Division Minuscula is a music act of Mexico.
One of Mexican rock’s most prominent bands, Division Minuscula, returns to the SXSW Festival, where they will perform three shows, and promote their fourth album, Division.
Division Minuscula is widely considered one of the most emblematic and influential bands in Mexico, and make their return to the U.S. after their long hiatus.
This week, Division Minuscula has performances scheduled for March 11 at The Mohawk, March 12 at The North Door, and on March 14 at Buffalo Billiards.
The band is comprised of Javier Blake (vocals), Alejandro “Kiko” Blake (drums), Ricardo Perez (guitar), Efren Munoz (guitar) and Alejandro Luque (bass). They first started off as punk rock, but steered towards alternative rock during their career and continue to pursue that genre. Their albums are the definitive representations of this genre in Mexico.
In an exclusive with Living Out Loud, Blake talks to us about the band’s evolution and career, among other things.
Living Out Loud: How does the band first form?
Alejandro Blake: We are originally from Tamaulipas, and currently live in Monterrey and Mexico City. We got together in the mid 90s, and currently we’re on our fourth album with Universal Records in Mexico. We started off rather reclusive, very local and intimate, mostly performing for friends. Once we moved to Monterrey for school, that’s when things started going well. We released our first album in 2001 titled Extrañando Casa, under the Sones de Mexside label, and distributed by Universal. In 2005, we released Defecto Perfecto and with it, we went gold and won an MTV award. In 2008, we released Sirenas, though which we definitively made our turn to alternative rock. Everything has been looking up since then.
LOL: Why the name Division Minuscula?
AB: That name has been around for a long time. It came up as a way to describe what we were going through at that time – so it represented us as a small group, a “miniscule division.” For us, it was like our own small world made up of the band and our cousins.
LOL: What brought about the change from punk rock to alternative, was it to gain more commercial success?
AB: We’ve gone from a melodic punk-rock sound to being a solid Spanish Rock band. Our album has all sorts of songs, even though what we really like is a more dynamic and energetic rock, not so much metal, but we like our music to be strong. We love playing live, so we like dynamic music with catchy choruses for people to sing to.
LOL: It’s been said that after your change in style, the band lost many followers. Was this evolution necessary?
AB: Here’s the thing. As a teen, getting into music, we grew up with metal and punk. But just like you grow as a person, you grow as a musician. I don’t think it’s common to keep things the same, and I would find it strange to be doing punk rock at 35 years old, when I don’t think the same way I did when I was 17 or 18. It was something natural. We didn’t make the decision to go anywhere, it was just a natural part of life.
LOL: Would you say doing something you love has brought you a greater satisfaction than if you did it for fame or money?
AB: We had the good fortune that when we first got together, we never saw it as a job. When we began performing, people liked our band, and we didn’t care if they paid to see us or not. Then you begin to realize that the organizers were the ones taking home all the money, and then you begin to question the shows. It’s not about me wanting to make money or not, but that a part of that money earned through our shows should go to us. There comes a time when you have to start charging. We played for free for years, but we were also packing venues, so it began to put things in perspective. While you do it for love, the organizers/promoters do it for the business, and we didn’t want to continue being taken advantage of.
LOL: Have you had to change your work because of your involvement with a big label?
AB: We’ve never had to go through that, and they’ve never challenged our work. Something one does learn from all this is that, the support and promotion of your work is through contract. They pay you to make the album, but you have to state from the get-go who you are, what your ideas are and what you want to do. Then they take your album, and if they like it, they do everything they can to promote it, etc. But if they don’t like it, and you refuse to make the changes they want, they don’t put much effort into promoting your work. We don’t do that, so we do most of our management ourselves. Maybe that’s kept us from having the success of a pop group, but we won’t compromise who we are just for that.
LOL: Have you ever experienced a challenge that has pushed you to the brink of quitting?
AB: There have been critical moments. Sometimes things happen out of nowhere, or a member needs time off or leaves, or we as a band go a long time without working. But at the end of the day, it’s all been worth it, which is why we always come back. We always do what we want to do and surround ourselves with people we like. The moment that changes, we’ll call it quits, with dignity, before we continue doing something we don’t love. We still have lots to say, and our work is honest. We never try to convince people of anything, and we still have lots to offer.
LOL: Where did you record your last album?
AB: We recorded Evolucion in Baltimore with Brian McTerna, who’s produced several punk and hardcore albums. It took us about a month and a half. All of us were heavily involved, and out of the 18 songs we did we chose the best 12. We were working round the clock, all of us locked in a room. We were very happy with it and I think our fans were, too.
LOL: What are your songs about?
AB: There is no constant theme. There’s nothing too metaphoric or poetic about our songs. It’s more direct. We talk about human relations, whether romantic or personal. What I can say for certain is that we’re not a politically-driven band, nor are we a protest band. We believe more in giving advice, and that people should be informed about what’s going on around them. But overall, we believe people should make assertions for themselves.
LOL: When will you be performing in Los Angeles and in other cities in the U.S.?
AB: We’re not sure yet about when we’ll be touring – traveling and immigration laws for music groups have changed a lot. We know a lot of people in the industry who’ve had their visas revoked with no renewals, so we have to be very cautious about things. We’re in talks with a promoter in LA, and that’s the first place we want to perform at. We don’t want to announce anything formally yet because we don’t want to make it seem like we want to play a show without visas.
Evolucion is now available on the iTunes Store.
Edison Millan contributed to this story.