Salvador -- Living the Godly Life
- Friday, February 16, 2001
Get your feet ready to dance, because when hot new Austin-based five-some Salvador hits the stage, their Latin-infused pop sensibilities and youthful exuberance will simply take over and leave no foot in the house still.
Born out of a makeshift praise and worship band of preachers' kids, leader Nick Gonzales has no qualms in telling of Salvador's humble beginnings at their home church in Austin. "Sometimes our praise and worship leader would just not show up, and one day, my brother dared me that if I'd play guitar, he'd play drums. I knew a total of two chords," he laughingly admits. "When we began to play the first Sunday, it was a pretty messy experience to behold."
But a little perseverance and a lot of practice paid off. Before long, the trio of Nick, older brother Art Gonzales and cousin Josh Gonzales had become Sunday regulars, leading their fellow church members in worship in a way that would make any preacher proud. This new generation in a long line of charismatic preachers and singers proudly continued the tradition of making a joyful noise. As their popularity at church grew, the talented group expanded their member roster and ventured outside of their church, taking their unique sound around the coffeehouses in Austin, and soon to larger gatherings around the country. Eventually bigger and bigger concerts came their way, including music festivals, youth conferences, and an invitation from evangelist Nicky Cruz to bring their musical fire to his crusades.
Salvador's membership grew to include conga-player and percussionist Eliot Torres, who had previously played in another Austin-based band, and keyboardist Adrian Lopez, who claims he knew joining the band was "the right thing" to do after meeting Nick.
An appearance at a gospel music festival in Lukenbach, TX, won the now local-favorites band a new fan--manager Michael Smith of Nashville, TN. Smith, who hadn't even planned to attend the concert originally, couldn't leave the room once Salvador started their set. Captivated by the band's raw talent and electric energy, he offered the wide-eyed Texas lads a management contract on the spot, and within a mere two weeks, Salvador had also signed agreements with Myrrh Records, Word Publishing, and the Jeff Roberts booking agency. In the year that followed, Salvador finished work on an independent live recording and performance video, taped at their city's world famous "Austin City Limits," while Myrrh began the process of mining for the gold within them.
"The first thing that struck me about these guys," relates Myrrh A&R VP, Dan Posthuma, "was their authenticity--their heritage, their music, their church. What they do is as real as it gets. And the music is just great fun to listen to."
Fun indeed. Asked to describe their band in one-word, all five chime in stereo-- "Fun!" This is a band that takes its mission to inspire others to lives of praise very seriously, but not themselves. These guys are never at a loss for a righteous good time, as Art explains: "I think our mission statement is to help others know the same joy that we've found in knowing the Lord. Yes, life has its ups and downs, but if God made people in His image, and there are funny people, then God must have a sense of humor! God calls us into joyful relationship and freedom with Him, and I think so many people forget that and try to make the Christian walk something that's boring and hard. I think that living a 'righteous life' doesn't mean you have to give up living it upGod wants us to enjoy Him and the life He's given us."
Ranging in age from a mere eighteen all the way to twenty-nine, the men of Salvador might like to party, but they are also truly your boy-next-door charmers. The group's striking young frontman, Nick, 22, grew up in the church and in fact, finds spending time with his pastoring parents one of his favorite things to do. His brother Art, 29, gave up a full-time job, and even made a temporary move with his wife and three-year-old daughter back into his parents' home, to help start building the Salvador dream. Josh, 19, a cousin to the Gonzales brothers and fellow PK, is another church boy, who considers faith, his family, and music to be the three most important things in life. Twenty-four year old percussionist Eliot Torres adds a "Puerto-Rican" rhythmic flavor to his Mexican compadres' sound, and shares his bandmates' love for the church. Keyboardist Adrian Lopez, 18, who ventured from his San Antonio home to join the Austin ensemble, was already serving as a praise and worship leader in his own home church before lending his talents to Salvador. Today the young Lopez is grateful for his blessings, including parents who are "great encouragers," and a wife and baby boy who are his "best friends."
Together, the best friends of Salvador have created something of a phenomenon. Taking the popular musical sounds they've loved (including a "Christian-music-only" house rule while growing up) and some of today's hottest musical styles, Salvador brings the idea of vertical pop music to a whole new level.
Produced by the Salvador-dubbed "producer extraordinaire" Monroe Jones (Third Day, Chris Rice, Margaret Becker, Ginny Owens, Wes Cunningham, Mark Schultz) and the equally heroic Myrrh A&R vice president and producer Dan Posthuma ("we just knew him by name at first 'cause he produced some of our favorite artists and albums!" Nick says), the debut album Salvador is a textured, lively and joyful journey through a colorful world of musical styles. The album bids a decided nod to Salvador's heritage with infectious Latin and Salsa rhythms from south of the border. Soaring ballads; lead singer Nick's gritty, imploring voice; snappy pop arrangements and sparkling instrumentations belie the simple message behind Salvador.. They're just here to praise the Lord. But be assured, there is more than just church happening here. Salvador is an in-your-face, dare-you-to-dance, happy-feet celebration of faith, hope and yes, fun. If you're not tapping your feet and turning that frown upside down inside the first two minutes--well, you might just need to check for a pulse.
In Spanish "Salvador" means simply, "Savior." "At first we were thinking of 'The Jalapeno Brothers' or 'The JuJus' as a name," laughs Nick, "but then we thought about how people always ask who you work for. This is a way for us to tell them. 'Salvador' is our God, and He's the reason why we do what we do."
With such a high calling in their name, the members of Salvador are quick to explain the serious side of their musical lives. "We're a group, a band, we're guys," says Art, "and sometimes that combination can be disastrous. But we all grew up in the church. We know what's right and what's wrong. Our parents taught us to give all the honor and glory to God and He'll take care of the rest. And we believe that God will."
So it's with that passion that Nick, Art, Josh, Eliot and Adrian begin their new adventure as Salvador. With hearts still set on praising, worshipping, celebrating and dancing, the band excitedly awaits the broad new world of opportunities beginning to open for them. But at the core, the dream is still the same: the joy of making music and the joy of sharing the love of the Savior who set them free. "Just to hear that somebody heard our music and it touched their life," explains Josh, "that's pretty much it. That's what it's all about."
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