Slowrider's clever name is a play on the term "low rider." In Mexican American slang, a low rider (also known as a vato, cholo, or ese) is a Chicano homeboy whose obsessions include cars, women, and classic soul music (although today's younger low riders are just as likely to be major hip-hop fans). Low riders have their own publication -- Low Rider Magazine -- and they still consider War's 1975 smash "Low Rider" their national anthem. War, in fact, is among the many bands that has influenced Slowrider, whose releases are as eclectic as they are unpredictable. Drawing on rock, jazz, soul, funk, rap, ska, and salsa, the East Los Angeles band brings a long list of influences to the table. Slowrider founder/leader Dgomez (who plays electric bass as well as keyboards) is a big admirer of the Chicano rock and soul bands that came along in the '60s and '70s; El Chicano, Santana, Ruben & the Jets, and Tierra are influences. But Slowrider's experimental, risk-taking music is far from derivative and its CDs don't sound like they were recorded in the '60s or '70s. Dgomez has also been influenced by rock en español, acid jazz, hip-hop (especially alternative rappers like De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, and the Pharcyde), and ambient. And Slowrider's other influences range from '60s soul-jazz (Jimmy Smith, Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers, Willie Bobo) to Stevie Wonder. Slowrider was formed in 1995 when Dgomez joined forces with drummer Moises Ruiz. Dgomez had been touring the U.S. as the bassist for alternative rocker Beck, and he was perfect for that gig because, like Beck, he is an extremely flexible risk-taker and appreciates a wide variety of music. At first, Slowrider was only a side project for Dgomez, but as time passed, he found himself devoting more and more time to the band. With Dgomez and Ruiz exchanging ideas, other members were soon added -- including bassist Pat Hoed (Dgomez had switched from bass to keyboards), guitarist/singer Carlos Zepeda, rapper Rafael "Rafa" Cardenas, saxman John Wall, and percussionist John Anthony Jimenez. In 1999, this six-man lineup -- Dgomez, Ruiz, Hoed, Zepeda, Cardenas, Wall, and Jimenez -- recorded Slowrider's promising debut EP, Mas Alla. Released on the band's own De Volada Records in 2000, Mas Alla sold about 4,000 copies (despite limited distribution) and helped Slowrider acquire a small but enthusiastic cult following on the West Coast. Subsequently, Cardenas and Wall left the band, and new members were hired (including percussionist Pablo Limo, guitarist Jeremy Keller, and bilingual rapper MC Olmeca, who had been with the band Acid Reign). Nascimento, Slowrider's first full-length album, was released on De Volada in March 2002.
Share this page