I love watching bands grow. It’s a pretty fascinating feeling seeing the transition from playing a club with 3 people who don’t even look at you, to opening sold out shows for artists like the Dirty Heads.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with some old friends from Long Beach who seem to be playing music for all the right reasons. I played a show with them years ago in San Diego with my old band The StirCrazies – what a party that was! As with most bands on the reggae scene, I remember being completely humbled by their unique, well-crafted sound, and superior showmanship – it always blows me away how much talent is out there.
Brewfish made it clear in our recent interview that they’re not just a talented band, but also really smart guys who know the importance of persistence, and who keep playing for the love of it.
Their new album “The Turn” is a huge step for the band musically, and we’ve been blasting it at Hill Kid HQ.
Alex Kay, Zachary Martins, and Andrew Valero answered our questions below. We hope you find it as inspiring as we did! Make sure to check their new music video as well!
Listen to the new album on Spotify:
Hill Kid Interview
How did you initially get started playing music?
Alex: I started playing guitar when I was around 12 years old, singing ever since I can remember.
Zach: My Father was a hobby musician so he had a drumset in our Garage that I started fooling around with at a very young age.
Andrew: I got started playing music because I copied everything my older brother did. Me and him are only a year and a half apart. He was a huge influence on everything I did. The way I dressed, music I listened to, even the hobbies I was interested in.
When did you start seriously pursuing music?
Alex: It was a gradual, but very natural thing for me. I always wanted to start a band every since I was in Middle School. It was hard for me to find anyone really serious about doing anything major, so it was held off for me for a long time. After High School, I started making some YouTube videos in college just for fun, and that’s how I met my bandmates from Brewfish. After that, it just naturally came to me to start it off with the right people.
Zach: When I joined my first band with my best friend in 8th Grade. We started off doing covers and very quickly started writing originals, which got me hooked
Andrew: I think I’ve always been pursuing music since I first picked up the guitar. I didn’t start playing bass until me and Al Kay started jamming together back in 2010. Before Brewfish, I was almost always in a band since 7th grade. I’ve always taken it seriously.
What was the hardest part about getting started in your craft? How did you overcome it?
Alex: Definitely meeting the right people at the right time. Success is made from preparedness meeting opportunity. I was ready, I was good to go, and it all happened when the right time came for everything to fall into place.
Zach: The Beginning was hard because I was self taught. So I relied on drum videos and playing along to the radio to figure out how to play.
Andrew: This is a pretty tough question. I can’t say if it was really hard. I loved it. Being a kid, having so much free time on your hands all I would do is play. It came naturally to me. When my older brother got into some other hobby, I kept with it. Ending the trend
What gave you the inspiration to begin playing music?
Alex: My father is a classical musician/singer, I grew up around him playing and singing. I was surrounded by music. It was only natural for me, I didn’t have to even think about it or make a conscious decision to pursue music professionally. Any other career I could have ever pursued, or even thought of pursuing, would have been something I had to think hard about.
Zach: My Father is my hero so I think that first sparked my interest. Also the first cds he gave me were Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Van Halen. I was blown away and wanted to play like them, which seemed impossible at the time but for some reason it got me going
Andrew: Listening to music and learning how to play was my inspiration. Learning how to do chords, play a complete song, new techniques was such a rewarding feeling. I think one of the first songs I learned how to play was by Green Day off of their Dookie album. I could remember that feeling of accomplishment. It was such an amazing feeling. Learning how to play, figuring out songs structures, making your own song. I remember meeting and going to shows of some of my favorite bands and just
What’s your proudest accomplishment to date?
Alex: My proudest accomplishment is the sheer amount of music Brewfish has out in public with the amount of time we’ve been together. Mind you, we’ve only been together for about 5 years, and we have a catalog comprised of 50+ songs; all of which are completely different from each other, yet completely catchy and marketable. I challenge anyone who NO ONE comes close to our songwriting and composing power.
Zach: I would have to say Graduating from Musician Institute because it took my playing and my understanding of music to a whole other level. Also our first record because we recorded for free in my parents garage, with mics that my dad had and we through it together with 16 Originals. That Cd has taken us a long way and most of our fan favorites are from that album.
Andrew: Brewfish by far and wide, is my proudest accomplishment… hands down. Sometimes I can’t believe we’ve done so much in just 5 years. 2 full length albums, 2 sold EPs and countless tours around the country. It’s hard to believe sometimes. We’re just
What was your favorite show to play? Why?
Alex: My favorite show of all time would be our show in Fort Collins with the Dirty Heads. The crowd was huge and I am a firm believer that the bigger the crowd, the better you play. And we brought the noise. We love seeing the reaction of the crowd, and my favorite part is turning strangers into believers over a 30 minute set.
Zach: Probably our first show ever because it was then that I knew we had something special/different and the chemistry was there
Andrew: One of my favorite shows was when we got the chance to open for the Dirty Heads for a couple stops in Colorado a couple years ago. We drove all the way there just for the opportunity, It was such a humbling experience to share the stage with them. It was by far the biggest crowd we performed for and I was shitting bricks. I kept that to myself though. We played for a huge room full of people who didn’t know a single thing about us. The whole experience is such a blur, it was like time stopped and then we were done. After that last song and the whole room was chanting “One More Song!,” that was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. That was a true natural high. It was such an amazing feeling.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
Alex: My favorite part of doing what I do is that wherever we go, there will be someone who knows the songs. And when we go, the whole crowd singing the lyrics that I wrote in my notepad is absolutely worth all the time and hardwork we put into this project.
