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Interview

Brujeria Frontman Juan Brujo Discusses Progress Of New Album, Fighting Donald Trump And Traveling With Machetes

There are many ways of protesting. Whether one takes to the street with placards and chants, goes on strike or even riot, it's important to make your voice heard. Arguably the most popular form of protesting, especially since Vietnam, is writing protest songs. From Bob Dylan to Plan B, people from all over the world have contributed anthems to resistance, often with a focus on peace. One band that's always taken on the establishment and racism in their own way is one of the most beloved and talented supergroups in metal, or music in general, Brujeria.

Over the years, the band has featured members of such groups as Napalm Death, Fear Factory, Dimmu Borgir, Faith No More, and more, led by metal's own Pancho Villa, Juan Brujo, along with the equally confrontational Fantasma. Since their 1993 full length debut, "Matando Güeros," the band has been creating controversy with lyrics as vicious as the music, confronting issues such as people smuggling, former governor of California Pete Wilson and more recently, challenging President Donald Trump.

During their European "Amaricon Czar" tour, I had the pleasure of meeting head honcho Juan Brujo for myself, sitting down to discuss progress on an eagerly anticipated new album, the band's fierce opposition to political figures like Donald Trump and Pete Wilson and much more. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: Obviously right now you're promoting the new single, "Amaricon Czar." It was a little surprising when I saw the title and imagery, associating Trump with Communism...

Juan Brujo: Yeah, well Trump we think has got a little Communist in him. A little racist, you know, that way of thinking.

Oz: And then there's the b-side "Lord Nazi Ruso" which is kind of like a parallel.

Brujo: Yeah it happened to work out where our little buddy Lord Nazi Ruso (former YouTuber, Aleksei Viktorovich Makeev) was in Mexico and they went to go get him and lynch him. So there's a good little Russian mix there, a little Communist, a little Nazi (laughs)

Oz: And did they get him?

Brujo: Yeah they beat him up pretty good. If you go on YouTube you can see what they did to him. I think it's still on the Brujeria Facebook. It's pretty hardcore, not for children!

Oz: It's the same with the "Plata O Plomo" video. I kind of dismissed the NSFW tag but when I watched it I was like, "Fucking hell!"

Brujo: Those things kind of tend to gravitate around us.

Oz: Well, I believe the single is part of a new album that's coming. How far along are you with the fifth album?

Brujo: We've just got to record vocals I think, then mix it and go. Probably within a year.

Oz: Cool. As we mentioned before, something Brujeria has become more and more associated with recently is President Trump...

Brujo: (laughs) Trumpy! He's just the worst America has to offer. He came up and everybody's hating again, publicly hating again. He made America hate again and he did a good job of it too. Everybody's fired up about anything so it's not good.

Oz: No, it's not good but it was an accurate prediction in your lyrics of what was gonna happen. But with Brujeria becoming labeled as his antagonist, should he lose the election next year, what could happen with Brujeria?

Brujo: We'll see. If he wins the election next time it's because it's rigged, he cheated like we say he did with the first one. I don't see how he could win again but you never know, he's got a lot of stupid followers that defend him without even thinking but we keep coming after him, pushing buttons and stuff but with him we worry a little bit because we could get charged with a crime or plotting to kill the president which means the death penalty. So I got a little death penalty thing to worry about.

Oz: I'm really surprised that you've not been investigated or anything, as far as you know...

Brujo: Since Pito Wilson, governor Pete Wilson in the mid nineties, where did our song where we just killed him in the intro, we know they're not gonna do anything. They'll make us rich and famous by coming after us and they know that's the deal so we have a little liberty to do what we want.

Oz: The authorities seem so paranoid that I'm surprised when you "contact" El Chapo in the lyrics to "Viva Presidente Trump," they didn't come round asking you where he is.

Brujo: (laughs) Yeah, when he escaped from the Mexican jail that was incredible but they got him again. So now he's paying his dues.

Oz: But obviously he (Trump) isn't the reason for the band forming or anything like that. On the "Pocho Aztlan" album there wasn't really any shots at him on there...

Brujo: Yeah, he just came up. All of a sudden he's running for president and he wins. It's a surprising thing. I don't know anybody that believed that could happen and anybody that voted for him, they don't say they did. They all say, "No, no no, I didn't vote for him." Well somebody did. The Russians did.

Oz: But with that in mind, obviously on the album you talk about the legend of Aztlan and subjects on "Plata O Plomo" and things like that as well as some great fun songs like "México Campeón"

Brujo: (laughs) Yeah, that's one of my favourites where Mexico wins the World Cup. It's been two World Cups since the song was written so maybe next time!

