The Hurricanes Create the Perfect Storm

Rarely has there been a band so aptly-named. When The Hurricanes step up on stage and pick up their instruments one manic audience after another baying crowd has been blown away.

The band was formed in 2012 when drummer Alex “Little Man” Marcial, then still a high school senior in Santa Ana, persuaded his recently-graduated buddies Roach Sanchez (vocals, guitar) and Gibram “Walter” Chavez (bass, harmonica) to join up with him for a stab at a school “Battle of the Bands” contest.

“Coming out of Santa Ana, people will assume Latino kids won’t succeed or really do anything for themselves,” says Sanchez. “The drummer asked us to jam out with him, because he wanted to prove to his teachers that he could do more than what they expected of him. We had four or five songs, and it was a 15 minutes set, so we rehearsed for a week and a half and did it. We had no name because we didn’t think it would go further, but then they asked us our name and Gibram just said The Hurricanes on the spot.”

So The Hurricanes formed out of a desire to prove authority figures wrong, and they were named out of desperation, on the spot. As origin stories go, that’s about as rock ’n’ roll as it gets. The Hurricanes won that Battle of the Bands but they didn’t have another song to encore with, so they announced to the crowd that they’d book another show a month from then. Which they did and, from that point on, they were a real band.

The band members range in age from 22 to 26, so they were in their teens and early twenties when the group formed. And yet, from that early age, they’ve had deep love for and knowledge of 1960s obscure garage rock, surf, and R&B. That, Sanchez says, comes from their parents.

“Our family listened to that type of music when they were younger,” he says. “That’s the music they grew up with, and the Mexican version of it. They introduced us to that music. We heard that music with their cassettes and records, but with the internet we were able to trace where it really started. Mexico got ‘50s music in the ‘60s. That’s what we know. Anything else, I can’t appreciate as much as ‘50s and ‘60s, and even ‘40s, music.”

That blend of influences, combined with their own Latin roots, makes for an intoxicating musical experience. These young men set out with the intention of simply rocking out, but the influence of tamborazo music intensifies the rhythm section, cumbia pushes the riffs, and Sanchez himself tends to sustain notes due to the organic influence of mariachi singers. Smash it all together, and the results are majestic. There have been hiccups along the way though, not least during an early gig at The Observatory when Sanchez partied a little too hard.

“People were buying us drinks left and right, and then the manager bought us a bottle of whisky,” Sanchez says. “I got a call asking where the fuck I was because it was time to go on. I said I was ready, and it was a sold-out packed show. I bent down to grab my guitar, and all the alcohol just hit me. I said, ‘I’m fucking drunk.’ The first song started, and everybody was on tempo but me. I said to the crowd, ‘I just wanna apologize but I’m fucking wasted.’ We did one song and people got rowdy — maybe they wanted to be wasted with me. After that one song, we left and that was the worst show ever. I never got wasted on stage again. The guys wanted to quit.”

Sanchez learned his lesson that day, and The Hurricanes have blossomed into one of the most exciting rock ’n’ roll bands on the circuit. They’ve shared stages with artists as prestigious as Wanda Jackson, Ronnie Spector, and the Reverend Horton Heat, and the numbers that they’re pulling in get bigger with every passing month.

“On Halloween last year, we played in Downtown Santa Ana and we had people come over from San Diego, LA, and all around OC, because we did almost a two-hour set which was half The Doors and half The Hurricanes,” Sanchez says. “My guitar was stolen that day and my girlfriend lost a toenail in the crazy pit, there were fights — it was just crazy. Losing my guitar didn’t phase me because everybody had a good time.”

The band scored a deal early on with LA-based Wild Records which led to a couple of releases, including the excellent But You Let Me Go 7” single. That relationship didn’t last, but the band is working on an album for release through Dirty Water Records in the new year. They want to take things up a level, shift through the artistic and business gears. So expect more music, more merch, and of course more shows.

“We’re playing a rockabilly festival early 2018,” Sanchez says. “We’re hopefully going to Japan, and then traveling to some of the major cities in the States. It’s not confirmed but the goal is to travel as much as we can.

Frankly, the more people that get to hear this music, the better. America, and indeed the world, needs this particular Hurricane kicking shit up in every small town and city, dive bar and theater. There’s really nothing stopping them.

The Hurricanes play on Sunday, December 17 at the Continental Room; 115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton; 714-526-4529.

One Reply to “The Hurricanes Create the Perfect Storm”

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