Derek Cintron does not care if you hate his music. Just tell it to him straight.
"You can say we suck," says the Miami-based multi-instrumentalist. "You can say you think we're the worst band in the world. That's fine by me. I'm not out to please everybody. I'm out to make myself happy, and some people aren't going to like it. That's OK; the hell with them."
Cintron is referring to a chain of miscommunications that followed his band's debut performance at the Poor House May 10. An advertisement in this here rag for the bar listed Cintron as the scheduled entertainment for another show there Thursday, June 7, but the show never happened. Cintron claims the latter gig was thwarted by Jay Hemple, one of the two gentlemen responsible for booking shows at the Poor House.
"One of the guys loved the band," explains Cintron, "and one of the guys hated the band.... He said we were too loud. He said we didn't have anyone there, that we cleared the club out. And he said that we played Styx covers all night long!" (Hemple was out of town and unavailable for comment at press time.)
Now, as anyone even peripherally involved with music knows, them's fightin' words. Having familiarized myself with the intelligent, angular rock Cintron makes with bassist Fernando Perdomo and guitarist Tony Medina and strung some positive adjectives together in support of Oh... the Drama, Cintron's outstanding solo release from 2000, it was impossible for me to believe that he and his crew would have besieged the Poor House with three sets full of the likes of "Mr. Roboto," "Lorelei," or "Come Sail Away."
Actually, Cintron says, the number of Shaw/DeYoung/Young compositions played during the group's three-set stand that evening totaled zero.
"We pull out covers once in a great while," he says, "and since we had three hours of music to play, we figured, well, this is an appropriate time." Still, if the Poor House party pooper confused Yes's "Roundabout," the Who's "Baba O'Riley," or Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic" with a song from Styx, there's really no question in Bandwidth's mind who should never be allowed in that building again.
"We did 25 originals and 4 covers," charges Cintron. "And there were about 35 people in there -- and on a Thursday night at the Poor House, with a band who's never played there before, that's not too bad."
Considering that weekend staples at the packed Poor House (such as the Hep Cat Boo Daddies and Hashbrown) regularly pull out Hendrix covers and the like to shore up their sets, the alleged shunting of Cintron seems to be the product of some Stygian sour grapes.
"I thought we were banned from the club," Cintron says, explaining why the June 7 show never happened. However, he laughs as he recalls that his other band, Humbert, played the room in the latter half of May. "So I still got to play the Poor House!" he crows.
Not only that, but Cintron gets to play with an interesting assortment of acts, ranging from national-profile boy band O-Town all the way to local scaretacticians Death Becomes You. (Death Becomes You? And O-Town? You read correctly. "Oh, we'll play with anybody," jokes Cintron.) The conversation piece component of his show -- Cintron, who can play any instrument he wants, drums for his band standing up while singing lead vocals -- isn't a gimmick, he explains, but a necessity.
"It started off as a last resort and quick fix," he says. "The reason I'm doing that is because we couldn't find a drummer. I said if I have to sing lead and play drums, I don't want to be sitting at the back of the stage. I want to be standing up so people recognize that I'm singing." But initial experiments with the odd arrangement left Cintron literally breathless. Only after hours of practice did he build up the stamina to stand, sing, and drum at the same time. "It's really, really physical," he pants.
Bandwidth friend and frequent correspondent Christopher Lee (Death Becomes You's heavy hitter) never fails to heap gushing praise on Cintron and his Oh... the Drama album, though the two bands seem to have nothing in common on the surface. In fact they're as different as chalk and cheese.
"Oh, very much so," Cintron agrees. "But I went and saw Chris's band, and I really liked 'em. We have a lot of the same influences."
That's far more than Cintron can truthfully report regarding O-Town. When "Quitter," a snappy Cintron composition, was chosen to augment an early-September back-to-school ad campaign for Burdines department stores, the band was also selected to open a mall-oriented gig for the prefab lads. The experience proved to Cintron that his band could be all things to all people.
"I was amazed," he says in a low whisper. "If we can open for those guys, we can open for anybody. I mean, if we don't get booed off the stage by a bunch of 14-year-old girls, we've accomplished something!"
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