The Krayolas
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The Krayolas

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1977 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1977
Band Rock Pop

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"More Good S.A. Pop"

Just to sweep the obvious off the table: Yes, the Krayolas are from San Antonio and bear the city’s definitive musical imprint but they’re much, much more. Yes, they were a New Wave-ier product of S.A.’s first punk scene, the one that was anointed by the Sex Pistols’ appearance there. No, the Krayolas are not the Red Krayola that featured Mayo Thompson.
(What many people don’t realize is that the 1978 Sex Pistols show was a major victory in the ongoing, uncampaigned battle between musical rivals Austin and San Antonio that gets refueled every generation, usually with no understanding whatsoever of what came before. For example, a 1969 poster for a Sunday afternoon concert at Sunken Gardens Theatre pictured the state of Texas as a beaming, doting mother and her two sons Austin and San Antonio, the former dressed in hippie glory and the latter duded up a la Doug Sahm on the Rolling Stone cover. Austin always had the cool but San Antonio had the dark heart. Maybe I’m rambling. I was all of 15, torched on acid at that show, and bouncing through a largely unmonitored life, so new and fresh that three hours of music imprinted it forever. It seems remarkable now that a concert could be a life-changing step from one level of understanding to the next. I swear I will find that poster.)

Never mind the Sex Pistols, the Krayolas’ oeuvre swung from 1977-88. Brothers Hector and David Saldana fronted the San Antonio concoction of smart Costello-like Texas power pop primed with Sir Douglas muscle and the punch of Tex-Mex keyboards, Augie Meyers-style. Hector is bemused. "They’re calling us Chicano garage rockers. I don’t even know what that means.”

I know what it means. When Ruben Molina updates his fabulous Chicano Soul book, the Krayolas will stand as the 1980s S.A. link between the royal Jesters, Rudy & the Reno-Bops, and Doug Sahm in the 1960s and 70s, and the emergence of bands like Los Lonely Boys and the Tex-Mex Experience in the Ks. Last year’s Best Riffs Only shimmered with that 1980s greatest hits glow but this year’s La Conquistador is likely to appear in select Top 10 lists.

La Conquistadora is the unexpected letter from the past, a small gift of multifaceted delights. The West Side Horns and Meyers both make appearances on the album, giving magical San Antonio-ness to songs like Meyers’ “Little Fox,” “Yakety Song,” and “Alex,” a memorable tribute to the Saldanas’ nephew killed in Iraq, fusing the urgent pulse of Dylan’s “Hurricane” with pumping organ.

“The Krayolas were dead," Hector explained. "The comeback, improbable, unlikely, and inept. It came out of an effort to save the analog tapes of our old 45s, which were disintegrating. But the Krayolas were always a good plug-in-and-play rock & roll band. We were often horrible, but when we vibrated just right you couldn’t touch us. That’s still true.”

- Austin Chronicle


"Long Leaf Pine review"

Beginning with cover art borrowed from the Rolling Stones, San Antonio's Krayolas keep serving a savory stew of regional pop styles on their second album since reforming. Tagged as the "Tex-Mex Beatles" during their initial 1977-1988 run, the Krayolas moved beyond that descriptor with 2008's La Conquistadora. Similarly, Long Leaf Pine approximates a cruise through the Alamo City in the days when Top 40 radio hopped genres without missing a beat. "Corrido Twelve Heads in a Bag" plants Dylan in the middle of Mexico's drug war, which gives way to the West Side Horns colliding with a Billy Gibbons riff on "So Happy." The pop punch of "A-Frame" goes ballistic on Louie Bustos' sax solo, while Augie Meyers' Vox organ turns up on his own Sir Douglas Quintet obscurity, "I Wanna Fall in Love Again," into a groovy country shuffle. Like their Texas dance-hall forbears, the Krayolas bring a little something for everyone. - Austin Chronicle


"Alamo Heights - San Antonio's the Krayolas steam into their second act."

The West Side of San Antonio is where rock and roll met Mexican music courtesy of the Sir Douglas Quintet, whose legacy lives on today in another Alamo City band, the Krayolas. Houston-born brothers Hector and David Saldana formed the Krayolas in the mid-'70s, and the group's blend of catchy power-pop and West Side Tex-Mex rock and roll made them regional favorites until they petered out around 1988.

Most of the music on the two albums the Krayolas have made since re-forming, 2008's La Conquistadora and this year's Long Leaf Pine (no smack gum), is the same lighthearted, high-energy West Side boogie that once had San Antonio — and well beyond — screaming "Oh, yeah! What'd I say?" But not all of it — "Corrido (12 Heads in a Bag)," based on an article on the Mexican drug wars Hector Saldana read in the Los Angeles Times, earned the band a profile on NPR's All Things Considered earlier this year.

Chatter spoke with Hector Saldana, also a senior staff writer and music columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, last week.

Chatter: What's the most interesting bit of feedback you've gotten from "Corrido"?

