After five years together, Latin/rock band Elektric Lucie is branching out well beyond the group’s devout Coachella Valley audiences. In fact, the band recently signed with a record label in Mexico.
Elektric Lucie’s ever-evolving lineup currently includes Viktor Estrada (guitar, vocals), Jorge Carrillo (bass), Jose Lopez (guitar, keyboards) and Hernan Hernandez (drums).
“We’ve played as a three-piece; we’ve played as a four-piece; and we’ve played as a five-piece,” Estrada said during a recent interview at the band’s practice space at Estrada’s house in Indio. “It’s been like a coalition of musicians. … We’ve been working, working and working, and that’s how we landed a record deal.”
Lopez is the band’s newest member.
“I’ve been in bands since high school,” Lopez said. “I’ve known Viktor for years. I used to play in metal and punk bands, and I was also in a ska band, which is where I met Viktor 15 years ago. We never played together until recently—like months ago. The style they were doing was entirely different from what I was doing, but it was awesome, and I loved it. I put my two cents into it, and this is what we’re doing now.”
The addition of Hernan Hernandez on drums was also a big part of the band’s evolution. While he lives and breathes heavy metal, he’s adjusted to the Latin-rock style. He has technical skills from being in the marching band during high school.
“I’ve been adjusting to how they play, and they’re master musicians,” Hernandez said. “I’ve honed it down. … On my part, I’ve learned all their songs, and we’ve started to record. I’m catching up to these guys, and the sound is getting there and is really tight. It’s only up from here.”
While Elektric Lucie’s new album,Bipolar, has lyrics mostly in Spanish, Estrada said the band has songs in both English and Spanish. When I asked about song themes, they all laughed, and Estrada quickly said: “Love!” Much of the band’s music does have serenade elements—with a bit of a kick. Even with heavy guitars in some of the songs, the rhythm is just right, and you can feel the emotion.
“It’s sexual, sensual—and sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, with everything in between. Sex sells,” Carrillo said. “We’re not showing our things out in public or anything like that, but it’s all about the timing of the song being not too fast, and not too slow. It’s right there in the middle, where you can just groove to it.”
The band at the moment is focusing more on audiences that embrace Elektric Lucie’s Latin elements.
“We’re focusing a lot on the Spanish market,” Estrada said. “We tried a little bit of the English thing, and I’ve heard some good compliments. We have listeners in England and Eastern Europe, but we got signed by a record label in Mexico City, so we’re focusing a little more on the Spanish side.
“Some people will see it here in the valley. … They’ll see you at a local show, and later on, if you do something great, you won’t be playing those local shows anymore. Your record label won’t want you to play those shows anymore. Stuff like that happens.”
After signing to Casete Mexico and playing shows both regionally and in Mexico, Estrada said he has learned one important thing.
“If you want to succeed as a band, you have to put money into it,” Estrada said. “If you don’t put any money into promoting or into your band having decency in live shows, there’s no point. You want to look good, and you want to play good. … If you really want to do something with your band, you have to put money into promotion. You’re wrong if you think you’re going to get into a record label, and they’re going to give you everything—no! … Where the real promotion is when you start paying for the promo team that’s going to get you interviews and music on radio, which we really need. Some people don’t understand that.”
While Elektric Lucie is doing a lot of shows and promotion outside of the Coachella Valley these days, the members said the desert is always a part of what they do.
“We have some influence from the desert rock, definitely,” Carrillo said. “This is the valley that we know, and there are some new wave and metal sounds. We incorporate all of that stuff.”
“We’ve all been playing music individually since Kyuss started,” Lopez said. “We do things from pop to metal. We incorporate everything and blend everything. I was all into metal and punk when I started playing in high school. When I play with these guys, it feels amazing, and I love the music. We love what we do, and we’re excited about what we’ll be doing in the future.”
Estrada said new material is in the works.
“We’ll probably start recording our next album in a couple of months,” he said. “We’re not sure if we’ll still be at the label, given they only signed us for a year, but it depends. It’s open season for us right now: 2016 to me, I feel it’s going to be our best year.”
For more information on Elektric Lucie, including a show scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22, at The Date Shed, visit elektriclucie.com.