Tijuana's go-to studio drummer, Sebastian "Zoell” Farrugia," was hand-picked by Rey Pila to hit the road with them as Interpol's opening act. It was a case of being at the right place at the right time for the Argentina native -- or, rather, playing with the right bands at the right time. Guero (Rey Pila) and Farrugia played together in another band called Chikita Violenta. When they didn't have a bass player for their set at SxSW, Rey Pila's frontman, Diego, filled in. Farrugia also played with Miguel, Rey Pila's bassist, in another band called Motel. Guitarist Rodrigo and Farrugia met through the music scene. And this is how the six degrees of seperation created the glorious breakthrough crossover act, Rey Pila. Many Latin alternative musicians know who Zoell is, many want to work with him, and many respect him.
DITA QUINONES: Congrats on booking the nationwide tour with Rey Pila. It must be really awesome to be an opening act for Interpol. What does this mean for you in terms of your career?
ZOELL FARRUGIA: It's really exiting. Interpol is a great band. I'm a big fan of their music, so it's a real honor to have the opportunity to open up for part of their tour in Canada and the U.S. It means a lot for my career as a drummer. It's a great opportunity to be seen by a lot of new people and to play at some super cool venues, so its a great gig.
DQ: Rey Pila is an amazing band. What's it like to play with them? How come they didn't have a drummer before?
ZF: Playing with Rey Pila is superfun. I really love the songs, the vibe. The band is great. We're all really good friends. I've been playin with Rey Pila since October 2013.
DQ: Why do you think you're a sought-after drummer?
ZF: I think that bands and other musicians want to play with me because I'm a really passionate drummer. I love what I do, and I give everything I have onstage, the studio or at rehearsal. I try to be pretty professional, and I'm serious about my work -- I think people dig that.
DQ: You've also recorded drums for up-and-comers Glasmus.
ZF: The guys from Glasmus are real good friends, too. I've had the opportunity to work with them in the studio and do some live shows together. I love their sound. Mousiky, one of the guitarists of Glasmus, and I used to play together in Ambiente, an instrumental post-rock band from Tijuana. We recorded an EP, A, It's really good. You should check it out.
DQ: I understand you're also a drum professor?
ZF: Well, I don't consider myself a drum professor. I'm more of a motivator. I teach the basics, but they're very important things. I also try to make them love this beautiful instrument -- respect it! If you really want to be a drummer, you have to practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more [laughs].
DQ: Your dad is the late Gonzalo Farrugia, a well-respected drummer, too.
ZF: My dad was a great drummer. He came to T.J. In 1979, and he used to play almost every day and sometimes five sets a day on Avenue Revolucion. He also had two great bands back in the '70s: one in Uruguay called Psiglo, and another in Argentina called Crusis. In January 2009, he passed away. Then in December 2009, a really good friend of my dad's, Pachy, put together this memorial concert with the original singer of Psiglo and other great musicians of Uruguay. They invited me to play drums to pay tribute to his life and career -- it was a pretty intense and beautiful experience.
DQ: What do you love most about living as a musician in Tijuana? How long have you been living there?
ZF: I've lived in Tijuana since I was 3 years old. I love living in T.J. It's a crazy place, but it's a very musical city -- lots of great musicians and great bands. Ever since I can remember, I've been surrounded by music: jazz, blues, rock, tambora, norteno, cumbia, electronic. You name it, it's here [laughs].
DQ: Do you consider yourself Argentinian, Uruguayan or Tijuanese?
ZF: Definitely Tijuanese! I was born in Argentina. My parents are from Uruguay, so I have Uruguayan blood, but my heart is 100 percent Tijuanese!
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.