Puerto Rican garage-punks Dávila 666 are finally back after a 7-year hiatus. The sextet (comprised of Sir Charles, Panda, AJ, Johnny, Gigi and The Latin Snake) played their first live show in January at La Respuesta in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “It was just time to bring the beast back,” vocalist and guitarist Johnny Otis Davila tells Remezcla. And with a recently announced U.S. tour, and an upcoming release on In The Red Records, titled Que Viva El Veneno, Dávila 666 sounds and feel as if no time has passed since their unofficial disbandment.
“Feels like we picked up where we left off,” said Sir Charles. The hiatus allowed for the development of other projects, including Füete Billēte, AJ Davila, and Terror Amor, to name a few. And while little is known about the separation, the gang has continued their involvement and development as musicians. “We all have creative energy and egos. I think it’s good to branch out and explore other artistic outlets. Me personally, I have grown as a writer since Davila went on hiatus,” explained Otis. For Sir Charles, “Staying active with music and other projects just kept us in the know and in the street, which is good when you make underground music.”
The band’s desire to keep playing together was always part of the conversation. If you’ve never heard of Dávila 666, this is a great time to immerse yourself in their unbridled rock ‘n’ roll decadence. What makes the Puerto Rican band so accessible is the mix of hooky riffs, pop-garage bits, and overall nonchalant attitude.
And the band feels ecstatic about their first live show since coming back. “It felt amazing, in my opinion it was one of the best shows we have done in our career!” exclaims Davila. “I missed playing music with my friends a lot and that great energy that we had on the stage together,” he adds.
This energy reflected in the crowd, were new and old fans gathered under La Respuesta’s roof in Santurce. There was definitely an undeniable magic between them, as Sir Charles put it. “We still connected with the crowd, which was 50 percent old fans and 50 percent new fans that had discovered us after the split, or were too young to come see us back in the day.”
Dávila’s first-ever show took place at the once famous DIY spot La Cabaña in 2006, making them veterans of the rock ‘n’ roll and underground music scene in Puerto Rico. And their recent show at La Respuesta felt as euphoric and energetic as their early engagements – filling the air with the same kind of curiosity and wonder they always have.
“I listen to a lot of trap and baile funk stuff which feels way more punk than a lot of ‘punk.’”
The band’s fans both old and new had been impatiently waiting for a reunion – which was teased by Dávila’s social media channels leading up to the event. During their 2-date reunion party, the band proved they didn’t lose the playfulness and vigor that characterized their earlier shows more than a decade ago. Sir Charles still taunted the audience with his posture and frontman stance, leaning his body towards the sweaty crowd that conglomerated front and center, pushing and singing along to fan favorites like “Callejón” and “El Lobo.” Panda personified glamour, and wildly played the tambourine, harkening back to a young Johnny Otis.
Collaboration and camaraderie are key amongst the band. Their interactions were palpable to the public, and seemed to be stronger and more straightforward than before. It was as if the band needed a break to finally understand the capabilities of their sound, their impact on the local scene, and as a worldwide entity.
In times were reggaeton, trap, and experimental pop music lead the market with releases, it’s exciting to see a rock ‘n’ roll band that can cut through and make an impact. Still, the band doesn’t cling to a specific sound when it comes to finding inspiration. “I’m not following much new stuff. Johnny put me on to the dude from Ratas del Vaticano’s solo shit and it kills! [It] reminds me of Jay Reatard a lot. [Listening to] Perverts Again, Andy Human, Uranium Club. Downtown Boys are great. I listen to a lot of trap and baile funk stuff which feels way more punk than a lot of ‘punk,’” says Sir Charles.
And continuing their relationship with In The Red seems organic, as the label keeps releasing music from the best performers in garage and experimental rock music, like Ty Segall Band, Chain and The Gang, The CIA, Kid Congo, and Black Lips among others. For the upcoming release of the EP, singles will be digitally released and “hopefully later on wax,” says Sir Charles.
The rock ‘n’ rollers are eager to start touring and connecting with old friends on the road. “I’m looking forward to playing, discussing snacks, strange films, cool records and making new friends, new comrades if you will, new allies,” says Johnny.
If you are a hardcore fan of the band and want to give someone credit for the reunion, there’s a few versions of the story. “First step was [taken] by our drummer The Latin Snake, one of the promoters works with him, and approached him about putting on a reunion show,” remembers Davila, “and gave us what we asked for. And as my Mama used to say, ‘money talks and bullshit walks,’” he adds emphatically.
But Johnny likes to think that he had been planting the seeds all along, “I guess it all depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’m going to say it was all me,” he says.
I’d like to believe that it was all of us – and anyone who’s followed the band’s careers – who made this a reality.