Humbert
Gig Seeker Pro

Humbert

Hialeah, Florida, United States | INDIE

Hialeah, Florida, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Feb
24
Humbert @ Vinyl

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nov
25
Humbert @ Popscene @ Dada

Delray Beach, Florida, USA

Delray Beach, Florida, USA

Nov
24
Humbert @ Back Booth

Orlando, Florida, USA

Orlando, Florida, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


Demo gods: Humbert takes the 'lazy' route, and the results are pretty good
BY RENE ALVAREZ

Humbert is killing me. The power-pop foursome from the concrete city of Hialeah has taken it upon themselves to be a working rock n' roll band. And with a little persistence, who knows? This year, the members of Humbert have worked hard cultivating the band's fan base in Miami and Orlando with well-promoted shows and solid performances. In between shows the band has been demo-ing its new material, and decided that they will share the work in progress with their fans.

The resulting product is the Demos series. Every month the band will release a limited-edition (about 100) CD-Rs of their demo-stuff, available at shows or through their website. Last week the band released the first of the series, Demos No. 1, four songs recorded at the Shack, Humbert's longtime rehearsal/recording space.

''We didn't want to record another album,'' explains singer/guitarist Ferny Coipel, ''but with a demo, it doesn't get any better or cheaper to make. And it's limited, so whoever gets it gets something special.'' (Returning to his normal, nondiplomatic form, Coipel added: 'This way we also push ourselves to write more, cause we're lazy fuckin' faggots.'')

Worth getting? Sure. It sounds like Humbert is veering away from its Weezer-ish vibe and entering new territory. Showcasing strong instrumentals and choirboy harmonies, the Demos No. 1 tunes are more musical than the songs on the band's self-titled full-length debut. Lyrically the songs are more introspective and cynical, but the band retains a deep respect for sugary pop.

One great song is ''Hugo,'' a lo-fi anthem that's sort of Flaming Lips, sort of Beatles, and a pretty bold direction for Humbert. It's like Jellyfish decided that the world should be messy, with a Sgt. Pepper's twist and all the back-up melodies a quartet can muster.

Get a piece of Humbert on Friday at Churchill's. The show starts at 10 p.m., cover is $3 and it's an 18-and-over show. The bill also includes Rob Elba (ex-Holy Terrors). For more info go to www.Humbert.net.

- Rene Alvarez


Humbert's follow-up to its 1999 self-titled disc is a pop gem. Mature and sensitive, the eleven tracks of Plant the Trees Closer Together qualify as some of the sweetest euphonic cuts to circulate South Florida. Elements of lounge, early alternative, and postpunk are treated through sprinkles of Fifties rock and roll and Beatles/Beach Boys-era power pop. The band's musicianship is classic, exhibiting exemplary training and execution. The unfaltering precision of the rhythm section, bassist Tony Landa and drummer Cesar Lavin, grounds the double guitar assault of Ferny Coipel and Rimsky Pons. Their multilayered harmonies and controlled use of piano make for celestial environments.

"Stolen Car," "Taste the Water," and "Warped Tape" provide the intermittent crescendos of raw punk energy, while numbers like "Hugo (the Elephant)" and "Lyn" bring the listener to that spot of enjoyment audiophiles frequently refer to as nirvana. Ex-member Izo Besares cameos behind the skins on the disc's lone instrumental track, "Vuscalli (the Porcupine)," which is reminiscent of the band's earlier life as the polka-punk outfit I Don't Know. The second composition in an ethereal triptych of geographically diverse fauna (the third being "I Get the Bellyhurts [Horseshoe Crab]"), "Vuscalli..." is a circus big top that houses Russian classical, Middle Eastern/Greek, and klezmer music. This track is energetic, Prokofiev on amphetamines. "You're the One" and "Get Well Card" showcase the band's romantic side. Plant the Trees Closer Together was conceived and recorded in the city of progress, Hialeah.




- Miami New Times


Humbert singer Ferny Coipel, it has been said, is of Dirk Digglerian lower appendage status. Though, as urban legends go, this description may vary, some have referred to his member as "an albino salamander poking its head out from under a chia pet." Whatever you believe, you have a good chance of witnessing this particular legend for yourself, as many friends and innocent bystanders did when Humbert played the Street Buzz Fest in Miami in 2003.

A first step toward your own personal "In Search Of" would be to attend one of Humbert's shows. You might try the Diamond Lounge in the band's stomping grounds of Hialeah, for one must assume that the comfortable, familiar surroundings of this venerable dive would bring out the best in anybody. Or go hear Humbert at the Billabong Pub this weekend. And for Shiva's sake, do not perpetuate another urban myth -- that Humbert sounds like Duran Duran. That's like saying the Beach Boys sound like the Beatles. Or the Kinks sound like the Who.

Humbert's strength does not lie solely with Ferny. The other members are all well-endowed with their own superpowers. Ten years ago, Coipel and bassist Tony Landa played in the band I Don't Know on the trampoline-like stage at Churchill's. The sampled loops Humbert often uses on its latest album, the 2003 release Plant the Trees Closer Together, originated in I Don't Know's sample-heavy sounds.

