As an international imprint, Slovenly Records has connected bands from around the world: Spain, Greece, France, Italy, Australia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and more. Pete Menchetti founded the label 15 years ago with a Netherlands release and has maintained its global vision ever since. But with his new fest series We’re Loud, he’s pushing that promise to another level. Now he’s shuttling bands to places that often get left out of typical tour routes.
Money, of course, is a major reason for a lack of international exchange. Plane tickets have to be paid for somehow, and unless the fest is hauling in corporate sponsorship money, those dollars are coming from organizers or the bands. Even with crowdfunding, compiling a lineup that features groups based in countries outside the event location is a feat.
At the next edition of We’re Loud, though, Menchetti has managed to swing seven. Despite the odds, from Thursday to Sunday this week, punk and garage acts from the U.S., Canada, and Spain will convene in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“They deserve it just as much as the other places,” Menchetti says. “But the other places, the places that are getting festivals, also have more money, which make them more economically, financially feasible for people to do.”
We’re Loud held its inaugural edition two years ago in Athens, Greece, then followed up in 2016 with another iteration there. Both took place around the implementation of a VAT hike; the rate jumped from 13 percent to 23, then to 24 percent shortly after. Tickets to a cool punk fest aren’t exactly a priority in situations of economic strife.
We’re Loud Fest is a metaphorical dirt kick to Donald Trump’s face.
Puerto Ricans are still grappling with the effects of a 2015 sales tax uptick from 7 percent to 11.5 percent — a rate higher than any U.S. city — and unemployment looms at 12.4 percent. Punk isn’t supposed to be about money-making, of course, but the risk of Menchetti taking a massive loss is real.
“It’s not just that they deserve it; I do enjoy what I do. I think there’s an element of me just being a little bit out of my mind,” he wonders.
An edition in Mexico City follows immediately after San Juan. Biznaga is headed to SXSW, so Menchetti found it logical to work another edition in before heading to Austin; several other bands on the San Juan bill will join in Mexico, too. Convenience aside, taking We’re Loud there supports an additional layer of purpose for the fest: A metaphorical dirt kick to Donald Trump’s face.
“It’s sort of like my middle finger to him and everything that he stands for. His wall, his anti-immigrant shit and his bad hombre rhetoric and — come fucking on! I can’t believe people are eating it up, it’s so fucking sad and disgusting,” he says.
The global punk community is better for We’re Loud Fest.
Menchetti crowdfunded ahead of the fest; included in the rewards were packs of stickers intended for toilet bowl and urinal decor: They bear Trump’s face and an instruction to pee on him. (There’s both an English and Spanish version.) He used a Tweet-making site to mock Trump’s nationalist rhetoric, too.
Menchetti’s relationship with Puerto Rico dates back to 1996, when he swapped his annual visit to his father in Florida for a solo trek around the island. He didn’t know anyone, he remembers, but by chance caught a set from Lopodrido, now local legends, in an Old San Juan bar. He returned in 2009, this time as part of a tour for Slovenly act Wau y Los Arrrghs.
“[Local DJ and show organizer] El Duque de Santurce – he called me asking for records because he was doing a distro thing. He called me some months, maybe six months, before I started booking the tour. I also had heard about Dávila 666 and stuff, and then when I came is also when I got in touch with Los Vigilantes,” he says.
From there, Menchetti worked with Los Vigilantes on several releases. Slovenly also handled works from Las Ardillas, who predated Dávila and featured two of its members. Only the latter was available for We’re Loud, but the Puerto Rican presence is supplemented by connected bands: Re-Animadores, in which Giancarlo Cervoni from Dávila plays, and La Exitosa, which includes Pepe Carballido of Los Vigilantes. There’s also Sikotrópikas, a newer band that shares a drummer with Re-Animadores in Nelvin Lara. The latter bowled Menchetti over when they burned a U.S. flag onstage last week at Festival de Claridad, an annual event organized to benefit the eponymous storied Puerto Rican newspaper.
“They burned it right in front of the stage, punk as fuck,” he says. “Punker than that? I can’t even think of it.”
“Doing all these fests, I don’t know, somehow I’m enjoying it enough for it to be worth it for me to keep going,” he continues. “And I keep going. I have three, possibly four more planned, five if you count Mexico.”
Watch out for two dates in Italy, one in Tokyo and a Taiwan edition — and soon. Menchetti is rigidly bent on pushing We’re Loud and its purpose, perpetually making Slovenly Records’ international promise a physical reality, and the global punk community is better for it.
We’re Loud Fest hits San Juan on March 2-5 and Mexico City on March 8-10. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. Check out the full program of events for the San Juan edition below.