Usually, a fresh-on-the-scene, up-and-coming band has to wait a while for the dream gig. They play locally for a while, build a set full of decent songs, and maybe record them if they can find the funds to lock down studio space. And then, finally, they get to open for a marquee name.
But it doesn’t always happen that way. For Mario Giancarlo Garibaldi of the Miami-based trio Hunter of the Alps, it all occurred in extreme reverse: He got the gig before he even formed the band. “I sent out a four-track demo to Twin Shadow's management because he was coming down to Miami to play at Bardot,” Garibaldi recalls, “and I wanted a shot at the opening slot. I didn’t even have a band. I just sent my demos and, coincidentally, I got the OK.”
That’s right: He sent in a tape, and they let him play. It was an incredible stroke of luck. But before all of you musical Miamians become inspired to fill your favorite act's inbox with your nonexistent band’s demo tape, here are a few things to know about how Hunters of the Alps pulled it off.
For one, they’re all experienced musicians with a history in the industry. Garibaldi, who sings in the band, was with the postpunk group Modern Age, while guitarist Jorge Velásquez played in the Lima, Peru-based rock band Autobus. Alex de Renzis, drummer, completes the lineup. Touring with other groups, the members have opened for various big-name artists. Modern Age played before the Walkmen and Peter Hook, while Autobus caught gigs with the Killers and Franz Ferdinand.
For another, Garibaldi built the band out of existing connections and hard work. He met Velásquez through the latter’s brother, who plays as a session drummer. Once he secured the Twin Shadow gig, the two scrambled to prepare something.
“Basically, in the span of maybe two months, I had to rush and create the name ‘Hunters of the Alps’ and formalize the band, rehearse, and have a live component to it,” Garibaldi says. “So that’s how it came about really, but it was kind of cool that our first show was with a national act.”
The gig turned out to be a good match between opener and main event. Fans of Twin Shadow’s retro-sounding synth-pop will find much to like in the New Wave-inspired, indie dance tunes on Hunters' EP Time (How to Love).
“It does have those tendencies,” Garibaldi says of the project’s stylistic cues. “My main core is that I’m a huge '80s New Wave fan, so I think you probably hear that regardless of what project I find myself in.”
The band’s latest video shows its members cruising by the shore in Velásquez’s hometown of Lima. The video’s VHS effects and slow-motion footage give it the feel of a vintage cut from the MTV Generation, albeit with a modern twist.
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Like many who grew up in the '80s, Garibaldi looks upon the era with affection. But he thinks the fondness goes beyond nostalgia, that the decade has an unmatched, enduring appeal beyond the initial wave of remembrance that crested in the mid-to-late 2000s.
“We turned the corner in 2011, a new decade, and you figured the fad of the '80s would probably go away,” he says. “And then some people went, ‘Not really.’ It actually became stronger.”
The cultural relevance of the '80s still resonates today, via everything from weirdo underground phenomena such as vaporwave to mainstream sensations such as the Netflix series Stranger Things, the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero," and the Ryan Gosling film Drive. Add Hunters of the Alps to the list of torch-bearers.
“I think the '80s are here to stay for a long time.”