Sitting in the back of a tour bus playing video games and sipping cocktails, the Tex-Mex foursome, The Last Bandoleros ponder the thought of their current world tour with the legendary Sting. They never anticipated the booming success that would stem from writing song’s at guitarist Jerry Fuentes’ mom’s house a few years back. Deriving from different backgrounds, the four share one commonplace interest – making music.
Dubbed as one of Rolling Stone‘s 10 New Country Artists You Need to Know, The Last Bandoleros are on the rise with their 1 part Tex-Mex, 1 part Brit-Pop and 2 parts Country/Rock. One week out from performing with former The Police guitarist Sting at Atlanta’s storied Tabernacle, we caught up with band to discuss their first live performance, Emilio Navaira’s influence and favorite past times.
Thank you for taking the time to “chat” with us. The band’s self-titled debut EP has garnered rave reviews everywhere I peruse, CONGRATULATIONS! So, first cliché question, how have your lives changed over the last year or so?
Thank you! Well, for starters, we’re writing you from our tour bus in between playing video games and sipping cocktails, haHa! 🙂 The things that have happened over the past year have been incredible. When the four of us started writing songs at Jerry’s mom’s house a couple years ago, we never thought it would lead to a deal with Warner Music Nashville and a world tour with Sting.
The Last Bandoleros! Fantastic name. How quickly did you collectively agree to this moniker? What other names did you guys kick the tires on?
We were in a group text for about 2 months sending names back and forth. We finally came to The Last Bandoleros. Some of the other early contenders were already taken. But Derek’s lone favorite was “Wizard Sticks.”
What do you remember from your first ever live performance? Any missteps you guys look back on and laugh?
Our first ever live performance as The Last Bandoleros was in San Antonio at a club called 502. The hardest part of that first gig was remembering the lyrics! We had just finished writing all these tunes and hadn’t quite gotten them under our fingers yet. But between remembering the lyrics and busting guitar strings, it was great to see those songs come to life.
While researching the band, I came across articles stating influences like The Beatles and Tex-Mex music. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum; however, when listening to the EP, you can hear and feel the fusion. How difficult is it to obtain that “perfect” balanced fusion you want to achieve?
At times it can be very difficult. TLB is a four-headed creature. We’re all connected but we each have our own creative personality that makes this what it is. The “balance” happens naturally, when the best musical ideas rise to the top.”
Emilio and Diego, you guys have direct ties with the late Tejano music great Emilio Navaira. He’s your father after all. Getting a little personal, are there any anecdotes you’d like to share with our public about Emilio and his influence on you growing up?
Our dad is our biggest influence. There was a time when he had kidney stones and could barely speak and was tearing up, but he got on stage and sang his ass off anyway. He taught us to play every show like it was our last, and that’s given us so much confidence anytime an instrument is in our hands. We learned not to be afraid on stage through him.
The maturity in your tracks makes it hard to believe how young you guys are. Accomplishing a deal with Warner Music Nashville and touring alongside the great Sting are quite the resume boosts. How do you handle such quickly obtained success?
Although the success has been relatively quick for The Last Bandoleros, each of us personally have been doing music for quite some time. It’s the combination of all those formative years of experience and a love for our musical predecessors that we think seeps into our sound.
Speaking of success, what advice would you bestow upon up and coming bands?
Get a degree in finance. Ha
But if you are stricken with same curse, stick with it, perseverance is your best friend.
One by one, aside from music, favorite pastime?
Derek: Herding cattle
Emilio: Spurs Basketball
Diego: Revealing magic tricks
To close out the interview, I want to touch on a delicate subject. As descendants of immigrants, how is the political turmoil our nation is facing today impacting your lives? Your music? What advice and/or hope would you offer other people feeling chased and harassed?
We all feel very fortunate that we have the freedom and ability to make music and share it around the world. Sadly, it’s a freedom that not everyone on this planet shares, and we don’t take it for granted. Our hearts and prayers go out to any and all that don’t share those same freedoms.
Ok, last question for real now, with every live performance, are there any pre-show or post-show rituals, collectively or individually?
Pre show: Shot of Jack Daniels and a group huddle.
After the show: we usually make a sandwich and Diego performs magic tricks.
The Last Bandoleros, along with Sting, perform at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Ga. on Monday, Fe. 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the show can be purchased HERE. For more information on The Last Bandoleros and additional tour dates, click HERE.