Simple, effortless, natural. Mexican. American. Orange County to the core, ese.

"I would like to give you some righteous explanation of what we mean, but ultimately, it's so much fun," says Gaborno, trying to explain Manic's ultimate legacy.

Renfrow is more prosaic. "Some guys golf on the weekends; some guys sit around and watch sports," he says. "Me? I play music with my friends."

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