Hector Saldana: Probably just that it was so timely. I think that's what struck [people] the most. I wrote the song just two days after the actual incident; it's based almost exactly on what I read in the Los Angeles Times story. It just struck a nerve. As a musician, there are some songs that you like, but you notice that there are some songs that people have a special connection to, and that one did.

My theory is that it's as much musical as it is subject matter. It's a song that starts in a major key and goes into a minor key, and goes from waltz time to 4/4 time and Spanish to English. There's that one little moment in the song where that happens, and I think that shakes you up as much as what the song attempts to be.

C: At your Cactus in-store back in June, you alluded to some past experience with various Harris County law enforcement agencies. Can you elaborate?

HS: (laughs) We used to play a lot of gigs there at nightclubs like Fitzgerald's and Rockefeller's and pack 'em in. We always did really well in Houston when we were really young. A lot of it had to do with those clubs, but also because — it was kinda strange — we had a big gay following in Houston.

We played a lot of hoity-toity parties early on, and we were really, really young in the middle of all these elaborate settings, and those same people came and supported us in the bars. A lot of those parties went too late and the cops would always get on our case. We didn't get arrested or anything like that, but it seems like we always had run-ins for playing too long and too loud. It wasn't like the Kinks — we weren't banned from Harris County (laughs).

C: What's your favorite song aboutSan Antonio?

HS: [Sings Doug Sahm's] "Is anybody going to San Antone..." I don't know how much it tells you about the city, but I just love that song. "Livin' Inside the Loop" by a group called Los #3 Dinners. It's a local group, and that's a really killer track. They've got sort of a Velvet Underground vibe, and they've been around a long time. It's not a well-known song, but it's a cool one.

C: How big of a shadow did Doug Sahmand the Sir Douglas Quintet cast overSan Antonio music?

HS: Huge is the answer. But the thing is, revisionism has kind of changed it. The band was in the complete tank by the early '70s, at least around here. When we were starting out in '74 and '75, we would play "She's About a Mover" and "Mendocino," and people would just stare at us — like, "Why are you playing that crap?" It was done. Luckily, what happened for their memory was the Texas Tornadoes. That was sort of their second lease on life, and then people came back to it.
- Houston Press


"REVIEW: The Krayolas 'Long Leaf Pine (No Smack Gum)' and 'La Conquistadora'"

You just can’t live in Texas, if you don’t have a lot of soul. Or how stands the legacy of Doug Sahm?



In 1971, with the album 'The Return of Doug Saldaña,' Doug Sahm of the Sir Douglas Quintet (with that modified surname) emphasised his solidarity with the Chicanos, such as the Mexican Americans were then known. The Krayolas are that link to Sahm with Hector Saldaña and his younger brother David Saldaña.



Doug Sahm's spirit is audible from beginning to end on 'Long Leaf Pine (No Smack Gum)' (Box Records, 2009). But it would be a mistake to put down that connection as volgelingen, simple adoration or imitation.



It's impossible because just as on the recent Sahm tribute CD, which honoured the famous Texan, The Krayolas share his unimitable music style.



Thirty years later, The Krayolas are again active with an original mix of garagerock, British beat and Tex-Mex of the highest order. It's earned them the nickname 'Tex-Mex Beatles.'



'Long Leaf Pine (No Smack Gum)' begins with 'Marie Laveau,' a song featuring the West Side Horns. It doesn't get more Texas than that blowing trumpet and saxophone. Delicious. The second course on the plate is a corrido, a Mexican death ballad in which especially legendary events are told of immigrants. 'Corrido Twelve Heads in a Bag' is a tale of the violent death of 12 men along the Mexico and American border. It concerens a recent violent account of the drug cartel wars.



The Tex-Mex influence shines through with originality, not just the same sound song after song. In the San Antonio Express-News, songwriter Hector Saldaña said, 'I'd be bored to tears if every song was about Texas and beer. There has to be drama.' It's easy to understand where Saldana gets his inspiration, he's a a journalist at the hometown newspaper. 'Twelve Heads in a Bag' was inspired by a story in the Los Angeles Times.



The Krayolas are darlings of the rock journalism elite. Famous journalists Chet Flippo, Ben Fong-Torres and Dave Marsh have writen beautiful words about them. Bruce Springsteen is a fan, as well as Little Steven Van Zandt who spins the Texas group regularly on his satellite radio programme Little Steven's Underground Garadge.



But back to the album: 'A-Frame' is as tough as ZZ Top. 'Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time' is rockabilly with Mexican fury. The driving Jey-style rocker'Find A Girl' is powerpop or perhaps even New York New Wave. 'Hurtin' Me Baby' recalls Brinsley Schwarz. That's not surprising since they shared the stage decades ago with Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. There is a connection nto Elvis Costello's best early work, while 'Fish Out of Water' is the Beatles do the B-52s. Powerpop is the frosting on 'Matter of Time' that recalls Dwight Twilley.



The clincher is 'Every Little Heart,' which has that strange jazz influence which Doug Sahm also had. The sounds is a soft nightclub headtrip. Differently said: Steely Dan cowboys.



