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Sahara Leos: ‘the show must go on’

Nadia Garcia/The Prospector
Sahara Leos made up of Chris Ray, Erik Duran, Joel Chavez, Rudy Caleillo and Gabriel Estrella (not shown) practice at Caleillo’s house for their upcoming EPCON performance on Sept. 27.

Sahara Leos have been scheduled to perform at the annual El Paso Comic Con (EPCON) taking place Sept. 27 at the El Paso County Coliseum after being together for only four months and having seven original songs under their belt.

The Sahara Leos came together as a final attempt for most of the members to prove their talents.

“It’s all for monetary gain and not at all for the music,” said Erik Duran, junior computer science major and bass player. “Im just joking, we are pretty excited. The time we get to spend with each other, along with music is greater than all that we would ever hope to gain.”

However, the Sahara Leos had to go through some difficult times before arriving to this moment, when guitarist and lead vocalist Joel Chavez and lead guitarist Rudy Caleillo found themselves striving to continue making music after the recent break up of their previous band, Jolly Moors.

“We have high hopes for this band, especially since most of us are in our mid-20s,” Caleillo said.

The oldest of the group, synth player and back-up vocalist Christopher Ray and drummer Gabriel Estrella, both agree.

Although bass player Erik Duran has just as much faith in the band as the other members, he is the youngest in the group. He said his focus is on school as he is a junior computer science major.

Besides school, most of them have jobs and girlfriends, but they believe it to be quite easy to find time for what they have a passion for–music.

“I only ask for two to three hours a week for practice,” Caleillo said. “Being in music must come from a love of it, since it hardly pays off financially. While in the Jolly Moors, we played about 70 shows and received about $25 each,” he said.

Apart from being the lead guitarist, Caleillo also acts as the manager of the group, being that he recruited almost all of the other members.

Duran and Ray had recently split from their previous bands, as had Caleillo and Chavez, when they joined the band. They said this decision was made so that Sahara Leos wouldn’t run into the same hindrances.

“Sahara Leos is enjoyable, while other bands were more frustrating,” Chavez said. “The force is strong with us.”

Along with their strong bond, they have a style that is unlike most. When asked what their genre was, the band members themselves did not have a clue.

“We are a new band with chemistry and unique music,” said Caleillo. “If you want to stand out, bring something new that hasn’t been heard before.”

Fabain Barraza, junior education major, said that Saraha Leos have a great sense of originality and can’t wait to hear them at EPCON.

“I like how they incorporate jazz chords into their music and how they can play different styles, such as when Joel raps for example,” Barraza said. “Overall, I think they’re all great musicians and I certainly see them having a bright future, since they’re starting to expand into bigger stages.”

From the Strokes to Rage Against the Machine, each member has a different taste in music, yet they still find unity in Sahara Leos.

“Late Night Love,” an original song by Sahara Leos, is a band favorite that includes a special rap by Chavez, yet has an easy-listening feel to it.

Although every band has their drama, the Sahara Leos seem to conquer every problem.

“Joel sneezed on Gabe and gave him ‘Joel Fever,” Caleillo said.

The band jokingly refers to “Joel Fever” as an explanation of when a member of the band frequently misses practice to spend time with a girl.

“But no one ever misses a show,” said Ray as a confirmation of the loyalty of all the band members.

Despite all difficulties of time management, drama, artistic differences and more, the Sahara Leos are making their way to the top.

“We consider The Sahara Leos to be a quality band,” Calleilo said. “We not only have strong stage presence, but a strong bond between members as well.Happiness equals success.”

Nadia Garcia may be reached at [email protected].

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Sahara Leos: ‘the show must go on’