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INTERVIEW: JES DE HOYOS of SONS OF TEXAS – November 2017

According to a recent press release: “Fresh off a European run with Seether, SONS OF TEXAS have announced upcoming tour plans. The band will open for Alter Bridge and All That Remains this November and December. The band will also headline a hometown show at the Cin El Rey Theatre in McAllen, Texas on December 16. The band released its new album Forged By Fortitude on September 22 through Razor & Tie. Leading into release, the band partnered with the government of their home state wherein a Sons of Texas visual is being posted at 11 transit stops in the Lone Star State. Alternative Press tracked the activity at all 11 stops.” We got guitarist Jes de Hoyos on the phone to discuss the album, touring, and more…

Toddstar: Jes, thank you so much for taking time out for us, I really appreciate it.

Jes: Thanks for having me.

Toddstar: You guys have so much going on right now. But let’s talk about the new album, Forged By Fortitude. What can you tell us about this disc that fans of the band might not grab first or second time listening through this?

Jes: Whatever the single is, they know, “Beneath the Riverbed.” You go on YouTube, that’s the first example they get of the record. The rest of the record’s nothing like that. You can go out there check it out. There’s different colors, there’s different flavors. Check it out, there’s more than one dimension to this record. We mixed it up on the first one as well. It’s kind of something we like to do. Some people go for a specific sound and that’s the way they sound for the rest of their career, for us we like to not have any boundaries if that makes any sense.

Toddstar: It definitely makes sense especially in today’s day and age of rock and roll where, like you said, so many bands do kind of find their niche and their sound and run with it, so to speak.

Jes: Yeah, for sure. That’s one thing I’ve heard a lot of people on Facebook or social media or whatever, I get sometimes sponsored ads on my feed for check out this band, yada, yada, yada and I go check out the comments just to see what people are saying about it and a lot of them are like everything sounds the same, everything sounds the same. I get that there’s a lot of bands out there that are doing something very similar to each other, that kind of thing, but there’s so much more to it than what is on the surface. For example, back in the day what happened as well with Extreme, remember that band? “More Than Words,” that’s what everybody knew them for. They thought that that’s what they were, that’s all they were, just pop music and that kind of thing. But there was very much a loud and proud rock and roll aspect to them that not very many people got to experience because they didn’t go beyond what was on the radio or whatever the video was. You gotta go out to a live show and see what the band’s about or at the very least look at the rest of their catalog before you make a decision on what a band sounds like.

Toddstar: You actually hit on one of my favorite bands from back in the day. I’ve got everything Gary and Nuno have ever done, so you hit it for me. Was there something you guys kind of had in mind when you put Sons of Texas together that you guys kind of didn’t want to be that band that could be pigeonholed into any one sound or genre or pocket so to speak?

Jes: That’s exactly right. That’s the one thing I had in my mind whenever I wanted to start this band. I was like you know what, let’s start a band that doesn’t have limits. For example… the way I got the idea is that here where I’m from, there used to be a lot of variety bands is what they were called or another word for it is cover bands. You go out to a local bar and there’s a little four piece band playing all the hits from Journey to Metallica or they’ll play all the famous songs that are on the radio and it’s hit after hit after hit after hit. The thing about that is that you’re having a good time while you’re enjoying different music and people dig it because it’s a variety, that’s why they called it a variety band. I thought to myself, what if we became that with all original music instead of doing all metal or all rock or all blues or a soft rock band, whatever it is. Let’s be the band that has no limits and we can get away with doing whatever we want. To me, when I was explaining that to other people it kind of seemed like it’s kind of crazy. Some people were like this guys doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, but I kind of feel like it works for us. I think it’s something that not a lot of bands do, there’s other bands that do it, but I don’t feel like it’s a prominent thing in this day and age. The listener gets bored of hearing the same thing with every tune, so I felt like it was definitely something I wanted to do.

Toddstar: Going back to what you opened up with where you told people check out the first single, “Beneath the Riverbed.” But then you guys kind of followed that up, not necessarily with a single, but there’s a big push with, “Down in the Trenches,” which like you said, is sonically different. How is it you guys are able to kind of corral these songs that have different sounds, different rhythms, and different textures to them yet make it seem like a cohesive album?