And Humbert uses vintage gear to generate the subtle, shifting sounds that make its music so beautiful. "I like old, so I gravitate toward old," Coipel sermonizes. "Then again, what's new now will someday be vintage. The Beatles were pioneering new equipment. They were not vintage-mongers. As far as I'm concerned, they are the alphabet."

Drummer Cesar Lavin and guitarist/vocalist Rimsky Pons round out the lineup, with Coipel pulling double duty on guitar and organ (pun intended). The foursome grinds out musical perfection, making its own brand of neo-pop-sway-core.

A desire to spread this ever-growing gospel has drawn Humbert to out-of-state shows, including one in New York with Miami band the Brand and another in the California desert at the annual Coachella Valley Music Festival. "Coachella was a great time," Coipel says. "Weather was super, and Pixies, Radiohead, and [the Flaming] Lips were choice. Robert Smith [of the Cure] is starting to look like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show." The band will soon be touring the East Coast. "We are not looking for 'the deal,'" Coipel says. "We are all about it. We are looking to play and record without spending our own money. A deal is always welcome but only if it's the right one. We're starting up on the next tour, which will take us to Atlanta, the Carolinas, and back home. Short shots up and back a week at a time are fine."

Plant the Trees Closer Together, the latest recording on its own Sportatorium Records (a reference to the infamous and long-gone, marijuana-soaked concert venue in Hollywood's swamplands, a.k.a. the "Snortatorium"), has garnered praise from local and national publications. Respected music magazine The Big Takeover put it on its Top 40 Records of the Year for 2003. Also listed were discs by such revered acts as the Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Guided by Voices, and Belle & Sebastian. "Talking about it makes my nuts tingle as if I had just rubbed Vick's Vapo-Rub all over them," Coipel says.

Coipel also offers some of his favorite memories from the now-defunct Hollywood venue: "I remember mud up to my ankles in the dirt parking lot and sitting in the bed of a pickup truck in the rain, waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I remember the smell of pot and beer and seeing chicks with no tops and people fucking in their cars. I remember the bad sound and the nasty bathrooms with loads of drugs permeating the toilets."
- Broward New Times


Miami veterans Humbert may ply an edgy, power pop-influenced brand of catchiness, but to write them off as a post-Weezer clone would be folly. The group's ambitious, wildly creative ideas and arrangements dress the big hooks up in plenty of engaging, ingenious eccentricity. - Creative Loafing Magazine



Hailing from South Florida, Humbert have produced a solid disc of rock and pop diversity that imagines Rivers Cuomo and Brian Wilson joining Dinosaur Jr., and then some. Bandleader Ferny deftly plays a variety of vintage electric pianos and organs, as well as all the live orchestra instruments, and the album’s eclectic songs sound both classic and futuristic in style. The lush vocal and keyboard ending of “You’re the One” is an unexpected treat, as is the tender “Sir Winston” with its haunting backward-looped keyboard finale. The Wurlitzer-based “Ladybug & the Beetle” is a lo-fi pop gem with daring orchestration and song structure, while a rare ’60s Whitehall organ eerily swirls through the psychedelic crush of “Get Well Card.” Then there is the straight-out polka rock of “Vuscalli,” an unexpected left turn that is only possible with supremely talented multi- instrumentalists, as the men of Humbert reveal themselves to be. Always the gear hound, Ferny employs a choice ’61 Yamaha Electone organ on the winsome “I Get the Bellyhurts.” To say that this album is too diverse for the mainstream is more a comment on the callous ear of the public than on Humbert’s overflowing creativity — kudos to their purity of vision, and a cool album title to boot! ROBBIE GENNET - Keyboard Magazine


Been four years since the debut from Humbert(sadly, out of print) but this one is well worth the wait! Fans of True Love, Brendon Benson and Bleu, you know this album! High impact and totally creative hooks, dead center, fastball melodies and clean, catchy guitar sounds w/ just the slightest edge to make it completely modern and fresh. Holy Cow, we love this record! Fans of True Love, Fountains Of Wayne, Weezer, Bleu, Deathray and Moxy Frvous, this is on the menu for you! Insistent hooks, clever choruses and really great sounding rhythm guitars. Always an interesting twist at every turn on all the material here, so if you are looking for cookiet-cutter, predictable pop this is not your thing. "Yes, the tightly knit song structures are there, the inventive three-part harmonies survive and an obsession with infatuation pervades everything....more than just another powerpop band; the experiments with sound, arrangements and keys are a far cry(from other pop bands)"-StreetMiami.com. "an independent and DIY masterpiece" - Miami New Times"The opening track "Hugo" is an instant indie anthem.... It`s as if Jellyfish woke up one day and decided that the world should be messy" - Street Magazine. "Top 40 of the last six months" - notlame.com


