"We are a "drink-pop" band... just kidding." - Fat Camp.
Ever heard of Fat Camp? No, not an actual fat camp I mean the band. 2018's must-watch band of the year consists of Mario Otero (vocals/guitar/songwriter), Malone Seymour (drums), Grant Gonzalez (bass guitar/producer), and Sergio De Santiago (guitar/keyboards). I recently got to see them play at The Outpost where they also premiered the video for their latest single: Golden Crown. They played some of their older material, did a cover of a Juan Gabriel song, and played their newer material along side other silly stuff. From taking pauses to vape to telling jokes like Sergio just getting out of prison, without a doubt these boys have talent.
After asking the guys why they called themselves Fat Camp, there was some disagreement on how it happened. One story was that they got fat on their own and the other story was that they got fat while at the recording studio and one day they looked at themselves and saw how fat they were. "One day we were sitting the table and we were talking about how fat we were and then I said Fat Camp because at that time our name was Rock, Paper, Sisters. Our name before that one was Shrek the Third but no one thought it was funny and we also changed our name in the middle of one of our first sets to Aerosmith and it went horrible." I asked whether being fat together made them closer and they replied "yes". "We were spending so much time together, writing songs, and drinking a shit ton. You know how that goes".
They mentioned that the first song they recorded together was called "Hello Life". They also mentioned that their first tries were a disaster but after messing around in the studio they came up with "Hello Life". ""Hello Life" was originally a pop song. It had a verse, chorus, and a verse and it was just stupid. We kinda just made it into a beat and we liked it and from there we started recording an album." They mentioned that at first they tried really hard to become an indie band and then came to the realization that if it is catchy, they could still record it.
It also helps that most of the guys have known each other since high school that being Mario, Grant, and Malone while Sergio joined about a month or two ago. Sergio was brought into the band to make is sound "less rock" and the guys mentioned that ever since Sergio joined, it has sounded a hundred times better than before.
To that extent, I asked the guys to tell me about their newer material including the recently debuted video: Golden Crown. Mario mentioned that for a while he was struggling to write songs. He said, "in my mind I thought I had to go through something traumatic in order to be able to write about it. I thought I had to traumatize myself somehow so I went around doing dumb things. It somehow worked and I wrote Golden Crown." The guys also mentioned that the music video itself was filmed on an iPhone. "I was sitting there while these motherfuckers kept throwing things at me", added Mario.
Following up that conversation, Mario added that, " we are currently working on our next album and Grant is producing everything. Little do people know we record in a bedroom, but it is studio quality." The guys plan on playing a lot of shows this upcoming year and they hope to grow as a band. They recently got a manager and plan on taking Fat Camp to the next level.
A big thank you to the guys! Go check out their Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook. They are definitely a must watch band of the year!
"The most important thing in music is to follow your heart, as cheesy as it may seem." - Fernando "Psycho" Vallin.
In case the name does not sound familiar, then you will definitely recognize his mariachi "grito" during Maná's Mariposa Traicionera. He also happen's to be Maná's lead guitarist's brother. Fernando Vallin, better known as "Psycho", is an integral part of Maná. He plays several instruments for the band and he also lends his vocals for several songs. He has been playing for about thirty-two years and it shows in his abilities to play different instruments.
I recently caught up with Psycho and we talked about music, bands, Tel-Aviv, and we also took a stroll down memory lane. As mentioned, he has been playing for about thirty-two years and since the age of 16 he has known that he wanted to be a musician. He said that his musical teachings were "callejeras" and out of necessity. He also mentioned that he started off playing the acoustic guitar, but then he switched to electric guitar when he joined his old band. He said that when the drummer left his old band, he became the drummer for the band and then later when they got a drummer their bassist left and he took over the bass. He ended up sticking to the bass for a long time, but he said that it was all due to necessity. He said that it is vital to adapt to these types of situations, especially when you are starting out. His love for these instruments has only grown throughout the years.
