Chicano Batman embrace their inner superheroes

Chicano Batman perform "Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)" from their album "Freedom is Free," live in the studio of The Current. (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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| 18:39
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 18:39
  • Chicano Batman - Freedom is Free (Live on The Current) 03:58
  • Chicano Batman - Friendship (is a Small Boat in a Storm) (Live on The Current) 03:13
  • Chicano Batman - Angel Child (Live on The Current) 03:22

Originally used as a derogative term to describe poor Mexican-American farmers, the word "Chicano" has since become source of pride for many Latinos in the United States, including the members of Chicano Batman.

"Chicano Batman just means it's something that empowers yourself," says the band's frontman, Bardo Martinez. "We all need superheroes in our life that are gonna get us through our day and gonna help us out in the morning, help us wake up, so it's just something that, for us, allows us to do that, allows us to dawn something, to put on our uniform and get out there and be ourselves."

The Los Angeles-based musicians blend elements of psychedelic rock, funk, latin, jazz and soul into their music. For guitarist Carlos Arévalo, coming of age in Southern California's "low-rider culture" helped expose him to the R&B and soul music that now makes its way into the band's music.

"There was a DJ out there called Art Laboe, and his shows syndicated across the southwest. Every Sunday night, for me personally, we'd be driving home from visiting my grandparents and that would be the radio station we listened to," Arévalo says. "And the music was just ingrained in me and I'm sure for the rest of us, even though we didn't appreciate it as much as we do now. But it was there."

Although their latest album, Freedom is Free, makes some powerful statements, Chicano Batman have kept listeners grooving to the music, even if some fans don't agree with what the band have to say.

Since Chicano Batman got their start in 2008, they've steadily gained a strong following, and after playing one of their first stadium shows while opening for Jack White's tour in 2015, the musicians have continued to play for larger audiences, often selling out their shows, including their recent debut performances in Mexico.

"We sold out El Lunario and El Auditorio Nacional, which is one of the biggest venues there, 1,200 people," Martinez said. "It was just a smaller room inside the big auditorium, but the capacity was 1,200 people. So that was a blast and people were really into it. We'd been building a fanbase just from our recordings. We hadn't really played a legit show down there until then."

After playing another sold-out show at Minnesota's own Turf Club on Friday, July 7, Chicano Batman stopped by The Current's studio to talk to host Bill DeVille and to play three songs from Freedom is Free.

Songs Performed


"Freedom is Free"
"Friendship (is a Small Boat in a Storm)"
"Angel Child"
All songs from Chicano Batman's 2017 album Freedom is Free, available on ATO Records.

Hosted by Bill DeVille
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Simone Cazares

Resources


Chicano Batman - official site

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  • Watch Chicano Batman's Tiny Desk Concert Chicano Batman comes with a sound that perfectly captures dark lounges, quincenera dances, car shows and backyard parties. Watch their Tiny Desk performance here.

14 Photos

  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio
    Chicano Batman perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman
    Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman at The Current
    Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman at The Current
    Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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