Hocico is one of the most influential bands on the electro-industrial scene. Formed in Mexico City in 1993 by Erik Garcia aka Erk and Oscar Mayorga aka Racso, this project of two cousins has been active on the underground scene ever since, evolving into a headliner band on huge festivals and touring all over the globe. Their expression is manly focused on aggressive and violent aspects of not only human nature, but the world order with lyrics being equally as powerful as their sound. Their live performance can be described as pure adrenalin and energy which the duo transmits to the audience. After numerous shows, I finally got the opportunity to meet the band for an interview during their 2015 tour at their London gig on 4th of April.
1. First let’s talk about your name. Do you know that fans pronounce your name differently? I know what the word means, so why did you choose that name?
Erk: The word Hocico means the snout. It is used in an offensive way, like “shut your fucking mouth” or “I will smash or punch you”.
Rasco: It is offensive word in Spanish. The power of meaning of Hocico is this aggression. Hocico has different meanings, but all in aggressive way, like “Shut up your mouth”. At the end, the word is the concept of Hocico, the reality of our ideas.
Erk: We know the fans pronounce it in different ways, it is funny but we like it.
2. When you started so long ago as kids, you surely had your idols in music who you looked up to. Who were they then and how does it feel now being music idols in your own right and an inspiration to others?
Erk: We enjoyed a lot of music, for example Skinny Puppy, who we met personally, were an influence. Back then when we started in 1994., 1995. we were inspird by a lot of music like Leather Strip, Pouppee Fabrikk…
Racso: Ministry, Cat Rapes Dog, also Depeche Mode.
Erk: There was electronic music we used to like back then, but also punk bands like Suicidal Tendencies.
Racso: We had contact with a girl from Chicago, she used to send us many music materials.
Erk: She used to send us tapes and cds from legendary Wax Trax! record lable, so we learned about the music through her.
Racso: Also Dead Kennedys.
Erk: To be an influence to others is flattering, but we don’t think too much about it.
Racso: It is different, we are not fans. Now we have the opportunity to create music, not to follow. We still listen to music, rock or in my case electronic music, but back then we were kids who didn’t know much about music or making it. But right now we are the band and it is a pleasure for us to express our feelings through music. I don’t feel the same, and it’s not the same feeling listening to the same music as back then. We are exploring some new music styles today.
Erk: Mexico has an active underground/alternative scene and it’s been like that since the seventies. There have always been bands, parties, venues, clubs, radio stations. We actually got to know all this music through radio, you could listen to Ministry at 2 PM every day.
4. How did you adapt to life in Germany since I think there is a huge difference in mentality and temperament between Mexicans and Germans. Did you find Germany or Europe in general a colder place from Mexico?
Erk: At the beginning it seemed to be a cold place, if you don’t speak the language it might seem cold. There’s a wall between you and the others. Once you learn the language you get the mentality and then you step into the culture. And then you find people are warm as well. It’s just the question of trying to be a part of the culture. In Mexico people are pretty much explosive, in Germany people like to keep the distance, they start in small steps, getting closer.
Racso: The difference in Mexico is, there are no rules. Germany is more about rules and discipline. It is different but for me, the people are friendly.
Erk: The first time we went to Germany in 1998., it was a great cultural shock for us. Like landing on another planet.
Erk: First of all, it was accessible to make it. We used synthesizers and we could make it at home. We didn’t need a band or anything like that. I remember back then in the eighties when we started listening to this kind of music, most of the bands who influenced us had a political take on what was going on in the world back then. I really liked that, having something to say about the system. This music has the same aggression as metal or punk, it’s kinda punchy and you can reach a lot with these simple sounds. We realized we could put our own words and ideas into it. We went to create the controversy about it, for example, talking about sex that is still a taboo in Mexican society, we wanted to provoke people, to make them angry, and when we manage to make people angry, that feels great.
6. I recently had another interview with a visual artist and when asking this question he couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer so I’ll ask you the same question because I’d like to know the answer, not only for our readers but for myself as well.
It is said that every artist’s work says something about the artist themselves. So what do you think your art says about the two of you?
