Strong Heritage, Strong Message

The Virtual Chicano Interview: Fred Sanchez of El Chicano

By Virtual Chicano
Published on LatinoLA: October 1, 2004

Strong Heritage, Strong Message

Hello and welcome, I am the webmaster for VirtualChicano Online. I'd like to thank you for taking the time for this interview. This interview will be un-cut and un-censored. Let's get started.

Q, VirtualChicano: This morning, Yusef Islam, was denied entry into the U.S. Our readers might know him better as Cat Stevens. As an artist / musician, please give me your thoughts about this.

A, Fred Sanchez: I think it just a sign of the times with what's happening in the world today and with a profile that he has I'm surprised it hadn't happened before. As an artist and musician who does quite a bit international travel I've become very aware of the upgraded security as I'm sure he must have realized that something like this could happen.

Q, VirtualChicano: Of course Yusef Islam is an Englishman, but do you see any parallels between how it was to be Chicano in the early 1970's and how it must be to Arab-American today?

A, Fred Sanchez: I don't see any parallels that's a totally different scenario

Q, VirtualChicano: Changing the band's name from the V.I.P's to El Chicano was nothing short of marketing genius. Whose idea was it?

A, Fred Sanchez: It was a group decision and a chance to market ourselves with pride of what we were Chicanos!

Q, VirtualChicano: Naming the band El Chicano shows enormous confidence. Was there ever any doubt in your mind that you could live up to expectations?

A, Fred Sanchez: None what so ever we always felt strong about our heritage and our message of positive thru our music.

Q, VirtualChicano: Millions of people suddenly get a strong sense of pride when they hear "Viva Tirado". Mexicanos and Americans alike immediately recognize it as thee "Chicano" theme song. How does it feel to have played such a key role in the recording of "Viva Tirado"?

A, Fred Sanchez: Little did I know when we recorded "Viva Tirado" that it would become such a huge favorite to so many people it's been a great ride. Every time I play that song I look out in the audience and I see peoples faces light up and it's an awesome feeling of pride that I get.

Q, VirtualChicano: Have you ever spoken to the song's composer, Gerald Wilson, about this?

A, Fred Sanchez: No actually I've only met Gerald one time and he came over to our studio and had another of his compositions that he thought we might be able to do and give it the El Chicano sound. But we were into writing our own music by then so we never used any other songs that he composed. There was another time that we crossed paths but it was in a concert where we jammed "Viva Tirado" with his orchestra. Haven't had any contact since.

Q, Was the first record deal signed with the V.I.P's or with El Chicano?

A, Fred Sanchez: The first record deal was signed as El Chicano

Q, VirtualChicano: I sometimes refer to the 1980's as the "dark ages" for Chicanos. The college students of the seventies graduated and went on to start their own careers. Some became Chicano studies college professors in states like Rhode Island. With our intellectuals gone, Chicanos and our movement became, in effect, neutralized. The wholesale incarceration of Chicano males began. The name "Chicano" began to become associated with gangs, prisons and drugs. In the 1970's El Chicano recorded 8 albums. But in the 1980's (actually 1982) only "Do you want me?" was recorded. Please elaborate on what the band was going through during this decade.

A, Fred Sanchez: After recording and traveling worldwide for many years and with music styles and radio station formats changing we decided to stop recording but still continued to perform.

Q, VirtualChicano: Do you still play bass and is Bobby Espinosa still play the organ?

A, Fred Sanchez: Yes I'm currently being featured in the band and I'm enjoying playing once again with Bobby who still is one of the best organ players around.

Q, VirtualChicano: To introduce the new sounds of El Chicano - to us O.G. fans - and perhaps to those who might be hearing for the first time, please recommend some tracks from "Painting the moment" for us.

A, Fred Sanchez: "Colores" which is a song used for the movie "Mi Vida Loca" and "Cosa Mia"

Q, VirtualChicano: When do you expect the "Signature" album to be released?

A, Fred Sanchez: "Signature" will be released in 2005 - also a book is being written by Freddie Sanchez and Bobby Espinosa Title - "Thru the Eyes of El Chicano" it will be out in the fall of 2005

Q, VirtualChicano: I see you and Bobby Espinosa are doing the soundtrack for Raul R. Rios's tribute to Cesar Chaves. Any idea on the release date?

A, Fred Sanchez: We hope to have it completed by Christmas 2004

Q, VirtualChicano: Visiting your official website at:, I've seen that El Chicano is planning a concert at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood, CA on Oct. 16th, 2004. What can the O.G. and the new fans of El Chicano look forward to hearing?

A, Some of our most requested and popular tunes it should be a great musical evening.

Q, VirtualChicano: There are some pretty talented youngsters out there trying real hard to make it in the music business. What advice would you give them?

A, Fred Sanchez: Follow your dream but you must be dedicated and learn to be professional.

Q, VirtualChicano: What do you think of Chicano Rap?

A, Fred Sanchez: It's today's music and I think it's great!

Mr. Sanchez, please let me take this opportunity to thank you for this interview. Please give my best regards to Bobby Espinosa and the band. Also, I'd just like to mention that in doing my research for this interview I came across a friend of yours' website:

? 2004

About Virtual Chicano:
i am the publisher / editor / webmaster for 10 chicano / hispanic / latino websites. although i'd much rather be doing interviews i spend most of my time designing websites in html and php.
virtual chicano

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