Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back to Soma...For Now

When I was 21 years old I was invited to join an amazing Los Angeles based band that would eventually be known as Soma. I became acquainted with them after befriending their bassist Michael Young while we were both studying music at El Camino Community College in Torrance, CA. I would go on to play in this band for a little over a year before we went our separate ways.

At the time of my joining the group I was in a musical rut. I had been in another band for over two years and after performing all over the Los Angeles area and gaining some success the group succumbed to the pressures of the rat race called the music scene. I was really spent emotionally and had been content for a while to just attend various jam sessions with many of the musicians I knew because I just didn’t want to risk getting my heart broken again.

When Michael had first inquired about me joining his band I was not interested. I heard their demo tape and the amazement I felt about the music wasn’t enough for me to come out of my shell. Michael was persistent and after some time I decided to give it a go. Once I studied the demo tape I felt something I had not felt in a long time….determined. I was going to get this gig!

Once the day came for me to audition I met with Michael and guitarist Bogdan Jaliu and it didn’t take long for us to lock in as a trio. The band had just parted ways with their singer but I didn’t care because I loved what I heard on the demo tape and once I played with these guys there was no stopping me from being a part of this group.

Once we nabbed a local singer we recorded a demo and then hit the local music scene. Unfortunately the group had some directional differences and after while we parted ways. And, when I say that we parted ways it wasn’t just musically it was also based on the fact that some members of the group had even started to live abroad. While there was never a personal fall out I just figured distance would ensure that we would never see each other or have the chance to work together again.

In some ways I welcomed that because the music in this band was written mainly for us. My musician friends loved the group because they understood all that we were doing but we all knew that it wasn’t something that would take the music business by storm. The scary things was that we didn’t plan on sounding the way we did. It just came out of us and it was a beautiful experience, so much so that I didn’t want anything to ruin my memories. After all, this was the only band I was ever in where the end of its run actually brought me to tears.

As time went on I reconnected with Michael. First we hung out at one of our old Torrance hangouts and then later we were both surprised to hear that we were both living in Southern Arizona with our respective families. What were the odds of that happening? Thanks to Michael I finally reconnected with Bogdan after more than 10 years and for a few years it was just Hello, How Are You, Tell Me About Your Family, Good to Reconnect… kind of stuff.

Recently I had a conversation with Bogdan and in jest said we should do a reunion tour! Well, that got the wheels turning and before I knew it we brought Michael into the discussion and began to seriously consider the idea of doing something together for the first time in 22 years! In our hearts we all knew that we never finished the job and in our case it meant that we never properly documented all of our finished music in order to leave our legacy behind and most importantly, to hear the finished product.

Right away we felt a united front as a group but that still that didn't prevent us from seeing a few major obstacles before us. First, Bogdan now lives in Athens, GA so it’s not like he can come over and jam with us. Second, Michael does contracted military work and is leaving the country to work abroad in November so whatever we are going to do needs to be done before he departs.

After some brainstorming and discussion we figured it out. Thanks to technology, we can get this project done as long as we all do our homework and make the proper arrangements to make it happen.

Michael and I started getting together in order to relearn our rhythm section parts. Even though it had been 22 years since I had played with Michael it was magical. This is my rhythm section soul mate and while we had plenty of rough spots the chemistry was still there. Oh how we missed Bogdan though the first time we got together but we knew he was there in spirit. Most importantly, we are taking steps forward and know what type of time table we are on. 

The plan is to record the basic tracks in October at Luna Recording Studio in Tucson, AZ. As we get through all the details there is even a possibility that Bogdan may come out with his family the weekend that Michael and I are scheduled to record and join us in the studio. After that basic session Bogdan will take the files home with him and lay down all of his solos and a few other things and then we will plan the mix down session.

I haven’t been this excited in a long time because in a lot of ways I am not only going back in time to play music with my brothers but also reliving the excitement I felt back in day when I was finally getting out of my musical rut. 2016 hasn’t been the best musical year for me so this project has given me a lot to look forward and a purpose that I haven’t felt in a long time. In fact, I feel the same determination I had back when I was about to audition for the band so I am more than confident that my performance in the studio will be one of my best performances.

The music is challenging and by far the most complex I ever played in my life. For so many years I have been playing very straight ahead music and now I am back to the world of syncopation and grooves that require a serious amount of presence as well as attitude. So I am definitely hitting the practice pad and doing some specific type exercises on the drum set in order to build up my stamina while also practicing the songs as often as I can. As time goes on I see the progress I am making and I am more than pleased as I thought it would take me much longer to get my Soma chops back.

Another thing I have enjoyed is the updates we are making to the material. My musical vision is not what it was 22 years ago as I have actually lived half of my life since my last days with this band in the Los Angeles music scene. That means that I don’t interpret things the way I did back in the day and my new way of seeing the songs is something I am really pleased with.

Aside from updating our music we also plan to change the name of the group as we are entering a new era in our history. Sometimes there can be some uncertainty to what we’re doing but one thing I know from my time with the band is that if my rhythm section partner keeps giving me that look then I know that I am on the right path. So far, so good.

I am also very comfortable with the time frame that we are working with along with our goal for this recorded project. Now there are no delusions of grandeur or disagreements on how we should proceed was a group. We are all on the same page and are more than content with finishing what we started over two decades ago. Therefore, I can say that this group has never been more united and with that being said, I can promise that you will hear it in our playing.

Stay tuned.

Carlos Solorzano

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