Greg Gonzales of Grupo Fantasma on Money Chicha’s debut album, plans for Brownout

When Preston Frazier last checked in with Greg Gonzales, Grupo Fantasma’s Problemas had just dropped. Since then, Gonzales has been busy supporting that album, including a recent performance for television, even as he continues performing with the Grupo Fantasma offshoot band Brownout. But that’s not all. Check out this Something Else! Sitdown to find out more about the next great thing from Greg Gonzales …


PRESTON FRAZIER: Tell us about Money Chicha, whose debut album Echo en Mexico arrives this month.
GREG GONZALES: Money Chicha is a project which has been around since early 2010. It started as a little side project to give the rhythm section a chance to shine. The whole idea was inspired by the recordings of Peruvian and Colombian bands of the 1960s and 1970s like Lor Mirlos, Los Destellos, Afrosound of Colombia, and Juaneco y su Combo. They did a very psychedelic style of music which fused Latin elements with fuzzed-out surf guitars, combo organs and strange effects. We had been incorporating this sound into Grupo Fantasma, but it was part of the mix along with all of the other Latin styles and sounds, as well as funk and rock drum patterns we incorporated. While we all love the horns and vocalists of our other bands, we felt like doing something which could showcase our rhythm-section chops. It was also a challenge to break away from the traditional rock band drumset and kick-drum sound to give everything a different, more fluid feeling. Beyond all of that, it was an opportunity to have a group which could move a little faster, have lower overhead, and generally be easier to maneuver. 

PRESTON FRAZIER: What was your vision for the album?
GREG GONZALES: One of the reasons we wanted to create the band was to challenge all of the factors which had defined our bands up to that point. The drumset, the vocals and horns. It was also a response to the workflow of a large band. The need to compartmentalize all the elements, to have an arranger, a lyricist, to record and do overdubs and get big, dense songs full of painstakingly crafted parts which all fit together. We wanted to record something where we would all be in a room together, preferably without headphones, using a minimum of tracks, no clicks, no sheet music – something raw that we could do ourselves for little or no money. The record was the result of this. Partially recorded in our friends home studios, partially recorded in our own, and then mixed by myself and [guitarist] Beto [Martinez] analog-style through an old eight-track board with plenty of tape echo and minimal post processing.


PRESTON FRAZIER: How does the project differ from Grupo and Brownout?
GREG GONZALES: We can fit in one van, and only need six microphones.

PRESTON FRAZIER: You are about to embark on a tour with Grupo Fantasma. Do you plan on taking Money Chicha on the road soon?
GREG GONZALES: Grupo Fantasma will be in Europe through early August. While there, we will get to meet with our label reps in Madrid [Vampisoul/Munster Records] and we hope to get some Money Chicha road dates together, starting in the fall. Obviously, Grupo Fantasma and Brownout will continue to be our priorities, but the hope is that this band having low overhead will make it more easily maneuverable. We shall see.

PRESTON FRAZIER: What’s happening with Brownout?
GREG GONZALES: Brownout has the second volume of Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, our Black Sabbath tribute album, dropping in the early fall. There’s sure to be some touring in support of that. We’re going to the East Coast in early August for a short run. Additionally, Grupo Fantasma will be touring out to the West Coast in late September.