First Last & Always, aka FLa, Calls The Band's Sound "Casual Intensity"

Florida natives First Last & Always go way back. Most of these music-loving locals have been homies since middle school. And how many friends do you still have from middle school? That's what we thought.

After playing in different bands for years, the five musicians finally found the right sonic cocktail as First Last & Always. The group is seeing an increase in aurally thirsty crowds lately with the support of Lake Worth's J Street hotspot Propaganda.

First Last & Always has a secure spot on the venue's Summer Daze bill this Saturday. Closing out the show, the band will be able to say that Lit was its opener. The guys are also excited to play for a bigger crowd and a hungrier audience. Before the show, we chatted with lead singer Andrew Rodriguez and guitarist Jake Smith about why Propaganda feels like home and what you need to know before seeing First Last & Always live.

New Times: How did you meet and started making music together?

Andrew Rodriguez: We have all known each other for quite a while. Most of us from high school and junior high and maybe a little bit before. As far as starting to play music, we all got together through happenstance over the last couple of years. Some of the guys have been playing music together since junior high, and I got brought into the mix about three years ago. Actually, after I had brain surgery, I was worried I was going to have speech function loss so I was like, "let me try this," and we just kept doing it.

How did you get connected to Propaganda and the Lake Worth scene?

We were playing around for a while, and we caught the eye of Mykal Morrison. Mike is awesome, and he heard us do our thing and spread the word. Once Matthew Krug and Jon Jordan (the venue's owners) saw us, Propaganda kind of became our home base. They are always happy to have us there, and we are always happy to play there. The scene has a real communal feel.

First Last & Always perform at Summer Daze, Saturday, July 19, at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth. Visit

Tell me about your sound.

Jake Smith: I don't know exactly how to describe our sound. I would say that we are a rock band but we have a little bit of reggae, a little bit of punk, a little bit of metal. I am not sure what category you would put us in. But I like to say eclectic. And we fucking jam.

What do you want to tell someone before they see you live?

Whatever kind of music you dig, whatever your style is, whatever genre you fall into. I feel like we are going to be able to feed all of it. I'm half Cuban, grew up listening to Buena Vista Social Club in conjunction with my mom being into the standard '70s and disco fare. We all have an open ear. None of us are music snobs. If it's good, we get down with it.

What does it mean to you to get to play Summer Daze?

We opened up for Rehab not too long ago and that was really exciting and I would say this is the next notch up. We played New Year's last year but we opened and that was kind of our little introduction. Now we get to close the show right after Lit. It's a tremendous opportunity to showcase what we can do after a big national act like that.

You guys have been in Florida for so long, does your location impact the way you create music?

I think a big part of being a Floridian is that you know you live in kind of a crazy place. We have everyone from the northeast, every redneck you can imagine, everyone from the Caribbean all mixed up together in the heat and the rain. You get a real interesting, aggressive, laid back feel. It's in the way we carry ourselves. I would call it a casual intensity.

What's next for First Last Always?

We are set to start recording before the end of the years and trying to do as many gigs as we can. The goal will be that by the New Year we have something we can put out and be proud of. That's the only area left we need to make significant experience with. Right now, we are strictly a live act. We know we don't have as much stuff online as we want, and we want to compensate by always putting on a killer show so that regardless, you are wanting more of us.

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Dana Krangel