NEW YORK-April, 1998--"Comisionado de la Policia," begins the headline in the September, 1978 issue of the Latino weekly Impacto, "entrega Premios de Reconocimientos Honorificos a jovenes en el Programa de la Policia y la Juventud llevado a cabo en toda la ciudad de Nueva York." The three handsome, dark-haired pre-teens in the photo strike their best tough-guy, Lower East Side pose with former New York City Police Commissioner Robert McGuire on a stage draped by American and Puerto Rican flags. But their smiles betray their excitement at winning city-wide honors for rock-and-roll talent, as judged by legendary bandleaders Tito Puente and Yomo Toro, New York radio personality Chuck Leonard of 98.7 KISS-FM and Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow of WCBS-FM 101.1. "We learned a lot from old jazz musicians who ran community programs in our neighborhood," Jorge Gonzalez, lead singer and guitarist of Electric Death says, ticking off the names of saxophonist John Hagan, jazz drummer Todd Capp of Year of the Ear and actor Roland (Tiger) Haynes of the Broadway musical "The Wiz". But the bandâ€™s soundâ€”hard rock with a decidedly punk edgeâ€”wasnâ€™t always harmonious in a neighborhood where the festive sounds of salsa and meringue were more apt to be drifting out of windows on hot summer nights. "It was tough growing up here," Jorge remembers one afternoon, speaking from the Columbia Street apartment of his childhood. "If you didnâ€™t conform, people sometimes looked at you as if you were against the Latino culture. But if you stood up to them, you gained respect." Electric Death, whose name was inspired by a friendâ€™s T-shirt, does not sing en espanol, although all three membersâ€”Jorge, younger brother Tito Gonzalez, co-songwriter and electric bassist, and drummer Moses (Jimmy) Montanez-- are proudly Latino. Jorge defends this decision, but would welcome performing bilingually. "Thereâ€™s two schools of thought with rock en espanol," he says. "Either stick to singing the music in Spanishâ€”although rock is still considered gringo music by many Latinosâ€”or just do it in English. I believe that in order to break that barrier, you have to sing in English. Our stress is on Latinos who rock." Both Jorge and Tito ("he used to follow me to the studio" teases Jorge) are united in their desire to "break the barrier." Yet Tito smiles when he says he can hear traces of melodies from songs which played on his mother Carmenâ€™s favorite Spanish radio station echoed in some Electric Death songs, such as "No Other Man" and "Misty Morning". The trio gained recognition and respect in several of New Yorkâ€™s infamous rock clubs, performing in CBGBs and Maxâ€™s Kansas City throughout the early 1980s, getting reviews in upstate New Yorkâ€™s Metroland magazine, airplay on Z-ROCK FM and generally blazing a new trail across linguistic and cultural lines. But, as Jorge tells it, "life got in the way", (self-imposed, he admits) causing the band to go on hiatus in 1984. Jorge did a stint in the military; Tito and Jimmy went on to play in a number of hardcore-metal-punk bands like Foe, Triple Cross and The Sex Bombs. Tito and Jimmy later joined guitarist Efrain Martinez to create Phantom Crypt, a band that quickly attracted a steady cult following throughout New York City and Washington, D.C. With Electric Death reunited comes the debut of Electric Deathâ€™s second album, Forgotten Tenements. Where the bandâ€™s first album (the self-titled Electric Death) featured tracks ranging from the defiant "Executioner" to the saucy "Beefsteak Blues", Jorge describes Forgotten Tenements as more poetic, drawing upon the natural (and often un-natural) rhythms of the city. ! Disfruten, Enjoy!
Loisaida took a new breath of air in 1990, when by chance at a jam session at Pupa's 35 birthday party, a new generation of Loisaida musicians decided to reform the band with old and new material. Edwin (Pupa) Santiago (all guitars, vocals, and musical director) Upbringing in the mountains of Lares, Puerto Rico helped compose the band's crossover music, known today as Jibaro Latin Rock. Pupa has a strong rock background with such influence as Santana, David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Fripp, to mention a few. Pupa's being a rock-n-roller does not mean he has lost touch with his culture and music. Some of his early Spanish influence includes Ricardo Rey and Jibaro music of Puerto Rico. Born: Lares, PR. Has performed with: Tronopathic Waves, People of Time, Sonido Costeno, Moralez, Crosstown Committee, Electronic Drummer & The Atom, Andormeda, Bernardo Palombo and Tico Da Acosta. David Soto (Vocals) was asked by Pupa how he felt about putting the band back together. David agreed and the rest is history. With Edgard's blessing of the idea, the band re-formed. With David Soto's outstanding vocals and Lower East Side, he would bring a new street sound to the group. David had performed with Pupa & Bimbo on an off Broadway production of Benito Vas Con Pique. As a front man for the band, he brings his dancing skills, high energy & excellent vocals. Born: Loisaida, NY. Has performed with Grupo Cemi, Josanna, Trinity, Body Rockers Empire and Bernardo Palombo. David Lopez (drummer) met Pupa at a Sonido Costeno Concert at a Celebrate Brooklyn Concert Series. David brings his strong Latin rock influence to the band. He loves to make jokes and tell stories. You can't take this guy seriously, only when he's behind his kit. Born: Humancao, PR. has performed with Johnny Mendez (Grupo Morivivi), Sonido Costeno, Atika, Korus and Luna Visions. Edwin (Eddie Conde) Perez: (congas, percussions) returned to the band after being absent for over 15 years. Conde & Edgard Rivera did presentations at the New Yorican Poet's Cafe when they were located on East 6th Street. The band was not officially together as ABC LOISAIDA yet. Conde could be found jamming in the parks of the Lower East Side with his friends like The Salsa Twins, Stephanie Chapman, Richie Cruz and others. Conde has a great ear for typical sounds and styles. Born: Loisaida, NY. Has performed with the Manhattans and Fhusto Rey. Steve Colon (timbales, congas, and percussion) returned to the band after being absent for over 15 years and have been good friends since. You could find them jamming at Tucasa Sound Studio. Colon is a master timbalero and percussionist. A lot of his talent must of rub of from his late brother, the talented Eddie Colon. Born: Manhattan, NY. Has performed with Johnny Wha Wha, Hilton Ruiz, Larry Harlow, Manny Roman and Shogun. Johnny "Pump" Ortiz (keyboards, vocals) called Pupa after sitting in a rehearsal of the band. Through their conversation, they found out that both of them had lived in Cayey, PR. Both Edgar Rivera, Kenny Olson & Pupa were from Cayey. Musically they hit it off right away. Camacho has a very soulful voice with a mean keyboard sound. Born: Manhattan, NY. Has performed with Earl Lewis & the Channels, Jay & the Americans, Heat Wave, Ricky Nelson, Salsa Jazz Express, Retparada & the Delrons and Vito & the Salutation. John Eve (bass), brought to the band by Camacho, has a very strong musical history. Since his arrival to the band, he has been very upbeat and a supporter of the groups projects and music. With his ear for detail, he brings a strong foundation to the band. John is the only member that is not a native from PR. His family is from Santo Domingo and he was born in New York City. Born: Manhattan, NY. Has performed with Earl Lewis & the Channels, Yellow Dog, Main Ingredient and Listen My Brother Review. Band members: Edwin "Pupa" Santiago - all guitars, vocals, and musical director David Soto: Vocals David Lopez: drummer John Eve: bass Edwin "Eddie Conde" Perez: congas, percussion Steve Colon: timbales, congas, and percussion Johnny "Pump" Ortiz: keyboards, vocals