Interview with Los Bopers
Los Bopers are a Rockabilly band hailing from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. This is a genre that is not very proliferated in the island. Thus why I decided to approach them for an interview.
Their management company readily agreed and communicated me with the guys. The band then invited me to share with them during one of their practice sessions. I reach the venue with directions from vocalist Billy, whom was awesome the whole time. They practice at one of the member’s house. He has a beautiful backyard where they freely play their music and come-up with their new stuff.
When I got there they were setting up. Boy are their instruments a wondrous thing to look at. Billy’s guitar is beautiful, Edgardo’s bass is elegant, yet such a potent looking instrument, the drums are set for Giova to play on his feet so they’re very high. For people who aren’t used to the genre this would seem so odd, but Los Bopers would explain that to us later on.
Los Bopers are truly as unique as their instruments though. They’re three laid back guys who love to make music. They’re funny and approachable and quickly became comfortable during our interview session. Before we get there, they begin their warm-up jam session. I was right there listening to some of their better known songs, which I had heard them play live before. It was truly a pleasure to be there as they got lost in their music. They had seemed a little nervous about the recording at first but as they fell into musician mode they played their hearts out for our camera.
As Billy would say later on in the interview “It’s all about the show.”
After finishing their jam session we all sat down to have a little chat. This is what they had to say about their role in the genre, their hopes for their music and how they go about making it:
Let’s begin with a personal curiosity of mine.
Billy: I use bra size 34 B *everybody laughs*
I want to know: how is it that modern guys, in the year 2011, become interested in a genre that was so popular in the 1950’s as was Rockabilly?
Edgardo & Billy: Damn, right?
B: In my case I’ve been listening to it since I was a kid. I didn’t really know who they were, what the hell it was. It was in cartoons, it was everywhere. I never knew what it was. Then through friends, and whatever, I accidentally discovered what it was. And then I was like ‘Oh ok’. At that time I used to play bass and I knew shit of playing the guitar. But it was at that time I decided to pick up on guitar playing adapted to this style of music.
Then, well… I knew Edgardo from middle school; we came across each other during high school again. He was doing a Surf music band and we realized we were into the same kind of music. So we decided to start a band-
E: Bring the genre over here.
Giova: I’m just going around, playing with you guys. *everybody laughs* Nah, I started hearing it from Tomcats.
B: Woah, The Tomcats, man! Dude, I used to have a band called The Tomcats too.
G: I know that man. *everybody laughs* But yeah now I’m playing drums with you guys.
B: Of all the drummers we’ve had, this man is the best!
G: No, that’s false.
B: That’s true man. All those things no one has done before…
Well let’s talk about your instruments. They’re very particular looking. It’s not what people are used to seeing in a regular rock band.
E: That’s just a flea market guitar. The double bass was on clearance in Pitusa*. *everyone bursts in laughter*
B: What happens is that for this style of music… You can use any instrument really but there are two clear things that they achieve. One is sound quality. That’s the law of life. I didn’t believe it, but I learned the hard way. Then the look, of course, you know. It gives the band its look, a presence. It’s not the same using an electric bass. The double bass gives it… well the bass sound of course, but also percussion-
G: A feeling, a feeling.
B: Exactly, it’s like a jungle — Really! It’s like a jungle sound.
G: It’s about the wood.
E: The double bass gives percussion, it’s just very characteristic.
G: He’s huge.
E: It gives it (the music) like a back beat.
G: That boy is just huge.
E: Nah, that’s a whole other thing.
B: He makes panties drop.
G: Yeah he makes panties drop (everyone laughs) It’s like a brand new Corvette man! (Everyone laughs even harder)
Ok! Let’s talk a bit about your music. Correct me if I’m wrong but, Rockabilly started in the United States, right? And most of the music was in English. So why did you decide to do your music in Spanish?
G: Los Bopers (in a very Puerto Rican accent, which made everyone laugh)
B: The thing is that in the 50’s there were Mexican (Rockabilly) bands as well. They did their music in Spanish. They weren’t much in the spotlight ‘cause really, at that time everyone did Rockabilly, so they put out people that could sell their image. Ritchie Valens was the first in Rockabilly to sing in Spanish that was distributed commercially. We decided to do Rockabilly in Spanish because- I mean in English, it sounds awesome and all, but when I heard Rockabilly in Spanish for the first time it sounded more fun, more rebellious, and crazier. Delinquency, man. It was rebellious and to me it seemed like it had more spirit, it was livelier-
E: Had more feeling.
B: Yeah, more feeling.
