Upon a Burning Body’s Ruben Alvarez talks about touring with RockStar Mayhem Festival

Ruben Alvarez is the guitarist for the San Antonio, Texas based band Upon a Burning Body. The group recently released their 2nd full length album titled “Red. White. Green.” Via Sumerian Records and will once again be a part of this year’s Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Media Mikes spoke recently with Ruben about the album’s release and the bands plans for this summer’s tour run.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little background on the bands formation?
Ruben Alvarez: We had all been members of different bands here in the San Antonio area. Danny and Sal had wanted to start up a side project and they were the ones who started Upon a Burning Body. I jumped in a month or two later. Basically this side project took off way faster than any of our other bands. People really started liking us and were coming out to the shows so we realized we had something with this group.

AL: Can you tell us about the new album “Red. White. Green.”?
RA: When the band goes out on the road it becomes very hard to write so this time around we had our producer and a couple other songwriters working with us. We still brought a lot of songs to the table as a band but we chose a couple of their songs do go along with six of ours to help change the feel of the record. We wanted to keep our style while adding some diversity. I think it’s going to be our biggest record so far.

AL: how do you guys go about adding in that diversity while staying true to your original sound/style?
RA: I have always looked at song writing and you are telling a story through music. I feel that if we can write a good story and we can add in some chaos to that it will make for a fun listen. It definitely changes with each song. A lot really depends on what we want the song to be about. We like to listen to the songs and see what type of emotion it has and then go deeper from there.

AL: Do you ever feel limited or confined to write in the genre you are identified with?
RA: There is definitely a barter that goes on. We have to stay true to our sound because this is what we have always been and what our fans like. It’s always a scary moment for a band when you transition to a bigger sound because you don’t know how many fans you may lose or gain. You have to try and keep that familiar vibe. For us it’s all about the energy.

AL: What are you guys most looking forward to about being back on this year’s Mayhem Festival?
RA: The cool thing about this year’s tour is that we are going to be on a bigger stage. When we did the tour the first time we were on a small side stage. Last time out we were playing to around 3,000 people per shows and this time were going to be playing to around 15,000 people per show. This is a big step up for us.

AL: What is it that appealed to you about joining Mayhem Festival as opposed to going out on your own solo headlining tour?
RA: I think Mayhem is just such an awesome tour to be on. For me it’s the new “”OzzFest”. It’s a big metal tour for metal heads. I love metal heads because they are just so crazy and into the bands. I think if we toured on our own we would get sort of demolished as there are so many great tour packages out there. We had to be very precise with what we want to do as a band because of that.

AL: What are the bands plans after Mayhem Festival?
RA: Things are pretty crazy right now. Even before Mayhem starts we are going to be out on a short headliner run then we are going out with Emmure for some show in Canada before we take off for Download Festival. We get a couple weeks off and then we hit the road for Mayhem and go from there.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson talks about his role in ABC’s “Castle”

Ruben Santiago-Hudson is know for his role of Captain Roy Montgomery in ABC hit show “Castle”, which is finished up its third season. Ruben is also a stage veteran and has performed in numerous shows including many of August Wilson’s plays. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ruben about not only his love for working on “Castle” but also his love for the stage.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell about us how you got involved starring in “Castle” as NYPD Captain Roy Montgomery?
Ruben Santiago-Hudson: After the writers strike, and being a writer things got tight. So, I decided to go out for some auditions, normally I do not audition for a lot of things that are not in New York. I am straight New Yorker and I love being here. At that point, I said I would be willing to do to California and relocate for a little while trying to get myself back on my feet. “Castle” was one of my auditions and actually as it turns out like three different shows were trying to book me also at same time. “Castle” fought for me very hard. They were in first position anyway, so they has the first shot. They made me an offer that showed me that they really wanted me there. Once I met Nathan (Fillion) though, it was over. I knew I had to be there.

MG: What is it like working with such a great cast on the show?
RSH: We have a real tight group and a real strong family. It extends even into our crew. It is not like the actors are one part and the crew is another. We are all in it together. It is a joy to come to work most days and have a good time. We are like any other family, we have our agreements and disagreements, but at the end of the day it is always cold beer time. We have enough energy to give each other person time and hang out. It is just such a great cast and crew and it is a real honor to be a part of it.

