We Talked To The Dallas Metal Band About The Lack Of Minorities In Hardcore, Pissing Off White People And Discovering Music Pre-Social Media.
Welcome to Como Somos, a new recurring Central Track series about Latinx music in North Texas. Como Somos, a phrase that translates to “as we are” in Spanish, focuses on the up-and-coming Latinx acts that are heavily inspired by the sounds and roots of their cultural backgrounds. Here, they share their stories of what it means to be a Latinx musician in DFW today, as well as Spanish tracks that helped shape their artistry, to better connect with their ever-growing community.
Soledad doesn’t give a fuck if it pisses off white people. The band and its music sends a message of brown pride in an effort to bring Latino representation in a political music scene populated by white, middle-class men.
The four-piece metal band, which incorporates Spanish and English lyrics, has already generated a lot of fans, mostly teenagers, in the North Texas hardcore scene — known for the rowdiest, sweltering house shows — in just one year. Of course, its members have been around for years as musicians and die-hard fans themselves, and starting a Latino band was something they wanted for a long time.
Founding members Robert Dominguez (drums) and Eddie Tatum (guitar) formed Soledad, a Spanish term for “loneliness,” during the middle of the covid-19 pandemic with songs Tatum had written in the past eight years. Andy Zarate, who has a huge reputation in the scene that spans over a decade, later joined as Soledad’s vocalist. He’s a veteran who’s been in a handful of bands before, but songwriting for a band like Soledad was something he had never done before.
The original members included guitarist Michael Angelo Wagers and bassist Zach Fleming, but Fleming and Tatum have since left the band. Last year, while they were still together, Soledad released its debut hardcore-death metal fusion EP, one that would be appreciated by fans of Xiabalba, Crowbar and Sepultura. Since then, they have added guitarist Oscar Garay and bassist Manny Bazaldua — adding to the band’s Hispanic background.
Soledad’s Latino hardcore attitude is the same one that blew up in the U.S. in the ’90s due to political issues Latinos were facing — such as policies that specifically targeted them — who turned to hardcore as a form of protest. Its music described angst toward minority struggles and direct problems in their community, which many white people didn’t care about.
Sure, the North Texas scene is mostly supportive — but don’t get it twisted. If Soledad pisses you off, good! It’s working.
Just before its show at Growl Records June 3, we spoke to Soledad about its cultural roots, its introduction to its favorite music in a cable-less home and before social and more. Plus, a dope ass playlist of the member’s favorite Spanish tracks.
Who is Soledad and what do you represent in the scene?
Zarate: Soledad – the way I understood it when I joined — was a collective of musicians, specifically brown musicians, or Latinos, to come together and make music that was geared towards our own audience — that being brown kids, Latino kids, Mexican kids, etc. The specific goal in mind was to appeal and be able to represent. I’ve gotten a number of messages from different people already and they’re like, ‘Man, I really love that y’all are doing the Spanish thing.’ With Soledad that was the intention; to basically represent.
Bazaldua: That’s what drew me into Soledad. I kind of thought to myself as the No. 1 Soledad fan in fucking DFW. I guess Andy saw that in me. — how much I appreciate the music. There’s been a couple of times where I take the mic and sing along into the mic and then from there, he saw how dedicated I was to see their band play. Then, he asked me to join them. Around that time, I posted a lot of videos of me playing bass, because I felt like bass was more of a thing I was into.
Zarate: I saw how much he liked the whole brown pride thing. That’s what Soledad is to me. Originally, Soledad was started by Robert and Eddie and that’s what I remember Eddie saying.
Dominguez: Yeah, we had the same idea pretty much. We used to see a lot of Latinos back in, like, 2013. Everyone in the scene was majority Latino, but everyone kind of started fading off. [Now], it’s mainly white people. I mean, hardcore is already majority white, which is fine but it’s cool when you see minorities in general — not just brown people — just doing shit. When UnityTx first came out, it was strictly minorities and that’s what got me wanting to start something like that.
