Los Wembler’s, the legendary band from Iquitos, the capital of the Amazon in Peru, is getting ready to tour internationally. The five Sanchez Brothers who make up the band are Amazonian Cumbia pioneers who played an essential part in launching the Chicha explosion of the 1970’s. The band, which wrote and recorded the classics “Sonido Amazonico” and “La danza del Petrolero” was anthologized on the Roots of Chicha compilations and has been covered by bands as varied as Los Mirlos, Chicha Libre and Firewater and now with the most famous DJ Electro Tropical, we also find their classic albums in the famous 'Roots of Chicha'. There has finally been a regain of interest for the band that first created what came to be known as Psychedelic cumbia. In 2017, the band released their first new recording since the early 80’s (Ikaro del Amor, Barbès Records) and toured the US, Mexico and Europe. Collaborations with the likes of Eblis Alvarez of Meridian Brothers, or Dengue Dengue Dengue have given them a new visibility that allows them to follow their experimental instincts. The group’s sound is more vibrant than ever. This is not a nostalgia act cashing in on newfound interest in its history, but a cutting edge group that has finally found a worldwide audience that understands its music.
Los Wembler's de Iquitos released a new album "Vision de Ayahuasca" (CD, Vinyl and digital) at barbès Records to released on June 28, 2019 and summer and october 2019 tour, which celebrates their fifty year career with all new compositions.
Their shows were a tremendous success. The brothers are still faithful to their original sound and haven’t lost a bit of their passion and creative spirit. All their shows were raucous affairs – part latin dance parties and part psychedelic rock extravaganza.
In 1968, in Iquitos, the capital of the Peruvian Amazon, a certain Solomon Sanchez decided to form a band that would play an electric version of the music popular in the Amazon at the time - pandilla, carimbó, and of course, cumbia. Solomon enlisted his five sons and named the band Los Wembler’s. Using electric instruments came with a certain Anglo exoticism and in the middle of the Amazon, the name Los Wembler’s sounded exotic enough. It still does. Los Wembler’s were started the same year as Los Destellos and Juaneco y su Combo, two other Peruvian cumbia pioneers who laid the foundation for what would become known as chicha.
Iquitos is the largest isolated city in the world. It boasts five hundred thousand inhabitants, but its closest road is six days away by boat. Still, the city has been the scene of a few invasions, among them the rubber boom of the turn of the 20th century and the oil boom of the 1960’s. Despite its geographical isolation, Iquitos has always been open to the outside world – for better or for worse.
The Sanchez clan got its inspiration from AM radio broadcasts which would play music from Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, as well as America. All those influences found their ways into their music. Iquitos had always had a reputation as a party town and the new Petroleros needed to spend their petro-dollars. Los Wembler’s reputation grew quickly and they found themselves touring around the Amazon region, spreading their sound. Los Wembler’s penned two of the early hits of the genre – Sonido Amazonico, which has become the unofficial anthem of Amazonian Cumbia, and La Danza del Petrolero. Both tunes were made famous by Los Mirlos, a band that took many of its clues from Los Wembler’s but being based in Lima, had much easier access to tastemakers and audiences and became the better known of the Amazonian bands.
From 1973 to 1979, Los Wembler’s recorded two to three albums a year but by the late 1970’s, the band started slowing down. Their rootsy psychedelic style was getting outdated as younger bands started using more synthesizers and processed guitar sounds. After Solomon died, the Sanchez brothers mostly stopped touring and recording – but they were still popular at local functions and parties.
In the past few years, there has been a regain of interest in their music and the band performed in Lima after a twenty-five year absence from the national scene. And now, Los Wembler’s are bringing their Amazonian funk to the US and Europe.
“An Improbable, Magic Comeback Album From Psychedelic Cumbia Legends Los Wembler’s
This family band of six guys from an isolated Amazonian oil boomtown, most of them in their sixties and seventies, played a wildly vigorous recent show that kept a mix of sweaty kids and curious oldsters on their feet for the better part of three hours.”
In New York Music Daily
Fascinating look at how psychedelic cumbias are just as diverse as American psychedelic rock. Without blinking an eye, the band made their way expertly through a couple of bright, cheery vamps that more than hinted at Veracruz folk tunes, eventually hit a brooding, Cuban-flavored number, made cumbia out of a stately, dramatic tango anthem, sped up, slowed down and took a couple of frantically pulsing detours toward merengue.