"I believe that if you dream and you envision yourself at Madison Square Garden you will get there," explains Albie Monterrosa. He's the driving force behind the band deSol, a group which just might make that dream come true.
The band, which has paid its dues in clubs and small bars around the East Coast, will release their single "Spin Around" nationwide on Curb Records this April. ?Curb, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, has created a plan to break deSol from coast to coast. One of the major parts of the plan is to get as much exposure for the band while the single and the new CD is hot. To do this, deSol will play before hundreds of thousands of people through the next few months. They will be part of several important festivals including River Stages in Nashville on May 1st, the Great Bamboozle at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park on June 5th and a coveted spot at Bonnaroo in June alongside such artists as Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, Gov't Mule, Robert Randolph & the Family Band and Willie Nelson. In addition, the band will be the supporting act for the Wailers in cities like Baltimore, Winston Salem (North Carolina) and at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on April 16th.
"Everyday we're excited," says Monterrosa. "We're always smiling and stuff. It's not only the fact of popularity and getting out to the masses, it's the fact that we're in something that's working and that means something to us. Every angle is covered and that's why we're so happy about it."
The band is based in Asbury Park where many of the band members live. Albie Monterrosa is the lead singer and plays guitar. The rest of the band consists of Armando Cabrera on congas, timbales, and bongos; James Guerrero on bongos and congas; Chris Guice on bass and vocals; Andy Letke on keyboards, Tim Perry on drums, and Rich Soto on lead guitar.
Unlike the traditional sound usually associated with Asbury Park bands, deSol infuses Latin rhythms and Spanish lyrics with a rock and roll base. They have the spirit of a jam band onstage, but layer their songs with a straight-forward pop sensability. The result is something unique - rock and roll that you can actually dance to.
"I think the dance thing is a big thing," says Rich Soto. "You have cover bands that make people dance but there's very few original acts that can really get a crowd on the dance floor. And that's something we have."
At shows throughout the tri-state area, fans of all ages can be found on the dance floor when deSol is on stage. The band has played clubs in New York City, Philadelphia as well as New Jersey areas like New Brunswick, Princeton, Trenton, Point Pleasant and Asbury Park.
Monterrosa was born and raised in Queens, New York and moved to the Jersey Shore about nine years ago. He said he had a few rock and roll bands but nothing really seemed to work. He eventually got to the point where he needed a break to reevaluate his career and see where he should go next. It was out on St. John's, Virgin?Islands where it all became clear.
Albie discovered what was missing from his music from a Puerto Rican girl named Wanda that he met at St. John's. She showed him how the traditional Latin rhythms he had grown up with could be blended with rock and roll.
"I had grown up with a lot of the rhythms but I had never seen anybody play them in a rock and roll way," he said. "It was like wow, these Latin rhythms will fit, I just have to tweak a rhythm here maybe a vocal there."
Ironically, one of the first songs he blended the styles with was "Spin Around" which just happens to be the first single from the new record.
The band's major label debut will contain cuts from their independent release, Spanish Radio, as well as several new songs. The record will be released under a different name and the songs from Spanish Radio have been reworked a little."We have probably tried every single market," adds Armando Cabrera. "We have played with people who have no idea of Latin music and people who are very traditional. I call it a Latin-American evolution. We appeal to a lot of people. We also appeal to the people who have been in this country for a few generations; people who know Spanish is part of their background but they're being raised with pop culture. These people definitely identify to who we are.
"I think we consider every place we play a challenge," continued Cabrera. "Some people at the beginning don't know where to put us. By the end of the night they are coming up to us and saying things like you guys had something fresh, something new. And that's what we want to be. ?I think we're being successful doing that."
"We have a conscious effort to stay true to our roots," said Monterrosa. "We're rock and roll with a Latin soul. Right now, we want to stay focused on the rock and roll thing. I don't want to lose sight of that. I love mixing all the traditional stuff and all that but right now I want to stay rock because that's going to get us the masses."
The label is hiring an independent Latino "Spanglesh" market promotion team, which has the band really excited. Conquering American radio is one of their goals, but the real dream is to conquer both English speaking radio as well as the Latino market. Albie's eyes light up at the mention of playing before 100,000 fans in Brazil. For deSol, the dreams keep getting bigger because reality just keeps getting better.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.