Jes: Because it’s all natural, it’s not forced I’d say. It’s not something that we’re forcing to come out, it’s just me and John and Mark and Nick and Mike, we all have very different pallets for what we like to listen to. I listen to everything, I really don’t give a damn what anybody says about don’t listen to pop music, that shit’s poison, this and that. The thing about pop music is that there’s a handful of producers and writers that write all the music for all the big names in the pop world. A lot of these pop artists don’t write their own music. For me, I really respect that these guys can do that. They put together a really great song. Put aside the fact that it’s some chick in a bikini or whatever the hell it is and actually listen to the elements that go into the song. To me personally I think that’s bigger than what you’re seeing on the surface and that’s my thing, I like to dig further than what’s on the surface. You see somebody, you might get a first impression based off how they look, but when you talk to them you find out it’s completely different from what you first thought. I think that’s a big thing to do, you’re holding four aces and people think all you got is a pair. But it’s something that I think is a big deal and I think it’s natural. For example, the “Buy In to Sell Out,” riffs, that’s some riff that I just shat in the studio. I was like let’s see, it sounds stupid, but let’s see if we can make it work. Sure enough we just started jamming and the song came. It was the heaviest song on the album I’d say and it sounds nothing like, “Beneath the Riverbed.” On the comments we’ve seen a few of them say it’s just like everything else out there. I’m like well that’s just one dimension, there’s more on the record than what you think. Another is like you said, “Down in the Trenches,” that’s another riff that I had that actually sounded nothing like the way it sounds now because somebody else had a different idea in the band as to how it’s supposed to go, it turned into a completely different tune. That’s the whole thing about this band is that we utilize the fact that there’s five different minds and different palates and different flavor that can be contributed into the writing. So whenever we write things just happen naturally and we listen to each other and I think that’s how we’re able to get such a diverse palate on one record. It all feels natural because it is natural, it’s not one person writing 12 songs, it’s five people working cohesively to put together the best product we can to represent us when we go out.

Toddstar: What was it like for you guys to go into the studio to do this album? Because the first album you guys had great success with. Was there that whole thing about how do we top that or did you guys just go in and say let’s just give it our all?

Jes: I think that one was another natural thing that just happened because we had never toured before we did our first album, believe it or not. So when we wrote those songs it was just what we had in our minds. It was something we had written, music we had and we felt that was going to be our best foot forward at the time. So when we put it out it was also a very diverse palate of songs and that kind of thing. But after we put it out we toured and we learned some different things about ourselves based off of just being on the road. It’s insane what you can learn about yourself and other people from just being trapped with them in a van for 12 hours a day, that kind of thing. When you go on stage and you perform and it’s just taking in everything that’s going on in your life and that kind of thing, it also helped that we went out with some veteran bands that knew what the hell they were doing. It really helped put some perspective on what we should do or what we’re doing wrong and that kind of thing, so we adjusted and kind of incorporated that into our writing for the second album. So I don’t think it was something that it was forced or that kind of thing again, it was just because we’d actually toured and we learned what we could’ve done better from the first album and we went for it.

Toddstar: You mentioned touring a little bit and you’re getting ready to hit the streets in about two weeks with one of my favorite bands out there and that’s Alter Bridge. What’s that like for you guys to be able to go out with those guys? Are these people you’ve looked up to or do you just consider them other musicians? What’s it like for you guys to know you’re on that bill?

Jes: First and foremost I’m very much a fan of music. If I can go out to a show I will. Anytime I’m on tour I don’t go as just a musician, hang backstage and wait to play and then go home. I go out and I watch the bands that play with us and to be honest, I’ve been a fan of Tremonti since Creed, I’ve watched everything that guys been doing and I think he’s a hell of a performer, hell of a songwriter. I really think him with Myles Kennedy together working together is a huge thing. Actually people who haven’t seen Alter Bridge live should. Myles Kennedy’s actually a really damn good guitar player too. There’s so many different aspects to that band than what’s, again, on the surface. Again, that’s something that I do a lot, I like to dig deeper and that’s one of those bands that has more dimensions to them as well. On top of that, it’s All That Remains and I’ve been a fan of All That Remains since This Darkened Heart. I really enjoy their music. I must’ve listened to This Darkened Heart album front to back like 100 times, a thousand times I don’t know, it was a lot. When we finally got to play with them awhile back they were all cool dudes so it was a huge bonus and we’re going out with them again. On top of that we’re getting to go out with Alter Bridge, so it’s huge. I’m a fan for sure. So it’s like a double whammy, you get to go out to perform with them and you get to go watch them live.

Toddstar: Alter Bridge is one of those bands that I’ve always dug. One thing that I’ve always like about Tremonti, not to take away from Alter Bridge, but he’ll play the big places, he’ll play the little places. One of the smaller places he plays you guys have had great luck with and it’s one of my favorite venues in the world and unfortunately you guys aren’t playing it because of this bill, but The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan.

