BRUJERIA – Behind The Masks Of Death
September 8, 2016, a year ago
Look, I know it's a bit silly for a grown man to admit this in 2016, but here goes: I was a bit nervous calling Brujeria vocalist Juan Brujo for our interview. I mean, we've all seen behind the curtain of this band of Mexican Satanic druglords, and we know one of them was in Fear Factory, for crying out loud. Fear Factory! They're about as scary as the grocery store. (Other past and current members did time/are currently in bands such as Carcass, Faith No More, Cradle Of Filth, Napalm Death, and others.) Still, when I was a teenager and Brujeria's early 7”s came out, complete with horrible crime-scene photos and the most extreme grind/death around, there was a legitimate concern surrounding the identities of these guys. At least to teenage me.
However, when I get Brujo on the line, it's kinda like talking to the guy trying to sell me a more expensive internet plan: he's just so nice I find myself wondering what is simmering inside. With the internet guy, it's a deep-rooted hatred of humanity; with Brujo, I have no idea, but I feel like we're best buds after about two minutes on the blower, not at all what I was expecting. So, fear subsided, it's time to talk Pocho Aztlan, the band's new album. Brujo chuckles when I say it doesn't just sound like Fear Factory despite having a groove to its grind, and agrees that the album is a much more musical affair than their older efforts.
“It's cleaned up and nicer than the other ones,” he says. “With the old records, the first ones we did, we could never get everyone together at the same time and the same place... we still can't. But now we've had a lot more time to get it together, so it's a lot better sounding, and more modern sounding now than before. It didn't work out that brutal way that we wanted, like, 'Let's make it sound like the first one.' It doesn't happen that way anymore with the modern computer equipment and stuff like that.”
And although Brujo says that the band wasn't incredibly angry as far as the lyrical content on this album goes, once it was finished up, Trump came along, and Brujeria had plenty to be angry about again.
“In the mid-'90s there was plenty of stuff to sing about and get off your chest but I think since 9/11 things have gotten mellower in the States; it was just kind of a nice place,” he says. “Along comes Trump and everybody's hating everybody again. Trump really lights me up; if he wins there's going to be a quick Brujeria record out. But it'll be a race between them getting Trump out and a Brujeria record coming out about him, so we'll have to do it in a hurry; if he wins he's not going to be there long so we've got to get a record out before that. We'll see what happens.”
In other words, those of us who loved Brujeria's early, horribly-recorded and hastily-written material will have Trump to thank if the band goes back in to the studio to quickly record a reaction album to the man getting voted in.
“Yeah, he set everybody back 40 years, including us,” chuckles Brujo, talking about how the band used to record. “The first records were done in a day; we used to go to the studio with nothing written. ‘You got your stuff ready?' 'Yeah, we're going to write it right now.' We'd write the stuff and record it in the same day; that's why it came out so brutal and harsh and it worked perfectly. Everything matched up the way it should be. It could go back there with Trump, but if not we're going to become more of a normal band... well, not so much 'normal,' but more that way, and easy to access. It's about time for that.”
Normal? For me, the real Brujeria experience has nothing to do with normal, and it's one of a time long gone, where mystery surrounded the men, and where I—literally—had nightmares because of their second 7”'s cover.
“Yeah, and it took you years to find out what was hearsay and this and that,” Brujo says. “That was the best part about it. I mean, that was great. And it will never happen again; I don't think it's possible. So that's great, you were part of the good stuff.”
And for a brief moment, the Satanic druglord grindcore kingpin and I share a laugh at his insane band's insane early days.
“I owe you one for suffering back then. You were one of our main targets: 'I bet some guy's going to go nuts with this.' I owe you one,” he chuckles. “I owe you one.”