Ever since we started this, I’ve been slowly seeing minorities coming up and overpowering the white crowd. I just like seeing it more diverse. It’s cool to see that. My parents — they still don’t understand — when I was growing up and listening to this shit, so it’s just cool to see your homeboys be into it.
I like the shock factor. We played that 420 show recently and right before we played our cover “ Matando Gueros,” [Andy] was like, “Yo, this song’s about killing white people.” Everyone in the crowd is white and I see heads turning and multiple people whispering in each other’s ears. That’s what I want to see you. Questioning and shit. I wanna start some shit when it comes to that.
Last year, you released your debut self-titled EP, which included that cover of Brujeria’s “Matando Gueros.” Do the songs on the EP follow a specific theme?
Zarate: “Vergüenza” is about police brutality, specifically about a girl in Mexico who was killed by Mexican police. It’s really more of a ACAB song. There’s one song that deals with loss of family or friend. My lyrics are somewhat vague a lot of times — it can lead to more than just one thing. It kind of jumps around as far as subject matter goes.
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Andy, you’ve been in a handful of bands in the past. What was the writing process for this band different from the others?
Zarate: The writing process was different in the sense that it came together smoothly than any other band I’ve been. I think that a lot of it had to do with the fact that the music was already written. I really didn’t have to do much except write the lyrics. There was no sitting in at practices trying to come up with stuff. I pretty much had all the time I needed to write the lyrics to the music. Music usually always comes first. When it comes to me writing lyrics, I have to write to the music. I’ve never written a song where the music was written around the lyrics.
How was your songwriting process now that you incorporated Spanish music?
Zarate: Shit. I saw it as a challenge. Initially, when they asked me, I was like, ‘Damn, can I do that? Am I confident enough to do it?’ I think I did OK. I was up for the challenge. I think it came out well.
Was it risky to make Spanish music in a white-dominant hardcore scene?
Dominguez: No, I mean if we piss off people it’s whatever. I just hope it just pisses off white people. Some white people just don’t want to see you win.
How does your audience respond to that?
Dominguez: I think they respond pretty good. Fucking Olan [Martin] — that motherfucker would sing “Matando Gueros” word per word. That was the coolest fucking shit to see. I feel like some people, when they saw him do it, everyone got comfortable and fucked with it.
Zarate: We obviously don’t want the killing of white people. It’s more of a statement. We’re going to say it and if it pisses you off then it pisses you off.
Dominguez: I mean, we got white friends but …
Zarate: … They get it.
Dominguez: Yeah, it’s mainly for the ones who hate on us for literally no reason. Just because we’re brown.
Garay: Plus, the lyrics are saying how they treat us like shit or how white people treat Mexicans.
Wagers: Every time I go in the room, everybody’s already scared. I’m the most friendly person ever.
Have you ever dealt with racism in the scene before?
Zarate: I have never encountered flat-out racism at a show. A lot of what I have encountered over the years has been racism online on message boards and seeing the occasional hammer skin at shows back in the day. I don’t remember that being a regular thing, though. They didn’t really go to hardcore shows. If we encountered them it was usually because there was a band on the bill that would draw them out. A good example of that is Agnostic Front. They’re certainly not a racist band, so I don’t want any misunderstanding to happen. I remember seeing them in 2005 at Trees and definitely seeing a number of what were obviously racist skins.
Bazaldua: I feel like in all scenes I’ve been a part of, more common when I was in my teens and early 20s, I’ve always got holier-than-thou attitudes from white people. I haven’t really had that issue in the North Texas hardcore scene since most people I’ve encountered are open-minded and respectful.
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Taking a turn here to talk more about cultural background. Most musicians are inspired by their parents’ or family’s music tastes. How were you introduced to this genre of music?
Zarate: The earliest music I was listening to in my childhood definitely my family’s, my parents’. I think most people start off by listening to what their parents listen to, at least in your childhood. For me, in my mom’s side it was a lot of oldies, like golden era ‘50s and ‘60s oldies music. On my father’s side it was like Los Tigres Del Norte and Pedro Infante. As I got older, I cared less and less about that. I was off to find my own shit that I liked.
