Folktale San Pedro might be the one band that has decided to take off its mask in 2020. Starting in 2016, the sextet gained fame for playing its brand of art-rock while wearing latex animal masks that hid the band members' identities. With the release of its debut EP, Four Short Expressions to Make a Good Impression, Folktale San Pedro decided to say farewell to anonymity.
The Miami band began as a solo project in the bedroom of singer and guitarist Paco Villafane. The 24-year-old was inspired by indie bands that he discovered on skate videos produced throughout the decades.
"As a kid, I was into metal like Iron Maiden, but I started watching Field Day skate videos that got me into tangents of obscure indie music. I got into Passion Pit and Tokyo Police Club. I remember an Antwuan Dixon video got me into Of Montreal."
After writing a handful of songs, Villafane dug up some masks and asked drummer Javier Nin and bassist Robert Vanscoy to join in on some fun rock 'n' roll anarchy. In one year, Folktale San Pedro played 116 masked shows across South Florida, including a backyard wedding for a chef and his bride and a warehouse gig where an audience could enjoy the show while inside a bounce house.
Villafane scaled back on the public appearances after graduating from Florida International University with a marketing degree. But with the release of the new EP, Folktale San Pedro has re-emerged with an expanded lineup.
The first recruit was Villafane's longtime friend, Christian Padron, whom Villafane brought on in hopes of polishing the band's songwriting.
"I would just put a couple chords together and sing a song," Villafane admits. "Christian gets all conceptual with music. He gets picky on what we can play, and I needed someone to be picky."
Also joining the group was pianist Nehemias Orellana, who Villafane says looks at music from a mathematical way, and saxophonist Nico Garcia.
According to the band, the new lineup's influences include Pavement and A Flock of Seagulls. Still, the self-comparison to Interpol rings the truest when Villafane's baritone vocals keep a monotone consistency on the tracks.
Beyond the vocal delivery, Four Short Expressions to Make a Good Impression also finds inspiration from myriad sources. The EP's title, for example, comes from the Talking Heads song "Moon Rocks," in which David Byrne sings, "I got hundreds of expressions, try to make a good impression."
"It's kind of a play on these four songs being our introduction to people," Villafane says.
The track "Everyone's Polyamorous at Camp Kamachee" takes its name from a throwaway gag in the 2005 comedy sequel American Pie Presents: Band Camp.
"The song has nothing to do with it, but I always told myself I'd name a song after that," explains Villafane.
Beyond Eugene Levy movies, the band seeks inspiration and visual motifs in nature, starting with its unofficial avatar: the cactus.
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Explains Villafane: "We're from the swamps out west in unincorporated Miami, so we do a lot of soul-searching in the Everglades."
The band plans to take a road trip to Utah's Moab desert to shoot footage for a Western music video it hopes to release later this year.
Folktale San Pedro is looking forward to the day it can get back on the road and perform live. Unless mandated by government regulations, the band will be doing so without the alpaca and alligator masks.
"You could disassociate from reality, but you couldn't breathe with the masks," Villafane says.