Erk: I will answer this for me. There is a part of yourself in every piece of project you create, but there is as well a part that hides from yourself. I believe there is a part that hides itself from the creator, always, a part that the creator doesn’t see. Looking back in time, the songs that we did in the nineties, I check if I can recognize myself in them. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I feel I didn’t really write some of the songs. I believe the imagination and creativity not always come from the inside, I believe there is something else around, like some signals, and you use an antenna and give them a form through your music.
Racso: Well, for me it’s different. You create the energy, good or bad, from inside or outside, but creating music for me is like the expression of your soul. I never thought about being a musician, maybe I wanted to be another “normal” person, but the music came because I started listening to it when I was 4 years old, even as a baby. I started with The Beatles and The Doors. The art comes from inside of you, but you can not perceive or analyze your art, it depends on the people looking at your art and their reaction. For me to create or compose the music is something normal, like to eat. I discovered this freedom and how to create music and this kind of art, but at the end I can not say “I am that.”.
7. I read somewhere that you preferred playing in smaller venues over big festivals. The first time I saw you was many years ago at the WGT festival, later on Amphi too, you literally blew me away with bursts of raw energy coming from the stage and your performance was so superb I kinda got hooked on your live gigs. So can you comment on the statement that you prefer smaller venues and why?
Erk: What I like more is the contact with the people, I want to touch them and feel them, I want to hug them. Physical contact is very important, that you can’t have on a festival. We enjoy playing on big festivals, but in smaller venues it is just different.
Racso: For me the communication happens at the end of the show, when I can shake hands with people. This is for me the contact with people, because I’m like a “shadow”, but I am here and I can touch the people afterwards. Another thing is that in smaller venues we can expand the gig for more than one hour, while in festivals it is one hour maximum, 50 minutes, and that is very short, so you play and that is all there is. Sometimes it is a little bit cold.
Erk: The club shows are better, those are the best shows from us you can get.
Erk: Not cleansing, but liberating. You get more energy from the people than what you give. For all the energy on the show you get, you feel good afterwards. Physically, you are exhausted, mentally and emotionally you are still mixed up, but after a while, you feel so good. It is kind of a very good therapy for us.
Racso: The same, of course, because people transmit you their energy and you transmit your energy with sounds and vocals. If I don’t move when I am playing, I don’t need to dance. That I feel inside of me. It is even more present in Erk’s case, this energy interaction going back and forth.
Erk: It’s like a big orgy, having sex with 500 people. Of course you can not have sex with 500 people simultaneously, but on a show you can touch everyone on the same level through art, through music.
9. Have you ever had a bad experience at a gig?
Erk: Many actually.
Racso: The bad experience we had in Los Angeles happened when two Mexicans were fighting on stage. They came in front of me and they destroyed my keyboards and everything.
Erk: I was about to lose my finger. I jumped off the stage in San Francisco and when I came back to the stage I landed on a broken glass.
Erk: Yes. I think for being a musician or a part of the music industry, you have to be a bit crazy. Sometimes I thought “I’m so fucked, I’m done with this shit, I don’t like it anymore, I feel like shit doing this”. When you’re trying to write a song and things don’t go right, then I feel “No, I ‘m done, I can not do this anymore”. It becomes very depressive, but then you play a show and everything is great again.
Racso: I am not that depressive as a person, but if I don’t compose a perfect song, I can get a little bit depressed, but not depressive like for some other more serious personal reasons. I need to be alone and most of the time I am composing alone in a studio. For example, we are composing music only online, since I am in Mexico and Erk in Germany, but I think we can create, we can continue. We have just short periods of time when we are not able to create. But on the other hand this is business. It’s not only about your feelings and what song you like, no, it’s business. You must write something good every year. And if you are depressive or not, you must finish and you must work.
11. Have you ever regreted decisions in your career or have things always gone the way you’d planned?
Erk: Actually many things haven’t gone the way we had planned, but things are going well. The decisions that we have made or we’re making brought us to where we are now. At ths moment I can not think of the bad decisions that we have made, or some things that you can say were not done in a good way. It feels like everything has been happening naturally, I can’t think of the things we as a band did wrongly, no, so far not.
Erk: Of course we do sometimes fight or argue over a certain idea or a song. Sometimes I really liked some songs that now are one of our favorites, some of them I was against at the beginning. But then Racso convinced me somehow to give it a try.
