Avandra – Interview
Interview with Christian Ayala of Avandra and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
CA: Of the musical variety. Stern on stage and in music. Also one that looks to develop and better himself as time moves on.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
CA: I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a more or less musical family. Nobody really listened to metal or anything like that, though my father listened to a lot of Tears for Fears and Hall and Oats, so I count them as some of my earliest musical influences. My mother would listen to anything that had a good melody to it. At the age of 5 my parents moved to Troy, New York, to study at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and I was there till the age of 8. So, I consider both upstate New York and Puerto Rico to be my homes. At the age of 12 I started playing guitar and at 13, upon going back to Troy for a second time, I formed my first band. At 14 I moved back to Puerto Rico where I kept the bands a-comin’, and now I believe I’ve reached the zenith of all those efforts in the form of Avandra.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
CA: My biggest influences are Dream Theater, Opeth and Porcupine Tree. They are my Holy Trinity. There have been many bands that have come and gone and have influenced me in various ways, but nothing as impactful as the ere mentioned 3.
Non-musical I guess the varying experiences that I’ve had in life that I’ve been able to articulate through musical means. Like watching the city lights below from a mountain above or late-night drives through forest/rural areas that just really sink into my soul. I’m doing my master’s thesis on Nietzsche and neuroscience, and he has deeply influenced my world-view and my lyrics as well, specifically his philosophy of language.
Another odd non-musical influence for me has been John Romero. He was one of “The Beatles” of game development as part of ID Software. He has given many lectures on how to properly program games and various methods to be a more efficient game programmer, and I take those lessons and translate them into my musical endeavours.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
CA: Right now, it’s to be able to make a decent living off of this crazy thing we call music. I also hope to inspire more bands from Puerto Rico. I really want to see all the great bands that I see here to strive for more and never become complacent. Complacency is an artist’s worst enemy, after all.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
CA: I wrote all the songs on the last album and the new one coming out on April 26. Both albums have varying themes and deal with a myriad of issues, though a central theme is usually language and its poietic (poiesis, meaning formative or creative) power through concepts that can either realize potentials within each of us or oppress them. There are more politically inclined lyrics like Ubiquitous off of the first album, which deals with U.S. foreign policies, hence the line “900 branches stemming from the tree of death”, signifying the 900 bases the U.S. has around the world.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
CA: Through Facebook (facebook.com/avandrapr) and Instagram (@avandrapr).
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
CA: I don’t mind it. Hell, my first album was pirated the first day it came out. I only ask that if you download it for free and you enjoy it, that you consider supporting the band by buying the albums via iTunes or bandcamp (avandra.bandcamp.com/album/tymora), and the second one via Blood Music:
PD: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
CA: There are so many levels and nuances to the record industry today that I’m not sure if I could ever have a solid opinion on the whole of it. One must be cautious of the big labels as much as the smaller labels that are looking to rip gullible bands off.
A lot of people are sceptical if they should sign with a label or not, and that’s understandable, but it’s always good to have the “I want to be signed to a big label” mentality, even if you never do, just because it’s a goal that will probably help you organize your band life a lot better.
In as far as record sales, even though CD sales have gone down since everyone just downloads stuff, there are quite a few studies that have shown that CD and Vinyl sales have begun to go up in the recent years. I for one love that. For example, album art is of utmost importance to me. Visually, of course, but I even love the tactile aspect of it, something you just don’t get with digital downloads.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
CA: A Change of Seasons by Dream Theater probably. It’s one of the most perfect songs ever, and once you write it, you have half the album done, so a huge plus there!
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
CA: People that when they whisper, they sound like they have excessively wet lips. Odd, I know. But it all started with this old Wendy’s commercial and has never gone away!
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
CA: Being signed by Blood Music and finishing our last album, Descender. Though I also have to admit that when Metal-Temple gave the album a 10/10 “Masterpiece” rating, I was so damn proud of all of us that I was ecstatic for days, and actually still am!
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.
CA: Our next shows are on April 13 at Hacienda Isabelita in San Juan and on May 5 at La Respuesta, also in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The May 5 show is actually our release show.
And why should you be there? Cause you’d be watching Avandra in their native home! Plus, you’d be in Puerto Rico, and that’s always a good thing.
Band location – San Juan, Puerto Rico
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