Volume 94, Issue 3
Friday, June 2, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Who says rock requires a singer?
Photo by Geri Solodky
"I DON'T KNOW GUYS, THESE STAIRS SEEM PRETTY DAUNTING" Calgary-based instrumental band Huevos Rancheros bring their search for great Mexican food to London.
By Matt Pearson
While many bands were hanging out in garages preparing for the grunge rock assault and contemporary radio was consumed with acts like Vanilla Ice and New Kids on the Block, a Calgary band was up to something more original.
Huevos Rancheros, formed in 1990, have released four studio albums to date, including this spring's, Muerte del Toro. When considering this feat of longevity, guitarist Brent Cooper sighs. "It makes me tired. Ten years ago, we were having our first practice."
Despite having their own distinct sound, Cooper appreciates the role played by musical influences like AC/DC and the Ramones. Although there are no clear traces of these different sounds on Hueovos Rancheros' albums, they are nonetheless important to the band members. "The good AC/DC is kind of timeless in terms of just good guitar rock," he enthuses. "Their new hit, 'Stiff Upper Lip' sounds like 2000, but it could have been '78."
The band's enthusiasm extends beyond simply making albums. In 1997 the band appeared in a commercial for Labatt Genuine Draft. Their music has also been featured on a number of original motion picture soundtracks, including National Lampoon's Senior Trip. Although he jokes that it was a sell-out move in some ways, Cooper admits that ventures like this are quite financially sound.
He is equally pragmatic about the relationship the band maintains with their independent label, Mint Records. "The nice thing about being independent is that we always have total control over what we sound like, look like, et cetera," Cooper explains. "I am not sure what a major label would do with us."
Cooper also emphasizes the camaraderie between Huevos Rancheros and other indie artists, including the Smugglers and Neko Case. These relationships tend to develop while bands are on the road touring. "Rock 'n roll is a good way to extend your family," Cooper notes.
Having to release fresh material has kept the band on its toes with some of their latest projects tending to take on a life of their own. On their latest offering, the band decided to add organ sounds to at least half of the songs. "Sometimes we want to add another flavour because there is just three of us," he explains. "Organ is natural for the stuff we do. It fills the sound out."
For a band that has sustained its instrumental flair, Huevos Rancheros have survived a fair share of uneducated criticism. "For years and years, we endured, 'You guys are pretty good, but get a singer' or guys coming up saying, 'I got the words that are gonna make you guys the money'," Cooper mocks. "We're not trying to be a retro thing, we're just trying to be a rock 'n roll band, but we don't have a singer."
With or without a singer, the band continues to satisfy fans as well as attract new ones. According to their Web site, they are even available to play at weddings and bar mitzvahs, with one stipulation. "We have to play quietly and we try not to scare the old folks away."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000