Adult Problems - The Best American Punk Music Is In SpanishBy Zachary Lipez
Criaturas, photo by Brett Bays
It’s a bit of a cliché that 99% of music, as in all things, is pretty much tedious shit. Yes, it’s a beautiful and thrilling universe, but only because it’s so big. With that amount of acreage, 1% can encompass a lot of honey, so don’t get upset when I acknowledge the crapulence of the majority while focusing on the minority. Like I’ve said before, I’m trying to be positive on the internet.
It was in that spirit that I gave myself little missions last time I was at SXSW. I didn’t want to be bummed out by the legions of Blues-Hammer-by-way-of-Mary-Chain that were marching through the village, razing standards and trolling for tuggers. So I assigned myself tasks designed to take myself out of the convention and to get a little air. I went to the LBJ museum, the part of the river without all the bass players peeing in bushes, and I went to visit Todo Destruido, the punk/HC label and distro that started in 2007 located wayyyyy uptown in Austin, Texas.
I, being half slow and half lazy, don’t speak a lick of Spanish. I took Latin 1 for three years in high school before I finally realized that I was never going to know anything, ever. It wasn’t the first or last time I gave up, but it set a pretty good precedent. Languages are haaaarrrrd. That’s OK. Finding something worthwhile in another culture, be it punk, Latino, hip hop, Hasid, whatever, can be a treacherous motherfucker. Nobody wants to be a culture vulture. One wants to indulge ones’ proclivities and no one wants to be rejected, so you have to walk the line; be respectful, but live in the world. And it so happens that the best American punk music currently is in Spanish. And that’s a true fact. So if you managed to do your future civic duty and bother to learn Spanish 101 in 8th grade like a normal person, than all this is moot. You can skip the article and just order the records.
I, even in my linguistic ignorance, dig pretty much the entire Todo Destruido catalog. I know we live in a system and that the State needs to be burnt down, but I don’t really need the specifics. When I met Eddie from Todo Destruido, I was a little embarrassed to tell him that, for such a fan of so many of the bands he and his partner Dru were in and putting out, I still had to go to Babble Fish if I wanted a specific lyric. Eddie didn’t really give a shit, sort of looked at me like I was a child and said, “Uh, yeah, I listen to a LOT of Japanese hardcore. Don’t understand a word. Don’t worry about it.” So I don’t.
The most well-known (as far as THAT goes) Todo Destruido bands are probably Vaaska and Deskonocidos and Criaturas. Eddie and Dru are both in Criaturas, an accurately described ”Unholy Rock 'n' Roll” machine, which puts out records through both Spanish label Trabuc and Lengua Armada Discos (the label run by Martin Sorrondeguy, who’s sung for two of the greatest hardcore bands ever, so that’s, you know, something). While there are too many awesome Spanish language punk labels to cover here, Todo Destruido distro carries almost all of them. Many of the Todo bands (all of which are at least solid as hell) share members, and there are certain unifying sounds; melodic without being pop punk, delay on the vocals that doesn’t sound lazy, and guitars that border on psych. They gots bands from Spain, Mexico, Texas, and LA. The Texas ones veer more into D beat and Death Rock territory, but I’m not going to bore the living shit out of you by trying to parse all the respective genres. I will say that one of them, Deskonocidos (who are broken up, I believe, with one of the dudes being in The Young now, just FYI), put out what I consider the best death rock album in memory, and got hellacious short thrift for reasons I can only ascribe to the language barrier. I can’t think of any other reason why there isn’t a copy of En la Oscuridad in every TSOL-looking motherfucker’s home/squat/loft/ whatever. But, shit dude, what do I know. Punks got CRASS patches, so they can’t be racist, right?
Todo Destruido just put out a Poliskitzo 7” and a Nueva Autoridad Democratica tape. Both are rad and can be listened to here. The distro list is updated from time to time so check it real regular.
Look, the language is just a hook. In the same way that the making of Japanese or Finish punk into a “thing” is usually detrimental to appreciating the work, the effort, the total hysterical freedom of what we love in this kind of music. I’m not suggesting you buy a bunch of Todo Destruido shit because it’s a novelty or it’s the, ugh, "other." If it is that, you’re probably leading a pretty dull New York existence—change your shit up, please. I’m just trying to point out that there’s this label, in Austin, Texas, called Todo Destruido. It’s putting out some extremely good rock and roll music. And if you don’t get into it because its lyrics are somehow slightly less discernable than the other abrasive bullshit you poison/salvage your existence with, then you’re an idiot. And if you’re an idiot, then what am I, trying to convince you of anything? And, to make writing and listening and breathing this world at all worthwhile, I have to believe that I’m not an idiot. So thanks in advance.