Los Skarnales Hit 20 Years as Houston's Favorite Vatos Rudos
"There have been times when I've almost quit the band," Felipe says over dinner at his home on the banks of White Oak Bayou. He admits his partying has led to headaches and temporary rifts between himself and his fellow Skarnales.
One such episode led to the removal of former keyboardist and manager Joshua Mares, currently the marketing director of Houston's Arena Theatre. Mares says that he holds "so much respect for Felipe's talent," but that the "music business" and other life trials prevented Skarnales from catapulting toward even greater local and international success.
Once the band had the ear of several major labels including Universal and Emilio Estefan, adds Mares, but lack of leadership and drive kept those opportunities from flourishing. But that was then.
"That was a little slow, wasn't it" inquired current Skarnales drummer Jose "Chapy" Luna during a recent rehearsal for the band's anniversary show. The first-floor room at the East End's iconic Francisco Studios practice space was as full of life and history as the band itself. With an abundance of cervezas and the amplifiers turned all the way to 11, remaining focused and sane became difficult while observing the controlled chaos.
Former members Benny Tamayo, Rick Ramirez, Ralph Hernandez, Albert Garza, and founding member Juan Garcia were invited to the practice, some of whom hadn't touched their instrument in more than ten years. But the spirit of Los Skarnales erased all the rust and left each player with a wide smile, eager to showcase himself onstage again soon.
"I feel like my hand is about to fall off!" proclaimed Luna.
That manic, unrelenting stage presence has endeared Skarnales to their legions of fans, most of whom jump at every opportunity to see the vatos rudos in action, dancing and singing along. It certainly feels as though the band could go for another 20 years.
Watch this space next week for more on Skarnales' 20th anniversary. The band plays with special guests the Jungle Rockers, Reyno Sabanero and Heart & Soul Soundsystem, next Friday at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak.