The first time I saw La Chinga the experience made me want to do two things: drink and fight. This despite the fact I gave up drinking many years ago and every fight I’ve ever been in has ended up with my nose broken or the imprint of a large boot on the side of my face. Still, the urge to get gloriously out of control was difficult to suppress. La Chinga play ROCK in all capitals with hard heavy riffs sourced from every primal desire.
I met with La Chinga’s guitarist Ben Yardley on a Sunday afternoon in his East Vancouver (Canada) garage/studio to get details on the band’s past and get a sense of their trajectory upon the molten wings of their recently released 3rd album “Beyond The Sky”.
La Chinga came into being in 2012 when Yardley started playing with his old friends, bassist Carl Spackler and drummer Jason Solyom. “It was the first band I’d been in where there was no real discussion about direction or what we were gonna do. It was very unstructured. And it still kinda is that way. We do our thing and we never really have discussions about what direction we should be taking. It’s more like, hey man, I got this riff.”
The riff is at the molten center of every La Chinga song and “Beyond the Sky” is a series of the universe’s heaviest rock riffs shamelessly supporting a magnificent nebula of rock and roll archetypes. From the Black Sabbath heart of the title track to a two and half minute psychedelic Theremin and guitar duel in “Mama Boogie” designed to induce acid flashbacks there is nothing that is off limits for this band. Melding imagery that ranges from Trans Ams to wizards the La Chinga has inadvertently created a dense and layered mythology that furthers the scope of its vision.
“It’s happened very naturally. We aren’t thinking about how the guitars need to sound or that we need to look like X, Y, or Z. We just have a ton fun doing this. It’s been hilarious more than anything and before we knew it we had two fog machines and Mexican blankets draped over everything.”
La Chinga’s unique aptitude for blending a myriad of hard rock eras and subgenres on this album created a pastiche of leather and denim that every rock aficionado can get behind. The song “H.O.W” could easily fit onto a Bon Scott era AC/DC album complete with the requisite searing solo over drum shots whereas the song “Warlords” that ends the album could be the soundtrack to the lives of the characters in the film “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”.
Ben laughs when I mention it, “Warlords is like a love letter to that genre of metal. I can remember being a kid in elementary school with the high school right next to us and there were guys there who had muscle cars and moustaches. They wore denim jackets and they reeked like weed. They were really scary and totally bad ass when you were a kid. It’s fun for us to pay tribute to that time.”
The influences are abundant but to call this album an homage would be selling it short. The three members grew up playing in punk rock bands and they bring the attitude of “we’ll play whatever we want” that allows for a level of freedom to go in any direction.
“It is freedom rock. We’re not laser focused or constrained by thinking a song needs to be a certain sound. Whatever comes up. If we like it and something happens when we play it together then it’s a keeper. It’s always based in hard rock but we draw from a lot of different styles and vibes.”
Over the course of the past 6 years La Chinga has attracted a world wide fan base and toured Europe twice with another European tour booked for the spring of 2019. When I asked Ben if he expected such a passionate international response he replied, “I knew from the time we recorded our first demo for the song La Chinga and heard Carl’s voice on it this was best thing I’d ever been involved in…ever. But as far as people connecting with it, you never really know what’s going to happen. I’m legitimately humbled and amazed when people order the record from all around the world. It feels totally fucking awesome.”
After leaving Ben’s garage I realized I’d missed something crucial so I sent him a text. The following is an exact transcript of that exchange:
Me: One important question I forgot to ask—what do you think is beyond the sky???
Ben: More sky
Me: Haha that’s a heavy answer
Ben: I blew my own mind