The Big Browns are a Mexican Ska band at the forefront of what is a massive scene in Mexico City.
Formed in 2017 on the City’s West Side the 8 piece group are devout lovers of all things Ska, from the original Jamaican sounds to the 2Tone interpretation that swept through Britain and then the world in the late 1970s, early 80s.
As with all Subcultures, style is paramount, and the Big Browns always look the part onstage or in the studio, and recently collaborated with Merc for the Video and photo promotion for their new single, a ska version of the Oasis classic “Don’t look back in Anger” !
Merc caught up with the bands drummer, the superbly named Epik Jimenez to find out a little more about the band, their influences and the ska scene in Mexico!
Tell us about The Big Browns?
We are a Ska band based in Mexico City that loves all stages of Ska. We are focused in two: rocksteady and traditional Ska. Coming from the Westside part of the City we try to acknowledge the “Ska subculture”.
How big is the ska scene in Mexico?
Huge! Ska events in Mexico can fill out a football field in a local festival or more, when big shows are arranged they can fill out a complete stadium. Now here in Mexico people is beginning to demand more Ska like that of yesteryear.
Who are your biggest musical and style influences?
We don´t want so sound “cliché” but all the 2 two monument in general and the 3th wave Ska, Ska Punk, you know we have our big neighbor USA so that hit us first. Also we love Jazz, Swing, soul; precisely that is why we love Ska because it has a little bit of everything.
With 8 of you in a band, is it hard to all get together to rehearse, write and practice material?
Yes! It is not easy to arrange schedules so everyone can make it, we try to have a fixed day once a week so we can make it. The drummer has a little recording studio named Traka-Traz Records so we can rehearse there, tight but good. Writing/composing is very “funny” for example the singer has a lyric, and then based in the “way” we want the song to sound like it’s when we start “cooking” it. So then the horn section comes in so we can add a good melody to it. Basically we do it by sections.
When you all get together is it a lively affair or do you get the job done and party later?
You know how it is, we really have a good time doing the job; sometimes after we finish rehearsing or composing we stay late chatting, hanging around while drinking a good beer.
You’ve recently recorded your own take on the Oasis classic “Don’t look back in Anger” (the video featuring you dressed very sharp in Merc!) - What prompted this recording?
Oasis is one of the favourite bands of the lead singer, so we decided to do our modern rocksteady version of a very iconic song from the “Brit Pop” foundations. This is our tribute to that “British sound”. Taking advantage of our keyboard player skills, we knew that he would be able to deliver a very good execution on the Hammond making it the main character in the song.
How did it feel to be wearing Merc in the video shoot?
It was a dream come true! We have a strong believe that making music goes along with how you dress, so been able to look so sharp was an essential part of the success of the video.
What does Mexico associate Merc and the British Subculture with ?
Fusionist, Elegant, stylish, refined, Definitely Ska, Mods and scooters. We really love all things you do with Subcultures in general, Britain is the “reference”.
How has the single been received?
Very well! People loved this version we released, Oasis fans mention it sounds “refreshed” and Ska fans just love to hear classic-made Ska.
How did the band stay active during the Covid Pandemic?
We released our first video “The Browns Ska” and also did some streaming sessions.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We are going to start recording our first album. In a couple of months it will be available and soon we will make a new video of another original theme.
Describe The Big Browns in one sentence
Ska´d for life
Quick Fire Fives
What are your 5 favourite?
Time bomb, Amber, Our house, Mirror In the bathroom, don´t let me down (Aggrolites version)
The Specials, The Clash, Aggrolites, Sublime, Rancid.
Blood in Blood out, The Shawshank redemption, The creature from the black lagoon, Green book, This is England
Give Em Boot (complied), Tiger army (self-titled), Sublime (self-titled), Aggrolite IV, Resurex (self-titled).
Items of clothing?
Polo, Harrington, track jacket, Shirts, bands T- shirts
Words by Richie Kyle
Photos by The Big Browns
Clobber - By Merc