MG: Any cool behind the scenes stories?
RSH: Mike, that is everyday man! Everyday we end up pulling some some sort of high jinx and are having fun. They usually steer clear of me a lot of the times but then I will hit’em with a zinger. It is just too many stories to tell. I remember one time in an episode I put my badge out and said “What does it say on my badge? It says Captain and that means get your ass out there and solve the case”. What I did was I put a piece of gaffers tape and wrote “Superstar”. So I picked it up and said what does it say on my badge and Jon (Huertas) and Seamus (Dever) look at it and said “Superstar?” and I said “that is right, so get your ass out there…” [laughs]. That is one I really enjoyed. One day for an episode, I was telling Jon and Seamus that they were off a case or something. They went in and pulled their guns off and threw them on my desk, so I pulled my gun out and my badge and threw it on the desk too and we all walked out [laughs]. The crew was wondering what we were doing. We definitely have a lot of fun.

MG: What can you tell us about the upcoming episodes in season three?
RSH: I don’t want to give away anything. We just had a wonderful episode about a beauty pageant. Then we have the cliffhanger in the end, which our producers are going to decide which one of us or how many of us they are going to taken out of the show. I hope whatever they do it is for the best in the show. I believe it is important to keep this family together because it really it a special group. Taking anything out of that group, even to give the fans one great episode will damage the entire season. So I am hoping and praying we all stay together but knowing the powers that be, they might do something they shouldn’t do.

MG: We interviewed Denzel Washington during his work on August Wilson’s “Fences” on Broadway, what was it like working with him on “American Gangster”?
RSH: It is funny you asked that question about August Wilson because I won my Tony Award from his play. August Wilson wrote four plays for me. Denzel and I often discussed August. I really loved working with Denzel he is a confident professional. He is very decided to his craft. He always comes in extremely prepared and he is very intellectualized. He is always researched and ready to role. When you come to the table with Denzel, you know you are going to have a good time because he is coming to play. He is going to be ready and if you are not ready your day is not going to be so good. When you come ready with Denzel it will be a joyful day. Any opportunity I get to work with Denzel is a blessed day for me. Denzel and I go way back, we’ve been friends since 1983.

MG: You made your stage directorial debut with August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean”, how did you find tacking such powerful play?
RSH: I didn’t really look at it as a daunting task because he is my favorite writer, a mentor, a brother and a friend…August Wilson. It was a play I had just completed doing on Broadway and I had different notions of how it should be done. I wanted to exercise my ideas on it. When I explained it to August, he was like “Please hurry up, when do you want to do it?” I responded to him “Whenever I get on the directors list” and he said “You are at the top of the list”. Within three months I was directing the place in Princeton, NJ at the McCarter Theater, which is an award winning theater. It was just such an amazing epiphany just to be in that work and let that work deliver me to another level as an artist, an actor and a human being.

MG: How do you prefer doing stage over film or TV?
RSH: Absolutely, I prefer being on stage. I want to be on stage every day of my life if I could. It is a certain trust that a writer and director have to let you to be the editor of that work. You are getting me deep now, we have to usually go to Columbia University to have this discussion [laughs]. They editor of that evening’s performance is you. It is not some guy you don’t know in a room taking your performance on film or digital and cutting and editing it around to make it a good performance. The editor is you. I absolutely cherish that trust because I know that is the way I prepared my whole life. I prepared not to go out and do my work with ego but with sincerity, trust and truth. So when you go out there and your trust your work with me as a writer, what you wrote is what you are going to get.

MG: Do you plan on returning to stage anytime soon?
RSH: Right now they are calling for me in a big way to direct. A big way. I am in negotiations to direct an August Wilson play, “Jitney” and hopefully get it to Broadway. Right now there are no plans. Just to be able to put it up and have people feel the magic of “Jitney” again. I am hoping it will create the buzz and get the producers talking about getting it to Broadway. In fact, it is the only August Wilson play that has hasn’t been to Broadway. I would love to get my energy behind it, a stellar cast and try and get it to Broadway. I am going to do it at the Two Rivers Theater in Red Bank, NJ, which is a beautiful new facility. Also I am going to direct a play from Fugard, they are celebrating his work in New York next season at The Signature. I am going to come in and direct one of Fugard’s play with him actually in house. In the meantime, I am also writing a pilot as we speak. I will be pitching it for the fall season. So just trying to keep busy and trying to share what talents I have with the world.