This interview with Juan Brujo, the brutal vocalist of extreme metal band Brujeria, took place in august 2016, it took a while to release it thanks to Susan Koagel – our friend and the moderator of our Facebook community Metal On Loud - who helped to restore it. The interview was “lost and found”, we have read it and decided that it is still very actual. So, here you are, dear readers…
Hello, Juan, this is Tania LeGrand from Metal On Loud Magazine. How are you doing?
I'm ok. How are you?
I'm fine.Thank you. So, thank you for your time to talk to our magazine, with your new album to be released Pocho Aztlan. How are things in the world of Brujerai? So, what's going on?
Everything's good, we're busy planning the tour, doing some work with that now on the album that comes out in September.
As many of our readers know, you sing exclusively in Spanish. Unfotrtunately I don't speak Spanish, and many of our readers don't speak. We have to ask you: What is the new album about?
Well, it's about some of the usual things, like life on the border of Mexico and the United States, like some things are happening like the drug trafficking and everything like that. Other subjects are about different things, about religion, the government of Mexico, things like that. It's a little bit of everything.
You stated earlier, I read somewhere, that a lot of your songs are true stories, and if they haven't happened yet, they will happen. It sounds like you have some great anecdotes for us. What is the wildest story, you ever turned into a song?
I think, the Pito Wilson song, about the governor of California. We were at the after party and when I met him, we bumped into each other, excuse me, I'm like the only Mexican in the after party, and he then covers his wife, to protect his wife, and I'm like what, I'm just standing there, I'm like what's going on? Then, there's a gang of people, they came and grabbed me and they pushed me away from him, and I was like, "What was that about?" I didn't understand what was going on. My friend, a couple minutes later, comes out with laws that are completely anti- Mexican American in California, like the important soldier and the important modern letters of children in California, just different laws that are totally against Mexican Americans, and wait a minute, that's why that guy covered his wife, he doesn't like Mexicans. So, that's why I came out with this song Pito Wilson, we pretty much played at the beginning of the song and that was what pretty much really got me the most, the guy looked at me right away and he said he didn't like me. Later on, he came out with laws like that, and they turned out to be illegal. But that song is really the one that really had to come out right away. We'll see what happens with that.
By the way, your lyrics have always been very political. What is your current view of the world really then?
Well, it's now all about drugs. When Donald Trump becomes President, we're gonna wait and see what happens. He's making the Americans hate, ya know, like it was in like the 60's. Ya know, he's already done that. Because he's already ruined it in ways worse than it was, and it's a big problem. You're like this is what it was like years ago. Hopefully, none of them win, along with everything else. Well, that's the biggest problem in the world right now.
It's all cool. So, let's return to the new album. So, the title is Pocho Aztlan, and it can be translated as "wasted promised land". The term "promised land" always raises the question, who promised who, what was the promise, and in this case, how was it wasted?
The wake of it comes from the word Pocho – US citizens of Mexican origin, from Mexico, from the slang word, where people are wasted. If I go to Mexico, people are like no, because I wasn't born in Mexico. The drugs, are like the gravy over there. That's the way it is. In the United States, it's the same thing, the people say no, go back to Mexico, you're not wanted here. So, I have nowhere to go. If I go to Mexico, no you don't belong here.
So, you're a stranger in both countries.
I have no country. If I go back to both countries, I'm rejected. That's where at the border, it's like a city of like "promised city" of where it's perfect and this and that, and it's the Spaniards , it's like I have passport under this name, and they went looking for it, and they never found it... Neither here nor there, wanted. So, that's what that's about..
So if you were President, at least for 1 day, what would you have changed?
I would make all the Mexican Americans in the United States, illegally or crossed the border by swimming the river and things like that, I would make them legal citizens. Make them legal citizens that would start right that day.
Ok. Let's return from politics to music, ok? Going back to the album. You were active with live performances, but you weren't releasing anything new, right? What can you tell us, it is the first album, since 16 years ago, right? And what can you tell us about the music on the album, compared to your earlier releases? Do you have any surprises for the fans? Maybe, something has changed in your style, or anything you want us to pay attention to special songs?
The first thing is going to be a lot like more polished. The other ones are really like natural, so I was like, let's try another one like that , and this one is like a lot more polished, like the sound. The band sounds good.
I heard the song Plata O Plomo, it was pretty raw. For me, I listened to the album, it sounded raw.
