Ever since there have been massive rock bands on the national level, there have been tribute bands on the local level, to pay an homage to their favorite artists. In Southern California, every single band has a tribute band regardless of genre, or era. However, there is one tribute band which has lasted now for almost 30 years and has gained an international following for its musical tribute to Morrissey/The Smiths. The Sweet and Tender Hooligans is fronted by singer Jose Maldonado, who has become known as The Mexican Morrissey. The band also features guitarists David Collett, and Art Barrios, drummer Danny Garcia, and from the OC Punk heroes, the Vandals, Joe Escalante on bass.
The Sweet and Tender Hooligans made such a buzz even Morrissey himself is aware of the band’s popularity. The band has toured in South America, Europe, and the US and is a hit for fans of the English singer’s music, both from his solo career and from The Smiths. The Sweet and Tender Hooligans began with Maldonado’s love and passion for these songs and has continued to this day, because of that passion.
Sweet and Tender Hooligans recently performed a free outdoor concert in Fountain Valley at Mile Square Park as part of a County-wide free concert series the month of August. Fans of all ages literally(middle school kids next to their grandparents) all got to sing along with the Sweet and Tender Hooligans, to their favorite songs by The Smiths/Morrissey.
Maldonado and Collett took time after the concert to speak with the OC Weekly about the band’s history and passion for sharing these songs with fans. Strictly staying on the topic of music and avoiding any of Morrissey’s veganism or politics, Maldonado insists the music is what matters. “The music of Morrissey and the Smiths is timeless it crosses generations of fans,” he said. “Everybody at one point or another can relate to so many of these songs, it really taps into that moment in your life when you were 16 clumsy and shy.’ Or even his humor with a song like ‘The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get.’ So many of his songs are for different people and different situations.”
Maldonado was extremely happy with the performance in Fountain Valley. “Our band has a lot history in Orange County. We played throughout over the years, a lot at House of Blues when it was at Disney. Both incarnations of the Galaxy and Observatory have been wonderful to us, as well. Also, Beach Goth was a highlight for us. It was was a beautiful summer night and the craziest thing for us that was the first ever show of ours with a drone flying over filming us so that was historic first.”
Maldonado said the band’s travels around the country and to South America, and Europe have seen them perform to so many different crowds, but due to the emotional nature of the music fans are always extremely into it. “In other states and countries there is intensity from the fans when we perform,” he said. From Scotland to Ireland, to England, to Mexico and El Paso, Texas everywhere we play the feelings and emotions are intense because the songs are intense with feeling and emotions so it makes sense.
But when it comes to choosing what songs to play live, Collett and Maldonado like to have fun with the vast selection. “There are so many great songs; there are over 300 combined of his solo work and songs with The Smiths,” he said.
Collett also added, “Jose likes to stick with the standards and big hits, but I tend to go for the deep cuts. So there’s the dynamic: me squeezing in a rare one every so often.”
Maldonado agreed, but also added, “We both love and respect the deep cuts and the slower tempo songs but we try to find a good balance of the crowd pleasers as well as those for the die-hard fans.”
Maldonado reiterates the music and love for Morrissey are what gives him fuel to keep on trucking. “We have always done what we do out of love and respect and for the music,” he said. “And to be able to share this with crowds full of people who also feel this love for these songs is amazing, we will be doing it for another 25 years.”
The Sweet and Tender Hooligans will perform for Maldonado’s birthday on August 25, at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles. For more information, visit sweetandtenderhooligans.com.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.