Puya's Not Just Another Pretty Face
By Stephanie Quesada karateprinces16@aol.com
Photography by Bernardo Alps

I have been with DaBelly for a couple of months now and I have presented you guys with CD reviews and with my Ozzfest review. I also have had the pleasure of doing some interviews by e-mail with a few bands. Now I bring you my first "real" interview.

I was told I would be sent the Puya CD titled "Union" and that they where a band from Puerto Rico who mixed heavy metal with the sounds of Puerto Rico.  I received the CD a few days later and as soon as I got it, I played it. I loved their sound, they had a hard metal sound with Latin rhythms that seemed to come together in a way that only Puya could do. So I was happy to hear I would be interviewing one of the band members.

I received a call from New York, where Harold Hopkins (bass, percussion and vocals), and Puya were on tour. I have to admit when I heard his voice, I was a lot more excited about the interview. I tried to gather myself so I would sound like a professional instead of a total babbling fan.

I first asked Hopkins how the band started. He said that he had started the band with the drummer/percussionist/vocalist Eduardo Paniagua. I wondered what Puya meant and how they came up with it. Hopkins explained that he and Paniagua had started a band in 1992 called Whiskey Biscuit and later formed what is now Puya. He said that they had a harder sound this time around with the new band members and Puya means something sharp like a spear.

The band had joined the Ozzfest tour in '99 and I asked what it was like being in the Ozzfest environment. Hopkins said it was different because Ozzfest is more of a festival where they play all day and there are a lot more bands than on a regular tour and that they enjoyed being a part of it. They also got along great with the crew and bands.

Then I wanted to know what set "Union" apart from Puya's first record, "Fundamental." Hopkins replied that there is a lot more Caribbean/Latin sound. They also have guest appearances from pianist Brenda Hopkins (Hopkins' sister), metal guitarist John Dones, rumba percussionists Cachete Maldonado, Anthony Carrillo, Raphael Vargas and Hector Lebron and trumpet player Juancito Torres.

So what's next after their tour finishes? Hopkins said that they hope to make some music videos and tour more in Puerto Rico.

I asked him what the band's influences where. Hopkins said that they all bring their influences into the band, such as Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallic.

Where does he see the band in five years? Hopkins answered, "Well that's hard to say. Hopefully moving forward with our music." He added that aspiring bands should keep practicing and work hard.

After the interview was over, I was ready to start taking notes and that's when I realized I had gotten so nervous, that I had forgotten his name. Yes, I know what you're thinking, "Total airhead." I agree. I was so embarrassed that I had to call back and leave a message explaining I had forgotten his name. I felt so bad because I was a fan and he was the sweetest guy on earth. He later called me back and kindly reminded me that his name was Harold.

Puya has a lot more going for them other than just being good looking. The band is talented and is moving up in the music world and I wish them all the best. Oh, and by the way, a little hint to the band-- hook me up with some tickets please!

If you're a fan or are interested in Puya, you can visit their site at www.puya.net or MCA Records at www.mcarecords.com/puya.

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