El Paso Music Scene

Javier Herrera interview

Javier Herrera, singer/songwriter of New Horizon and Franklin High School graduate (class of 2000), was featured on January 14 in El Paso Times' Tiempo magazine. Since that went well, he felt he was ready for the big time, so he called us.


EPMS: Why New Horizon? why not just call the act 'Javier Herrera?'

Javier Herrera: Well, first... it felt weird using my name. New Horizon is a different kind of name for an El Paso band, but we're playing different music from what most bands in El Paso are playing. A lot of what you hear in El Paso is punk rock, heavy metal. Our music is rock with a pop flavor.

EPMS: About the hard work of the music business: has your music career been hard work? how so? How has the work side changed in the last year or two, since you started getting a lot of attention?

Javier Herrera: It's been hard work. When I first started with Dave Volk (President and CEO of Phoenix-based Bordertown Records), I was a singer/songwriter. I was playing with some guys that didn't have the same dedication to make it in music that I had. They saw themselves as gig musicians.. they just wanted to make a few bucks. I didn't like that. I was looking for more of a family atmosphere.

It was hard the first couple of months (since putting this lineup together), because I had to do everything myself. My name was on what we were doing... It should be everybody pulling their own weight. With the guys in the band now, it's not my band, its our band.

EPMS: Whose blue sofa is that in the picture?

Javier Herrera: That's my future mother-in-law's sofa. I sleep a lot on that sofa.

EPMS: Do you think you will be sleeping on the sofa much after you get married?

Javier Herrera: No, probably not. Well, I usually don't think before I talk, so I might. Sometimes I'll hurt feelings with something I say.

EPMS: What happened to Marc Sauceda, your former guitar player?

Javier Herrera: I knew from the beginning that he would be leaving. He just had some other projects. He was playing with Radio One, now Archer Avenue. He has years of experience, and he helped me a lot. Once he got us set, he let us go do our own thing, and he went on to his own thing.

EPMS: How did you end up with a guitar player from Michigan?

Javier Herrera: I put out a post (on the internet), he read it ... He came down and we met. Chris, our bass player, and I auditioned him, and everything worked out great. We're very ready for the show on Sunday.

EPMS: What percentage of your songs are original?

Javier Herrera: In the set list, 90%. This Sunday we'll play one cover, by Johnny Cash, "Long black veil."

EPMS: Do you improvise on stage?

Javier Herrera: Heck, yeah. Sometimes we start a song differently, sometimes we end a song differently. I used to see this one band play, and they'd play the same set over and over, and I thought, "Why should I want to see them again? Next time I hear them, they're going to be the same." With us, no two shows are the same.

EPMS: How far along are you toward your psychology degree?

Javier Herrera: I kind of dropped that. I didn't think I could sit and listen to other people's problems. (Studying psychology) has helped me a lot, though. Now I'm studying for a music dregree. I have about 2 years left.

EPMS: what is Dave Volk's title for you? producer, manager, ...

Javier Herrera: For that first album, he was the producer, he helped me record it. Now, he's really off doing his own thing, but he still helps me with some things, like getting the El Paso Times article. He's kind of on his own now. He's a drummer in his own band, Archer Avenue. He's a really good friend.

EPMS: You're a big fan of the Dave Matthews Band. If your tour bus were driving over the Chicago River, would you empty the bus's toilets into the river just to be like Dave Matthews?

Javier Herrera: (lol) No, absolutely not. It's not like it was Dave that did it, it was the bus driver, but Dave is the one that gets blamed for it. He has to take the whole rap. They all blame it on Dave, but I guess it happens that way when you're famous. It kind of sucks.

EPMS: What does it mean that you are recording a "live" album? Shouldn't you have more studio albums done first?

Javier Herrera: I think that the energy on the first album wasn't enough. The first album wasn't a full band. I like the first album, but we play much better now. (The new, live album) is the whole album, with the whole band. These guys have put their own two cents in it. A lot of people love our shows, so a live album, with all that energy, makes sense. We'll see how it goes.

EPMS: You said, 'Three out of five of us have the exact same birthday. It is very bizarre but not a coincidence'. It doesn't get my attention so much that you all have the same birthday, but when you say it wasn't a coincidence, it makes me wonder. Was this part of a master plan to dominate the earth or something?

Javier Herrera: No. I don't think it's a coincidence that we met. The way I see it, it was meant to be. Three of us (Chris Lugo, bass player; Nathan Stellsmith, violin; and Javier) were born on May 8, 1982. That has to mean something.... I'm going to do whatever I have to do to make it, and so are the rest of the guys in the band. We met somehow, crazily, ... it amazes me to think how we all came together. Our guitar player, Ryan Kildee, came from Michigan. How did he end up with us? He could have gone anywhere. It's just crazy. Everything has a meaning.

EPMS: Do you play any Elvis tunes?

Javier Herrera: Not in the set list now... Our favorite is 'Stuck on You.' We sometimes play 'Love Me Two Times' by the Doors.

EPMS: Do you ever shake your hips like Elvis on stage?

Javier Herrera: I dance crazy on stage. Some people say I dance like an idiot (lol).

EPMS: You seem like such an innocent guy. Why do I get the feeling that, once you become famous, you're going to start throwing TVs out of hotel windows and all that?

Javier Herrera: I don't know where you got that. I'm a good guy, but I get crazy sometimes. I might throw a water balloon at somebody, but not a TV. You could hurt somebody with a TV.

EPMS: You're interested in 'deep-sea treasure diving?' Have you ever done that before?

Javier Herrera: No, but it's definitely something I want to do if we ever make it. I want to get a submersible and go down and look around.

EPMS: I've heard that sharks run away if you punch them in the nose. Would you try that for me one day, and let me know how it goes?

Javier Herrera: I will, I promise I'll do that (lol).

EPMS: OK, last question. What do you see El Paso as being known for in five years, you, or Chico's Tacos?

Javier Herrera: I think, us. Our band eating at Chico's Tacos. We love Chico's Tacos. They don't have Chico's Tacos on the West Side, so we go to a place called 'Big Bun.' It's the second-best after Chico's Tacos.

- Charles Hurley