The Mexican classical guitar duo started out as Mexico City metalheads. Rod tells Gary Walker how Metallica’s Master Of Puppets set them on their way…
I have many records in my collection, but Master Of Puppets has been the biggest influence on my life. In many ways, I play music because of Metallica. My brother is five years older than me and when I was nine he got the first album, Kill ’Em All, and I quickly became a fan. We’d waited so long for the release of Master Of Puppets. The day it came out, we went to a record shop in Mexico City called Zorba and bought it.
We took it straight home and put it on. I was just blown away. Retrospectively, it’s a continuation of Ride The Lightning, but I felt it was so new, sonically it was fucking amazing and to me it’s still the best-sounding album Metallica have made. Most of the things my brother and I listened to were metal, but up until then we were listening mainly to glam metal, Mötley CrÜe and all those bands, but Master Of Puppets turned me off that instantly and onto thrash metal. I got rid of all my glam-rock records straight away.
I started playing guitar when I was 11, and one of the first things I learnt to play was the intro to Battery. Their playing was so fast. I was getting older and I thought, ‘This is the real shit’ – real music that’s difficult to play. The guitar playing was so far ahead of what I’d heard before. Battery is one of the best thrash metal tracks ever – it’s the most amazing riff they’ve written. The way James sings on top of the riff, we’ve tried to play that cover many times, but I can’t play and sing along over that fucking riff! I like the song Master Of Puppets, too, and Disposable Heroes is one of the best songs they’ve ever written.
When Metallica came to Mexico for the first time, I was about 16. They played five nights at a 30,000-capacity arena. They were touring The Black Album and I felt incredible seeing them live. Years later when I met them, I told them the story.
In 2007, after we’d put out our first album, we were on tour in the States. We were playing the Riviera Theatre in Chicago and Metallica happened to be there on a day off. They asked our management if they could come to the show because they’d heard our version of Orion on our first album. Not only that but Robert Trujillo wanted to play with us! He jammed with us on Orion, which was awesome, then we met the band and went to a show together at the House Of Blues.
We became very good friends with Robert and James told us he likes what we do. Whenever we’re in town, we go to their shows. Orion was one of the key songs for us when started touring. There is a link between Metallica and our music. We have a lot of metalhead fans, and I think metalheads recognise other metalheads. There’s something in the song structures that speaks to them.
I really don’t know if I would be playing guitar if it wasn’t for Metallica. I wanted to become a musician because of them. If there hadn’t been Metallica, there probably wouldn’t be Rodrigo y Gabriela.
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