Photo by Natalie Bojorquez/FIUSM
Diego Saldaña-Rojas/Opinion Director
In collaboration with WRGP Radiate FM’s program titled Local Radiation, FIU Student Media has had the chance to interview several up-and-coming as well as established acts in the Miami scene. This time around, FIUSM got to interview local act Eagle Chief, which is comprised of bassist and vocalist Nacho, guitarist Eddy and drummer Alex.
Prior to being Eagle Chief, you were known as Arboles Libres. When did you guys formally start Arboles Libres?
Eddy: We hit our five-year mark about a month ago so that ran on for five years. And then now Eagle Chief is a brand new project, which is starting fresh basically.
And where did the name Eagle Chief come into play?
Eddy: We used the name about three years ago for a show we were playing at Churchill’s and that was the first time we used it. Because we were playing another show and we couldn’t use Arboles Libres, so we used Eagle Chief to get away with playing the gig and not having to use our actual band name. But that wasn’t even serious, that was just foreshadowing in a sense. Then last year we actually became a concrete band called Eagle Chief.
What would you describe your sound as?
Nacho: Simple rock and roll. It’s really not experimental, as it used to be before, before it was just seven to eight minute-long songs all of the time. Now the format is really simple. It’s very rock and roll.
Eddy: We were considered psychedelic pop before. Which is cool. It’s all right, it’s not bad. Just I never looked at it that way. As far as what was talked about is that we went from psychedelic pop to rock and roll. Which is nice. We always wanted to play rock and roll. I guess it never worked with our project Arboles Libres. That’s definitely our sound now, I’d say.
How did you transition from one to the other?
Nacho: When we hit the road that was a big thing for us. Being able to experience that. Playing with all the bands, different venues and different cities every day. It made us grow and understand really where we were heading. It’s just that when you stay in one place, you kind of stay stuck on an idea. When you’re actually out there you see and discover where you want to head. If you don’t hit the road you are never going to understand that. That was definitely a part of it, being on the road, changing instruments, everything completely went in that direction. We’re still working on that direction because it’s a brand new project. So right now we’re in that point of experimenting, trying to find that line that we’re looking for to be able to act in. So it’s pretty interesting for us.
Eddy: More of a journey of self-discovery at this point. I believe it’s already had a direction. They had everything almost. They just needed us to be Arboles Libres; that was always easier. Now it’s like, we’re creating a whole new genre and a whole new sense and style that we’re bringing from Arboles Libres but creating a new way of performing it.
Are there any instruments that Arboles Libres used versus Eagle Chief or are you guys pretty much the same band?
Nacho: It was two guitars and drums. It was Eddy and I on guitar. There was no bass. We would bring in different people for the record, for the last record of Arboles Libres and we’d just invite people when it was time to do something, collaborations. This time I’m on bass now so it changes everything. The writing process, practice, rehearsing, getting the ideas for the new record. Everything completely changed because now we think about that low frequency that we never had.
When is the next record coming out?
Nacho: We’re working on it now. We’re in the pre-production, finally. We found the studio and hopefully we’re going to record everything analogue. So we found this really cool studio. Everything is completely analogue to digital. So we’re going back to where it is, to the real sound. It’s more about location and settings than music. We already have all the new music written. It’s just a matter of who’s going to really capture it, basically.
In your music, there are lot of instrumentals in the intros. How do you keep your audience’s interest as you go?
Eddy: By enjoying it.
Nacho: Yeah we don’t think about pleasing anybody. I’m sorry guys. But that’s not the idea. We just enjoy playing and that’s that.
Eddy: I’m surprised when people tell me [it’s] just the fact that we look like we’re enjoying it so much. I remember back when we first started that was a big thing. “You guys look like you’re enjoying it.” That’s what we do. That’s why we play in general so then everyone else can enjoy themselves; that’s a big factor in performing. Like you could be destroying your instrument and making a great sound come out but if you’re standing there making it seem like someone made you do it, it affects the audience and the overall energy. So to keep someone going in a long intro is actually enjoying and have them see that you’re enjoying it and they start enjoying it.
Do you feel that’s an issue in music nowadays where there are some bands that don’t really care?
Eddy: It happens but it’s with someone that wants to enjoy playing as opposed to the people that just write solely on one mission, to get famous and having everyone enjoy that popular sound.
Nacho: You see it happening all the time but I feel like it’s always going to happen no matter what. But it happens more when you’re in the big leagues, when you have people telling you what to do. It’s probably a hassle for the people that actually want to do it for real. We’re in a process of just playing music. We have no idea where it’s going to take us. We have no plan. We just want to make music.
What is your writing process like?
Eddy: Having something to arrange. That’s pretty much it. The rest happens with the three of us. It’s a very collaborative form of writing.
Nacho: It’s cool because we all bring ideas, even the drummer creates songs. He doesn’t play guitar or anything to write music with; he’s just a great drummer. And he has all these ideas in his head. He goes like, “Oh, I want to try this” and then we actually understand what he’s trying to say so we play what he’s trying to do and tell us what is his on the drums. The process is pretty cool.
Are there any recurring themes in your music?
Nacho: It’s really political.
Eddy: I tend to go childhood-experience-lyrics. Like observational lyricism and then like an indirect protest kind of thing.
Nacho: We talk a lot when we’re together. And we touch different subjects like government, lives, food. Anything that is a movement, especially with everything that’s happening we tend to take stock and just listen to music and just talk about everything. The music just takes off from that. That’s the cool thing we don’t just sit there and say, “let’s be a band and write about what other bands are writing about.” It doesn’t matter what we’re writing it’s just like…. We actually say like, “we’re too personal. Let’s have fun.”
Nacho: As much as we try to be happier rock and roll. It always seems to take a reality turn. Man, it’s so hard not to write about this.
What do you think about the music scene in Miami?
Eddy: Well I’ll tell you one thing, when I first got asked that question about five years ago, I could say it’s definitely doing better now than the first time I gave that answer. And the first time I answered I said that it’s a very small and immature scene comparatively with New York, Chicago, LA. But in the last five years, it has grown. Tons of bands, tons of great bands.
Nacho: Amazing bands.
Eddy: People just come out of nowhere and I love it. Music is a great form of art and on the surface people come here for Ultra or the club scene or the beaches. Things that are cool but have nothing to do with the growing music scene, the underground. And now it’s coming very close to that surface. People come here for big festivals and actually have chances and opportunities to be close to the Miami local scene. And I think it’s doing great. Probably not with the big boys but people know that we exist.
Nacho: I’m happy with what’s going on. I feel that everybody’s so creative. The Jellyfish Brothers, I love them. They’re cool guys and they’re always creating these cool festivals and bringing different bands from all over Miami. The Jacuzzi Boys is another band that’s doing its own thing, the way they do it. I think it’s pretty cool. We have Deaf Poets, Catchychewy, the list goes on and on. Rachel who is not with us now, but she’s part of this. She was a pioneer of this crazy scene. So I feel that we have a long way to go but it’s coming along pretty cool.