Tucson is known for its vibrant music scene and houses bands of every genre imaginable, but it isn’t often that a group receives international attention with a full-length debut.
XIXA is making waves across the world, with its Peruvian-influenced full length “Bloodline” album receiving regular airplay on French radio stations and praise from around Europe.
Members of XIXA are seasoned veterans of the Tucson music scene, having played in bands like Black American Lung and Mostly Bears.
Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan, who are both singers and guitarists, have also had success as solo acts.
“We’ve done our solo thing for so long with little bouts of success and have lots of experience,” Lopez said. “We are setting the foundation from the get-go so we can continue doing this for a long time.”
Growing up in Tucson, Lopez’s and Sullivan’s families encouraged them to follow careers in music from a young age.
“I think Gabriel and I are both very lucky having parents that fully support us,” Lopez said. “My parents never gave me a hard time and I got to go to college on a music scholarship. I think they are relieved that it’s working out in some respect.”
While many musicians move to larger cities such as New York or Los Angeles, the musicians in XIXA have stuck it out in Tucson and worked endlessly to make themselves known.
“It’s much easier to make art and have time and mental space to create, living in Tucson,” Sullivan said. “I think there is something to be said about the way musicians in Tucson play. It’s very improvisational and off the cuff, which I think is something special.”
Europeans seem fascinated with Tucson-based music, Sullivan added. “I think there is a fascination with exotic music in Europe, specifically music coming from Tucson,” he said. “We have a surreal landscape unique to this part of the world.”
“Bloodline” effortlessly blends Peruvian chicha music with hard-edge rock and roll. The wide array of exotic sounds mixed with psychedelic guitar lines sounds like a soundtrack to the vast Arizona desert landscape.
“I don’t think we think about the sound influence too hard,” Lopez said.
“There are so many good ideas in Latin rock. It just works with what we are trying to do anyways.”
Peruvian chicha will always be a part of their filter, Lopez added. “We’ll listen to some old chicha music and say that sounds cool as often as we would say, hey, that old Depeche Mode song sounds interesting.”
XIXA had a great deal of time and freedom when recording “Bloodline.” Members created their own studio so they could take as much time as needed to work on songs without worrying about hourly fees.
While keeping costs down, XIXA worked on tracks for days at a time.
“Drummer Winston Watson and I realized that, between the two of us, we pretty much had a full recording studio setup,” Sullivan said. “With all the members, there are so many instruments, not just guitars and bass but a lot of weird instruments, and we finally had a place for it all.”
Many publications are praising “Bloodline” for its wide array of influences and ability to still be accessible.
“It’s always exciting when you come out with an album and it’s received well,” Lopez said. “It’s even more exciting when you go out to tour your album and people actually show up to your shows.”
Spending time in other countries has helped XIXA expand its sound and range of influences. Having toured and grown a fan base in Europe, specifically in France, XIXA is looking to continue touring the world and spreading their chicha-laced brand of rock.
“Mexico City is incredible, I like to go and hang out with musicians there,” Lopez said. “Peru is somewhere I have always wanted to go and just soak in the music there. I am dying to travel to Latin America.”
Sullivan said the group has invested most of its touring time in Europe over the last few years.
“We have grown a special connection with different towns and cities as well as the local cultures,” he said.
“Bloodline” can be purchased through Barbes Records at barbesrecords.com. For more information about XIXA and upcoming concerts, visit facebook.com/xixamusic.