Hacienda performs live at Antone’s in Austin, TX. Watch more of our videos here.
Hacienda is an indie-rock quartet from Boerne, Texas, located on the outskirts of San Antonio. As kids, they spent their money at local antique shops in Boerne, buying old Beatles and Beach Boys records instead of the typical ’90s alternative and nu-metal of their peers. It is no wonder, then, that Hacienda is now the reincarnation of both iconic ’60s bands.
Like every other band I know from San Antonio, Hacienda is comprised of family members: Brothers Rene (bass/vocals), Abraham (keys) and Jaime Villanueva (drums) play with their cousin Dante Schwebel (guitar). Named after the famous Manchester music venue in England, the band is known for its vibrant ’60s sound and jangly rock ‘n roll stylings.
Other than being one of the most talented bands I have ever come across, they are also one of the luckiest in terms of catching breaks. Most recently Hacienda not only opened for Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), but also served as his backing band for his set. It was a six-song demo that led to their relationship with Auerbach. He later went on to produce Hacienda’s current album, Loud Is The Night.
Their biggest press break came in 2006 when Hacienda met Rolling Stone Senior Editor, David Fricke, at South By Southwest here in Austin. They were at a show as fans and recognized him immediately. Rene went up to Fricke and introduced himself. Confident that Fricke would like their music, he later mailed the Rolling Stone Senior Editor their CD. According to Rene, Fricke wrote back to him shortly thereafter and praised Hacienda’s music. They have remained in contact with Fricke ever since. Incidentally, they were one of his famous “Fricke’s Picks” in October of 2008.
Later, a popular blog on Rolling Stone, titled The Smoking Section, described Hacienda as looking like “The Mexican American Kings of Leon”. Although meant as a compliment, I’m sure, I wonder why their ethnicity mattered at all. Either way, the exposure led to a recording a session on the Smoking Section while the band was in New York this past spring.
Also, during their last tour with Dan Auerbach, Hacienda did a taping with him for Late Night With Conan O’Brien. They were the second-to-last music guest, only followed by The White Stripes, before Conan left to do The Tonight Show in LA. It was the most nervous experience for the band to date, they said.
Last time I spoke with you guys, it was right before SXSW and before your late night with Conan O’ Brien appearance with Dan Auerbach (Black Keys). Surely your life is different now after SXSW and the tour with Dan Auerbach.
Rene: For sure. We definitely have had some new experiences we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We got to play in Australia some places in Europe.
How was the response to you guys overseas?
Rene: Really good. We were surprisingly received well everywhere.
Was this your first major tour?
Rene: It was totally professional all the way. We traveled in a big bus. The bus had beds in it that we slept in. It was all a great experience. It changes your whole perspective on touring. It is not the grueling, stuffed in a van experience. We had people driving us.
Did you have roadies?
Rene: Yeah. We had sound guys and a great lighting guy. Everyone was super cool and amazing.
What was SXSW this year for like in comparison to the years previously in which you performed?
Rene: For us, we played three shows a day. That was our busiest South By we’ve done and our best. We got a lot of buzz. We met a lot of people.
What was the most memorable show from South By?
Rene: We played a really great show at Head Hunters. It was kind of a strange show. It’s a small punk rock joint. We set up to play in like five minutes, borrowed gear form the other bands, like amps and stuff.
So what was memorable about it exactly?
Rene: Rolling Stone was there. Warner Brothers was there. That was a big deal.
What was the whole Conan O’Brien experience like for you?
Rene: That was pretty out there. I had been watching Conan since I was in high school. Max Weinberg and the whole band were nice people.
Did they know who you guys were?
Rene: They heard us during sound check and they talked to us after the show. They were really nice and friendly. The show is like playing a half of an auditorium. It is a real small stage. We were pretty nervous before. It was crazy to think that millions of people would be watching it. I was just hoping we didn’t mess up.
Was that the most nervous you’ve ever been?
Rene: Afterward it was. You don’t see the performance until after it is all done. You see it when it airs live. There were no second takes or anything. I kept obsessing if my fly was up or if I had something in my teeth. We told everyone to watch it of course and I just hoped it went well.
Before Conan, when was the last time you felt that nervous?
Rene: I don’t really get nervous on stage. That doesn’t really bother me. It was just waiting for the TV show that made me nervous. I had never done anything like that before.
Did you get to meet Conan?
Rene: We shook his hand and he seemed cool. He is actually a big guitar nut and that is how he rehearses his monologues. He is all about guitar.
So what is going on with you guys and Dan (Auerbach) now? I assume he was pleased with how the tour went and with how your last album that he produced came out.
Rene: We’re excited. We are going to do ACL (Austin City Limits Fest) and Lollapalooza with him. We’ll do more touring and record a new album with him.
What can you tell me at this point about a new album from you guys?
Rene: We are starting it at the end of this month (July). We are finishing up the writing process and getting the songs together.
Does this mean you will be relocating from Boerne to Akron, Ohio?
Rene: No, we like living quietly in Boerne.
Plus the tacos aren’t as good in Ohio. I lived there for a couple of years.
Rene: You’re so right. In fact, the tacos aren’t as good anywhere as they are in Texas. That’s one thing I learned after traveling around the world is that the best food is in Texas.
How did it if feel to open up for Alejandro Escovedo at Antone’s in June? He’s kind of big deal…
Rene: Oh yeah. We were excited about it. We did another show afterwards with him in San Antonio. They were both amazing.
How did playing with Escovedo come about? Not just anyone can share the stage with him on his headlining show.
Rene: I have known of him for a while. I knew he was coming through Texas and I just asked our booking agent to put us in front of him and crossed our fingers.
What turned you on to Alejandro?
Rene: It was the first time I saw him. I watched him on the Austin City Limits television show. Then I just got into the fact that he was from San Antonio and saw he did stuff (music) similar to us, only he has been doing it a lot longer of course.
When can we expect another Austin show? I assume after the album is complete and when you get back from Ohio?
Rene: We have a show the day before ACL, like sort of a warm up show. That’s it that is on the books now. We will be planning a regional tour here soon. The focus is on the album right now. Hopefully we can continue on with the success we have had thus far.