By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON – It’s been nearly two years to the day that Cuban punk rockers Adictox first played Edmonton’s Up + Downtown Festival with DOA at Brixx. Anybody present at the show that night will know it was sweaty, wild and passionate like most punk shows. But what set this one apart were the invisible struggles leading up to the band’s first appearance on Canadian soil.
Dealing with visas or other diplomatically challenging situations became prevalent for the band, whose positive attitudes in part paved their way into the Canadian underground punk scene.
Thankfully, with the emergence of Drew McIntosh’s The Grizzlar Coffee & Records in Edmonton, bands like Adictox will be able to get their music out to the world. In 2012, Jesse Gander of Rain City Recorders flew down to Trinidad, Cuba to record the album, 2, which will now be the first recording out of Cuba to be pressed to vinyl.
BeatRoute recently caught up with Ricardo Espinosa Manzo (or Yoyo), guitarist for Adictox to chat about the bands struggles with international touring and being a punk band in Cuba in general.
BR: After everything the band has been through regarding visas, etc. How amazing is it to finally be in Canada playing these shows? Any highlights so far?
RM: It’s always a big deal and a big goal to travel to another country being Cuban. We finally made it here two years ago, which was pretty hard to do. Our visas were denied four times, taking documents to the embassy was a challenge and it was the first time doing the process, so we were very nervous. After the first ‘no’ there was a lot of disappointment. But finally we made it.. Now it’s easier because we have a history in the Canadian embassy and seem like trustworthy people to them.
The band feels like it’s having it’s best moment. Like having an opportunity to prove ourselves in an English speaking country playing in festivals, having a huge tour that no band in Cuba has done before (at least rock and roll, including punk rock into that). It’s hard to say which moment is better than another but for sure we are so happy about how the public respond to our shows. That’s something that make us feel so committed to this… One of the most important things we have here are friends we met and made throughout our tours that are amazing people. Soooo far away from the idea that the Cuban government put in the Cubans minds like people in other countries don’t want to talk to you, help you or they never care what happens to you. We’ve found people so kind and made very good friends. We love Canada and their people. We hope we can do this again, keep meeting people, playing for them and having a good time all the time.
BR: At home in Cuba it seems you and your band are an important part of the punk scene. What is the punk scene like in Cuba from your perspective?
RM: It’s hard to keep a band that cannot get paid or have almost no support from the media. When you are working so hard for seven years, at the end people there recognize your commitment within the scene and we are blessed with that. A lot of friends that always support us in whatever we need. Cuban punk scene is very small in the middle of the country and maybe in Havana, but is a lot of people helping each other, supporting bands and trying with what they have to make shows and go to support festivals in other cities. Almost always by themselves (no government support) but it works.
BR: The album you recorded in 2012 is the first Cuban recording to be pressed into vinyl form. What does it feel like to be part of this history?
RM: It’s very important to us to have this opportunity; seems like it’s common that people hear music on vinyl and is awesome we can bring them our music in shows and on records. We are so glad to have it and for sure gonna be a lot of recognition in Cuba as well. We are so thankful for this opportunity.
BR: Since you’ve been involved with the Canadian music scene, how have you observed this connection benefit musicians at home in Cuba?
RM: There’s a lot. In Cuba when a Canadian or any other country’s band goes and plays there, people pay attention to what they are doing, getting ideas and being influenced. So I think that is very important to keep this connection and this interchange between cultures and our scenes to get everyone on the right track to do this. People in Cuba are always waiting for bands to come play in Cuba and hope this going better and better throughout the years.
BR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
RM: In general we are so glad to have this opportunity. To show the world that in Cuba are people that makes, feels and have a lot of passion for punk rock. They want to make strong relationships based in help and friendship. Hope it’s going step by step to the total exchange between our countries. And for sure thank you for the space to say something so important for us.
Adictox is on tour through Western Canada with Guadalajara’s Canibales. See them in Lethbridge at the Slice September 28th, Vangeli’s Tavern in Saskatoon on September 29th, Edmonton at 9910 on September 30th and October 4th in Calgary at Ship & Anchor. Check out their Facebook pages for more tour info.9910, Adictox, Cuba, Guadalajara’s Canibales, punk, Ship & Anchor, Slice, Vangelis Tavern