Jes: Yes sir. That is definitely one of, if not our favorite spot to stop. Everybody there is incredible. Kevin, Johanna, everybody, all the stuff, we love, love, love going to The Machine Shop and Big John’s is right next door, killer sandwiches dude. I go there every time we stop.

Toddstar: What’s it about a place like that that really draws you guys in, not only as a band, but as fans of music?

Jes: I think the sense of community. For example, The Machine Shop, it’s more than just a venue. It’s not a huge place, it’s not like an amphitheater, nothing like that, but the size of the community is just that big. People there actually give a damn about each other, they give a damn about you, and they give a damn about what you’re doing. Kevin is actually one of the most humble, down to earth dudes I’ve ever met in my life, nice as shit. His wife is equally as awesome. The entire staff is just a great representation of what a community is supposed to be and that’s what we love about it. I feel like anytime there’s that vibe about a venue or a bar or whatever, it’s going to have success. It’s not about what kind of beer you’re selling or that kind of thing because you could be selling piss on tap, but if you’re nice to people and you treat people the way they’re supposed to be treated, they’ll keep coming back. 

Toddstar: I agree with you. That’s why it’s one of my favorite spots. Minty, the house photographer, always speaks to highly of you guys.

Jes: Minty is a great dude. Again, just another awesome genuine soul from that community and it’s great.

Toddstar: I agree. So you guys are pushing this new album, it came out in September, so it’s a couple months old. How’s it being received by the fans based on your first take? How are they wrapping their heads and ears and hearts around this new material?

Jes: So far so good. It’s all been positive vibes. The people that bought the first album and know who we are all had nothing but positive things to say and it’s cool to hear that people really feel like we outdid the first album. They enjoy what we’re doing and it really helps fuel the fire in all this. It keeps us going, it keeps us motivated, especially when we go out to shows we see a lot of returning faces with the Sons of Texas shirts and the crowds are growing bigger, more and more familiar faces, that kind of thing. Again, another sense of community. All you gotta do is just listen to somebody, shake their hand and tell them I really appreciate that you’re out here supporting what I do, thank you. That’s it, that’s all it takes, just don’t be a dick, that’s it.

Toddstar: With that said and you talked about how you guys grew as a unit, as friends, as family out touring supporting the first album and then going in and doing the second album. What’s a thing or two you learned during this album that you learned that you don’t want to do again?

Jes: I don’t know yet, I think it’s too early to tell. We’re very happy with the way the album came out and all the songs that we put our heart and soul behind. But I think it’s too early to tell. I definitely would want to incorporate more of the live aspect, that’s something I’m always looking to do. I’m always looking to grow, always looking to see where I can adjust and improve because there’s always room for improvement. As far as what not to do, I don’t know because I don’t think we did anything that was sketchy or on the verge of feeling wrong because again we went with what was natural and nothing that was out of the blue.

Toddstar: In all the touring you’ve done because again, like you mentioned and anybody who follows you knows you’ve done extensive touring over the last couple years. Who is the most fun band to be out with that you also learned a ton from?

Jes: Off the top of my head because we just went out with them was Seether. Fucking awesome dude, awesome. It was crazy too because again, I’d grown up listening to everything Shaun did with Seether, all the singles, I knew all the words and all that shit. For me it was insane just being out there and being able to watch him do what he does and not just from a listener standpoint, but being able to actually talk to him, shake his hand and really get inside his head a little bit. He’s a cool, cool dude, he’s awesome. It was cool that Clint Lowery was out there with them too because I’m a huge Sevendust fan and just finally getting to shoot the shit with that guy was fucking awesome dude. That guy was cool. It was just a fun tour, it was all around just being out there in Europe touring in a place that’s away from the norm, which you’re used to and just meet new people and that kind of thing and just watching live rock and roll music just be what it is and enjoying it. Absorbing it all and having a good time.

Toddstar: That’s awesome especially for a young band like yourselves to be able to pair up with bands that know what they’re doing, but also they are… I don’t want to use the term your idol and put words in your mouth, but like you said, you’re a huge fan of the band. I also have to note I saw one of the first Seether shows when they added Clint when they played Chicago Open Air, he definitely adds a dimension to that unit for sure.

Jes: Absolutely. Maybe this might not go over with all the listeners to well, but I like to this he’s the Jason Witten. He’s whatever the band needs him to be. If he needs to do vocals, take the lead, he’ll take the lead. If you want him to do backup, he’ll sit in the back. If you want him to do lead guitar, he’ll do lead guitar. If you want him to just sit back and do rhythm on the guitar, he’ll do it. The guy is very much aware of whatever the band needs and he does that. There’s zero ego there, he’s not like oh I’m this cool guitar player, there’s none of that. The dude is very much a team player and that’s what I appreciate, love and respect about the guy.

