Peoplewatch is a Miami trio that has been vibing since 2012. Together, drummer Alan Ash, singer Cris Diaz, and bassist Branden De Caso create an ever-evolving sound that melds jazz, funk, and soul with rock music. Ash calls it "an eclectic mix of groovy and catchy lines that will have you humming on the way home from a show." And once you hear their songs after the jump, you'll be humming them at your computer.
The band has been playing around town at places like Tobacco Road and Churchill's Pub, but most recently, they gained praise and attention at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's Hollywood Hard Rock Rising competition. The band was of the two wild card picks in the preliminary competition, won the second round, and this weekend, on April 11, will be playing for the chance to go global. The winner heads to Rome, and Ash explains their ultimate goal is to "represent Miami to the fullest." And certainly, Italy needs a little of that spicy Miami flavor every now and again.
"All three of us are well-rounded, knowledgable musicians coming from three different walks of life," Ash explains of the group. "Cris left the banking industry to go back to school to get a degree in jazz guitar. Branden just got accepted to Berklee, in Boston." And as for Ash, he works as a loan officer at a bank that's funded his return to college to snag a bachelor's degree in business management.
The origins of the band involve a relatively mundane encounter: a chance happy hour meeting between Ash and Diaz through friends at Cadillac Ranch in Kendall. "We were both bankers at the time so we immediately connected," Ash explains. Diaz had been playing with Lounge Act, a Nirvana tribute band, and Ash was collecting drums to complete a set and get back in the game after taking six years off from the instrument.
"Cris, being a self-taught musician and writer, showed me a couple of tunes he wrote, and immediately I was hooked. The originality of the tunes and the lyrics spoke to me, and I could certainly relate to his expressions. What I brought to the table was 9 years of percussion and drumming experience through school band classes, orchestra, marching band, winter drum-lines, and drum corps," he explains. Ash also studied the recording arts at SAE and was a regular working at popular bars and clubs in Miami for years. Christmas 2012, they got a productive holiday present when they found De Caso and completed the trio. Ash says he was passionate and had eclectic tastes like they did. De Caso also plays the alto and tenor sax with another act, Fulah.
Once De Caso leaves for school, Ash says, they'll continue with the band, doing "the same thing we are doing right now, 'hustling.' Even the furthest distances seem so close these days with the help of technology. We will have a friend playing bass during Branden's absence here in Miami." But they're psyched about De Caso's new opportunity and see it as a chance to play shows in Boston.
"The best part of being in the band with one another is the fact that we all get along. Our rehearsals are more like a hang. Egos are left at the doorstep while we constantly listen and value one another's opinion and ideas. The progression we see each day we practice is also something we value and appreciate, we are all strongly committed," Ash conveys.
They've been working on an EP since October and though they've found working as an independent entity challenging, they like to keep it "all in the family" to help cut costs. The majority of our album was recorded at De Caso's home studio -- he has a pair of high-end interfaces and preamps -- and the drums are being recorded at Ash's home studio, Last Lion Recording Studio. He calls it a "work in progress," adding, "life has handed us many lemons and we chose to make Arnold Palmer's out of it."
Though a Florida mini-tour is in the works for end of April, beginning of May, the drummer explains, "Our priority at the moment is obviously wrapping up the Hard Rock competition."
Peoplewatch perform at 9:15 p.m., this Friday, April 11, at Hard Rock Cafe, One Seminole Way, Hollywood. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @peoplewatch.