To be openly gay in Monterrey, Mexico, is sacrilege, but Heterofobia don’t care. The four-piece embrace their freak flag and lash it out at their backward society by playing dark punk rock with a gnarled bite of social criticism. Their latest album, Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder (We Want To Watch the World Burn), released by the London-based label, Drunken Sailor Records, in the last week of May, is best described as something to be played before kicking the teeth out of a dumb homophobe.
To put things in perspective, Heterofobia come from Monterrey, Nuevo León where abortion was outlawed three months ago. In the rest of the country, Monterrey’s “regios” are often made fun of for their primitive thinking and general sense of “douchebaggery.” Picture a frat bro that’s hypocritically Catholic and whose sole purpose in life is to grill meat and drink and you’re up to speed on what a “regio” is like. They’re an unwelcome sight in any part of the world; that’s mostly who Heterofobia are dealing with.
When I spoke to the members of the band, they noted that they’re one of a kind within the Monterrey underground music scene (I would further argue that they’re unique within the whole country as well). Although other blogs have called them “queer punk,” the band shies away from that label. While their frontman, Daniel, is openly-gay and the band obviously supports the LGBT agenda, they prefer to call their music “dark punk.”
The band says that they’re mostly influenced by “la movida madrileña,” a countercultural movement that took place in Madrid in the late 70s, after the death of Franco. La movida saw the rise of massive pop acts like Mecano, Hombres G and Nacha Pop. But for inspiration, Heterofobia looked to bands like Parálisis Permanente, that pioneered a darker, new-wave sound in Spain, akin to what was happening in the U.K. at the time.
Their latest full-length, Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder, is a quick, dark dose of heterophobia—quite literally, as their name goes. It’s a short burst of energy—the total runtime is around 15 minutes—that calls out society’s bullshit and hypocrisy. Daniel’s lyrics cut straight to the point on songs like, “Me das asco” (You disgust me) and “Vida de mentiras” (A life of lies). He addresses those that have wronged him or everything that bothers him about his surroundings in quick quips: “a life of lies, it’s always lies.”
The noisy guitar is the main driving force behind this album. As Daniel croaks on, his voice almost becomes a percussive noise accompanying the true-to-form punk drumlines and basslines. But the guitar is left to explore and wreak havoc. At times, it almost sounds like the guitar work on The Horrors’ noisy debut, Strange House.
Their first album, Eres Tan Guapo (You’re So Handsome), plays on their darker, new wave influences a little more. The sounds seem a bit more tame and measured; but Daniel’s lyricism isn’t phased by the lack of mangled noise. On “Funeral,” he sings of waiting for someone’s funeral, how he’s laid out his outfit and how excited he is to piss on that person’s gravestone. It’s a beautiful piece of punk poetry. He later tells me that this wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, but it could definitely be for many of the people that he’s encountered in life.
Aside from two tours in the U.S. and countless dates in Mexico, Heterofobia mostly keep to themselves. When we talk, they seem shy, humble and a little confused as to how I found their music. Save for a few sporadic posts on their Facebook and Instagram accounts, they don’t really do self-promotion. Their music isn’t on Spotify—Mexico’s most popular music streaming platform. They put their stuff out exclusively on Bandcamp. As for the physical releases, they later tell me that really haven’t done much to push their stuff onto labels. In true punk ethos, they make music simply for the sake of making music. Everything else is extra. — Raghava Lakshminarayana
This interview was originally conducted in Spanish and later translated for this piece.
Can you introduce yourselves?
Samara: I’m Samara and I play bass.
Daniel: I’m Daniel and I sing, shout [laughs].
Alex: I’m Alex and I play drums.
Daniel: Our guitarist isn’t here, we call him Uni.
How did the project come about?
Daniel: The guitarist and I had another band at the time, [it] was like hardcore punk, but we wanted to do something darker.
So how would you describe the sound of Heterofobia?
Daniel: Well I don’t know. Lately I’ve been very confused because of all the reviews. For me, it has always been punk or post-punk. But lately, the reviews have been saying that [our sound] is garage or death rock.
Samara: The truth is that, at least here in Monterrey, we don’t know any other band that sounds like what we sound. It’s a mix of many things so it’s hard to catalog it. But dark punk, in a general sense.
