Sol Peligro’s Sam Peligroso puts forth a solo EP
The frontman of Sacramento’s most renowned Latin bands wasn’t planning on making a solo rap album, but it just sort of happened.
Age 40 seemed like as good of a time as ever to do it, says Sam Peligroso, the frontman of local bands Sol Peligro and Blazing Hangovers. One day in the recording studio, he just started flowing in Spanish, and everything spiraled from there, he explains to Submerge over the phone.
Blazing Hangovers is like a Tex-Mex tribute band, Peligroso says, while Sol Peligro blends the sounds of reggaeton, cumbia, salsa and alternative rock. In the same vein, Latin beats are the backbone of Peligroso’s seven-track album, the Sam Peligroso EP, engineered, mixed and produced by Reckless Reaction. The accordion dominates one track, another is woven into an intricate guitar solo. Peligroso makes it clear, however, that the raps and the choruses are all him.
The way he sees it, this album is a fusion of everything he has learned about music up to this point. For him, the EP is a celebration of his 20-plus years in the local music scene, he says.
“This is me,” he says. “This is the best representation of who I’ve become and who I am.”
The album may not feel like a celebration per se, though it most certainly sheds light on understanding what Peligroso is about. True, in person and over the phone he is charismatic. He’s got a slew of jokes up his sleeve, and he’ll laugh at each one of them. In exchange for getting this story on the cover of Submerge, he offered to give donkey rides and park a taco truck in front of the office. But the Sam Peligroso EP exposes not the jokester but someone angered by what is taking place around him, like people being wrongfully accused of crimes, the unsettling treatment of immigrants and the “system” in general.
“I’m not a political person, I’m not trying to say I am a revolutionary,” Peligroso says. Yet immigration and border laws are enough to get his blood boiling, particularly considering his roots. His father migrated to California from Jalisco before he was born, where he met Peligroso’s mother. Later the family moved to Woodland, Calif., where Peligroso grew up.
Mexican American pride has always played a major role in Peligroso’s life.
“I’m not hate whitey at all,” he says with a laugh. “[But] I’m proud of my culture and I feel that I represent it really well.”
His mother had a lot to do with fueling his musical tastes, starting with when she took him to see Saturday Night Fever when he was 8.
“When I saw John Travolta on the damn screen, I thought, ‘That guy’s fucking cool, I want to be that guy right there,’” he remembers. “He’s not a musician, but all eyes are on him.”
Throughout Peligroso’s childhood, his mother would play anything from The Beatles to mariachi music around the house.
“When I was growing up, it was me and radio,” Peligroso says. “That played in the kitchen every time [my family] was cooking breakfast and stuff.”
His first recording was on a 45 record when he was 8 or 9 years old. His mom bought him the 45 with the song “Pacman Fever” on one side and the instrumental recording the other.
“My first recording was my own version of ‘Pacman-fucking-Fever,’” he says.
“I wish I still had it,” he adds with a laugh.
In seriousness, his music career began in 1992. Influenced by the likes of Run DMC and Easy Boys, around age 21 he formed a rap trio called BRC. After his stint with BRC he decided to revisit his Mexican roots, and formed the Latin-based band Raigambre. After that project folded, he then formed Sol Peligro and Blazing Hangovers, both of which he still performs with.
Staying true to his Mexican roots, Peligroso’s solo album release is set for Cinco de Mayo. As someone who considers himself an ambassador of Sacramento’s local Latin music scene, this would only make sense.
“I’m going to be honest with you, my show at Blue Lamp that night is going to be the only show where you’re not going to hear one single cover tune,” he says.
“I’m not trying to talk down to these restaurants like Vallejo’s, where they’re hiring people to play Santana the whole night,” he adds. “[But] that’s not how I want to be described, that’s not how we want to be described. We have originality.”
For his live performance, expect old school simplicity, Peligroso says–an accordion player, a hype man, a DJ, a conga player and Peligroso himself.
In an interview with SN&R back in 2009, Peligroso griped about what a shoddy job Sacramento media has done giving local Latin music any exposure. In his eyes, little has changed three years later, and he is still fighting to change that.
“Sacramento media sucks when it comes to giving the Latin music scene its due,” he says. “You can print that. I don’t give a shit.”
For instance, both Sol Peligro and Blazing Hangovers have been nominated simultaneously for Sammie awards.
“Why is it that both my bands [get nominated] all the time when we play like, once a fucking year?” he laughs. “I’m in both bands, what are you doing?”
“Basically what I’m trying to say is that they’re so out of tune with the music scene as far as Latin music [goes],” he adds.
Peligroso views local radio stations with equal distaste. As pivotal as radio was in his upbringing, he no longer listens to it, namely because the radio doesn’t promote local acts, he explains.
“The media is a big influence man, that’s it, [and] I don’t want to have to start a revolution here,” he says.
If there is any positive outcome of all this, it is that this lack of exposure has intensified Peligroso’s drive to put his music in the spotlight, and he has seen a lot of success. He is grateful that Sol Peligro has won three Sammie awards and will be inducted in the hall of fame, he says.
When asked why he chooses to stay here given the media’s skewed taste, he answers simply, “Well, I don’t run away from things.”
“Trust me, I can easily go to L.A. [or] I can go to New York and probably be more prosperous in doing what I do,” he adds. “But my thing is, this is my home. So if I do that, it’s almost like I’m being run out of my own home. I would never just pack up and leave because I’m not getting my way.”
Thus, Sacramento continues to serve as Peligroso’s home base. Meanwhile, his message to Sacramento remains: listen up! Now is as good of a time as ever.
Still listening? You should be. Sam Peligroso’s EP release will take place at Blue Lamp on May 5, 2012. Also playing will be Olmeca Desperados, La Noche Oskura, O Street Dub, Mahtie Bush and DJ Los. Doors open at 8 and tickets are just $7 in advance. For more info go to http://bluelamp.com/.