Tribesmen have been under the radar as of late, but the all-instrumental band hasn’t dissolved – they’ve been hard at work recording, and they’ll be performing a show on Friday, September 11 at The Hood Bar and Pizza.
During a recent interview, guitarist Alec Corral, bassist Leslie Romero, and drummer Freddy Jimenez, and new member and guitarist Christian Leon, talked a little bit about recording of an EP that they hope to have out in January, as well as what’s ahead.
“We’ve been mostly working on recording,” Jimenez said. “The reason it’s been taking so long is because we just added Christian [Leon] as our new guitarist, so all the old songs that we’ve been working for 4 years, Christian has to write parts to. We want him to write parts to them so he can share equally into them. That’s the reason why we’ve been taking our time.”
Leon said that since he’s joined the band, he’s been writing guitar parts to try and work into some of their original songs.
“As far as recording goes, they’ve been done with it for a while,” Leon said. “I’m just trying to fill in all the cracks as much as I can, and that’s what’s taken up time.”
Bringing Leon into the group was done to add a more creative touch to Tribesmen’s material.
“We felt like we reached a plateau and we needed something else and I felt Christian brought a balance,” Jimenez said. “He’s good a friend of ours and the connection is there, and once we tried him out, the chemistry was there. It worked.”
Romero said that having Leon in the band is a good thing.
“He was pretty much there all the time,” Romero said. “Even when it was just the original 4, he was always there. He kind of knew the style and we knew if anything were to happen, he could fill in on the spot, and he has the talent to be in the band.”
Leon joked there was a way into Tribesmen eventually.
“If you kiss their asses long enough, they’ll eventually take you.”
But there was something about Tribesmen that made Leon want to join the band after he had heard them play.
“When these guys came out about 4 years ago, I thought, ‘Whoa! Holy Shit! This is the first band I’ve ever heard in the valley that I wanted to play with. Just the sound and everything – it was the sound I always wanted to do and I was doing it on my own time. Ever since they came out, I thought, ‘Why wasn’t I invited?’”
Corral said that they still plan to remain an all-instrumental band, and Romero agreed with that direction.
“Everything is between us, and we’re not going to have anybody else come in,” Romero said. “If we’re trying to do something with a synth or some sort of experimentation, we know we’re going to have to do it ourselves. If we want to add vocals to it, it will only be singing chorus or little voices here and there to fill in some gaps, but only if it complements the song.”
The video presentation that Tribesmen put into their “Alpine” music video is something that they plan doing more of in their future material, but Jimenez and Corral said that information is something they weren’t willing to discuss the specific details of, but Jimenez hinted at what they want to do.
“We’re going to have an art curator,” Jimenez said. “He’s a professional artist and he’s worked in professional galleries, we’re still working on it but we don’t want to release any information on it just yet.”
Corral said that they have added some visuals into their live sets.
“We’re projecting images and stuff right onto the background,” Corral said. “Our friend Angel and Danny have projections and the right mind to add stuff. The time we don’t have, they have it. They have all the images and stuff, and it’s a very good collaboration. We kind of consider them part of Tribesmen.”
There is no doubt that Tribesmen are one of the bands that stick out in the Coachella Valley. After playing the Tachevah Block Party in 2013, they came up short in the finals to try and return to Tachevah in 2014, and Bruce Fessier of the Desert Sun told them that they were more for the Coachella stage instead of the Tachevah stage. Tribesmen have yet to play Coachella, but in many ways, they’ve taken what Fessier said as a compliment.
“It pushed us,” Corral said. “A lot of people think that if you play Tachevah, it guarantees you a spot at Coachella. We don’t want to get to Coachella that way. We want to make a name for ourselves because of our following, not winning a competition. We thought, ‘We have to get better, we have to get projections, visuals, and all that stuff.’ It put it in our heads.”
“I didn’t want to get handed a spot at Coachella with, ‘Oh here, you guys are opening it up,’” Romero said. “I want to feel like we deserved it and it’s not an opening spot. I want to feel that success that comes with earning it and we have a following to come and watch us. It’s cool and I like the whole thing they’re doing, but I’d rather have that successful feeling of, ‘We did it!’ Just the fact Bruce Fessier and who he is to be complimenting us like that, it really meant something.”
While Tribesmen have not been playing at traditional venues such as Schmidy’s or The Hood lately, they have been playing small shows in Coachella.
“Honestly, I’d like to keep our scene out there, because there’s more potential to grow a scene out there,” Jimenez said. “There’s younger kids that go to shows instead of playing to people in bars, because that’s all there is – bar shows. When we play in Coachella at a house show, a warehouse show, or whatever in the middle of nowhere, it’s all ages. We want to inspire the young kids and grow the scene bigger and bigger.”
Romero agreed and said that even with the bigger shows they have played, the smaller ones are the ones they love.
“We’ve played Tachevah and all of that, but our best shows are always those backyard shows, those are always the best ones to play at,” Romero said. “The energy of the young crowd and everybody appreciates it more.”
There is one question I had to ask Tribesmen being an instrumental band – is there something else you have to bring to the table when it comes to art or visuals?
“I feel it leaves a lot of options open,” Jimenez said. “We’re instrumental, so we can do what we want.”
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