STARTING IN JUNE, U.S. AUDIENCES WILL GET to experience the driving sounds of one of the most successful Mexican hip-hop bands to venture north of the border. Molotov is no run-of-the-mill hip-hop act, however. Its controversial lyrics and aggressive sound are more in the vein of early Beastie Boys and Rage Against The Machine than Puff Daddy and his family

Like its namesake bomb, Molotov is fierce and explosive. That aggro quality obviously inspired the organizers of The Vans Warped Tour to include Molotov on the 1999 outing. Molotov is a perfect fit with the Warped mentality – and with other Warped bands that don’t bow to conformity. The edgy rock en Español band has filled its debut release, ¿Donde Jugaran Las Ninas?, with lyrics that are so offensive to the establishment that the government-run television network in Mexico has refused to air Molotov’s hit videos. That hasn’t thwarted the band’s career, however. Molotov has sold more than 800,000 albums internationally and the single “Gimme Tha Power” has won two MTV Video Awards in the international viewers’ choice categories. That’s quite an achievement for a band based in a Third World country where many young people have to be more concerned about helping feed their families than about the latest musical trend. Randy “El Gringo Loco” Ebright, the only American in the band, told POLLSTAR there are many variables that make establishing a music career in Mexico unique. There are priorities for the citizens – like putting food on the table and clothes on their backs, Ebright said. “And if there’s something left over, then they might look at more extracurricular activities like buying CDs and going to concerts.” Going to concerts may not be a priority for Mexican teens but it seems like it is; Molotov’s concert draw in Mexico was so overwhelming early in its career that the band often stole the limelight from headliners. “Before we even recorded the album, we were opening for groups that were coming in [to Mexico],” Ebright said. “We had been opening up for people from Argentina and from Spain, and our Mexican crowds would start jumping for us. And then when the headliner came on, they were a little bit more [sedate]. Bands stopped actually inviting us to open up for them because it went so well for us.” Molotov’s success outside of its home country came suddenly. “[Touring outside of Mexico] came unexpectedly, actually,” Ebright said. Soon after the debut album was released, it started selling well in South America, “so we had the chance to go down to Chile and to Argentina. It was quite funny because we ended up opening up for David Bowie. It was a festival [with Bowie], No Doubt and Bush. That was our first experience outside of the country.” Since then, Molotov has continued to expand its reach outside of Mexico. Band members Ebright, Micky “Huidos” Huidobro, Tito Fuentes and Paco Ayala have performed in several European countries including Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Holland. In the U.S., the band has performed in areas that have a large Latino music scene – including cities in Texas, Arizona and California. “Actually, the U.S. is probably the place we’ve played the least,” Ebright said. “We’ve done shows in California cities like San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose. And we did a really interesting tour with the Deftones on the East Coast — in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, all along the Northeast.”

Tito Fuentes
Randy “El Gringo Loco” Ebright

The band is anxious to do more touring in the U.S. Ebright said that in addition to participating in the Warped tour, Molotov will be on the bill of a Latin offshoot of the popular sports and music festival this summer. Molotov will have to cut a few days out of the Warped schedule to honor a busy schedule of summer festival dates in Europe. “We’re doing the Warped tour and we have a few festivals in Europe. We open up for Metallica, for Marilyn Manson [and] R.E.M. Metallica is in Germany…. And it’s R.E.M., Hole and us in Spain.” Ebright said it’s not only crazy on the road but it’s been a little frenzied being signed to Universal Music Group during the changes over the past year or so. “It’s been kind of hectic,” he said. But the band survived. Preproduction for the second record is in the works and Universal execs expect a crossover hit. “Molotov appeals to a young generation across the board, no matter the country or language,” said Jesus Lopez, senior vice president, Universal Latin America. “Molotov is crossing over like no other rock en Espanol band ever has.” ¿Donde Jugaran Las Ninas? is the first release from Surco – a joint venture label formed between renowned Latin alternative/rock en Espanol producer Gustavo Santaolalla and Universal Latin America. Santaolalla, who co-produced Molotov’s debut, has garnered critical and commercial acclaim for his groundbreaking work in the Latin rock world; he is responsible for albums that have sold millions of units for artists including Maldita Vecindad and Café Tacuba. With Santaolalla’s magic touch and Molotov’s widespread appeal, the band will likely continue to gain fans and garner acclaim as it rocks its way across the U.S. during the red-hot days of the summer of 1999. As one of the most controversial and politically explosive groups in Mexico, Molotov provides the perfect mix for a summer afternoon of slam dancing, crowd surfing and good ol’ head banging. Only one question remains: Is America ready for a Mexican Molotov cocktail?