HOUSTON, TX. - This Thursday, September 21st Houston will be blessed with the sounds of internationally famous afro-beat kings, Antibalas. Their name in Spanish means "bulletproof" or "anti-bullets". Longtime friend of Urban Circus and founder of Antibalas, Martín Perna, said the other night in an interview on Houston's 90.1 KPFT that, "Our music is a workout for us and our fans alike. We write long compositions much like a piece of jazz music so many of our compositions are ten to twenty minutes long and keep you dancing." This meticulous approach to crafting their sound has earned Antibalas wide critical acclaim and solidified them as musicians who's skills are in the upper echelon in the music industry.
Martín answered a few questions from us to give ya'll better insight into all that is, Antibalas. Here's what he had to say...
UC: What was the main inspiration for the formation of Antibalas?
MP: I wanted to put together a bunch of musicians that was a much a cooperative community as a band, making heavy dance music with a positive, constructive, informed and critical social message.
UC: For people who haven't experienced ya'll live, can you shed some light on the format of your live show?
MP: It is a mob of musicians onstage--twelve to be exact: a dynamic lead singer who also plays vibraphone, three percussionists, a four piece horn section, guitars, keys, and lots of bass. When you come to the show, you are expected to be not only a spectator but a participant. The more energy we get from the crowd, the more we are able to build that energy in the intensity of the show.
UC: To this date, which countries has Antibalas played in?
MP: We started playing our first shows in 1998. Our first overseas trip was to the the UK in 1999. We since played multiple times across Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Ecuador, Brazil, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Italy and a bunch other countries. I added it up once and it came to 36! We have been invited a few times to Nigeria but there have always been some last minute bumps in the road for us, but that would be an amazing pilgrimage back to the source of a lot of our music.
UC: Outside of touring, how often do the members collaborate on other projects or fraternize?
MP: We make a ton of music together outside Antibalas, both out of financial necessity and because we like each other as musicians and people. Everyone in the band has one, if not two other projects going at any given time and you can generally find clusters of Antibalas members participating. Former members and current members also moonlight sometimes with much larger mainstream acts like Arcade Fire, The Roots, the Arks, TV on the Radio, Mark Ronson, Angelique Kidjo, and even Lady Antebellum. A lot of well-known bands dig what we do as a band and the musicianship of our players.
UC: What do ya'll enjoy the most about Texas crowds?
MP: The heat! We play tropical music and in Texas we get to serve it at the proper temperature and people respond accordingly. We have a lot of friends and family here and the shows are especially deep and intimate.