Corpus Christi, Texas is earning marks as a hotbed of musical innovation with the release of Resurrection the Chris Perez Band’s debut album. Formed by Chris Perez, the lead guitarist and widower of slain Tejano superstar Selena, the Corpus Christi-based outfit offers up a groundbreaking mix of irresistible bilingual rock and pop. Joining Perez are vocalist John Garza, former Selena Y Los Dinos bandmate Joe Ojeda on keyboards, bass guitarist Adriel Ramirez and drummer Alex Tamez.
A gifted musician, Perez has spent the last three years on his own, writing music and laying the groundwork for a return to contemporary rock, his first love. The result is Resurrection an emotionally charged collection of 16 songs produced by Julian Raymond, known for his production work with labelmates (and fellow Texans) Fastball. With 9 tracks sung in Spanish and 6 in English, Resurrection breaks new ground in American rock culture with its bilingual approach that reflects a daily reality, not only for these musicians, but for a vast majority of the more than 30 million Hispanic-Americans in the U.S.
Growing up in urban San Antonio in the 80s, Perez learned to read charts as a horn player in junior high before ever touching a guitar. It was through the guitar however, that the young Perez discovered a new and incredibly powerful way to communicate his thoughts and emotions. His increasing prowess on the instrument drew him into the glossy world of pop-Tejano, where he landed a gig as a sideman with Selena y Los Dinos. He spent 6 years in her band, touring and recording with the internationally- acclaimed multi-platinum group.
Perez admits that it was the melodic rock sound of bands like Boston, Aerosmith and Van Halen that first inspired him to play the electric guitar. “When I started playing, if I couldn’t make my guitar sound the way Eddie Van Halen did, then I wasn’t any good,” he explains. Another hero is Carlos Santana, who invited Chris onstage for an encore performance last year.
Since Selena, Perez sought solace through his songwriting, spending many hours at home in Corpus Christi crafting the songs that would become Resurrection. Venturing out into the local music scene he crossed paths with a charismatic young vocalist named John Garza. The pair connected, and Chris realized he’d found someone with whom he could share his musical vision. Ojeda joined shortly thereafter, followed by Ramirez and Tamez.
Converting an empty bedroom into a home studio, the Chris Perez Band spent months rehearsing, fine- tuning songs and perfecting their sound. Shopping the demo to various record labels, they were met with surprise and enthusiasm, yet most A&R reps were honest enough to admit a lack of experience with crossover rock or bilingual pop.
Meeting with Cameron Randle, Senior VP of A&R/Latin at Hollywood Records, however, the Corpus crew knew they were headed in the right direction. “Cameron understood right away what we were trying to do,” notes Perez. He suggested that Hollywood Records might be the place to go. And so they did.
In an unprecedented move, the label will unleash two different singles concurrently to both English and Spanish radio. The album’s searing title cut, “Resurrection,” is a percussive, bass-driven piece of thoroughly infectious rock/pop, and is the first English language single. In a completely different mood, the first Spanish single is the heartfelt ballad “Por Qué Te Fuiste?” (Why Did You Leave?) replete with plaintive guitars and a tenderly emotive chorus.
Like the world we live in, Resurrection reflects many moods and many musical and cultural influences. Recorded in Los Angeles with such varied guests as members of Cheap Trick, percussionist Luis Conte, the horn section from Voodoo Glow Skulls and premiere Mariachi Sol de Mexico, the 16 songs range from riff-laden ska-influenced rock to soft ballads featuring flamenco guitars and graceful harmonies. “We did a little bit of everything on this album, but I think it has its own strong identity,” Perez concludes. It amazes me and makes me very proud that when people hear it they’re going to attach our name to this sound.”