|Born 8 years ago in the Boyle Heights housing projects of East L.A. the members of Union 13 were still in their teens when they began sharpening their early musical teeth by playing at fully packed backyard parties. The intense focused energy of their live show was so fierce that, on a tip from a friend, Epitaph HMIC Brett Gurewitz dragged the band into a his own Westbeach Recorders to record a demo before they had ever played on a real stage. Gurewitz later played the demo for Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen of Rancid who liked it so much that they jumped onboard to help produce the bands Epitaph debut East Los Presents (1997). |
Since then Union 13 have been toughening their musical muscles through relentless touring with bands such as U.S. Bombs, Voodoo Glow Skulls, and H20 (on the first Punk O Rama tour), while also sharing the stage with Latin rock acts Molotov and Café Tacuba on the Watcha tour. As a result Union 13 has come to perform and write new music with a growing confidence that only paying your dues can bring.
With that in mind, we find ourselves at present with thier latest effort Youth, Betrayal and the Awakening; an album that stays true to the bands roots, kicking ass with the same barrio, bi-lingual street cred as their first 2 records ("East Los Presents" and "Why Are We Destroying Ourselves?"), and keeping the sound and fury of rebelliousness intact. You'll find none of the buzz saw, ghetto guitar noise, or un-compromised social observation and honesty in the bands lyrics sacrificed to the false gods of "happy punk" or commerce. And the band wouldn't have it any other way.
Tracks such as the "The Game" ("Just be conscious of the fact/be aware/because we're all affected") demand your attention both sonically and mentally with their heartfelt message and the blaring speed and energy. Youth Betrayal and the Awakening also documents the bands growing lyrical maturity and musical sophistication, giving eloquent expression to the frustrated dreams and desperation of another generation with not much to look forward to and nothing to lose. Guitar player/songwriter Jose Mercado humbly states, "We're just a little punk rock band from East Los." Adding, "Raised in a Mexican household, our parents teach us to be honest. We write and play music and lyrics about what we see around us, and the voice of the streets ain't always pretty."
As Union 13 continue to grow a little older and a lot wiser, they still bring that backyard party to whatever club stage they're on or whatever recording studio they're in. Since it only takes one hand to hold this and read it, use the other one to put the C.D. in your ghetto blaster and see how little justice words give to explain music. Or as the band themselves say in the song "Beyond the System", "There's no truth in advertisement/can't you draw your own conclusions?"