Most bands have stories detailing the inspiration behind their names. Austin-based alternative folk band Sons of Santos, however, left their name up to their listeners.
Founded by brothers Luis and Nick Soberon, the band members said they asked their audience for name suggestions during a set at the Mellow Mushroom. One listener proposed that they name their band after their father, and the two thought it was the perfect suggestion. Their father, Santos Soberon, was the one who taught them how to play.
The band, which grew to include musicians and friends Tré Carden and Mason Hankamer, plans to release their debut album “The Spindletop Blues” early next year. The album will follow Sons of Santos’ first EP “Wounded Healer,” released in 2013.
“When we were recording the EP, Mason had just hopped on and Tré wasn’t part of the band yet,” Nick Soberon said. “We had all just come together to record, but we weren’t a cohesive unit yet.”
In the years since “Wounded Healer,” the band has toured and reworked a number of their old songs. The band’s bassist, Mason Hankamer, said that as time went on, they realized their material and their sound had developed and they were ready to begin work on a new album. “The more we listened to the EP, the less satisfied we were with it,” said Hankamer. “Over time, we’ve transformed from singer-songwriters into something more intricate. Now, when we record and rework some of our songs, they sound completely different every time.”
Determined to move forward from their previous work, the band set out to make a new album. With the necessary funds totaling more than $10,000, the group turned to crowdfunding, launching a Kickstarter campaign in June to help fund it. By July, they had raised $15,000 and at the end of September, they began recording at Austin’s Estuary Studio. Nick Soberon said they never expected to receive enough donations to cover the cost of the album. “I don’t think I had a bad day that whole month,” Nick said. “It’s really hard to when you’re getting notifications every day that are telling you someone you haven’t seen in years believes in this thing you’re making.”
Hankamer said after their last experience recording, the band members realized they needed to be more present in the studio and have a more hands-on approach in the recording and mixing process. “This album is a platform for us to build our future on,” Hankamer said. “We were presented with such a huge opportunity from the Kickstarter; we don’t want to waste it.”
The musician’s different backgrounds and styles have culminated in a sound they describe as “Andrew Bird meets the Punch Brothers.” Despite their differing musical experiences and styles, one thing the band members have in common is their shared hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Growing up in the same music scene is something Luis Soberon said really brought them together and the city inspired many of the songs on the album. “We wrote it as kind of a confused and twisted love letter to Beaumont,” said Luis. “There’s so much I love about Beaumont, but there are things in my life associated with that geography that bring me a lot of mixed feelings.”
As they began work on their album, Nick said the group has encountered a few bumps in the road here and there, but are ready to see where the experience takes them. “You aren’t going to be a professional musician until you start acting like one,” he said. “At this point, the amount of experience we’ve had to have for this versus the EP is like night and day.”
Photo by Marshall Tidrick