Brother-band Gringo Star talks about life as 'white-boy rock stars'

'60s-calling garage rockers Gringo Star bless Tucson with last minute engagement

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Courtesy Vincen Monsaint | The Daily Wildcat

Gringo Star is scheduled to play at The Flycatcher on Monday Oct. 3 at 9 p.m.

Gringo Star. Maybe say it with the accentuation on the first syllable of "Gringo," because the play on the famous Beatles' drummer's name was not meant to be the point of its name. 

Nick and Peter Furgiuele started off playing in a band that was a play on the pronunciation of their own Italian last name, A Fir-Ju Well, and in restarting, they decided to proclaim themselves white-boy rock stars. Gringo Stars, as they remember being made fun of in a Mexican restaurant in their formative times, going on a decade ago.

Gringo Star began with the brothers and two different members, including a "guy who played drums; not really a drummer." Sounds like a Ringo. But it now claims to be in the best manifestation of the group with Jonathon Bragg and Josh Longino.

The band will join local band, The Gayboys, at The Flycatcher at 9 p.m. Monday. The Daily Wildcat caught up with Furgiuele brother Nick to find out more about the group and its experiences throughout the years.

RELATED: The Flycatcher got its foundations rocked Monday night by four experimental electronic performers 

Congratulations on your fourth album, The Sides and in Between. When did you finish production on that?

I would say about April—it was released a little over a month ago, and we started touring right around that time. This album and the one before that have been really different in the making than our earlier two. Before Floating Out to See, my brother Pete won some money on an Indian reservation. So, we took that few thousand and spent it all on gear; got an iMac, bunch of recording and mixing equipment and just went to town on that setup.

It was cool and it's nice to not have deadlines and other people always checking up on your progress, but, I don't know, it may be nice to go back to having a production team again in the future because that's also less pressure, in a different way.

What has been your favorite place to perform? Do you always save your home, Atlanta, for last?

Well, we've done international touring and it's always insane to be performing our own music in places we maybe never imagined people would listen to us, all over seas and so far from home. Besides that, on our U.S. legs it's always chill in, like, California, Arizona, Colorado, you know, the west coast is fun.

We're finishing this tour at home, and we do that sometimes but we've also started there and we like to do that, too. We just didn't have the album yet and wanted to be there when everything was out and have that big celebration at the end bringing everything together.

Do you have a favorite song to perform?

Just all our new music. It's always the focus and especially on this tour we're definitely gonna do a whole half the set new, then a mix of old. We do have a lot of music now. Sometimes, I look back on songs and I'm like, I don't even remember this, what is this. But it's never really in a bad way—it's funny.

What is something crazy you remember happening at a show?

One time in Boston, we were performing at a bar during the World Series. This was a super early show, long time ago, last time the Red Sox were in the World Series, you know. But I remember it because at the bar everyone was so messed up watching it, and we were performing and just saw this guy lift a chair over his head and knock a dude out with this chair. Crazy. I've never forgotten that.

Not bad. I guess the best parts, the funnest parts when all sorts of weird things happen is just in exploring the cities. Hopefully we'll have some time to see Tucson.

What has been your favorite part of your journey as a band, and what do you think has held Gringo Star together the past eight years?

All of it. It's all a part of the experience. I can't really pinpoint one thing, but we are always moving. Between finishing the album in spring and this tour now, yeah, we kind of had a break but we were playing festival shows and still going around together. You don't really stop—I mean, you don't want to stop.

Our dad was a distance runner, so maybe we got some of that ... endurance. Hah, yeah we just keep at it. It's our life, and our parents did encourage it. We never met our grandpa but he was the only family member in the music industry, production stuff. We just started young, messed around with all the basic instruments, you know, and we have fun.

How is it being in a band with your brother?

Yeah, there are a lot of "brother bands." It's special for sure and I can't really imagine doing it without him now. But it probably is a big part of how we've gotten this far. There's still the big brother little brother dynamic. We've got a sister in between and I'd say we've all got the stereotypical traits you'd expect, and he has claimed I'm too controlling at times. Time goes on and it's never really an issue. It's been more beneficial than anything.

How would you describe your relation to music outside of making it?

We've always had the same influences, that does not really change and we're always incorporating different aspects of classic rock, but also know what we want. Some new, well not really new, albums we've got around right now are a Bob Dylan album, some "Ziggy Stardust." It's cool and necessary to listen to what you like, but of course we have our own music around us all the time and it would be weird if we didn't like that.

I guess we don't really have too much time to get to know new music, not outside of what we're surrounded by all the time performing. But that's enough, you know. We don't need to go searching when we're discovering bands first hand in this environment regularly.

The Gayboys, the band that's opening this show, [is] the reason we're coming. They just reached out to us when they saw we had a break in our tour between Phoenix and El Paso. So, that was awesome. We said yes and now we get to play at The Flycatcher, which we knew as Plush. The setup of that bar is cool and I hope people just come out with an open mind and have a good time with us.

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