Posted March 9, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

La Gusana Ciega: Things Changing and Changing Things

The influential alternative Mexican rock band La Gusana Ciega recently came to the States to play a few dates in support of the new music video for “Pasiflorine” which addresses the issue of domestic violence on your radar for a phone interview. The song has become the anthem of a Fundación Origen campaign to draw attention to the domestic violence. Band leader Daniel Gutiérrez spoke via phone from Los Angeles about the group’s 20-history.

Your music video for “Pasiflorine” has received lots of attention.   
Once we finished the song, we knew it had a message. We knew we couldn’t just release it as a single, as we normally would do. We wanted to have a music video that was strong enough that it would expose the idea of the song and what we were talking about. We also wanted to get involved with a non-profit that works with women who have suffered from domestic violence. We can only do so much as a rock band. We can’t follow up on the problem, so we got together with Fundación Origen in Mexico to help finance the video. Everyone that worked on the video did it pro bono. The actress got really into the role. She had a stunt double who rolls down the start and did it for free. She told us she’d do it for free three times, so we better get a take we can use. It was great to see how everyone relates to the problem. It’s such a universal problem. It’s so normalized. It happens all over the spectrum. It was interesting to see how everyone pitched in and got involved.

Talk about the director you worked with.
The video started with Pablo Cam, who was the producer. He and his wife saw us at a concert and heard the song and said, “We have to do a video of this song.” They hooked us up with Pablo Maiola. He wrote the story down. He said he wanted to tell it that way. It was his idea, and we are happy with the results.

Who is the woman singing with you on the version you use for the music video?
The girl who sings in the video is Madame Récamier and her name is Gina. She’s a great artist and we worked together before. Originally, we invited Daniella Spalla for the recording. The song was written in such a way that we didn’t know what it was going to be. I just wanted to have a song that had a dialogue. It was inspired partly by the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” I wanted a song in that sense, and a theme started developing. By the end of the writing process, we knew we needed a woman’s voice. Daniella Spalla gave us a strong woman. She sounds very secure. We think that’s good because you would be surprised by the kind of women who suffer the violence from their partners. She’s really strong and secure. It happens to everybody. For the video, we wanted to a different voice to give more women the chance to sing this song. She has a softer tone and now we have two versions, one with a stronger voice and one with a sweeter voice. The idea is that any woman can sing this song.

What was the scene like in Mexico City in the late ’80s when the band first formed?
We are definitely an end-of-the last century band. We started in ‘89. The record labels were the thing. There were still CDs. The aim for the band was to get signed. That has changed now. Independence is an option. Working your band as a small business is an option. It’s more work for the artist but also a better payout in the end because you control your rights and your project and you control what you wanna do and what you don’t wanna do. Things have really changed in the last couple of decades.

I know at one point Capitol was signing Latin bands for distribution in the U.S., and labels had offices in Latin America.
Labels were still interested in developing bands. It was a great time. You couldn’t just get music whenever you wanted. You had to go to record stores. Now, it’s different.

It’s great because you have music from all over the world at your fingertips.

What caused the band to break up in 2002?
We stopped working from 2002 to 2005. When you start, you’re just three or four friends and there’s no money involved. It’s one for all and all for one. Once it turns into a job, it becomes work. When you get more popular and famous, it involves things you don’t dream about. You have to wake up early to do interviews and go to meetings. It becomes work. We didn’t have everything settled in terms of how to split money and royalties and rights. It was something we had to do to get things cleared out . . . it was good for the band. We’re still here making new music and having fun.

Talk about the process of making Borregos en la Niebla.
Our previous record, Monarca, was nominated for a Grammy. It was a good record for us. When we sat down to do another record, we felt like a lot of songs were left behind for Monarca. If you release 11 or 12 songs right now, it’s difficult to get someone to listen to it all the way through. So we decided to split Borregos en la Niebla into two EPs. We released the first part in 2018 and the second part in 2019. It was interesting. It was fun. It was a long process. I’m not sure we want to do that again, but it was a way of responding to the way people are consuming and listening to music.  

Have you started to think about the new record?
We are thinking of the next record. We will probably release some singles this year first, and then we want to release a new album in 2021 or 2022.


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].