Photo By COACHELLA/Mykiaela Pierre-Louis

By Crystal Harrell

late night drive home brought their roots of growing up in a small town outside of El Paso, Texas, to Weekend Two of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Starting in 2019, singer Andre Portillo and guitarist Juan “Ockz” Vargas learned how to play their instruments while simultaneously learning how to produce music. When 2020 hit, the two best friends spent their time together uploading their work on SoundCloud. As they started to gain momentum online, Ockz recruited his cousin Freddy Baca on the bass and their long time friend, Brian Dolan, on drums. The band talked with Coachella Valley Weekly about their newfound fame with millions of streams and a successful headline tour.

CV: Thanks so much for joining us. How has it felt performing at Coachella for the first time?

Andre: It was honestly a surreal experience.There was so many people in the crowd, and I was just grateful to be able to perform in front of that many people. It was mind blowing. The energy was there. It’s interesting playing from a curated crowd to just a crowd that doesn’t really know you, but the vibes are there, and it was fun.


Ockz: I think performing for the first time was a very weird experience because this is our first festival ever. I’ve never been to a music festival myself, so I think it was just a very humbling and also just eye-opening experience. But I think I also had more fun on Weekend Two because we were already used to how everything worked. We knew where we had to go. We knew how to set up everything. It was just a crazy experience nonetheless.

Freddie: It’s kind of crazy to play to a curated crowd versus a general crowd. And honestly, I’m just really glad to be here because, especially weekends, you’re surrounded by music lovers and people who are passionate about music. People are feeding onto the energy that we’re giving. It’s a really great time, all around, really.

CV: Would you say that, from when the band started, have you grown, since you started playing together as a band and where you are now in this moment?

Andre: It’s been a very unique experience because being able to come from a little desert town community—it’s so surreal being able to be on the road and experience everything that the world has to offer to us. Just the amount of people that come to our shows every day from the moment we started the band till now is exponential.

Ockz: I also think it’s just insane because people were singing back the songs. They were singing the songs to us, which was insane to me, because I still see us as that band that started out in El Paso four years ago in our bedroom, just making music. And to think that four years later, we’re playing at Coachella. It’s just a weird thought for me to even comprehend, because we would play to two people, which were our friends, for the longest time. Now we’re here at a festival, and it’s all just homegrown. We’re as DIY as it gets, all roots. We had no outside help for the longest time, and just now, we’re actually getting our foot into everything that we can do.

Freddie: I was lucky enough three years ago to be able to play for the first time with these guys in Andre’s backyard. And ever since then, we’ve been playing. We’ve been trying to curate the best experience for our listeners and for our fans, as far as it comes to organizing headlining shows locally and to be able to bring that experience to a national scale and then soon-to-be international when we’re off to Europe.I’m very grateful and thankful to have that experience and to have that chance and also to be able to experience that here in Coachella.

CV: How would you describe your sound for anyone who’s never heard your music before?

Ockz: People describe us as indie rock, and I agree with that. I would say right now, we’re

dipping our toes more into alternative art pop music. We’re doing more than just indie rock music now. I feel like our latest release, “Feeling Grey” is a very alternative, electronic art poppish type of sound. We’re a mix of different sounds, not just stuck to one genre. And I feel like that’s what really got us to where we are, because we never wanted to be just a band that is known for this specific genre. We want to be a band that’s known for good music, if that is pop music, rock music, electronic music, anything that comes to mind, really.

CV: And what preparations are you making for that big European tour?

Andre: It’s kind of crazy because it’s gonna be our first time in Europe, so I’m a little scared, but very excited. But nonetheless, we wanna bring the experience that people have from our hometown just everywhere else, because I feel like it all originated back from El Paso. The most important thing is that we curate our performance to allow people to experience what people back home experience for us.

CV: Can you give a little background on the origin of your band name?

Andre: When me and Ockz started the band, we didn’t know what the name of the band would be. So we sat in a McDonald’s dining room, just talking about different band names. We were gonna be “One Way Stop,” but we thought it sounded like a boy band, so we didn’t go with that.

Photo By COACHELLA/Mykiaela Pierre-Louis

Ockz: And then we went on Wikipedia. It was a website called Wikipedia random name or random article generator. And it brought us to this article that was an album called “Songs for the Late Night Drive Home.” And then we just took late night drive home from there. And now we’re here. We resonated so much with that name, because at the time, we were college students. Since we come from such a small town, there’s not really much to do in terms of fun, so we would just make our own fun, and we always found ourselves taking late night drive homes and just hanging around in the nighttime.

CV: Do you have any musical influences or artists that you look up to?

Ockz: When the band started, I was really into Twenty One Pilots and Arctic Monkeys. And then once Freddie joined the band, I got really into The Strokes. Right now, I’m really into The 1975. So I’m really exploring that pop influence era of our music when it comes to production for me, I feel like we grew.

CV: You are a young band, you’ve played Coachella, what’s next? What do you hope for the future of your band?

Ockz: To release the new album and play at the Outdoor Stage or any of these stages for Coachella next time.

Andre: I think one of my biggest goals is, and it might be far out left field, but I want to sell out Madison Square Garden.