By Phillip Perez
There was a period after moving to Kingsville where Vasquez was not playing the music that he loved for a variety of reasons.
“It just became something I wasn’t doing anymore although I really enjoyed doing it,” Vasquez said.
The desire to play music again introduced Vasquez to guitarist Lee Roy Lerma. The two became the first two pieces of what would later become Sistine Ceiling.
The next piece came in the form of a customer by the name of Nick Harper. Harper, an English major from Virginia Beach walked into the store that Vasquez worked at and the two started talking about music.
“He told me he was a singer and I was like ‘He’s gotta have a good voice,”’ Vasquez said.
Unfortunately, Harper was already singing for another band, so the birth of Sistine Ceiling would have to wait.
Enter Carlos Gonzales, a History and Political Science major out of Beeville who was playing bass for the band F*%# the Mainstream with Vasquez’ roommate. “I actually played with him (Gonzales) for a few shows because he needed a drummer and I offered,” Vasquez said. “It was just another opportunity to get drunk and play.”
Eventually, Gonzales left that band and the two, along with guitarist Lee Roy Lerma, started to play music together.
Harper would eventually leave the band he was with at around the same time and after getting a chance to jam with the other three, Harper joined.
“I always wanted to do something with Stacy because he’s talented,” said Harper. “I also didn’t feel right being in that particular band.”
The band was complete and the four started writing music.
In 2009, Vasquez and friends spotted Alex Maldonado skateboarding around the benches where they were smoking. Maldonado noticed Vasquez’ drum tattoo and the two started talking and eventually jamming together, writing music and performing.
Then Lerma decided to leave the band in order to get a job and support his family, leaving the four to continue in what is now Sistine Ceiling.
Sistine Ceiling was not the first name that was tossed around.
“We were actually scampering to find a name,” Gonzales said. “We went through many other names because we didn’t know if we wanted it to mean something or if it was just a name.”
Some of the names considered were Alien Vomit, Malaffected Pus Bubble and No One Leaves.
“We went for a good while arguing back and forth and couldn’t settle on anything,” Harper said. “When that one got thrown out, it was like ‘That’s it.’”
The name Sistine Ceiling is based on the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.
The list of influences is very diverse for each member for the group of self-taught musicians.
Vasquez grew up in a musical family who involved with a number of bands ranging from Tejano to rock. Harper, who lists Sade, Bjork and his own mother, grew up listening to jazz and rock music.
“My mom would sing around the house vacuuming and stuff,” Harper said, “I tried to mimic my mother’s singing.”
Gonzales went through phases of music that took him from country to Tejano and eventually metal music as a teen.
“I was exposed to Marilyn Manson, Deftones, Coal Chamber and Ministry,” Gonzales said. “The music at the time was the dark, heavy growling stuff. That’s the music that I found that made me want to play. That’s the kind of stuff that I wanted to play.”
Maldonado played in a marching band in middle school before deciding to venture out.
“I realized that I didn’t like being told what to play,” Maldonado said. “I also stumbled on a guitar in the band hall and picked it up knowing that if the kid who owned it saw me with it, he could easily beat me.”
He was hooked and eventually got his own guitar. He used what he learned from marching bad and combined it with music that he listened to such as Metallica and Pantera and just started playing.
The public response to the music, which the band describes as modern, yet dynamic, has been very positive. Their following continues to grow with every performance. “Every time we’ve played, the crowd’s gotten a little bigger,” Harper said. “The best turnout we had was at the university’s MusicFest with Stoney LaRue.”
“My favorite part was how that big band was waiting for us and as soon as our last song ended, they started right up,” Vasquez said. “We were told that we would only get 15 minutes, so at the very end when we were supposed to stop we just said F*#@ it and ran three songs together and you can see people freaking out not knowing what to do.”
In the end, the band was allowed to finish the show because the crowd response was so good.
Sistine Ceiling is preparing to release a five song EP very soon and is working hard to book as many shows as possible, focusing more on their live shows in hopes that people will enjoy listening to their music as much as the guys enjoy performing it.
“When we play, we want people to connect with it, we want people to understand it and we want it to mean something,” said Vasquez. “We’re not in the band to have a social life and get chicks, it’s not even about that. It’s always been about the music; that’s what it’s always been about and that’s where it will always stay.”