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Puya

Puya is a Puerto Rican hard rock quartet, originally formed in 1990 by high school classmates Ramon Ortiz Picó, on guitar, cuatro, percussion and vocals, and Harold Hopkins Miranda, on bass, percussion and vocals. Soon afterwards, the band grew with the addition of Eduardo Paniagua Látimer, on drums, percussion and vocals and Sergio Curbelo Cosme.

The band was influenced by well known US rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Korn, Rage Against The Machine, Rush and Deftones, but made a creative niche for themselves by fusing the Latin, Afro-Caribbean rhythms of their native salsa music with the heavy metal style. In fact, this fusion did not really evolve until the band moved from Puerto Rico to Florida, USA, in 1992.

A longing for the music of their native, Puerto Rican salsa, led them to develop a unique style in rock music, influenced by old school salsa artists such as El Gran Combo, Tito Puente, Willie Colón and Hector LaVoe, and other Latin bands. The essence of their Latin rhythms were incoporated into Puya’s heavy metal works. According to lead vocalist, Curbelo, “Once we got away from home, we started incorporating our Latin roots into our music… It was a conscious thing, but it just felt natural.”

While in Florida, Puerto Rican percussionist Eggie Castrillo and Mike Smart on sax, joined the band. Puya then released their debut professional recording, a cassette entitled: “Whisker Biscuit”. They followed up with their first CD: Puya, with 13 tracks and featuring a collaboration with the James Brown Horn Section on two of those songs. While the move to Florida resulted in an artistic advance, all of the band’s members ultimately decided to return to Puerto Rico, with the exception of Curbelo.

Puya’s fame began to spread with their first CD and the band went on tour to Columbia where they had great success in concert and moved on to Los Angeles where they ended up signing a recording contract with MCA Records. Puya released their next album, Fundamental, in 1999 on the MCA label. It featured an eclectic mix of songs, such as the title track, Fundamental, that switched freely from Spanish to English. It also demonstrated the success of the band’s fusion of heavy metal rock, with Latin rhythms, adding to their crossover appeal in the North American market and paving the way for tours with mainstream US bands such as Spine Shank and Fear Factory.

Puya’s first recording drew great reviews from Rolling Stone Magazine and others. Puya was preparing for an encore. The band’s third album, Union, was released in 2001, featuring songs written by band members, Ortiz and Hopkins. The album title reflects Puya’s social message on the need for racial harmony and unity.

Since that album, Puya has toured many countries with other, well known US and Latin bands and presently, they are preparing for a 2003 world tour.

Discography

Union (2001)

Fundamental (1999)

Puya (1995)

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