Maldita Vecindad - Biography
By J Poet
La Maldita Vecindad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio (The Damned Neighborhood and the sons of the fifth Patio) is a rock in Español band formed in Mexico City in 1985. They are fiercely independent and incorporate ska, reggae, African music, rock, and various Mexican folkloric styles like son jarocho and danzón into their music. They have been on an extended recording hiatus since they made the album Mostros (1998 RCA International), but continue to lend their talents to other bands and artistic projects in the Mexico City underground artistic scene.
The musicians in Maldita Vecindad, who all use aliases, came of age during the tragic Mexico City earthquake of 1985. The young volunteers who helped rebuild the city were rich and poor, punks and privileged and identified with the damnificados - those who were homeless after the quake. The band’s five original members, Roco, Tiki, Aldo, Pacho, and Sax, were journalists, artists, and university students. They started playing in the ruins of the city and became a hit on the underground club scene. Their debut Maldita Vecindad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio (1989 RCA International) made them leaders of the rock in Español movement with tunes like “Apañón,” which dealt with police harassment, “Mojado,” about workers who sneak into the US, and “Morenaza” a celebration of working class women. It went gold. El Circo (1991 RCA International) went gold on the day of its release and became the biggest selling album in Mexican rock history behind hits like “Pachuco,” another celebration of street culture, the Mariachi influenced “Kumbala,” “Un Poco de Sangre” a funky metal tune about the plight of the city’s poor and a punky remake of Juan Gabriel’s “Querida.” They toured Europe to support the album and celebrated with a live EP produced by Tom Werman (Mötley Crüe) En Vivo: Gira Pata de Perro (1994 RCA International)
The band started working on their next album, Baile de Máscaras (1996 RCA International) with Bill Laswell, but the recording sessions became acrimonious over musical direction. Laswell was fired and David Z (Prince, Collective Soul) stepped in, but RCA was unhappy with the result and offered little support. The album was well received by fans and the band went back to its ambitious touring schedule, opening shows for Dylan, Sonic Youth, Faith No More and Leonard Cohen in Germany, Ireland, Holland, Spain, France, Denmark, and Norway. They even started touring and selling albums in the US. Mostros (1998 RCA International) was produced in a creative frenzy and dropped rai, klezmer, funk, metal, rap, mariachi, and salsa into the mix, but RCA was unhappy with the result. Mexico’s economic downturn made things difficult for the band and Mexico’s rock scene in general. The band continued touring, but decided to stay out of the studio until conditions for them were more favorable. RCA put out a best of called Maldita Sea, Vol. 1: 1989-1999 (RCA International) in 2000.