BY HECTOR SALDANA : OCTOBER 15, 2013 : Updated: October 16, 2013 6:51pm
Ruido Añejo, a straight-up rock act with ties to the glory days of Selena, plans to put the idea to the test at the band's showcase at the Tejano Music Awards Saturday at Lila Cockrell Theatre.
“I want everyone to walk out of the Lila Cockrell Theatre and go, 'My God! That was (expletive) incredible,'” said Adriel Ramirez, headbanging bassist and co-founder of Ruido Añejo with former Selena keyboardist Joe Ojeda.
“But we don't want to go out there and scare anybody.”
Fronting the new rock en Español band is Pete Astudillo, a former member of Los Dinos, Selena's backup band.
He co-wrote some of Selena's biggest hits: “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Amor Prohibido” and “Como la Flor.”
Guitarist Chris Perez, who joined Los Dinos and later married Selena, said Astudillo is known for his Spanish lyrics. He's a fan of the new band.
“He's the epitome of a great lyricist,” Perez said. “He's incredible at that stuff. I would be amazed every time he would bring songs to the table when we were working on Selena stuff.”
Abraham Quintanilla, Selena's father, said it's a surprising move for Astudillo, though he wishes him well with the new rock project.
Astudillo acknowledged he's probably not the first name one thinks of to front a rock act. But the Laredo native said it's not such a leap from pop and cumbia to harder rock. In fact, he and others say one of Tejano's dirty little secrets is that many of its musicians would be just as happy playing something else; some are closet headbangers.
Golden era Tejano star Emilio Navaira freely admits to being “a Van Halen freak.” So was Astudillo.
“I grew up listening to AC/DC, Van Halen, Rush, so I grew up with rock 'n' roll, man,” Astudillo said. “It's always been in my blood. It's always been in my heart.”
“Majority of musicians that play Tejano music, I believe, wish they could make a living playing another type of music,” he said. “It doesn't mean they don't like the music. They love Tejano. But if you were to give them a choice, I wonder how many people would say, 'Oh, I'm fine here.'”
Astudillo's big break came when he joined the Selena camp in the late 1980s.
“That was my big chance. To say that was what I was looking for, I'd be a liar,” Astudillo said. “But that's how it happened. I learned to love (Tejano), and it got into my bones.”
But does that love cut both ways? Astudillo admitted it's a delicate dance.
“You have to walk a fine line,” he said.
Ruido Añejo throws a bone or two to the Tejano crowd with a revamped version of Astudillo's solo hit “Como Te Extraño” and an '80s-style, power ballad version of Selena's “Como la Flor.”
“Any time you do anything new, something different from what the people expect from you, out of the realm that you're known for, you have to reintroduce yourself. You have to work hard. It is a new beginning,” said Astudillo, 50, who added that he still has “that sense of urgency.”
“Hopefully, the people will get it,” he said. “People that have given us a chance have been pleasantly surprised ... like they were expecting a hot mess.”
Former Chris Perez Band bassist Ramirez exudes plenty of rocker attitude, but he's a realist, too. He and Ojeda brought Astudillo into the project for his songwriting skills. They were desperately searching for a lead singer, too.
Early overtures to singer John Garza (vocalist on Perez's Grammy-winning 1999 debut album “Resurrection”) turned out to be a dead end.
“I said, 'Pete, what are we doing? Why are we searching for a singer? You're already writing the lyrics, why not see what happens?'” Ramirez recalled. “He stepped up and said, 'I want in.'”
But the good will created by the band's Selena connections will only go so far. Getting the blessing from the Tejano Music Awards crowd could be tough.
Rock is a hard sell in the traditional genre, Quintanilla said: “No matter what you try, you're dealing with a Tejano culture.”
Former Spin 66 guitarist and record producer Manuel “Meatt” Riojas, who plays lead guitar in Ruido Añejo, said the band — which also includes guitarist Ruben Rea and drummer Frankie Diaz de Leon — is aiming high.
“Absolutely. Around here it's kind of Tejano, but we're shooting for the international market,” Riojas said. “Rock en Español is a huge scene around the world.”
Bass player Ramirez takes the challenges all in stride. After all, the band is showcasing at the TMAs because of a ballad that clicked on radio, “Quiero Llorar.”
“We won't go out there and give them the heavy stuff. That would be killing ourselves,” he said. “We just want to spread the word and give them a really nice show.
“We're going to go out there and we're just gonna be, 'Here we are.' And just nail it to 'em.”