Los Temerarios: Brothers In Music

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

The following interview with Los Temerarios principals Adolfo and Gustavo Angel is excerpted from a Billboard Stars special feature that appears in the July 9, 2005, issue of the magazine.

Beyond an extensive interview with the brothers behind the music, the 23-page special section features overviews of the group's career from various angles, including touring and global success.

The full text of this Billboard Stars feature is available online to subscribers in the "This Week's Magazine" section of Billboard.biz.

To purchase a copy of the issue, click here.

Bands that comprise siblings are a rarity in the Latin music world. But through the years, brothers Adolfo and Gustavo Angel have established themselves as the face of Los Temerarios. Each plays a distinct, but equally important and essential role in Mexico's best-selling romantic group.

Adolfo, 41, is the older brother, and is regarded by the rest of the group -- from Gustavo down -- as the elder of the band.

He was the force behind the formation of Los Temerarios: the writer responsible for most of their songs, the band's arranger and the decision-maker in all things business and creative. When the band began, he was also the manager, booking agent, promoter and all-around ringleader.

Gustavo, 37, is the guitarist, the composer of more contemporary-sounding songs and the voice-that sweet, soulful tenor-that defines Los Temerarios' sound.

The two grew up in the town of Fresnillo in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, formed their first group in 1977 and in 1983, together with their cousin Fernando Angel on bass, recorded their first two singles.

The songs that appeared on those 45s -- "Historias de Amor" and "Vive Feliz" on the first disc, "Lucerito" and "Mu–equita Linda" on the second -- remain fan favorites to this day.

Later that year, before the release of their first album by CBS Mexico, the brothers chose as the name of their group the word "temerario." Translation: fearless.

Today, Adolfo, Gustavo and Fernando are joined in Los Temerarios by drummer Karlo Vidal and percussionist Jonathan Amabiliz.

In a recent interview over lunch at a Miami restaurant, the brothers reflected on their history and the story of their band.

You started playing when you were very young. Adolfo, you were only 12, Gustavo was 8. Were you doing it just for fun, or did you already have a grand plan?

Adolfo: Definitely, we wanted to be artists. I played the guitar-well, we said we played, but we hadn't studied music or anything. My father played the guitar, and Gustavo, my father and I would play together. Gustavo was so little, his hand couldn't grasp the guitar and he would play the bass with his pinky, and we would all sing. We sang Mexican songs, rancheras, like the ones in [the album] "Veintisiete." That's our musical essence. Popular music, rancheras.

But it wasn't just playing at home. You were playing gigs. Wouldn't you rather have been out riding your bike?

Gustavo: It's natural for a kid to be playing, to be with friends. But I was really intrigued [by singing in the group] because even before we had the group, people knew me as the kid who sang. They asked me to sing, and I would sing, and they gave me some coins and I would buy candy.

What did you play in the beginning?

Adolfo: Covers. Just covers. We were called Grupo La Brisa. We learned how to play six songs and the people from the church hired us to play. They paid us 500 pesos, which was about $5 today. We learned those six songs and we played them for five hours; in other words, we played the same songs over and over.

Your parents were very supportive of this, especially your father. Did he think you would actually become musicians, or did he see it as a hobby?

Adolfo: My father supported us in a way that I now see as very important. We had to work the fields, my older brother and I. And I didn't like to do that. So, I would ride my bike, and then, I would turn around and go practice my little keyboard. And I say my father's support was very great because he never [criticized] me over this. My older brother [Miguel] said I was lazy, but because my father wouldn't scold me, I kept missing work.

How did you release your first album?

Adolfo: We didn't have a label because no one was interested in our music. I went to practically every label I could, and they all said, "Come back next year." Since that implied waiting 12 months, I put out a special product: "Los 14 Grandes Exitos de Los Temerarios."

I personally took it to the radio stations; I took it to the record stores and sold it on commission. I was the salesman, the promoter and the business manager for our music.

Did you have a big break or was this a long process?

Adolfo: It was very little by little. One day we woke and realized we were competing with groups that were very, very strong.

Your sound is not only romantic, it's also very distinctive in its blend of synthesizers and vocals. How did you develop that sound?

Adolfo: Little by little. We had been trying to sound beautiful. And one day, I played synthesizers -- the Juno Roland 106 and the Yamaha X7 -- and our live sound began to change. We played the same things, but they sounded different. It sounded more modern. And until now, I can tell you our music is based on those same sounds. I never let them go.

But there are new models now.

Adolfo: If you go to one of our concerts, you'll see the same keyboards that are in pictures from 20 years ago. I complement them with more modern keyboards, but my base is the same. I keep five or six of each of those models, and I buy them whenever I find them.

You've recorded straight-ahead pop and recently, you also recorded a single with Julio Iglesias. Do you still see yourself as a popular Mexican group?

Adolfo: Totally. We're of the people, for the people and we'll always be so. The fact that we seek to broaden our audience doesn't mean we're going to forget who we are. And if we record a pop ballad, the essence will still be Temerarios. Songs that are easy to understand and that go straight to the heart.

"Veintisiete," your most recent album, is an album of mariachi and ranchera music. If you have this trademark, romantic sound, why venture into a project like that?

Adolfo: There comes a time when you have to change your musical horizons. But the essence is the same. The mariachi violin you hear in "Veintisiete" is the traditional mariachi violin. But I put my synthesizer sound, that 20-year-old keyboard, over the violin, but very, very softly. So, when you hear the violin you automatically link the sound to Los Temerarios.

Adolfo writes most of Los Temerarios' material. Have you ever rejected one of his songs?

Gustavo: Never. We know each other very, very well. He knows exactly where I can go with my voice, the notes I can reach, and I know his writing style.

You also write some material, but it is more pop-driven and contemporary.

Gustavo: I think so. They may be a little more youth-driven, and because I'm a guitarist, they use more guitar than the other tracks.

What do you think is the secret of your success?

Gustavo: I think it's been a series of things, not just the voice. I think it's very important and interesting, this union between my brother and I. Our measure is what people say. And not because we're populists, like politicians. But because of the way they say it.

They say, "How beautiful you write, and what a good relationship you two have." When people speak of Los Temerarios, they always speak of the two of us. Not just the singer.

Do either of you have any plans to go solo?

Gustavo: None.

Adolfo: No.


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