Since we first started jamming in late 2007 we’ve made a habit of sprinkling some goodies before, between, and beside our LPs. For the first time, a collection of these previously vinyl-only tracks is now available on the comprehensive Riffography CD. This incredible package includes singles, b-sides, and splits - from our first 2008 single “Rectify” to the just announced “Border Crossing” 7” - and features artwork by Andrea Nakasato and a brief history by JJ Koczan of The Obelisk.
released December 8, 2017
The release you’re holding in your hot little hands is a timeline. You can listen to just about any band’s records one into the next and hear shifts in impulse and influence in their output – and that’s definitely true of Washington, D.C.’s Borracho across 2011’s Splitting Sky, 2013’s Oculus and 2016’s Atacama LPs – but the albums alone rarely tell the whole story.
There are those other side releases and the things that never make it to the public at all that help paint a more complete picture of who a group is, how they’ve come to do what they do and where they’re going with it. For Borracho, now 10 years on from first getting together, it’s a story of change, hard work, survival, and groove that has only brought them closer as players and people.
Talk to Borracho about it and it’s evident in how guitarist/vocalist Steve Fisher, bassist Tim Martin and drummer Mario Trubiano interact with each other just how tight they’ve become. They speak in the half-sentences of family, expressing ideas based around a core understanding in each of them that his bandmates know what he’s talking about without his even needing to say it. It is a language of their making.
Like the band itself, this has developed over the last 10 years, and whether it’s an early single like “Rectify” from their 2008 split 7” with sister group Adam West or the fluid, rolling riffs of “Superego” from the debut installment of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming of Heavy series of LPs on which Borracho joined forces in 2015 with fellow East Coasters Geezer, that conversation between players is an essential facet of their approach. It is no less pivotal than heavy tones, riffs, hooks, or any other element Fisher, Martin and Trubiano bring to the table.
Borracho’s slogan since the days of Splitting Sky has been “Repetitive Heavy Grooves,” and to be sure, they’ve offered plenty of them. Even in “Rectify” this mission was beginning to take shape. Then a four-piece with guitarist/vocalist Noah Greenberg as frontman, Borracho shuffled and boogied with a more experienced outfit’s blend of poise and brashness, and as the next couple years moved that foursome through the recording of the Clutch-influenced “Mob Gathering” and the speedier “Short Ride (When it’s Over)” – both laid down in 2009 and issued on a 7” in 2013 – as well as Splitting Sky and complementary singles like the Spanish-language revisit of “Concentric Circles” released as “Círculos Concéntricos” and the 2012 Plunge/Return EP, each installment, each outing, became another forward step in craft, performance, and the chemistry at their root.
The Splitting Sky era would prove crucial to Borracho for the longer term on a number of levels. As they began to hit stages along the Eastern Seaboard of the US, introducing themselves to a growing audience fed through internet word of mouth and a steady momentum of releases, Splitting Sky began a partnership with producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand which would continue on Oculus and Atacama – that consistency becoming key to Borracho’s development and to keeping a steady foundation beneath them as chaos played out on other levels.
In the two years before they’d return to Marchand’s studio to track Oculus, they’d lose Noah to a significant geographic relocation. They tried to make it work, and previously unreleased versions of “Stockpile” and “Know the Score” from that second album with Noah on vocals are featured here as evidence, but when they came to actually make the record, it was Fisher in the guitarist/vocalist role. Still very much informed by Noah’s inflection and burly singing style, Fisher stepped forward – hesitantly at first; they gigged as an instrumental three-piece for a few months as they got resettled – put his mic up high over his head in the tradition of Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, and Martin took up the task of backing him on vocals. Gradually, Borracho was being reshaped and reimagined as a different band from the one that had started four years earlier.
Thus, Oculus became something of a second debut. Put to tape during those album sessions, one can hear the formative stages of this process in “Border Crossing” and the Scorpions cover “Animal Magnetism.” The former is a chorus-minded groover shorter than much of what made it onto the record and the latter intended for a tribute CD that never came to fruition, but both – along with “Know My Name” and “King’s Disease” from 2014 and 2015 splits with Cortez and Eggnogg, respectively – showcase the fast, purposeful growth Fisher, Martin and Trubiano undertook in playing as a power trio. Fisher’s progression as a singer, from working in Noah’s shadow to establishing his own presence as a frontman, would show itself palpably on these recordings, and on tours domestic and – for the first time – international.
