"I write all my songs initially on a beat-up classical guitar I picked up in Costa Rica on my honeymoon," says Fiesta Brava's Ray Keane (guitar, vocals). "[I start with ] a general outline of chords, followed by lyrics that are written initially to fit the tone and rhythm of the song."
After making minor shifts to the lyrics, Keane then takes his material to bandmates Chris Rea (guitar, vocals), Matt Snow (drums) and Jeff Steblea (bass). Together the group adds other instruments and different parts to the mix, eventually turning out a sound described on the band's website as "half born of folk, and half born of punk." But none of this song craft would even be possible if it weren't for a single book.
Keane says, "Chris and my wife were in a master's program for English teachers at Western New England University. Chris came by our house to pick up a book when he noticed that we had the same recording setup, and the posters on my walls were of bands he also loved. We ended up meeting at the People's Pint with Chris's wife, which led to a tentative jam session. When that jam actually led to writing the bones of a song, we realized that it might be fun to see where our co-songwriting process might go."
After quickly adding Snow to the lineup after connecting on the subject of music at a New Year's Eve party, Fiesta Brava recruited Steblea after posting an invitation for bass players on Craigslist.
"Our sound is poppy, but big. Everyone calls us indie rock, and that works, I guess," say Steblea. "We just try to write and arrange good songs."
As for the name Fiesta Brava, Keane and Rea again turned to literature for inspiration.
"Ray and I were seeking a good allusion to an author or book we enjoy. Hemingway is a favorite, and his use of the term Fiesta Brava ['wild feast' or 'brave festival'] to refer to bullfighting seemed a unique, good fit," says Rea.
Fiesta Brava has shared the stage with local groups like the Swill Merchants, Winterpills and the Aloha Steamtrain. But the band is also working hard on its debut album.
Steblea says, "We're currently recording our first full-length. We tracked drums with Mark Miller, who we love. We've been doing the rest of the recording at my studio, Gondwanaland, which is great for us because it's comfortable and homey, no pressure and no clock ticking. It's sounding great, and it really represents the next big step for us.
"A band like Fiesta Brava could only really happen here in the Valley," he continues. "It truly is a special place. People go to shows to discover new bands, and really listen to the music. Other bands are supportive. There's a real community, even better than a 'scene.' I feel privileged to be a part of that. It's why I moved here, and I hope it never changes."?
For more information on Fiesta Brava, please visit http://www.fiestabravamusic.com/history.php and http://www.facebook.com/fiestabravamusic.