Daniel: That would be the easiest way of putting it.
What are some of your influences?
Daniel: What we have in common are bands like Parálisis Permanente, Alaska y Los Pegamoides, Alaska y Dinarama, Desechables, Último Resorte. We really like punk in Spanish, like from Spain, and outside of that, we also like a lot of different things. We like darker punk like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus. I also love pop like Cher; Mónica Naranjo is one of my favorite artists.
At the start it was all that “la movida” shit but the darker parts of it, like Parálisis Permanente, Qloaqa Letal, La Uvi.
Was that why you covered La Uvi on the latest album?
Daniel: It was like, ah, it would be cool to cover La Uvi and we liked how it came out. We’d never recorded a cover and it was cool to record that one because we have a lot of fun playing it.
What about your influences outside of music?
Samara: Ru Paul.
Daniel: [laughs] Ru Paul’s Drag Race is something that we as a band really like. We often get together to watch the episodes.
What’s your creative process like?
Daniel: There isn’t really a creative process that’s always strictly the same. It’s always really different.
Samara: I feel like most of the songs come up in the moment. Someone goes “oh, I thought of this” and we start jamming it together and [the songs] start coming out. It’s like everything is created during that time, you know?
Alex: On Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder, it wasn’t really intentional but there is a lot of percussion, a lot of loud drums that the other album doesn’t have. But it wasn’t really intentional, that’s how it came out for this album and I think it’s cool.
What about the guitar? I think it goes crazy throughout this album.
Daniel: I think that the guitar sounds a little darker on this album than on the first one. I don’t know if it was because of the pedals we were using. But I like both albums.
Who writes the lyrics and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Daniel: I write all of them. Usually, they come from personal issues or things that I see around me that I don’t like. Also, I usually write the lyrics during rehearsal, it’s the same [process].
This was the first band in which I started to sing. Before this, I would always play an instrument. So it was really uncomfortable for me to get to rehearsal and not do anything, while just watching them write songs. So I decided that I would plan and write lyrics while they would make the music.
Can you tell me about the lyrics to “Funeral?”
Daniel: [laughs] It’s really not directed at anyone specific. I just made that song in a moment of hate but it’s not really for anyone specific.
Samara: It’s not directed at anyone but it could be.
Daniel: Yeah, I think it’s something like that. It wasn’t like, oh I’m gonna write it about this guy but the shoe can fit a lot of dudes and that’s cool.
How have people reacted to your name, Heterofobia?
Daniel: Positively; I think it’s crazy that most of the [reactions] have been positive. When we chose this name—it was actually our bassist’s [Samara’s] idea—we did think that it would make a lot of noise, specially because Monterrey is such a homophobic place and its punk scene isn’t an exception.
The [craziest thing] that’s happened is some dudes from the hardcore scene posting shit on Facebook about people thinking if it was okay to promote heterophobia. It made us laugh a lot. And then I saw one of those dudes at a show; he came up to ask, “why did you choose that name” and other dumb shit. And I asked, “do you really think that heterophobia actually exists? Like when you walk down the street, does someone mess with you or make you feel bad for being heterosexual?” And the dude didn’t know what to say, he just shut up.
Can you tell me a little more about Monterrey and the “regio” stereotype?
Daniel: Monterrey really is a very conservative place. When same-sex marriage was going to be legalized, people started organizing marches to protest against it. They never protest about anything else, only when it comes to issues within the LGBT community or when it’s things that go against religion like abortion.
In the music scene, when that whole abortion thing happened, I ran into a lot of dudes [in the scene] that I didn’t expect to be against abortion. It was like, come on, what century do you live in?
What about queer punk in Monterrey? Would you define yourselves as queer punk?
Samara: Well it’s like, what is queer punk? It’s punk with LGBT themes. Queer music can be any genre.
But it’s cool that people call us queer punk because at least here in the Monterrey scene, there aren’t really other bands that deal with these kind of themes. So it usually goes, “oh yeah, Heterofobia is the queer band, right?” But there really isn’t anything else.
Daniel: It’s cool. Obviously it wasn’t something intentional but I’m cool with people thinking that or looking at it that way. I’ve liked Queercore and all that stuff for a really long time. It was some of the first punk that I started listening to, so I’m fine with people calling [us] queer punk or whatever.