Interview by Angel Aguilar & Laura Pelayo
After three long years of hard work, countless live gigs, overcoming financial and personnel problems, Vispera is finally ready to debut their first full length cd, El Ultimo Cigarro, which will be presented live at 333 Live in DTLA this coming Friday March 6, with the support of their friends Vim Furor and Manantial De Fuego and a few extra surprises.
To learn more about the band and the album, we met up at Vispera’s rehearsal studio as they geared up for their show and trust us, after what we heard in that rehearsal studio, you will be sorry if you miss this show.
After some small talk, Alfredo Mejia on vocals, Robert Bañuelos on lead guitar, Jose “El Josefer” Fernandez on bass, and newcomers and well known figures in the L.A. music scene, Milo Lemus on drums and Luis Gallardo on rhythm guitar made the walls of the rehearsal studio shake as they ran through some of the songs they will be playing on March 6.
After a few songs, the band took a break and we began to talk about the album and as Alfredo explained: “A couple of years ago we put out an EP, which was originally supposed to be this album, but we wanted to put something out quick and released what we had at that point, but this time around we wanted to do it better, so we remastered some of the songs from the EP and recorded new music and it is very rewarding to see everything finally come together, we have two new members who have brought out the best in all of us and we are very happy with the results.”
Sometimes when bands are recording their first album, they get so excited about it, that they lose track of the process or are misguided by recording engineers or producers who just want to get the recording over with and the recording sometimes doesn’t sound anything like the band sounds like on stage, but El Ultimo Cigarro does capture the sound and energy of Vispera on stage, to which Jose added: “We owe that to our producer and friend, Ivan Galvan (from Muzkit Music Studios). Ivan worked us hard, he knew what we were capable of and would not take any less than our best and as we saw each member rising to the occasion, I think we all felt that we had to give our best performances and all that hard work was worth it.”
Although we have seen the band live several times, it is different to see them play in such an intimate setting, and the chemistry among the band members really shows and there’s a great synergy within the band especially the two guitars, as they play off each other and the same with the bass and drums. To this effect, Robert pointed out: “I feel very comfortable playing with Luis, after the first few times we played together, I realized I didn’t have to baby sit him, I know I can work on my solos and even change things up a bit which also makes it more exciting to play and Luis will be right there with me backing me up.” And Luis added: “Playing with such great musicians, it just makes you want to be a better musician; I often go home and practice even more by myself because I want to keep up and don’t want to let my band mates down.”
As one hears this album, one can hear different influences in Vispera’s music and as Milo pointed out, they all have similar tastes, but they also bring their own individual influences to the mix. “I have so many influences in my drumming, that sometimes I don’t even know where certain beat combinations come from.” Added Milo. While Jose stated: “I am a heavy metal guy, I love bands like Anthrax, Metallica, Tool and others and from that I developed my own style.” And as for Alfred, he added: “I grew up listening to salsa, merengue, punta and cumbia and not until recently I got into rock when I started singing in a cover’s band.”
El Ultimo Cigarro is definitely a musician’s record as one can hear the individual styles of each band member, for example Robert’s solos weave in and out of the songs as they drive the song, but without taking it over and making it sound monotonous; Luis’ rhythm guitar playing perfectly drops the chords to compliment Robert’s solos, while Jose’s bass playing is not your typical “keeping the beat” sound, Jose’s bass lines play around the guitars, the vocals and most importantly, it is the perfect combination for Milo’s drumming, which also play around the other musicians and doesn’t just keep a beat.
Don’t miss Vispera live this Friday March 6, along with Vim Furor, Manatial De Fuego and special surprises and please pick up your copy of the album at the show, this album is a must.