From Lower Valley backyard party band to a local household name, seminal El Paso ska-punk legends Fixed Idea have been dropping their skankin’* hot jams since 1992.
We’ll get to see different incarnations of the band for their 25th-anniversary show this Saturday, Aug. 12 at Tricky Falls. About 30 past and present members will unite on stage for a celebration of Fixed Idea’s iconic sounds, remarkable influence and a damn good time.
While he was a sophomore at Ysleta High School, Pancho Mendoza formed the band to fill a much-needed niche.
“We loved punk music when we were skate boarders in high school,” Mendoza said. “Since nobody was coming around, we had to do it ourselves; we had to create the scene.”
In true do-it-yourself fashion, which has been a trademark of Fixed Idea since day one, Mendoza scoured the contacts in “Book Your Own F*ck*n’ Life,” a guidebook to booking agents, touring and other resources. As the band began to play bigger shows and move from house parties to the club circuit, their repertoire grew as well.
Their debut record was 1996’s “Chuco Town,” release on seven-inch vinyl.
“By then, the scene had grown and we were packing backyards,” Mendoza recalled. “It took a bit of time to build up the scene.”
A key musical influence for Mendoza was Operation Ivy, the band that put Rancid’s Tim Armstrong on the map.
“I heard the upbeats and didn’t even know what ska was,” Mendoza said. “I wanted to incorporate that, but we didn’t even have horns.”
The band quickly found some horn players and began to form the signature Fixed Idea sound.
Mendoza said the last 25 years have been about not only making music, but the passion and sacrifice he and his band mates have willingly endured. He is a full-time elementary music and art teacher and father. He’s also the band’s principal songwriter and manager.
“There have been a lot of obstacles, and people give up when it’s too hard,” he said. “I’ve never given up.”
Another constant in his life has been his six children. This Saturday, Fixed Idea will be joined onstage by Mendoza’s daughters Kaya on bass, Devinne on guitar and son River on vocals. Another Fixed Idea progeny will join the lineup: former Fixed Idea drummer Rick Rodriguez will perform along with his daughter Ivy on alto sax. The result is a past, present and future look at the band.
Former member Jaime Candelaria will also join the anniversary celebration. He was the band’s bassist from 1999-2009 and was the replacement for Ernesto Tinajero, founder of local legends Radio La Chusma.
For Candelaria, his days in Fixed Idea were a pivotal part of his musical career and a primer for networking and maneuvering within the club circuit.
“By the end, I was doing all the booking for Fixed Idea,” he said. “So that’s definitely something that’s helped me with other bands.”
Some of the highlights for Candelaria during his tenure with the band include opening for Rancid and The Slackers, hanging with vocalist Roco of Mexican ska group Maldita Vecindad and jamming with singer-songwriter Chris Murray.
“The Juarez shows too,” he said. “The love we got there was f*ck*ng amazing.”
Mendoza said he hopes Fixed Idea will keep going strong and that his kids will continue the legacy. Possible licensing plans, a documentary and a songwriting project with Frontera Bugalu frontman Kiko Rodriguez are all in the works.
Candelaria lauded the band’s endurance and Mendoza’s ability to stay the course.
“It’s impressive and it shows a lot of persistence,” he said. “It’s been him 100 percent keeping it going.”