Recognized in LA as the Chicano Bruce Wayne of the city’s psych scene, Chicano Batman frontman Bardo Martinez is all about attention to detail. Whether describing his band’s latest ambitious LP Cycles of Existential Rhyme or sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of South American music, the UCLA graduate speaks with straight-up sabiduría that belies his 30 years of age.
Martinez attributes most of it to his engaging parents, particularly his father Conrado who shared his love of music at almost every opportunity. “I listened to everything,” says Martinez via telephone from California. “My dad collected records, and he made mixtapes. So I grew up with tapes that would have Laid Back, Cyndi Lauper and ’80s music. I’d also listen to The Four Tops, soul music and Aretha Franklin. I’m talking about the same mix right here. I’m just picking off one tape.”
A native of Ameca, Mexico, Conrado would balance out his mixes of ’60s Brit rock and ’70s pop songs with healthy doses of Los Ángeles Negros, José Alfredo Jiménez and Leo Dan. When you factor in the Colombian roots of his mother Norberta, you begin to understand why Chicano Batman is often compared to Santana, Cream and every band in between. For Martinez, influences like Caetano Veloso, Quinto Sol and Los Pasteles Verdes feel much more organic and on point.
Chicano Batman follows up their San Anto show at Palo Alto College with a return to Austin, where the Austin City Limits festival inspired the #OuterCityLimits Tour in somewhat backhanded fashion. According to the band, the hashtag is a grassroots response to the noticeable lack of bands of color at major festivals, including ACL.
“Obviously, we’re not playing in the festival, but it’s kind of like a South by Southwest type of vibe where we’re just going to play outside of that thing,” says Martinez. “We’re going to attack it that way.”
In addition to the tour, Chicano Batman is also working with Ikey Owens of The Mars Volta and Jack White fame on a 45 featuring two new songs. Boasting the most badass band name in recent memory, and with two LPs and two EPs tucked into their utility belt, Martinez and company have come a long way since he sketched out the flannel-cowled character at a house party.
“It’s a group effort,” says Martinez, acknowledging his homies. “All of us are putting in work, and all of us have contributed to what Chicano Batman is. I am in a very disadvantaged position in our society just from who I am, and I have no shame in saying I’m very proud of who I am. I want to be a superhero. I want to be Chicano Batman. In reality, I feel the character exists in all of us.”
Chicano Batman feat. Sexto Sol
7:30pm Fri, Oct 17
Palo Alto College Performing Arts Center
1400 W Villaret