In the Yucatan, Kinky says 'No mas' to visitors

Special to The Times

Kinky is on a roll. After debuting at last spring's South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, the Mexican group has seen its mix of rock, funk, Latin and electronica embraced by critics and now by TV and film music supervisors and advertisers.

The group's song "Mas" is currently heard in promo spots for NBC's upcoming series "Kingpin," CBS' "Robbery Homicide Division" and a commercial for Smirnoff. "Noche de Toxinas" has been used in the Fox series "Alias." And three different Honda commercials are using Kinky music.

On top of that, the group has just performed at the Sundance Film Festival and at a Super Bowl party hosted by Playboy. And then there will be the Feb. 23 Grammy Awards in New York, with "Kinky" nominated for best Latin rock/ alternative album.

Now the band is taking a break, renting a place in a jungle setting on the Yucatan Peninsula about 80 miles south of Cancun along a stretch of pristine Caribbean beach. And they have a message to all their friends who might like to come visit them in this paradise: Don't.

This is not a vacation for Kinky, but a trip to do the primary writing and preliminary recording for their second album.

"We have a lot of friends going, 'Hey, we want to come down there,' " says keyboardist and programmer Ulises Lozano. "We go, 'Hey, maybe later.' We don't want to have a party. We want to focus."

The group chose this site specifically for the isolation. The development in which they're setting up shop is half an hour from even a small town. It's a stark contrast to Kinky's home of Monterrey, an industrial city near the Texas border where most of "Kinky" was written and recorded.

"We love that part of Mexico, it's really inspiring for us at the beach and in the jungle, a warm place," Lozano says. "We live in the north and it is more cold. We are trying to bring more of the warm feeling to the writing process."

The main goal, he notes, will be to capture the nature of the group's spirited concerts with a "more organic feeling" than the on the debut album, as well as place more emphasis on lyrics.

"We're keeping the same essence of literature from Latin America in the lyrics -- magical," he says of the lyrics, which go back and forth between Spanish and English. "We don't try to make any big statements or arguments or politics or anything. It's more the essence of stories and characters and common things from a different point of view, but we're adding more for this album."

The Yucatan work will be supplemented with more writing and recording in Monterrey and possibly London in between some planned European concert dates, with the end of April targeted for the album's completion and a May or June release scheduled by Nettwerk America/ Sonic360.

And a few friends are being invited to participate. Kinky has asked Flaming Lips drummer Steven Drodz to contribute to the sessions (they became friends when the two bands toured together in 2002) and Tom Russo, who has worked with System of a Down, Audioslave and many others, will be producing some of the sessions.

Tips from Stones, Beatles veterans

Andrew Loog Oldham, manager and producer of the Rolling Stones for most of the '60s, and Geoff Emerick, engineer of many of the Beatles' recordings and later a producer of note in his own right, have been mostly out of the production limelight in recent years. But both have returned behind the boards recently, Emerick producing Los Angeles-based band the Syrups, and Oldham coming out of his self-imposed exile in Bogota, Colombia, to work with young Scottish band V-Twin.

And both of them will be in L.A. on March 14 to participate in a new music business conference. The event is being put on at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel by New Music Reporter, a Web site devoted to supporting and exposing unsigned acts ( Oldham, who has just published "2Stoned," the second volume of his memoirs, will give the keynote address and field questions from the audience. Emerick will be featured on a panel, as will Ian Copeland, whose F.B.I. booking agency was home to such key '80s acts as the Police and R.E.M.

Small faces

Norah Jones' success is helping launch a solo effort from her guitarist, Adam Levy. His first album, "Get Your Glow On," is due April 8 on his own Lost Wax label, with Jones, Otis Clay and the Holmes Brothers among the guest performers. But he's also touting another musical association -- the L.A.-raised Levy is the grandson of George Wyle, composer of the music for such enduring favorites as the Christmas staple "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and no less a classic than the theme from "Gilligan's Island."

The Afro Celt Sound System has stripped down both its name and music. Now billed as simply Afro Celt, the cross-cultural project anchored by Englishman Simon Emmerson and Irish-born James McNally has put the emphasis on musicianship and downplayed the sampling aspects for its fourth album, "Seed," due from Peter Gabriel's Real World label March 25.

Caitlin Cary, former bandmate of Ryan Adams in Whiskeytown, is following up her acclaimed 2002 solo debut with "I'm Staying Out," due April 22. Mary Chapin Carpenter guests on background vocals, and novelist Lee Smith (like Cary a Raleigh, N.C., resident) contributes a spoken-word appearance, with former dBs member Chris Stamey (also a Raleigh-area native) producing.

Country maverick Jim Lauderdale, who in recent years collaborated with bluegrass great Ralph Stanley, has teamed now with roots-jam band Donna the Buffalo, with an album of new material being recorded both in Lauderdale's hometown Nashville and DTB's base of Ithaca, N.Y. They all became friends five years ago when both acts were playing at the Newport Folk Festival. Zydeco accordionist Preston Frank will guest on one of the new tracks. No release date yet.

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