Oculus, in addition to standing as the point of Borracho’s reemergence and coming at a particularly tumultuous period for Fisher, marked by a battle with cancer and a divorce, found them rising to export status. The album was wildly received, and Desertfest London 2014 came calling with an opportunity too good to let slip, and from the jaws of so many potential defeats, Borracho pulled their greatest victory to-date. As well as the split with Eggnogg, early 2015 took them out west for their first Californian shows – a journey no less substantial than that to Europe coming from the nation’s capital, despite not needing a passport to make it – before returning home to preside over the release of The Second Coming of Heavy.
Arriving as the B-side to Geezer, Borracho’s three cuts, “Fight the Prophets,” “Superego” and “Shark Tank,” were nonetheless a landmark. More experience writing and playing as a trio under their collective belt, their sonic persona became jammier, more fluid, more expansive, and more open in its range. If there’s been a single moment in Borracho’s 10-year tenure when that unspoken conversation between the guitar, bass and drums started to take place, that’s it. Trubiano and Martin were utterly locked in as a rhythm section, and to go with his newfound propensity for and well-earned confidence in busting out verse lines and hooks, Fisher’s soloing as heard echoing forth from “Superego” became even more a defining factor. Just as they had so obviously become each other’s family, they had come into their own as a unit too.
Again, talk to Borracho about it and they might just tell you how great it is to make music with your best friends. Listening to “Fight the Prophets” and “Shark Tank,” one has to believe it. That’s where we leave Borracho’s timeline here, but of course the story would continue. In 2016’s Atacama – again produced by Marchand – they further brought to fruition the transitional moment that The Second Coming of Heavy began, resulting in their richest and most varied presentation of “Repetitive Heavy Grooves” yet.
Maybe they’ve outgrown that slogan, or slogans in general, and maybe they haven’t, but what matters most of all is they’ve grown. That’s the thread you can most hear throughout the songs on this release and across their three full-lengths, and if you want the complete picture of where they’ve been and where they’re headed at the end of their first decade and the beginning of their second, they may have wound up with veteran presence, but Borracho still sound like they’re just getting started.
– JJ Koczan, The Obelisk
Steve - Guitars & vocals
Mario - Drums & percussion
Tim - Bass & backing vocals
Borracho - Riffography
Rectify - 3:18
Círculos Concéntricos - 3:25
Mob Gathering - 3:55
Short Ride (When It’s Over) - 3:19
Stockpile - Alternate Vocals - 10:46
Know the Score - Alternate Vocals - 7:18
Know My Name - 4:40
King's Disease - 5:04
Fight the Prophets - 7:19
Superego - 7:38
Shark Tank - 6:06
Border Crossing - 4:05
Animal Magnetism - 5:57
2008, No Balls Records, Germany
7" split with Adam West b/w Stag Party
Recorded and mixed at Bruce’s Barn Studio by Bruce Falkinburg. This happened during a time when Assrockers, Adam West and Borracho were all at Bruce’s barn recording singles to put on splits with each other. Everyone - including Bruce - was playing and most of us were in two bands.
2011, Fandango Records, USA/Ghost Highway Recordings, Spain
Concentric Circles 7" b-side
Recorded and mixed at Airshow Mastering, Takoma Park, MD by Frank Marchand. The night before we recorded this song in English, Frank suggested that we do a version in Spanish. Noah went home that night and with the help of his Argentine wife, translated the whole song. The next day he came in and just sang it in Spanish like that’s how it always was meant to be.
Short Ride (When It’s Over)
2012, No Balls Records, Germany/Ghost Highway Recordings, Spain
Recorded by Jesse Stern at “The Mansion”, Arlington, VA in 2009. Mixed by Frank Marchand at Airshow Mastering, Takoma Park, MD in 2012. Two of the only tracks to survive the Mansion sessions, although with a completely new mix by Frank.
