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The Story of Chicano Batman & Their Sound Deconstructed

The Story of Chicano Batman & Their Sound Deconstructed
The four members of Chicano Batman deliver cohesive performances that are a kaleidoscope of references, personal histories, and musical exploration. Born of Latin roots, their work crosses over into the pop music mainstream as Tropicalia meets classic rock & soul with a modern poeticism and an ear for the new. Their work is a jubilant collision of the intentional and unintentional— danceable and retro, yet fresh and full of experimentation.

Last summer we chatted with all four members about the gear that first inspired them as musicians, the influences that inform their sound, music as a source of community—and most importantly, the meaning behind the Chicano Batman name.

“I wanted to write lyrics that people could identify with—lyrics with angst.”

To discover even more about what shapes Chicano Batman’s sound, we headed to the studio to crack open the Pro Tools session from “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” and went track-by-track through the arrangement with the band, including how producer Leon Michaels kept things “Motown-simple” during the process. “Leon believed in recording [the track] like Motown, that was the goal—simple and soulful,” explains Eduardo.

Meet The Band

Bardo of Chicano Batman playing his vintage Crumar organ
Guitarist, keyboardist, percussionist and vocalist Bardo Martinez warms up with one of his personal favorites - a vintage Crumar TI Organ. Bardo also plays a D’Angelico Excel Series DC Semi-Hollow during the band’s live set.

Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman
“When thinking of lyrics, the idea was always to have call and response as a main choral arrangement,” says Martinez on crafting “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm).” “We used an Electro-Voice RE16 in the middle of the room for many of the sessions.”

Carlos Arévalo with his Fender Vintage Reissue Stratocaster
Guitarist Carlos Arévalo with his Fender American Vintage ’62 Reissue. “A Fender Stratocaster has a lot of liberation with the vibrato system,” he says. Arévalo explains that Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland inspired the “melodic” solo heard in the bridge of “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm).”

Chicano Batman guitarist Carlos Arevalo's pedal board
Up close with Arévalo’s pedals – (from left to right): Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2+, BOSS Distortion DS-1, MXR Uni-Vibe M68 and an Ibanez Analog Delay Mini.

Chicano Batman drummer Gabriel Villa with his vintage hybrid drum kit
Drummer Gabriel Villa’s hybrid vintage kit is a collection of Villa’s go-to staples, including his Ludwig Black Beauty Snare and Paiste 2002 Cymbals. “I grew up in Columbia listening to different music styles and rhythms,” says Gabriel. “There was always something happening in music for me.”

Guitarist, bassist and producer Eduardo Arenas with his vintage Gibson bass
Guitarist, bassist and producer Eduardo Arenas and his vintage 1968 Gibson EB-0 Bass. On “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm),” Arenas worked closely with producer Leon Michaels to develop the song’s Motown-inspired vibe, achieved by relying more on analog tracking and live recordings.

Check Chicano Batman’s newest EP Black Lipstick on Spotify, and visit chicanobatman.com for upcoming tour dates.

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