It used to be Spanish Rock in the US equaled covering “Rock en Español” bands. That’s how it was when Miguel and Brenda Avina moved to Denver in the early 2000’s, and that’s what many people thought “Rock En Tu Idioma” meant: you played your favorite Maná and Caifanes covers.
Miguel didn’t want to do that when he started iZCALLi in 2005 with an acoustic guitar and dual hand-percussionists Luis Galaviz and Raul Chavelas. He re-envision the Rock En Tu Idioma movement of the late 80’s and 90’s, he wanted to do original rock in Spanish — or in English, too, if he felt like it — and he had a vision: that there was a need for the kind of music he wanted to make, with a swath of influences ranging from cumbias to Zeppelin, and a community of musicians just waiting to unite.
The idea caught hold and scored the young band an opening gig with Spanish act BEBE; playing at The Gothic Theatre before that sold-out crowd, Miguel had another vision: “Hay que rockear harder”. A Les Paul replaced the acoustic, Galaviz switched from djembe to the drum kit, and Miguel recruited his sister Brenda on bass.
iZCALLi rounded up nine other bands and released a compilation — Rock en las Rocas Vol. 1, featuring early iZCALLi tunes “Me Siento Solo” and “Que Debe Fallar (Marybel) — the band’s first official release. A proper LP followed in Pintas en Pasteles, which replaced Galaviz with Madafra’s Mario Gonzalez on drums. The band went on tour not long after with Hombres G, and has over the years gigged with a slew of nationally renowned artists, such as Jaguares, Molotov, Los Enanitos Verdes and Julieta Venegas, to name a few.
iZCALLi’s sound drilled through the folk-based rock of Pintas and into deeper beds of alt-rock, indie, Latin sounds and ska for Despiertame, the band’s second LP. The same year, iZCALLi launched Rock de Mayo, a sonic Cinco de Mayo celebration that RETI=Rock En Tu Idioma (iZCALLi’s Flagship Promotion) has curated ever since, bringing Anglo acts like Eldren and Bandits to a crossover crowd — the same crossover iZCALLi has been reaching at coveted spots in festivals like Westword Music Showcase and the Underground Music Showcase several years running.
iZCALLi continues to grow, and they find themselves continuing to tour, bringing in Luiggy Ramirez on drums, and spreading the message via collaboration with Fort Collin’s SpokesBuzz, a nonprofit dedicated to the goal of transforming the Front Range into world-class music scene, playing on the national stage in events such as Latino Heritage Festival in Iowa, plus multiple appearances at SXSW. The band recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a sold-out show at the Walnut Room and the release of iZCALLi III, a deeper exploration of the same roots that made Despiertame grow. It’s a big deal, but it’s also just another step in iZCALLi’s never-ceasing mission to bring you Rock En Tu Idioma — and an ever-expanding definition of what Rock En Tu Idioma can be.