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Denver’s own rock en Español trio
(Photo courtesy: Izcalli)

By Esteban L. Hernandez

Izcalli works on third album

Miguel Aviña grew up in Mexico City with the music of Blink-182 and Jaguares. He didn’t speak English back then. “I had no idea what I was listening to,” he said. Music is its own language, he thought, so the language barrier was quickly broken. Since then, he’s turned the idea into something both tangible and creative, a thought now embodied in his band, Izcalli, which he founded in 2005 in Denver. He’s the lead singer and guitarist, usually flanked on stage by his younger sister and bassist Brenda Aviña and drummer Mario Gonzalez.

Six years after its founding, Izcalli is in the midst of pre-production for their third full-length album, which has yet to be named and may be released in the summer of 2013.

Brenda Aviña, 24, said the album is missing about three songs. “We have a total of seven songs that we know are set, but sometimes we tweak them a little or keep working on them,” she said. The musical composition falls on the shoulders of all three musicians, but the lyrics are Miguel Aviña’s trademark.

“We are really excited about it,” Miguel Aviña, 27, said. “The band has continued to evolve in its sound, and we have established a very particular kind of sound.”

Their production approach for their third album represents a shift from their previous two albums. Their first LP, titled “Pintas en Pasteles,” came out in 2007, and their follow up “Despiertame” was released two years later. Both albums were independently recorded in their father’s studio in Aurora, MAR Records. This time around, Miguel and Brenda Aviña’s guitar, vocals and bass will be recorded at their father’s and Miguel’s small personal studio, while the drums will be recorded in a professional studio.

“That’s the only thing that we saw as a concern,” Brenda Aviña said about the recordings, referring to the drums. “Other than that, it works at the home studio just fine.”

While the band’s music has always contained Spanish lyrics, the appeal for a typical Denver audience is that the band, like many of its listeners, is bilingual. They are just as comfortable playing for an English-speaking audience as they are for an all Spanish-speaking audience, although either of those scenarios are highly unlikely in Colorado. It’s usually a fluid mix of both.

“It’s pretty interesting that we play in Spanish in our American shows,” Miguel Aviña said. “I try to read the audience; if I see Americans, first or second generation, or Anglos, that’s who I try to talk to.” Of course this doesn’t discourage many people, just like listening to Blink-182 as a child didn’t discourage him. “I have people come up to me and literally say, ‘I really love your music, and I wish I could understand what you’re saying.’”

Performing alongside some of the pioneers of the rock en Español scene has kept them humble, and it’s given them opportunities to seek out feedback and the occasional conversation. Like the time Miguel Aviña spoke to Jaguares’ leader Saul Hernandez. “I have never been star-struck with them, I see them as peers, but at the same time, what makes it so special is that they don’t have to tell me everything,” Miguel Aviña said. Brenda Aviña remembers playing a set in Utah, opening up for Hombres G. As she played on stage she spotted the band members, watching them intently. Following their show, the band complimented them. “That was the most memorable for me,” she said. “To learn that from them, they are great musicians.”

The band will continue working on material through the end of the year. Their latest gig is on Saturday at the Tap N’ Handle in Fort Collins, with a $5 cover charge.





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