Grupo Fantasma has been praised as one of the most important independent acts in the Latin genre and has continually defied expectations to create one of the most unique musical voices to come out of the United States in the last decade. In 2011, they garnered further acclaim by winning a Grammy (their second such nomination) for their self-produced release El Existential on Nat Geo Music which the Wall Street Journal called “Latin music both new and traditional…vibrant fusions that transcend easy classification.” They are a ten piece musical collective formed in 2000 in Austin, Texas consisting of Jose Galeano (timbales, vocals), Kino Esparza (vocals, hand percussion), Adrian Quesada (guitar), Beto Martinez (guitar), Greg Gonzalez (bass), John Speice (drums), Matthew “Sweet Lou” Holmes (congas), Gilbert Elorreaga (trumpet), Josh Levy (baritone saxophone) and Mark “Speedy” Gonzales (trombone).
We talked to Greg Gonzalez from Grupo Fantasma. Read on to see what he had to say!
What is the first gig you ever attended?
The first real concert I ever attended was Faith No More, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses at the Astrodome. I remember Faith No More really impressed me. They didn’t have all the pyrotechnics and lights like the other bands, but they seemed to connect with the audience. Metallica was awesome, but the lead singer James Hetfield had just been burned in some sort of pyrotechnics mishap and they had a sub on rhythm guitar. Guns N’ Roses just seemed to run constantly from one end of the stage to the other and Axl Rose sounded like he was out of breath.
What is the best gig you ever played?
We’ve played so many memorable gigs that it’s really hard to single one out as the best. My personal favorite was on my 30th birthday when we played an all-star private Golden Globes party as the house band with Prince. The house was full of A-list celebrities and musicians who kept joining the band (Marc Anthony, Mary J Blige, Will I Am, Talib Kweli and, of course, Prince!)
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
That’s a tough question to answer as well. I’ve seen so many great bands! The most recent memorable show was at Bonnaroo where we had the challenge of backing up the GZA of Wu-Tang Clan and the band before us turned out to be an all-star session featuring Questlove, members of The Roots and D’Angelo in his first American appearance in over 10 years. It was inspiring and intimidating at the same time. I mean, who really wants to have to go on after that?
What is the gig you would most like to play?
There are a lot of gigs I would love to play: Fallon’s show or the Tonight Show, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Montreaux Jazz Festival, Rock in Rio, Mt. Fuji… If I had to choose one gig, it would be a private party with all my favorite musicians jamming with our show broadcast during halftime of the Superbowl!
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
The lineup for my dream gig? You ask the hardest questions… Probably something that involved all of the original Wailers, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and the Beatles…
Grupo Fantasma will be at The Earl on 10/20 with Heavy Chevy! Get your tickets now!