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Strings of Fury 

Metalachi’s violinist Maximilian “Dirty” Sanchez talks fusion and the future of Chicano music

It takes little more than the word "Metalachi" to convince you to go see this band live. In fact, as someone who is far from a mariachi expert and very choosy when it comes to metal, even I uttered an "oh hell yes" in my head when I saw that the band was coming.

Originally from Juarez, Mexico, the six-piece band basically started out by just playing what they knew, according to violinist Maximilian "Dirty" Sanchez.

"We grew up playing in different mariachi bands, but we were always fans of rock and metal music," he says.

Sanchez has been playing the violin "since [he] was a baby and stuff," originally trained in both classical and mariachi style. He sees metal as obviously more aggressive and louder than traditional classical or mariachi music, but he also feels more passion.

In Metalachi, Sanchez can meld his musical passions and influences, playing and paying homage to Metallica and Mariachi Vargas all at once. He admits that blending the two completely different genres does take care.

"Mariachi is very rhythmic and orchestrated like metal music," Sanchez says. "But the hardest part is keeping a balance between both sides—representing the mariachi roots and maintaining the authenticity, energy and vibe of a metal band."

For instance, as the violinist of the group—an instrument not typically found in metal music—Sanchez says he takes the role of lead guitarist, which means all of those high-pitched, squealing, mind-melting, screeching-fast solos are his turf.

Although his band is billed as "the world's first and only heavy metal mariachi band," others, like an awesome all-Latino band with a horns section called Brown Sabbath (members of Brownout) that covers Black Sabbath, are melding traditional Mexican orchestration with modern metal music. Sanchez says he sees this as where Latino and Chicano music is headed.

"As Mexican Americans and Latinos, that's what we are: we're a mix of culture and influences," Sanchez says. "We have to create our own music and our own genres and our own style in order to cater to our crowd."

That crowd, he says, really took to what they were doing, and he guesses it's because it's something they haven't seen before as well as something they relate to culturally. That's why Sanchez is excited to join his band on the short tour of the West and Southwest. As part of the tour, Metalachi will be making their fourth stop in Tucson on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

"I love Tucson, man—I like the vibe there," Sanchez says. "I think the crowd there is sophisticated and knows about metal and about mariachi."

You can catch Sanchez and all of Metalachi live beginning at 7 p.m. at Club Congress. Tickets for the 21 and over show are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. For tickets and more information on this event, visit www.hotelcongress.com.

More by Heather Hoch

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