Jaron Hall interviews frontman Derek Silva (right) of Houston's Mantra Love. Read the interview before catching them with the Halfways (Austin) and EL LAGO (Galveston) on February 11th at VFW Post 880. Photo: Mantra Love
Members of Mantra Love
Derek Silva – Vocals & Guitar
Fabian Silva – Bass
Gil Castillo – Drums
Jaron: How long have you dudes lived in Houston, and how do you think the city and its scene have influenced your style?
Derek: We were all raised in Houston. Fabian and I have lived here our whole lives and Gil lived out on the west coast for about 6 years after high school. He’s back now though and we’re glad for that. I think the biggest influence we take from Houston is it’s diversity. It lets us not really worry about what category each tune will fall into. We just do what we feel is right.
You guys seem to vibe together really well musically. How long have you known and played with each other? Any past projects together?
Fabian is actually my brother and because of that we have always shared friends, being so close in age. I met Gil when I was 14 and he was 16. We were in rival metal bands! Haha! But we quickly bonded through music and weed. There’s been random stuff we’ve done. Nothing we like to show off.
Your sound has been described as “psychedelic new wave.” The “psych” term gets thrown around pretty loosely, but you guys are owning it. What are your thoughts on Houston’s emerging psych scene and your role within it.
To be honest we really want to start keeping labels away even thought it seem inevitable. We enjoy many kinds of music and we’d like to be able to explore any musical desire at any point through Mantra Love. In regards to the scene, we are totally down with all the great stuff across the board happening in The Screw.
Your EP almost has a live feel to it, while still sounding very tight. Can you tell us a little about the recording process?
Well the guitar and drums were tracked live together and the rest was overdubbed. We didn’t really know what we were doing and it was more like a big experiment if anything. We really wanted everything to sound fucked up and loud in the chillest way possible.
The songs strike a balance between meticulous structuring and organic spontaneity, which all comes across sounding very natural. What does the Mantra Love songwriting process typically look like?
Our process is usually taking demos we do on our own time and really refining the ideas together in a room with a lot of weed & beer. We just hang out a lot and shit happens really.
Dreamy, atmospheric guitar textures are a major part of your sound. Can you tell us a little about your gear rig and how it shapes your music?
My brother and I are pedal junkies and love to have a variety of sounds to play with. I think Fabian has about 6 and I have about 10 on my board. The number of pedals are always fluctuating. Our rigs definitely help us paint with more colors, if you will.
The influences of classic and modern psych bands are fairly apparent in Mantra Love tunes. Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations, past and present?
There are so many but I’ll just go with two for now. The Strokes and Tame Impala.
What is your go-to item on the Whataburger menu?
#2 Double Cheeseburger w/ creamy pepper sauce and extra pickles only.
Outside of music, what inspires you the most? What kind of things are you into?
This question always makes me realize I need more hobbies but living and experiencing this life is the biggest inspiration for us all.
What is Mantra Love currently working on?
PLUG: If you really want to know follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
You guys have had the opportunity to share the stage with some big names in the neo-psych scene (La Luz, Night Beats, Ringo Deathstarr, etc.). What is the energy and crowd interaction like at these shows?
It’s amazing. These bands have great followings and you can feel the passion in the crowd at the shows.
Mantra Love performing at White Oak Music Hall in Houston. Photo: Mantra Love
Mantra Love has a fair amount of touring experience under your belt. What have your experiences been like on the road? Any crazy tour stories?
Our experiences on the road have been wonderful! People really take care of us and do way more for us than we ever expected.
I would say my favorite story from tour is tripping out on shrooms on the beach with our really good friends out on the west coast! We all had way too good of a time that day and we decided on getting tattoos spontaneously at like 4 am. I passed out in the van on the way to the persons house though so I missed out haha
So you are bringing the Mantra Love tunes to Galveston on February 11. The excitement is real around the island. Are you guys as stoked as we are? Anything you want to tell the scene out here?
We are more than ready to make love to each and every one of you. We’ve only been to Galveston to play a couple times and each time we are met with genuine music lovers.
If you could set up your own billboard, anywhere, what would it say?
Hmmm...Times Square with a big colorful electronic billboard showing off our name in the most distracting way possible. Like almost seizure inducing.
2/11 at VFW Post 880