I like the way you say that. I like that, but that's why the times they ask for better sounding records, so I let them do what they want with that. It's alright, I still like it like that. There's some songs on there with hidden messages. Every song has a message, a lesson of sorts. Some of them are about the way things are going now, some are they way it was told, some are what might happen, sooner or later. Some are like religious bible codes that are already in too, there's all codes that deal with that, and there's some good science in there. Always getting stuff, there's hidden stuff in our records.
Interesting... So, coming back to the style. Your style, is it me only, I talked to my comrads, they also have this feeling. For me, your music sounds like punk, but wrapped into Death metal. So, like punk attitude.
It's a punk metal thing we call it.
So, how would you describe it?
The attitude is there. It's like a Dead Kennedys, the Dead Kennedy's is my favorite band in Punk. It's like they have the attitude, the telling stories, the politics, and all that, in an angry way. Our's is just angrier. With the metal added, so, I don't know, it just comes out that way, and I try to make it metal, but then what's vocals on there. It's angrier and telling stories, works itself out like that I guess.
I see... So, what inspires you musically, who are your idols? What music do you listen to yourself?
Before, when we started, it was like a good thing , but like the Dead Kennedy's were my favorite band, what they sang about and all that, was to me great. They were from California. Napalm Death from Britain. When Napalm Death came around they were from around the mid to late 80's..I really liked, death metal, deathcore…That's how we started. The Dead Kennedy's was the punk band, I loved that, I loved that stuff, the way they came out live, and Napalm Death was the Metal one. You put those together and you got us.
We've already touched this point. There's a lot of energy and aggression, you yourself said very aggressive in your music..Does this energy translate well in your live shows? How do your fans accept that? Are they aggressive,or how does that go in your live show?
I think it starts off aggressive and then before long, you see them start to enjoy it. Little by little, you loosen up and enjoy we do a little dance, and some people can laugh at us or whatever and what we're doing and where we're coming from. The anger comes from a lot of things that happen and we try to escape that world. There's a lot of Mexican Americans like that, that are really walking around here, and things like that. That energy translates, is traveling down here, some people like what we come from and what we're doing. Little by little, we try to turn it into a party, where everybody ends up happy, and you know, there's a lot of people that don't understand sometimes, Spanish. They seem very happy at the end and revved up, like full of energy.
Where will we be able to see you in this year on tour?
Let's see. We just came from there, sometime in the summer, we go back there in June or July, then we go back to Europe for about a month, many clubs scattered, some festivals. That, and we try to get the message. Got people coming out that people like the shows.
When I asked you about your idols and what music you listened to, I was thinking you would name Punk bands, and as for Metal bands, frankly speaking, I didn't expect that you'd be naming Napalm Death. I thought you would name Sepultura, for example. because they are aggressive. I feel some influence there in your music.
Yeah, Sepultura, but the rare Sepultura would be a heavy influence there. The metal, I don't know a lot of metal bands. I really liked the earlier Death metal stuff, from that period of time, stuff like the 90's when we were. A lot of music, comes in a Punk band. What I would consider coming up.
So, can I ask you a question? You are being interviewed by many journalists...Do you have questions to journalists?
(laughs) Never thought about that. I don't know. Speaking Spanish, how they felt about the whole show after. If they haven't seen us, I don't think that would be a good question. But, I think that would be the question. What you would think about our show in Spanish, if you don't understand?
For example, I'm pretty fine with bands singing in a foreign language. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Rammstein. For me, it would be alright. I married a french man and French is close with Latin origin with Spanish, I would have understood maybe some words.
Well, that's good. I would want to know how many words you understand, and the ones you didn't, if you understood what we sing about. Marijuana, is like the same word in Spanish as English. Yeah, we get English speaking people that are like, eh, marijuana. Everybody know's the word and that's it, and it gets them all excited. I want to know about that. The songs, do they understand us. That's my question back.
That is why I'd rather read your lyrics and read the written translation , to know what you are singing about.
That's funny because it's hard to translate, because a lot of our words are written in “Spanglish”, and our words are half English half Spanish. If you google it, it won't come back, doesn't really give you anything back, because we have our own dialect, like Spanish and English mixed together.
Very interesting. I wish you huge success with the new album. My last question, in your last words to our readers, we have readers from all over the world, that can be young metalheads, old schooled experienced metalheads, what would you wish for them?
I would tell them, check us out and check out some Spanish, see if you can get someone to help you translate it, you might need help getting it straight. If you can find some translations, you really might like some songs or find it interesting. Don't give up on it. It's a good thing there.
Sure, we won't give up. Thank you so much for your time. It is very nice to talk to you, Juan.
So, thank you, I hope it's not the last talk with us in the future.
I'd like to see you too, at one of my shows.
With pleasure! Metal On Loud!