Zach: I love writing/ arranging music. Making drum parts and truly trying to serve the song. It took me a while to figure out how to do that but when I did it changed everything. I Also love touring and meeting so many great people on the road.
Andrew: I love just playing. Even if I wasn’t in a band I can’t imagine myself ever stopping. It’s forever a part of me and probably always has been, I just needed to find it. I love just making and playing music. That excitement when were together playing and stuff just comes together. When people come up to us and tell us what our music means to them. It’s such a rewarding feeling. There are so many aspects that are my favorite I can’t say just one.
What is the most challenging part about what you do? How have you overcome that challenge?
Alex: The most challenging thing about this job is the balance between public life and personal. There is a fine balance and teetering either way can be disastrous. Its all about personal sacrifice at times for others, rather than doing whatever you feel like all the time.
Zach: I guess balancing touring with real life. We still work full time and we are full time musicians so it is real tricky how we make it work.
Andrew: For me, it’s being away from family. We’re lucky enough to have family and friends that truly believe in what we do. They support us 100% and that has never wavered. We all have someone in the background being our cheerleaders. We couldn’t do it without them. We’ve had so much love and support along the way. We have family on the road across the country.
What’s the most rewarding part about what you do?
Alex: The most rewarding part about what we do is that we don’t have to answer to anyone when we create, and it nothing else matter when we’re the group. It’s a sort of freedom that
few are blessed with.
Zach: For me its meeting so many people that get something out of it as much as we do. It really helps drive the band and inspire us to improve on our records and our live performance. Fans are Fam!
Andrew: Touching other people in a way only music can. People come up to us and tell us their favorite lyric or parts to a song and how it affected them. That’s so awesome. Especially when I talk to young people. I sometimes wonder if they think of me the same way I thought of my favorite bands growing up.
What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Alex: I don’t really have much free time, if its not playing shows or working, I’m writing or thinking of ways to make money. I don’t have the luxury of free time.
Zach: Spending time with my Family and Friends.
Andrew: I’m a total nerd. I love anything science-ie, space, reading, PC gaming, and going to Disneyland and getting drunk. If you haven’t done that I highly recommend it. Touching other people in a way only music can. People come up to us and tell us their favorite lyric or parts to a song and how it affected them. That’s so awesome. Especially when I talk to young people. I sometimes wonder if they think of me the same way I thought of my favorite bands growing up.
What’s your go-to band for a great day?
Alex: Pharell, Snoop, Dr Dre, Gucci Mane, Drake, The Aggrolites, Tribal Seeds, Rebelution, Rancid
Zach: 311, incubus
Andrew: I love listening to punk. Like NOFX, Lagwagon, Pennywise etc. I’m a sentimental person. I grew up with it, it just take me back, Listening to certain types of music just puts me in a great mood.
What’s your go-to band for a tough day?
Alex: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bryson Tiller
Zach: Deftones, Nirvana, 311
We believe everyone is an artist or has the potential to be. What does “art” mean to you?
Alex: Art means an expression of one’s soul that can be amplified and felt by others. Art can be good, art can be bad.
Zach: To me it’s just doing something you truly believe in, and expecting nothing from it but the simple fact that you are blessed to do whatever it is.
Andrew: I’ve always believed everyone can be an artist. I also believe people can go through their whole lives and never find it. I was fortunate enough to find it in music at a young age. Whether its music, painting, drawing, writing, or just working on cars. Art can be anything creative. Some people don’t understand someone else form of art. Doesn’t make it anything less. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
If you could give one piece of advice to other artists and creative people who are pursuing their dreams, what would it be?
Alex: If you’re good at it, stay the course, never sway, never give up. Music is the hardest industry: you’re underpaid, underestimated, undermined almost all the time. You’ve got politics in music just as bad as the government. I’ve heard negativity and the words “no”, “can’t”, and “unfortunately” so many times I can’t even count. Rejection is a part of this game, but believing in your product, and having a great team around you will get you far, no matter what anyone says.
Zach: Do what you think is good and not what you think people want to hear. Don’t go into music with any expectations. Tour your butt off and bring the music to the people. Screw the record companies. All you need is people behind you and I feel like the rest will come
Andrew: Never give up. Don’t listen to anyone trying to put you down. They’re just obstacles. Dreams are worth fighting for and are supposed to be hard.The worst thing someone can do to themselves is listen to negative people and go their lives wondering “what if?” Do what makes you happy.
If you could give yourselves from ten years ago advice, what would it be?
Alex: Start earlier!
Zach: Do you and stay true
Andrew: I don’t know. 10 years ago I was in a band that I just starting to really dislike. It was toxic, ruining friendships, but I wouldn’t want to change it. That experience helped me grow as a musician and a person. I believe everything happens for a reason. I guess I would tell myself to just persevere. That band put a bad taste in my mouth. I’m glad I didn’t listen to that little negative voice in my head.
If you could give one message knowing everyone in the world would read it, what would it be?
Alex: Fuck the bullshit, think and live outside the box
Zach: Stay positive and love your life
Thanks for reading fam, hope you enjoyed!
Marley, Braelyn, Brendan, Mackle, and the rest of the Hill Kid Fam!