Sight Beyond the Surface: An Interview with Chicano Batman

By 15 May, 2024

Much like thumbing through the pages of a journal filled with dreams and aspirations, Chicano Batman’s fifth album offers a journey into realms of imagination and introspection. From the vibrant streets of Los Angeles and driven by a relentless pursuit of creative freedom and exploration, the California-based trio has carved a path uniquely their own – earning along the way massive live success with sold-out dates alongside the Portland-based Alaskan group, Portugal. The Man, at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in 2023, plus a forthcoming show at the iconic KIA Forum this summer. Produced by the acclaimed John Congleton and recorded partly at the historic Sunset Sound, Notebook Fantasy sees the band embracing a bold sonic palette while delving deeper into themes of love, loss, and self-discovery. With each track a testament to their unwavering vision and boundless musicality, the band invites listeners to lose themselves in a world where every note is a colorful brushstroke of sonic bliss.

We recently caught up with guitarist Carlos Arévalo about the band’s latest release. Here are a few of the main insights from our conversation:

You guys have been playing together for a while and I can tell you’ve consolidated yourselves as a real referent of Latin Music in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Thanks, and sure! I joined the band back in 2011, but Chicano Batman’s history dates from a few years before that. It has for sure been an amazing ride thus far, and looking forward to what this new record brings about.

For sure! How would you say your sound has evolved from back then and until the release of this new record?

We’ve always included a very wide array of influences in our records, and all of them have their unique style. We usually let go of any stereotypes when working together, and there’s no set influences or references for our albums. At the time of making the record, each member of the band could be listening to something completely different, from disco to Latin Music to all different kinds of genres. I think this eclectic blend of influences contributes greatly to the distinct sound of Chicano Batman.

Of course sometimes these influences intertwine, but when we hit the studio there’s really no set agreement as to what exactly will shape the next album. At any given time Bardo can be exploring something totally different from what Eduardo or myself are looking into.

I can see that. Particularly from the first couple of singles you released, there’s a very distinct identity to each one of them.

Yes, absolutely. For instance on this new record there’s songs like “Era Primavera” which is much more of a nostalgia ballad influenced by our Latin-American background, while on the other hand there’s other more experimental kind of songs.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I think the first two you put out were this really cool psychedelic one, and there’s also that song “Fly” which is definitely a highlight from this album.

That’s right, “Live Today” is definitely a psych-rock experimental track based on this punchy chord progession that I brought together and wanted to develop in a grander setting. On the other hand “Fly” is more of a funkier kind of deal. So again you can obviously pinpoint certain movements or sounds that have played a role in our develoment as a band, but as I mentioned we try to portray a different identity on each one of our songs. Our music is directed to a very diverse audience, and in that sense we don’t stick to any specific style or music genre.

In terms of the band’s live performances, what’s coming up in 2024?

Well basically it’s all going to be about promoting this new record. We have an extensive U.S. tour coming up, and later this year we’ll be hitting Europe as well. We’re looking forward to our shows in the U.K., as this is an audience that is yet to be explored.

For sure! What about other countries? I’m sure you have a big audience in places like Latin America and elsewhere.

Absolutely. This is always a possibility and we look forward to touring the other markets if the record has a good performance.

Well given its quality I’m sure it will perform very well, and really hoping you guys knock it out of the park this year.

Thanks a lot!

Chicano Batman is currently on tour, and will be performing live at Manchester’s Psych Fest and London’s Lafayette in the month of August. Check out their full tour schedule here.

Listen to the band’s latest record Notebook Fantasy, out on ATO Records:

Follow Sounds and Colours: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Mixcloud / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

Subscribe to the Sounds and Colours Newsletter for regular updates, news and competitions bringing the best of Latin American culture direct to your Inbox.