I interviewed the Cantina Flys at The Cockpit Lounge over a few beers. All four members, Steve, Ernie, Marco, and Carlos were there.
What's great about El Paso?
Marco A. Rivera: It's home... the food...
Steve Salazar: The best food, the best women. We can all vouch for this because of our traveling.
Marco A. Rivera: The best drugs...
Carlos Chavez: The Cantina Flys are from El Paso.
Steve Salazar: The best boxers. It's a cultural thing.
Ernie AK-47: Every time out of town, we bring that. It's for real.
Steve Salazar: It's genuine.
Ernie AK-47: When we bed a groupie, they get all of us at once.
Steve Salazar: It's a whole cultural thing, what we know.
Carlos Chavez: It's home.
Steve Salazar: We're not ashamed of it at all.
Carlos Chavez: It makes us unique.
Steve Salazar: Someone said, "You wear bandanas like Guns and Roses," but we don't wear bandanas like Guns and Roses. We wear bandanas like my grandfather wore out in the field.
Ernie AK-47: Bands here don't develop their fan base, they bring their aunts and uncles to their shows.
Marco A. Rivera: They don't talk to the other bands. That shows we created our own scene. None of the kids at Skools Out came and introduced themselves.
Steve Salazar: They think The Mars Volta made it in a day. They've been doing it fifteen years.
Ernie AK-47: There's no gumption, no integrity.
EPMS: How long have you known each other?
Ernie AK-47: A good long time.
Carlos Chavez: At least ten years. Ernie and I grew up together. Marco, back to Sassos. Steve, ten years. Time flies.
EPMS: Why don't you play many gigs in El Paso?
Steve Salazar: We don't want to be considered a regular cover band that you can see any weekend. We don't want over-exposure. We want to make it an event for our fans. Just because we aren't playing here doesn't mean we're not in Albuquerque, Phoenix, ...
Ernie AK-47: Steve's right, we do have shows out of town.
EPMS: Are you going to tour year-round?
Carlos Chavez: Absolutely!
Steve Salazar: As soon as we get signed.
Carlos Chavez: We're working towards doing it full-time.
Ernie AK-47: We're getting close.
Carlos Chavez: We've done enough leg work, we're knocking at the door. We've done lot of touring, and growing as a band. We're growing.
Ernie AK-47: We're very cautious.
Carlos Chavez: We're not looking to just get signed with any distributor or label. Our plans are a little bigger.
Ernie AK-47: If we wanted, we could sign a deal right now...
EPMS: Is there pay-to-play in Austin?
Marco A. Rivera: Maybe in real high-profile clubs; we have no problems.
Ernie AK-47: We're connected in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas...
Steve Salazar: Yeah, in LA, they want you to pay.
Ernie AK-47: Worse yet, bands out there fucking take it.
EPMS: What do you do to draw a crowd on the road?
Ernie AK-47: Well, you're susceptible to the market thing, the built-in crowd that the club has, plus whatever name recognition.
Steve Salazar: When we're going out of town, one month in advance, we send flyers, posters, and we usually send them a CD for the jukebox. Hopefully, by the time we get there, they've heard of us.
EPMS: How has KLAQ been for you?
Carlos Chavez: KLAQ has been giving us great support, they've been awesome for the last year-and-a-half; they've been amazing.
Ernie AK-47: They get it.
Carlos Chavez: Unbelievable.
Ernie AK-47: They get it because we're rock 'n' roll. That shit don't go out of fad
Marco A. Rivera: Don't go out of style.
EPMS: Tell me about the Balloon Fest:
Ernie AK-47: It was killer, a complete, utter success.
Steve Salazar: We have no CDs or T-shirts left. We sold everything.
Ernie AK-47: We have to reprint our CD and T-shirts. It was also great jamming with that level of band. KLAQ, they have super trust in us as premiere rock band.
Steve Salazar: It took us a while to get there. They're talking about the Street Festival for us.
Carlos Chavez: On the radio interview, when Jack asked us, "What is your favorite groupie question?," we just looked at each other.
EPMS: So, what is your favorite groupie story?
Steve Salazar: Here's my favorite: somebody, one of the Moscas that I don't want to identify, hooks up with a girl, she's really into the band, and to this individual. They get horny, right? So they go to the girl's trailer, then this girl decides she'd rather cuddle. So, being Mosca, our band member says, "Fuck," stole her truck, and drove back to the club.
Ernie AK-47: The best ones, we don't want to know their names.
Marco A. Rivera: The next morning, he smells a little fishy, takes a shower, forgets about it.
Ernie AK-47: There's a certain amount of power in that, let's say we have quite a few groupie escapades.
Steve Salazar: We had really good after-party show after the Balloon Fest. Drowning Pool, Opiate for the Masses, Eddy Garcia did White Zombie with us, Gonzo from Drowning Pool... there's no kinship between us, and any band in El Paso.
Ernie AK-47: I like Lylah...
Carlos Chavez: AC/DC.
Steve Salazar: AC/DC is my biggest influence, once I bought my first AC/DC album.
Carlos Chavez: Motley Crue.
