The Very Latinx History of Punk

  ♪♪ – That’s the hardcore punk band
Los Crudos with the song “Asesinos.” A song
in Spanish about the young who were disappeared by military dictatorships
across Latin America. And they’re just one part of a long
history of bands, musicians and artists, from Latinx communities from all
across North and South America. And they helped make punk
what we recognize it as today.   There’s this unfair mainstream tendency to look at punk as this subculture and as a musical genre – as a white boy thing. ♪ Once again, don’t push me around,
once again, don’t push me around ♪ But the history of punk
is the history of punks – and punks were more
than angsty white boys. This is a brief history of Latinx punks:
their sound, their communities and their insatiable thirst
for pushing boundaries. Oh, and there’s a punk nun too. ♪♪ There were a lot of Latinx
proto-punk pioneers – think the Colombian-born drummer
of the New York Dolls, Billy Murcia, or Mexican American bands
Cannibal and the Headhunters, and, of course,
Question Mark and the Mysterians. Their 1966 song “96 Tears” hit No. 1
on the Billboard 100 that year. ♪ Way down here ♪ ♪ And you’ll start crying ♪ ♪ 96 tears ♪ They came from Michigan,
but their families were part of a migrant
stream from Texas. Families came from Texas to
work in the steel industry. Often Mexican Americans
were recruited from the Texas regions to work
in these industries. Think back to the moment in the ’60s,
when we think about music, you really had Black
bands and white bands. Mexican Americans weren’t really in
the consciousness of American pop music. So “?” as a name for the lead singer,
Rudy Martinez, really allowed the band to be played in different radio formats: R&B, and also pop stations. But Latinx musicians didn’t just
stay in the proto-punk years. When punk did eventually
crystalize as its own unique subculture,
they were at the forefront. And LA was home. ♪♪ ♪ A nice pot roast
just dropped in ♪ – That’s Alice Bag,
former frontwoman of The Bags, who was featured in the
1981 documentary She was part of the LA punk scene, which started coming together in the
late ’70s, and it was really heavily influenced by these Latinx kids
who just felt stuck and out of place. Whatever it was that made them feel like they didn’t belong in
their own neighborhood was what we prized in Hollywood. We wanted uniqueness. We wanted the fresh voices. We wanted the weirdos. In fact, the weirder you were,
the better. – That scene, initially based out of
West Hollywood, had venues like
the Masque and the Starwood, which became the regular hangouts. You’d see people from all backgrounds,
all different neighborhoods of LA, had traveled
to the epicenter of Hollywood punk,
to be a part of it. And within just a few years,
the LA scene exploded. One, two, three, four. ♪♪ – The film
“The Decline of Western Civilization” actually caught a lot of the scene. It features a lot of Latinx bands and
musicians like the Zeros and hardcore punk pioneers Black Flag,
whose original frontman, Ron Reyes, was Puerto Rican. It also features The Bags, and Alice,
who had a reputation for her ferocity on stage, which earned
her the nickname “Violence Girl.” She’s considered among the
foundational influences on hardcore. I wasn’t even aware that I was representing being a Chicana. My Chicanidad came through
in my body, what I look like, my language. So, I felt like punk is
like that, you know. Punk – you’re, if you’re not
connecting with your audience and you’re performing punk rock,
then you’re not – you’re missing the boat. ♪ It’s more mass gluttony ♪ – Now, while the Hollywood
scene was thriving, another scene began to emerge –
this time in East LA. – One of the reasons that young people
in California, especially in Latinx communities become such a big
part of punk is because there’s not a lot of resources
in terms of art education that are part of the west side of the
city or in other parts of Los Angeles. So, these are creative young people
who want to express themselves so they do it in the ways that they can. Those young people would find an
unexpected refuge in a church. ♪♪ This is Willie Heron, a Chicano muralist
and lead singer for the band Los Illegals and that’s bassist Jesus Helo. In 1980, Heron met a nun who
would change the face of punk forever. Well, I started off
with Sister Karen in 1974, and started getting involved
with her doing exhibitions. So at one point I approached her
and just said, you know, a lot of the bands, the
local bands around here, there’s not really that many
venues for the bands to play. And that’s where
the punk nun comes in. Sister Karen was Sister Karen Boccalero
of the Order of Sisters of St. Francis. She was already known in the community,
having helped found a non-profit community art space in Boyle Heights
in East LA in 1971. The space was known as
Self Help Graphics and it really provided a place for Chicano
artists in particular to create and share their art. And it’s still around today. Sister Karen offered those punks
the basement of an old LA archdiocese facility
on Cesar Chavez Avenue, a basement which came to
be known as “Club Vex.” The Vex was a place for artists,
creative people to come together and basically show what it is
that they were currently working on. So many creative people got to
meet other creative people that they otherwise wouldn’t have met. – Los Illegals scorched East LA with
songs that blended punk with the sounds of traditional Mexican folk music
