Interview: Brujeria’s Juan Brujo discusses “Pocho Aztlan,” the band’s first album in years

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Brujeria, the extreme grind and thrash collective that has featured members from bands like Faith No More, Fear Factory and Napalm Death, hasn’t put out much new music in the past 15 years. But the band hasn’t been idle.

The band reformed in 2007 — but with other commitments, getting everyone in the same room, or studio, takes work. Whenever the band members have time in their schedules, they have been recording songs for their upcoming attack “Pocho Aztlan.”

Earlier this year, the band also belted out the Record Store Day single “Viva Presidente Trump!” a violent yet hilarious take on the the candidate who made vilifying people from Mexico and Central America such a large part of his campaign. The single sold out so fast that not even the band members got a copy.

Juan Brujo, the band’s lead vocalist, said much of “Pocho Aztlan” — which translates as “wasted promised land” — was in the can before Trump’s controversial political rhetoric swept over America.

“The album was done before the Trump stuff. It was just waiting to come out,” Brujo said during a quick phone interview to promote the new album. “That’s why we did the single — we want (Trump) to win so we can go to war with him as president.”

Although Trump’s influence won’t be felt on “Pocho Aztlan,” a Trump victory in November will stir the fire in the band, Brujo said.

“Then, you’ll see a record come really quick, and be very politically minded,” Brujo said.

“Pocho Aztlan” could have different meanings for different people. But for Brujo — who was born in the United States but is of Mexican heritage — “Pocho Aztlan” is personal, and is more about being a stranger in a strange land, no matter which side of the border he is on.

“I’m a Mexican born in the U.S., and all my life I’ve heard, ‘go back to Mexico, you don’t belong here,'” Brujo said. Meanwhile, “pocho” is a slur used by Mexican citizens to describe U.S.-born Mexican-Americans.

“When I go to Mexico, the Mexicans call me trash. They don’t want me there either,” Brujo said. “I’ve never felt at home anywhere.”

Although the band has been known to take a lighter turn, with songs like “Don Quijote Marihuana” and “Marijuana” (an insane yet strangely faithful twisting of “Macarena” into an ode to weed), there won’t be any humorous moments on “Pocho Aztlan,” Brujo said. Songs like that are only made “when there are a couple of cases of beer laying around,” he said.

With everyone busy with other bands, the songwriting process was most done in the studio. “It’s really hard to get everyone together, so we’d write and record songs the same day,” Brujo said.

With a blistering attack like “Viva Presidente Trump!” it should be clear Brujo and Brujeria aren’t afraid to take on controversial subjects or offend.

“We tell the stories of what it’s like on the border where we live, and try to get people’s attention. because it’s real and it’s out there,” he said.

Brujeria will be criss-crossing the U.S. beginning on Sept. 18 and through October, before heading for a string of dates in Europe. As for the band’s future after that, well, that depends what happens this fall, Brujo said.

“We want to do some shows and have fun,” Brujo said. Regarding a new album after “Pocho Aztlan,” recording “will just be the same thing, unless we get a new president called Donald Trump,” Brujo said. “I don’t think that will be a good thing — and people will have to know what’s going on from our end.”

“Pocho Aztlan” will be released Sept. 16. You can find Brujeria’s tour dates here.

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