Gonzo City didn’t derive their name from anything in particular; it was just something convenient that they had come up with on the side, and when they started performing, they needed a name.
But it was under this name that the five-person local band, grown around old friendships and new music, was nominated for the Best New Artists in the 2012 Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards.
“We literally had bounced around a hundred different names,” Valdez related, “I was like, ‘You know what, I kind of like it, let’s just throw it there.’”
The name stuck, and so did the group of five: Adrian Valdez, Michael Figueroa, Joe Haasch, Jesus Garcia, and Ryan Ross.
Gonzo City had its origins in Weatherford, where friends Valdez, Haasch, and Figueroa teamed up during high school to play at parties and similar events. Unlike other such impromptu bands, the Weatherford graduates maintained both their friendships and interest in music after high school, and eventually the three teamed up with other acquaintances from the tight-knit music community to form Gonzo City.
“The whole point of Gonzo City was to try to take this a little more seriously,” Valdez said.
Before playing onstage, “we practiced, like, for a year,” Garcia said, “We took our time, and I think that’s paying off right now.”
The band’s style is what Valdez dubbed “experimental rock.”
“A point of view for me in this band was I didn’t want every song to sound the same,” Valdez said. “That means everybody could have their own definition of what you would call this band.”
“We’re versatile to what we need to be involved with,” clarified Figueroa, explaining the band could adapt styles to fit more nicely when sharing the stage with bands from different styles.
Band members cited influences ranging from Dave Matthews to Elliot Smith, and they all meld together in Gonzo City’s eclectic mix of music.
“I definitely see a mix,” Ross said. “We all come from different inspirations, different backgrounds.”
Songwriting is also a shared enterprise.
“We all put a hand in,” said Valdez. “There’s no main writer.”
The band is currently working on finishing their first album, titled “Pretty and Violent,” which they hope to release by September 2012 (although, they jokingly conceded, it might be more like 2013). In keeping with their first nomination for best new band, Gonzo City hopes to build on that trend with their new release.
“It was really cool being nominated for the Fort Worth Weekly Awards Best New Artist,” Valdez said. “I have a goal of being nominated Best New Album by the Fort Worth Weekly.”
However, their plans do not stop in Fort Worth.
“I know definitely, when it’s released, national attention is going to be my priority,” Valdez said.