By Jaci Jedrych
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Some bands have experience. Some bands have a fresh sound. And then there are some very special bands who have both, the kind of bands that make music that lasts forever. One of these bands is Perro Sombra.
Perro Sombra, or “Shadow Dog” in Spanish, is a Latin rock band, composed of Daniel Gomez on lead vocals and guitar, and Francisco Foschi and Lula Neira on bass. Gomez and Foschi are both multi-instrumentalists, even sometimes swapping bass and guitar on stage.
Daniel Gomez is a native Venezuelan, growing up in Caracas. He fronted a Latin rock cover band in Venezuela, eventually moving to America at just 16. Here, he integrated himself into the burgeoning “Rock en Español” scene almost instantly, and fell in love with writing music along the way. He formed a number of bands, writing, recording, and often producing the tracks himself. After returning from North Carolina for college, he formed Botta, with whom he recorded four albums to critical acclaim and developed a loyal fanbase.
Francisco Foschi joined Kaoz in 1997, a band which found rapid commercial success after playing at the MTV Latin-American Beach Parties. They signed with Sony Music and changed their name to Los de Adentro, and their debut album charted, going platinum in their home country of Colombia. Los de Adentro toured North and South America, sharing the stage with legendary groups such as Creed.
Foschi left the band a year after the recording of their second album, and moved from Miami to Washington, D.C. He joined another band, The Monas, who also found commercial success: playing at the Latin Grammy’s Street, Party in Los Angeles, SXSW Festival, Rock al Parque, and headlining Indie Rock Festival in Barranquilla. They received three-and-a-half stars out of four from the legendary Rolling Stone Magazine.
Founding members Daniel Gomez and Francisco Foschi often ran into each other in the tight-knit D.C. music scene, but it wasn’t until Daniel’s previous band dissolved in 2017 that they got the opportunity to make music together. They met at a Draco Rosa show, and after writing over 20 songs during the following months, they released their debut album.
With their first album complete, they sought a bassist to add depth and flavor to their tracks. After seemingly endless auditions, Gomez called upon his long-time friend Lula Neira to join, and she fit instantly.
Neira hails from Bogotá, Colombia, and started playing bass at age 13. She studied music at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, where she learned from legendary bassists and leaders in the industry. Neira quickly became involved in the D.C. music scene, renowned for her versatility in style. She joined local fusion band Zakke, playing alongside established international acts, such as Jarabe de Palo, Los Amigos Invisibles, Ozomatli, Aterciopelados, Los Rabanes, Los Autenticos Decadentes, Vilma Palma e Vampiros, and Rawayana.
Perro Sombra is greatly influenced by the Latin backgrounds of the band members. Most of their songs are sung in Spanish, and the duality of languages offers them the ability to nuance their lyrics in both. They utilize at times “Spanglish,” a mix of Spanish and English, to express words and feelings that may be better said in one language than another.
“[Every so often,] we will just organically write a song in English,” Gomez said, “not because we set out to do that, but that’s the way we communicate, it’s an honest process for me with an English song occasionally.”
“Some ideas might be easier to translate in English than Spanish; in one language we may have the facility to say more with fewer words,” Neira added.
The trio hopes to enhance the diversity of Latin music in the D.C. scene, as well as across the country. They noticed a dearth of sonically complex music, instead finding reggaeton as the dominant Latin American style in the U.S. Reggaeton finds inspiration from American hip hop, Latin American, and Caribbean music, often featuring simple beats and solely commercial appeal. More upsettingly, though, they found the lyrics to be degrading to women and without a “soul.”
“We feel like the way the Latin music world is going now is just being totally invaded by this party, women degradation and sexualization music, and it really choked up some other channels of music for Latin worlds, so we wanted to bring a little bit more seriousness,” Gomez said.
“Seeing music going in a direction that is not really evolving, kind of going backwards in a way is not a progression at all,” Neira said. “Personally, I respect all kinds of music and opinions, but as a performer, I want to be able to interpret something meaningful and hopefully that will tell a story you might identify with, and I think that’s what Perro Sombra brings that you can maybe relate to.”
“We didn’t set out the band to have a message and a higher purpose, we don’t think that much of ourselves, though,” joked Gomez.
Perro Sombra has a unique sound: one that is diverse, combining their Latin roots and training with the dark, grunge rock. They explore a wide range of topics in their lyrics.
“Once you start writing stuff, you’re not setting out to follow any path, but it has been pointed out that we have a clear 90’s influence from the main acts of the grunge era, but also a strong classic rock, more 70’s and 60’s, like Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones,” Gomez said.
“We explore themes that are not always happy; poetry, that side of things can be a little more somber, so that became the initial concept when we started writing,” Neira said.
Currently, the group is working on their second album. They are at the beginning of their creative process, which they are collaborating on as a group. As the newest member, Neira says she is excited to have the opportunity to learn and work with such seasoned songwriters and creative directors as Gomez and Foschi.
Jaci Jedrych is a World Politics student at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She loves going to concerts and exploring different genres, and has a passion for arts and news writing.
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