Chicano Batman at Panorama 2018

The Los Angeles born-and-bred musicians of Chicano Batman describe their sound as a mix of Brazilian Tropicalía, psychedelic soul circa the early Seventies and a dash of the romantic pop genre known as balada rockmántica. With such diverse realms of influence, it’s no surprise that singer Bardo Martinez, guitarist Carlos Arévalo, percussionist Gabriel Villa and bassist Eduardo Arenas have overflowing fountains of knowledge when it comes to music. In a wide-ranging conversation at Panorama, they discussed heavy metal, their duet with Miguel, and how Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis nearly made songs with one another.

WWD: Talk about your recent collaboration with Miguel for the media company We Are Mitú. You performed your song “Black Lipstick,” which took on a new identity with him singing. How’d that collaboration come about?

Carlos Arévalo: Miguel did a Pitchfork Live interview and he gave us a really beautiful shout-out. That’s when it came up on our radar that he was into our music. Our label pitched the idea of us working together, and it ended up being for We Are Mitú’s video series where they mash up two different artists from two different genres and have them play each others’ songs. 

WWD: Gabriel, you’ve said you’re a metal fan. Are there any metal bands that you’re into or is the golden age of metal dead?

Gabriel Villa: I stopped listening to new metal. I grew up listening to classic metal, the bands that started it, like Deep Purple and Metallica. But right now, I listen to Tool. My wife loves that band, we go to their concerts together. They haven’t released anything for more than 10 years, but apparently they’re going to have something new soon. I’m waiting for it.

WWD: Eduardo, you have a pretty distinct style of playing bass. Who are some of your influences?

Eduardo Arenas: El Chivo from Los Bukis. Bootsy Collins. James Jamerson is the s–t. Carol Kaye is the s–t. Cliff Burton, you know what I’m saying? He was the first melodic dude I ever heard play the bass, with Metallica.

WWD: So you’re into Metallica, too?

E.A.: I grew up on Metallica. I wanted to learn every Kirk Hammett solo I could possibly figure out. 

WWD: And Carlos, you mentioned in an op-ed you wrote for The Rumpus that there’s always something new to learn from Jimi Hendrix. What’s a crazy fact you stumbled upon about Jimi?

Carlos Arévalo: I didn’t know he started playing guitar so late. A lot of guitar players that I’ve been influenced by, they start learning when they’re kids. Jimi started learning when he was 15 or 16. It’s amazing that he came so far in those 10 years. He changed music five or six years later with his first record. 

E.A.: Did you read that interview with Quincy Jones, talking about Jimi Hendrix? How they were going to do a session with Herbie Hancock and all the heavies, and Jimi never showed up? He was too scared. 

C.A.: Here’s another fun fact: Jimi had a session booked with Miles Davis, and then he passed away, so it never happened.

E.A.: Did you hear the jam session with John McLaughlin?

C.A.: No.

E.A.: They’re horrible, dude. Jimi Hendrix and John McLaughlin, two guitar heroes — they just don’t vibe. Like Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin. John’s killing it in the early Seventies with jazz fusion, and Santana’s doing his own thing. They make “Love Devotion Surrender” in 1973 and Santana kills John McLaughlin, dude.

C.A.: McLaughlin is more theoretical, more jazzy, a lot of notes. Santana’s pure emotion — he gets so much emotion out of two notes. I appreciate both of them, though, they’re mind-blowing to me.

E.A.: I prefer Santana, and I’m not just saying it because I’m Latino. I’m not biased.

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