By Diego Linares
Southeast Los Angeles band Black Mambas are set to take the stage for their third European tour starting this Friday after first starting out by performing in backyards and underage in local venues.
The band members say the ability to play overseas has come after gaining experience in the scene and being diligent with their craft.
“It’s cool. It’s great, but it’s a lot of hard work. Exposure, that’s something you hear a lot, ‘Yeah, play my show for exposure.’ No, it’s business. You want to take me serious, I’m going to be serious,” said Michael Price, vocalist for the Black Mambas.
The four-piece band was formed when Bell Gardens natives and former East Los Angeles College students Price and drummer Leroy Martinez strayed from a strictly punk band to play rock ‘n’ roll in 2009.
Soon after, the band would start playing backyard gigs, the first being at Martinez’s house.
Price said things got so wild that limbs were broken when someone dove off the roof during the show.
“That was the first and last show we had at my house,” said Martinez as he chuckled.
Since then, the Black Mambas spent more than four years on Wild Records, releasing a self-titled full length album as well as a 45 revolutions per minute pressing of the single “Baby, I’ll Give it to You,” in 2013.
In 2012, “LA Weekly” writer Chris Ziegler commented on the band in an article describing the five best shows for a weekend in December.
“The Black Mambas – along with The Neumans and The Hurricanes – are L.A. label Wild Records’ newest signees.
But instead of building on the label’s Sun Records-style sound of ‘56, the Mambas stagger into 1976 with gutter glam songs and dawn-of-punk velocity and attitude,” said Ziegler.
With their music being described by Wild Records as hi-octane rock ‘n’ roll that has been influenced by the first wave of punk.
The Black Mambas have played shows in New York, Mexico, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Switzerland as well as getting radio play in the U.S. and Japan.
Guitarist and event organizer Otniel Antezana has booked and played on the same bill in L.A. as the Black Mambas.
He said he met the members of the Southeast L.A. band in a backyard show, and thought they were a straight up rock ‘n’ roll band with none of the bells and whistles.
“They (the Black Mambas) had been playing all over with a lot of cool bands I grew up listening to,” said Antezana.
“They’re influenced by really good rock ‘n’ roll, good punk, good music, and they have their own style going. They put it down 100 percent every time they play.”
One position in the band that has been in flux for years has been the bass player.
Since the beginning of the band, six members have come and gone.
The most recent addition to the band, Sean Clark, is an English bassist who is filling in for the upcoming European tour.
Clark said through a mutual friend who was on Wild Records in the European market, he was able to meet and become friends with the Black Mambas, but nothing worked out until he and his wife moved to L.A.
“We all know each other. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, it just happens that way, but the scene’s so small that we all kind of know each other even if it’s across overseas,” said Price.
The Black Mambas have been working with Johnny Witmer, guitarist and vocalist for the band The Stitches, on an album that is scheduled to be released this upcoming summer by Disconnected Records.
Drummer Leroy Martinez said he would describe the new album as more edgy and punk rock than the work the Black Mambas recorded during their time with Wild Records, which predominantly produces rockabilly.
“By then (the 2016 European tour), we had already established the songs. So we already knew what we wanted them to sound like. It was just about getting the right mixes done, and making sure it was finished and mastered by the right people when we got here (the U.S.),” said Price.
For the 2017 European tour, the band will play in Germany for the first time, among stops in countries they’ve played in before.
The tour is scheduled for shows starting this Friday in Spain until their last stop in the United Kingdom on May 20.
For more information on the tour and upcoming album follow Black Mambas on Instagram, like their page on Facebook as well as listen to the band’s music on the streaming platform Soundcloud.