There's something very honest about the way lead singer and vocalist Hugo Cruz describes the launch of his band Fastidio. Merging classic American punk rock with a frenetic edge and lyrics almost entirely in Spanish, the band seems unlikely to have built a loyal following. And perhaps no one is more surprised than Cruz that they've done exactly that.
"I grew up in Mexico City, I came to America when I was 18. And we started doing this because we couldn't think of anything else to do," Cruz explains. "We only knew we wanted to play something. We knew what we liked. But at that time I didn't even know how to play guitar. So I bought my first guitar and I learned how to make sounds. Because that's what it really was then: noise."
Cruz is self-deprecating compared to what you'd expect when talking to the leader of a band named last year's "People's Choice" for best band at the Melody Inn during the annual Punk Rock Night Awards. I caught a performance of theirs at the Mel, easily past 1 a.m., and the place seemed to be clearing out. Then the band took the stage, and suddenly a secret crowd emerged from against the walls, rushing the stage, forming a ferocious, concentrated mosh pit unlike anything I'd seen in such an intimate venue.
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"I don't know if they're all really good friends who come and support Fastidio, or if they really like us," Cruz tells me, with absolutely no hint of a put-on when reminded of that performance. "I never think about it. Like I said before, our very first show we sucked, we played like, 'ugh,' you know? But the people came in, our friends came to the show, and I heard a lot of good comments."
"We'd gotten six songs written, when Eduardo Luna called and asked if we'd like to play Espanglish Night at the Melody Inn. And we didn't want to play, because we weren't ready. We sucked!" he laughs. "Every weekend he'd call: 'Hey, you wanna play?' Finally we're like 'Okay, let's do it.' So our first show ever was Espanglish Night in 2013 at the Melody Inn, playing with La Armada. They're a big deal, those guys. Now pretty much whenever they come to Indy we play with them."
Though they'd like to get to work on some studio recordings, the band's fallen victim recently to personnel changes. With a brand-new bass player and guitarist learning the ropes — the band has only played a handful of shows together in the current lineup — there has understandably been a learning curve involved. ("We have to get where we feel good together before we do something like that," Cruz explains. "Because if you record a CD then it's forever.")
But from a songwriting standpoint, the band appears to be on firm creative ground. Whether creating songs through a full-band jam process or after the fact around Cruz's lyrics, Fastidio's lack of pretension about their abilities lets them work more freely.
"It's a little hard, because like I said, we are not musicians," Cruz admits. "But if you really like something, you're gonna get into it. If I can be honest with you, I never thought about the stage. I always came to shows and supported musicians but I never thought I'd be the one up on that stage. So every time I have a show I get nervous starting about a week before. I'm nervous right before the show, but as soon as I get to the stage and I can hold my guitar, everything's gone."
His advice to those who have yet to experience a Fastidio show is to just take the plunge, even as the band's members did themselves just a few years ago. "If I could say something to the people who have never seen Fastidio, they're gonna have fun," he says. "If they like to mosh and get crazy, it's gonna be a fun show."