Music is often about making a tasty mix out of different styles. So mix Jamaican ska music — itself a blend of calypso, jazz and rhythm and blues — with modern Mexican rock music and what do you get?
And yet when you listen to Panteon Rococo from Mexico City — playing Saturday night at Santa Rosa’s House of Rock — you’ll also get a taste of some of the serious issues that face us all, including the current controversy about immigration policies not just in the United States, but worldwide.
“We sing about immigration now,” said the band’s lead singer, Dr. Shenka, by phone from Mexico City, shortly before the group began its current concert tour of Canada and the U.S.
“We will enjoy going to America to talk about what we think about this kind of situation,” he said. “We can see that there is this kind of problem all over the world, not just in Mexico, but in Asia and Europe. You go to Spain and Argentina, and you see it there, too.”
The nine-piece band, touring in support of its current single, “Deja Vu,” has a long history of tackling social issues in its music, said Shenka, 44.
“We think that we must respect all human life and we sing about that. In these times in Mexico, full of violence and unfair things, I think it’s a blessing to talk and sing about these things. We feel so proud to do it, and that has kept Panteon Rococo playing for 23 years. We now have 20 years of playing in Europe and 20 years of doing tours in America, and it’s part of what makes us happy,” he said.
Panteon Rococo is remarkable not only for its longevity, but also for the absolute lack of turnover among its members, Shenka explained.
“We all started together in high school. It’s not so common for a Mexican band to have a long time playing together with the complete original lineup,” he added. “A lot of bands will come to play, and the next year they’re missing the guitar player and then the next year they’re missing the bass player.”
Love of music, and the need to carry a message of peace and understanding, is what holds Panteon Rococo together, Shenka said.
“We sing about what we see when we go out to the streets to see what is happening in the world. This is one of the things that people really enjoy about us. They can identify with us.”
The tradition of blending Mexican music with Caribbean ska dates back even farther the band’s beginnings in 1995, all the way to the early 1960s. The group’s videos for songs like “La Carencia” reveal performances every bit as a forceful as those by any world-traveling rock band, while incorporating regional musical influences.
“It’s magic when we’re onstage with a crowd in front of us,” Shenka said. “It’s one of the things that we really love. It’s a party band, but we’re also singing about the realities.”
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @danarts.
If You Go
What: Panteon Rococo, with Bad Manners opening
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14
Where: Rock Star University/House of Rock, 3410 Industrial Drive, Santa Rosa