Racso: Sometimes if I compose a different song for Erk and he tells he can not sing that song, for example Poltergeist or Untold Blasphemies, it was a completely new different side for Erk, and sometimes I give him some help with singing because I am able to sing, but for me it is more of a feeling “This is a song and we are going to continue”. It is not like this with all the songs. We have something in common and that is the music. He wants to sing my songs and my songs create something for him and at the end it is the interaction of two people. At the end this is Hocico, it’s not only me, because Hocico without the voice or Hocico without my music is not Hocico.
Erk: We argue the most when we’re trying to find the right set to play live. Sometimes I want to play the song he doesn’t want and other way around. We can fight for weeks or months, but at some point we come to an agreement. We thought a lot of times about leaving the band even.
Racso: But we are also cousins and this is business, you can’t destroy the part of the family.
Erk: So far we are managing and at the end we both win.
13. Your sound changed through the years as new technology was developed and you evolved as artists too. Did technology change the way you work or did your own evolution make you adopt the new technologies?
Erk: It doesn’t matter in my opinion. Technology is always pushing the way you do things, but in the end, the idea, the core of what you really want to say doesn’t come from the technology itself, you are controlling it.
Racso: It is more difficult now to do things with five computers than it was before to compose with one synthesizer, because a synthesizer is like a piano. With computers you need to record, and then add vocals, it takes a little bit more time, it is a longer process. Yes, it is easy to compose with the computer, but when we started with this technology we had a lot of problems. We need to finish the album even with the problems. With the technology or without the technology, we need to finish. For one song I don’t need five computers, I’m working with 2 or 3 computers, sometimes it is easier and faster to compose or create one song with one computer.
14. I am sure you get a lot of fanmail. Have you ever had hatemail?
Erk: Yes, we even got a couple of death threats. You get that from time to time, but we don’t give to much importance to it. I remember some people got offended by some of our songs. The first time we toured USA we had a bad experience with a guy threatening, because we wrote the song Untold Blasphemies he perceived as offending the God. Some people don’t like the stuff we do, and that’s ok.
Racso: We are not Satanic, we believe in dark, but when it comes to feelings, not following anything. Some people might perceive it like Satanic, but it really depends on the people how they perceive the concept of some lyrics. And some lyrics are very offensive for some people, for example for girls, and yes, we receive, not a lot, but sometimes, some messages in relation to offending girls, like in Dead Trust case.
Erk: Usually it is about the lyrics, when we get the hate mail.
Erk: Being popular allows us to travel. But at the level we are, I don’t know if it is being popular, it is not the popularity of the pop stars. It allows us to travel, to be here in London, Israel or Japan. So It feels good.
Racso: It is good when after 20 years people know about those two Mexican guys in this music business.
16. I have my favorite albums and songs, do you? And do you prefer some of your albums over others?
Erk: All of your songs you feel like the part of your family, especially the ones we play the most live. There are songs I like to play live, I enjoy them more playing live than to listen to them. Or some songs that I don’t like so much, when I play live give me a great feeling. Every album and every song meant something special.
Racso: When we play live we can play another version of the song, it is not the same version as on the album. Like Forgotten Tears is more popular in live version, than the album version.
Erk: That song was really important, back when we were working on the song at some point it became like a big project. That song moved us, and it was a big challenge for us. It’s like a poppy song, we thought people would hate us for it, but it became the most popular song. It was a long project that took us 3 months, but I was so proud of it, especially at that point in our career. We were really taking months to work on one or two songs, working hard, sleeping for two hours and waking up for more work. It was a great time, I remember, and especially when we were working on Forgotten Tears.
Erk: It was special because before Memorias, we had like a long pause.
Racso: It was the time when Erk moved to Germany.
Erk: Exactly. It was the time I moved to Germany and back then we had a lot of discussions, we were not really understanding each other and it took a long time to write songs. At some point we started working again and we got this album.
Racso: We worked together in Mexico City.
Erk: For some time, we did most of the albums in studio. 98%.
18. Why are all the albums’ names in Spanish?
Erk: Except Wrack and Ruin.
Racso: Our record label company likes titles in Spanish more.
