This is one of the few times that a group has found me. Message to Venus followed me on Twitter, so I listened to their music. They were open to doing an interview so here it is just in time for the A to Z Challenge. The lead singer, Jandre Nadal, took a few minutes out of his day to answer a few questions.
Tell me about growing up in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is awesome. It’s a very small tropical island. You can cross it from east to west in about 2 1.5 hours. There are a lot of people. There are over 3 million people in Puerto Rico. Edgar, Juan and John are from the east coast, what you call the metro area. I’m from the countryside which is the west coast. It’s known for a little less crazy city life. It was awesome to grow up there as kids.
There’s a very small rock scene, which is how we know each other. Everybody that is heavily into the rock scene of any bands from a certain age group knew each other. That is how we all know each other.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a singer?
It’s funny because I still have denial about being a signer. I feel like I’m a guitar player. It’s a lot of responsibility that I didn’t want to have. There’s so much health care involved in taking care of your vocal chords.
I’m a really social guy after gigs. I love to talk to people and hang out. What kills my voice for the next says show is actually staying in dive bars, talking to people and thecigarette smoke. After an hour or two of that, I almost have no voice for the next day’s show.
I’m still learning how to deal with certain situations and how to take care of my vocals. When I’m on the road, I try to take care of myself. I stay away from smoke. I stay away from alcohol. I try to party at a very sober level.
When you were a kid, what type of music did you listen to?
My dad was a dj for a local jazz and blues radio station. My whole life I grew up listening to the Rolling Stones because that was his favorite band. A lot of B.B. King, Muddy Waters. Bands from Mississippi, Alabama and New Orleans.
When I was a kid, my dad bought me my first CD. It was Bob Marley, the hits. It was Tough Gong. He also bought me the Jimi Hendrix Experience CD. I listened to those CDs until .. . still today.
Does the band write their own songs?
Yeah, we write our own music. We don’t sit down What happens is that one of us shows up with a riff or some vocals, lyrics or something. Then we build from that. We record it with a voice recorder. We do a lot of acoustic versions. We listen to it and listen to it. I’m a heavy critic against myself so I’m always changing things constantly, even after it’s recorded. So I overproduce myself a little too much. In the end, sometimes it works. Sometimes you just have to let it be.
How did you guys come up with the name?
So when we started, we went through a series of names. They were just not working. Message to Venus was actually a song. The song that we had wasn’t working. The song sucked. We had a gig in a few days and we still did not have a name. I was like “What the hell am I going to do?”
The guy who was my booking agent at the time in Puerto Rico was like “I need a name right now. I’m about to print the poster out.” I talked to him about it. He actually helped me through it. I wanted a name that would appeal to women and men. I wanted to make rock, heavy rock, music that chicks would enjoy. In Puerto rico, guys listen to whatever girls listen to. That’s the golden rule there. So guys just buy records because women are really into it. That’s the marketing strategy that we had.
Message to Venus doesn’t mean a message to women. We’re really into sci-fi movies. On the last album, there are a lot of stories that are that are sci-fi ish. There’s a song about aliens. Some people think it’s about drug abuse or any other type of abuse. It’s actually called “Caveman Abduction.
Thanks to Leo Alvarez, our producer. He’s helped us to write lyrics in an ambiguous way. So Message to Venus is basically what we are. We like to trip out on those stories and love science fiction. And we also want women to love our music. We’re trying to keep it as unisex as possible.
What did you guys do in honor of International Nonviolence Day?
Throughout the whole world there was a festival. We played at festival in Puerto Rico. That day Puerto Rico had zero violence. There were minimal crimes reported. Actual people that died because of violence was zero. It’s sad that we need to do a festival one day out of the year to stop violence. It’s really depressing.
We had an acoustic set. JuanMa and I played a Spanish cajon.
We performed about three songs. There were so many performers that that it was like, “Ok man, play a couple songs and get off of the stage.” It was an honor for us to be a part of that.
The list of bands that vouch for you is impressive. Have you had a chance to meet some of your more famous fans, like Halestorm?
I have met the guys from the Chili Peppers. It’s kind of awkward. I try not to groupie out. I try to keep my cool with that.
I also know Paul from 12 Stones. I listened to his music when I was younger. He’s got my number and texts me once in awhile.
I really want to meet the Deftones. They’re one of my favorite bands. They were my younger brother’s favorite band. My younger brother passed away some time ago.
There’s a whole heavy heaviness to that. I would love to share a stage with the Deftones for sure.
How would you describe your sound?
We call it 21st Century rock. I used to deliver food to this record store. One day, I was just like “I want to stop bringing you food. I want to work for you.” I remember a lot of people were like “I’m looking for nu-metal. I’m looking for metalcore. I’m looking for goth.” Holy crap. There were all of these different categories of rock.
That bothers me at the same time. If you go to a punk show, only punk bands play. We didn’t want to categorize ourselves. We didn’t want to say “We’re hard rock.” So we just call ourselves 21st century rock. So whoever wants to be super anal about it can categorize us in whatever category they want. I just think music is music and rock is rock. There will be moments when you want to listen to us. Some moments you won’t. It’s all about emotions.
If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?
I would probably still be bartending at a beach bar in Puerto Rico. I’d be chopping coconuts and making pina coladas with those little corny umbrellas.