THEY WILL BE HEARD (TWBH) follows the lives and dreams of Cuban heavy metal band ESCAPE from their early days as Cuban rock gods in Havana to their uncertain futures as immigrants in the United States.
Born out of the hardships of the Special Period (from 1991 to 2000), a time of severe economic crisis plagued by food, medicine and electricity shortages, Escape embodied the frustrations of Cubans on the island. Fueled by aspiring metaleros ALEJANDRO PADRON (drummer) and JUSTO VALDEZ (lead guitar), Escape mastered the forbidden genre of metal, producing complex Cuban rhythms while embracing Western riffs, giving a voice to the angry and disenfranchised. Despite difficulties securing instruments and learning how to play, the young band dominated the Cuban metal scene, becoming the voice of Cuban rebellion.
Justo Valdez and Alejandro Padron, 1998
Justo Valdez, Alejandro De La Torre, Jennifer Hernandez, Alejandro Padron, Yanio Lee, Ewar Acosta
Padron practicing at Patio Maria 2007
In February of 2010, after painful stops and starts mired in bureacracy, JENNIFER HERNANDEZ is able to fulfill a life-long dream, to be reunited with her father, world-renowned percussionist HORACIO “EL NEGRO” HERNANDEZ. As Jenny prepares to leave for the United States, Escape looks to recruit a new keyboard player while her fiance questions the reality of their future together.
Jennifer Hernandez with her Cuban ID and her food rations card before leaving the U.S.
Yando Coy and Jennifer Hernandez relaxing at La Costa in Havana.
Within months of arriving in New Jersey, JENNIFER HERNANDEZ teams up with director TRACEY NOELLE LUZ to form UNBLOCK THE ROCK, (UBTR), a grassroots effort to bring Escape to perform in the U.S. Joined by MONICA HAMPTON (film producer, “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Heavy Metal in Baghdad”) and legendary metal guitarist ALEX SKOLNICK of Testament, UBTR organizes tirelessly to bring this dream to light despite a bureaucratically confusing and absurdly expensive visa process.
Journalist DAVID PEISNER and ALICIA ZERTUCHE of SXSW (South By Southwest Music Festival) work for months to get Escape their artist visas with less than two weeks before the festival. After selling everything they own, bolstered by funds raised in the US, Escape travel to Miami with a metal contingent including Cuban bands ANCESTOR and AGONIZER. On March 15, 2013 Escape became the first metal band from Cuba to perform in the United States at the JR in Austin, TX.
Alex Skolnick performing at the "Rockupation" event at City Hall in Jersey City.
The Cuban Invasion in Austin, TX at the JR.
Karina Rykman and Josh Musto of Skitkill meeting Alejandro Padron for the first time at Tomato's House of Rock in Manhattan.
After a lackluster performance at SXSW Escape returns to Miami. With the help of RUDY SARZO (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne) UBTR brings Escape to New York City to perform with GoatWhore at Brooklyn's famed Saint Vitus. Days before the trip to NYC, Escape's bass player ALEJANDRO DE LA TORRE and guitarist YANIO LEE decide to return to Cuba, months before their artist visa in the US expires. The rest of Escape arrive in NYC and are joined by KARINA RYKMAN (Marco Benevento) and JOSH MUSTO (Tragedy), two young American metal musicians who learn Escape’s repertoire of music in less than two weeks. Escape rocks NYC and performs their anthem “Cuba Rebelion” with one of their metal heros, ALEX SKOLNICK.
Escape reunited in Miami, March 2013.
From l-r: Justo Valdez, Alejandro De La Torre, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Alejandro Padron, Jezabel Sigler, Yando Coy, Ewar Acosta, Yanio Lee, Jennifer Hernandez
Escape at Saint Vitus in Greenpoint, New York, opening up for Goatwhore.
PADRON, VALDEZ, COY and SIGLER make the decision to remain in the United States and leave their families behind to pursue their dreams to become a famous metal band. But they must reconcile their dreams with the reality of living in the US. In Cuba, Escape was paid by the state sanctioned Rock Agency to practice and perform, but here, lead vocalist Coy laments, "In the US you have to pay for everything, rent, transportaion, practice space...but I have to live my dreams." Seven years after their arrival, TWBH looks at the length these metalheads will go to to make their dreams come true.