The title of Grammy Award-winning drummer Antonio Sánchez‘s new album “Bad Hombre” comes from then-candidate Donald Trump’s comment during a presidential debate that he would get “bad hombres” out of the U.S.
Sánchez (@AntonioDrumsX) — who was born in Mexico and recently became an American citizen — joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to talk about the album, in which he explores his feelings about his heritage and the debate over immigration.
On Trump’s “bad hombres” quote
“In the original version of the first tune of this record of mine, I actually had that quote of Trump verbatim. I put it in there, and actually when I was gonna release it, the record company advised against it, because there’s a history of lawsuits with the current president. So they said it’s better not to do it.”
On how Trump’s comments about Mexicans inspired the album
“Everybody was obviously outraged, and at the same time, I was working on this new project, and I started realizing there were some feelings of anger and frustration that I was harboring. Obviously, to me — and to a lot of people I think — art is a reflection of life, and the music that I was coming up with, it was not conscious at all but it was all based on drum improvisations. So my improvisations happened to be pretty aggressive, for the most part.
“Then I started editing those improvisations and then adding layers of electronics — I did it all at home in my little home studio — and it started kind of coming together, and some of the tunes that I did started resembling some things. For example, there was one tune in particular called ‘The Crossing,’ that … it just sounded like people crossing in the desert in the middle of the night from one place to another.”
On the album’s improvisational elements
“That was the cool thing about having this lab in my basement. I was able to just go, ‘OK, now, I’m gonna play for two hours, just the hi-hat, the bass drum and the snare drum, and see what I can come up with.’ And then, ‘OK, let me put some T-shirts on the drums, and then put some cymbals on top of the T-shirts, and see what sound that makes, and experiment with that for a couple of hours.’ So the record is very experimental in that way. I just wanted to do something very differently than how I usually do things, which is usually, I sit at the keyboard or at the piano, and I write a melody, a harmony and a form, and then you improvise over that.”
On the song “Home,” and being both Mexican and American
“Well, it also goes back to that, you know, I’m an immigrant that came to this country in ’93, and, you know, I miss my home — I don’t think I’ll ever go back, because my life is here. But I do miss it a lot. And it’s also that dichotomy of feeling torn between not being there, and also I don’t feel like I’m an American, because I became an American citizen last year. But still, I spent 21 years, the first 21 years of my life, in Mexico. So I feel torn, neither from here or from there. But I do miss home quite a bit.”