Faster Than Sound: Raw Punks Mujeres Podridas on Comfort and Love
Brutal bandmates get nostalgic ahead of free Saturday show at Fairweather Cider
Across time and space, the members of Mujeres Podridas made their way from upbringings in Texas' Rio Grande Valley to current punk production in Austin. On different musically minded arrival timelines, all managed to find each other here: vocalist Dru Molina, bassist Eddie Leal, guitarist John Morales, drummer Phil Gonzalez, and recent second guitarist Dexter Garza. Meaning to discuss 2021 record Muerte en Paraíso throughout the pandemic, I finally caught Molina and Morales mid-workday at longtime local adult toy manufacturers Vixen Creations.
"We all just really wanted to start a band with all Valley people, and it evolved from there," explains Molina, whose ethereally caustic Spanish lyricism leads the pack.
"I was the last one to show up," adds Morales, also of Breakout and Damak, who actually hand-pours the silicone. "When one of my old bands did a little Texas run, we were told to hit up Dru for a show. I later moved here with the opportunity to clean windows, but I heard about this dildo factory where everyone worked, and the rest is history."
The quintet plays a free show this Saturday, July 16, at the very cool, colorful North Austin taproom of Fairweather Cider Co. with Flower City. Band member Gonzalez, senior designer at Feels So Good screenprinting, also spins international rarities as DJ Mr. DNA. Beyond the band's love of reinterpreting Eighties Spanish punk, discussion of shared Texas influence leads to a lesson on RGV phonetics.
"I don't think it really informs the writing; there's just a comfortability," says Morales. "There's little isms, inside jokes, and I can get those off. Other bands I'm in, with non-Texas people, I'm doing the ahhhh and they're like, 'What the hell?'"
"It's made it a lot easier to just be," furthers Molina. "It's almost like a security blanket, after you say a joke you're like ahhhh [with tongue clicks]. It's like being home."
"Without driving five-and-a-half hours," adds the guitarist.
With just one Mexico tour preceding a recent April East Coast run, Mujeres Podridas garners an established following – with Muerte en Paraíso requiring three vinyl pressings on Virginia hardcore label Beach Impediment Records. Dru credits over 20 years in the DIY scene, as she and bassist Leal share résumés in heavy projects Criaturas, Kurrakä, and Mirror. Leal also leads fellow Beach Impediment affiliate Vaaska.
"Anything me and [Leal] have ever done has always been more hardcore, but this band has been received where it's not just punks coming to our shows," says Molina. "That's been very different for us, these bigger, more professional shows. And this record, I've never written anything so personal. It's always been about the system, you know?"
Two years of work on Muerte en Paraíso encompassed the romantic breakup of longtime collaborators Molina and Leal. In the same songwriting span, the Texan singer met hardcore musician Tord Bang-Steinsvik, vacationing locally from Oslo. After long-distance back-and-forth visits, like when Kurrakä played K-Town Hardcore Fest in Denmark, they got married and settled in Austin a year ago.
"You can hear it through the songs; there's a lot of anger and sadness and happiness," says Molina. "I'm still a little teary-eyed even talking about it. It was really hard, and also really special that I had a platform where I could say these things. It was like therapy for me, so I was really appreciative that my bandmates let me do that."
Sonically, Molina and Morales respectively describe the energy of Muerte en Paraíso (meaning "death in paradise") as "beachy, palmy" and "South Padre, coastline, Gulf of Mexico type of thing." The guitarist referenced effects used by pioneering Eighties Mexican cumbia ensemble Tropical Panamá. For new songs in the works, they mention nostalgic mainstream sounds of their youth from Hombres G to Juanes – to somehow be fractured through their unrefined punk prism.
The charismatic Morales sets a scene: "Not really to incorporate it [musically], but there is that feeling: You're listening to 'Chattahoochee' in the nurse's office to get out of elementary school. They're playing 'Livin' on Love' while you're waiting for your dad to pick you up so you can watch Maury, because you faked vomiting."
Resound Presents and Desert Door Texas Sotol launch Unreleased, a "semi-battle-of-the-bands" featuring 16 Texas artists selected by the Austin-based independent concert promoters. Voting is open through July 29 at resoundpresents.com/unreleased, for the top eight bands fans would like to see compete Sept. 18 at Parish. It's a fun bunch of Central Texas acts, from SoundCloud-only local students Diego Ate the Drummer to Austin hip-hop standard Mike Melinoe to Dallas Audiotree Live pick Ariel & the Culture. Showcase tickets go on sale in early August – with proceeds benefiting Desert Door's conservation nonprofit Wild Spirit Wild Places and local Black Fret. Live audiences will vote on the winner of a fully produced music video and a runner-up, both of whom will open for a national touring act at Mohawk.
Sixth Street could see various new music venues as part of grand redevelopment plans by Dallas' Stream Realty Partners, which acquired 32 storefronts on both sides of East Sixth (revisit "Can Dirty Sixth Be Cleaned Up?" News, June 17). New plans for the 500 block include a below-ground venue, alongside a boutique hotel managed by Austin's Bunkhouse Group. As for the 600 block, Austin-based VP Caitlyn Ryan presented plans to the Music Commission in late June, where she said: "My whole goal, eventually, is to bring Emo's – in any way, shape or form – back to this [block] because this is where they started." She said the Emo's-ish concept could house office space by day, like the Radio City Music Hall building. Other music-integrating candidates include the former locations of now-shuttered businesses Easy Tiger, Buffalo Billiards, and Dirty Dog Bar.
Stranger Things delivers another soundtrack of supernatural soundscapes by Austin composers Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – beyond the new season's hit placement of "Running up That Hill." The Texas musicians, half of local synth quartet SURVIVE, have scored the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, since the show's 2016 launch. Like the fourth season, the whopping album of 80 originals is divided into two volumes, packing fan-insider titles like "My BOOBS Hurt." and caption-referencing "[delicate, intense music playing…]." Find Stranger Things 4 (Original Score From the Netflix Series) on Lakeshore Records.
ACL Fest added a bundle of artists to the Zilker Park lineup, like Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, Gabriels, Spill Tab, and Danielle Ponder. Weekend 1, Oct. 7-9, also adds Adrian Quesada of Black Pumas' homegrown new album/solo outlet Boleros Psicodélicos, the Ventures, and Walt Disco. Weekend 2, Oct. 14-16, now promises Death Cab for Cutie, Culture Club, Tai Verdes, and the Brummies. Tickets to the second weekend are still available at $347.84 including fees.
We Don't Ride Llamas, Austin-based Gen Z sibling act embracing nü metal and neo-soul rock shades, finds another high-caliber opportunity following sold-out support dates for Willow Smith's tour last year. Come September, the quartet will play six stateside nights opening for Aussie star Courtney Barnett (Austin sadly not included). The 2022 Austin Music Award winners for Best Metal join Barnett, the War on Drugs, and Orion Sun on the roster of prominent talent reps TBA Agency.