Do you like change? Change is good! Some say it comes only from within. I had some in my pants pocket once. But this latest upheaval has left two of the area's best-known alternative acts irrevocably altered. Disconnect, which boasts members from Miami and Weston, is temporarily disconnected; leader Juan Montoya played solo shows both before and after the last Disconnect gig, June 16 in Miami Beach. Singer-bassist Scott Nixon and drummer Robert Lecusay have left the band. Nixon says their reasons basically boil down to the oldest excuse in the world -- creative differences.
"It sounds really trite," he sheepishly admits, saying he and Lecusay agreed to go their separate ways after expressing trepidation over the band's direction at an early-June practice session. "I wasn't that jazzed about the material, I guess," adds Nixon. "Juan was going in a more rock direction, and I was going for more of an emo kind of jangly thing, and I didn't think the results were very good. I wasn't happy; I felt like everything was too loud. Plus Juan is really driven, and this is something I just do for fun; I didn't have the same level of commitment. Robert wants to go to graduate school, and he works all the time. I think we felt we were kind of screwing Juan because we weren't as dedicated as he was. We've been playing together for so long, andI felt it was time to let Juan find someone who was as into it as he was. And I was eager to try other things."
Montoya and Lecusay have performed together for nearly a decade, along with bassist Ron Sas in an outfit called Pontius Pilot. After that faded Montoya and Lecusay started Ed Matus' Struggle in 1994 and added Nixon shortly thereafter. By the time the band changed its name to Disconnect late last year, it had gathered an impressive local fan base.
"I'm going to see if I can start something from scratch or maybe continue as Disconnect," offers Montoya, who says he'll reconnect with Sas and possibly employ Rocking Horse Winner drummer Matt Crum for the time being. "I'm kind of bummed out, but I don't have time to be upset. I've been moody, but I've been writing songs. So creativewise, I'm OK."
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A Kite Is a Victim just endured a similar shakeup. The band is still led by Alfredo Galvez (vocals, guitar) but he's cleaned house and is now overseeing a completely new supporting cast. An August 5 show at Dada in Delray Beach was put on hold until the new lineup is broken in. A Kite Is a Victim's story is similar to that of Disconnect, though Galvez's separation from bassist Henry Rajan and drummer Ulysses Perez, who were dismissed earlier this summer, appears to have been slightly more acrimonious.
"I was never really happy with the guy," Rajan complains, referring to Galvez. "I'm a musician. I'm not into hacks, and I think he's a hack. So many times Ulysses and I would just go off, and Al couldn't keep up."
Galvez tells a different tale. "I liked Henry a lot; he's a really nice guy, and we enjoyed his playing. But I expect a level of work, and I think even he realized he wasn't really cut out for it. I applied a lot of pressure trying to get him to play better, and he honestly just couldn't do it."
The only constant in A Kite Is a Victim since its beginnings in early 1996, Galvez is now on the third version of the band. He admits he's a driven careerist who demands the utmost from his associates. "I just needed people who could commit as much time as I did," Galvez states. "This can really wear on you if you don't have the stamina. If you lose the excitement and innocence that makes you want to be a musician in the first place, then you're screwed and your project is screwed. I think Ulysses and Henry got too much in the comfort zone and lost that edge."
Perez doesn't dispute that his dedication to the group had waned. "I was asked to leave by Al at the end of June," he tells Bandwidth, "but it had gotten to a point where I felt like I was spinning my wheels there. I started losing interest quick."
The responsibilities of performing, rehearsing, and recording with Galvez became a burden, Perez continues, along with the stress of helping run the studio affiliated with Galvez's Space Cadette Records. Lately Perez has been busy with an experimental electronic project of his own creation, Out of the Anonymous, which he acknowledges had begun to take precedence over his involvement with AKIAV. And for six years now Rajan has been playing bass in Miami avant-jazz octet Recluse DNA, which he finds far more satisfying.
"I have better things to do," he seethes, adding that he never was allowed to contribute to AKIAV creatively and at times felt more like a hired gun who had no input in Galvez's songwriting process. "If you're calling it a band, you have a collective. You have to listen to the people and their ideas. You can't just expect so much and not give anything back. I did like the songs, though," Rajan relents. "They're good songs."
"Some of those songs sounded heavenly at times," recalls Perez. "And sometimes they sounded awful."
Galvez, saying he's not bitter, is quick to point out, "There's no hard feelings. But this is my livelihood, and I've got to do what I've got to do. It's just like any professional company. I actually like to think I give people a lot of chances; I let them know what my plans are and what I expect, and I believe those weren't met."
With a new lineup featuring guitarist Torey Freeman, bassist Brett Fisher, and drummer Jason Haft, Galvez is excited about the future. He should be: A song ("Fireflies") recorded with the new players is included on the HoneyComb's upcoming local compilation Soaking Up the Good Florida Sunshine is among his best ever. "Every time I get a new lineup, it's because I want to take it to the next level," he explains. "[The new band] sounds amazing; it sounds the way I've always wanted. In the last three months, I've accomplished what I hadn't been able to do for a year and a half."
Galvez's former bandmates sound less than encouraging about their former leader's chance at long-term happiness. "If he can find guys to do everything I did and if he can keep 'em around without compensating them, then go for it," Perez says. "I'm sure in two, two and a half years, you'll be having this same conversation with the new guys. But I wish them well."
Rajan is even less generous. "Oh really?" he replies icily in reaction to word that Galvez has a new crew. "That's interesting. I feel sorry for those guys." Regaining his composure, he adds, "I should invest in a punching bag right now. I'm just really angry."
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