Stockpile - Alternate Vocals
Know the Score - Alternate Vocals
2013, Unreleased alternate versions from Oculus sessions with Noah on vocals
Recorded by Frank Marchand at Hudson Street Sound, Annapolis, MD in 2013. New vocal mix by Frank Marchand at Waterford Digital, Millersville, MD in 2017. These tracks were recorded during a very brief visit by Noah to DC in February 2013. At the time our intentions were for Noah to continue to be involved with the band from abroad. These versions have never been previously released.
Know My Name
2014, AM Records, Japan/USA
7" split with Cortez b/w Vanishing Point
Recorded and mixed by Frank Marchand at Hudson Street Sound, Annapolis, MD in 2013 during the Oculus sessions.
2014, Palaver Records, USA
7" split with Eggnogg, b/w Slugworth
Basic tracks recorded by Jesse Stern at “The Mansion”, Arlington, VA in 2009
Vocals and lead guitars recorded and mixed by Frank Marchand at Hudson Street Sound, 2013
Fight the Prophets
2015, Ripple Music, USA
Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 1
Split 12” with Geezer
Recorded and mixed by Frank Marchand at Hudson Street Sound, Annapolis, MD in 2014
2017, Ripple Music, USA/H42 Records, Germany
7” Single b/w Animal Magnetism
Recorded and mixed by Frank Marchand at Hudson Street Sound, Annapolis, MD in 2014 during the Second Coming of Heavy sessions
Originally released on Animal Magnetism (Mercury Records) by Scorpions
2017, Ripple Music, USA/H42 Records, Germany
7” Single b/w Border Crossing
Recorded and mixed by Frank Marchand at Hudson Street Sound, Annapolis, MD in 2013 during the Oculus sessions. Intended for release on a Scorpions tribute record that never materialized.
Riffography was mastered for digital by Tony Reed at Heavy Head Recording Company, Port Orchard, WA.
Cover illustration by Andrea Nakasato, Lima, Peru (www.facebook.com/andreanakasatoarte
). Layout by TMD, Washington, DC.
Borracho gives special thanks to Krysia, Mary and Zoe for their endless support; Fiona and Dante for reminding us what's truly important; The Punisher for driving us harder, and translating our vision into reality; our brother Noah, our forever fourth Borracho.
A huge thanks to all the people who have helped and supported us along the way: Matt Fisher and Nomad Event Systems; Metal Chris at DCHeavyMetal.com
; BrewMetalWill Cook and all the staff at Atlas Brew Works; Elon at the Custom District; Todd Severin at Ripple Music; Gary Branigan at Palaver Records; Carey Neill at Savage Magic Records; Stefan Loerchner at No Balls Records; Dave Blakey at AM Records; Jake Starr at Fandango Records; Marco Padin at Ghost Highway Recordings; Andy Wilburn; JJ at The Obelisk; Reg and Toby at Heavy Planet; Bill Goodman at The Evil Engineer; Pat Harrington at The Electric Beard of Doom; Dave Benzotti at Benzotti Live Metal Radio; Scott Harrington at 313 Inc.; our brothers and sisters in Foghound, Cortez, Kingsnake, Wasted Theory, Lo-Pan, Geezer, Caustic Casanova, Castle, Weed is Weed, King Giant, Valley of the Sun, Serpents Of Secrecy, Stump Devils and all the bands we've had the pleasure to share the stage with near and far; the staff at Rock and Roll Hotel, Black Cat, DC9, Velvet Lounge, and The Pinch in DC; our friends and family for their undying support; and our fans everywhere - members all of the one true sonic unity that is the pursuit of the low heavy groove.
© 2017 Repetitive Heavy Grooves Music. BorrachoMusic.com
Made in USA
(c) 2017 Ripple Music, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of all applicable laws. RIPCD078 5801 Norris Canyon Road #200, San Ramon, Ca 94583. www.ripple-music.com
1. Rectify ~ 2. Círculos Concéntricos ~ 3. Mob Gathering ~ 4. Short Ride (When It’s Over) ~ 5. Stockpile (Alternate Vocals) ~ 6. Know the Score (Alternate Vocals) ~ 7. Know My Name ~ 8. King's Disease ~ 9. Fight the Prophets ~ 10. Superego ~ 11. Shark Tank ~ 12. Border Crossing ~ 13. Animal Magnetism