XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Christian Ayala: First off, thanks for providing this space for us! As far as band news, we are releasing our sophomore album on April 26 via Blood Music (label). We have a scheduled show for April 13 and have the release show of the second album on the 5th of May. We are currently looking into doing a short 2 week tour through the U.S. and will have more news on that soon, sjo be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to keep up!
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Christian Ayala: The band started out as a solo project of mine in around 2011. At that time, it was just an idea with some loose riffs here and there. I was learning how to record from scratch and how to use all the DAWs (Digital Audio Workspaces) and all the VSTs (Virtual Studio Technologies) in order to make what would be the first album, Tymora. I didn’t plan on getting a band together to record, so I wrote absolutely everything in guitarpro, including the drums, also from scratch. That first album went through 3 different iterations before the release (I had hard drives crash on me twice! Even losing the backup files!). After it’s release on May 5, 2017, though, the response was so great that I felt obliged to get a band together. That’s when I got together with Gabriel Alejandro on bass, which had been an old university buddy of mine, and had an audition process from the drummer and guitarist, which ended up being Adrian Arroyo and Luis Javier River, respectively. So by the summer of 2017 the lineup was completed.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Christian Ayala: It was always a dream of mine since I can remember. I wanted to create meaningful music that could elevate the self like many of the bands that inspired did to me. As mentioned above, the main motivation or starting
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Christian Ayala: I took about 6 months total of guitar classes in my life, so I am not much in the way of guitar trained per se, but I did take a few years of theory which helped develop my sense of timing and score analysis a lot.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Christian Ayala: Hopefully, one of serious contemplation on the more abstract dimensions of life. Studies into language, its effect on our interpretation of reality and our “selves.”
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)
Christian Ayala: Goals would be to tour as much as possible, in as many places as possible. Also, to release an album every 2 years, so watch out 2021! ‘Cause album #3 is on its way!
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Christian Ayala: Long-term goals would be to become successful enough so that we can have our own legitimate studio space and rehearsal space in order to make music without any hinderance. Also, would love to work with local Puerto Rican productions to help elevate their ideas into an international level. There are a lot of really great musicians here that with a small push would make it far!
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Christian Ayala: I’m going to syphon off of Mikael Akerfeldt’s response to this and say that playing live is just something that you have to kind of do. It comes with the territory. I love the energy that live play provides, but the creation process and seeing how it develops from an embryo into a full, grown song is such an amazing experience. Nothing comes close to it for me. And that’s not to say writing and recording isn’t frustrating, because it is. Sometimes you’re really proud of something you’ve written, only to have it not translate with the other band members. And so, while I don’t necessarily scrap the part, it’s still disheartening, but you move on. Kinda have to! The end product is well worth the frustration!
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Christian Ayala: Lyrics cover quite a few ideas, though there is almost always a central theme running through them. This second album for example is heavily influenced on my studies in philosophy, and the master’s thesis I am currently writing. It concerns language, it’s poietic (from poiesis, meaning formative and transformative) powers and how it can shape us as individuals, sometimes guiding us in the right direction, but easily misleading us.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Christian Ayala: Still no tours, so no stories, but something did happen when we opened for Orphaned Land in the summer of 2018: the sound guy had my monitors on so loud -and I forgot my in-ear monitors- that all the guitar parts I was playing sounded like they were boomeranging! Like a doppler effect that just wavered and wouldn’t go away. It was horrible! Learned quite a bit from that show!
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Christian Ayala: None yet. But that question makes me wary…haha.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Christian Ayala: Both my parents are university professors, but of very different kinds. My mother is a physics professor so she had that mad scientist kind of “do what you will! Experiment!” mentality. My father teaches in Business School. So that is a whole different world. Money and titles are king, so imagine a son that is doing a master’s in philosophy and is also in a band! Does not go down well with him, to say the least.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Christian Ayala: Intro(spection) and Threshold of Evolution from the first album. Derelict Minds and The Narrowing of Meaning from the second album. I just love the energy from all these songs, and I think they balance themselves out so well! Also I think they represent the best of the band.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Christian Ayala: I would say the first artists that motivated me to perform was Michael Jackson. I was like 5 and would sit my family down on the couch while I performed the songs. Then when I was 8 The Beatles made me realize that bands were cool. At 12 I picked up the guitar because of bands like 311, Green Day and Foo Fighters, then at 13 discovered Metallica. But it all really changed upon discovering Dream Theater at the age of 14. That’s when I realized the potential of how being in band can completely change someone’s outlook on life, not just on music.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Christian Ayala: Dream Theater, Opeth, and a surprise reunion by Porcupine Tree!
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Christian Ayala: Being signed to Blood Music and the release of this second album with an actual band! In reality, also the release of the first album. Even though personally this second album is leaps beyond the first one, it still holds a special place in my heart.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Christian Ayala: Well, seeing as I am finishing my master’s degree, probably as a professor in a university. I did work for 2 years as a research assistant at my university and gave some classes. Really, really enjoyed that!
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Christian Ayala: Always my Axe-Fx II and my PRS guitars. I also have a QSC Monitor I use in order to avoid using the venue’s monitoring system (one of the things I learned from that Orphaned Land show).
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Christian Ayala: I’m pretty split. I enjoy some of the stuff, but I am jaded and mostly listen to the same things I have listened to for many years. I do enjoy some new bands, like Astronoid and a Puerto Rican band called Moths, and a few other. Carbon Based Lifeforms has been on my playlist recently as well.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Christian Ayala: Probably that I am ultra-self-conscious on stage. Outside it I can be the most extroverted guy. But on stage I become very introverted and self-aware, to the point of anxiety at times. But I’m working on that!
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Christian Ayala: As if the complexities of our inner-world were put to music. Pretentious, right? Haha. But it’s the images I have when writing music. Also, more complex metal/rock music with much more synth for ambience. I’m really bad at this kind of question!
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Christian Ayala: You can pre-order our second album here: https://www.blood-music.com/
Remember to follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/avandrapr and on instagram (avandrapr)
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Christian Ayala Cruz – Voice, Guitars, Synths
Luis Javier Rivera Guilbot – Guitars
Adrián Arroyo Schuck – Drums
Gabriel Rodríguez Martinez – Bass