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05 Dec 2016

Instrumental Ethos: Local Band Tribesmen Finally Releases Recorded Music—in the Form of a Two-Song EP

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Tribesmen. Tribesmen.

Local music fans have been waiting for years for Tribesmen to release some recordings. Back in October, that finally happened—albeit in limited fashion.

The band’s new EP has just two songs: “Oceans Ocean” and “Ethos.”

The instrumental band from Coachella offers hints of psychedelia, ambient and rock in its sound. The band played at the first Tachevah Block Party in 2013 in downtown Palm Springs, and has developed a loyal following that shows up whenever and wherever the band plays.

During a recent interview at Tribesmen’s practice space in Coachella, drummer Freddy Jimenez said “Ethos” was the second or third song the band wrote—about three years ago.

“We wanted to save the rest, just in case we get hit up by a label or something. We’ve spent so much time writing and recording,” Jimenez said. “It takes forever to do all of that for us, because we have shit going on.”

Guitarist Wilber Pacheco explained why these two songs were released first.

“We’ve recorded all of the songs we have written so far,” Pacheco said. “These are the two songs that came out the best. In case we do get hit up by a label or something, we have time to make adjustments to those songs we previously recorded.”

Bassist Leslie Romero talked about the origins of “Oceans Ocean.”

“‘Oceans Ocean’ is kind of a mixture of an old song that we stopped playing for a while,” Romero said. “We had new ideas for it, so when we brought Christian (Leon) into the band, we combined his style of playing into that song, and we updated it.”

Guitarist Leon said that when he first joined Tribesmen more than a year ago, “Ethos” was the first song for which he wrote parts. In fact, writing that song was deceptively easy.

“For ‘Ethos,’ it really wasn’t hard,” Leon said. “It came right off the bat. Everything just popped. … At first, it was a challenge, but then it was like, ‘Yay! Everyone is cool with me now.’ It then became really hard to write parts for the other songs.”

While the band includes three guitar-players, it does not include a vocalist—a fact which has led some local musicians and music-writers to criticize Tribesmen. However, all-instrumental bands are far from obscure, and those who say Tribesmen needs a vocalist don’t understand what the band does.

“That whole thing doesn’t bother us anymore. We’re so used to it by now. We’re over it,” guitarist Alec Corral said about the criticism.

Pacheco said he understands why people question Tribesmen’s lack of a singer—although he does not agree with those questions.

“We hear that, but it’s not from people who have made music their passion,” Pacheco said. “It’s so common. … If you don’t have (a singer), it’s going to raise questions like, ‘Why don’t they have a singer? Can’t they find one? Are they not good enough?’”

Some instrumental bands record albums with tracks that transition into each other. Corral and other members of the band said they like that idea.

“We’ll get into that over time as we record in the studio,” Corral said. “Most of our songs are in the same key, so we can really do something with that.”

Tribesmen continues to improve and evolve, the members say. In fact, the band no longer plays some of its older material.

“There are a bunch of songs we have that we don’t play anymore, because we’ve grown out of them,” Pacheco said. “We matured a little bit, and we’ve outgrown them.”

The band members have struggled to properly record their own music. Thankfully, Jimenez spent time as an intern at Indio’s Music Proz and has recorded other bands, including as CIVX. That experience has proven to be helpful.

“We were just trying to do it in the garage here, and one of us would mess up and be like, ‘Oh man! Let’s do it again!’” Romero said. “We had to do that whole thing again, over and over. But Freddy found little techniques that they taught him where we didn’t have to scrap the whole thing and start from the beginning. It made it a lot easier to record.”

What does the future have in store for Tribesmen? The members say they’re continuing to spread the word about the band, and they’re planning more shows—including a possible summer tour.

For more information on Tribesmen or the ‘Oceans Ocean’ EP, visit tribesmenmusic.bandcamp.com.

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