Austin-based musician and producer Adrian Quesada took everyone by surprise this weekend at Pachanga Fest when he let everyone know he would be leaving Grupo Fantasma. My crew and I were so busy and tired from running around Fiesta Gardens all day that I could have sworn I was hallucinating. Grupo with no Adrian Quesada? Unheard of.
As it turns out, before we had a chance to confirm with Quesda, he let us all know via his personal Facebook page that he is indeed leaving Grupo Fantasma but that he and the group are parting amicably. Quesada also made it clear that he is not leaving funk band Brownout, of which many of the members in Grupo Fantasma also play in. One of his other (other) side projects he shares with some members of Brownout and Grupo, Money Chicha, will still be in tact and is in the process of working on their first proper recording. I hope you got to see them play while dawning bandido-style bandanas over their face on Saturday.
Below is the text from Quesada’s statement released on his Facebook page.
I wanted to let you all know that I am officially leaving Grupo Fantasma. The decision has not been an easy one but it has been a long time coming and I do feel it is the right one for myself and my family. The split is 100% amicable and to go even further – they’re still my best homies (and yes I am still in Brownout, they ain’t getting rid of me that easy). There are no “creative differences”, no personal differences, no bullshit, no typical band drama, it’s simply a matter of personally closing one chapter and opening another one. As you can imagine, being in the band is a HUGE committment, one that dictated most of the last decade for me, and now I want to focus my efforts on more studio work and producing as well as other projects I’m involved in, and most importantly – have more time for my family. The guys are relentless with their work ethic and dedication to the band and the last thing I wanted to do was be there half the time (which was the case most of the last few years) and feel like I wasn’t able to give it 100% when I was.
I would like to dispel the notion that Grupo Fantasma was ever MY band. While it is true that I was one of the early sparks, co-founder and often the spokesperson, the band has always been larger than any one person and in recent years I have taken a backseat role and the band has taken on the true definition of a team, with different people stepping up at different times to take the lead. The band is very much alive and well and is even sitting on an amazing new record (first with an outside producer…the legendary Steve Berlin!) they will drop later this year to blow your unsuspecting minds.
It’s been the best 13 years of my life so far and I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished in that time. From an idea hatched in my old Hyde Park apartment by some “drunkards, geniuses and freaks” (if I may borrow from Ellen Stader’s first bio on the band) from Laredo, Texas that no one believed in – to the Austin Music Hall of Fame, two Grammy nominations, one Grammy, 13+ Austin Music Awards, 2 trips (under two different presidents) to Iraq to play for troops, Univision Awards, backing Prince, backing GZA from the Wu-Tang, countless things I can’t recall.. all this while truly redefining what DIY was (yes we turned down an early major label deal back in the day) and holding on to our vision of a large band bringing the big sound like they used to, whether it was making us rich or not…like Ol’ Blue Eyes said “We did it our way.”
Grupo Fantasma has made me a better musician, a better person and a harder worker, even if slightly damaging my liver along the way. I have so many memories that will forever bring a smile to my face. The early raucous shows (like the 60s, if you remember the first shows -then you weren’t really there) at the Empanada Parlour (where I met my amazing and continually supportive wife Celeste), the hilarious cross country drives in the van, setting up a studio/clubhouse we rocked at for months, the melted faces around the world – there was NEVER a dull moment with these clowns. Thanks to every member of GF, past and present, publicists, hustlers, tour managers, sound people, supporters, and more….thanks for letting me be a part of this…
And most importantly, thanks to ALL of you for your support of the band and myself so far and I ask that you continue to support “the funkiest, finest and hardest working latin orchestra to come out of the United States in the last decade.” Catch them on tour this summer and keep up with them at grupofantasma.com as they continue to bring it like they always have and always do.