and spoke to the struggles faced by Latinx immigrants living in LA. This one’s about Willie Heron’s
stepfather, an undocumented immigrant who worked as a dishwasher
before being deported.       – Bands like the Zeros and the Plugz
also started playing at the Vex. The Plugz, by the way, later
appeared with Bob Dylan on the David Letterman show. ♪ [Classic Bob Dylan mumbling] ♪ A lot of other bands got their
first breaks in East LA, at the Vex. Take The Brat, for example – a Chicano
punk trio led by Boyle Heights native and local icon Teresa Covarrubias. The Vex kickstarted a
whole new renaissance that just spread, like we were just talking about
poets, artists, other musicians. The Vex’s shows become the stuff of
punk legend and soon, they attracted audiences from well outside East LA. Now, while this is happening in LA,
there’s a big punk scene emerging in South America: in Peru,
in Argentina and in Colombia. That’s Los Saicos – a short-lived
Peruvian proto-punk band whose song “Demolición” topped
the Peruvian national charts in 1965. Almost 20 years later, a group of
kids calling themselves “los subtes” started making music that would
come to impact American hardcore. Up until this point, the availability of
foreign music in Peru was actually pretty limited by how
expensive vinyls were. In the U.S. and Western Europe,
vinyls could kind of be bought by anyone. In places like Peru,
vinyls were for the elites. The cassette tape changed all of that. [cassette tape sounds] It was a bootlegger’s dream,
it changed the way music is experienced, distributed and even created. In the global south, music goes
from being a luxury to a democratized right
through the cassette tape. And in Lima, the sound of punk
rock is disseminated through tapes sold in neighbourhood street markets. And it really resonates with the kids
who found themselves caught between the violence that was tearing
Peru apart at the time. In the beginning, los subtes, short for
“rock subterraneo” or underground rock, lacked spaces like the Starwood
or the Masque or even CBGB to gather and play live music. And these kids, these los subtes,
started making their own music and putting them on home-brewed
mixtapes, known as maquetas. From these tapes emerges
Primera Dosis, or First Dose, the first and, ironically,
only album produced by legendary
subte trio Narcosis. ♪ ♪   That’s “Destruir,” which is probably
the album’s best known track and if it sounds fuzzy, that’s because
it was recorded in a garage, on a four-track recorder, connected
to a microphone and a Walkman. Narcosis used this setup to
create these incredibly creative, layered, politically subversive tracks. ♪ [gunshots, drums and guitar] ♪ Like Los Saicos, Narcosis’ run would
prove to be extremely short-lived: the band broke up just months after the
album’s limited release of 200 cassettes. But the tapes become an underground hit
and bootlegged copies began spreading across the region,
and then around the world. And they end up influencing the
music of Los Crudos, founded in 1991 by this guy: Martin Sorrondeguy,
an Uruguayan American queer punk who grew up in Pilsen, a Mexican
neighborhood on Chicago’s westside. I used to write letters to
bands and people and send letters with a few bucks hidden
in it and you know, get a tape or you send a tape, get a
tape, send a flyer, get a flyer. I started thinking about punk
in this new way once I started hearing bands
coming out of Latin America. Politically, there was something
about it that felt extremely urgent that I could really connect to. It wasn’t just about the
standard rebellion against mom and dad, it went beyond that. And I started
hearing like Los Violadores from Argentina, Olho Seco from Brazil, uh,
Leusemia from Peru, Narcosis. I was just sponging up as much
as I could from all over the world. It wasn’t just Latin America, but for
some reason that stuff really spoke to me and I really
actively sought it out. Los Crudos’ lyrics, just like Narcosis,
are sung almost exclusively in Spanish.    Lyrically, much of Los Crudos’
music addressed the issues of political significance
for Latinx communities. Our communities are, you know,
until this day we’re being targeted. And the punks from these communities
were like, all right, we’re not settling for this sh*t and we’re going to respond, you know, and Los Crudos was
one of many responses to what was happening in
the U.S., you know, specifically. – As their tours would take them throughout
the United States and Mexico during the ’90s, Los Crudos would clash
with the hardcore movement’s white nationalist elements. At the same time, they also
inspired a new generation of Spanish-speaking punks to
make music on their own terms. What’s great about punk or what
would become known as punk, that it’s not about virtuosity,
it’s about borrowing that guitar or borrowing the drum set,
writing down your lyrics and you don’t have to take vocal lessons.
You just start singing. I think the most important thing
that people need to know is that punk was not invented by white males, nor was it exclusively their domain. Punk was created by women,
people of color and queers. And without all of us,
it would be nothing. So that is punk history. It’s not Latinx punk history,
but just the very Latinx history of punk. Hey guys, thanks for watching. So if you had a punk band, what would you call it? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to like, share this video and come back soon for another episode of Pop Americana. ♪♪

