Jungle Bodies has quickly has quickly become one of the Valley’s favorite bands; from their inception in 2010 they have opened for major out of town acts such as Strange Boys, Nobunny, Ringo Deathstarr, Bad Lovers, and Lost Tribe. Jungle Bodies have a sound that is unique to this area. I had the opportunity to speak with Andres Sanchez, founder of Jungle Bodies on his journey of musicianship in the Valley.
George Dean (GD): Tell me about Jungle Bodies, when did you get started and how did it become what it is now?
Andres Sanchez (AS): Jungle Bodies began in my bedroom at my parent’s house in Weslaco in December 2010. I called a few guys over to practice and ended up calling one of them back by the end of it, that was Zeb (Sebastian Garcia)
GD: Why did you choose Zeb over all the others?? Can you tell me a little about him and his musical background?
AS: Zeb is a few years younger than me. He’s much better at guitar than I am. He has a thorough knowledge of blues and jazz guitar that I think he may have taught himself. He has influences across the board, really. I don’t recall him mentioning having a favorite band or anything like that, but he’s got himself quite the ear. I chose him because unlike the other guys I had invited over — one of which had introduced me to Zeb, actually — he and I seemed to think the same way about things, music being one of them. He also showed up on time and learned the only tune I had then within two hours. By the time everyone else showed up, we were already sharp. I didn’t share a sort of ‘chemistry’ with the other guys like I did with Zeb. So when it was all over I waved bye to the other guys and pulled him back and said “You and me. Let’s do this.”
GD: Where do you draw your influences? Tell me about Andres.
AS: I’m 24 years old and currently unemployed. My influences change all the time, and my tastes evolve along the same progressive pace. As far as influences for the band, it’s hard to say. There’s a lot of bands that I learned things from which I then applied to my band and my songwriting. But all of those things have evolved as well. In the beginning, I wanted to be as fast as the Ramones played live and as loud and noisy as My Bloody Valentine. And I still do. But now I feel a bit more comfortable in my own shoes and seeing what I can do with what I know and feel. I don’t want to be Johnny Ramone or Kevin Shields anymore. I want to be myself. As for past musical experience, I wrote my first song when I was 7 on my grandfather’s beat up acoustic guitar. I got my first guitar when I was 11, which also belonged to my grandfather. I got my first electric guitar a year later and the first song I learned was “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182. I tried starting a band several times in high school but didn’t know anyone who took it as seriously as I did, so it never worked out. I actually didn’t start writing my own music until a friend of mine got tired of listening to me butcher songs I learned from tabs and told me to write my own songs. I took it as a challenge and now here we are.
GD: I know since your time with Zeb, your line up has changed, and Zeb is no longer in the band. Can you tell me, what happened to cause you and Zeb to split? Has your vision for the band changed since losing Zeb and gaining this full band?
AS: There wasn’t any negative vibes or anything involving Zeb’s departure from the band. He wanted to concentrate more on school, and I understood. Outside of wanting to do something different than what I was surrounded by, I didn’t really have any sort of vision for us. We were both just kind of winging it and taking it one day at a time. Before Zeb left, he and I had talked about getting a bass player to round out our sound. Guitar and drums tended to fall flat in certain venues, we learned. Around that time, I had made friends with Joseph Macias and Osmar Alaniz who played bass and lead guitar in a band from Mission called Vulpes. Somehow the idea of jamming together came up and one day Zeb and I went to Vulpes’ practice space with our gear and spent an hour or two playing whatever we came up with on the spot. It was a good jam and we began considering talking to them about joining Jungle Bodies. So, once Zeb left, I revisited the idea and brought it up to them, and they were interested, so all I needed to find was a drummer. Now, Michael (Flanagan) had been coming to our shows for some time. He really liked us and when I put out the word that I was looking for a drummer, he was the first to e-mail offering his services. I took him up on it and we had our first practice sometime in September 2011. The first song we worked on together was “Riff Raff” from the Wipeout EP. I remember being absolutely blown away with how it sounded that first time we played it all the way through. The band had a bite from the start, but now it had fangs. The dynamic of the band did change a bit, and it was difficult to adjust to at first, but we all work really well with each other and by that first practice, we’d discovered that bond and what we could do with it. The way I wrote songs changed dramatically now that there were more instruments at play. It’s changed the sound a bit, but I don’t regret it for a second. I am a big fan of progress and the natural evolution of things, so I was very eager to breathe in this fresh air. As for a vision, I still don’t really have long term plans that I’m specifically working toward or for. Of course, that isn’t to say that there aren’t things in our future, because there are. But to say that we’re doing this to reach some sort of end goal would be inaccurate. The end could very well be tomorrow. Or in a couple of weeks as some people seem to have speculated. All I really want or care about is to have fun doing what I’m doing, whatever that means. And I am. I don’t have to wait for the end to do that.
See Jungle Bodies and 14 other bodacious bands at this year’s Galax Z Fair