G: Plus we don’t want to be ‘yet another band’.
E: We’re in Puerto Rico why should we sing in English? Fuck that. We want to bring it here not take it somewhere else.
B: I mean, if we can take it somewhere that’s awesome too.
G: Yeah, that too.
Well, I’ve had the chance to see you guys live in two different occasions. The first time was in the Masquerade Ball back in October of last year, and then Rockabilly Attack which was last month. What I like the most about the way you perform is that you are very energetic, and you like to interact with the audience. Like what happened with the Hershey’s kisses at the Rockabilly Attack. So I wanted to know, do you plan these things? Do you improvise?
E: A bit of both.
B: I’d say it’s a little more improvising.
G: We improvised, but we planned it.
B: Well, the kisses thing was planned, obviously. They weren’t going to fall from the sky. But we like to have our public in live shows because we have a saying that goes-
G: Yeah, I have one to. (This is a joke because the word ‘saying’ in Spanish is “dicho” which sounds like the Puerto Rican Spanish slang for ‘penis’)
B: So do I, man. It goes: If you want to hear the music, buy the CD. If you want to see a show, a spectacle. I mean if you work all week, come Friday, you want to go out and party. Waste your whole check then start the same shit on Monday.
G: Party all weekend.
E: It’s the escape. Our show is the escape.
B: Yeah, the escape. Our show is so that people will let it all out and-
G: So they mess around, joke around
B: Yeah, so that they relax and say “Wow what an experience” ‘cause really, I consider that the band isn’t simply music. From the point of view of the audience, it’s like an experience I would say.
I absolutely agree. Ok, you guys are a band from a genre that’s relatively underground here, in Puerto Rico. What is your biggest challenge in creating music and bringing it to the masses? What do you understand is the hardest part of this process?
B: Recording, that’s right. Nobody here knows how to record our music. We’ve tried twice and nothing.
E: And the resources. There are no resources for anything.
B: Yeah! I mean we’ve had a few people approach us saying “Hey we like your band. We want to get you out there.” and all but really the only people who have delivered has been Cyanide Nation. They’ve taken us out there. But above all, it’s been very difficult because there aren’t that many other bands that play our same genre, you know. There’s a lot of cover bands, but we’d like them to be original bands.
E: We don’t have with whom to share a stage. At least we now have Sabueso and Rockabilly Attack, which have finally started a movement. Before that we would play anywhere, and everyone always likes it. That’s the good thing about Rockabilly, that everybody likes it. Even cacos** like it.
YM: It’s something different. Especially for Puerto Ricans.
Is it in your plans to make it bigger? Make it more mainstream, record albums-
E: All of that.
B: Go around the world, conquer galaxies and universes.
G: Go to Japan! For real.
B: Go to Japan… Play Surf songs over there. We have a lot of plans. We’ve been doing rehearsal upon rehearsal, show upon show, to see if someday we’ll be lucky enough to play in the United Sates. You know there might be people out there that would say like “wow there’s Rockabilly in Puerto Rico”. Also in Europe, Japan, Russia, Czech Republic, Africa, wherever. We’ll go and play.
E: What we’re waiting for is the opportunity. Whatever opportunity comes our way we’ll take it, because we love doing this.
B: Yeah, right now I think about it and I see us doing this for a living. I also think that we, if we make it obviously, we’ll be doing this until we die. This is win or die. I mean, try until you die. Whether you won or not you tried.
Now, to those people who might not know about the genre in itself, would you like to send a message? What would you like to tell those people to kinda draw them in, to listen to you guys and to be participants and go to the events?
G: First of all that they come to our events.
B: That sounded douchie.
G: No, for real.
E: That they experience it.
G: Yeah, that they experience it. Maybe there are musicians there and they become interested and become part of the genre to keep expanding it. More bands, expand it for more years so it’s not just stuck. You know like, “well yeah Los Bopers kinda played in 2011” and that’s it. No, they’ll be more bands, and people will like the genre.
E: If they want to see something real different. That they haven’t seen ever.
B: Yeah that it’s not some fucking DJ from somewhere, or whatever chick was in the Choliseo***, or Enrique Iglesias-
E: If you want to see something different and enjoy it-
B: Yeah, if you want pure enjoyment, for sure, to escape reality, and not see some fucker just screaming and singing of his personal problems, then go see us.
*Pitusa is a chain of local, Puerto Rican, discount stores.
**Cacos is Puerto Rican slang for the group of people who listen to Reguaeton music.
***Choliseo is the pet name for the Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot. It’s the biggest concert hall in the island.