Comments 100

  • Hey everyone! Whew! This is the last episode of Pop Americana’s first season. We’ll be back soon with a lot more episodes. How are you liking it so far? We’re still experimenting with everything, so whatever you wanna tell us – tell us!

    And we know the use of the word “Latinx” can be contentious, but we decided to use it for this video for purposes of not just inclusivity, but also to respect how many people in the video identify themselves.

  • Huevos Estrellados

  • Ron Reyes wasn't the original vocalist of Black Flag. Keith Morris was Black Flag's original frontman. That's pretty common knowledge too. Certainly, Ron Reyes was one of Black Flag's few note worthy vocalists since he was one of the few who actually sang on a record but he wasn't the first

  • It also doesn't make mention of the New York Hardcore scene which is renown for strong hispanic voices or of the historic punk scenes in Santiago, Chile, Montevideo, Uruguay or Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  • Uhm Keith Morris of the circle jerks was Black Flag's original frontman, Reyes was the second singer. Good documentary though

  • Latinx is one of the most idiotic new terms out there.

    It's really stupid like what's the point of this stupid fad of making things gender neutral when they have reason to be.

  • Who you calling White boy? Fat chick

  • There is no Latinx

  • Some great stuff here! Thanks for the quality and for the important content. #CRUDOSOMOS

  • A punk is a punk no matter what race they are. No need to add extra labels.

  • The hell is latinx?

  • No1 is using “Latinx” but journalists

  • Is it me or Latinx and Hispanic people in America are in the gray area when it comes to racism like it’s just Black and white people. it’s irritating. We matter too. And I’m not saying being black is bad or white.

  • Wish dis video came with a playlist

  • Alice !!!!!

  • White boy punk sucks 😂

  • I still go to gigs 🤘

  • Self help sold out like a bunch of lame putos

  • wtf is Latinx

  • We don't even say latinx

  • The Very Latinx History of Punk *in north america

  • bruh, actually half of this video talks about the AMERICAN bands that have 1 or 2 spanish-american members, american people have serious self identity issues where's the brazilian hardcore scene, or at least argentina's fun people or the chilean scene

  • You should make a video on the history of punk in the middle east. Particularly in Iran. Interesting stuff right there.

  • Can you do the history of goth?

  • im mexican no punk says latinx lol

  • My band was "The Ginyu Force" but we spelled Ginyu wrong (ginu)

  • Don't forget Voodoo Glow Skull!

  • Wish we would make more music like this and less regetton and banda

  • The first punk bands were Latinos and African Americans and I’m glad someone is finally talking about it

  • Interesting and well made. No mention of Sam the Sham though? 🤔

  • Spanish rock is the shit.

  • Hiiiii plz Check our band Void Dancer… I scream mostly in Spanish n we lean more towards metal but some of you may enjoy it 🖤🙏🏽k thx!

  • let's get a playlist

  • You should do one about latinos in thrash metal, there is even more material to take from

  • What about Los Saicos from Peru in 1964?

  • Y'all heard something

  • Title: Latinx history of Punk
    Video: 70% punk bands formed by latinxs in yankiland

    If you were looking for punk bands from latin america, there's just a few listed here. Nothing to be excited about.

  • My first punk show was am all Hispanic punk band called loud minority I miss them

  • Punk was a finely crafted style. Chris Spedding who produced the Sex Pistols was Brian Ferry's guitarist. John Lydon learned at age16 to sing from Nadia Boulanger. Screaming is not punk. All bands that learned music don't want the singer to wreck it by not singing a nice melodic line in key with rhythm. It "screams" laziness and lack of talent and mature adults associate it with prepubescence.

  • There's something seriously lacking if Spain's punk influence in Latin American punk is not even mentioned. I wouldn't expect anything but geo-centrism from US nationals, thou.