 

Toddstar: Jes, I know you’re busy so I want to let you get onto what you’re doing. But I want to know again, it’s only the second album in for you guys, but this isn’t your first rodeo, it’s not like you woke up and you’re a rockstar yesterday. Looking back over your career so far, what’s one or two things that you think were a misstep or something that you just want a do over on?

Jes: There was one thing, but I don’t know how big that is in terms of what you’re looking for for your question. But for me specifically there’s a situation that goes on with record sales and that kind of thing. For example, we were in Europe when our record released and none of the albums that we sold over there counted toward the first week of sales or at all for US sales for that matter. So on the first week it might not have looked like we did too well on paper, but we actually sold a shit ton of CDs and albums over there. We could’ve put all those albums toward our first week sales and had a huge number. Not huge in terms of 80 thousand or anything that the big bands of the world are doing right now, but for us, somebody that’s on their second album, I kind of feel like it would’ve been a significant increase from our first album and that’s exactly what we were going for. Because they don’t have a way to report or even… I don’t even know how to say it. They have something called sound scan where you mark how many albums you’ve sold and that kind of thing, they don’t do that on that side of the world. So for the first week of sales it looks like we did worse than the first week technically. But that’s the only thing, I would’ve been in the US to be able to report all the albums we did for the first week of sales. Again, that’s not a big thing. I don’t want to say that it took away from the experience or that we regretted going to Europe because it was actually a great experience for us. I wouldn’t have changed it, so it’s kind of yes and no, you know what I mean? I really enjoyed Europe, going on that tour was a great learning experience. We got to meet some of the bands that we grew up listening to and it was a killer experience, I wouldn’t change that for the world. But it’s just something that for technical sales and dick measuring contests over record sales and that kind of thing.

Toddstar: You guys have been at this a couple years, you released Baptized in the Rio Grande back in 2015. But record sales just aren’t what they were, you’re never going to have another Black Album or another Thriller, it’s just not going to happen in this day and age anymore with downloads and singles and music. You mentioned pop and that to me is one of the downfalls is as genius as some of those guys are, everything’s so disposable and I think they kind of helped mold the music world to be where everything is so disposable and on demand now.

Jes: Yeah, for sure, it’s so insane. You hit it right on the nail. I think it’s very disposable, but it’s okay, that’s what they want. They want it to be a huge hit, they want it to hit hard, fast and heavy for it to be a success on paper and be able to rake in all the fucking cash and keep the artist going out there and getting more cash from touring and all that kind of thing. But like you said, in the next year or two there’ll be a whole new artist with a whole new catalog or a new single or what have you. Then remember that song from 2015, nope, because there was like 80 of them shits since then.

Toddstar: Jes, what’s the one album looking back over your formative years that you wish you could’ve been a part of, whether it was sitting in the room watching the band record it or laying a lick down on it or throwing a backing vocal on it, what’s the one album that you wish you were a part of?

Jes: I don’t know specifically one album. There’s a couple off the top of my head. I’ll say them right now, pretty much anything Pantera did, anything Sevendust did and anything Metallica did. The two albums off the top of my head for sure I’d say either the Black Album or for me… I might get shit on for this, but Reinventing the Steel. I don’t know why for me that album is fucking awesome because of the place where they were in their lives I think it was self-produced by Vinnie and I think it turned about to be a really great album. It’s just something that I wish I could’ve just been a fly on the wall for it to happen. I don’t know, I think it was cool. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a good god damn if they do shit on me. How do I say it? There’s a very elitist mentality in the metal community. It’s no longer about being able to listen to music and rebel and just be in the complete freedom of that world. It’s now oh, that’s not metal or that’s not their best album. I didn’t say it was their best album, to me that’s just one album that I felt fit the description of what you asked me. I felt like it would’ve been great to be a fly on the wall for that album.

Toddstar: I agree with you. Jes, I hope all goes well on the Alter Bridge tour and I hope we can somehow find you guys back up at The Machine Shop because I need to get up there and see you guys.

Jes: You better believe that shit man. We’ll be up there again soon, we’ll be touring extensively for 2018, so I’m sure it won’t be too long before we’re back out there.

Toddstar: Sounds good and see you then.

Jes: Thanks for having me, take it easy.

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INTERVIEW: JES DE HOYOS of SONS OF TEXAS - November 2017

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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