Music is the language of the universe, or so they say. Even if it is somehow nonexistent elsewhere in the far reaches of the universe, however far that may be, it is undeniably important to the human way of life here on Earth.
Edgar Castillo, a 32-year-old engineering major at El Camino College, is no exception to this rule. His love for music has molded him into the musician he is today, with a passion he holds so dearly that it is embedded into every bone in his body.
“It all started when I was like 13 or 14 years old and starting to really get into music. This band called The Casualties had an album called “On the Front Line” that was so different from what I was used to hearing. They were so fast, but still perfectly on time, and the drummer stole the show for me,” Edgar says.
A member of punk band FUTURA since its foundation in early 2017, Edgar has retained his role as the drummer, though he does not limit himself to being a “backbone.”
“I play guitar, too, but my main instrument would be drums. I just feel a bigger connection when I am holding my drumsticks and keeping the tempo going as it should be,” Edgar says.
His height, although short in stature, is uplifted by his calm yet cool persona that band members naturally seem to have. Among his many physical traits, what stands out most is the fierce look in his eyes and the art tattooed on his arms.
“I am all self-taught when it comes to playing instruments. I have never had an instructor or taken a music class to learn how to do it,” Edgar says.
Like most aspiring artists though, his inspiration stems from the many experiences he has had on his journey through life so far, but is not limited to just that.
“My inspiration ranges from some dude playing guitar on Venice Beach to many of the great artists I listened to growing up. I try to find inspiration everywhere, so there is not really one particular person or thing I look up to,” Edgar says.
Before the band’s formation, the founding members had been talking about it for months in late 2016. Once the new year started with Edgar as the last “recruit” to join, the original lineup was born. Consisting of Erika Lares on vocals, Diego Ramirez on bass, Eddie Patino on lead guitar and Edgar on drums, the four were ready to roll.
“My guitarist Eddie came up with the name of the band. He saw it on a tire. The name of the band is FUTURA, and so he said that’s actually not a bad name. Our singer is actually female, too, so we changed it from “futuro” to make it sound more feminine,” Edgar says.
Though they have shared the spotlight together many times while performing, their personal tastes in music differ a lot more than one might think to be possible in a cohesive unit such as theirs.
“We all listen to different kinds of music, and I think that really helps since it makes things more diverse. As a whole, the band’s inspiration comes from hardcore punk, like a lot of Japanese hardcore. Some American bands as well, a lot of mainstream stuff too,” Edgar says.
Despite their differences early on, they decided it was best for them if they got to work right away. Unlike many established bands with managers, the four took a “do it yourself” approach with their ventures. Through the many connections they had, a world of opportunities was at their door. Soon enough, the four got their first gig together and kicked off their musical journey.
“Our first gig was actually in South Central (Los Angeles). It was like a little backyard gig, kind of a low-key thing, but it was cool. At that point I had already been performing for a while with other bands, so I kind of already knew what to expect,” Edgar says.
With over one hundred performances to their name, the FUTURA members have quite a staggering amount of experience, which they credit to their dedication of the craft. No matter how many shows they take up, however, Edgar believes some things will never change.
“I have been playing for a while, but I still get nervous. Those nerves never go away because you never know what is going to happen during the show. This last show we played I was on guitar and it was not working, so I was pretty anxious. Luckily it turned out to just be my cable, so we were able to play,” Edgar says.
When asked about words that best describe Edgar as a person, two of his bandmates took center stage and spoke with confidence when touching on his qualities. They consisted of 36-year-old veterinary technician and lead guitarist Eddie, and 30-year-old Erika, who works in logistics and is lead singer.
“Apart from being extremely talented, he is one of the most caring guys I know. He always puts others ahead of himself no matter what the situation is, and I do not think there is anything more genuine than that,” Erika says.
Though many positive comments may have felt like there was nothing left to the imagination, Eddie’s words brought an unexpected amount of praise to the table.
“He is honestly one of the best guys I know. A cool person to be around, and him obviously being a great drummer is a plus to the band. His style is not like a traditional drummer, he is one of a kind, so there is no other way to put it,” Eddie says.
Drummer and all, Edgar is still a working adult and a student at El Camino College who has homework, projects, and other assignments to turn in. It is a pretty busy lifestyle, but he believes anything can be managed so long as you know how to sort things out and create time slots for activities other than school.
“I try to make sure I have all of my work done beforehand if I need to play a show or go to band practice. If I do not get the work done then I stress out and I am not able to enjoy myself or connect with others as much as I would like to, so it really all comes down to planning ahead,” Edgar says.
In the times that the band’s members are overrun with a whirlwind of tasks, however, Edgar believes it is difficult to get things done. From work to their own personal lives, many things can get in the way of a proper performance or practice session.