Finally putting the high back in Hialeah, Humbert goes against the pop-rock grain on its new CD, Plant the Trees Closer Together. Not that Humbert has gone hard on us, but this five-piece adds the unexpected to its usual power-chord fare. Gloriously goofy, Plant the Trees¹ 11 songs approach modern pop from almost as many different angles. Humbert¹s love of ooo-ooo-ooh harmonies -- the kind that¹ll one day comprise most of Weezer¹s Greatest Hits -- is aggressively invested in ³You¹re the One.² But then comes ³The Ladybug and the Beetle,² fully orchestrated and almost wimpy. Humbert turns crunchy on ³Taste the Water² and ³Warped Tape.² Until, that is, ³Get Well Card² begins with a lo-fi dose of bedsitter acoustica. Strangest of all is ³Vuscalli (The Porcupine)² a polka-opera (polkopera?) that approximates a Russian circus bear dancing with a French maid. Even harder to pin down are the slightly psychedelic feedback and tape-loop tapestries that comprise ³Sir Winston² and ³I Get the Bellyhurts.² Due to Plant the Trees¹ diversity and experimental flair, its catchiness quotient is too inconsistent for parties held in gymnasiums. However, it has many other uses.

- New Times - Broward


I confess to lingering affection for South Florida pop, dating back to the days of the Holy Terrors (who, locals must be proud to note, eventually contributed the drummer to Interpol), Snatch The Pebble, and others. It remains one of the most distinctly DIY places in America. Not only is the Miami to West Palm corridor hot and boring (if you're young and live there), so full of poverty and drugs and guns, and glitz and tourists, and old people, but because of the peninsula, very few underground touring bands ever make it past Tallahassee and Jacksonville.
It's in that spirit, that Humbert is the best band from those parts since The Eat 23 years ago! Songs such as "Stolen Car," "Taste The Water," and "Warped Tape" are bulky sounding, joyous, hammering-clamorous power-pop with sunny melodies that clash with the ornery, fast guitars, distorted bass ala Stranglers and Big Black, and a drummer that wouldn't quit if you broke the skin on his bass. Humbert bring memories of D.C. bands such as High Back Chairs, 3, and most of all, The Ropers, as well as really early Ride, with the catchy vocal harmonies by Rimsky, Tony, and Ferny and intelligent tunes such as "You're The One." They're not afraid to throw in snatches of gorgeous Beach Boys-like chamber piano pop, either. And lyrics such as "You're burned out/And all the things you ever wanted/Always seem just to fizzle out" don't hurt. And is that a Greek/belly dance/Jewish tune, complete with finger cymbals? ("Vuscalli, the Porcupine")
The folks at the discerning Not Lame catalog said of this, "Holy Cow, we love this record." It is a record to love. I bet you if these guys were from D.C., Seattle, Chicago, or heavens to Betsy, from New York, they'd be the toast. - Big Takeover


HUMBERT
9pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Hialeah, Fla., hasn't
always been known for its burgeoning indie rock scene,
more for its horse gambling and dilapidated
warehouses. But Humbert is clearing the way with the
anthemic sounds of their latest, Plant the Trees
Closer Together (Sportatorium). The South Florida
quartet produces polished indie pop gems, meaty hooks,
and sonic goodness from the "High Prairie." – Audra
Schroeder
- Austin Chronicle


by Jonathan Zwickel

"Ass Cobra."
There's a certain poetry to the phrase. "Ass Cobra."

A two-car caravan is halfway through the 1,300 mile trip from Hialeah, Florida, "City of Progress," to Austin, Texas, "Live Music Capital of the World." The vehicles contain the members of Humbert, a pop-rock band named with a louche nod to Vladimir Nabokov's hyperintellectual pedophile. Some of these six guys — four in the band and two along for support — have known one another for a decade, from their first garage bands to a zillion gigs around South Florida. It's 3 a.m., eight hours into the drive, and their speech has broken down into a ridiculous code of inside jokes and shorthand slang. They hurtle through the darkness of rural Alabama, sleepy, punchy, and a little drunk.

Which explains "Ass Cobra."

"It's the name of a Turbonegro album," says Rimsky Pons, guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist for Humbert. "They're this Scandinavian metal band." He smiles like a grade-school class clown. "We just think it sounds funny. And who doesn't like Scandinavian metal?"

It's the kind of raunchy humor — and the kind of absurd, sincere question — that makes Humbert Humbert. It's also a question that will prove surprisingly relevant a couple of days from now.

It's a hell of a trip, and thankfully, after arriving on Tuesday, the fellas have a couple of days to regroup before the madness begins in earnest. They journeyed all the way here for South by Southwest, America's premier music-industry confab, a four-day bonanza of 1,200 bands crammed into 60 venues across this central Texas college town. By Friday afternoon, they're scoping out the bustling corner of Red River Road and Sixth Street, downtown Austin's main drag. With a couple of close friends in tow, Humbert has shifted into overdrive to promote tomorrow night's showcase gig.

"Humbert, 9 p.m. Saturday!" Rimsky coos, snapping into action. He waves a Humbert flier before a stream of red-eyed hipsters crossing the street. "Free CD! There's a free balloon too. Thank you." He couldn't be more polite. The lead girl accepts the handful — flier, CD, and flaccid balloon. Like stoned sheep in Chuck Taylors, the rest of her crew each does as well. "It always happens like that," Rimsky grins. "First person takes one, they all will." He turns and lays his earnest con on the next pack of passersby, who without a glance walk on.

