Anytime the Bulbs rehearse or play a show, border crossings are involved.
Two of the Bulbs live in the U.S. The other two live in Tijuana.
“I guess you could say we are a bi-national band,” says Bulbs guitarist/singer Ray Garcia.
Like Lahbia and Le Ra, two other bands with members who live on both sides of the border, the Bulbs exploit the fact that they can easily tap into two different fan bases.
...by the Bulbs (official video)
But will these bands’ international mobility be altered if Trump becomes president?
“Everybody sees him as a joke,” says Garcia. “When Trump got nominated people were alarmed. But as time goes by and we see him at debates, people pretty much figured him out. Everyone thinks he and his wall are a joke. Trump piñatas are a huge hit at parties.”
The three-year-old Bulbs are now playing local shows in support of their first album, Odyssey Love. Distributed free via their website, the album showcases their hybrid sound of dark blues and ’60s garage rock.
Garcia says Tijuana’s rock scene is much better now that the Moustache Bar, MOFO, and Mods are thriving.
“From 2005 to 2011 there were no venues in Tijuana,” says Garcia. “There were a lot of problems. The city went quiet.”
Garcia says it took a while for the Mexican rock scene to rebound from the ’90s when rock en Espanol ruled (“Everyone thought they had to sound like the Cure”) and when a handful of record companies controlled what music was out there.
He says up-and-coming independent bands like garage-rockers Yokozuna and indie-rockers Rey Pila and Porter have retooled the music scene in Mexico. New festivals like Tijuana’s Saynorth last August showcase the new Mexican rock.
“In L.A. there is La Banda Elastica that has created this mega scene for alternative Mexican rock,” says Garcia. “It started as a magazine, then became [an internet] radio station. They really helped us. From them we were approached by this company called Verbigracia that sets up tours and media interviews in Mexico. They set up a tour for us in November that we had to postpone because we got a new bassist, but they got us, like, 80 interviews.
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“One question that we were often asked is why we sing mostly in English on our album,” adds Garcia. “To us, being a border-town band, it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. People in Mexico City are open minded. They don’t care what language it is. That’s what I like about the new scene. It’s open to new stuff.”
The Bulbs appear October 20 at Blonde Bar.