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How Listening To Duke Ellington Might Keep You Healthy, And Other Musical Cures From Chicano Batman

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The coronavirus pandemic has been disastrous for the music industry, leading to the cancelation of festivals and tours for the foreseeable future. And yet, listening to music has never felt more necessary. And new music continues to get made.

On May 1, east L.A. quartet Chicano Batman will release their new album, "Invisible People," an ambitious work that pays homage to their West Coast roots and brings a message of social justice.

But like so many other groups, the band will not be able to tour in support of their new record. To make the most of their time in lockdown, guitarist Carlos Arevalo has been teaching guitar over Instagram Live.

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“It was a way to connect that I’ve never done before, and I don’t know if it would happen in any other circumstance,” he said.

And bassist Eduardo Arenas has some suggestions for fans who are also stuck at home:

“Get into Duke Ellington. Get into Tito Puente. See what he does on the timbales. Understand why Celia Cruz is the queen. We have time to think and a lot of space to really let things sink in right now. It’s some kind of mental revolution going on. We have to make light of all the positive stuff that we can right now and not let the fear dominate our psyche right now. Because then we’re all going to get sick.”

So what can fans expect from the new album? Arevalo pitched the idea for “Invisible People” to the band’s lead singer, Bardo Martinez, this way: “I was like, it really bothers me how Latinos are really unappreciated and unseen in the media -- on television and in movies.”

With their new album, the band wanted to stretch themselves musically, so they hired Grammy-award winning engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, War on Drugs) and producer Leon Michels (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings) to add an extra layer of experimentalism to their already established retro soul sound.

You can listen to the rest of their interview below.

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