Photo By Mari Hernandez
Grammy award winner Chris Perez and Austin singer-songwriter Angel Ferrer have come together recently to form a new band. Tentatively titled The Chris Perez Band, they are already conjuring up serious interest here on Austin Vida. The band made their world debut at this year’s Pachanga Fest at Fiesta gardens in East Austin. We were able to not only capture clips of the performance on film, but also get an exclusive interview backstage with Perez and his new band while Mariachis played background music to set the stage for us. Ok not really, but it was a great audio background none the less.
So what’s been going on since we last spoke about the new band? Was it all just preparation for your debut at Pachanga Fest?
Angel: Pretty Much. I think since the Pachanga people called us and invited us to be part of the event, we have been going back and forth between Austin and San Antonio trying to make this happen. Chris is in San Antonio and I’m here in Austin.
I noticed you guys were a late addition to Pachanga Fest? You weren’t on the original poster. What made you choose Pachanga as the time and place to debut the new Chris Perez Project?
Chris: I remember Angel called me and asked if I’d be interested and of course I said yes. Angel did a lot of the legwork to get us here to Pachanga. He made sure it was organized as far as the logistics of making sure of our time slot, what time we had to get here and all that stuff. He took it upon himself and it all worked out for the best. Pachanga wasn’t anything we had planned until we had a set date to come do the show.
Angel: Pachanga was a good opportunity to go out there and test everything out. Not that anything is final yet, as we are still in the middle of creating new material and getting the songs ready so we can start recording a record. It was a good thing to go jam.
Is the band that performed here at Pachanga the final line up?
Chris: It is up to everybody involved. We haven’t put a record out and I think that won’t be decided until the record is done. After that, whoever can stick it through is going to be a part of it.
So right now, the permanent members you (Chris) and Angel?
Chris: Well we are the core of the song writing unit, but we can’t do what we do without these guys that played with us tonight. If Angel and I were to just go up there and perform by ourselves, it would be much different.
Angel: (laughs) It would be very coffee shop.
So how did this “project” come together? Who reached out to who?
Chris: A mutual friend of ours told me about this singer that he knew of that he thought would work well with me. You see my friend knew that at that time that I was thinking about working on a new project. At the time I called it a project, but now it is actually something that’s going to get done. So, he showed me the CD. I loved it and I wanted to meet this guy. Until I heard Angel on the CD, nothing interested me enough to restart the whole rock thing again.
Angel: It was my Ill Camino CD. (Angel’s former band)
Chris: I heard his voice. I knew he was a song writer. I liked what I heard and we eventually met. We hung out as friends at first and talked about music. As it turned out, Angel and I had a lot of the same influences. I was actually surprised by that. From then on we just started working together.
When was this exactly that you met?
Chris: It was about fifteen years ago.
Angel: Not really, but if feels that way now you know. I think we are actually running on a about a five year mark now. It was about five years ago when we first had a couple beers together and started hanging out. From there, in between the other stuff he’s been involved with, it took some time to get this going. He was back and forth on the road all the time. Now that he has a little more time, our focus is back on this.
What can you tell me about the upcoming album?
Chris: We pretty much have the core of the songs that are going to be on it. There might be a few songs on it that we haven’t written yet. We are always working on new stuff. There are some other issues that need to get resolved on the personal front for me. Once all that gets handled, it is time to put in the work and start recording.
Angel: One thing we always talked about doing is maybe collaborating with some artists we both listen to and enjoy a lot. One person we both talk about as far as being an influence for the stuff we like is Robbi Rosa. We both really dig what he’s doing. It would be an honor to work with him in some shape or form, whether it is production, song writing or whatever.
What is your goal then, time wise, for releasing your first album?
Chris: In a perfect world, it would be three months. We don’t live in a perfect world. I am not going to rush anything. I want to get it out as fast as I can but I am not going to push it. I think it needs to be the right album. I am not going to get t out just to have the record out. Like Angel said, we have more time now so we can focus on getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
Angel: Right now it is so open and that’s the beauty of it. We want to make sure to take the time and really craft it. We want it to sound like something we would buy…an album we would be excited to go buy at the store.
Does that mean you are going to stamp a vinyl record?
Chris: I’d love to have a vinyl record.
Angel: Maybe, perhaps a special edition.
Do you plan on doing more shows before the album is complete?
Chris: We do plan on doing more shows. We don’t have anything in the books yet. I think we were just waiting to see how today turned out. I can only speak for myself, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.
Really? That’s surprising to hear from you.
Chris: Well I know I have to put the (game) face on before we come out. ‘We are going to kick ass. We are going to do good’. When we actually do it, we’re excited because it was good and we did kick ass.
Angel: We all feel real good about it now post performance. During rehearsals it is a different story though because you don’t have the energy of the crowd.
You should feel great. Even walking over here I could hear people talking about the new Chris Perez band and getting excited about it all. There is a lot of buzz about you guys and high expectations for your band.
Chris: The crowd we had today was amazing. I don’t ever take the crowd or the fans for granted. Whenever anybody shows up, I’m just glad. For them to be so supportive and seeing their excitement during the new songs is really exciting.
Do you realize though Chris that you are kind of past that? People will show up for you no matter what you take on. You do have a following.
Chris: The problem is not getting them to come out the first time. The problem is to get them to keep coming back. I don’t who you are or what you’ve done. If you put something out that’s not up to par, people will not come back to your next show.
Angel: On that note, if we change sound wise from what they are used to, then it is all a matter of finding a fresh audience who enjoys that sound. After this show, we do have a mental picture of what its going to be like. This was the first performance ever for us.
When are we going to know the new official name of the Chris Perez project? I know you had fans send in suggestions to an email address you set up.
Angel: We have gotten some great ideas and people have been sending us suggestions. I think there is such an interest into Chris Perez because he already had The Chris Perez band. That’s why we decided to go with The Chris Perez Band for Pachanga. It is the name that’s known. Thinking about the business side of things for a second, which we all hate, that’s what management or labels are going to want to push. Coming up with a new name no one has heard about yet is not something we feel is a good business decision at the moment. That being said, we do feel this is a new entity that has been created aside from Chris Perez. That’s the question. Chris was the one who wanted to give the band a new name.
Chris: I am still not comfortable with the fact that my name is the name of the band. If I sat in a room and created everything on my own, telling him to play this and him to play that, then it might be a different story. I am just not that guy. I feed off of other people’s energy.
Any idea at all about when you will decide on a name? Or is it just whenever the right name comes to you?
Chris: We’ll see what happens.
Angel: People need to continue to email us suggestions because we have not yet seen that one name that just pops out at us. We need to have that kind of reaction to a suggestion for us to decide on our new name.
To email your suggestion for Angel and Chris’s band, email the following address:
Check out our Austin Vida footage of The Chris Perez Band live from Pachanga Fest 2009: