The fellas from Fayuca are fresh off another successful tour supporting their wicked-cool record, Barrio Sideshow, released earlier this year. Thanks in large part to the video placement of their lead single "Por Que Seguir" on MTVu, the boys from Phoenix are finding it a lot easier to fill venues across the country.
"It was the first time that we actually saw new faces that were already engaged and intrigued by what the band was doing," singer/guitarist Gabriel Solorzano says of their recent leg.
Solorzano and his crew are hoping to keep the momentum going with a new video series titled The Bomb Shelter Sessions. The music videos give an intimate look at acoustic renditions of tracks off the album.
"We thought, why not give this to the people who are listening to our music?" Solorzano says. "They might want to hear the lyrics clearly, and the cracks in my voice and the notes that I struggle with."
The first video in the series is for "Tricky Sneaky Sleeves" and is getting its premiere on Up on the Sun. Read on for the full interview and catch Solorzano and drummer Raf Ruiz later today at the Crescent Ballroom for an acoustic meet-and-greet session from noon to 2 p.m.
Up on the Sun: What is your measure of a successful tour? Gabriel: The van not blowing up was a very good start.
I feel like anytime that you see growth, a stronger connection with fans, making new fans; anytime that you're going to new cities and you're received well, even if it's one person at a bar or a thousand people at a venue. Anytime there's a positive response, I consider that a successful show. And when you have a run of that, I consider that a successful tour.
It was the first time that we actually saw new faces that were already engaged and intrigued by what the band was doing. Singing along to the songs, asking us to sing certain songs. That was exciting because a lot of the time we're rushing to set up our gear and we're hitting the streets trying to make new fans, but with this tour, there were already a lot of places where there was people waiting to see us.
Raf: The place where I tripped out the most was Alabama. We haven't played there in a few years and it was packed on a Tuesday night. We were like, "Yeah, this is pretty awesome."
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I feel like every tour is successful because if you affect one person's view in life; that's all that matters. If it's 5,000, or 100 or just the bartender.
Gabriel: We do this thing, before the shows, whenever we have time, where we go out and hit up local places like coffee shops. We'll get a coffee, sit around and scope people out to see what they're wearing, listening to, what are they reading, what websites are they browsing -- but when we went to Mobile, Alabama, it was on a strip where there were multiple bars and pizza shops and not too far from one of the universities, and we went out on a mission to talk to people and give out merchandise our sponsors give them, and maybe seven out of 10 people already knew about the show and were considering going. That's when I was like, "Damn."
We just couldn't believe how many people had heard of the show and were seeking us out on YouTube.
What's made the difference? Raf: I think it's the new album and the video that came out on MTVu. That's a big thing, man. Also I think it has to do with word of mouth. People are talking and it's spreading.
Gabriel: With the previous album, we didn't make a video for our single, "Dirty Girl." We had a couple of acoustic things, but we didn't have the means to make a music video. Now we're more involved with the local community, whereas before we would always just tour. I think the fact that we put out a solid album, or at least what we think is a solid album, and we put out these three videos, and now we're releasing this new series. I feel like before people would see us on a venue's website, then they'd find us online, but there wasn't anything to engage them.
Now that we have these videos, the album, and a record label that has taken us under their wing and pushed us harder than we had before. And the band having the right members, and the right approach, all of this combined, have made it easier for people to become engaged with us.
Raf: What's cool, too, about this last tour was that we brought our trumpet player with us. So what ended up happening was that it kicked up our live show.
Gabriel: He adds a very different dynamic than we've never had.
Raf: And people are really connecting more with us live now.
What inspired you guys to make this kind of video series? Gabriel: When we approached the label about this, it basically came from my passion from when I first heard Nirvana Unplugged. That's what inspired me to start a band, and soon after that I met Raf. Having that approach to music, where you're not afraid to show the music organically, without all of the bells and whistles and the harmonies and the drums. It's just pure.
Jeff, our label manager, always says a good song can be sung any way. It can be sung with a guitar by campfire -- it doesn't matter what genre it is, any song can be sung organically. So, we thought, why not give this to the people who are listening to our music. They might want to hear the lyrics clearly, and the cracks in my voice and the notes that I struggle with. They want to see that Raf can tone it down and just beat a cajón.
Raf: It gives them something new to hear.
Raf, you play with a lot of energy. Was it hard for you to tone it down for this series? Raf: At first it was, because you can't turn down rock 'n' roll. At first, it was hard, but after practice and time, and becoming more mature, and knowing where you stand, it's just growing up. This is relaxing. It's like going to work and taking it easy. The cajón is a fun instrument. It has its technique, but you just have to learn how to tone it down.
Gabriel: We talked about this before. I always wanted Raf to play percussion with me at these acoustic gigs, but it's a little boring for him to play the bongos. I remember when he discovered it in Albuquerque, our friend Marcos showed Raf some simple hits, and from there he took off. He found something that was more than the one to two bongo hits.
Raf: I learned a lot from famous drummers that I've watched. They all say everyone wants to rock it at first. But you can't rock it 24-7. I learned that from my favorite drummer, Stewart Copeland from The Police. He's my inspiration. Gabriel: Fervor Records has a private studio in Phoenix called the Bomb Shelter. It's literally in a bomb shelter of a home. They "welcomed" us to the family when they took us down there.
Raf: I thought they were gonna kill us. (Laughs)
Gabriel: So we went down there with Matty Steinkamp and he filmed these three songs, and he had a real clear vision of what they should look like. It ended up being the perfect place for it. We were able to manipulate the lighting, and he made us feel real comfortable. He got us to perform the way we needed to, and we're very happy with the way the videos came out. So these "Bomb Shelter Sessions" are our acoustic versions of the Barrio Sideshow album. So we're the first artists that they're doing it with. We're the guinea pigs.
Raf: Matty did a really great job of capturing the performance. He makes it look like 15 cameras are in the studio with us.
Gabriel: At the end of the day, people want to listen to an artist who is honest and passionate about what they write about. The moment you become comfortable with yourself, your beliefs and your specific focus, the world just latches on.
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We have three videos that we can release between now and the end of the year. Basically we don't have a release date for the other ones. We're leaving it up to the listeners, if they like it and they want more, they can request it.