ACL Music Festival Interviews

ACL Music Festival Interviews

Grupo Fantasma

Friday, 5:45pm, Capital Metro stage

Situated at the crossroads of the Deep South and Mexico, the Lone Star State sports its fair share of interbreeding between African-American and Latin dance cultures. As a native of Laredo and a member of Austin's Grupo Fantasma, Adrian Quesada leads his primary outfit on occasional forays into proto-disco breaks when they double as a side-project called Brownout!.

"Looking back on the Seventies, it's interesting to know that there were so many South Texas Tejano bands, such as Sunny & the Sunliners and Latin Breed, who just like us branched off into hard funk," points out Quesada.

While a Grupo Fantasma performance isn't likely to stray too far from its foundation of Tejano, cumbia, and salsa, Quesada indicates that much of what the 10-piece does is informed by alternative sources.

"We don't like to bend genres too much just for the sake of doing it," he explains. "We try to stay respectful of the traditional rhythms we play. But since many of us in the band grew up listening to metal, funk, and hip-hop, we find ourselves approaching Latin music with a lot of punk rock aggression." Even when Grupo Fantasma intentionally attempts to stick with Latin recipes, their uplifting dishes manage to carry the scent of the African motherland.

"The way we use twin guitars playing off of each other is intended to reflect montuno patterns that salsa pianists play. But often our guitars come across sounding more like Afrobeat than anything Cuban or Puerto Rican."

Promoting the recent nationwide release of Grupo Fantasma's 2004 local favorite, Movimiento Popular, Quesada promises a smorgasbord of raw excitement for the sweltering masses.

"We're confident that we'll provide one of the most percussive, horn-heavy sets of this year's festival. We always step it up for big crowds."

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