The self titled album release from BOLERO! is a massive and spicy classic rock record complete with outrageous lead guitars all over it, dripping with soul and flare, and it all feels warm and bright.
The record boasts some amazing musicianship that includes plenty of jam sessions and a genuine late 70's feel to go along with the bands aesthetically perfected vibe.
This is one colorful record that ranges and sways while guitars wail on and vocals belt out and it's all got a gusto and energy that's nearly impossible to beat.
The record sounds like Santana and Tom Waits met up to make tunes together.
Bountiful vocals lay atop a soiree of tasteful rock and it's enough to make you have to shake it all off once it's ended.
With such a huge and vibrant rock release, we had to have a talk with the band to find out where all of this comes from.
RAG: Okay let's start with the Bolero! album. This record has classic rock influence flowing through it and is totally full of amazing guitar work. Where did this record come from?
Thanks, yeah the guitar work was all done by myself on rhythm and fingerstyle guitar and Joe Dileo on lead/slide guitar. This whole body of work has pretty much stemmed from when we first met a few years back in late 2018 early 2019. We were just playing these tunes together with just two guitars on my deck before we could even find other people to play with and immediately the magic blossomed. Our interplay between us has absolutely been integral in shaping the sound of BOLERO! Also instead of hashing demos and layering guitar tracks to form the songs we really focused on playing them live together to give it that timeless organic feel which can definitely be heard in the record.
RAG: I'm Hearing several different kinds of rock on this album. Who are some of your actual biggest musical influences?
Yeah, we love blending different forms of rock within the same songs which I think makes us a bit different and is the type of music I listen to daily. We are very inspired by the bands of the ’60s and '70s. Some artist that you can hear distinct influences from are The Allman Brothers, Santana, Country Joe & The Fish, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby Stills Nash & Young and I’m also a huge fan of singers such as Jim Morrison and Howlin’ Wolf, I love powerful vocals it just gets me.
RAG: How did this all start for you?
So it’s actually a funny story of how the album process started. We were hanging out waiting for the MUNI train (which is the light rail public transit system here in San Francisco) and we're heading to a holiday party at a friend's house. While we were at the stop this surfer guy with cool curly hair came up to us out of the blue and said: “Hey you'll seem real groovy, do you want to smoke this fat joint with me?” This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me here in the city. Of course being the stoners that we are I said, “Hell yeah, light it up!” We soon got friendly with that cat whose name is Jackson Gault. We then invited him to roll with us to the holiday party and ended up spending the rest of the night partying, making paper snowflakes, and jamming to records. During that get-together, he told us that he worked for Hyde Street studios (formerly Wally Heider Studios) where CSNY, the Dead, Airplane, Santana, CCR, and more recorded iconic albums back in the late 60s early 70s. He then asked us if we had any recordings out and at the time we had a couple of live demos out but nothing substantial, so he offered to get us in and record at our DREAM studio and the rest was history! We are so thankful for him and all his hard work! We recorded in the infamous Studio A and tracked everything live for the most part to sound as close to a live show as we could. We even added a completely live track on the album “Standing On A Rock” which was recorded on a rooftop through one microphone with vocals coming from the PA here in SF and a live audience as the grand finale which was recorded by my friend Jake Padorr. Lastly, one thing to note about this album is that my partner and I got our beloved dachshund mix Maestro to bark for “We Come In Peace” and he did so perfectly in tune with the song, he’s got more mojo than I ever will. Also special thanks to Walker Philips of The Colourful Way for mastering, Bryce Shelton for the front cover artwork, Thiago Mendes for the back cover artwork, all the friends involved with helping this come together, and lastly my partner, manager, best friend, and biggest supporter who first believed in my songs Karlie Jane Yegehiaian.
RAG: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
So when I’m not working on music I do a bunch of stuff. I’m a DJ (Walkin’ Love) on the local public radio station KXSF 102.5Fm that also streams at KXSF.fm. My show is called Freak Flag Radio which is co-hosted by my bud Tyler Ross (AREWENOTDEAD). We play all kinds of groovy sounds from the '60s, ’70s, and beyond on vinyl every Friday from midnight till two am. We also DJ an outdoor socially distanced flea market every other Saturday in the Tender Loin district at Vacation SF. I also am an artist and make performance art, sculptures, collages, abstract paintings, and other multi-media work. Then when I’m not doing that stuff I work at The Chapel, the coolest music venue out here in San Francisco, and even during the pandemic, we have been doing outdoor socially distanced limited capacity dinner concerts with the best liquid light show by The Mad Alchemist who we work with a bunch. He and his crew are family to us.
RAG: What's next for you as an artist?
