By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
Not surprisingly, those left behind don't agree. Talcott remembers Galvez primarily for his "classic case of egomania coupled with ignorance."
Matus refers to "paranoia, explosive temper, raging megalomania, and blatant disregard for others."
"You want to get people's opinion of me?" asks Galvez. "Don't talk to the little wannabes. Don't talk to the people who throw rocks and hide, like Henry [Rajan]. Henry never should have been in the band. He's a mediocre character, a 300-pound kid who pretends to fast and pretends to be a Buddhist. He doesn't like working, is pretty poisonous, and doesn't have responsibilities. If I didn't have any responsibilities and really wanted to be in music, I wouldn't be so hypocritical as to just sit there on my ass and not do anything."
That theme resurfaces again and again in conversations with Galvez about the people he's left behind: He had to do so, he explains, because they simply couldn't keep up.
In 1997 WAMI-TV (Channel 69) started up in South Florida with big dreams, envisioning itself as the first station on Miami Beach. Media mogul Barry Diller -- the guy who brought the world the Home Shopping Network -- approached Al and Rafael Galvez to develop a show called Space Function for WAMI using local musicians and artists.
The opportunity sounded far too good to be true -- and it was. The brothers wrote a pilot script and were given a small advance to begin constructing sets inside a Coral Gables warehouse. Eventually the concept devolved into Barcode, a sort of music-and-fashion variety program along the lines of Club MTV.
Al Galvez was able to indulge one of his greatest pleasures: thinking big and dreaming bigger. Just breathing air in Diller's office was enough to inflate him. "I'm in a room with this guy talking about a dance show," Galvez told Miami New Times at the time. "And all I'm thinking is, Wow, this dude owns half the world. And I don't."
Yet even then Space Cadette was already on its way to owning a piece of Miami. "Those guys [at Space Cadette] work their asses off when they want to," says Matus. And nowhere was that more evident than when WAMI was promising the world, though much of the work on the Barcode pilot was evidently completed by volunteers.
"Honestly and earnestly dedicated to the cause of making a fruitful environment for artists" is how painter Xavier Cortes remembers those early Space Cadette days. "They made it seem like, "We'll help you take your ideas to heaven.' But in reality they would get people involved, suck 'em dry, and turn their backs on them really harshly."
Cortes explains he and other volunteers worked around the clock to construct sets for the WAMI pilot. "We dedicated every ounce of our efforts to Barcode," he says, "and I was never compensated. One time Al got jumped on the street. A guy just came out of nowhere, saying in Spanish, "He's a thief!' I hit the guy with my bag of art supplies -- that's when Al took off running. I had to save him from getting his ass cremated just so he could rip me off. He shows no allegiance to those who help him."
Matus, who also donated time to the WAMI project, agrees. "Al was always more interested in just promoting his band. He had students here for the summer who said, "I'm not even going to go to school this semester so I can work at Space Cadette.' And they didn't get anything in return except for a "fuck you' and a kick in the ass."
"There was a lot of work nobody got paid for," Ferrari confirms, "and a lot of fights -- always something generated by Al's attitude."
As the network began to crumble and money dried up, WAMI took control of the project from the Galvezes and left them with creative consultant roles. The show went nowhere, which was probably a lucky break: It sounds so cheesy that it likely would have tainted Space Cadette forever. And as it turned out, Barcode was one of the earliest casualties in the on-air disaster that was WAMI.
For his part Galvez says he doesn't give the whole episode much thought anymore. "It's been so long; there were so many other things involved," he sighs. "I'm in a whole different time right now, and I'm done fantasizing."
Following the WAMI debacle, Galvez devoted his energy and resources to Home, over which he painstakingly labored for two years. But by the time the record was completed in 1998, Talcott had left the group, Crowder was in Connecticut, and Nixon was moving on to a full-time gig with Ed Matus' Struggle (whose membership did not include Ed Matus). Many of Galvez's other associates, including Matus, Ferrari, and Cortes, had also bailed. Recruiting Perez and Rajan, Galvez spent the next several years tirelessly promoting Home via live shows all over Florida and the East Coast.
Recently the singer-songwriter has obsessed over a new AKIAV album, but he's released precious little material since Home. "Fireflies," a track included on local Website theHoneyComb.com's recent Soaking Up the Good Florida Sunshinecompilation, finally broke the silence. Displaying the same impressionistic tristeza that won the songs on Home comparisons to Nick Drake, "Fireflies" weaves a sinuous mood reminiscent of waking dreams. Galvez's half-whispered vocals, coated in reverb, twist and wind and fold back onto one another, as he asks over and over, "Are you keeping me tonight/Where lost fireflies/Hide from dawn's cruel hunting light?"