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Interview: The Suffers

the sufferers

The world is comprised of two degrees of separation between any two people, I am sure of it.  As with the rest of the world, there are two degrees of separation between the Peligrosa family and everyone else. In particular, members of the the band The Suffers  are an integral part of the Houston music community, and the Houston music scene is of course  integrated into the Gulf Coast music scene, and so on. Specifically members of the band are collaborators and friends with many,  including but not limited to Houston’s own number one cumbia party, Bombón. In fact, Chapy Moon can be found doing his  thang at Bombón events on the regular, and is also a member of Los Skarnales along with Kevin Berrier and Jon Durbin (see them 3/5 at The Nightingale Room together).

Chapy Luna
Chappy Commanding a Peligrosa X Bombon audience

Have you suffered heartbreak? Are you wishing for that perfect kind of love? Maybe you are that type of person that puts it all on the line, or need an instructional manual on how to.   If any or all apply then you need to be listening to new EP Make Some Room (also available on itunes). Even better yet, catch them on tour, at Hangout fest, SXSW, or any number of shows near you. You will love them, your new friend in the crowd, have new faith in humanity, the power of music, and maybe go home and make some babies.

The Suffers are  a ten-piece Houston based  band consisting of a talented horn line (Jon Durbin, Michael Razo, and Cory Wilson), drums (Nick Zamora) percussion (Jose “Chapy” Luna), fierce force to be reckoned with vocals (Kam Franklin),and  keyboards (Pat Kelly) . Of course, they are multi-talented and share musical responsibilities (ie vocals). They have received at least eleven accolades from Houston Free Press awards alone, in the last several years, including best band. They have received recognition in publications such as Spin, Paste Magazine, Texas Monthly and even were included in Buzzfeed’s list of  25 New Artists You Need In Your Life in 2015. Their EP release shows at Empire in Austin (with special guests Ishi and Keeper [look to upcoming interview] and Rai P at Fitzgeralds in  Houston were received by sold out crowds. At a pop-up show at the Nightingale, playing with Max Frost, where I had the pleasure of meeting with them, and they couldn’t have been more gracious, the room was filled to capacity. Band members individually spent years working in the Houston music scene in varied genres of music. Together they have joined forces to draw upon classic influences, and remind us of simpler times. Though in practice simpler times never existed, yet in (my) theory there exists some bubble of a sublime space/time of nostalgia where we can pin our hopes and dreams to. The Suffers take us there

Here we take a brief moment to ask them questions. I think most of us are just happy to have gotten to observe them in their element, and hope to have the opportunity to do so again. Nonetheless, maybe these questions illuminate, and maybe they will inspire you to go out and support.


You have self-described the band as “the side chick that became the main chick.” What has this meant for daily band operations?

When we started the Suffers almost all of us were in other bands. The Suffers was meant to be a fun jam amongst friends who had always wanted to work together outside of those other bands. As we started to gel we had to move some things around.

You’ve described your sound as Gulf Coast Soul.  What influences, cultural or otherwise, create this sound for you and the band?

The Gulf Coast, and Houston especially, is a unique melting pot of cultures from around the world. This area was a hotbed for blues and country music that eventually led to RnB, Rock n Roll and Soul music. All of these get mixed with the constant overlay of Cajun, Caribbean and Latin styles that lead to a mercurial gumbo we call Gulf Coast Soul. It’s a little bit of all these styles.

Your EP, Make Some Room, is completed and out now in stores, iTunes, and Bandcamp Bandcamp. Are you taking a moment to enjoy it?

We are multitasking! We are so happy it is out and released. That happiness fuels us to hit the road and keep going. It’s hard to call it work when we love it so much!

What are some of your most memorable collaborations you’ve worked on? Are there collaborations that you hope to do in the future?

We love collaborating with other artists. It’s absolutely one of our favorite things to do. Working with Bun B at the Premium Goods anniversary party was a dream come true. Our good friend Fat Tony stepped onstage at the Red Bull Sound Select show in Houston and it was awesome; just awesome. Watch out for some BIG collabs in 2015

What is a/are noteworthy moment/s you have experienced in the Houston music scene?

The Houston music scene is moving and growing so fast these days. It’s great. One of the most touching moments was the “Keep Calm. Fight Cancer” benefit for Pam Robinson. We were so lucky to be a part of that and to have known her. She did a lot for the Houston scene.

You mentioned being in a “‘00s hip-hop, classic Puerto Rican salsa and very specific late 70’s American soul mindset” while working on Make Some Room in your interview with Neil Ferguson of The Horn. Which artists influenced that and who were you listening to at the time?

With so many members we tend to work in a hive mind sometimes. Each member always has a stack of records we’re absorbing and sharing. At that time I remember a lot of Fania All Stars, Willie Colon, Luther Vandross, a lot of Dirty South hip hop, and some Chuck Mangione.

What advice if any would you offer to (up and coming) musicians; in particular, what might you say is key in continuing to be creative, and to collaborating effectively as a band?

Be honest and open about what you want to do and the music you want to make. Support others around you and surround yourself with supportive people. Don’t be afraid to work for what you want. Sometimes it takes years. Whether there are 5000 people in the audience or 5, always give it your all.

How do find time to be creative? Do you have any rituals or daily routines that you do on a day to day basis? 

I find that creativity has to be a constant flow. It’s not always a major work but more often tiny little things that I do for myself and those around me. Singing about my Cheetos to my coworkers, drawing a stick figure love note to my girlfriend, drum solos on the steering wheel, statues out of gum wrappers, etc. These “little works” are key to keeping the creative juices flowing. Also, I listen to music all day long. If I’m not listening to music, I’m talking about music. If there’s no one to talk to then I’m thinking about music. It’s been this way for me since I was a small child and I don’t think it will ever stop. It’s truly an obsession.

Kam: I tend to write out my thoughts and song ideas daily as a stress reliever. Since being creative actually helps me relieve my personal anxiety, it’s in my best interest to keep up with it. I also meditate daily. It allows me to think out solutions to my problems without distraction.

The band is composed of different backgrounds and cultures how important would you say this is to bands overall sound?

The cultural diversity of the Suffers is crucial to our creativity. It fuels us. Houston is a big mix of different people all working together; just like the Suffers.

[Kam as] a woman in the music industry do you feel any distinction in your experience,up to this point, and/or  any additional responsibility than your male counterparts?

Definitely. I was once kicked out of the backstage area at my own show because the bouncer assumed I was a groupie. However, I don’t let silly events, like this, from my past bring me down. I’m now surrounded by a wonderful group of men that love, support, and respect me. It would be easy for my to focus on the negative side of being a woman in this industry, but I choose to focus on the positive.

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