With a sound that combines the classic strumming of 1960s surf music---reminiscent of Dick Dale's guitar work---with the element of punk, Los Straitjackets have carved a successful niche for themselves in the world of alternative rock. Comprised of Eddie Angel and Danny Amis on guitars, Pete Curry on bass, and Jimmy Lester on drums, the instrumental band has performed original as well as classic tunes, while always focusing on pop culture and fun. Their trademark Mexican wrestling masks, matching clothes, and custom-made matching guitars have made them one of the more visually exciting bands to see in live performance.
A chance meeting at a bar sowed the seeds of Los Straitjackets. Amis, who had been playing bass for The Raybeats, went to Nashville, Tennessee, to see Webb Wilder perform. Angel, who had performed as part of several rockabilly bands, was opening for Webb Wilder. Amis and Angel met and talked, and both discovered they were drawn to the drumming skills of Lester, who was part of Webb Wilder. In 1988 the three musicians formed The Straitjackets and performed around Nashville for a short time, disbanding soon afterwards. The three reunited in the early 1990s. Amis, who had been playing bass in the original lineup, took up guitar alongside Angel. Scott Esbeck came on board as bassist and The Straitjackets were ready to try again. They were a solely instrumental band, and Angel wanted to add some kind of visual interest to the group for crowds to watch. Amis had Mexican wrestling masks, and despite the group's initial concern about people's reactions, the addition took hold. Los Straitjackets have worn them while performing together ever since their first show, at Lucy's Record Shop in Nashville. For their 2004 appearance at the Grammy Awards, they did exchange their standard jeans and t-shirts for tuxedos, but maintained their anonymity with the headgear---after getting the go-ahead from security.
By 1996 Los Straitjackets was committed to a heavy touring schedule while also recording their second release, Viva Los Straitjackets. They made a second appearance on the talk show Late Night with Conan O'Brien and appeared on an episode of Pacific Blue. Other TV appearances included a performance in The X Games on ESPN and on MTV's Oddville. Los Straitjackets also found that their instrumentals were in demand as background music for television shows and movies. Their work was heard in the films Harriet the Spy and Meet the Parents, and on TV shows like Malcolm in the Middle and Melrose Place. The band was also seen in the film Psycho Beach Party. Opportunities like these kept the band together and working.
Los Straitjackets have continually found new ways to expand their horizons. Whether through collaborating with legendary artists such as Clearwater, Link Wray, or The Ventures, or scheduling holiday cruises for their fans, Los Straitjackets can be counted on to explore all the angles. At the same time, their sound is a constant reminder of their rock and roll roots and deep connection to pop culture. As Angel explained to Wirt, "We're just fans of pop culture, whether it's rock 'n' roll, monster movies, Mexican wrestling. It's just fun, pop culture stuff." Their musical skill, their innovations, and their pure joy in creating music are likely to carry Los Straitjackets into pop culture history.