Voz de Mano: Rock LA Style

Local band is steadily climbing to the top rung in the local and national rock en espa?ol scenes

By Amanda Pe?alosa
Published on LatinoLA: October 10, 2000

Voz de Mano: Rock LA Style

Within the past five or so years, numerous groups have erupted onto the local Los Angeles rock en Espa?ol scene. Bands like Pastilla, Maria Fatal, and Ozomatli have become very influential in music, making a name for themselves internationally, and confirming the fact that L.A. is extremely powerful in determining what's hot in the rock scene.
One of bands with a growing fan base, Voz de Mano, is steadily climbing to the top rung in the local and national scene. This group, consisting of five guapos born in Mexico and Los Angeles, is using their unique blend of rock, electronica, and noise to make a name for themselves, and its being heard loud and clear. Tony Estrada, Luis Barbosa, Javier Ceja, Mario Ortiz, and Jorge Ortiz make up one of Los Angeles most acclaimed, followed and praised rock en Espa?ol bands and although they may not have a video on MTV just yet, these faces are highly recognized in LatinoLA.
Both Retila Magazine and La Banda Elastica have named their second album, Ruta Satelite, Best Independent Record, which debuted in 1998 and is still making waves musically. They've played at the House of Blues and the Roxy among many other venues and they participated in the South by Southwest Music Conference in Houston earlier this year. Musically, they are one of the most energetic, passionate bands to see live and they exude a quality of being extremely down to earth despite being on the verge of great things. This is the band that mesmerizes you on stage and then later on that night, you see them mingling with the crowd.
Vocalist Tony Estrada gave me a little insight on their influences, how they evolved into the rockers they are today, and where he hopes Voz de Mano will be in the future.
Who are your musical influences?
What influences me is not only my music, but art itself. It can be a painting by Dali, architecture by Wright or fashion on a runway by Dolce & Gabbana. But we are, of course, influenced by rock music in general. Right now were listening to a lot of electronic music coming out of Europe and the US, so our music is reflecting that.
How did you first get involved in music?
In high school I had to take a piano class as an elective so it was by force. Each student had 15 minutes on the piano, but sometimes I would practice the whole hour. The teacher saw my interest and asked me to be in the school band. So I took up the saxophone. Later I joined the church choir and learned the guitar. From there Voz de Mano was formed, but now Im the only remaining [original] member.
What sets you apart from the rest of the bands in LA's local scene?
The fact that we?e an ever-evolving band and our style is always changing. If you listen to our earlier music, you'll notice it's totally different than today's.
What are some of your most memorable shows thus far?
My very first one. This was back when rock en Espa?ol was new in the US. We were playing cover songs and original songs in a little restaurant in Huntington Park. So everyone from Argentinians, Mexicans, Central Americans, you name it. They were all partying together. That was memorable.
What do you think is the future of the local rock en Espa?ol scene?
If it keeps going the way it is, it will just fizzle out. It's like your house plant, you gotta keep watering it or it will just die. There is very little support from radio, TV and magazines. What we need is major [investment] in Spanish rock.
And what do you see for Voz de Mano in the future?
I see us making another record, even better than the last one, which has received a lot of critical acclaim. I see us touring, even making a video. I see us being the best we could ever be! I see us kicking some major ass!!
Well, so far Tony's insights are proving true. Voz de Mano continues to tour around Los Angeles, playing at some of its best-known venues, and along with some of LA's most respected bands. Best of all, they've still able to keep that mix of fame and fierce Los Angeles rock en Espa?ol.

About Amanda Pe?alosa:
Amanda Pe?alosa can be reached at manderz24@aol.com

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