Molotov: 20 Years of Swear Words and Latin Grammys
Randy Ebright of Molotov certainly stands out. Born in Michigan, Ebright ended up in Mexico City due his dad's job as a DEA agent. Once there, he quickly connected with the local music scene and joined Molotov. Twenty years later, the guy is still drumming for one of the most unique bands coming out of Mexico.
From his home in Mexico City and in anticipation of performing tonight at Trees, Ebright talked with DC9 about his strange journey that resulted in him joining the band and how Molotov is looking to expand its audience base.
How does a guy from Michigan end up in Molotov?
My family is from Michigan, but my father was in law enforcement. He joined the DEA in 1984 and we lived in Louisiana for nine or ten years. From there, he got transferred down to Mexico City. While we were there, I finished high school. I met up with a bunch of musicians here. One thing led to another and I ended up in Molotov two months after I graduated high school. I was going to take a year sabbatical before going off to college, but that was twenty one years ago.
How does a primarily Hispanic band name itself after a Russian foreign minister?
At the early rehearsals, the guys were actually fooling around with Molotov cocktails. They were throwing them outside of the rehearsal space. The name kind of stuck. We talk about stuff that is everyday life. We talk in street language and we have two explosive bass players. We are loud and the name just kind of stuck after really fucking around with Molotov cocktails.
Looking at the aggressive, profanity-laced music that you play, it is odd that the band has one four Latin Grammy Awards?
It's kind of funny. I know that we have won them, but we have only gotten one physically. It is kind of crazy. We don't do our music thinking about pleasing others. When we record an album, we think about pleasing ourselves. We try to make the best record that we can. It's cool that people recognize us.
You are not going to find a band in the U.S. that sings a song ("Chinga Tu Madre") titled "Fuck Your Mother" win any Grammys.
Exactly, it's kind of strange. I don't know if that says something about the Grammys or not. We don't get a lot of radio play. I guess that makes winning a Grammy kind of cool.
How is your Spanish?
I speak Spanish, but I went to an American high school in Mexico City. I didn't really start studying Spanish until I left high school. There's no better way to learn another language than having a girlfriend who doesn't speak English. From that and from working with the band, I picked it up. It wasn't from a traditional schooling. I guess I was schooled in Mexico City slang. It was kind of hard in formal meetings, but the Spanish that I learned was good in the street.
You were not an original member of Molotov.
Yes, they formed in June of 1995 and I entered the band in October of that year. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of me joining the band.
It's been several years since you guys have released a studio effort. Is something new in the works?
We actually have two things coming out; one of which I can't speak about. In 2007, we released a record and we haven't stopped playing shows since then. We have composed a lot of new music and we have been playing those songs. We've run into a little speed bump with the record company and politics and red tape on how to release the record. We finally are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and we are going to be able to release something, hopefully, a single in October and November. A full album could be released the end of February or early March next year.
"Apocalypshit" was used in the first episode of Breaking Bad. Does that mean you have made it in American culture?
We've had music in other shows and movies as well. The first big one was in the movie SWAT. There's been a lot in television shows. It's cool. We've gotten music into video games as well. It's cool to go into a movie theater and hear your music. I've never seen Breaking Bad, but I've heard about it. We were also in one of the Fast and Furious movies.
Do you bring some American influence to the band such as the idea to cover the Misfits and Queen?
No, actually we are all four different personalities in the band. But we are united in musical tastes. And I think we all like American and British music. The other members bring a more Latin influence into the mix. I probably bring a New Orleans type jazz and funk influence to the band.
From the beginning, the band has been controversial.
Yes, we were even sued in Spain because of our song "Puto." A gay and lesbian group said the song was homophobic, but it's not. Anyone who would do their homework and look into the culture of Mexico City and the culture of the slang would know we were talking about cowardice, about not having the balls to stand up for what you want. In Spain, they take Spanish language really literally. It would be like trying to explain American slang to a British person.
Why all the profanity?
That is what the whole band has been about since day one. We started writing songs in a six by four rehearsal space. We just wanted to have fun with the music. That's how we communicate between ourselves. It is a part of our urban culture.
You have a large fan base in the Southern part of the United States. Have you seen the crowds evolving to include more than just the Latino audience?
Yes, this started in Europe. We have been going to Europe for fifteen years. At first, it was very small crowds, mostly Hispanic. As the years have gone by, the Latin audience takes up only thirty or forty percent. In the states, we are going to cities that don't have a large Hispanic population. We've going to Boise, Portland, Kansas City and Cleveland. A lot of new cities are opening up for us. We love our Latin fan base and everything, but you have to be able to show our music to everybody. Even though it is in Spanish, music is our universal language.
How were the crowds when you first toured Russia in 2000?
They were great and there were no Latinos at all. We played Moscow at this venue in Gorky Park that seated about 3000 and it was packed. We did three cities there. We went back in 2010 and did five cities. We have it all documented on DVD. We had to document it because no one would believe us.
Since your dad was in the DEA, did that mean all your friends thought you were a narc?
[Laughs] No, they all knew better than that. Of course, it's safe to say that I am the black sheep of my family.
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