  • i always wanted to start a punk band lol but how?! haha i don't sing and im in my mid 20s

  • Being peruvian I had heard all them urban leyends about Narcosis and their tapes. About how it was recorded in a garage and then distributed to be copied around

  • Calling Ron Reyes the original singer of Black Flag is downright wrong.

    Get your facts straight.

  • Don't trust these progressives, Latinos. They spell your ethnicity with an X today. Tomorrow you will have no ethnicity of your own. In one or two generations you could end up like us Italians if you aren't careful. And when you say that Anglo-Saxon history isn't yours, they will point to how you ate a vegan tacos and listened to English punk

  • Everything is alright until you see the term “latinx”.

  • Los Saicos!

  • Ask non-binary people historically colonized by Iberians what they think of "Latinx" also if anyone can refer me to a Muxe opinion on the question.

  • keith morris was black flags original frontman not Ron Reyes

  • stop trying to make Latinx happen.

  • "Latinx"
    Stos liberals de mierda lmao.

  • Isn't Keith Morris Black Flags original vocalist? I believe Ron was their second vocalist.

  • I'm honestly curious about the reason beyond the rejection of "Latinx". I'm not part of the community so I'm genuinely asking. It looks like it's a way to make a gender neutral word out of one that's easily genderized, but maybe I'm missing something…? I'm Italian, and in our language is also very hard to avoid genderizing nouns, verbs, adjectives and pronouns, so I've started using the X myself in order to avoid that, but I see a lot of resistance in this case, so I'd like to know (if my asking is not problematic) what's the reason behind it.

  • Narcosis is amazing! Peruvian sub scene is amazing! Mariateta is pretty good as well

  • Vivienne Westwood is the mother of punk

  • Punk is for anybody. Not white people. Some of the greatest punk bands just happened to be white. Punk is something that comes around when a society is infected with injustice. Like in these Latin countries. But punk is also very VERY black. Bad Brains and Death are all black and legends today.

  • The zeros were Mexican… So

  • Stop trying to make Latinx a thing. Punks don't care about being PC.

  • I really love this, I've never came across this type of information before, and being a Latinx punk, this is really inspiring. Will definitely take inspiration from this and influence my punk band.

  • We don't even like being called latinx. Just stop it. Even calling us latino/latina is wrong.

  • The soundtrack to Repo Man changed my life. Lotta bands repping on that classic. Thanks for all the tips on who to look upp. And for that cool jolt at 04:55 when my uncle Carlos Almaraz is depicted. There’s a new movie about him “Playing With Fire” making the festival rounds if you can find a screening.

  • Loooved this

  • “Punk was created by women, people of colour, and queer people.” and white people. We can recognize that many different people groups have influenced the punk movement, why exclude white people who still had a big hand in the punk movement?

  • Please stop saying latinX, it's a butchering of the Spanish language by English speaking dummies. If you want to be inclusive just say latinos and latinas, or simply latino can represent both genders according to the rules of the RAE, the Royal Academy of Spanish.

  • Please stop it with this "Latinx" nonsense. Only US hipsters use that shit.


  • Alot of incorrect stuff in the US section so I suppose the South American facts are distorted too….Plimsouls , Stains

  • Whaaat no eskorbuto?? Chaless foos

  • so shame white punk bands and fans , just to make your news story, so many options and you chose something that shames one culture of music to promote another. apparently all i got from most of this is punk doc is punk is only cool if the band isn't white , this is journalism now a days- pretty pathetic, (hits the unsubscribe button)

  • Dear AJ+, Please stop making videos about punk rock. Punk is punk and we don't need you to tell us how black, latino or whatever it is. Please stick to arabic stuff. FU.

  • How come no mention of the Love and Rockets comic series from the Hernandez brothers? Totally Punk, totally LA, totally Latinx, totally influential in the scene.

  • There’s no way the term “latinx” was a name that Hispanics came up with

  • Alice Bag? Queeeen!

  • If I had a punk band, I know I wouldn't call it Latinx. I think Middle Finger would be good but it is probably already taken.

  • Great report AJ! Even if I do disagree with the word Latinx.


  • Latin-X?!?! I’ve heard latinx but not LATIN-X. regardless you shouldn’t categorize all Hispanics as latinx 🤷🏽‍♂️

  • Somos latinos y somos ANTI TODO!
    Afuera con tus tonterías “latinx”

  • You missed all the punks in MX, including the legendary tianguis El Chopo in México City. Also, I don't mind the term "latinx".

