By Luis De La Torre
The wavy sounds of the beach mix with hard and heavy punk beats whenever the Mexican Slum Rats step on stage. The Mexican Slum Rats is made up of three Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) students and one former GHC student who play their hearts out and have made their own place in the San Fernando Valley’s rock
The band consists of seniors Kevin Villalba and Brock McHenry, junior Emilio Mouriz, and former student Ben Schlesinger. The Mexican Slum Rats have created their own
genre diverging from punk and surf rock that is a mixture of all the members’ distinct creative styles.
The band originated with Villalba, who wanted to find his own unique sound. Villalba’s singing is loud and heartfelt.
“A lot of our songs are about the good things in life and complex issues like being brown in a white neighborhood,” Villalba said.
The high energy percussions is where Schlesinger comes in. He can usually be seen smiling at the crowd while moving his hands with amazing dexterity. He feeds off the
energy of the audience. “I play fast because my background in death metal gets involved and in turn influences the music,” Schlesinger said.
McHenry is a man of few words but has great technique holding together the tempo of the songs with his smooth ska-like bass lines. “I like watching the people enjoying the music like when they are singing along and dancing,” McHenry said.
Mouriz, as the second guitarist, contributes to the ambient sound of the group. His guitar riffs can be heard calling back to Villalba’s, creating a fluent transcendence of guitars harmonizing. “A lot of stuff I bring to Kevin is a nice contrast to how he plays. I bring the band to another level of wholesomeness,” Mouriz said.
The band’s complex lyrics and brilliant energy focuses their music. Their washed out sound, with crunchy vocals, and lots of reverb ties together to make one explosive
passionate sound. Villalba writes their songs and the other band members, all creative geniuses themselves, collaborate to create a final product. They spend hours in their garage practicing and perfecting their technique.
They went from releasing their first demo “The Room” in August 2016 to now being available on all music streaming services and being recognized internationally. Considering their quick growth, they are humble and grateful to all those that support them.
“Slum Rats is the four of us and without the four of us it won’t sound the same,” Mouriz.
While The Mexican Slum Rats harness teenage experiences, they are also driven by the current climate of cultural diversity in the country. “When I was smaller, I used to live in really poor neighborhoods and Mexicans in generals are viewed as dirty people,” Villalba said, breaking down the name of their band. He went on to explain that
despite the view of Mexicans, to others the name of the band itself provides positive reinforcement. “The name is not a negative connotation, it is a reminder to be above what everybody else calls you. I want more of a positive image of the Latino community, so with this project I hope to shed some light into our community,” Villalba said.
They recently released “L.A.R.C.” available on iTunes and hope to continue expanding their accomplishments.