Steve Salazar: When I was little, everybody was into Kiss.
Ernie AK-47: For me, Deep Purple, Ritchie BLackmore, Queen was another big one for me. Foghat's bad.
Carlos Chavez: Zep. Cheap Trick. Rainbow was huge.
Ernie AK-47: Iron Maiden.
Carlos Chavez: Fastway, Saxon, Iron Maiden, I saw them in the Coliseum.
Ernie AK-47: You gotta remember, we were pre-teens then. Iron Maiden was larger than life. To see Eddie, man, ahhhh!
EPMS: How do you handle criticism?
Ernie AK-47: Quite honestly, I want to hear it.
Steve Salazar: I think, it adds more fuel to our fire.
Ernie AK-47: We have really good reaction from the crowd.
Carlos Chavez: We know where we're going, what we want to do, so any side comments, what can we do?
Ernie AK-47: They might not like us, but they respect us.
Carlos Chavez: We're true to ourselves.
EPMS: If you could be in any band for one day, in any era, which would it be?
Carlos Chavez: Metallica, they like Mexican bass players. I could use the bread.
Marco A. Rivera: The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Steve Salazar: I'm thinking of the chicks, so early Van Halen for me.
Ernie AK-47: For me, AC/DC, Bon Scott era. That was some crazy shit there. He and I'd see eye-to-eye.
Some political protest is seen on the TV.
Carlos Chavez: 'Fuck Bush' is such an easy shot. What a wimpy cry! I don't want to be preached at, regardless of somebody's political tastes.
Steve Salazar: Rock and roll should be escapism.
Ernie AK-47: We have no politics in our show.
Carlos Chavez: Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, but 'Fuck Bush' is a wimpy way.
EPMS: Were any of you in the military?
Everybody shakes their head.
Carlos Chavez: We support the military, though.
Ernie AK-47: Yeah.
Steve Salazar: We support the troops.
Carlos Chavez: We have e-mails from all over the world.
Steve Salazar: Our CD, on the Armed Forces Network, is out there.
Carlos Chavez: We get e-mails from all over the world.
Steve Salazar: They don't want politics, just good rock 'n' roll.
EPMS: Marco, who is the best drummer in El Paso?
Marco A. Rivera: Ricky Malichi, a jazz drummer. He's been around the scene.
Carlos Chavez: Ask him, who his second favorite is.
Marco A. Rivera: I only have one.
EPMS: Have you ever played in Juarez?
Steve Salazar: It's fucking awesome!
Ernie AK-47: It goes back to the 80s.
Steve Salazar: they had cut off sleeves, patches, go up to stage (and bang heads).
Ernie AK-47: Fucking amazing. Like you read about European audiences.
EPMS: What place did you play there?
Carlos Chavez: Amazonas.
Steve Salazar: We played another bar with Jesse's band. That's a band from Juarez called Unchained; Jesse is the guitar player.
Ernie AK-47: We're jonesing to get back to Mexico.
Carlos Chavez: Chihuahua radio stations are playing our CD.
Steve Salazar: A promoter sent our cd down... so they know about us.
EPMS: What's the story about the fight you got into with another band?
Steve Salazar: Here's the deal: we were playing with some bands, we had no clue about them. They put us with the wrong type of band. The first band was OK. One of those new jam bands, no vocals at all.
Ernie AK-47: Emo.
Steve Salazar: First, second, third... The second band plays, some tutti-frutti pajama-wearing boys, who took forever to...
Marco A. Rivera: Computers playing their music.
Steve Salazar: Everybody was running behind.
Ernie AK-47: A lot.
Steve Salazar: We're hitting with good rock and roll. We played one song, two songs, good, they come up to us on stage, give us the 'Cut it' sign.
Carlos Chavez: The guitar player from the first band.
Steve Salazar: So, I said, fuck it, we're playing all our set.
Ernie AK-47: We did. All of a sudden, we're winning the emo crowd.
Steve Salazar: By the seventh song, girls were flashing us, probably his girlfriend was flashing us. The seventh or eighth song I see him in a drunken stupor, he gets one of these chairs; I thought he was going to sit down, but he goes to the stage, and throws a chair at us. Nobody saw it. I see some of our fans get up and in with him, I realize he had bad intentions.
Ernie AK-47: I'm basking in glory, drunk, and I start to get reports "Hey, that guy threw a chair at you!" We may not like your band, but we give you respect. We're very respectful. I wa s pissed off.
Marco A. Rivera: Ernie confronted him...
Ernie AK-47: Some bitch from Riptorn... I went up to him, but before I said half a word...
Steve Salazar: He did the biggest swan dive I'd ever seen.
Ernie AK-47: I'm in vato mode, I chase after him, I caught him, started pounding him...
Carlos Chavez: I chased him across the stage, and knocked over Tape Incident's equipment. He ran into the parking lot, he wouldn't come back out, I confronted his friends, nobody'd step up. He left his friends to hold the bag, nobody'd engage us.
Ernie AK-47: Unfortunately, his brother got his ass kicked.
Steve Salazar: After Ernie pounded him, he came up and apologized.