  • Where robo from the misfits, wheres jorge from the casualties, even rotting out! wheres the new scene that is happening now in East LA and in ORANGE COUNTY. they only cover the minimum of punk in latino/a and chicana/o movement please re do this video. And no one I mean no one in this scene says I only did this because there's to many white people in the scene. That is childish people go into this scene to rebel against society, the culture they are in etc.

  • Por favor deja de usar latinx para referir a las personas de culturas latinas. Somos Latinos pendejo!

  • lmao @latanx

  • There is (and always was) more to this culture and history OF this culture than what could be contained within a White Topic store.

  • Not very punk rock to be a channel owned by a government but whatever

  • No one uses latinx, punks don’t care about being pc

  • Latin America is more rock and roll than America these days. America is mostly hip hop… I love my Latin American following!

  • STOP trying to make "Latinx" happen. Nobody outside of liberal circles who's Latino calls themselves that.

  • What a vague portait

  • I’m sure I’m beating a dead horse, but it’s not “Latinx,” it’s Latino. Spanish, like many other European languages, features gendered suffixes. If I’m saying I’m with my friends, Maria and Felipe, I’d still refer to them as “mis amigos.” Using the term Latinos doesn’t mean you are ignoring women, it’s just the way you refer to Latinos. I don’t travel in any circles that use the term Latinx, because if you speak Spanish to any degree, you know that Latinos is the correct way to say it in Spanish. Also, it’s easier to say “Latinos” than to say “Latinx people” and anyway all of that categorization is vague and confusing. And English uses a lot of loan words from other languages. The word taco for example has no translation in English. And it uses a host of French words for which there are not really any alternatives. bourgeois.
    au contraire.

    So on top of the fact it’s sort of whitewashing, it’s also not really helpful in communicating information, and it isn’t any more or less difficult or foreign to say “Latino” than it is to say “chauffeur.” It would be like replacing that word with something like “drivist.” I don’t even really understand what the point of eliminating the Hispanic origin in a word that is mostly used by and refers to Hispanic people. I’m not upset or anything, I’m not saying this is a bad video for using Latinx in the script, I just think if i was gonna discuss a wide group of cultures’ impact on a certain genre of music, I would probably try to use the correct word instead of making one up, especially if it kind of removes the identity of that group of cultures from the word that refers to them.

    Anyway, I just wanna note that the polish word for “German” translates roughly to “mute” because Germanic tribes did not speak the same language as Slavs of (modern day) Poland. Romans called them something different, it seems everyone had a different name for them. In Spanish, Germany is called Alemania, named for a large Germanic tribe called the aleman. It happened all the time and I’m sure the Germans aren’t any more upset about it than we are but it’s kind of weird and interesting to think about. I think I’m talking about it mostly because we have some say in what we’re called in a place like the United States, where a lot of us live and refer to ourselves as Latinos, whereas ancient Germans had probably no idea that people in Iberia were referring to the entire region as Aleman, or that some Slavs called them Mutes because they couldn’t understand each other, or that the Romans called them by the name they made up for the region that spoke that specific language.

  • I don't mind you saying "latinx", just please stop saying "latino" and "white" as if they're separate things. Punk has a reputation for attracting white boys because it has. Even in Latin America rock fans tend to be whiter than the average population. Not all, of course, and there's also no shortage of black and asian punks, but please stop this identity politics crap.

  • AJ+ is propaganda created by Al Jazeera, which is a Middle Eastern news company focused on trying to break apart the United States culture and Western culture at large. The philosophy is if they can't bomb us, they want to brainwash us.

  • Please quit using Latinx …. Latinos hate that word…. It's nothing more then privileged liberals trying to change a culture to make their own shallow existence seem redeemable…

  • Being woke is not Punk

  • Tbh the most I've seen in comment sections of rock bands especially foreign ones of those with a Latin background, the comments are always in Spanish or the lyric videos for the songs are always in Spanish.

  • …. ratos de porao, dos minutos, eterna inocencia, cadena perpetua, los mox, motosierra, dfc. And a lot of more bands from south america

  • Anyone interested in more current bands should check out Stephanie Mendez's 2017 article of Top 10 Latin Punk Bands in LA, featuring my favorite current punk band Generacion Suicida…

  • Where I’m from Folk Punk is well known but has been put away back in a box but me and my friend gonna start a folk band soon

  • please about german punk 🙂 and the chaostage 1983 and 85!

  • “Las Croodows” habla Español esta pocha “Latin-X”!!

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