"Deep down inside, I'm saying 'fuck you and die,'" he says. "We've handed out so many CDs that you start to guess at the personalities of these people. I'm not judging, but you see a guy in a tight blue blazer with ironed hair and you start to wonder." Ogling the throng of tattooed punks, buttoned-down execs, hooded hip-hoppers, horn-rimmed music geeks, and a thousand in-betweeners flooding the street, he shakes his head. "Everyone just wants to get laid, I guess."

Closer to the bustle at the intersection is Ferny Coipel, the band's dreadlocked and cardiganed polymath (singer, songwriter, keys man, guitarist, clarinetist). He takes a different approach with the fliers, going hit-and-run style like an affably manic grandpa.

Drum major Caesar Lavin shrugs, leaning against a parked cargo van, hands in his pockets. "I don't do fliers," he says. "If I cut my hands, I can't play drums or drink beer. You should see our schedule here — we wake up in the morning with Ferny cracking the whip: 'Fliers! Press kits!'"

Bassist Tony Landa is currently across the Colorado River in South Austin interviewing one of the band's heroes, the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne. Leo Valencia and Dave Llanos, friends from Hialeah, are casually talking shit about the hipster parade and baiting cute indie-rock chicks with CDs and fliers.

Three days in Austin and thousands of fliers have flown. "I'm just saying, after handing out 3,000 balloons, if nobody shows up, I'm gonna jump off one of these fuckin' roofs," Rimsky says. "I don't know how it works here."

The balloons were supposed to be helium-filled, floating eye candy tethered to Humbert's freshly pressed The Floating Legion of Joy EP. There are 3,000 of them, to go with the 3,000 CDs. That plan had to be rethought after the stiff Texas breeze turned the balloons into a floating tangle of stress. But that doesn't matter, because these six guys — seven, once friend and filmmaker Franco Parente arrives later — comprise an unstoppable promotional machine, and they have other, grander plans for spreading the word of Humbert all over South by Southwest.

An hour later, Leo, Tony, and Ferny get their first feedback while scarfing down slices inside a Sixth Street pizza restaurant.

From the joint's tinny boom-box speakers, it's 93.7 FM, Austin's "Rock Classic": "And tomorrow night, be sure to check out Humebert, all the way from Florida!"

"Hume-bert!" The guys crack up at the DJ's mispronunciation, almost choking on cheese. "Oh shit! Come on, bro! How do you fuck up Humbert?" It's a gaffe, yeah, but broadcast over the radio, it sounds like pure gold.



Austin doesn't know it, but no band could be more Hialeah than Humbert. Each of the four Cuban-American band members was born and raised in the north Dade suburb, a product of its melting-pot maze of strip malls, housing developments, highway overpasses, and industrial corridors. "All roads lead to Hialeah" was the town motto in the 1930s. Today, it's far truer than the founding fathers could have predicted.

"Hialeah was here as a farming town before Miami got big," Ferny explains, peering through saucer-sized granny glasses. It's two weeks before departure, and everyone is gathered for an all-too-rare night of band bonding at the Shack North, Humbert's warehouse recording studio. "Hialeah had all these roads built and named a long time ago. But then Miami started growing, and all the roads started connecting." He draws a tiny street map on a scrap of paper. "So not every one but the main fairways are all given two, sometimes even three names. Like 12th Avenue is also Ludlum is also 67th. Then if you go all the way into Broward on that road, it becomes Flamingo. So you go, 'Why are they confusing us on purpose?' 42nd Avenue is Lejune, and it's also East Eighth Avenue in Hialeah. If you have a GPS, I don't even know what that shows up as. Mapquest doesn't work here, bro. Google doesn't work here."

Given the Bermuda Triangle effect Hialeah has on outsiders, it's a miracle anyone finds this place at all. One among countless, anonymous storage units, Shack North appears completely nondescript from outside. But step inside and you've entered a kinky Cubano Santeria museum of South Florida rock 'n' roll. The walls are collaged in concert posters, band stickers, motel room paintings, old photos, new photos, little altars to who knows what, Salvation Army salvage, plastic toys, inflatable thingies, and plenty of local memorabilia.

"That's the street sign from outside of Churchill's," Tony says. "A friend of ours took it while they were doing construction. When we came back to the studio one night, we found it leaning against the front door."

"These guys were signed a really long time ago," Rimsky says, jabbing at a CD sleeve from Nuclear Valdez.

"They were one of the first indie bands of the modern era," Tony offers.

"It was '88 or something when the album came out," Rimsky says. "They had this one song called 'Summer' that was their actual hit. I don't even know who they were signed to..."

"It was Epic," Tony says. "They went to Europe and toured with the Church."

"What happened to them?" Rimsky wonders. "They were actually around the same time Marilyn Manson was."

"There's the poster from when we opened for Ween at the Edge in '95," Tony says. "Ferny played clarinet with them that night."

He turns to the opposite wall. "That right there is a piece of wall from Washington Square," he says of a lunch-box-sized hunk of chipped plaster that abuts the low ceiling. "It was the last night they were open, and the bartender was going around the bar, pouring pitchers of beer down people's throats."