Oz: It would be great if it did. So, with the new album, what other subjects are you touching on?

Brujo: You know, the same old drug running things, party life, crossing the border... The usual stuff just kind of updated, especially the crossing the border thing.

Oz: "La Migra" was a video I used to send to everybody, especially since it's got subtitles...

Brujo: Oh yeah. I didn't put the subtitles on there. Somebody put them on after, I guess. We did that video and MTV Chile had a Headbanger's Ball down there and they asked for a video. I said, "Well, what do you want?" and they replied "They don't censor us down here" so we did whatever we wanted and it was like number one video of the month. So we made another one where there's guns and immigration officers get killed but they picked up on that one and censored pretty much everything they had and shut down their Headbanger's Ball! Those were fun to make, we just made them on a weekend. Very low budget but they came out really good I thought.

Oz: I thought so too. The other video from the album, "La Ley de Plomo," seemed like a similar kind of thing but a lot of fun to make.

Brujo: Actually that one I think I just recorded a news programme at the end of the year and it almost went to the music.

Oz: Yeah, it's like I don't know if "Dark Side Of The Moon" syncs up with The Wizard Of Oz but Brujeria definitely syncs up with cartel footage. Although there's dark themes like cartels and death, when you're on the road, especially in Europe and Japan etc., do you see it as an opportunity to spread Mexican culture and legends and things like that?

Brujo: Yeah, exactly. It's like a news update of what's going on, which has been going on since the band was born and now it's thirty years later and we're still updating people. Before there was no internet and somebody had to speak up and say, "Hey, this is pretty crazy down here" but now with the internet people are used to seeing things like that so it's not as hard hitting as it was before.

Oz: And speaking of touring, one thing I've always wanted to know is when you're traveling, do you ever have problems with border guards for carrying the props like machetes?

Brujo: Yeah, sometimes we do. We get through OK. There's times when they're kind of looking at them and wondering what's going on, what it's for and we tell them it's art work. It's not like a tool or something we bought. There's been some problems but it's always gotten through.

Oz: We touched on it earlier but a long time target of the band is Pete Wilson (former governor of California.) I know you had a personal experience with him...

Brujo: Mmmhmm. I ran into him at a Grammy party in Hollywood when one of our members got nominated for a Grammy. So we went to the party and we had no idea it was a tuxedo type thing or whatever so we went and bumped into the governor. So I made room for him to pass by because it was crowded and I pushed my friends and said, "Let this guy through" and he looked at me, the only Mexican at the whole party and he turns round and covers his wife, protecting her and then come the Secret Service guys to grab me and throw me out the way. I go, "What's going on?" I didn't know what that meant, I figured he didn't like the way I looked or something and then two or three months later he came out with these laws that were total anti immigration, anti Mexican. They could just take you away, take your children away...

Eventually those laws were overturned by the Supreme Court but when he came out with those I knew where the hate was because I'd met him face to face and I could see the type of dislike and hate that he has, that I'd been used to all my life. So when those laws came out I knew that he's a really bad guy and people have to know how bad he is and that song came out quick too because he was going to run for president so we had to come out with the "Pito Wilson" song.

Oz: Yeah and that's such a great opening to the album as well...

Brujo: Yeah, good old Jello. I told him, "We need your help with this" and he goes, "Nah you're on a major label now, you don't need my help" and I told him, "Well, we need you to be Pete Wilson so we can kill you in the intro" and he dropped the phone and started laughing, I could hear him laughing and eventually he goes, "I'll do it but you gotta KILL me!" So the next day I got a cassette with his recording Fed Exed so that was good to get Jello all lit up like that. Every time he's like that, it's good and Trump has him all lit up like that too, he went to the show last time we played San Francisco and he was up on stage holding the head.

Oz: Yeah, I knew he'd been on stage with Napalm Death playing, "Nazi Trumps Fuck Off"...

Brujo: Yeah he's having a good time. Brujeria's like his favourite band I think and Dead Kennedys is my favourite by far so that's a great thing I think.

Oz: And there's the great meeting point at the end of "Pocho Aztlan" with the cover, "California Uber Aztlan." But having that personal experience with Pete Wilson, is that why he's always been a long time target?

Brujo: It just hurt because I respected the guy but then for him to cover his wife like I'm going to do something bad, it hurt to see that and then later on when he's putting laws in. It's like it hurt and then he's putting in insult to my family. It was like, "Why is he doing this?" and the laws passed because obviously some Mexicans can't vote when they're illegal and it had to be done. I'm just angry about this stuff, it's not fair but actually, once those laws passed, every Latino, Hispanic that could vote registered and started voting and now they're like a big force in the United States, so some good came out of it and I helped a little bit.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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