Concealed Weapons

Despite some misfires, The Pistoleros keep looking for a break and say that rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated

Raul says he likes to believe the music has stayed with his sons. "I've always told them, put a Latin flavor in the music," Raul says.

But Lawrence and Mark, who speak little Spanish, admit that they inhabit a space where many Mexican-Americans find themselves, in neither an entirely white or Mexican world.

Lawrence works a day job installing home alarms, and he often finds himself on construction sites working amid Spanish-speaking recent immigrants.

"Even without opening my mouth, they seem to know that I don't speak Spanish. On a construction site, the Mexican workers avoid me. They don't seem to want to talk to me, but the white workers consider me Mexican. It's a bizarre situation," Lawrence says.

"We're second-generation Americans. We were taught the Mexican music by my parents. We grew up in a bilingual house. Mexican food was the staple. But we were encouraged to have a command of the English language and study in school like American kids. Spanish was just, 'Cierra la puerta,' 'Shut the door,' little things like that.

"The crazy thing is that on the weekends we were playing mariachi-style Mexican music; I sang songs like 'El Rey' and 'Volver, Volver,' a little kid singing in Spanish phonetically."

Today, they say they're influenced, as songwriters, by the Spanish-language home of their upbringing, but it's not something that compels them go after a reverse crossover appeal. "Generally no, we're not a band that tries to appeal to a Spanish-language audience," Lawrence says. "But we do embrace the sounds that we were immersed in playing norteno and mariachi music."

Attracted to rock and roll as they entered their teens, the brothers played less and less in their father's band. By the time they were in high school, the Zubias knew they would eventually play in a band of their own. And that's why Mark felt so betrayed when Lawrence abandoned him a few years later.

Lawrence had fallen in love with Patricia DiRoss, a classmate and model who asked him to leave Arizona with her two years after they graduated. He followed her to Dallas, where they married. Living mainly off of her ample income, Lawrence took menial jobs and worked on his music. He also began to drink heavily. Within a few months he was drinking a pint of whiskey and several beers each day. But he says he made a real effort to get his drinking under control when, nine months into their marriage, DiRoss took a new job in Osaka, Japan.

"I had no idea that the Japanese adored alcohol so much," he says. "Pat took off like a rocket in Japan. But I descended further into my alcoholism."

In a city with few foreigners, Lawrence says his days became a haze of alcohol abuse while DiRoss worked long, grueling hours. Still, Zubia tried to write music and even managed to make an appointment to play his music for Sony executives in Tokyo. On his way to the meeting, however, Zubia became disoriented and suffered a disabling breakdown. Similar episodes plagued him as DiRoss' modeling career flourished.

After a year in Japan, the two came home and Zubia recovered sufficiently that the couple decided to spend some of the Japan windfall on a five-week trip to Mexico and Guatemala. The trip sparked a new interest in Zubia to understand his Mexican heritage, but, he says, "my ability to resist any drugs or alcohol had by now ceased." At the end of the 1986 trip, DiRoss, today a KPHO-TV Channel 5 reporter, left him.

Back in the Valley, Lawrence and his brother Mark followed through on their plans and began a rock band they initially called The Shades and later changed to Live Nudes, a group that became a mainstay in the Tempe scene during its five-year lifespan.

Meanwhile, Lawrence's alcoholism reached an acute stage. His drinking had caused him to develop pancreatitis, a painful condition that would send him to the hospital after his binges. "I'd get sick. I'd spend 30 days in the hospital blasted on morphine, so blown out of my mind. Two days after they'd release me, I'd start drinking again." It was a cycle, coupled with depression, that he repeated again and again, yet still managed to make Live Nudes gigs while feeding his appetite for literature, developing an obsession for Rimbaud's poetry and the essays of Octavio Paz.

"I read Lost Girl by D.H. Lawrence in a 33-day stay at Good Samaritan Hospital on cancer-patient levels of morphine. IV to the fucking moon, man," he says.

With his parents' urging, Lawrence turned to a psychiatrist for help. Today, the entire family views that as a big mistake. The therapist combined standard psychiatric practices with New Age and astrological ideas. "He was using hypnosis, astral projection, and he had me on a major drug cocktail. He was taking me on trips out in space, taking me through other dimensions," Zubia says.

High on a potent mix of Nardil, Klonopin, Inderal and Xanax, Lawrence says that, in the hands of the therapist, he simply became very weird. "I would know how many steps it was from here to the corner store. Obsessive, weird shit. Shit that he had encouraged in me to counter my depression."

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