Salvador

When you ask members of Christian pop band Salvador about their origins, you have to believe there
may be some truth in the old phrase, "Be careful what you ask for."

"My brother Art and I grew up in a little church in Austin, Texas, led by my aunt and uncle and parents," explains lead vocalist Nick Gonzales. "When I was 12, we started complaining that we wanted music in our church. We didn?t think they would even agree, much less decide that WE should be the musicians!"

Before the year was out, Art was playing drums, Nick had a guitar, their 8-year-old cousin Josh Gonzales was starting bass lessons, and the church with no music suddenly had a three-piece praise and worship band. Well?sort of. "I have to admit we were pretty awful back then," Nick laughs. "But we kept at it. I guess you have a reason to learn fast when you have to play in front of people every single Sunday."

Recent history undeniably proves that the guys learned those early lessons well indeed. Now in their late teens and early twenties, Nick, Art, and Josh have combined with fellow Austin musicians Eliot Torres on percussion and Jonathan Rangel on Keyboards to produce a unique sound that maintains their praise and worship roots and mingles with cutting-edge contemporary pop music.

Long a local favorite, Salvador began by playing in area churches and coffee-houses, and soon moved up to being the featured artist at major festivals like the long-running Christ-fest in Austin and opening for noted evangelist Nicky Cruz.

While playing at a Gospel Music Festival in Luchenbach, Texas in the fall of 1998, the band caught the attention of Nashville industry executive Michael Smith of Michael Smith and Associates. "There were a lot of bands playing that night, so it was hard to notice everyone," recalls Smith. "But when Salvador took the stage, I knew instantly that I wanted to work with them. I went from sitting in the back of the room to standing right in front of the stage before they had even finished the first verse of their opening song."

Smith?s involvement recently led the group to record their first major studio project, Live in Austin, a debut that is filled with talent, originality, and the rich musical heritage of Salvador?s hometown.

Nick?s attention-grabbing voice has the gritty, soulful quality of the many back-alley musicians he grew up admiring, while the rest of the band weaves a jaw-dropping blend of rhythm and blues, Latin and pop music. The group uses a variety of electric sounds, often mixing guitar with the tones of a Hammond organ, and a wide array of other percussion instruments that add depth and complexity to perfect pop melodies.

"Lord I Come Before You," a song the group often opens with in concert, is a driving show-stopper that is a pleading, yearning song for the presence of God in a chaotic world. "Maybe Tomorrow," the song the group has become best known for in Austin, uses a catchy hook and upbeat pop melody to describe the joy God promises for the future. "People always ask us for that song," says Nick. "I think it?s because it is so positive and the happiness in it is contagious. We like to play it as much as they like to hear it."

That joy and deep faith in Christ has been the driving force behind the band, and hasn?t changed as they?ve come across new opportunities away from their original days in the church. The name, "Salvador," which means Savior in Spanish, is a symbol of the image they want to portray. Nick says they chose the name for several reasons.

"For one thing, the word Salvador is a reflection of our Hispanic heritage, something we?re very proud of. But more than that, it?s a symbol of what we do," he explains. "People are always asking other people, ?What do you do? Who do you work for?? We wanted our name to be an instant indication of Who we work for, so that everyone will immediately realize we?re a Christian band and we want to share the joy of our Savior. That?s what the songs on Live in Austin are written to do."