Monday, 22 December 2008 04:17

Tragedy In April rocks Rio Grande Valley

Texas is well known for its musical heritage with pioneers in rock, blues, jazz, country, Tejano, conjunto and more. Now comes a new rock group Tragedy in April. Co-founder Joey Lopez though, has a solid Tejano conneciton - his dad is Mazz singer Joe Lopez.

Our correspondent Ramón Hernández recently visited with the band.

The Rio Grande Valley has always been known as the birthplace of the conjunto music genre. However, this is 2008 and Tragedy in April (TNA) aims to change that image.

It all started when Frank Morris and Joey López joined forces to form Counterfeit four and a half years ago. Although they lived down the street each other, they never met until they started to play together.

Three nights after they won a ‘battle of the bands” contest at Jokers in which the prize was a house gig at the local club, a larger club hired them as their house band.

TNA is Juan Alcocer, guitar and vocals; Adrian “Tattoo” Barbosa, bass and vocals; and López, a John Lennon look-a-like, on drums and backup vocals. Tattoos cover Barbosa’s entire left arm, his upper right arm and half a leg that got his first tat shortly after graduating from high school. Morris has since left the band.

Adrian and Juan were formerly with Audio Overload and Juan actually replaced Eddie Schmidt, TNA’s original guitarist.

Instrumentation wise, the accordion or bajo sexto, two staple valley instruments are nowhere to be seen in this group headed in a direction, which hopefully will lead to the band becoming a household name in mainstream America.

The truth is that playing rock and roll riffs with an accordion and throwing in some bajo sexto licks might be the gimmick needed to set them apart and make them stand out among other rock bands. That’s what made Flaco Jiménez a sought-out accordionist with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and other rock bands.

As for their musical influences, Joey Lopez, the St. Joe Catholic High School graduate, said, “My father inspired me to want to play because I always loved what he did, but his drummer, Richard Barrón, and the drummer, Travis Barker, from Blink-192, are my biggest influence. In my playing, I tend to emulate Travis, but I also pull quite a few licks from Richard."

Another little known fact about López is that he also plays guitar, bass and piano. But as López said, “For some reason, I took more natural to the drums. I started playing drums when I was three years old and it was the only instrument that I took seriously and learned all on my own."

In addition, the 5-feet-9-inch, 165 pound musician, who ballooned to 198 pounds when he was twelve, and kept on gaining, says this is when he started practicing religiously.

“As a result of my weight, I never had many friends and I never had any girl friends, until I was about 18 and thin. So playing for me was an escape from feeling down. It also helped me deal with frustration and anger in a positive way.”

López also revealed the first style of music he learned to play was Tejano and the first musical tempo he learned was a cumbia beat.

“In fact I learned every one of my dad’s songs from 1974 to 1999 in the hopes of one day becoming his drummer. So for me growing up in this environment is what drove me to music.”

After he grew taller and lost the baby fat, the women part came a little easier, but as he says, “It has actually made me concentrate less on music because sometimes women can be just as bad as drugs.”

As for original material and talented songwriters in their group, TNA has an arsenal full of their own compositions and no one is above the other.

“I don’t know about any one musical genius because we’re pretty much equal. Sometimes it is an individual process and sometimes the entire band works a musical arrangement out as a unit. It all depends on what happens when,” the 26-year-old drummer said.

After listening to a 15-minute set by TNA, this 68-year-old greezer, who cannot handle hip hop and 

reggaeton actually enjoyed each and every rock tune they whipped out even feeling an unexpected adrenalin rush watching López literally juggling his drum sticks in the air and not miss a beat with extreme precision as he set the tone for the rest of the band. We asked how he managed to keep it all together.

“Watching me play may seem like total chaos, but inside all that chaos, I have never felt so calm. And it’s the only time I am in control of myself. This is hard to explain, but music is the only thing in my life that makes me happy and keeps me sane. I love music and always have. There is no better feeling in the world than performing on stage and having people love it; and at the same time you get to have a lot of fun.”

López does not intend to ride on his father’s coattails. When asked how he felt about mentioning the name of his famous father, his answer was short, quick and to the point, “I’m not ashamed of my father; and I know it’s only a matter of time before he is exonerated.”

In fact the singer, songwriter, musician often compares the closeness of his friendship with Morris as that “between my father (Joe López of Mazz) and Jimmy González at one point in their lives.”

TNA performs at Hurricanes located at 3252 Boca Chica Blvd in Brownsville, Texas every other Thursday and every other Saturday night. The other Saturday nights, they perform at Rack Daddy’s Sports Grill at 1802 S. 77 Sunshine Strip corner N. Ed n Carey Drive in Harlingen, Texas.

For bookings and their concert schedule, check out or  

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Related: Ask Ramiro-Joe Lopez