If there’s one place in the world where Stormhouse’s fusion of classic punk rock and authentic Latin music makes sense, it’s probably Orange County.
When Santa Ana native Noel Becerra returned from Puerto Rico with a new appreciation for the country’s music and a driving passion to blend some of it into his beloved punk tunes, he knew that drummer, longtime collaborator, and OC Weekly photographer Isaac Larios was the man he needed to call.
“[Becerra] and I have been writing music for quite some time now, and when he moved back from Puerto Rico, he had all of these songs tucked away,” Larios says. “We started working on a few of those songs, and then I reached out to Markie [Medina, Stormhouse’s vocalist] once we’d completed four songs for basically a rough demo. Once we got her in, Ozzy [Chong, the band’s bassist] managed to squeeze in at the right time, and then we just kind of went for it.”
Since bringing in Medina and Chong over a year ago, Stormhouse has developed their own unique sound built on years of experience with other bands. As heard on the debut EP they released earlier this month, that sound is still constantly changing and evolving. Other than knowing that they want to remain at least semi-rooted in the punk world while exploring their other influences, everyone in the band seems pretty comfortable with leaving both their musical and visual style open to change.
“We haven’t really found an identity just yet,” Larios says. “Most bands have a preconceived notion of how they want to look and sound like — they go for a certain era of music, attack it, and they’re all about it. For us, we’ve taken a lot from different parts of punk rock, and we’re kind of having trouble fitting into some of the scenes that are happening right now. In many ways, that’s benefitted us a lot, because it shows originality and people like what’s new.”
“At its core, it’s punk rock in ethic and sound, but we all like different styles of music, so we’re putting everything together and started messing with it,” Becerra adds. “We’ve messed with flamenco and Latin music — and it doesn’t always work — but we can add some of the rhythms and whatnot. It’s punk rock with a slightly different feel, but it’s still on the darker side and we’re still trying to develop it.”
But while Larios and Becerra initially began their Latin-tinged punk journey as a duo, the sound of Stormhouse as it’s now known really didn’t come into its own until they added both the vocal prowess of the former Spanish Daggers singers along with Chong’s funky bass lines. As much confidence as the guitarist and drummer had in their own creative beliefs, turning some of the reins over to Medina ended up being the jolt of energy the group needed to take their music to the next level.
“It’s been this sort of thing where everyone is fusing together and putting in their input,” Becerra says. “Initially it was just me and Isaac, and we’d sort of relay things to Markie. Over time, Markie has developed her own sound, and she’s in control of the songs lyrically. It’s been very fluid since she got into the music and could organically put her own sound into it.”
“It was challenging at first — and I didn’t know what to expect — but I just wanted it to be a good time,” Medina adds. “Now it’s turned into something great. It’s not your average punk band.”
These days, the entire quartet is one big collaborative process. Each member handles their own parts and feed off of what the others come up with. Rather than an ego-driven band looking to immediately achieve lofty goals and huge social media followings, Stormhouse realizes their progress is going to be measured in baby steps and will come as a team effort. As excited as they are to one day perform in places ranging from Mexico to Maine (the latter of which is Chong’s personal goal so he can get some of that delicious lobster), Stormhouse is currently happy just to learn from each other, perform with their friends, and improve as musicians on a daily basis.
“Honestly, it’s really felt very simple and democratic, and it wasn’t one person telling everyone how to do things,” Becerra says. “All of these guys are great musicians, so sometimes there’s some butting of heads over ideas — what most people would call the ‘differences’ when they break up their band — but I think we’re pretty mature about it. We’ve all had enough bands where we can just figure it out instead of storming off.”
“I’ve picked up a lot earwise from what Isaac does,” Chong adds. “I love this dude’s sound. I didn’t know dick about getting into Latin beats, but the beats he plays are insane. The lines I have to match with that get me stoked about the challenge of it. It’s not like anything I’d be doing on my own.”
Josh Chesler used to play baseball for some pretty cool teams, but now he just writes about awesome stuff like tattoos, music, MMA and sneakers. He enjoys injuring himself by skateboarding, training for fights, and playing musical instruments in his off time.