SPINE Vocalist Antonio Marquez on the Cuban Uprisings, Kansas City Hardcore Scene + More

Photo: Nick Kanner

I last covered SPINE around this time last year around the Bridge Nine Records release of the Kansas City hardcore band's L.O.V. EP. With the group recently issuing a new EP called Himnos Mambises that they're very passionate about, I spoke with SPINE vocalist Antonio Marquez to bring us up to date with their world.
"L.O.V. affectionately ended up being our COVID record," the singer remarked. "We had to push the release back several times due to COVID while trying to avoid releasing something we couldn’t play on. It wasn’t in the cards. Therefore, the release date of March 2020 ended up being December 2020. During the downtime of waiting for L.O.V. to release, we decided to start writing for what will be our upcoming LP."

That brings us to the aforementioned "Himnos Mambises," quite possibly my favorite SPINE material to date. "Himnos Mambises was a bit of a snapshot of what to expect on the LP.

"The topics tackled on this EP really aligned with the current uprisings in Cuba and felt extremely timely to release. I wanted to create a space and give more viability for all Cubans in hardcore/punk. There’s not a ton of representation and I wanted to to help create that space.

I’ve always spoke about the culture and the strife in various ways in SPINE. I wrote a song on our first LP (2014's Time Has Come) called 'Se Acabe' short for 'Cuando Se Acabe,' meaning 'when it ends,' which spoke to the inequalities and human rights issues in Cuba, but I never felt truly comfortable speaking my truth."

Antonio continued: "2014 wasn’t a super open year for people. Therefore, we never played the song live and I decided to take a less sharp approach lyrically when taking about those issues. We included subtle imagery and sound clips (2017 Promo) but really wanted to show my brothers and sisters on the island that I supported them and would do what I could to amplify their voices.

"See, there has always been this misunderstanding when talking about Cuba and how it aligns with the politics of punk/hardcore. It’s this idea that Cuba is truly a leftist country and stands up to imperialism. And it’s usually spouted by people who aren’t Cuban or know someone that is Cuban. But all of that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cuba is a dictatorship that operates in the guise that its issues are a result of the US and the embargo. Almost as if the inequalities that exist aren’t from their own government but rather another.

"We could go on about this topic, but I really wanted to put myself out there and fly that flag. I’m open to discussing with anyone/everyone who may have a contrasting opinion. This release was a flag I wanted to plant and based on the feedback from the people that matter on the island, mission accomplished."

Now that we know about the lyrical direction of the new SPINE material, what can we expect from a musical perspective? "We’re hoping the LP gets released mid next year, but who knows with the pandemic and the plants being backed up. We are finishing up recording for it as we speak. Musically, it will be a mix of all the styles we’ve championed prior but faster, always faster (shout out to Max Chaney for writing it)."

Photo: Chron

How would Antonio describe Kansas City right now, coming out of the strict lockdowns and all of the upheaval? Does he feel that things are looking up there?
"KC is seriously going crazy right now. Between the new bands made during the pandemic and the appetite for kids wanting to experience live music, it’s really poppin'. A lot of younger people getting involved by starting bands and booking. The biggest issue we have right now is the lack of venues, especially all ages. I’m hoping that by next year, there will be even more bands stopping by to experience the scene firsthand."

I asked Antonio about some of the bands from SPINE's hometown he's been excited about lately. "Bands people should be checking out is PSYWAR (Max who writes/plays bass in SPINE, also write and plays guitar in this band) mixing the best parts of Discharge and Poison Idea. Perfume, which is a cool '90s alt-rock worship band. Sarin Reaper does early black metal with a punk edge. Foil playing mid-tempo punk with riffs. Inner Alter and Keef Mountain both playing early Zep/Black Sabbath styles with the latter leaning heavier into more doom.

"Remain Sedate (formerly Crisis Actor) is getting ready to release their first LP soon (or will be out by the time this is). Their sound is really unique, check them out. Also, False Brother and Mentira both released records last year and were some of my favorites. False Brother leaning into more post punk/dark wave and Mentira being planted firmly In punk. There’s truly something for everyone right now. KC is special."


A post shared by SPINE (@spinecrew)

Antonio wanted to share the following words with No Echo's readership before we ended our conversation:

"I want to stress the ability to have conversations about the issues that I bring up in terms of Cuba. There is so much propaganda on both sides and at the end of the day it’s about the people in those countries. Support their voices and their rights. There’s a lot of issues going on in Latin America from Nicaragua to Venezuela to Colombia and they all run the gamut of what we’d view in American politics.

"Know that we support our brothers and sisters fighting for their rights. At the end of the day, the people should have their say."


Himnos Mambises is available now on Bandcamp.

SPINE on social media: Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp


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