Wagers: Personally, I don’t really think about it. Growing up my brother played guitar. I guess that would be my biggest influence. He played with Andy before at the Ice House in Oak Cliff. I guess I was 5 around that time. We watched Slipknot a lot on MTV. That’s as far as I can remember.
Bazaldua: My sister was the one that influenced my music taste. I remember back when I was like, eight or nine years old, we went on a road trip to visit my mom’s family. I remember one time, my sister didn’t want to get out and meet some of the family yet, so she stayed in the car and put on “City of Evil” by Avenged Sevenfold and I was picking on her the whole time she played it because I didn’t understand rock culture at the time. I remember I liked little solos because for some reason, my eight-year-old brain thought it was techno music because of the way the guitars were played. And then from there, she sent me down the rabbit hole. She was showing me System Of Down and Slipknot. Once I made it to middle school, that’s where I branched off and started finding my own things.
Zarate: That’s when it happens in middle school, it seems, when you discover your own music taste and then that shit stays your whole life.
Garay: My mom and my dad have been together for 29 years and they go together really good, but they’re really different. My dad was a cholo back in the day. So, he likes SPM, UGK and all that. When I was young, that’s what you used to listen — old school rap. So my dad was a cholo and my mom was like the metalhead. She was like, “hey, listening to Guns And Roses.” She was like Bon Jovi’s number one fan. She was like, “Listen to Pantera, Judas Priest,” but she’s Christian so she would be like, “But, chill out,” you know, “all that devil shit.” If it wasn’t dot my mom I probably wouldn’t know music. It wasn’t until middle school when I got into Parkway Drive, Avenged Sevenfold, Three Days Grace. That’s when I was like I kind of want to be in a band.
Zarate: My brother was the one that got me into rock music, not because he wanted to but because I was just curious about what he was listening to and I liked it. Queen and Iron Maiden was some of the early stuff I remember liking because of my brother. He had more of an influence than my parents as far as the music journey.
Dominguez: I got my music taste from Nintendo games and Tony Hawk. My parents only listen to corridos and cumbia—they never played any rock music in the house. The only reason I even play an instrument is because my uncle’s a drummer and my mom’s side everyone plays an instrument or like does something musically. Growing up, I didn’t even know about it, but my mom would be like, “You started showing signs that you wanted to play drums,” – just banging on shit all the time. It wasn’t I got video games and I started paying attention to the soundtrack. Sometimes I would let the game run they just wanted to hear the fucking song – I didn’t have internet or nothing.
Zarate: I think that was probably some of the first punk music I remember hearing was like skateboarding games.
Dominguez: My neighbor’s older sister would burn CDs with random music and she gave me a CD one time that had Bullet For My Valentine and I just repeated the fuck out of the songs. The rest of it was hip hop and I was, “What the fuck is this. I want to hear more of this shit.” That’s when I started playing video games and I was like, “Can you make me a CD with only this kind of music?”
Now we have social media platforms like TikTok, not just for music, but to promote yourself as well.
Zarate: The majority of the people that follow us are the core ages of people that use TikTok — anywhere from one to 18/19 until 26.
Dominguez: There are kids in the scene that are way younger that popped out of nowhere. We’re all active on social media. We’re just posting bullshit half the time and people think it’s funny. If we could individually be ourselves on social media, I feel like that makes it easier for people to approach us because we’re not trying to be like stuck up.
Zarate: Social media also lets us show love and support to our peers. Everybody in the band sees to share other peoples’ stuff all the time. I think that stuff pays off in the long run.
What’s your message to those younger fans?
Zarate: I think I think at the core our music, for obvious reasons, speaks more to Latino kids in particular. The message to them would be: be proud of that – ultimately. Be proud of it, especially if it pisses off white people.
We asked the members of Soledad to share 15 Spanish tracks they love or were inspired by, in no particular order.
Cover photo courtesy of Soledad.