Another battle of the bands competition was the last thing Jawdat Anguiano, drummer for local band the Supersonic Lips, wanted to do. He and the three other members of the edgy Dallas rock band, Saulo Ramon, Miguel Santana and Yaya Lion, thought it would be another contest featuring a buffet of bands hoping to make the best impression and win first place. But when they came across the Last Band Standing, a fresh take on the classic battle of the bands concept hosted by Ninkasi Brewing Co., they couldn't pass it up.
"The cool thing about this contest is that we were rated on four different aspects: voting, your performance, your originality and your online presence. With those three, we knew we had it," says Anguiano. "It was a contest about the personality of the band instead of just a performance."
So they began promoting the show and performed songs from their gritty indie rock EP, Grey Space, and won first place. With a staggering prize pack including a five-day trip and recording session at Ninkasi Studios in Eugene, Ore., a set at this year's Untapped festival in Dallas and custom artwork from gig poster artist Neal Williams, the group knew this was the next step it had been looking for.
Ramon, the guitarist, and Lion, the fierce-yet-poised frontwoman, started the band in 2010 as a side project in hopes of creating something they were proud to play. Two years later, they recruited Anguiano and their bassist, Santana, whom they knew from playing in the Latin music scene. With a jumbled mix of influences, including psychedelic rock, funk and bands such as Nine Inch Nails and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the grungy group began writing and recording what Ramon calls "omnivore rock."
"We feed off everything. We're a rock band with some pop elements, as far as how our music is structured. It's very indie and upbeat," Ramon explains. "We have a lot of influences like Latin music, but that doesn't mean we make Latin music. We get that confusion all the time because of who we are."
The band members agree that their diverse backgrounds and cultures give them an edge and help them stand out in today's music scene. Their EP showcases their energetic, brass-knuckle style, with raging guitar riffs and Lion's mischievously gloomy voice, and makes for a sexy soundtrack Quentin Tarantino could appreciate. With five days in the Ninkasi recording studio at their disposal, the zealous musicians are still deciding if they want to go for a full-length or release another EP with the prize package.
"We're ready to take the next step, whether that be touring more outside the city or the state," Anguiano says. "In order to do that, we need to create more music."
Until then, the Supersonic Lips are focused on making the most of their upcoming set at Untapped on Nov. 12, which will be their biggest show to date and second major festival appearance.
Get to know the Untapped lineup
Here's a look at the best-known acts performing at this year's Untapped in Dallas:
TV on the Radio: Over the course of five studio albums, the critically acclaimed Brooklyn band has consistently found the sweet spot between catchy melodies and avant-garde dissonance. Listen.
Gogol Bordello: Singer Eugene Hütz leads this Gypsy folk-punk through a whirlwind of Eastern European styles. One of rock's most frantic (and at times, funniest) live acts. Listen.
Kaleo: Popular in its native Iceland since 2013, the folk-rock quartet moved to Austin last year and scored a minor hit with "All the Pretty Girls," featuring the ethereal falsetto of front-man Jökull Júlíusson. Listen.
Also on the bill: Bishop Briggs, Adia Victoria, Lee Fields & the Expressions, BASSH, Shotgun Friday, Topic, Repel the Robot and DJ Sober.
-- Thor Christensen