Cuban metal band Escape want to perform at this year's South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. One problem: the U.S. and Cuba's (ahem) tense 50-plus-year history. But trade embargoes and foreign policy dating back to the Eisenhower administration be damned — independent movement UnBlock the Rock are trying to get Escape onto American soil.
"Since 1959, the two countries, separated by less than 100 miles of open sea, remain politically and culturally isolated from each other, with no meaningful end in sight," reads the campaign's website. "By buidling a coalition of sponsors, non profits and individuals, UBTR believes that we can navigate the complicated legal process to invite our fellow metalheads to bang their heads with their American neighbors."
UnBlock the Rock has put together a nine-track compilation dubbed The Red Album, which can be purchased for $10 here. The collection features songs by Escape, EyeHateGod, Sound of Urchin, and more. All proceeds will go toward legal fees, visa processing, and travel costs to bring Escape to SXSW this March. (The band has already secured an official invitation to perform and speak on a panel, thanks to the help of SPIN's own David Peisner.)
Escape, who were the subject of the full-length documentary They Will Be Heard, are also offering a free download of their debut album, La Hora de la Verdad (which translates to The Hour of the Truth).
"The passion and determination of Escape and of all metal musicians in Cuba, deserves recognition,” says Tracey Noelle Luz, director of They Will Be Heard, the project that spawned UnBlock the Rock. ”SXSW is the perfect place to showcase their talent and bring Cuban metal to the forefront of the American conscious. The proceeds received from the sale of The Red Album will make this dream a reality.”
For a fuller look at Escape and Cuba's heavy metal community at large, read David Peisner's fascinating feature, Red Menace: Inside the Hidden World of Extreme Cuban Metal. Also, check out our accompanying photo slideshow, Buena Vista Anti-Social Club: Inside Cuba's Hidden Metal Scene.