So everybody was hammered and started tearing apart the classic South Beach venue?

"Not everybody," he laughs. "Just us."

And that's just Shack North's hallway.

The main room is spacious, plush, well-decorated, and well-maintained, a far cry from the clammy storage units most local bands call studios. It's strung with Christmas lights that wind around a giant potted palm leaning beside a round, mirrored bandstand straight out of a Vegas lounge. Behind a large glass panel is the sound booth, generously stocked with a high-end Pro Tools setup, state-of-the-art microphones, and stacks of vintage keyboards. Tonight, the members of Rhett y Los Borrachos Empanadas, a 12-piece salsa band from Miami, are trickling in for a rehearsal.

"This is how we supplement our existence," says Rimsky, who, along with Ferny, usually mans the controls.

"As long as it pays for itself," Tony says. "We put out like 10 or 12 records last year, and that helps keep everything afloat."

Humbert rents the place out to local musicians almost seven nights a week. The going rate is about $40 an hour, a nice price considering the quality of the setup.

"It's kinda like a training ground for young bands," Caesar says. "It gives a degree of satisfaction to see 18-, 19-year-old kids come in and say, 'Hey, what's that you're listening to?' Then you hear them cut a demo or a song, and not to toot your own horn, but you hear the Humbert or the Flaming Lips or the Sloan influence all over it." A few late arrivals stream by the booth's open door into the studio. "We've been here a year, and this is what goes on every night."

"Two years, man," Tony says.

"No shit? Ah man, death is around the corner for me."

Caesar — looking, speaking, and gesturing like Harvey Keitel doing a 40-year-old Cuban rock star — is the senior citizen of Humbert. More than any of the guys, he's been around the South Florida music block, going back to the mid-'80s and Hammerhead, his hair metal band.

"We did the cock-rock thing all over Fort Lauderdale," he says. "I had a couple of pairs of spandex, some pink Chucks. I'd wear a little eyeliner... You know, standard issue." Caesar spent five years in L.A. with Hammerhead, gigging at the Whiskey a Go Go and the Roxy before packing it in and heading back to Florida. He's the only member of Humbert who's left his hometown.

"I've lived in Broward since I got back from L.A.," he says. "The people in Hialeah aren't so bad, but the system's bananas. It's like living in Cuba. But fuck it — I'm old. I'm old enough that next month, we'll do a 'Help Caesar with Colon Cancer' fundraiser."

"People would pay out the ass, bro," Ferny says.

Music erupts in the practice room, a languid salsa soundtrack to the well-oiled bullshit session going on inside the control booth. All of Humbert is here, relaxing, drinking beer, welcoming friends, goosing one another with a constant flow of barbs. From years of together time — on the road, before gigs, after gigs, partying, playing — Humbert has elevated rudimentary hanging out into a form of grand entertainment.



A watercolor sun is setting over Austin, and the city's resident bat population — about 1.5 million — pours into dusk from its home under the Congress Avenue Bridge. A few blocks over, on Sixth, hipsters swarm with similar density. Police have closed the street to vehicular traffic, transforming downtown into a relatively safe haven for debauching.

For all the hundreds of revelers on the street, thousands more are inside, and lines begin to form in front of venues lined door to door to door — the Parish, the Drink, Buffalo Billiards, Friends, Emo's, Exodus, Eternal. Most folks here are eager to catch the buzz band that will be the talk of SXSW, the one the bloggers blog about on their BlackBerries before the last note sounds. Others are eager to be that band.

There's a commotion in the street, and out of nowhere bounds Blowfly, the masked-and-caped filth flinger who's taken 30 years to rise out of Miami's R&B scene and into the indie underground. Followed by a film crew and sequined retinue, he struts down the street and vanishes into the crowd.

Humbert arrives with a different kind of fanfare. Seven strong now that Franco's here, the band is pushing what looks like a balloon-clad breakfast cart down the middle of Sixth. On the bottom shelf sits a whisper-quiet generator that powers a large PA speaker. The PA plays the song "Hugo" from Humbert's 2004 album, Plant the Trees Closer Together. On the top of the cart, a DVD projector plugged into the generator blasts the "Hugo" video, which Franco directed, onto any flat surface — parked cargo vans, building façades, pieces of cardboard.

"I dunno who can take credit, because Ferny and I both came up with the idea," Franco says.

"You're really responsible because you shot the video," Ferny counters.

"We've stopped like five times tonight," Leo says.

"And every time, it's been like this, people just fuckin' stoked," Dave says.

Between streetlights, where it's darkest, Franco stops the cart. Rimsky and Caesar stand ten feet in front and hold up two two-by-three pieces of foamcore — the movie screen. Franco fires up the DVD, and the summery sound of "Hugo" fills the crowded street as the video hits the screen. Sure enough, the perpetually flowing human torrent slows, and within seconds, a dozen people stand transfixed. The song ends, the crowd cheers, and Franco starts the video up again.

Last night, the operation was shut down by Austin police. City law allows projections but bans broadcasting in public at more than 75 decibels without a permit. The cops weren't rude, but they weren't friendly either. "You know you're not in Miami when a cop shows up on horseback," Leo laughs.

