What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Multiple factors, but my dad was probably the main one. He was a lover of music, with a broad range of tastes. In one day, we might listen to Classical, Jazz (REAL jazz!), hard rock, and pop. Today, I also love a wide range of styles.
If not for music, I'd probably be a neuroscientist. I'm fascinated with the study of the brain.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
My "day job" is running a web marketing company. I have designed over 100 websites, and continue to do it on a regular basis. So there is never a lack of opportunities to be creative! Actually, I wrote an article about the way they crossover: 4 ways that website design is like songwriting (https://www.caroff.com/4-ways-website-design-is-like-songwriting/).
How long has music been your career?
I've been playing music ever since I was 10 years old, and it continues to be a thriving "side business." The only time I made my living completely with music was in my mid 20s. I found it was too limiting for me.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Now I'm in San Diego, but the band was formed in Los Angeles (San Fernando valley, actually). The biggest influence was other musicians -- which there are a LOT of in that area! I always learn a lot from working with other skilled and talented players.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Worst show was in a city somewhere in the San Gabriel valley (Los Angeles). We have played in so many, I don't remember which one it was. But the city had hired some drunk to be the sound man. I knew something was off when I saw his equipment; nothing matched. In addition, he was wearing a ratty, dirty T-shirt. He couldn't get his stuff working, and about an hour after we were supposed to start, he began screaming at the band. We did play (we had to), but it sounded terrible because the sound guy was so out of it.
Best show was a corporate gig for a law firm in Orange county. It was a party for the staff, and it took place on the beach. We faced the ocean, with the dinner tables way off to our side. We played for 2 hours, with no one dancing, clapping, or even looking at us. Finally, disheartened, we ended our set and got ready to break down. The woman who hired us pulled me aside. "How much would it cost for you guys to play for another hour?" she asked. "Everyone loves you and the president wants more." You could have knocked me over with a feather. We gamely started another set, and the audience went nuts. MAN those attorneys can get down when properly motivated!
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
The club where we shot our promo video -- The Cave, in Big Bear -- is great. Sound is good, stage is nice, lighting is terrific. And the audience can either sit and watch, or get up and dance.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Two bands spring to mind: Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and India. Both are Latin music powerhouses; the first very traditional, and the second a female pop rock singer with an absolutely dynamite voice. It would be a killer show!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Practice your craft, but learn about the business as well. Odds are, you'll spend at least as much time on "non-musical" tasks as you will on your music.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Learn about the business -- maybe by getting a job in the industry. What I didn't know about the music biz when I was younger would fill an encyclopedia!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Angelina, for sure. First, because it took a good amount of times to get it working: I rewrote it at least five times before I was satisfied. Second, because it comes the closest to what I am shooting for: a guitar-based version of a salsa song.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
With our songs, it's definitely Moviendote. And for the Santana catalog, Oye Como Va wins, hands down. Everybody loves that song.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
The initial songwriting is mostly based on an internal drive. I've always said that songwriting is a kind of neurosis. You don't write because you want to, you write because you HAVE to. The second phase -- arranging -- is definitely a group effort for me. I like to work the arrangements out with live musicians in real time.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Not so much a message, but an emotion. I want to move people, whatever that means to them. If people are stirred by the music, I feel I succeeded.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Not really in this band. I guess you'd call it a benevolent dictatorship. I always listen, and definitely welcome good ideas. But ultimately, it's my call.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I'd like to record another album. And in fact, I am working on new songs now. Other than that, we're just enjoying performing in front of audiences again!