Last year's songs on 'La Conquistadora' (Box records, 2008) are possibly more beautiful and just as rootsy. The title track is 'Desire' period Dylan meets the Sir Dougas Quintet. It's a combination that Dylan would love considering his connection to Sahm & friends. 'Deceiver' is John Lennon with an accordion. Splendid. Sixties beat, garagerock, powerpop, Tex-Mex -- the Krayolas from San Antonio, Texas have it all. These are two albums of essential rock- n-roll. And Augie Meyers is part of the mix, too.

- AltCountry of Holland


"Review: Long Leaf Pine (no smack gum)"

In these darkening times, perhaps it’s no surprise that San Antonio’s brightest pop songster would take up a more somber palette. Just a few months back, Head Krayola (and Express-News Senior Arts Writer) Hector Saldaña was with his producer Joe Treviño at the downtown Blue Cat Studios playing me a demo from a still germinal new album, the follow-up to 2008’s comeback disc, La Conquistadora.
The song, “Long Leaf Pine,” was a doom-laden crunching blues romp, leavened with the eerie sweetness of Saldaña’s keening voice, that conjures Dylan, Lennon, Tom Petty, maybe even a little Tommy James. The dark mood was unmistakable, but there was also a lightness of spirit. The world’s ending, heartbreak abounds, all hope is lost---but we’re going to pull out the Stratocaster, drums, accordions and horns, and get through it all.
It sounded Puro San Antonio, 2009.
The Krayolas, back after a decades-long hiatus, have now delivered that sophomore collection in their resurrected incarnation, and long leaf pine (no smack gum) delivers on that demo’s promise of a darker, more mature take on the longtime Krayolas power pop signature sound that once earned them the moniker of the “Chicano Beatles.”
In short, it rocks the apocalypse.
In that spirit, the disc opens with an evocation of legendary New Orleans Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, “Wiping up all of the blood off the prison floor,” and then caterwauls further into a San Anto gutbucket norteño rock ambiente that fuses shooting star guitar riffs with brass panoramas provided by the Westside Horns.
Treviño’s ace production makes all the sounds shimmer like polished blades. The songs hearken to breakups and revenge, survival and renewal, Saldaña revealing himself as a proper prophetic shouter in “Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time” and “Find a Girl.”
And in the album’s haunting instant classic, “Corrido Twelve Heads in a Bag,” (already featured in a recent NPR dispatch) Saldaña focuses his new Tex-Mex blues persona on the murderous tales of today’s border narco wars,
“Twelve heads in a bag, I swear I read it yesterday
Buried like the others on page 27A.”
And how does he follow that up?
With a lilting, tuneful, "dah-de-dah, dah-de-dah, dah-de-daaah…." - John Phillip Santos


Discography

Albums:
Kolored Music (1982)
Dead End Life (1987)
Best Riffs Only" (2007)
Little Fox" EP (2007)
La Conquistadora (2008)
Long Leaf Pine (no smack gum) (2009)
The Krayolas Kollection (2009)
Fruteria (The Fruit Cup Song) EP (2009)
Americano (2010)
Tipsy Topsy Turvy (2011)

Singles:
All I Do Is Try/Sometime (1977)
Aw Tonight/Roadrunner (1977)
Gator Gator/Alamo Dragway (1978)
Christmas Time/Cry Cry, Laugh Laugh (1980)
Happy Go Lucky/The Sphinx Won't Tell (1982)
Sunny Day/Dorothy (1984)
Find A Girl/You're Breaking My Heart (1988)
Corrido Twelve Heads In A Bag (2009)
Fruteria (The Fruit Cup Song) (2009)
Under One Roof (2012)

Photos

Bio

The Krayolas electrifying, high-energy performance at the Paramount Theatre on one of the most magical nights in rock 'n' roll history at South By Southwest's closing-night tribute to Doug Sahm was the cherry on top for the acclaimed San Antonio rockers. 
"It was our proudest moment to represent our hometown and Sir Doug's," said singer-songwriter Hector Saldana.
Accolades for the Chicano garage rockers ranged from "stunning," "standout" and "a complete revelation" to "a highlight," "aerobic," "gleeful" and "pumpin'" in Billboard, the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Lincoln Journal Star, American Songwriter, Colorado Springs Independent and San Antonio Express-News." 
The Krayolas return to SXSW with a new EP, "The Legend Cholly Wayne."
Known as the Tex-Mex Beatles, the band has garnered flattering comparisons to the Fab Four, Bob Dylan, the Who, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Warren Zevon. The Krayolas have been featured in Texas Monthly, The Washington Post, New York Times, The New Yorker, Paste, Pollstar, the Village Voice, NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Alt-Latino,” MTV, and are regulars on SIRIUS XM “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” Dave Marsh’s “Kick Out the Jams,” KUTX and Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Roots and Branches of Americana.”

In 2014, the Krayolas were inducted last year into the Texas Music Office's South Texas Music Walk of Fame.www.thekrayolas.com

Band Members