"So this morning, I went down to City Hall to talk to the woman about what it would take to get permits and stuff," Franco says. "It was nothing! I brought CDs and press kits, and they were totally stoked."

The video — a stylish, one-camera, low-budget affair that recalls the weirdo early days of MTV — plays several times on a loop. Ferny circles the crowd, passing out fliers to every enthralled bystander.

"They win the sheer inventiveness award," says one, an indie-label rep from Philly named Jim Moran. "I've been coming to South by Southwest since 1995, and it's three times the size it was then. The question for any band is, how do you cut through all the noise? This," he says, gesturing at the video and the handful of magnetized viewers, "is fucking brilliant."

Hours later, after several laps of Sixth Street and Austin's 2 a.m. last call, the boys score their biggest coup yet outside La Zona Rosa. The Arctic Monkeys — this year's buzziest buzz band — finish their set, and the mobile projection unit is besieged with hundreds of drunken, ecstatic fans. Franco plays the video over and over. People are grabbing for CDs faster than the band (minus Rimsky, who's drunk and passed out in the minivan) can hand them out.

"Oh my God, this is fuckin' beautiful, bro!" Ferny roars to no one in particular.

At this point, pretty much everyone in Austin — including the pop critics of the Boston Globe and the Village Voice, an A&R guy from Hollywood Records, a film crew from Hong Kong TV, and Wayne Coyne — has seen the video. They've all loved it and told the band as much.

Humbert is on many lips. The guerrilla tactics are working.



"I've known Humbert a long time. Eight to ten years ago, they played their very first gig here at Churchill's," says Michael Toms, co-owner of the Miami rock mecca. "As did Marilyn Manson. And the Mavericks." The band was a three-piece then, with Ferny, Tony, and drummer Izo Besares. Rimsky came onboard in '97; Caesar joined after Izo's bum shoulder and unwavering dedication gave out in '03. Says Toms, "I'm tremendously supportive of whatever they're trying to do."

His sentiment is echoed by the more than 20 bands at the Humbert fundraiser on March 4, nine days before the band's departure for Austin. Fort Lauderdale garage rockers the Remnants give props from the stage, as does Leo's band, Humbert's Hialeah brethren the Brand. After his set, Leo can't help but gush about the Humbert mystique.

"There's something magical about how they do things and they way they are as musicians and people and friends," he says. "It's completely natural, and that's where the magic happens. Some bands have to try really hard. These guys don't try at all."

Almost by default, Humbert ends up playing a mentor role for younger, less experienced bands. "I mean, I'm 24 years old, you know?" Leo says. "Those guys, they have some age, some knowledge. They were playing shows when I was in middle school in Miami. That alone counts for a lot. Like, damn, these guys are almost 15 years older than me, but it doesn't come up, because that's how youthful they are."

The night goes on, and Tony begins tallying the door, all of which will go toward gas and hotel bills in Austin. Roughly $1,300 — a great haul. Outside, the twee-rockers in Miami's Baby Calendar take a few minutes to join the admiration. Like them, few people in this close-knit scene realize that Humbert's trip to Austin is actually its second. Tony and Ferny were there in 1994 as part of the band I Don't Know. Since then, Tony has applied to South by Southwest every year with no luck. You have to wonder if there's any professional jealousy among Humbert's peers now that 12 years and 12 rejections later, the band has the green light.

"When you know that someone deserves something so much, you have to be happy for them," Baby Calendar keyboardist Jackie Biver says. "If it was some sucky band, you might get a little jealous. But you just can't for Humbert."



Austin's mild weather broke late Friday night, so Saturday morning, the band awakes at the Ramada to a damp, chilly day and promptly goes back to bed. Most of the afternoon parties — invite-only soirees sponsored by record labels, publicity agencies, music magazines, and other self-appointed bastions of taste-making — have been called off due to rain. Thankfully, only a few hundred fliers and a handful of CDs are left after last night's melee. No whip-cracking today; the afternoon is spent resting, eating, and visiting Austin's famed Waterloo Records.

By 6 p.m., the band arrives at the Blender Balcony at the Ritz for load-in. The place sits on the corner of Sixth and San Jacinto, SXSW ground zero. A good-sized hall sponsored by the popular music magazine, Blender Bar's door is obvious from the street, but the Balcony is reached via a narrow, undesignated stairway hidden off to the side of the main entrance.

Upstairs, things are no less confusing. There's no stage, a wall of speakers is stacked on one side of the room, and there are six tiered, box-seat areas. It's a weird layout.

Although nobody in the band seems outwardly nervous, they're not exactly calm either. After the hours on the street, the thousands of miles, the thousands of fliers, and the success of the video, no one's really sure how the night is going to go.

"Either I leave here drunk and depressed because there's only six people here," Caesar announces, "or I leave drunk and ecstatic because everybody shows up."

"A lot of people might not know this is the Blender Balcony," Tony says. "I missed it when I was loading gear in."

"It's easy to miss. Why don't we make a sign for outside that says 'Humbert, 9 p.m. '?" Ferny suggests.

