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BLED Fest Artist Feature: Pancho Villa’s Skull

From Pontiac, MI, two brothers make up the mariachi punk duo, Pancho Villa’s Skull. Tino Ybarra is the guitarist and vocalist of the band, singing majority in Spanish. On percussion is Rolando Ybarra, who also offers beautiful harmonies to their sound.

Yes, they play acoustic instruments, but this isn’t your typical band. This politically charged punk duo showcase traditional Mexican culture all throughout their set. The band’s fast beats and energetic presence is something you take away as a unique experience that you can’t get from just any set. In fact, they have a surprise for everyone at this years BLED Fest in store.

I personally am highly anticipating PVS performance at this years BLED Fest. The two siblings are equal parts activists as well as artists who give it all when performing and producing their work.

Contributor Alexis Backus chatted with PVS about their start and the importance of the diversity that BLED Fest promotes.

Catch their set at 4:50 PM next week on Stage E!

Alexis Backus: How did PVS start?

Tino Ybarra: I started Pancho Villa’s Skull in 2010. I really wanted to get back to my roots and, I wanted to start writing in Spanish more. I was also, really inspired by bands like The Pogues and Gogol Bordello who mix traditional music with punk rock.

Rolando Ybarra: I’m sure Tino hit the entire origin on the head. I began my involvement with PVS in 2011 or maybe 2010 when I decided I could record Tino in the upstairs of our parents house. Since then I’ve recorded and mixed everything release from PVS myself and of course, I joined the band too.

AB: What artists/ bands influence or inspire PVS?

TY: That’s a loaded question hahahaha. Like I mentioned earlier Gogol Bordello and The Pogues but, also The Clash and anything Joe Strummer did is a huge influence. Manu Chao is another big influence. Mariachi Vargas, Los Tigres Del Norte and, Vicente Fernandez are some big ones too.

RY: Recently I’ve been inspired by a lot of songwriters and musicians around me. Particularly percussionists/drummers like, Nate from WSR, Mike Land particularly for his work with Carmel Liburdi, Nick Laforge and Micah Cotner. Then some bands like 78RPM and Westside Rebellion. I just saw JOE last night for the first time and was blown away. Nina and Buffalo Riders, Jackie Heuser, Stella Donnelly, Petal, Andy Mineo, Seaholm and I could list a bunch more but that is who comes to mind right away.

AB: Why is diversity so important? 

TY: Diversity is important because, it shows the next generation coming up that anything is possible. I remember the first time I saw “La Bamba” I was like “Whoa you can be Mexican and play rock and roll?!” It gave me a new perspective.  Also, people want to see themselves represented. We want to feel like we matter.

RY: It is important to have representation from everyone, not just a few. We played a festival called Cosmic Slop a couple years ago and after we got off stage a young kid came up to my brother and was in awe that he had just seen someone who had skin like his on stage and rocking out. I had never felt it was possible to be a spanish speaking rock band until I saw Los Lobos do it. That concert changed my entire outlook. There are plenty of other examples but I think you get the point. Aside from that hearing and seeing the same exact thing at every show is boring and lame.

AB: What is your favorite aspect of BLED Fest?

TY: Personally I’ve only been one other time. I really like the excited atmosphere. Bands walking around with their set time on signs, people running around to  see their favorite bands, and of course all the food trucks.

RY: I think my favorite aspect of BLED is being able to check out a bunch of bands that are on the cusp of blowing up in one day. I like the intimacy of the stages and how there is just a natural sense of friendship and community in the crowd. I’m excited to experience it as an artist and gain a new perspective.

AB: What makes you unique from the other artists at BLED Fest?

TY: I honestly, don’t know any other artists that do what we do how we it. We’re pretty stripped down, one acoustic and one cajon, played as aggressively as possible. Don’t know any other band that really does that.

RY: I think aside from being a Spanish speaking band we are different because we play completely different instruments and styles as the past lineups. Although BLED has hosted acoustic based artists in the past they don’t play as fast or as loud as us.

AB: What can people expect from your set at this year’s BLED Fest?

TY: A very energetic set of 8 or 9 songs.

RY: Without giving away anything I think people can expect something loud, fast, groovy, dance-able, big, powerful and beautiful. Its going to be a great day.

AB: Who are you most excited to see at BLED Fest?

TY: Who’s playing?

RY: I think I am most excited to see Rent Strike, Grey Matter, Mover Shaker and EPCYA. Oh wait EPCYA isn’t on, but they should be.

AB: Do you have any upcoming releases?

TY: Nothing really new but, we’re re-releasing all our old recordings on one compilation.

RY: We just released a compilation on 5/5/18 of our older songs. We never released them on a physical platform before so we put them out digitally in the compilation form this past weekend and will have physical copies of these at BLED. Although it has previously released songs there is something new in there if you can find it.




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