New Times readers have spoken. During our Best Of 2015 Readers' Choice poll, with a resounding click of the mouse, they chose the garage/surf rock four-piece SunGhosts as Miami’s best band. The honor had SunGhosts' singer/guitarist Nik Balseiro — who discovered the achievement one morning in Chattanooga, Tennessee — humbled and amazed. “That was the best news to wake up to. All the bands we went up against are amazing,” he told us after celebrating a laid-back Fourth of July.
“What I love about music is being able to get a message out to a lot of people. SunGhosts tries to bring hope that people can take with them in their lives. Music helped me get through my crazy adolescence. We have a strong teenage, middle-school fan base, so I hope to pay that message back.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Nik Balseiro was one of those teenagers. As a high school student at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, he knew by his senior year that he wanted to be a rock star, inspired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Strokes, and growing up watching his father playing funk guitar in clubs. He was in a series of bands that all fell through. But two years ago, when he was studying music business at Miami-Dade College, he met bassist Jared Steingold, guitarist Arminio Rivero, and drummer Luis Estopiñan, and it was love at first jam session.
“Jared is a metal bassist, Arminio likes classic surf rock, and Luis likes ’90’s stuff like Incubus and the Deftones, but it is the positivity that brought us together.”
Last year, they released a three-song EP, Phosphenes, and a month ago released the single “Polterguy,” which Balseiro says is consistent with the band's philosophy of positivity. “I never want to record a song that makes people feel bad. 'Polterguy' is a song about someone who sees ghosts while doing dishes. It sucks that it could be scary to see ghosts, but we give it a positive spin in that maybe it’s a gift too.”
That song, which is scheduled to have its video released July 19, is part of a productivity push for the band. It's aiming to spend all of July in preproduction to record a full-length album, which Balseiro is busy writing the songs for now. The band found plenty of inspiration bonding during its longest tour ever, 18 days, which took it from Miami to Milwaukee and back with many stops in between.
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“We had a six-seat van for six people cramped all the way to the back. Every hotel room I would check in to the front desk — I’m not sure I should be telling you this — but we’d have to sneak everyone in and the air mattress through the back door so we wouldn’t have to pay for an extra room.”
Balseiro says whatever devotion and admiration SunGhosts have found is owed entirely to the energy the band puts forth during live shows. “We rock out. Our live energy is intense. I don’t know how Luis hasn’t broken his drums yet.” You can see for yourself at SunGhosts' happy hour show at Bar Stache on July 16 — just, maybe don't get too close. “We’re extremely sweaty if you approach us after a show. It’s a chaotic clusterfuck.”
SunGhosts. 5 p.m. Thursday, July 16, at Bar Stache, 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free. Ages 21 and up.