Known for their energetic live shows as much as their recordings, Kinky are a Latin alternative group that draws from funk-rock as well as electronic dance music, resulting in a unique hybrid that has garnered them an international following. The five-piece band from Monterrey, Mexico, first came together in 2000 as a trio comprised of vocalist/guitarist Gilberto Cerezo, keyboardist/programmer Ulises Lozano, and guitarist Carlos Chairez. Drummer Omar Gongora and bassist Cesar Pliego joined shortly thereafter, giving the group more of a band essence, and by summer 2000, the guys were prepared to perform at the Battle of Bands hosted by the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) in New York City.
British producer Chris Allison was impressed by Kinky and offered to produce the group as well as release their debut album on his Sonic360 label. The British producer already had a solid track record — Coldplay, the Beta Band, Fila Brazillia, Dot Allison, the Wedding Present, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, and more — so there were high hopes. The resulting self-titled debut “Kinky” was met with critical acclaim and benefited commercially from a car commercial spot advertising the Nissan Altima. When Kinky began work on their follow-up album, “Atlas”, they cut back on the electronics, favoring a sound that could be replicated live on-stage, for the group had become recognized as an impressive live act. Kinky’s third album “Reina” was recorded in a cabin in the mountains of Southern California — complete with mudslides — and featured guest performances from Men At Work’s Colin Hay and accordionist Ricardo Munoz.
From a recent update on Omar, from Modern Drummer:
The key to watching Kinky’s drummer/percussionist Omar Gongora live is to never blink. The fiery drummer, who fuels the band’s blend of Latin rock, electronica, and disco, never stops moving as he swings from a DW drumkit that he plays standing up to congas, timbales, a Roland 808, and a TD-10. “Yeah, I have a lot of work to do,” he says with a laugh. “That’s why I’m so skinny. I get a lot of exercise.”
Gongora has been playing standing up for about five years now, mainly because it’s the only way he can get around his expansive setup. “In the beginning I played drums and percussion,” he explains. “But I couldn’t easily switch to the congas because I was sitting at a normal set of drums. Then I came up with the idea of standing up to play everything, and now I feel very comfortable.”
Gongora and his Kinky compatriots recorded their second offering, Atlas (Nettwerk), in a jungle about two hours outside of Cancun, Mexico. The setting lent Omar’s percussion playing a different feel. “It was an amazing place to record,” he says. “I really felt more ‘animal’ when playing the congas, timbales, and djembe there. I started to make a whole percussion section by sequencing drumkit parts and then adding other parts with cowbells, congas, and djembe. It was really interesting. I did have to back off on some of the parts, though, because they were filling up too much space in the music.”