Local Rock Legends the Zubia Brothers Keep Rolling On, Straight Into Viva PHX
Lawrence Zubia (left) and Mark Zubia
Lawrence and Mark Zubia are flat-out Arizona rock 'n' roll royalty. Simply put, it would be difficult to find a more accomplished set of musician brothers from around these parts, save for the Meat Puppets' Cris and Curt Kirkwood. But one could make an argument that the Zubia siblings have plied their trade in a lot more bands than their psychedelic punk contemporaries.
Over the past three decades, the pair have helmed such renowned local acts as The Chimeras, The Pistoleros, and (of course) their namesake outfit, the Zubia Brothers, and all three have featured Lawrence and Mark on guitar and vocals. It would be fitting to call them elder statesmen, of course, but their music spans generations and hardly is tied to one particular sound or scene.
As the Zubia Brothers, they bring to life, according to Lawrence, the sound of a "Chicano wedding band. Something like El Chicano 72 or Malo or early Santana." While the comparison is appropriate, their music has a life of its own, even if the sound is familiar to our ears.
Veterans of the same late-'80s/early-'90s Tempe scene that spawned local legends like Dead Hot Workshop and the Gin Blossoms (natch), the Zubia brothers made their name in the supremely popular Pistoleros, who were signed by Hollywood Records. While the Pistoleros continue to play the occasional gig and record from time to time, the Zubia Brothers band is an act that Valley music fans should be very excited to see and hear at the Viva PHX Music Festival on Friday, March 7.
"[Mark] sent me a [Viva Phoenix] poster with our names on it, actually, and said, 'This is what we're going to do that day.' I looked at the lineup and said, 'Fuck. yeah, let's do it,'" says Lawrence. "There are so many good bands in town right now, and to be part of this festival, it's just amazing. I can't wait to be able to cruise around and check out as many people as I can."
Joined onstage by a who's who of Valley musicians, the Zubia Brothers band boasts an incredible lineup of talent. PH Naffa of the Peacemakers mans the drums, while Pete Gonzalez handles the bass, Gary "G-nome" Smith on percussion, and Tim Rovnak plays the keys. As usual, Mark performs lead guitar while Lawrence handles rhythm guitar and both will sing.
During their performances, the Zubia Brothers band typically plays all 10 tracks from their stellar 2004 album, Voices on the Street. Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms fame produced the record, which is still available on for download.
"We play basically that entire record, all 10 songs and a couple of covers songs. Usually something off Exile on Main Street," Lawrence says. Fans of the Pistoleros who catch the band's set at the Vig Fillmore during Viva Phoenix may recognize a few of the songs from the band's oeuvre record, as both "Sara Says" and "Hotel Defeated" have found their way into the Zubia's sets in recent years.
The distinctive voice of Lawrence, which bears some resemblance to early-'70s Neil Diamond, mixes with his brother Mark for some of the sweetest harmonies you'll find in town.
Perhaps the best thing about seeing the Zubia Brothers perform is the exuberance they possess for their craft. They are both born entertainers who grew up watching their father, a longtime professional mariachi, practice and play for as long as they can remember. Recently, the Zubia Brothers helped celebrate Walt Richardson's induction into the Arizona Music Hall of Fame, and it is only a matter of time before they are inductees themselves.
The Zubia Brothers are scheduled to perform from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 7, at the Vig Fillmore during Viva Phoenix.
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