With two hours left before the gig, the band goes into full-on action mode. Tony, Franco, Dave, and Leo head outside to dish out the last of the fliers. Rimsky gets to work making signs indicating the stairway. Ferny and Caesar check out the backline equipment, the amps and drum kit they're borrowing from the band playing before them.

They're diffusing nervous energy. A distinct, powerful ambivalence settles in, strong feelings pulling in opposite directions. This could be the biggest gig Humbert has ever played, the gig that attracts all the right people, that soars into the heavens, that guarantees a record deal. Or it could be just another gig.

"There's the hype of South by Southwest," Rimsky says, "but really it's the same as playing Churchill's or Tobacco Road. We totally busted our asses, and even if nothing comes of it, we had a great time. Tony told me the same thing the other night. If nothing happens, he just wants to have stories to tell his kids."

"I visited this place twice last night," Ferny says, "and both times, there were maybe 20 people. I don't know if it was the bands or the room, but it was kinda empty. I can't tell you if there's more riding on this gig, but I do know we wrote a set list. It wasn't computer-generated or anything, but wow. We know what's next."

Outside, Rimsky insists he's not moping. "There's a difference between mopey and cynical," he says. Franco gives him a coaster-sized sticker of a bug-eyed, cartoon cobra. This elicits a reluctant smile. While Dave runs off to grab a CD for the Irishman who's head of Island Records Australia, Rimsky hangs back, detached.

"He was just asking about a club down the street. I'm not gonna jump around like a monkey for some Irish guy from Australia," he says. "Like I'm sure they're looking to sign Weezer from Florida."

Dave seems irked at Rimsky's lassitude. "Dude, the reason for this trip is to get Humbert signed."

"The reason for this trip is to get Humbert noticed," Franco corrects.

"It's like Triple-A for musicians," Rimsky says. "You're just trying to get to the majors. After a while, you kind of figure out how it works or you don't. So many bands just don't get it. I think I'm over it — I forgot we were even playing today."

It's a quarter till 9, and upstairs, the room empties after the early band's set. Humbert takes its place and begins plugging in and tuning up. The crowd is sparse, but the South Florida contingent is strong: Leo and Dave, New Times contributors Dominic Sirianni and Jamie Laughlin, Mike Toms from Churchill's, Jay Flanzbaum from Boca-based website OnLineGigs.com.

At five past 9, Tony steps to the microphone: "We're Humbert, and we're from Florida."

"But we're not Republicans," Ferny adds.

The opening chords of "Hugo" explode from Ferny's Farfisa organ. After all the waiting, all the stress and anxiety, there's nothing but shamelessly unbridled joy in the song. Rimsky rears back on his teal Hagstrom guitar, face orgasmic toward the lights. Caesar hammers like a viking on his drum kit. The band injects all its mixed emotions into the music. By the song's end, there are close to a hundred people stacked along the tiers and crammed in front of the stage. The applause is raucous.

"This is a lot more people than we thought would be here," Ferny confesses to the microphone. Bounding into its second song, the band looks relieved, even inspired. The guys play with passion and confidence, just like at every one of their hundreds of gigs at the Poor House and Churchill's. They launch into "Get Well Card," crescendoing with a massive psyche-rock chorus: "Please don't forget the universe."

"The soundman's not doing them any fuckin' favors," Toms says. True, the sound sucks. The room is awkward. But a couple of photographers hover in front of the stage, a few journos take notes in the back of the room, and there are label guys drinking Lone Stars at the bar.

By 9:30, half the room has left. There are other showcases happening at this very moment with bigger bands than Humbert. If the band members notice, they don't show it. They've already scored their victory. "Do we have time for one more?" Ferny asks into the darkness. A half hour into the set, and it seems they're wishing it was over. But like Ferny said, there's a set list. They know what's gonna happen. They tear into "Ladybug and the Beetle" and wrap it up with an ecstatic flourish.

"We played this next song at South by Southwest in 1994, me and this guy," Tony thumbs toward Ferny. They spring into the offbeat, Middle Eastern dervish blowout "Vuscalli," stretch it out to savor the moment, and then it's all over. The band can't walk offstage because there isn't one. Instead, they just mingle into the remaining crowd for exasperated, elated hugs and high-fives. Grinning but distracted, they load out quickly for the next band, nobody really saying much of anything to anyone.



Sixth Street, Saturday, 11 p.m. Ferny and Tony are at Antone's watching Rob Pollard of indie giant Guided by Voices. Caesar, Rimsky, Dave, Franco, and Leo head to Emo's for the Hellacopters, a well-loved Swedish boogaloo metal band. It's not Turbonegro, but it is Scandinavian. And that's not too far from actual ass cobra.

The fellas are happy enough to just hang — no more fliering, no more hustle — and have a genuinely good time. Around 2 a.m., the whole crew rendezvous outside of Emo's, everyone sufficiently drunk to gently heckle hipsters with bad haircuts and ironic Iron Maiden T-shirts. There is an unspoken air of success, but modesty and pragmatism curtail any gloating. In a few hours, everyone will be passed out back at the Ramada. By 5 p.m. tomorrow, they'll be on the road, headed east out of Austin on Highway 10. By 5 p.m. Monday, they'll be back home in Hialeah.



