The 4th Annual Tequila and Tacos Festival comes to Ventura on Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24. The event features many different street taco vendors, a day of tasting fine top-shelf tequilas and mezcals, and a day of sipping delicious margaritas. “The new larger venue will have more room to showcase more Craft Tequilas, more tacos, and of course more great music,” says Vincenzo Giammanco, Tequila and Taco Festival Producer.
Headlining Sunday’s festivities is musical sensation Metalachi, an innovative group that combines traditional mariachi sounds and instruments with heavy metal rock music for a decidedly unique sound. The LA Beat caught up with Metalachi’s trumpet player, El Cucuy, who talked about their music and also about last year’s Tequila and Tacos Festival.
Q: El Cucuy, you’re such a distinctive member of the band. How did your style and look come about?
A: I’m one of the original guys that’s left. Some of the original guys are still involved with us. You know when we started, we were all brothers and we kind of went with our own personalities and everybody actually called me ‘Cucuy’ since I was a kid, so they kind of stuck with it. ‘He’s cucuy, so make him look like a cucuy.’ That’s what it was like when it all started.
Q:What is a ‘cucuy’?
A: A ‘cucuy’ is the Mexican boogeyman. He’s like a monster, but I always tell people that it’s not the monster that hides in the closet and scares little kids. I don’t do that. I’m the ‘cucuy’ that hides under mommy’s bed and waits for the kids to go to sleep, then when the kids go to sleep I usually jump on mommy!
Q: You often use the trumpet as a lead instrument in mariachi.
A: You know what? Actually, the lead instrument in our band is the violin. The violin we have is like a lead guitar, it carries that role. The trumpet is also a lead instrument but not as much as the violin. Because we have mariachi instruments, each instrument carries a different role as with a metal band. We don’t have drums, so what plays the role for the drummer in our band is the guitar. Our guitar player plays very different from mariachi, in the fact that he’s our drummer. He plays a lot more aggressive, he puts more emphasis on beat. But the trumpet, I wouldn’t really say it’s the lead. It’s the loudest, definitely the loudest, but I would say more the violin has the lead.
Q: Do you perform any traditional mariachi tunes in your show?
A: Yes, we do, a lot of people are surprised. They think that we just do what we do. A lot of people think we’re gringos, but we’ve actually been mariachis since we’re little kids. Pretty much anyone who tries to trick us and ask for some mariachi songs, we can play them since we’ve been mariachis for years.
Q: What about “Cancion de Metalachi?”
A: Well that’s not even a traditional mariachi song, that’s taken from Desperado, the movie. But we do a lot of really traditional mariachi tunes that we’ve played a million times, we’ve done stuff like “El Rey,” “La Negra,” “Cielito Lindo,” some really well known mariachi songs.
Q: Is “Crazy Train” the song that got you noticed by Ozzie Osbourne for OzzFiesta?
A: You know, it was actually his wife, Sharon Osbourne, I think she saw a video of us playing “Crazy Train” on YouTube and it got her attention first. She’s the one that showed it to Ozzie.
Q: How did you wind up doing the Guns and Roses song “Sweet Child of Mine?” It’s a perfect song for you.
A: When we first moved from traditional mariachi to metal mariachi, “Sweet Child of Mine” was one of the first songs that we did learn. It’s one of the most famous and it was one of our favorites. Even though it was one of the first songs that we learned, it’s actually still very popular and requested by a lot of people. We’ve learned about fifty or sixty songs now there is a lot of new material, but every where we go, people want to hear that one.
Q: How hard is it to combine the two styles of music?
A: Some songs are more difficult than others. Some songs just make for an easy transition. There are others, like Slayer’s “Raining Blood” and some of the negative songs in metal music, a lot of them actually don’t use chords, just power chords, beats and rhythms, there’s really no real chord structure, so we have to do that and make it work because mariachi is based on structure. Sometimes it’s a little bit tough but, like the one song by Whitesnake, “Here I Go Again,” we made it so people can dance. It’s a little bit hard but we made it match pretty well.
Q: This is your second appearance at the Tequila and Tacos Festival in Ventura.
A: Well you know what, this is actually our first appearance……because last year, we were going to play at the festival and right before we went on, there was a big thunderstorm that came through. Everybody started freaking out because it was bad, lightning and wind. It was crazy! They ended up cancelling the show right before we went on! Yes, it was crazy, I even think one of our managers got struck by lightning. It was too bad, because before the storm came in, everything was great, it was like a freak storm. It was sunny, nice weather, and when we were to go on at 3 o’clock, that storm came in at like 2:50 and it just hit for an hour and a half. It was a really strong storm.
Before it hit, though, there were some really good bands playing and people dancing. There was tacos, people eating and people drinking and we were really looking forward to playing. Then all of a sudden, the sky said ‘NO!’
Q: I bet you like tequila and tacos?
A: Of course! I don’t really drink, but the rest of the band loves tequila.
I can’t wait to do the Festival. Last year we were bummed, because it was such a great crowd there, and people were looking forward to the band playing and it was packed, there were so many people. We’re so happy that we get to do it again. We can’t wait for this opportunity!
We’re almost done with our next album, it’s going to be out really soon. Plus, the Metalachi podcast is almost ready to get on to cyberspace. I hope you listen to us!
Q: Thank you, El Cucuy!
The 4th Annual Tequila and Tacos Festival takes place this year in Downtown Ventura’s Plaza Park on Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24. The event runs from 11am to 5:30 pm each day. Tequila sampling on Saturday is from 11am to 3pm only. General admission tickets (both days) is only $10. Premiere 2-Day Passes are $60, while Saturday’s ‘Tequila Experience’ is $40. Tickets can be purchased here.
Saturday features the ‘Tequila Experience,’ craft beers and many tacos from different vendors. Music from the Old School R&B/Pop of Adelaide (tribute to the late pop singer, Selena) and the Afro/Samba/Funk/Dance sounds of SambaDa round out the day’s events. Sunday Margarita Funday features many taco vendors and lots of delicious types of margaritas to enjoy. Sunday’s music lineup includes Pop-Rock duo Instone; Metalachi, “The World’s First And Only Heavy Metal Mariachi Band;” SambaDa; and upbeat dance music by DJ Que in the Firestone Lounge.