Drinking the worm
¿Habla español? Let’s hope so. If not, Gusano may not make much sense to you, unless you’re one of those listeners who focus more on instrumentals rather than the lyrics of a song.
Vocalist Leo Palomar, 28, and lead guitarist Manuel Caro, 25, met in 1996 as high school students looking for something more to life than proper grammar and arithmetic. After a couple years of knowing each other, the boys formed a band called Novavox, which went on to become a Spanish cover band, jamming out to popular Latin-based tunes from the early ‘80’s and ‘90’s.
After two years of playing around with the sounds of Novavox, Palomar and Caro were ready to take in a drummer, which is when Kris Trujillo, 25, came into the picture. The band played regularly for a few months before taking a break in 2000, preparing for a bigger and better comeback in the following year.
As fresh ideas usually accompany fresh starts, Novavox put their heads together to come up with a new name for the band and ended up with “Gusano.” With the new name came a new addition on bass, 29-year-old Horacio Bernardino.
“When the band started practicing, we didn’t have a name for a few months, and, at the same time, our favorite drink was Mezcal, which comes with a worm inside the bottle, called ‘Gusano,’” says Palomar. “Whoever got the worm inside their shot glass had to eat it. So, it just became a band thing to a point where it was special and a privilege to eat.” Palomar smiles at the memories of his beloved worm days and adds, “We had great times eating that little fellow, and we wanted to honor him, so, we did.” Raising his beer glass high in the air, he continues, “In the name of the little creature that saw four guys come together, practice and have fun making music, we’ve named the band after you, my friend.”
Gusano, the band of worms.
“We are a very energetic group and we always try to transmit that to our crowd,” says Palomar. “In return, we get more energy from everyone, and that’s what makes our shows fun, energetic, intense and always interesting.”
Percussionist Carlos Neri became the fifth member just a few months ago.
Each of the members of Gusano have lived in Reno for about 11 years, all of them having originally come from Mexico, excluding Palomar, who came to the city from a tiny town in California. With this in mind, it isn’t surprising that Gusano has chosen to dedicate the feel of their band to the Latin form of music.
Regarding musical inspirations, Gusano has a thing for bands such as Puerto Rican rockers Puya, Mexican rock and hip hop band Molotov, and Mexican alternative rockers Caifanes, Victimas and Fobia, all of which contribute to Gusano’s acclaimed sound of hard rock and alternative, with quite the Latin beat mixed somewhere in the middle.
If you do speak español, this is a band you can wrap your ears around. If your bilingual education isn’t up to code in the Spanish arena, you might not make much sense of what Gusano is saying, although they do have a few English songs tied into their groove. Otherwise, the band sounds awesome. Concentrate on the upbeat melodies of Gusano, and you’ve got yourself a great band to rock out to.