So what’s next for BOLERO! Is that we are preparing the material for our next album, we only got about three or so songs to square out and we're gonna head to the studio once they are hot and ready. This next album is going to have a lot more diversity when it comes to songwriting, there are folkier tracks, more Latin-influenced tracks, and a bit of psychedelic country funk vibes going on. Also, we are currently getting the debut album pressed to vinyl which will be a double album! That should be out in the next few months so stay tuned! And lastly, we are making tons of new merch for our fans, 3 t-shirt designs, tote bags, stickers, patches, and one thing I want to work on is making special edition felt BOLERO! Hats (which is the style of hat on the album cover and inspired the band name) that would be available for purchase when we can start playing shows again post-pandemic.
RAG: Do you think you'll be putting any focus on live performance in the near future?
Yeah so thanks for asking that we are actually playing our first live stream back with the full band since the pandemic broke on April 30th at the Complex in SF. You can stream it at (twitch.tv/thecomplexsf) from 7 pm to 8:30 pm with our good friend PADORR who’s based out of Big Sur. He plays beautiful meditative psychedelic solo loop pedal music: while singing, playing the flute, and mouth trumpet! It’s going to be a hoot! We have played a few streaming concerts and sessions as a 4 piece and 3 piece so we are stoked to be all back together! Also, we are working on doing a drive-in with the Mad Alchemist sometime with our friends Big Brother & The Holding Company but that’s all in the air and in the future so we shall see how it all pans out but I’ve got a good feeling about things. Lastly, we rehearse in Golden Gate Park almost every weekend so if you’re walking by the windmill or the archery range you just might catch us playing. So thankful to have band members Joe Dileo(Guitar), Josue Santos(Congas/percussion), Adam Coopersmith(Drums), and Joe Lewis(Bass) to aid me in keeping MUSIC alive and well during these times.
RAG: Who are you listening to right now?
So lately I have been listening to a lot of bands from the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America from the 70s such as Pescado Rabioso, Peace & Love, Aquelarre, Los Dug Dugs, and Los Yoyi. That music just has so much power and fiery spirit with wild creative changes and is the sound of revolution. Furthermore, groovy Latin music has a deep connection for me and really makes me feel in touch with my Cuban heritage. Special thanks to my friends Jose and Elisse from the KXSF show “Caja Magica” for showing me all the coolest vintage Latin music. I’ve also been listening to a lot of lesser-known Bay Area bands such as Sir Douglas Quintet, KAK, Frumious Bandersnatch, and Dakila who’s a Filipino-American Latin rock band from the Mission District which really resonates with me being half Filipino myself. And I’m always listening to a lot of African bands from the 70s such as Witch, Wells Fargo, The Funkees, Amanaz, and more.
RAG: What sort of things inspire you to write?
So I kind of have a whole concept for what inspires me to write: They are four TRUTHS: Reality, Folklore, Mysticism, and Love. My songs are a reflection pool for my perception of the world. I’m interested in dissecting reality and bringing to light social, political, and environmental issues through my protest songs that are reactions to real-life events such as standing rock and other indigenous struggles, moments of police brutality, and the rising ocean tides for example. I explore the ideas of folklore by forging my own oral tradition of tales representing a multicultural surrealistic Americana that can range from following the path of a famed train-hopping hobo artist named Bozo Texino to learning to play with a mojo hand. My songs typically come out of thin air and written mostly in one go. They seem to come from another universe. I feel like a conduit pushing to express the human condition and the vast mystery which it holds; to keep the spirit of curiosity alive and to open insight to hidden truths that seem to be universal through many different cultures. Songwriting is a way for me to enter a pure altered state of mind. Similar to how Sufis, Gospel preachers, Gregorian monks, beat poets, and indigenous shamans tap into mysticism. Lastly, Love is the most powerful energy on this plane of existence. It is the giver of life, of happiness, of abundance, of healing power, of growth, of freedom! If everyone were to love one another and the planet more we could solve every issue plaguing our time. My task is simply to spread the words and sounds of love or die trying.
RAG: You've really done an amazing job with this album. What sort of advice would you have for up and coming artists out there?
Thanks so much! We put a lot of love into it. An important piece of advice I could give to an up-and-coming artist which I myself am one is that you must be possessed by your work, let it envelop every part of your life and only magic will grow. I tell myself that every day.
RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans?
I’d like to thank all our fans out there for their endless support and love. And lastly, I just want to ask you to volunteer your heart with every action you make every day for a better world is possible if we just try and make a little action! Stay safe, lend a hand once in a while, and get ready to boogie with us once this pandemic is over. We love you all so much!