Esteban Rene admits this Saturday’s venue of choice isn’t the usual place for a live rock show. La Bodega is located in a converted church in Barrio Logan.
“They don’t have a real setup for bands to play,” says Rene, singer/guitarist/songwriter for the Slashes. “You just kind of set up and play in the middle of the room.”
But Rene says La Bodega art gallery has a better vibe than the regular spots.
Official video from the Slashes self-titled record
“We really wanted to break away from the bar scene,” Rene tells me. “Our band is better suited for people who actually want to see live music, instead of people just standing around posing. La Bodega doesn’t usually have live bands. They took a chance on us in August and we slayed it. So they invited us back for their second anniversary.”
Rene says his sound, driven by gloomy, emotive lyrics and the icy atmospherics of Interpol, hasn’t helped the Slashes make a local connection.
“It’s been difficult,” admits Rene. He says except for love from the Casbah and 91X’s local music DJ Tim Pyles, “San Diego seems to be going through an Americana thing. It’s definitely been a challenge to get gigs.”
But there have been bright spots. Like the show they played with Prayers at jazz spot 98 Bottles in Little Italy (“It was the first rock show they ever had there”), and various shows in Tijuana and Calexico. He says there is some truth to the stereotype that Latino pop-music fans respond to dramatic, emotive music better than their Yankee counterparts.
“Modern music currently doesn’t seem to hit a lot of highs or lows emotionally.”
Slashes bassist Beto Bautista grew up in Tijuana listening to banda, mariachi, and rock. Rene attended boarding school in Ensenada. “My parents wanted me to learn proper Spanish.”
Rene met Bautista while working for Hornblower Cruises.
“I started as a bartender, then became a deckhand, then first officer, then I got my captain’s license.” Rene commandeers party cruises and private charters. “My crew takes care of the guests. I don’t have much interaction. There is literally no traffic in the water at night. I get to spend those three or four hours writing new music. That’s a lot of time to be creative.”
Rene says new drummer Marco Piro (formerly of Octagrape and Wild Wild Wets) is “the animal in the band. He wants to bite heads off of bats. I just try and keep it all together.”