You’ve probably heard the story finally being told before in Steven B. Esparza’s Gunslingers: Death, Medicine and Rock and Roll. Promising musicians meet with temperament, and a promising career is completely broken. Some of those professions are well-known, while others are overshadowed by one-hit surprises, bonus conflicts and disaster.
Fortunately Esparza isn’t trying to change anything for the better to make a more exciting Gunslinger movie. This is not a story about a band that did everything differently. You probably won’t even Google his music afterwards. However, the personal perspective that the director uses to explore the protagonists of the story is commendable and effective. You won’t be interested in the music of Gunslingers, The Guys or Chimeras. But within a musical career it will be played, how it was built and collapsed, and how it fits today in the memory of those who lived the best years.
Pistoleros is the story of the Arizona musicians who originally formed the band Chimeras. Brothers Lawrence and Mark Zubia come from a large Mexican-American family, where music played in their life. Their father was a mariachi and they grew up amidst the tuning sounds of strange guitars and instruments. It’s only natural that they formed a bond as they got older.
However, this exciting story is full of misfortunes and conflicts. The Zubia brothers are not the only subjects of the story and a relatively obscure musical culture has more secrets than we thought. In Pistoleros, no matter how vague the music, the perception of the musician is fuel for something tragic, problematic and permanent.
The idea of “rock stardom”, with big or small bands, should be explored by those seeking fame. The Zubia brothers approached this like any other musician you’ve met before. The idea of succeeding brought them together and tore them apart. To this day, the effects are still there and, in an extraordinary resolution, disaster strikes again and incomprehensible competition remains resilient. How? I can’t say it honestly, but there is so much truth in Mark’s eyes, that his personality feels magnetic and impossible to reconcile.
Esparza remains convincing in this firm family where friendship and brotherhood are deeply complex concepts in the culture of musical bands. In the first half, a band has experienced promising growth in an era where music was not massive. In the second half, a cautionary tale begins that remains embedded in the minds of the audience. Opioid addiction has a place in Gunslingers and at first it seems too risky to make an addition, but it’s hard to find a better place to talk about the topic than this one.
Pistoleros is a musical documentary like many others, but Esparza highlights a very important topic without inserting it into the story. And it’s not just about music or sibling competition. There is more and it was as relevant back then as it is today.