Before you start to dive into the article, please start the music…
The Mexican culture has various lures to it. From the Meso-American ruins that cover all around the land, the fantastic climate that awaits you at any time, to the rich beauty of the country’s art. Mexico is a true gem to the world that we live in. One of the country’s most unique, interesting, and pleasurable attributes that it brings is the history of the lucha libre.
The lucha libre (aka luchador) is Spanish term for “free fighting” in the wrestling community. The luchador travels all around the countryside getting rid of the crime and corruption that plagued the townspeople. The masked hero would showcase an aerial display of high-flying maneuvers, along with a dazzling display of moves learned from the Greco-Roman wrestling world. In 1942, El Santo (“The Saint”) came to the ring and changed the complexion of the masked fighters. During his career, which spanned over 50 years, El Santo became a huge star in and out of the ring, becoming the symbol of the lucha libres all around Mexico, with several movies and comic books with him as the subject. That appreciation has landed here in Dayton, Ohio with the lucha libre’s of rock and roll Team Void.
Team Void comprises of lead guitarist Louie Bean Lerma (“El Muerto”), bassist El Bean Lerma (“Infinity”), rhythm guitarist Nate Beam (“Cruzado”), Jon Mercier on drums (“Johnny X”), Gregory Hall (“Blaster”) on trumpet and keyboard. Team Void also has a couple of musicians as part of the ‘Lucha Superstars’-Gary King (“Slide”) on trombone, Derek Strouse (“Sandman”) on drums, and on congos Greg Schultz (“La Marmota”). The band’s trademark is the lucha libre masks that they wear while they are playing live. “It’s something that you have to get used to”, Beam mentions. “It takes some time, without question.” El sums it up nicely. “We become part of a role when we wear the mask. It’s fun and exciting.” The masks, along with the meaning behind the band’s name are simple: “We won’t to make sure that we void the problems that cause bands to not last. We want to have a corrupt free style with us”, Louie stated. Seeing the band will throw you off at first, seeing everyone in their character modes, but you quickly adjust. It’s seeing them without the masks that will catch you off guard. “We have had people at our shows not realize that we just played on stage”, Gregory says. “One guy saw me at the bar, and started talking about how the band on stage sounded good. He totally didn’t realize that I was part of the band. So, I just agreed. We find it funny.” No lie-it took me to have a second look also when I first saw the band live.
To understand how the band got together, we have to go back years ago. In the 90s, Louie was heavy involved with the music scene in the Dayton area, being in two bands that are forever engraved in the town’s history. He played in one group The Tasties, and he was in The Amps. The Amps was fronted by The Breeders lead singer, and local native Kim Deal. The band saw some success nationally, opening for Foo Fighters and playing on ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien’ show. However, it was directing, and editing that sparked Louie’s interest more. As time went on, Louie met his wife El at Canal Street Tavern. Then, Louie and El met the band throughout the next couple of years. The group of friends started playing music together, and realized that they had something special. When you spend 10 minutes with them its crystal clear of the chemistry. They spoke of the time the band went overseas and played (they have a pretty nice size following over the pond). They joked around about setting up an organ in the headquarters. They spoke highly of the love of Dayton, and how it’s exciting to be seeing the music scene going through rejuvenation.
There is one unique aspect of the band that you don’t see much anywhere is that they don’t have a lead singer on the band. In fact there isn’t any singing on their songs. “We didn’t want to have any singing in our music because we want to have people just enjoy what they are listening to”, explained Louie to me during my meeting with the band. “We felt with the music we were creating, we didn’t want to have one lead person in the band. We want people to just take in the music. By having someone singing, it just distracts you from that.” The band’s first EP, Gone With The Werewolves is a perfect example of how this concept works. Each member brings their own specialty into the mix, presenting a surf rock opus with layers of Mexican influence that simply will stop you at your tracks. The EP also offers the listener sound bites of what appears like they are taken from classic horror films from the 70s. Gone With The Werewolves is utterly mind blowing with the level of detail. The lucha libre vibe appears on each song, especially when you hear the playing of the trumpet and trombone. Listening to the EP, you also feel grateful that there isn’t any singing. It would simply take away from the dance that the band is executing. The EP is a shy under 20 minutes, which only leaves you wanting more.
Currently, Team Void is working on their new album, Robot Killer. The album was intended to be an EP, but the band feels that all the music they are laying down is too good to leave out. “Get ready for this album. It’s going to blow some minds”, Beam glowingly stated to me. After listening to Gone With The Werewolves, I can’t help but agree. To see the band live, you have a couple of times here soon. This Saturday at Omega Music at 6, the band will be performing with Five Year Mission, and Sport Fishing USA. On February 16th at South Park Tavern, Team Void will be hitting the same on the same night with The Madeira. These are two shows that you simply can not miss.