Often lauded as a band that combines “rock’n’roll with Latin soul,” deSol strives to achieve musical balance. The band’s self-titled debut on Curb Records showcases this aural harmony, but it’s a one-off single that has garnered the most attention so far.
Last week, deSol’s version of “Little Drummer Boy” entered Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart at No. 6. In fact, it’s the highest debut in AC history, beating the record set by James Taylor’s “Deck the Halls.”
“We decided to do ‘Drummer Boy’ because of the rhythmic aspect of it,” says Albie Monterrosa. “We did it real quick and arranged it right then and there in the heat of July in Beverly Hills [Calif.], and it sounded great. What we did is fresh, mixing the rhythms. It has good imagery. When you hear the track, the congas and the bongos sound like horses in the desert.”
Currently the single is only available for sale via Apple’s iTunes Music Store and at the band’s shows, but it is sure to be included on Christmas compilations for years to come. It was an unusual way for the seven-member group to get its foot in the door.
“Every artist has a different path cut out for them,” says Monterrosa. “I haven’t really been following it because it’s a Christmas song. It’s not that we don’t like the song but we didn’t write it. But you know what? It’s all part of the bigger picture and in this day and age it’s so hard to break a group and get the word out, it’s just a blessing to have any charting music.”
The band’s delicate balance of American rock and Latin rhythms is often compared to the music of Ozomatli and Los Lonely Boys, and that has allowed deSol to grab the ears of more listeners.
“I did the rock thing for so long and shunned the Latino thing,” says. Monterrosa. “But when the band formed and we started [adding] that, the doors started opening. People started paying attention, we got more gigs and it just keeps growing.
“Our sound is not too Latino, it’s not too American, it’s right in the middle. Everyone can digest it,” he adds. “I write songs in Spanish, English, Spanglish, and that’s who I am. The Spanish we use is kind of Spanish 101, so people can understand it. It’s really about having a good time and writing a good melody and a good hook. I’m not afraid of labels.”
The band returns to its hometown of Asbury Park, N.J., for a New Year’s Eve gig at the Stone Pony, and then its members hope to clear their heads and focus on writing songs for a new album.
“It becomes a business and you kind of get lost so we just want to refocus,” he says. “We’re gonna go to El Paso [Texas] in the middle of nowhere to just write and discover ourselves again. We want to get to the depth of the lyrics and the music and remember why we love to do it, like when we were kids in our rooms just playing music.”