Carlos Chavez: Joey from Fungi Mungle got beaten, but his brother was the loud-mouth.
Steve Salazar: Joey came and apologized.
Marco A. Rivera: For his loud-mouthed brother. The other band didn't even apologize. If your in the wrong, step up.
Ernie AK-47: The funny thing was, the next band after us was scared, they were packing up...
Marco A. Rivera: They started it, we finished it.
EPMS: Did you say it was Ripcor?
Ernie AK-47: No, Riptorn.
Carlos Chavez: Ripcor is a very cool band.
Steve Salazar: They sent me an e-mail today.
Ernie AK-47: Fucking emo band, they said it to the wrong band. Honestly, we're a gang. Marco was pounding on him on the floor.
EPMS: If there are two guys against two of you, what do the other two do?
Carlos Chavez: We're gonna back em up. Us two gonna back them up, then our friends are gonna back us up.
Steve Salazar: know what, that night, all the chicanos were putting on their bandanas, ready to go.
EPMS: What do you like outside of rock?
Steve Salazar: Chicks.
Ernie AK-47: Strippers, porno.
EPMS: What music do you like outside of rock?
Steve Salazar: I like mariachis. Keeping it real.
Ernie AK-47: New flamenco.
Steve Salazar: Flamenco with a little rock to it.
Marco A. Rivera: Jazz. Carlos is into knitting.
Carlos Chavez: I have no interests outside rock 'n' roll.
Ernie AK-47: Carlos keeps this band centered. For me, Lords of Acid, techno-pop. We don't subscribe to the hip-hop lifestyle at all. All we know is rock 'n' roll. We're proud to carry the flag of rock 'n' roll.
EPMS: OK, lets try some hypothetical questions. Let's say you have to choose between the jobs of Homer Simpson, Fred Flintstone, or Andy Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show. Which would you take?
Ernie AK-47: Homer Simpson all the way.
Steve Salazar: I'm gonna say Andy Griffith; he can have any pussy in town. There weren't too many rules in that town, that would be perfect for me.
EPMS: You're stranded on Gilligan's Isle, the 60s version, how long before you've done both Mary Ann and Ginger?
Ernie AK-47: I'd have Mary Ann quick.
Steve Salazar: I'd have to say, Mary Ann is the priority, and Ginger the next night.
Marco A. Rivera: I like Ginger because she's a redhead.
Ernie AK-47: Mary Ann will cook for you.
Carlos Chavez: (to Ernie) You'd probably bang Ginger before you got on the boat.
EPMS: What are your favorite movies?
Steve Salazar: Pulp Fiction, Desperado.
Marco A. Rivera: Scarface; Apocalypse Now; The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
Ernie AK-47: Let there be rock, an AC/DC film.
Carlos Chavez: I like Star Wars. I just saw the new movie.
Steve Salazar: I just saw it this past weekend. I want to see it again.
EPMS: Any Elvis fans among you?
Ernie AK-47: Fuck yeah, I am.
EPMS: You play a lot with Gypsy Rose. Why is that?
Steve Salazar: We see a lot of potential with Gypsy Rose, they remind us of us. Remember they're seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.
Ernie AK-47: We like Lylah, Gypsy Rose...
Marco A. Rivera: New Mexican Erection...
Ernie AK-47: They're all great bands, they all take this professionally. We've done several shows with them.
Marco A. Rivera: Some of the other bands at Skools Out were unprofessional, whiny bitches, crying about sound...
Steve Salazar: Why bitch about it? Hey, that was unprofessional. You're there to do your job, to give a show. How do you know, just because you hear crap up there on stage, you don't know what the sound is like for the crowd.
Carlos Chavez: When we go out of town, we have to deal with it, no matter what.
Steve Salazar: We don't have our sound guy, our own PA.
Carlos Chavez: When you're a thousand miles from home, nobody cares.
Steve Salazar: Either we're the most-hated or the most-feared band in El Paso; I like it that way.
Ernie AK-47: We're never liked, but we're respected by all.
Steve Salazar: Nobody's inviting us to play with them any more, which I take as a compliment.
Carlos Chavez: Except national bands.
Ernie AK-47: We do our own shows.
Steve Salazar: Now they call us.
Ernie AK-47: Begging us to put them on.
EPMS: What about your new CD?
Ernie AK-47: It's called, 'Queremos Rock.'
Steve Salazar: We want to rock.
Carlos Chavez: We wanted a rock 'n' roll album.
Marco A. Rivera: Sonically and visually.
Carlos Chavez: The art work, the songs...
Steve Salazar: With a Chicano flavor to it.
Ernie AK-47: I had looked at the scene (in the beginning), it was either emo fags or mallcore (death metal). We want to bring back rock 'n' roll. Love it, hate it, we're going against the grain.
EPMS: Any final thing you want to tell El Paso?
Steve Salazar: Visit us at www.cantinaflys.com, come visit our show, they can pick up the CD at the site, at our shows, ...
Carlos Chavez: Head Stand, All That Music.
EPMS: Thanks, guys.
- Charles Hurley