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The best kept secret in music


"Athma: 'Sepultura during the hard parts, Tool during the soft'"

From Venezuela to Gainesville, Athma has been playing together in diverse forms since 2000 and is ready to take both continents by storm.

"We're from Venezuela ," says vocalist Marcel Pages, 24, "But we really formed in Gainesville ."

Athma's story starts in South America with drummer Jorge Diaz, 21, and guitarist Julio Valasco, 25. The former singer coined the band's name through his religion's term for "soul." The band's first full-length was titled El Ultimo Pensamiento de una Alma Desesperada , or The Last Thought of a Desperate Soul.

Two years after recording an album's worth of material, Valasco moved to Houston and Diaz moved to Gainesville with his sisters. The two continued to talk to each other on the phone and decided that they needed to reform as a band.

Valasco moved to Gainesville in 2003 and they started up the band again, playing their first show in February of this year.

"We kept the name because we liked what it meant," says Pages who joined up with Athma a year ago.

Getting involved with's Battle of the Bands was easy for Athma. Their former bassist, whose last show will be at the Battle of the Bands, submitted a demo and the group made the cut.

"He quit because he wanted to make harder music," says Pages.

Making it through the last three rounds proved to be no problem for Athma. Between their friends in Venezuela , coworkers and girlfriends, getting the right amount of Internet clicks was not a big deal.

"You'd look, fifteen minutes later and the other band would have 200 more votes," adds Pages. "It was battle of the mouses."

The members of Athma describe themselves as a band that can appeal to people with different musical interests. While they describe themselves as "Sepultura during the hard parts, Tool during the soft parts," fans of different genres can listen to Athma, too.

"We've played shows with different bands," says Pages. "The punk kids seemed to like us. I also brought some preppy friends to our show once and they thought we were good."

The band also wants to make it clear that while they are Venezuelans, they don't play any sort of Latin music, says Diaz.

"But I sometimes play maracas," jokes Pages.

Big changes are ahead for Athma despite.

Guitarist Julio Madriz, 21, joined the band recently, adding background vocals and a second guitar to Athma.

Future plans for the band include more recording, more song writing, more touring, and more practicing.

"We plan to go home and play next summer and show them our music in a battle of the bands at a big festival," says Diaz. "We're going to be the 'special guests' to close the festival." - By JACQUELINE DAVISON (


Athma has recorded many different demos. Their first album is now being recorded, and it will be released by the end of summer 2005. "Self control" is the first track of Athma's music that has been on the radio.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Athma's original members are Jorge Diaz (drums) and Julio Velasco (guitar). They formed the band in Venezuela with a different vocalist in search of a bass player; in year 2000. This they never found. They then moved to the United States where they continued to search for band members. After close consideration they had their minds set on Marcel Pages (vocals) and Sameer Matta as a bass player. Unfortunally, after a year Sameer decided to leave the band. At this time Jorge had convinced Julio Madriz (guitar) to also move to the U.S. Julio M then became the second guitar player, as well as back-up vocals. Jorge's cousin Fernando Garcia (bass) completed the band; in year 2004. Their first album is now being recorded; in year 2005. The name is undecided at this time. Athma's influenced by many varieties of music. Ranging from pop music to underground metal.