AJ Davila on the universal language of music and why the band stepped away for eight years
Davila 666 emerged from Puerto Rico in the mid-2000s with all the grace of Warner Brothers’ Tasmanian Devil — a swirling, sweaty mess of flailing limbs, loud punk riffs and shouted Spanish words, which often centered on an equally chaotic world of women, booze and drugs.
Considering the perpetual whirlwind in which the group lived, it shouldn’t have surprised when the band members — who all share an adopted last name a la the Ramones — hit pause beginning in 2011, needing time away to recharge.
“We had been on the road since 2005. We never stopped. We toured nine months of the year every year,” said AJ Davila, who joins the reunited band in concert at the Summit on Thursday, July 25. “We needed time away so that we could each do our own thing. … Sometimes in life you need a break so that when you come back you come stronger.”
In time off, AJ released a trio of solo albums and launched Terror Amor — a collaborative album featuring cult Latinx artists — while Davila bandmates Sir Charles helped found hip-hop trio Fuete Billete and Lola Pistola released her debut, Curfew, a moody collection of dreamy psych-rock dirges. Returning to Davila 666, however, the musicians have remained true to their punk roots on songs like “Huesos Viejos,” a scrappy, if slightly downtempo new tune that picks up where the band left off eight years ago. A new album, Que Viva El Veneno, is well underway, with the musicians debuting new material earlier this year during a pair of San Juan reunion shows and on this current U.S. tour.
Lyrically, the band continues to embrace music as a means of avoiding sometimes-harsh realities. “Music is an escape for me; it’s saved my life,” AJ said. At the same time, the musician conceded that even the decision to sing in Spanish could be viewed as a defiantly political act — particularly in an era when immigration has become a political hot button, fueled by a president who frequently utilizes fear and hatred to sow discord and mobilize his base.
“It’s super important [to continue singing in Spanish] with the situation we have. Spanish is our first language and we’re super proud of where we come from. We are behind South America, Central America. Spanish-speaking countries, we are with them. They have our blood,” AJ said. “We have been touring in the U.S. since 2007 and singing in Spanish, which is different from a Latino band that goes to America and just sings in English. We will never do that because it’s important to deliver our message in the way we think. We don’t think in English. We think in Spanish. People over there [in the U.S.], they don’t speak Spanish, but they still love the music. And that shows you that music is the universal language that unifies the people.”