“We really have to schedule things for all of us to meet up at the same time because we have other stuff to do, so that just adds another obstacle we try to get around,” Edgar says.
Things do not get much different for the four during the creation process when recording songs for their EPs. A difference in free time slots causes quite a stir during these times as well.
“When actually getting down to making music, we have a lockout in downtown L.A. that we pay monthly for by splitting the cash four ways. It is open 24/7 and is used by other bands as well, but just like those bands, we hardly go since we are all pretty busy people,” Edgar says.
With several EPs to the band’s name, many of which can be found on YouTube and Bandcamp, Edgar finds it hard to pick a favorite one, and even harder to pick a personal favorite song he likes to perform in front of a crowd.
“There are so many songs, but if I had to break it down to one I could probably do it. My favorite song is probably ‘Sin Salida’ off our first demo. It talks about being in a state of depression, and eventually the lyrics really matched up with what our homie was going through after we realized the harsh reality,” Edgar says.
Suddenly there is an abrupt pause. Life is not without the hardship of loss, even when the gift of joy and happiness seem to go on without a halt.
“In July of (2020), we got the wonderful opportunity to tour to Chile, but sadly, we lost our bassist Diego just before that. He was so talented, but above everything else, he was just a really nice guy. Nothing will ever replace the great memories we made with him while he was still with us,” Edgar says.
Diego, who was affectionately known by his nickname “Eggo” had been going through depression for a while, ultimately opting out of the tour that would see them travel thousands of miles from home. Despite knowing they would be heading to Chile without their bassist for undisclosed reasons, they never expected the worst to come before then.
“After he passed, we held a benefit event to help his family raise funds. We also had to perform on that day, and it was the hardest thing I had to do. We were just crying nonstop,” Erika says.
Fellow bandmate Eddie also mourned the loss of his friend with a heavy heart and did not hold back on his feelings for their bassist, who he deemed to be incredible and one of a kind.
“It was a hard loss that we will never recover from, and we knew we would have to give it all we had in order to perform without crying,” Eddie says.
Having already set up a temporary arrangement with another bassist Erika knew, the heartbroken band was ready to go. Not knowing how things would turn out, or if they could even perform without a bucket’s worth of tears streaming down their faces, the four took off to South America.
“Thanks to the power of the internet, we were able to network with people all over the world. The tour took place in Temuco, Chile, and it was really cold when we went. I just could not believe how far we were from home. Just thinking about our first shows we had done locally and comparing it to where we were heading was something special,” Edgar said.
Like one would imagine, no country is an exact copy of another when it comes to the atmosphere and culture, especially if that country is on a whole different continent thousands of miles away.
“It was amazing. It was definitely different. Over there it is not as individualistic as America is, it is a lot more community-based. For example, if we had one beer and there were seven of us, we would split that one beer between everyone. Over here it is more like if you do not have money, well, too bad,” Edgar says.
Many great memories were made of the experience for the newcomers who were well received by the locals in Chile. Through the tragic death of a loved one, they were able to connect with the community that was also going through the same pain, an unfortunate event that brought the two that much closer.
“When we went to play those shows, one of theirs in their community had killed themselves, so we trauma-bonded over that. There were so many people, and we played really well because we wanted to dedicate the show to the ones we lost. It was amazing because they knew the words to our songs, which we did not really expect,” Edgar says.
To Eddie, his favorite moment with Edgar occurred during this tour in Chile that had such an emotional and everlasting impact on him.
“My favorite moment with Edgar was watching ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with him on the way to Chile. Since the movie was about performers, and we were obviously going to be performing, we imagined ourselves on that stage and how cool it would be to have the crowd sing along,” said Eddie.
Erika also chimed in with her favorite moment involving Edgar, speaking passionately about the time in which the drummer took the microphone to speak in one of the many rare instances.
“He got up to give a speech about the people we lost, saying that the show was dedicated to them. He assured us that we were all in this together, and it made me so happy because he almost never grabs the microphone, and hearing him say all those nice things was enough to make anyone cry,” Erika says.
Though they have not toured in almost two years, the flame has not died out for Edgar, and it might not ever be the case. With his “live as you please” take on life, there is still plenty of time to make music and have fun while doing so, and never forgetting the experiences that shaped him into his present self.
“Do what makes you happy. Be your genuine, true self as long as you do no harm, and you will be happy with your life. Chase your dreams and never give up no matter what, because the struggle will pay off in the end, and as far as we know, we have one life. Make the most of it with all that you have got,” Edgar says.
FUTURA Bandcamp: https://futura3030.bandcamp.com/
Editor’s note: Secondary headline and link added for clarity on June 10, 2022, at 12:34 p.m.