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You don't need to be the most devoted fan of rock en español to know La Secta Allstar, especially if, between 2005 and 2006, you turned your radio dial to any Spanish-language station for even five minutes. And if you did, there's at the very least a strong possibility you heard the group's massive hit, "La Locura Automática." The ballad featured mariachi-tinged classical guitars and a heavy dose of horns reminiscent of regional Mexican music, plus a perfectly mournful delivery, equal parts nasal and rasp, by vocalist Gustavo Laureano.
Though the band was previously known as much for its ballads as its rock sound, the track was a step outside the comfort zone of Laureano and bandmates Mark Kilpatrick (bass) and drummer John Lengel (drums). But then so was the 2005 album on which it appeared, the group's fifth and most mainstream effort at that point, Consejos.
"We don't really plan the direction the albums are going to take," Laureano explains in a recent phone call from Puerto Rico. "Consejos was just a reflection of what we felt like doing at the time."
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He goes on to concede, "It was a good moment for us. We were experimenting, and the result was very commercial, more radio-friendly outside of P.R. than our typical rock sound."
It undoubtedly was a good moment for the Puerto Rico-based band that formed in Miami. The album went gold and then platinum within two months of release, and the single reached the number one spot in 13 countries. That's not to mention a Billboard award for Best Rock en Español album, multiple Premio Lo Nuestro and Premios Juventud nominations, and a Grammy nod.
And though that was hard to top, the group made a valiant go of it with the 2008 followup, Fuego. It signaled a return to the more rock-centric vibe for which the band had previously been known, and earned La Secta Allstar more awards.
Now, two years later, Laureano's excitement about the band's upcoming seventh studio release is palpable, and its first single, "Vivamos," is promising. From Laureano's point of view, the track is representative of what fans can expect of the disc — a little of what they got on Consejos, but also some of what they got on Fuego.
"We're in the midst of an explosive creative moment," he says. "Just last night, I wrote a song and was like, 'Oh, this needs to go in the album!' We're still making decisions, though...
"That's why we wanted to put out this single now. And if we need to release another before the album comes out, so be it. We just want to be sure we have the right songs on it. I always feel that's the most important thing."
So fans will have to wait a bit for the record, which as of now is unnamed, though Laureano believes it'll be titled after the first single. But in the meantime, followers will have "Vivamos" to tide them over, which Laureano says has a sort of apocalyptic theme and "shows both sides of the coin, positive and negative outlooks... musically, of course," he clarifies, laughing. "We're not trying to solve the world's problems. Just our own."