DeKalb quintet plans to expand

By Amy Armalis

Brotherhood and friendship are the strong bonds in Pelao, a DeKalb-based quintet that’s been playing music since 1995.

Brothers Ricardo (lead vocals) and Alex Galindo (bass) found drummer Josh Waddle in May 2000. Ricardo met Waddle at a talent show when Waddle performed with another group. Two months later, Ricardo brought in guitarist Mark Walker, a junior Spanish major at NIU.

Walker drove his long-time friend to one of the band’s practices and auditioned on the spot, playing “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers “to a T,” Alex said. Guitarist Bobby Palmer, another friend of Walker and Waddle’s, joined the band in August. Since then, things have meshed for the five-piece.

“We’re starting to like being in the band,” Walker said.

Diversity is another strong trait in the band. The word “pelao” means “poor man” in Spanish. The band took the slang meaning of the word from a scene in the 1993 film “Bound by Honor,” in which a man barks, “Pelao!” at his young companion, calling him a pervert.

The musical background of each band member differs, allowing a large variety of musical styles.

Alex attributes many of his influences to hip-hop, which he has listened to for years, and said he originally didn’t know a thing about bass guitar before his brother stuck the instrument in his hands and made him learn seven years ago. Palmer, Waddle and Walker lean toward classic rock and punk, while Ricardo claims to be the most diverse of all.

In addition to its original material, the group’s wide range of interests allows it to cover artists like Santana, Wyclef Jean, Green Day, Eminem and others. The band often will mix hit ’80s songs with a new feel. They recently made a punk song out of Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309 (Jenny).”

Pelao’s members know they have to include some covers to keep the audience’s attention, but they always make sure to slip in an original every few songs.

As far as energy, the band credits Alex with that duty. He’s known to jump around the stage, run from one side to the other and stick the microphone into the face of various crowd members.

Talent, of course, is the main detail. Rudy Galindo, one of the founding members and uncle to the brothers, has stepped in – he’s now the band’s manager while trying to balance his own busy schedule.

“I’ve seen them grow,” Rudy said. “I think it’s time for them to expand.”

As manager, Rudy has sent out promotional packets to college towns in Iowa, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin, as well as Iowa City and Chicago, trying to get Pelao air-play.

The band’s first studio CD, “Everything’s on Your Side,” was recorded a year ago and is now on the airwaves with the acoustic “Track 7.” The album’s recording sessions produced seven other songs that feature hard electric guitars and heavy drums.

Pelao is looking forward to returning to the studio in the next few months to record its second album. The group said it’s constantly writing music and lyrics along the way.

In the meantime, the band practices twice a week between full-time work and school schedules and performs two to three times a month in DeKalb and other college towns, patiently awaiting its “big break” and always having a good time on and off the stage.

“We just want everyone to have a good time because we always have a good time,” Walker said.

As the band develops a following and gathers new fans after each show, Pelao will continue having a good time for a long while.

“Everything’s on Your Side” can be found at Hemisphere’s Music & Video, 1015 W. Hillcrest Drive.