La Revancha Interview

In early 2006, music fans of all ages enjoyed a Railroad Earth and La Revancha show at the Cla-Zel Theater in Bowling Green, Ohio where I interviewed the lead singer/rhythm guitar player Leonardo Ruiz. La Revancha is now located in California (see


La Revancha, an eight-piece band featuring energetic Latin and world beats. I recently interviewed lead singer/rhythm guitar player Leonardo Ruiz.

Describe your style of music and how audiences respond.

It is really hard for me to describe what we play, just because everyone in the band has so many different backgrounds. You have a percussion player (Francisco Cabanillas) with the Caribbean beat of Puerto Rico, influenced mostly by salsa and Cuban music. Then you have a drummer (Elijah Vazquez), a violinist (Kathleen Jara) and a bass player (Josh Smith) that are working on their degrees of music performance and that play at orchestras quite often. Then you have an electric guitar player (Mike Dooley) that has played with hard-core metal bands all his life; a trumpet player (Joe Zimmet) heavily influenced by blues and jazz, an acoustic (a.k.a. Requinto) guitar player (David Olivarez) doing melodies and rhythm with the taste of the folk music in Mexico. It’s not totally rock, or totally folk, or totally blues, or jazz – it’s just a big mix.

Now, when talking about the mix, the most important thing is the attitude about it, because it all comes back to the people creating the mix. As musicians we are giving – we trust each other, and let everyone do their thing as an individual but come together as a whole. I have been very pleased to see people reacting to our sound. We have so much fun on stage that I think it’s kind of contagious. We happen to be doing live shows where people are blessing us with their presence and good comments. We would be nothing without these people; to us the most important is to simply offer an honest delivery of our project when we play live. As long as we accomplish that, we can be labeled under any category that the public chooses.

You mentioned the Requinto guitar, played by your lead guitarist David Olivarez.

Requinto is a Spanish word used to describe a riff in a song. David plays a multiple set of riffs and used to play in Mexico for student folk music bands that would go out walking at night and perform in the streets.

What do you think makes the Bowling Green music scene unique?

There is very rewarding sense of community in Bowling Green (BG). BG is a happy, musical town that allows people to create. To be able to communicate anything (in an artistic way or not), you need to have a platform that allows you to create, a platform for possibilities, where you can both express and be yourself freely. We also appreciate the local support by businesses, and community members. Without them, there would be no scene. People in this town believe in supporting those events – that is beautiful!

There’s also great respect and acknowledgement of other musical artists and projects. It’s important that we all respect the energy that each one put into our music, because no matter at what stage of your musical career you are, you have to be constantly working on it. We’ve invited musicians from other projects for our gigs and it has been such a great experience. When you play live with seven other musicians, and the crowd, there is a lot of room for synergy.

How do you incorporate life experiences into your lyrics?

All of my lyrics are based on experiences, or things that have impressed me, and that have led me to tell a story, either from my point of view or from a different perspective. For example, “Este Amor”, which means “This Love”, asks if the kind of love that we show in our society is what we really need to feel and preach. Some people pray a lot, but they don’t show their love with actions. Some people take their divine force as a flag to
take over territories and gain power. They are missing the point. Love is not words. True love should be would be actions to improve our world, our communities, and most important, the life and education of children which will be the next generation to take over.

Note: You can read the Spanish lyrics and the English translations from their newest album “El Zarape” at

What are your future plans?

Keep on working and expand more and more. While we have had shows in Mexico City, Philadelphia and New York, we really want to go back to the basics and explore closer territories to be able to continue growing as a band. I really feel that you create your own opportunities, and we want to be ready for when they come. Music is a path that we chose to take. We’ll just have to see what surprises our career brings.

La Revancha began in Los Angeles, California and released the 2002 album Locura, then moved to Bowling Green in 2003. This year, La Revancha released their album El Zarape. El Zarape has experienced great success and has been described as “a Spanish Language album with great musicianship that transcends any language barrier.”

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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