Modern metal ‘Symphony’

By HermineBloom

by: Sophia Coleman, Contributing Writer

With two years under their belt, the four members of the North Side band Trainwreck Symphony are a solid addition to Chicago’s rock scene.

Performing at popular venues such as the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., and the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St., they use their “modern metal” style to draw in diverse crowds. The vocals of lead singer Kona Villamil, melodies of guitarist Daniel Otero (Ache), rhythms of bassist Cisco Lopez and beats of drummer Jeffrey Goldie all come together to produce music that incorporates elements from every genre and form a new kind of rock sound.

After releasing a self-titled album last summer, the band has been working on a second album that will focus on their fans’ lives. The Chronicle caught up with Lopez to discuss who influences their band, the music-making process and how they’re using their fans’ experiences to create a

new album.

The Chronicle: How long ago was the band formed, and how did you all meet?

Cisco Lopez: Well, we’ve been Trainwreck Symphony for a little [more than] two years, but we’ve known each other for several years. Daniel, Kona and I met in high school. I actually taught Daniel how to play guitar, and the dude blew up overnight. So I asked him to join my band. Kona was the annoying cat in class who always tried too hard. He was more comical relief [until] years later [when] he became passionate—and really damn good—about music and Jeffrey reached out to him after reading his ad in a local free newspaper. Eventually we all connected and created TWS.

The Chronicle: Can you tell me about your major influences as a band?

CL: What’s great about Trainwreck Symphony is we have such huge diverse influences we use to pour into what we do. Kona loves jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, Nate, Bing, Ole Blue Eyes. Daniel’s really into eclectic type guitarists like Mike Einziger, Tom Morello, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Stevie Ray. Jeffrey is huge on pop [music]. We like to think he brings it all in for a nice radio-friendly package. Myself, I’m a lover of groove. Victor Wooten, Flea, Dave Matthews Band’s Stefan Lessard and Geezer Butler.

The Chronicle: Do you discuss social, spiritual or philosophical topics in

your lyrics?

CL: Kona will often write with political messages in his lyrics. We’re all a mixed bag politically, but we can all agree stuff is pretty messed up. With the tanking economy, lack of substantial education, overcrowded schools, [military] recruitment offices in our ghettos and our country’s constant involvement in foreign wars, our domestic situation is less than desirable. We’re just as frustrated as the rest of the country, and we definitely let it out in

our music.

The Chronicle: What are you guys working on now?

CL: We dropped our self-titled debut album last summer, so we’re still promoting that while we’re working on our sophomore record. We want this record to be a token of appreciation to our fans. We’re requesting they send us their stories—the good, bad and ugly, so that they may inspire us. This is 100 percent confidential unless they choose otherwise. So if you want to hear your song on the radio, shoot us a line at

The Chronicle: Describe your music-making process.

CL: [It’s] very organic. We’ve never come to practice with a finished song, just ideas. We’ll play around with riffs until we come across something the lights up our eyes. We’ll let it rip from there. It’s never forced, though. If we feel we’re forcing the song, we’ll scrap it entirely and recycle what we like later.

The Chronicle: Where do you hope to see Trainwreck Symphony in the next year?

CL: I would like to see us on the cover of Rolling Stone after winning the Grammy for best new group. Realistically, I see us still nurturing our fan base here in Chicago, while expanding our reach to other cities—spreading the dirty love of Trainwreck Symphony.

Trainwreck Symphony’s self-titled album can be found on iTunes, and