Rodrigo y Gabriela first met while performing with Mexican thrash-metal group Tierra Acida.
Rodrigo y Gabriela first met while performing with Mexican thrash-metal group Tierra Acida. Ryg Koria
The Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela is known for nimble-fingered classical guitar work and a diverse musical background that fuses traditional flamenco music with heavy metal and rock.
The pair's new record, 11:11, features 11 songs dedicated to 11 different musical influences in Rodrigo y Gabriela's lives — from Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix to the jazz-fusion band Shakti. The duo recently spoke with All Things Considered host Guy Raz and performed songs from the album.
Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero met in Mexico City, where both played in the thrash-metal band Tierra Acida. But after a certain point, the two set down the electric guitars for acoustic instruments and moved to Dublin, Ireland, to go backpacking.
"Our metal band in Mexico kind of expired, and we decided just to leave," Sanchez says.
The two took their guitars with them and spent a few years busking on the streets around Europe. Quintero says they didn't speak English at all at this time.
"The good thing is that music is the universal language," Quintero says. "We had a great time. We had to learn to speak in Irish English with all those bad words and expressions. It was a good experience of eight years we lived there."
At that time, Quintero says, they did not have a formal repertoire of classical guitar music, so they performed tunes by groups like Metallica and Slayer, reinterpreted for acoustic guitar.
Those influences receive their due on 11:11, on which Sanchez and Quintero play songs like "Hanuman," dedicated to Carlos Santana.
"He was a role model for musicians back in Mexico that it was possible to do great music and be an international musician," Quintero says. "It is kind of a way to say thank you."