By Rich Henrich
The year was 2012. Leo was slinging drinks at the bar. Damn good drinks, too. I know, I had at least a few in between bites of tasty street tacos. “You should meet my girlfriend,” he said. “She’s in the band, too. She’s the drummer.” I waited for her to arrive and then with a thundering roar, there was no mistake about the sassy lassie that just walked through the doors- the one and only Ashley Kay Pintor. Pure fire washed over with the refinement of Jameson. It was clear from that moment on that there was one instrument created on Earth, perfectly crafted to suit her rambunctious personality. She exuded rock-n-roll and held her tacos like drum sticks. Indeed she was one with her drum.
They invited me to see their show at a new place called BAR, a refreshing venue amidst modernism. The stage, nothing more than a small riser in the corner of a compact bar. I thought this could be a challenge for a band to perform in such a space. There were about 20-30 people mixing about, drowning out the spring heat. Leo took the stage quietly. Then Collin, a man with a mustache and plenty of style slung his guitar over his shoulder and tuned up. The little drummer girl took the stage like Tommy Lee, the notorious drummer of Motley Crue. She was ready to play the Hollywood Bowl and for all she cared, it was. Drums pounding, guitars whaling and then Leo yelled out something guttural from the bowls of rockdom- Possessed. This night would mark the beginning of my love affair with The Rebel Noise.
Great music requires one thing- that special feeling you get when you know there is no moment of truth like the one before you, that moment that transports you away from the ordinary world into a special haven of raw emotion and blissful bellowing, it’s a rapture wrapped inside a revival of what’s real, of all that matters. This is The Rebel Noise, a sonic wonder incapable of a whisper.
When I was asked to write this article, it was a giddy honor to return to the sound machine I’ve long been infatuated with and could only beam at their success. I knew they were good and it’s a joy to see them grow and share that magic with the desert and lands yet known.
This band came together in a strange way. The lead singer, Leopoldo “Leo” Rodriguez never sang before. Oh yeah, and he never played guitar before. Yet, he followed his girlfriend, Ashley, to Palm Springs after her brother Collin took a job there. “It was just time for something new,” Leo said. “Collin and Ashley used to jam together all the time but I could only watch. I didn’t play an instrument. So, with a couple weeks of down time, he stole a guitar from his sister and Collin showed him a couple chords. He emerged a singer/ songwriter that could actually sing!
“We knew we had something. When we heard him sing, it was crazy. It was like…you’ve never sung before? Like never?” recalled Collin. It was the missing piece to a musical puzzle and it was right next to them the whole time, watching them have all the fun. Ashley and Collin are siblings but they played music sans a singer until Leo finally stopped being selfish and shared his talents. “We saw the possibility. We jammed but never had a singer. And then Leo said he wanted to try singing.”
“Ashley and I have been together for seven years. So, I’ve known Collin forever, too. We were already a family before we started the band. I think that helps a lot. It’s definitely made us stronger. For us, the focus is really on the fun,” says the front man.
“We’d just bring over a six pack…each…and just play. Bring over the dogs, jump in the pool. We’ve never turned it into a job,” says wild child Ashley.
“Keeping it fun made it possible for us to write new music. There’s nothing worse than playing a song you hate,” reminds the man behind the mustache.
CVW: How do you keep things fresh? You live with the drummer and play with her brother?
Leo adds his wisdom to the matter: “We take time off. We never force it. I think we are really good with our communication with each other. If a song doesn’t work, we tried it, we move on rather than getting irritated.”
CVW: How did you (Ashley) and Collin start?
ASHLEY: Collin started in band, in high school, with the sax. I started with a snare in marching band. I can’t believe our parents dealt with us!
COLLIN: I didn’t pick up the guitar until after high school. Then I dropped it. We took a break. I couldn’t put it down for too long, though!
CVW: You have a couple of shows coming up?
LEO: Yeah, it’s a new place, in the Canyon Shopping Center, above Upper Crust Pizza. A young guy opened it, Michael Murphy. He’s a cool guy. The place is like, Tim Burton inspired space.
COLLIN: It’s good space for sure. Doesn’t feel like the desert. You kinda forget where you’re at- in a good way. It’s like Hollywood.
CVW: What will be different about these upcoming shows?
LEO: Well, I won’t be playing guitar! I switched to bass. I never gave bass a chance and after Ben Travis, our bassist moved to San Diego, it made sense. We love that guy but we’re back to a three piece.
COLLIN: Ben taught us so much about music, especially rhythm. He helped us out so much, in so many ways. He and his wife moved to San Diego, though and that made it tougher to gig locally, which is really important to us.
LEO: Actually, I work for him now!
ASHLEY: We have all new songs and I get to sing a little bit, too!
COLLIN: Lots happened. Leo personally had a lot of crazy. We’ve turned it into a lyrical base and we’ve all been able to express (that energy) in our own way with our instruments experimenting with the songs.
ASHLEY: And the bicycle wheel sounds! It’s trippy! And my egg shaker! Did you see the video?
COLLIN: Ashley absolutely nailed it! There are a lot of layers in the music now.
LEO: It feels great! It’s really comfortable.
COLLIN: It’s how we started. The experiment with bass worked for Leo. I think it’s the happiest song he’s ever written! Poppy but still rock-n-roll.
CVW: How has the desert shaped you?
ASHLEY: Just the level of support from other bands is so sweet! Other bands have helped push us along.
LEO: You never know whom you are going to meet- like you for instance! People want to connect with us and we’ve had so many incredible experiences here.
COLLIN: No one is putting anyone else down. The papers have all been great, the support is crazy! And the music scene is really thriving here.
ASHLEY: The CV (Music) Awards Show!!! How many people showed up…wow! Phil and Tracy are crazy with their support of the local music scene.
LEO: They really take care of the artists. It really makes it all worth it.
*** Leo was on beer number three and suddenly disappeared from this interview. I believe he meandered to the men’s room.
CVW: What is The Rebel Noise about? What do you want people to know?
ASHLEY: We drink. We love each other. We love music. That’s it!
COLLIN: We couldn’t be happier with what we’ve been allowed to do here. We’ve been inspired by a lot of bands here and we hope we inspire a few as well.
CVW: It’s summer. Any plans for a tour?
*** And Leo enters…
LEO: Tours? We want to…
Collin: We’re talking about it.
CVW: So, the band that started with a six-pack has Ashley shaking eggs?
ASHLEY: I’m good, too!
CVW: What beer we on?
LEO: I’m on drink #3.
COLLIN: 3? We’re on 5!
LEO: That’s because I have two instruments to play! They have 1!
ASHLEY: That’s B.S!!!
CVW: Any last words?
ASHLEY: Thank you…to everyone…amazing what we’ve experienced in such a short time. Thank you, everyone!
LEO: God Bless America…and Ben Travis!!!
*** Leo sent me a text late last night and wanted to make sure I gave a proper shout out to their beloved bassist, Ben Travis. So, Mr. Ben Travis, “Thank you, for helping this little band of noise along.”
The Rebel Noise will be playing this Friday @9pm at The Hood with Ideation and touring act, Mount Baine and on Saturday in Cathedral City at Bart Lounge with Ideation @9pm. For more information on the location, please go to: www.facebook.com/The.Rebel.Noise