They are difficult to classify, and their influences are many. They could be considered a rock band, yet there’s no guitar. They hold little interest in any of the hype and ideologies that make up a “rock” musician, even though there was some rock leanings in their humble beginning, and continued rock leanings now in their up-beat, energetic, loud, and sweaty performances. There’s a DIY ethic in the band, and the unpredictable sound makes them comparable to the few horn-driven bands the punk label SST were pushing in the mid ’90s.
Their influences and inspiration come from the prog-rock of King Crimson and the engaging and complicated sounds of Frank Zappa; you can also throw in Snarky Puppy, Charles Mingus, James Brown, Medeski, Martin and Wood, The Roots, Mars Volta, Cypress Hill, and so many more. Yet the sound of Mexico’s Troker is all their own, a horn-driven, bass-heavy, guitar-less mix of jazz and funk. You can also add in the descriptor of avante-garde as a catch all for anything you can’t put a label on.
Troker will perform on March 30 at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.
Their story begins 20 years ago, when members were studying classical music at the Conservatory de Las Rosas School in Michoacan, Mexico. Bass player Samo Gonzalez and drummer Frankie Mares formed the band Evamalva, a rock outfit with jazz leanings. A move to the city of Guadalajara in 2003 spurred the further exploration of jazz, which came along with nightly shows at various clubs for the next three years. They’ve since toured internationally.
Members were also reared on traditional music from all over Mexico, which maintains a slight presence in their sound.
“The traditional music of Mexico has influence us naturally because it is what we grew up listening to. We are six musicians, all from different regions and with a different musical education,” said Gonzalez. “So in reality, when we share our folkloric tastes, we also come across a spectacular variety of sounds. We are very fortunate to have such a prolific musical heritage; our musical history is incredible.”
Their tastes outside of traditional music of their youth is also incredible. It’s all influenced a sound that’s unpredictably dynamic, at times a dose of straight jazz that comes within bursts from a film noir soundtrack or atmospheric blasts of experimental noise. All of that also comes with the common message of using music to knock down the foolish walls of ignorance, which is an underlying message in their forthcoming record, called “Incognito” and to be released in September.
“(It’s an) allusion to the only exit we see in these times of despair and insecurity. Incognito human, regardless of the color of their skin, their facial features or race, are the only hope of freedom,” said Gonzalez. “We are against hate and double standards. We believe that we must focus on what unites us and that is our simple humanity. It’s time to praise the congruence, honesty and respect, so we are very happy to be able to share our music with the American public and prove that music has a unique ability to bridge cultural differences and bring people together.”