It”s an urban jungle out there, but if you”re not willing to wade through it, the Canibals are ready to bring it to you.
Based in Queens, New York, the band has matured over its seven-year history, rising from a diverse group of non-musicians to a constant presence in the New York-area club circuit. Incorporating rock melodies, hip-hop beats, reggae styles, and a Latin vibe, the music of the Canibals is too comprehensive to really be classified.
“The part that works for me is that our crowd is as eclectic as our music,” lead singer Richie Bravo told The Michigan Daily. “You”ll find everybody from a thug, to a prep, to a punk in our crowd.”
Originally from Columbia, Bravo and his family came to New York when he was five. “You gotta understand coming from Columbia, the ghetto here is like a fucking kingdom,” he explained. But it didn”t take long for the reality of a segregated American to set in for him.
“Living in NYC showed me all points. It showed me the rich, the poor, the middle class, honesty, fakeness, having one man say, “welcome,” and another man saying, “fuck you, get out of my country.”” Racism is one theme in the Canibals” music, as all of the band”s members are of Latino or African heritage. Ironically, it took coaxing on the part of Bravo”s friends and future bandmates to expose him to different kinds of music, from Ice-T to Metallica. “I was telling them, “Man these guys would hang you up on a tree before they care about you,” and they said, “No, man, they ain”t like that.” It really opened my eyes.”
But there”s more to the band”s message than racism. The band is made up of a group of “indigenous urban men” from very different backgrounds, from guitarist and ex-Marine “Dirty Black,” to Colombian immigrant and guitarist “Fangs,” to ex-Biohazard drum tech “Bones.” The recent addition of bassist “Th!rteen” rounds out the Canibals lineup and creates the unified whole of their music.
“I am not my band,” states Bravo. “We are an entity. We”re all fingers on the same fist, and we”re gonna punch your fucking lights out.”
Despite receiving recent attention from bands like Slipknot and Fear Factory, the Canibals have not forgotten that their music is the binding force for their diverse fan base.
“I”ve got 40 miles to go, a full tank of gas, and I”m on the road. Completely dosed on drugs, almost completely blind, my destination unknown,” sings Bravo in “Roadkill,” echoing the thoughts of many young people.
With themes ranging from drugs, to oppression, to making it in an uncertain industry, the Canibals have found that their music knows no color. “It”s sick out there brother, if we don”t all bind together, we”re gonna die together,” prophesized Bravo.
Bravo makes no apologies for wanting the Canibals to be successful, but he doesn”t pull punches against artists who disrespect their fans. “I met Fred Durst before, he”s the kind of guy who”s on his dick so hard, there”s no room for his girl,” he laughed.
Because they have yet to put out a record on a major label, the Canibals” live performance is the only way that they can convey who they really are. “What keeps me moving?” asked Bravo. “The fact that one day I sang a song called “Groovatron” dedicated to everybody trying to get into this music shit and this little white kid came up to me crying and said “that song”s about me!” That shit really tore my heart out.”
The Canibals are on the way up the ladder, but in many ways, they”ve already arrived, putting on great live shows for loyal fans. Richie Bravo sumed up the band”s mantra, saying, “If the Canibals can just get out one album, and get their message across, then we”ve done our job. I”m not looking for longevity, I”m just looking for love.”