The Sunday after SXSW, Humbert plays to a happy crowd at Dada in Delray Beach. The band is added to a bill at Churchill's the following Tuesday. Local fans are glad to have them back. Humbert is glad to be back, mostly. But Austin set the wheels in motion and the ambition one notch higher.

"We like to put out music to inspire and to heal," Ferny says later in the week, talking on his cell phone as he heads into Plantation to pick up Humbert's new tour van. "Well, the South by Southwest experience and the feedback from it is reciprocating in a healing and inspiring way to us too. It's like — pow! — rubberbanded right back in our faces."

As in: Talks with a few publicity agencies to start handling the band. A pair of New York shows in mid-May, including CBGB, and one in the works in Boston. Plans to have five full releases ready to go by August. Several hundred new friends on Humbert's MySpace page.

"You see a direct result of what you've done," Ferny says. "By the time we got back, there was stuff already there waiting to get started on."

"We're outsiders trying to hook up with other outsiders that could possibly fund Humbert later on," Rimsky says. "I guess in that sense, SXSW is important; if somebody does want to sign us or someone does wanna represent us, that gives us a little more of a shelf life. We've been doing this for a long, long time, and I don't know how much longer it can last. It's not like we're a weekend bar band that likes to do covers. We try our damnedest to write good songs and get them out there. I mean, we only have limited resources."

"It's always gonna suck, coming back to reality," Tony says. "It's a perfect little world there, you know? Not having to think what my agenda's going to be for the day, not running around from place to place, I miss that. It's crazy, but I miss that. I just like the idea of not knowing what's gonna happen today. I don't know who I'm going to run into. It's just a great experience. But I guess you can't do that for more than a week or you'll go nuts."

"I felt like I was 20 years old again," Caesar says. He's in a van too on his way north on 95 for his job as a sound tech. "I haven't done that much guerrilla marketing since I was in California, handing out fliers on the strip. This weekend made me realize I haven't lost my passion for music. You tend to lose it; it's like the same old girlfriend if you really don't love her.

"The business has changed a lot in 20 years," he continues. "When I moved to California, I thought you gotta be in L.A. with the rockers or you gotta be in New York or you gotta be in Seattle during grunge. Glenn Frey from the Eagles said something like if your band is good enough and if you have something to offer, then the industry will find you no matter where you're at. And I always believed that. I think if you've got something to offer, eventually word will get out and they'll find you."

Even in Hialeah?

"Hell," Caesar says, "wouldn't that be something?"
- New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Discography

Humbert - 1999
Plant the Trees Closer Together - 2003
Floating Legion of Joy - 2006
Se Reparan Todos - March 2012 Release

Photos

Bio

.Humbert comes on like a familiar thought that you can’t quite place but feels warm and universal and momentous.
Live performances that feel like a symphony on the beach. Swirling intimate melodies that dig deep, open a hole that lets in sunshine, then spits it all out as a pink, fuzzy, noisy, humming kinda’ feeling.

Since 2002 Humbert’s 4 members and some of their wandering occasional musical guests spend much time in their art collective – recording space in Florida “The Shack North” There, thoughts come to life. Art, lights, colors, instruments, inventions, film and toys all fill the space that help formulate what is Humbert.

Humbert’s 2005 release “Plant the Trees Closer Together” was enthusiastically received and hailed as an independent and DIY Masterpiece by New Times Magazine. Meanwhile The Big Takeover said, “cheers… the toast! I absolutely love this disc… it made our top 40… Joyous, hammering-clamorous, sunny melodies… intelligent tunes… snatches of gorgeous beach boys-like chamber pop. Allmusic.com gave it 4 ½ out of 5 stars.
City Link Magazine says “hooks big enough to hang cattle from, intelligent enough to make you think.”

Humbert’s founding philosophy “A minute’s worth of something inspiring outweighs a lifetime of mediocrity” is the thread that permeates their entire body of work. “Always think, but don’t forget how to feel…”

Their newest ep “Floating Legion of Joy” (a limited edition promo disc produced exclusively for their SXSW 2006 showcase) is based on their story of a group 137 messengers traveling around the world in hot air balloons, screaming their universal message of possibility, from above, to those on the ground below.

Humbert have performed at SXSW, CMJ, Cutting Edge Music Conference, Florida Music Festival, Atlantis, International Pop Overthrow, Langerado,etc. and have played shows in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C, Boston, Atlanta and all over Florida. Humbert has opened for National acts such as Guster, Dr. Dog, Flaming Lips, Cheap Trick, Ween and Apples In Stereo.

Humbert are based in Hialeah, FL - just outside of Miami and is the largest city in the US with no skyscrapers. Although calling themselves a Miami band would be better for marketing, Humbert is proud to call itself a Hialeah band and carry the torch for many other Hialeah bands. The group owns two recording/rehearsal studios which is used by many other bands across South Florida and beyond. In 2007, Julio Robaina - the Mayor of Hialeah officially declared October 23 as "Humbert Day" in Hialeah, FL.

At the end of the day, Humbert and their music remind us that anything is possible.