Being that Maná has toured so much throughout the years, I had to ask him what his favorite part and experience from touring has been. He said that, "touring is such a great experience and it is something you will remember for life. When I am home, I just want to go touring and when I am touring, all I want to do is come back home to my family." He said that there has to be a balance. "Like tour and have fun, but also remember to chill when you have to." Regardless, he has enjoyed the ride.
He also mentioned that one of his favorite concerts to ever play was Tel Aviv. Never in a million years did he think that a band from Mexico would sell out venues in Tel Aviv. The language and culture is so different and he did not think it was possible. He said they had to change the venue like 2-3 times because tickets continued to sell out. He later learned that the reason they have a large following in Tel Aviv is due to military and lots of tourists from South America.
After a lengthy conversation on bands, I asked Psycho what his favorite artists of the moment were and he mentioned the classics like Queen, Toto, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and The Beatles. He then said that he is very much into jazz and mentioned that some of his favorite bands of the moment are Snarky Puppy and Chick Corea. He definitely recommends them.
I then took the moment to ask him what are his top 5 songs people should hear before they die and he said:
PSYCHO'S TOP 5
Last but not least, I asked Psycho what advice he would give people that are just starting off in a band and are eager to chase the music dream. "Patience. Lots of it. Also, be responsible. In the music world, it's so easy to act like a "rockstar" and arrive late to practice and get drunk all the time. Don't do that. Be responsible. I have been working with Maná for many many years and never have they been irresponsible or late. Only once have we ever post-poned a concert and that was something that was out of our control. Another piece of advice is to take it seriously. People are not dumb. They will call out your bullshit. Also, most importantly: follow your heart!"
Miijas is an El Paso punk band or as they call their genre, "surf pizza punx". The band is made up of Albert (bass), Mike (drums), Jerry (guitarist and vocalist). These boys are not only categorized by their fast paced music, but also their silliness. Their facebook description includes: "pizza, skateboarding, video games, and chat-roulette". A lot of people might recognize them because of their merchandise including their stickers that could be found in different bars throughout the city. The silly merchandise that I am referring to is their latest, which includes two stoned E.T's smoking blunts with MIIJAS spelled out in a smoke-cloud form. That drawing was actually made by Skip who is featured under the Dreamville tab.
I recently caught up with the guys to eat pizza and talk about their music and the band. Miijas has been a band since 2012-2103. Long story short, the band started nine days before a Dubois 7-inch release party. Mike was asked to open the show with his previous band, Bat Caves. However, Bat Caves had a gig the night before the Dubois one and Mike asked the band member of Dubois, Lalo, if he could start a new band in order to play at their 7-inch release show. Lalo said "yes" so Mike called a few friends of his and they also said "yes" to starting a band and this is how Miijas started. Within those nine days they wrote four songs total and also had a cover. They were first called Miidas, but two shows after becoming a band they changed to Miijas due to confusion on how to pronounce the band name.
After asking about Miijas' evolution as a band, Jerry said that Miijas now compared to Miijas then is that it is like a family now. Jerry has known Mike since 2008 and he went to high school with Albert, so the bond has only become stronger. Not only did the relationship of the band evolve, but their music did too. Their music, as the band mentioned, got "juicier". Miijas got "progressively faster" and "dirtier". Jerry mentioned that there used to be a fourth member, Omar, but Miijas sound wasn't exactly like it is today until some time after Omar left due to differences in tastes/goals music-wise.
The guys have had a lot of unforgettable moments together throughout the years including some funny stories from when they have gone on mini-tours. Their love of music and what they do really shows. They have fun doing what they do and they want people to have fun with them as well. The word Miijas is not because they are preaching some message or because it is related to the Mexican-American culture. They believe that anyone can listen to their music and lyrics and relate.
Miijas will release an album with all their new material by the end of the year. They mentioned that they have been holding it back, but they are finally ready to release it all and share it with the public. They are ready to take a "whirl". They are also excited by the growing El Paso music scene as well. "It's time everyone sees El Paso has talent."
A big thank you to Miijas and go follow them on Instagram: miijas_sux
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.