Chilean band Pancho Miranda Banda brings together elements of folk, rock and Chilean and Latin American rhythms into a spirited and dynamic mix. The group of classically trained musicians are consistently one of Bandplanet’s most popular South American bands, and singer Francisco Miranda is one of our most successful Premium Club members. We spoke to them recently about the advantages and disadvantages of being an indie band these days, what’s great about the Bandplanet Premium Club, and why they chose folk and rock over classical music.
Can you tell us a little about how you met and formed the group?
Half way through 2009, the last performance of my old band and the first performance of Tito’s band coincided. It was then that I told him that I wanted to do a solo project with a band. He offered me the chance to play, and introduced me to the drummer Nilson Olguín. I was already counting on the support of my wife Romina, who plays bass. Someone heard about our band and they invited us to play a few gigs. We rehearsed four songs on the 25th of June, and our live debut was on the 27th June 2009. Currently, we are working with another drummer called Francisco Zamorano.
Tell us a little about your creative process. For example, do you start with a sound, a riff, or a lyric, do you write/jam together?
In general, it begins with the song’s lyric and melody (verse and chorus), then the instrumental strokes come into place. Sometimes the composition originates from the study of Latin American and aboriginal folk rhythms, which is then reflected in riffs, drums or bass. The idea is to highlight the South American character, lyrically and in music.
What inspires your lyrics?
Generally, common stories of human life and ordinary people. Wanting to highlight the protection of social rights, and political and cultural topics. Sometimes, this is achieved by using a very direct and explicit tone and language; in others, by using poetry and metaphors.
You are classically-trained musicians – what draws you to contemporary rock/folk music rather than for example, classical music?
This has to do with our desire to interpret the local identity into an international music context. In Chile, society is not homogenous and the musical preferences are separated along the lines of social classes. The popular sectors have a mestizo heritage from the Spanish Conquest in America, and the higher sectors have more European influences. Rock is the only place where all these mixes converge. Rock from the 70s and 80s is still influential and thanks to this, Chile has rediscovered the value of culture from its people, through bands that have enlisted artists with high levels of social and cultural commitment. The motivation behind our fusion of folk and rock is to make young people aware of our mestizo roots, as well as the creation of a project that is stylistically diverse.
You’ve successfully promoted and marketed Pancho Miranda Banda yourselves. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent band these days?
The advantages are definitely learning that things that are achieved are never lost; each project that grows this way ends up becoming a true ‘school’ in life. There’s also the possibility of negotiating your work however you want to, with no strings attached.
The disadvantages are that resources are scarce, or, in the majority of times, do not exist at all. Then our work becomes dependent on the goodwill and the good memory of people, which can sometimes fail without notice. Often you need to dedicate a lot of time and attention towards looking for funds, which detracts from the time we have to create the music that we love.
You’ve participated in a lot of major festivals in the region (Talento Crudo, Unirock Alternativo, Rockodromo) – what do you see as the role of festivals for bands and musicians these days?
Without a doubt, festivals are the biggest independent band promoters, as TV and radio generally give opportunities to commercial music. Festivals present your work as the highlight of the event, and they seek an audience with an appetite for fresh opportunities, plus they give you tools and products such as videos, shirts, and press releases that can enhance your CV.
What are some of your festival highlights?
Talento Crudo was one of the most amazing moments, undoubtedly, as it was recognition of work that ‘swims against the current’, far away from the claims of current music trends. It was also exciting to receive recognition from other events.
Later in Colombia, at Unirock Alternativo, we had the most motivating experience ever, as it was our first time playing as a band outside of Chile and with a huge crowd.
What are your strongest musical influences?
What is the best thing about being in band, in your opinion?
Being on stage and performing. It is serious work, to create an intimacy with the audience – intimate as in the warmth of friendship, dynamic and with various rhythms. It’s a ‘can’t miss’ type of thing!
What are your plans for the future?
Currently we are preparing songs for a new record, and we are evaluating the possibility of being produced by a university editorial, which could give us access to a broad new audience. As far as the current record is concerned, we are finishing up two videos, one for the song ‘Revolución’ and another one for ‘Preludio al Camino’. We also have strong contacts outside of Chile, especially with Latin American festivals that operate band exchanges. We currently have a tour on standby, which we were organizing for October this year with another Chilean band, to tour through Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands (it is on standby as Romina will give birth to our first child in October!).
What is on your current playlist?
In general, I like to fill up my head with music, so I don’t listen to anything in particular. I choose the artist depending on how I feel. These last few days, I’ve been listening to Argentinean folk and I always wander a bit into 80’s rock to recharge my batteries.
Favorite track on Bandplanet?
How did you hear about Bandplanet?
I met Lilian Morales (Bandplanet Scout) through Facebook, and she introduced me to this wonder…
The best thing is that I’ve applied what I have always done to create a Network, but this time I was doing it while knowing that it comes with monetary benefits. I feel it is great that the aim of Bandplanet is for musicians to have more time for music and projects, and to spend less time in generating income to live. Also, the possibility of having visibility and exposure at such a global level is something I didn’t know could be possible until I discovered Bandplanet. I think that more benefits are just around the corner and they depend on the creative capacity of each one of us, as the platform offers so many possibilities.
How have you made the Bandplanet Bonus Program work for you?
In my case, I did it by recruiting during festivals, where musicians and bands are always interested in being promoted. Festivals always need platforms that can fuel them up, too.
Any tips for other users on how to grow your Bandplanet Network?
Send lots of emails to bands and friends so that they can join, motivate enthusiasts to set their networks and be patient while explaining every step necessary to achieve more benefits, and never stopping from communicating your activities and those of the platform, too.
We are always looking to improve the Bandplanet experience – do you have any feedback for us?
An online chat feature so that I can communicate in real time with people who are listening would be great. I would also like the landing page of Bandplanet to have its own music video channel. Finally, I would also like to thank you all for your work!
Thanks for your feedback, and taking the time to talk to Bandplanet! We really appreciate your support. Good luck with the new baby and the new videos, and hopefully we’ll see you on tour very soon!
Pancho Miranda’s debut album ‘Tiempos Modernos’ (Modern Times) is out now.
Upcoming live gigs:
06.07.12: Escuela Unión Latinoamericana (acoustic show)
10.07.12: Launch of project “Seed” at the Santiago University.
14.07.12: 20:30: SCD Vespucio.