That’s the side of Sabbath bassist Greg Gonzalez clings to. A fan of Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi’s crew since growing up playing the four-string in Laredo, he got into the Master(s) of Reality because of bassist Geezer Butler’s upfront and funky fretwork. In September, when he and eightpiece Latin funk syndicate Brownout set up a four-week experimental residency at Frank – covering James Brown’s Black Caesar, B-boy music, and a string of modern hip-hop – he had the idea to fuse classic Sabbath songs with a funked-up Latin feel: throw bongos on “Sweet Leaf” and a horn section around “The Wizard.”
“That’s been our schtick all along,” confides Gonzalez, a founding member of Brownout mothership Grupo Fantasma, one day after returning from Brownout presents Brown Sabbath’s tour up the Pacific coast. “Finding a way to express our appreciation for genres of music that are far removed from our experience.
“Being from the border, the original members of the band, we grew up with an appreciation for music from Mexico and Colombia, but we weren’t Mexican or Colombian. We grew up listening to stuff like the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
Such interpretation’s now par for the course with Brownout, an outfit fast becoming one of the most predictable in the city.
“We’ve become chameleons,” boasts Gonzalez, who references Grupo Fantasma’s cumbia-soaked cover of the Talking Heads “Burning Down the House” and Brownout’s two-year undertaking of GZA’s Liquid Swords. Conventional thinking would make a Latin funk troupe’s interpretation of pioneering British heavy metal as the most lofty undertaking yet, but Gonzalez never stressed the challenge.
“It was already funk,” he attests. “It already had that feel and fit right in. But we’ve been talking. It’s almost like we accidentally invented a new genre: doom funk.” – Chase Hoffberger