There's no question that the shock and aftermath of the 2016 election is still being felt. The tentacles of Trump’s election have infiltrated the music world, with a number of bands feeling the crunch in the form of angsty crowds and visa rejections. In particular, with threats of a border wall not going away, Latino outfits have had reason to feel anxious about this threat.
It’s with this in mind that L.A.-via-Bay Area groove-laden rock outfit The Soft White Sixties channeled their anxities. The group moved down the coast in early 2016 following time spent touring. Following Trump’s victory, the band’s creative instincts sprung into action. In the midst of recording a new album, singer Octavio Genera wrote two versions of the same song: “Brick By Brick” and its Spanish counterpart, “Piedra A Piedra.” The single, which was released in September, includes lyrics that like “If you build a wall / we’re going to tear it down / brick by brick.” By being bold, Genera is making his opinions known without room for interpretation.
“The thing was that this is the only song that addresses anything political,” Genera explains ahead of a tour stop in Boise. “Our stories are usually about what’s going on around us. There’s something powerful about having the song in Spanish that makes it more meaningful. You can do both and there’s more bands that are coming out that are doing that right now.”
The band has been busy recording with producer Elijah Thomson. The sessions have been on-and-off for the past year, mainly due to Thomson’s duties as Father John Misty’s touring bassist and their busy schedule. Regardless, the effort is nearly complete, with only a few things left to do.
“When we went into the studio, we didn’t have any finished songs, just grooves and riffs,” he explains. “All of the songs we have with Eli we did all together in the same room. Then we went back and worked on melodies and lyrics. We’re just figuring out how to put this album out, how to be creative with it and get something out of every song.”
Interest in Latino rock continues to skyrocket. Just like their contemporaries, the Soft White Sixties feel obligated to tell stories that will cut across all cultures. Their upcoming album, just like the single, will have two versions: one recorded fully in English, and the other in Spanish.
“I think it’s more impactful for people to hear it in both languages, even if they don’t speak Spanish, they can still appreciate the songs,” he says. “For me, growing up being Mexican-American, we really didn’t have that many people to look to who wanted to do music. You either have people like Ritchie Valens and the guys from the ‘60s, and it’s really small. Then you have the guys from the Mars Volta, but my theory is that you guys like me listening to hip-hop and rock n roll in English, and now those people are making bands. Serving this unrepresented community felt right.”
Currently on a short two-week tour behind the release of the single, the Soft White Sixties aim to stay sharp before the release of their new album in 2018.
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“We wanted to go on a quick run before everything slows down in December,” the singer says of the jaunt. “We wanted to get out to places where we’ve been before and have support. We go to local radio stations and it gets better every time.”
If “Brick By Brick”/“Piedra A Piedra” is an indication of what’s to come, 2018 is shaping up to be a big years for the Soft White Sixties. With the album ready to go led by a series of flashy, groove-heavy rockers, Genera is excited for the not-too-distant future to be here. With the dueling versions of the album set to be released at the same time.
“I would really love for both versions of the album to be accessible to anyone who buys it,” he says. “It was a lot of work to make it right, with rhythms and such, and to make the lyrics matchup without simplifying it. We have a lot of work on when we get back home, but the album is some really good growth from us that we’re excited to put out.”
The Soft White Sixties perform with Dan Luke and The Raid, Heyrocco, Scott Ruth at The Wayfarer on Saturday. Click here for tickets and full info.