Erk: At the beginning we did it and later on it became like a trademark. We do singles more in English now, because it makes it easier for everyone to understand. But for album titles, we can explore more of the poetic aspect and phonetics. It is not only about the meaning, it’s how it sounds. When we are looking for a title, it has to sound good, and it has to have a good meaning too. But finding a title for an album is a big argument always.
Erk: I would say negative side of humans, the negative side of life. I love violence in art.
20. I know this is a hard question but which songs are your biggest hits and which of them do the audience react the best to at your gigs?
Racso: Poltergeist, for me. Forgotten Tears, Ecos.
Erk: We have some songs that make people crazy, make us crazy, like Bite Me, Dead Trust.
Even if you have an audience not so interested, you have to do it even if there is one person enjoying it, it’s ok.
Racso: It can happen when you are a headliner and you have 6-7 bands, people get tired, and they can not dance. But it is always the same rule for us, just energy, energy and energy on stage, and that’s it.
21. Do you feel that your other projects, Rabia Sorda and Dulce Liquido, really have lives of their own or do they still have the prefix of Hocico’s name attached to them?
Erk: They will always have the name of Hocico attached to them. But it is us doing other stuff. Mostly the projects share the same fans with Hocico, but there are people that got hooked on the sound from those other bands. Actually it is hard to say, I think those are mostly Hocico fans who like to support our other projects.
Erk: It has always been changing and it will always keep changing. We don’t sell many cds any more, but we play more shows. There are more people listening to our songs using for example Spotify, iTunes.
23. Is it important for you to be connected to your fans on social networks?
Racso: We have a Facebook page but not to be there 24 hours.
Erk: We try to keep our fans updated, we actually post mostly things related to the band, to gigs, but we are not into sharing the personal stuff. It just doesn’t feel right. At the end, we play characters when we are on stage, we are creating another personality and it’s hard to connect that person to the real life.
Racso: We also have Myspace, but we do it by ourselves, it’s just Erk and me.
Erk: We don’t answer to everybody, but if it’s interesting, why not.
Racso: We can’t reply to everybody, but it depends on the questions.
24.In the Dead Trust video you use some really disturbing scenes of graphic violence. Is it your intention to provoke emotions in others that way?
Racso: It was Erk’s idea. But it was a project of a university student. It is a hard video to watch, but at the end, that is Hocico. It is a part of Hocico and it is the concept of Dead Trust.
Erk: The intention was provoking with violence and aggression.
Erk: We always try to do videos but we don’t do much.
Racso: It is because we are not together in the same country, so it’s difficult.
Erk: They are important. If you have a great idea you want to express, you can do it in a visual way.
Racso: It is also about the money, to create the video, it is not just about the idea but also the production.
Erk: It is even hard for us to share the same vision about the video.
26. I think you put a lot of thought into your visual presentation when it comes to your appearance or the stage itself. For example bringing Mariachis or tribal dancers, so do you think fans like to see the whole package and where do you draw your inspiration from for the visual aspect?
Erk: It isn’t that hard. We come from Mexico and we want to show people some aspects from our culture. People quite enjoy it, and back in 2009. we brought Aztec dancers and it was a great show, but that kind of show we can not afford to make every time.
For our own appearance we take ideas from films, or just improvising and trying to be creative in that aspect too. At the biginning we didn’t pay much attention to the visual aspect, but in time we embraced the visual side too. The fans like the whole package.
Racso: When people see something like more extreme they ask us about it. We are more like Aztecs from the future, because we don’t believe in the past. This is the present and we can bring the part of our culture and with this aspect people can enjoy it more.
27. You’ve recently released your In the Name of Violence EP . What are your plans now and when can we expect a new album from you? We’d like to know what’s cooking in the oven.
Erk: We are working on the new album, and we are currently on tour. We are trying to get it ready by the summer, and hopefully it will be released by fall this year. We are full of new ideas, we want to try different ideas, experiment with new sounds.
Racso: Now we have some songs sounding like drum n base, but we are not sure. I have new ideas with different styles. Sometimes we ditch the idea, or leave it for the next album. But in this scene people are not so open minded to the other styles of music. In the new EP there is another song called Silent Crow and that is Frenchcore style, it has 190 bpm, so it is something new, like Frenchcore EBM. We are trying a little bit of new style music, but it is not like we’re changing the whole sound of Hocico.
Interview by Marija Buljeta
Photos by Marija Buljeta