Rodrigo (Sanchez) and Gabriela (Quintero) are two fast-fingered, Dublin-based, Mexicans with a unique sound created on acoustic guitars. Their music is difficult to define, straddling both world and rock, and often filled with timeless Hispanoâˆ’classical influences. The fire in it comes from their life-long passion for metal music.
The duo’s repertoire flies beyond familiar Latin folk guitarists’ styles because of the metal connection: their re-workings of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Metallica’s “Orion,” and the presence, on “Ixtapa,” of the fiery Hungarian gypsy violinist, Roby Lakatos.
The musicians met as teenagers at the Casa de Cultura (Culture House) in Mexico City. Rodrigo was playing drums in a band that changed its name to Tierra Acida (Acid Earth) when Gabriela joined them on guitar. Tierra Acida played in Mexico City’s roughest clubs and lived off day jobs. They recorded an album but wouldn’t sign the record contract, planning instead to concentrate on learning more guitar styles. In fact, they just hung out with friends and survived by playing bossa nova, a style of Brazilian music, in hotel bars before they decided to travel to Europe.
Their first port of call was Dublin, Ireland, in 1999. The city was booming with new music venues, galleries, and a thriving rock scene. The two Mexicans found themselves jamming with local folk musicians in the bars. Next, they moved to Denmark, which inspired two numbers on their album, “Diablo Rojo,” a scary roller-coaster ride in the city, and “Viking Man,” their nickname for a homeless man they befriended, and then to Barcelona before returning to Dublin after they were asked to play the newly opened Sugar Club. Damian Rice, then a busking friend, invited them to support his shows, and in 2003, they released Re-Foc, and a year later, Live Manchester and Dublin, which both launched them onto the World Music circuit.
The duoâ€™s influences range from family salsa records to Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Queen, and Led Zeppelin. But, crucially, they grew up during Mexico’s “metal era.”
Mentions of flamenco influences raise sharp responses: “To many music fans, it sounds like flamenco, and we’re great flamenco fans, but we don’t play it,” says Gabriela. “The only similarity is that our music is guitar music and it’s very rhythmic.”
Rodrigo and Gabriela describe their style as “Fusion music.” “It’s mainly got Latin harmonies and rhythms but the structure is rock. It’s not jazz because it’s structured, and we don’t improvise; our solos are exactly what’s on the record, as a metal fan and guitarist you always want to hear the same solo,” the groups says.
Check out the duoâ€™s latest album, Rodrigo y Gabriela, on Zune Marketplace!