Stoner Rock_

This DIY Collective Is Keeping Stoner Rock Alive in Latin America

Photo by Felipe David.

Stoner rock is a genre that inspires some of the most passionate responses from fans around the world. Enthusiasts are fiercely loyal to those playing slow-downed, fuzzed-out blues riffs at the loudest volume. Latin America boasts an enormous community of bands, fans, and behind-the-scenes figures who delve into subgenres like doom metal, sludge, and desert rock. This very big and exciting scene is spreading out to other parts of the world, and one of its cultural epicenters resides in Doomed and Stoned Latinoamérica.

Objectively a blog, record label, distribution store, and all-around online epicenter, Doomed and Stoned is a hub where bands and fans from its base in Mexico to Argentina and beyond meet. It helps build a sprawling network of collaborations between many countries. It proposes a future in which bands from the continent can have as much visibility as bands from Europe and the U.S. At the center of it all is Roman Tamayo, a tireless supporter of the scene. “If I could understand their scenes, I could maybe help nurture a community, at least online,” Tamayo tells Remezcla.

Stoner rock—derived from Black Sabbath and other ‘70s blues rock bands playing dirty and groovy heavy music—has become a tradition that resists death. Latin America has boasted proto-stoner rock bands since the ‘70s, and the number of bands practicing this style has increased exponentially ever since, with local and national scenes coalescing into something worth taking note. Doomed and Stoned Latinoamérica attempts to become a central hub for all these different scenes to unite with increased levels of success.

Tamayo started as a fan. As a teen, he gravitated toward classic ‘70s rock and found a through line with modern stoner rock, and soon became frustrated when his local favorites would play to 10 people. In 2013, together with his brother Juan—who founded the band Vinnum Sabbathi a few years prior and became the de facto flagship band of the Mexican doom scene with Román joining not long after forming—started Loud, Slow and Distorted Riffs, a record label and concert series that operated on a local level.

Afterward, Tamayo was approached by Billy Goat, founder of the original Doomed and Stoned blog, to contribute to his site. Tamayo felt that a bigger effort was necessary to do the scene justice and stand out. In turn, Goat offered Tamayo a chance to curate a compilation with the best of what Latin America had to offer and become the calling card of a brand-new blog. In 2015, Doomed and Stoned Latinoamérica began with a compilation that spawned a lineage of Mexican bands from 1971 to 2014, something Tamayo considers one of his greatest contributions to the history of the genre. 

In turn, this allowed him to approach people in other Latin American countries to ask about their local scenes and try to get a feel of their own surroundings. Soon, people from Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, and other countries contributed lists, interviews, and articles about the bands around them that stood out. In time, Doomed and Stoned Latinoamerica boasted a huge catalog of bands from all over the continent. 

Maintaining a DIY approach with voluntary contributors coming and going through the years, Doomed and Stoned Latinoamérica boasts a record label, a concert series, and a blog, with Tamayo as the only constant collaborator in its ranks. “It’s my way of telling people that this music exists and how it all connects,” he says. In turn, they have since released five compilations with over 500 contemporary bands, all available as name-your-price on Bandcamp. It also has spawned a touring circuit for some of the bands (even bringing U.S. and European bands to many Latin American countries), a podcast, and a radio show. “I want to give voice to those bands who don’t have an outlet to be heard,” he says.

“[Doomed and Stoned Latinoamérica is] my way of telling people that this music exists and how it all connects… I want to give voice to those bands who don’t have an outlet to be heard.”

Seizing an international wave of stoner rock sweeping the underground, inspiring fans from everywhere to delve into this world, Doomed and Stoned Latinoamérica has allowed Tamayo and his cohorts to become a lynchpin on the international stage. It also allowed him to live his dream of promoting the music he loves. Now, there are different collectives and promoters in many Central and South American countries, as well as record labels and blogs. 

“I think that every time a band from Latin America does something on the international stage, they represent their country and even the whole continent,” he says. “Our band, Vinnum Sabbathi, is going to play some festivals in Europe this Spring because all the work we have done for all these bands is reflected right there. We’re showing that it is possible for any band to get these chances. We’re always looking to open doors for everyone who wants to go through them.”

“We want to decentralize this music,” he adds. “We want to show that not every good band sings in English or comes from the U.S. and Europe. We’re showing people that there’s great music coming out of Latin America. We want to show that if we believe in this and we work hard to grow this scene, nothing can stop it from becoming an amazing thing.”